Only 70 hours after the referee’s whistle ended South Georgia Tormenta FC’s season opener on Saturday, another whistle will bring to a start the second game of the team’s USL League One campaign.
Tormenta comes off of a hard fought 2-2 draw with the Chattanooga Red Wolves, a physical battle that kept intensity high until the end. A very limited roster saw the team post a 3 man bench to supplement the starting 11, only two of which were outfield players. Another two players within the starting lineup were played outside of their regular roles, left back Stefan Mueller moved centrally and forward Daniel Jackson placed all the way at right back, providing cover for missing teammates. To their credit, both players performed well in their unfamiliar roles despite conceding twice, namely Jackson with 2 interceptions and a 100% tackle success rate.
South Georgia’s attack did not suffer the same stretched roster issues as the defense, however, and were able to fly out of the gates with some brilliant skill from Marco Micaletto to complete a counter attack in the 7th minute.
The team stayed the course for the remainder of the first half, going into the break with a 1-0 lead as the match became more and more physical. In total, 34 fouls were committed during the game, with 8 yellow cards shown by the referee. The start of the second half brought a swing in momentum, this time Chattanooga found the back of the net 7 minutes into play courtesy of Greg Hurst. The Red Wolves were able to grab another just 9 minutes later, again from Hurst with a powerful header from close range.
Now finding themselves on the losing end, Tormenta continued to make what tactical changes they could. The entrepreneurship paid off as the match entered stoppage time; Daniel Jackson, now pushing forward, found the end of dangerous buildup and got just enough on the shot to get the ball across the line and rescue a point for the home side.
Now the Tormenta squad will be met with a quick turnaround in preparation for tonight’s match, the rescheduled meeting with Richmond that was meant to be the season opener two weeks ago before a scare of unconfirmed positive COVID tests warranted a postponement. The Kickers travel to Statesboro from a weekend match in Greenville, a 3-2 loss to the previous season’s runner-up Triumph. The Kickers finished 9th last season, however still hold a 1-1-1 all time record with Tormenta including a 4-1 win in Statesboro later into last season. Over the offseason, Tormenta added Daniel Jackson from Richmond, while the Kickers added Ian Antley, brother of former Tormenta player and last season’s Defensive MVP Conner Antley, who was transferred to Indy Eleven.
With players still adjusting to playing matches again coupled with the short rest period, it’s a near certainty that rotated rosters will feature in this match. I expect Tormenta to have more depth for this match than the last with players returning to the roster, but tired legs will still have an impact as the team previously wasn’t able to take advantage of the five subs rule. We’ll see how each team responds to the odd scheduling circumstances and ultimately who can overcome early season fatigue better.
Prediction: Tormenta FC 1-0 Richmond Kickers
South Georgia Tormenta FC vs. Richmond Kickers
USL League One Regular Season, Week 3
Erk Russell Park, Statesboro, Georgia
Tuesday, July 28th, 2020, 7:00 P.M. EST