It’s a busy sports day across the state of Georgia: Atlanta United travels to D.C. and multiple college football games will take place from noon to dusk. None of these matchups, though, carry the same weight as South Georgia Tormenta FC’s visit to Omaha this evening. Now, obviously in terms of eyes and prestige this would go probably to Georgia-Auburn, I agree. But with just five games left in the USL League One season, it’s crunch time for Tormenta if they want any chance of meeting likely host and runaway leaders Greenville Triumph in the Final on October 30th.
While the odds of a rise to the top two are currently a fraction of a percent for Tormenta, they aren’t zero yet. To keep those hopes alive, South Georgia will essentially need to win out the remainder of the season, if only to then rely on very specific results from a variety of teams. It’s do or die time, continuing tonight against Union Omaha.
In Tormenta’s advantage, they’ve come off their first real break since the tightly packed season began in July. They’re also coming off a win against Ft. Lauderdale CF, a 2-1 victory two weeks ago in new head coach Ian Cameron’s first match.
Things got off to a rough start in Florida, as the home side took the lead just over four minutes in through a deflected blocked shot from Ft. Lauderdale’s Edison Azcona found its way across the line. Tormenta was able to find their way back into the game just 14 minutes later, as team centerpiece Marco Micaletto dribbled his way into space on the wing and sent a pinpoint cross to the far post finished by recently signed defender Curtis Thorn, scoring his first professional goal in only his second appearance. The remainder of the first half was scoreless thanks to Tormenta goalkeeper Pablo Jara, who made a total of 10 saves to keep South Georgia in the game.
In the 62nd minute, Tormenta made good on that on a counter attack led by Micaletto and Thorn, who played an inch-perfect cross to an oncoming Luca Mayr to take a 2-1 lead. Tormenta’s focus then shifted to preserving that scoreline, and a second yellow for Jordan Skelton with three minutes of stoppage time left made for a tense ending. Ultimately, the defense held, and the squad earned three points and two weeks to rest. Thorn was awarded Player of the Week for his performance, and was joined by Micaletto and Jara in the Team of the Week.
Now having spent time recovering (and getting that Skelton red card rescinded), South Georgia travels to Nebraska to meet Union Omaha for the second time this year. In the first meeting on September 11th, Tormenta was able to jump out to a 2-0 lead over the then unbeaten Owls, but gave up a second half comeback to end 2-2. Following that match, Omaha went on a 3 game losing skid, scoring in none of them. They were able to snap out of it in Ft. Lauderdale on Wednesday, battling to a 3-2 win, but now find themselves inside the pack fighting for that second spot in the Final. MVP candidate Ethan Vanacore-Decker features as the Owls’ main facilitator in attack, but Elma N’for and Evan Conway are also potent threats that will test Tormenta’s defense.
South Georgia will again look to Micaletto for creativity, and press high against Omaha which worked well in in the last matchup to get goal scoring opportunities. Stefan Mueller and Curtis Thorn will also be key in moving forward as wing backs, especially in counter attacking scenarios. With well rested legs, I’d expect Tormenta to play with even more intensity to take advantage of Omaha’s recently congested schedule, and hopefully have more energy in the final 10 minutes when it will be needed most.
Prediction: Union Omaha 1-2 Tormenta FC
South Georgia Tormenta FC at Union Omaha
USL League One Regular Season, Week 12
Werner Park, Papillion, Nebraska
Saturday, October 3rd, 2020, 8:00 P.M. EST