The zero-zero draw is a point of mockery for the soccer world. Non-fans will point to it and criticize the sport; it’s the only one in the U.S. where games end this way (besides football, where a scoreless draw hasn’t been seen in nearly 80 years). To them, a game without a point scored, well, doesn’t have a point to it. To Tormenta FC, however, a 0-0 draw last weekend against USL League One leaders North Texas could be the momentum shift needed to jump out of their recently dug hole, and a midweek win in Orlando could very well catapult them out.
With both Ricardo Pepi and Cristian Colman starting up top for the FC Dallas-owned team last weekend, things were no doubt going to be tough for South Georgia to get a result in Texas. Tormenta came in ready to defend, and defend they did, giving up 65% of possession and allowing fourteen shots, taking only two themselves. To put it into a better perspective, Tormenta made 28 clearances over the course of the match. North Texas only needed 5. Both teams played to their strengths, and in the end cancelled each other out.
However, it was by no means a boring match. In order to escape with a league leading ninth clean sheet, Tormenta needed a strong backline, good saves from Pablo Jara, and also get a bit of luck. In the 16th minute, Pepi found himself with a gift of a chance inside the box that he smashed into the left post. The ball fell right to another Texan, Tanner Tessmann, who then fired a shot off the crossbar. Things would settle down for the most part until the 74th minute, when Tormenta would get its first card of the match… a straight red to midfielder Nil Vinyals that still seems to be a very harsh call to say the least. Then, only a minute afterwards, Tormenta would find itself on the losing end of another controversial call, conceding a penalty. Pepi stepped up for seemingly another gift, but the 16 year old FC Dallas homegrown surprisingly failed to put the shot in once again. Now a man down, South Georgia would play even tighter at the back, holding on for a draw, only the second team all year to take a point out of Toyota Stadium at the expense of North Texas.
While no goals were found on Saturday, Sunday evening was a much different story. Playing in the USL League Two Southern Conference Final against Brazos Valley Cavalry, Tormenta FC 2 had the franchise at its furthest postseason position in four years of play. Brazos Valley, the undefeated winner of the Mid South Division, had scored in incredible 51 goals in 14 games, and fresh off a 3-0 win over SC United looked as tough an opponent as any. Just a couple minutes after kickoff, though, it was already 1-0 to Twomenta thanks to Jordan Walshaw. And it wouldn’t stop there. The goals would continue to pile on- Billhardt, Perez, Young, and Billhardt again- leaving the scoreboard reading 5-1 at the final whistle. An unbelievable penalty save by Tormenta 2’s Tor Saunders was just the cherry on top for the new Southern Conference Champions, who also won themselves a spot in the national semifinals. Travelling to Statesboro this Sunday is Reading United AC, League Two veterans, Philadelphia Union affiliates, and familiar U.S. Open Cup participants, who will no doubt be a difficult obstacle in the way of a championship spot.
Before daydreaming too much about this crazy weekend ahead, Tormenta has a Wednesday night meeting in Orlando to take care of. It’ll be the third and final time the two teams will see each other this season, barring a miraculous playoff run by Orlando B, with the Young Lions yet to beat the Georgia team. They nearly ruined the season opening momentum for Tormenta back in Week 3, leading 1-0 until a last gasp goal from Lars Eckenrode, resulting in a concussion that still has him sidelined in Week 18. A 2-0 South Georgia win last month was great to see in regards to offensive action for the Blue and Magenta; more goals tonight would be welcome to a team that hasn’t scored very many since that match.
Orlando City B isn’t very high in the statistical ratings for much of anything. Sitting last in USL League One, OCB is tied for most goals conceded, 8th in goals scored, 8th in clean sheets, and the worst in staying out of the referee’s book with 42 yellows and five reds. If there is a game for the Tormenta attack to regroup, it’s this one. They won’t be entirely pushovers, though. Despite being winless in their last five, the last three games they’ve only conceded once each match. Another strong defensive showing by South Georgia can lay the groundwork for the offense to find some form after only scoring two goals from penalties in the last four games. A win will see Tormenta in good shape to take on number three Lansing at home on Saturday, using the game in hand to create some breathing room. Orlando will be missing striker Will Bagrou and defender Randy Mendoza due to red cards received against Richmond, as well as midfielder Moises Tablante with yellow card accumulation. Nil Vinyals will also miss out because of his red card last match, but his suspension shouldn’t be more than a game.
It won’t be a clean sweep, but tonight could see Tormenta wind up it’s set of games against OCB this season unbeaten in all three matches. Strap in, it’s time to play Orlando City.
Orlando City B
Prediction: Tormenta FC 3-1 Orlando City B
Orlando City B vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC
USL League One Regular Season Week 18
Montverde Academy, Montverde, Florida
Wednesday, July 24, 7:30 P.M. EST
Watch on ESPN+ in U.S., YouTube internationally