Carlos Gomez scored a hat trick as Greenville Triumph SC defeated FC Tucson, 4-0, Friday night at Legacy Early College.
After a two-hour lightning delay, the hosts came out firing. Gomez opened the scoring for Greenville in the 13th minute, cleaning up a blocked shot inside the 18-yard box. Cameron Saul’s initial effort was blocked by an FC Tucson defender, but the rebound fell to Gomez who struck a first-time shot past goalkeeper Carlos Mencia Valdez to give the Triumph an early lead.
Gomez doubled Greenville’s lead minutes later, capitalizing on an error by Mencia Valdez. Again Saul struck a shot that was blocked, but this time the deflection went skyward. Mencia Valdez mishandled the rebound, leaving Gomez with a tap-in for his second goal of the night and fourth of the season.
Aaron Walker made it 3-0 inside of 30 minutes from the penalty spot in the 26th minute. Saul drew the penalty, skipping past Karsten Hanlin inside the 18-yard box and drawing him into a lunging tackle. Walker confidently struck the spot kick to his left, beating Mencia Valdez for his third goal of the season.
Gomez popped up in the right place at the right time again in the 87th minute to add an insurance goal. J.J. Donnelly’s shot was blocked and the rebound fell kindly for Gomez who struck it on the half volley, beating Mencia Valdez for the third time in the match.
Gomez’s first goal was enough to secure all three points as Dallas Jaye earned his league-leading 13th clean sheet of the season in goal. Jaye was only forced to make one save as he and the Triumph defense continued to set the standard for defensive efficiency in League One.
With the win, Greenville remains in third place, five points behind second-place Lansing Ignite FC with a game in hand. John Harkes’ side will find comfort in the fact that Friday’s win created a four point gap between themselves and the three teams chasing the fourth and final playoff position. The Triumph will look to close in on Lansing further, should the Ignite stumble in their contest with Chattanooga Red Wolves SC in Week 25, next week when they host Toronto FC II at Legacy Early College.
Despite the loss, Tucson remains in the playoff race, just two points back of Chattanooga, South Georgia Tormenta FC, and Forward Madison FC who are all vying for fourth place. FCT will return home for four consecutive matches at Kino Sports Complex to close the season, beginning with the Richmond Kickers next week.
A late own goal helped Toronto FC II defeat Orlando City B, 3-2, Friday afternoon at BMO Training Ground.
Lucas Ontivero opened the scoring for Orlando City B in the 23rd minute, using a clever turn to beat his defender before firing a left-footed shot past Eric Klenofsky from a tight angle to score his first goal for the club.
Toronto FC II responded to the early deficit well and equalized from the penalty spot in the 39th minute after an OCB defender was whistled for a handball. Jordan Perruzza stepped up and sent Juliano Chade the wrong way, hesitating before rolling the ball into the goal to his left for his eleventh goal of the season.
Perruzza put his side in front just minutes into the second half after finding space inside the six-yard box. Jordan Faria picked out Perruzza with a cross from the right flank and the striker poked it past Klenofsky for his second goal of the game and third in two weeks.
Orlando equalized in the 68th minute through a penalty of their own after Terique Mohammed dragged William Bagrou down inside the box. Thiago Souza struck a great penalty to draw his side level, beating Klenofsky to the goalkeeper’s right with a shot that found the top corner.
TFC II grabbed a late winner after Jayden Nelson broke free down the left flank. Nelson drove into the box before playing a low cross into a pack of bodies inside the six-yard box. Nelson’s cross was touched last by OCB’s Tanner Hummel and the own goal was enough to secure three points for the home side.
The win moves Toronto into eighth place, with the ninth place Richmond Kickers set to play tomorrow night. With four points separating TFC II from the fourth and final playoff spot, Michael Rabasca’s side is still in the race for the playoffs. Toronto will head to South Carolina to take on Greenville Triumph SC next Friday.
With Orlando already eliminated from playoff contention, the loss does little except extend the club’s winless run to 14 games. OCB hasn’t earned a point in a match since its 1-1 draw with Chattanooga Red Wolves SC on July 10. Next stop for Orlando is Chattanooga for a rematch with the Red Wolves.