Down, but never out. If any phrase can relate how this Tormenta team responds to setbacks, it’s this. Four times this season, South Georgia Tormenta FC has found itself down to an opponent, and only once did they fail to pick up any points from the match. The comeback mentality was on full display last Sunday in Statesboro, as Tormenta played Toronto FC II for the first time this year.
Thunderstorms throughout the weekend turned out to be good omens for the home team with both Tormenta and Tormenta 2 collecting all three points from their matches. Twomenta, flying high after their 3-0 rout of the Chattanooga Red Wolves in Open Cup play, carried their performance into their regular season opener against Peachtree City. A dominant performance throughout the game ended in a 4-0 victory, led by a brace from midfielder Luca Mayr.
The League Two opener set a positive mood leading into the Toronto II match, however, things didn’t get started as well as South Georgia might have hoped. The MLS reserve side, despite missing its captain Tsubasa Endoh for consecutive weeks, came out swinging, and landed their first blow in the 14th minute of the game with a well placed shot off of a counter. Tormenta would find its footing in the 28th minute thanks to a charging run from Charlie Dennis to score Tormenta’s first first-half goal all season and keep things from getting out of hand. The Canadians would find another lead just 8 minutes later after Tormenta failed to clear the defensive third following a corner, giving them yet another hill to climb. It wouldn’t be until the 72nd minute for Tormenta to equalize, when pinpoint distribution from goalkeeper Pablo Jara to Charlie Dennis drew a penalty for Marco Micaletto, who converted with ease. Just mere seconds later, with Tormenta taking advantage of its momentum, Toronto II left back Terique Mohammed saw a red card as he flew into Micaletto over the slick field with his studs raised high. Now smelling blood in the water, Tormenta shifted into a higher gear and pressed for a winner. At three minutes into stoppage time, it seemed like Toronto II would manage to escape Statesboro with a draw, but a Nil Vinyals strike from distance was pushed away in the direction of oncoming Charlie Dennis, whose touch rolled on by the Toronto keeper and capping the night off with a win and brace for Dennis.
Another comeback nearly took place midweek up in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in the Second Round of the U.S. Open Cup. Tormenta 2, hoping for lightning to perhaps strike twice against pro sides, travelled to play USL Championship (and future MLS) side Nashville SC with eyes for a Third Round spot and possibly the $25,000 lower division prize money. Nashville was able to produce a two goal lead in the first third of the game, which was cut in half just before the halftime whistle by Adrian Billhardt. Just after the half, Nashville was able to add one more, and the push from Twomenta and goal from James Meehan was only enough to finish the match 2-3, knocking the Tormenta franchise out from the cup completely. Tormenta 2 will get the chance to right themselves Monday night against the new Discoveries SC side from Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Before then, Tormenta FC faces a League One challenge from headline grabbing and fellow top-four team Forward Madison FC. The Flamingos (or ‘Mingos as they like to be called) have been on a tear recently, helped along by their first couple home matches, and are unbeaten in four straight league matches. They are also the lone League One survivor in the Open Cup, travelling to El Paso on Wednesday and bouncing Championship team El Paso Locomotive from the competition 3-0. Tormenta may be able to take advantage of tired legs, but will be very difficult considering the wave Madison is currently riding. Forward’s defense is led by USL and NASL veteran Connor Tobin, who along with being team captain leads the league in clearances. Also in the back is goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre, a player who has bounced between MLS and second division clubs, most notably having 12 starts with the Philadelphia Union, earning 5 shutouts. He looks to have won the job over from Ryan Coulter, but it remains to be seen if it is a permanent switch. Midfielder Josiel Núñez is a key piece moving forward, leading the team in shots and in goals. As a whole, Madison’s offensive output isn’t high compared to other teams around the league, but recent results and lingering injuries to Tormenta’s defense could be threatening.
Prediction: Forward Madison 2-2 Tormenta FC
Forward Madison FC vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC
USL League One Regular Season
Breese Stevens Field, Madison, Wisconsin
Saturday, May 18, 8:00 P.M. EST
Watch on ESPN+ in U.S.; YouTube internationally