South Georgia Tormenta FC’s 2020 season will conclude tonight with a trip to Arlington, Texas, as the team takes on FC Dallas operated North Texas SC, who still remain in the chase for the USL League One Final, albeit the least likely of the three contenders left for the second spot in the championship game. Tormenta’s fate on the outside has been confirmed for a few weeks now, but the Statesboro club is not going out quietly, as shown by the previous two matches in the past week: a 1-0 win on the road to second place Richmond, and Wednesday night’s thrilling, record making blowout of New England Revolution II in the home finale.
Revs II came to town as arguably the hottest team in the league, unbeaten in their last five, including some heavy scorelines. Tormenta kept the same defensive look that earned the clean sheet in Richmond, and kept center back Josh Phelps at striker for the second consecutive match. Attacking focal point Marco Micaletto was absent due to red card suspension, leaving a gap for Jad Arslan and Luca Mayr to fill.
The visitors set out to control possession, which they did throughout the match, but it was Tormenta who struck uncharacteristically early in the game in the 18th minute, when Josh Phelps won a chase down the right touchline, bodied a defender off the ball, and delivered a pass to the feet of Nil Vinyals, who swung through a bouncing ball into the bottom corner to give the home team the lead. Phelps would make his presence known again in the 29th minute, pouncing on a spilled Luca Mayr shot, scoring his first professional goal to join the assist. Just five minutes later, a deflected cross landed in front of Arslan, who quickly pulled off a powerful strike to give Tormenta a 3-0 lead.
Now comfortably ahead, head coach Ian Cameron brought in 18 year old Savannah native and Clemson commit Tristan DeLoach shortly into the second half. The Tormenta Academy player managed 100% success in his six passes as he got extended gameplay with the professional team for the first time. Another second half sub, Devyn Jambga, got involved as well, capping off a counter attack by dribbling into the box from the left side and unleashing a shot off the crossbar and into the back of the net in the 81st minute. The defense held on easily from there, and the 4-0 score for Tormenta became the largest victory for the club in two years of professional competition.
With momentum the highest it’s been all year, South Georgia is faced with another in form team for its final match. Last year’s champions, North Texas has shown their quality yet again after a shaky start, losing only once (to first place Greenville Triumph) in their last ten matches. Arturo Rodriguez, last year’s MVP, has put on a show in recent matches, putting up a goal or assist in four of their last five games. This being a must win for North Texas, I’d expect some more first team players being called down for the match to bolster the lineup a bit. North Texas sits fourth in the table compared to Tormenta’s seventh, and can still find themselves in the second place berth in the Final should they win and have Richmond and Omaha both lose. Tormenta has yet to win in the series, with one draw and two losses when they met during the 2019 season.
I’d expect South Georgia to approach this one in a similar fashion to Wednesday’s match with Revs II, but the rejoining of Micaletto will shuffle around a lineup that clicked well offensively in the last match. Hopefully, the additional chances that will be created by Micaletto will be finished by Phelps, who now has a goal and assist under him in his new role.
Will the defense remain strong once more against potent FC Dallas wonderkids? Will the goals keep coming from Tormenta’s attack? We’ll find out as the season concludes tonight in Arlington.
North Texas SC
Prediction: North Texas SC 1-2 Tormenta FC
South Georgia Tormenta FC at North Texas SC
USL League One Regular Season, Week 16
Globe Life Park, Arlington, Texas
Saturday, October 24th, 2020, 8:30 P.M. EST