It’s not an exaggeration to say that the past week was perhaps the wildest in South Georgia Tormenta FC franchise history. A massive weekend of home games in both USL League One and League Two proved to be more than entertaining, producing emotional rollercoasters of matches with crazy endings no matter the Tormenta squad on the field.
Things began to unfold starting Saturday morning, when the team announced a new midseason addition in Shinya Kadono. Kadono was picked up in the latest MLS Superdraft by D.C. United and sent to Loudoun United, their USL affiliate. Competition may have gotten a little too crowded for the forward role up in Virginia, and Kadono was sent to Statesboro on loan for the remainder of the season. The Japanese native led the Pac-12 in goals last year with the California Golden Bears, and could bring a shift in attacking momentum to Tormenta, an area that needs improvement if the team is going to challenge for the league title.
Kadono would start on the bench against Lansing that evening, and things would start off less than ideally as Rafael Mentzingen would touch and volley a shot home to give Lansing a lead in the 12th minute. The Ignite would not let up the offensive pressure on the night, proceeding to hit the crossbar two times as they searched for another goal. Tormenta’s defense stayed strong, as they usually are, but the attack failed to put a shot on target for nearly all of 90 minutes. Kadono would come on as the final Tormenta sub in the 76th minute of the game, and immediately went to work on the Lansing back line. His work would pay off late, as he ran onto a short pass from Alex Morrell and sent the ball into the far corner with a quick touch and shot, tying the game and later winning Goal of the Week. It looked like a point saved for Tormenta until two minutes over stoppage time, when an… interesting penalty call was made in favor of Lansing. In a moment of pure sporting brilliance, keeper Pablo Jara threw a hand up as he dove away from Elma N’For’s shot to deflect the ball over the crossbar and save the game for South Georgia. It would win Pablo his second consecutive Save of the Week and confirm a Tormenta sweep for Week 18’s awards, but this clip shouldn’t end here. Save of the Year, Save of the Century… if you can come up with an award, this save should be a contender for it.
The lights at Erk Russell Park were back on just 22 hours later as Tormenta FC 2 competed in the USL League Two Semifinal against Reading United AC. The home team came out hot, scoring two goals in 14 minutes from Daniel Strachan and Adrian Billhardt. Things looked comfortable for Twomenta until a 70th minute equalizer from Reading. From there, the curse of a 2-0 lead took full effect, as Reading would add another in the 84th to force extra time. By now, Tormenta 2 was running on fumes, having used up every sub available (including a keeper for a field player in extra time), while Reading was able to save their subs for the added half hour. Twomenta looked to be successfully holding out for penalties, but a trip caused by keeper Tor Saunders resulted in a Reading penalty in the very last minute of extra time. Tor was nearly able to copy Pablo from the night before, but the ball snuck in under his gloves to push the visiting team to the League Two final.
The Tormenta 2 squad will disperse, heading back to their colleges or signing contracts elsewhere, but at least one player has extended his stay in Statesboro past the summer season. Kobe Perez, a midfielder for Tormenta 2, signed a pro deal with the League One team following the conclusion of the season. He appeared in all 14 regular season games for Twomenta, and adds to the depth chart at center midfield for Tormenta FC. Perez is rated highly by coach John Miglarese, stating that he will be featuring this season. Kobe is the first of surely many players to come up from Tormenta 2 to sign with the first team, and could make his debut as early as tonight, as Tormenta travels up the road to their nearest neighbors: Greenville Triumph.
Tonight is the fourth of five total meetings between Greenville and Tormenta, and the last of them in South Carolina, as the league will end where it began with the two teams in Statesboro come October. Tormenta will be without some key pieces this time, namely coach Miglarese, suspended for verbal abuse of the officiating crew last week, and Marco Micaletto, whose yellow card accumulation finally caught up with him against Lansing. The previous meeting between the two clubs was almost exactly two months ago, when they played to a 0-0 draw in Greenville thanks to a clinic in goalkeeping and defending by the two best defenses in League One. The lone wins for each club in the series have been 1-0 results, happening at their respective home stadiums.
While Tormenta continues to climb out of their hole from back to back losses in early July, Greenville comes in off a 4-0 beatdown on the league leading North Texas, who, while they were a man down, got dominated by the Triumph in their own stadium. To Tormenta, with one win in the last five matches, it might not look like a good matchup, but Greenville at home hasn’t enjoyed too much of an advantage, posting a 4-3-2 record at Legacy Early College. However, they enjoy a much better offense than when the teams last met, as forward Jake Keegan now leads the league in shots taken.
It’ll be up to the Tormenta defense once again to keep the game tight, and maybe we can see the new additions produce some magic once again and get a result for South Georgia.
Prediction: Greenville 1-1 Tormenta
Greenville Triumph SC vs. South Georgia Tormenta FC
USL League One Regular Season, Week 19
Legacy Early College, Greenville, South Carolina
Saturday, August 3rd, 7:00 P.M. EST