The U14 Miami Red Dogs suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Tulsa United Crossfire on Saturday at Miami High School's Ed Craig Field
All three goals were scored as a result of penalty kicks as no goals were scored during live action in the defensive struggle.
A handball in the penalty area gave Tulsa United the first penalty kick in the 27th minute of the first half. Goalkeeper Stone Collins got a hand on the ball and nearly saved the shot, but couldn’t keep the ball from crossing the goal line.
In the 32nd minute, the Red Dogs were awarded a penalty kick when a Crossfire defender handled the soccer ball. Midfielder Koith Quiroz buried the shot and the match was tied 1-1 at the half.
Midway through the second half, a Tulsa United attacker was fouled in the penalty area and the Crossfire were awarded another penalty kick. The resulting goal gave the Crossfire a 2-1 lead with 20 minutes to play in the match.
Despite a couple of good chances to tie, Red Dogs were unable to find the net and suffered their first league loss in almost a year
For the second consecutive week, the Red Dogs struggled to score goals. Head coach Jeremy Radebaugh wants the players to understand that this will pass and the team still has every opportunity to reach preseason goals.
"Our kids are playing hard for 70 minutes each and every game," he said. "That’s all a coach can ask for. Do we need to get better offensively? Sure we do. But this is a tough league we are playing in and I hope the kids understand that winning 8-0 every week just isn’t going to happen.
"Assistant coach Trini Quiroz and I will put our heads together and see what we can come up with to help restore the confidence level of these players. It’s way too early in the season to push the panic button. We will find the correct combination of players to put goals on the board and regain some of our team chemistry."
While the offense has struggled, the defense continues to shine for the Red Dogs. Radebaugh points out that even if goals are hard to come by, great defense will continue to make the Red Dogs tough to beat.
"We are playing very well defensively," Radebaugh said. "We have surrendered one goal this season that wasn’t a penalty kick, and that was against a great player from Muskogee. A hand ball and push in the box, two correctable mistakes, are all that kept us from shutting out the Crossfire.
"I have been extremely impressed with our back line. Payton Edmondson, one of our younger players, continues to step up his game and is a force for us on defense. Veterans Wolfgang Flick and Kieran Coyne always play well. Our new players (Sam Hughes, Daniel Allen and Jakob Tarter) are also playing well and are getting better every week. Goalkeeper Stone Collins is outstanding and has the tools to be a great keeper in high school."
The Red Dogs travel to Tulsa Saturday for another tough league game against the Tulsa Union Flames, who were 5-3 winners over the Crossfire in last week’s league match. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
The Red Dogs battled Muskogee SC SSC ’98 to a 1-1 tie March 10 at the Georgia Pacific Soccer Complex in Muskogee.
Ben Pulley put the Red Dogs up 1-0 in the 2nd minute when he stepped in front of an errant pass played by a Muskogee defender and beat the goalkeeper at the near post. It was Pulley’s third goal of the season.
The lead did not last long. Muskogee’s Carlos Martinez got the equalizer just four minutes later with a beautiful goal.
Martinez used fancy footwork to get by three Red Dogs near the top of the box and then blasted a shot home to make it 1-1. Both teams had several chances to get the go ahead goal, but the rest of the match remained scoreless and finished in a 1-1 tie.
Radebaugh is quick to put this game into the proper perspective.
"This Muskogee team has been playing competitive soccer for the past three seasons," Radebaugh said. :In the spring of 2011, they finished fourth in a competitive league that included several Tulsa area teams. Last fall they had a much tougher time and were moved down to a rec plus league. This was by far the most talented team these boys have faced in two years.
"Their best player (Carlos Martinez) was extremely good. He gave us fits the entire match."
While both teams had about the same number of shots on goal, Muskogee SC SSC ’98 controlled most of the possession during the match.
Being in the unfamiliar situation of facing a tactically better opponent, the Miami Red Dogs resorted to playing a long ball, counter-attacking style of soccer.
Radebaugh was extremely pleased with how hard the boys played, but mentions that the team needs to improve in several areas if the Red Dogs expect to win the rematch on April 14.
"We didn’t respond very well to their constant offensive pressure," Radebaugh said. "Once we gained possession of the ball, we seemed impatient and lacked good off-the-ball movement. This resulted in lot of long balls being played that ended up being turnovers. Our players need to realize that possessing the ball is the best way to keep a talented offensive opponent from hurting you.
"We are good enough to do it, but we needed to believe in ourselves a little bit more and keep possession. But this is what good teams do to you. The 1-1 tie was probably a fair result. Both teams could have been better at finishing some golden opportunities in the second half. Our boys will get a lot out of this game going forward. This is why we are in a rec plus league, to play against teams that penalize your mistakes. We will learn from this experience and get ready for next week and another tough opponent."
Assistant coach Trini Quiroz pointed out several players who had good games.
"We actually played very well defensively," Quiroz said. "I thought center fullback Kieran Coyne and goalkeeper Stone Collins had great games. I also thought central midfielder Grant Hubbard and forward Dalton Norton played well."