Midland-Odessa FC couldn’t get much offense generated Saturday night.
But fortunately for Midland-Odessa FC, it proved that two big plays can make a world of a difference in a defensive struggle.
Midland-Odessa FC relied on two long, precision kicks to down the visiting Fort Worth Vaqueros, 2-1, in a battle of two unbeaten Lone Star Conference teams at Grande Communications Stadium, which was billed as the “National Game of the Week.”
In the 29th minute, Midland-Odessa FC (3-0-0, 9 points) struck first to lead 1-0 when forward Ricardo Palomino headed the ball into the goal from the left side after receiving a 30-yard pass in the air from Lee grad Darius Strambler on a free kick from the opposite end of the pitch.
In the 49th minute, midfield Memo Diaz boomed a 40-yard kick into the back of the goal, pushing Midland-Odessa FC to a 2-0 advantage.
Diaz’s long kick occurred after Midland-Odessa FC goalkeeper Braulio Linares-Ortiz launched a kick past midfield. Diaz immediately got control of the ball and made an aggressive kick toward the goal, as Vaqueros goalkeeper Marcel DaSilva was playing at least 10 yards in front of the goal, which left an opening for Diaz’s goal.
“I had the chance, I saw the keeper out, I just went for it,” Diaz said. “You know those little soccer instincts, you have to be aware, be on top of the game and I just saw it and I just went for it.
“I have never in my life (scored in a goal from so far). It’s such a good feeling.”
Midland-Odessa FC assistant coach Dave Jacobs, filling in for an absent head coach Matt Barnes, thought the long, precision kicks demonstrated his team’s flexibility to win by relying on a different style of play.
“They did shut us down a little bit as far as playing our usual style, so it’s nice to have options right?” Jacobs said. “We have a talented group. You see it. You see it in their play. If we can’t put pieces together, then we will find our speed, which we have a lot of. It’s nice to have.”
Fort Worth (3-1-0, 9 points) made the match exciting in the waning minutes, pressuring Linares-Ortiz with late attacks.
In the 90th minute, Vaqueros midfielder Liren Halle scored on a breakaway, cutting Midland-Odessa FC’s lead to 2-1.
It was the first goal that Midland-Odessa FC allowed in three matches.
“It’s a big, big win for us,” Jacobs said. “It puts us at the top of the conference, which is important to us. We knew that coming in. It was a little challenging toward the end there, but I didn’t think we were pressed really until that time, so I am OK with that.”
“One goal in three games, I will take that any day of the week,” Jacobs said later.
The two clubs will meet again at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3 in their next match at Martin Field in Fort Worth.
It will also mark the first of a string of five road matches for Midland-Odessa FC.
“We got the W,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s good for the guys to feel some of that (adversity). Obviously, on the road, we’re going to run into that. Hopefully not too much.”
Linares-Ortiz had four saves in the win.