Worcester, MA- Hydra head coach Elvis Comrie knew the GPS Portland Phoenix were good at crossing balls down low into the box to create scoring opportunities. His team was able to prevent the Phoenix from getting those chances for most of the game—but not for all of it.
The Hydra allowed two goals after the 87th minute and squandered a late lead, falling to the Phoenix, 3-2, Wednesday at Commerce Bank Field at Foley Stadium.
Phoenix forward Eric Anderson scored goals in the 87th minute and in the 90th minute from less than three yards out to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win for the first-place Phoenix (8-3-1).
“They like to get to the baseline and cross balls into the box, and as a rule you have to deny the cross of the ball into the box, you have to contest it,” Comrie said. “When you don’t contest it and you lay off of it, you allow them to play the ball into the middle of the part. These are opportunities that are going to result in goals. We paid a painful price for being careless and not making more of a commitment of making tackles.”
Alencar Junior scored a goal in his return to the lineup and Eboy Badgie scored his first goal of the season, as the Hydra (3-3-5) lost for the first time since June 2, when they lost to the Phoenix, 2-0.
“It’s always good to have a player that’s always going to pose a threat,” Comrie said.
The Hydra could have moved into a tie for fourth place in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference with a win, but squandered it by allowing two late goals. Given the fact that the team is playing in its first year, Comrie said he isn’t too concerned.
“I don’t look at standings. This is our inaugural year,” he said. “There are lots of challenges, trying to put a team together, trying to compete and win games, those are certainly objectives, but in reality we’re prepared to play one game at a time.”Goalkeeper Jose Silva made six saves for Worcester while Terrance Dieterich recorded three for the Phoenix.
After receiving a red card in the Hydra’s game last Wednesday vs. the Western Mass. Pioneers early in the second half, Junior had to sit out the team’s game on Sunday vs. CFC Azul. Junior entered the game in the 61st minute and made a quick impact.
With the score tied 1-1, Junior put the Hydra ahead in the 67th minute when he took the ball, dribbled around a pair of GPS Portland defenders and blasted a shot from eight yards out to give the Hydra a 2-1 lead.
It lasted for 20 minutes, until Ben Harvey sent a cross to Anderson, whose header from the left side of the area hit the bottom part of the crossbar before going into the net. Three minutes later, Jason Massie crossed the ball to Anderson, who, in the same spot, kicked the ball passed Silva for the game-winner.
“I told them when they tied the game 2-2 to go into the corners and play out the game, but instead we mismanaged the game and gave them an opportunity to regain possession of the ball and attribute to the goal, so we didn’t do a very good job of managing the remaining time,” Comrie said. “We didn’t play smart, so we paid the price for it.”
The Hydra were outshot 13-3 in the second half and allowed a season-high three goals. They did not manage a corner kick opportunity in the second half.
Comrie said that when he put Badgie and Yaya Sylla at forwards in the first half, the team was responding to the pressure they would put on the ball, which was different than what Junior and Michael Bustamante did after they subbed in.
“When we put Michael and Junior in there, we suffered,” Comrie said. “Sometimes that breaks down a little bit, so it puts a bit more pressure on everyone else, so it’s gotta be a collective effort in terms of what we do from a defensive standpoint, it’s gotta be a collective effort in terms of what we do from a offensive standpoint.”
Badgie put Worcester on top in the 17th minute after Chris Ager passed it to him down the right side, where he kicked the ball from 12 yards out into the net. Chris Banks tied the game for the Phoenix in the 57th minute off another baseline pass from Massie.
The Hydra play the Vermont Voltage and the Ottawa Fury on the road on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
by Matt Eisenberg