Defender Justin Thompson talks about the difficult task of the trip to Miami and Puerto Rico combined with three matches in four days. He talks about the success of capturing six of nine points last week, and the posibility of getting another shot at Puerto Rico in the playoffs. Here is his report from the road.
Friday, Aug. 24 - 6 a.m.
We finally won last night after four consecutive ties! It feels so good! Especially since I was able to contribute by scoring the game-winning goal. And ... I must admit, it was one of the best goals I've ever scored. Everyone played well last night and we thoroughly deserved the victory. It puts us back into first place in the standings, with two big games coming up this weekend. Our flight to Miami is boarding so I had better run.
Sat., Aug. 25 - 12 noon
We had a very long travel day yesterday and didn't arrive until about 9 p.m. local time. We just got back from a jog and a stretch, and we're heading out for a pre-game meal. Tonight we face Miami, who we beat earlier in the season at our place by a score of 1-0. They are a very skillful team with lots of players who have the ability to change a game with some individual brilliance. We are mentally and physically tired, but we will be brave, and give them a good run for their money. We will try to be very organized defensively and provide cover for each other as much as possible. If we can work as a team, we should be able to get something out of the game.
Sat., Aug. 25 - 11 p.m.
Get in!!! What a great result that was. We snatched all three points tonight in very humid conditions. With all their pace and trickery, it was our own Shaun Higgins who was able to provide a game changing run. He juked his way into their 18-yard box and was brought down for a penalty, which was smoothly slotted home by our captain Andrew Gregor. We let them back in the game with some sloppy defending off of a set piece (the first time we've been scored against off a corner this year!). But Scot Thompson rose above their defender with about 10 minutes to go in the game to power home a great header and seal all three points!! We couldn't be more happy with the last two games, but we have no time to enjoy the victory. We are meeting in the lobby at 5 a.m. to catch a plane to Puerto Rico for our final game of this difficult trip.
Sun., Aug. 26 - 11 a.m.
We have just arrived into San Juan, Puerto Rico for a game against the Islanders. They are fresh and desperate for a win because they are chasing one of the last playoff spots. We on the other hand, will be playing our third game in four nights, which will have undoubtedly taken its toll. Because of this, we will be taking a different approach to the game tonight. We will drop off and defend, and try to catch them on the counter attack. It should be a great game!
Mon., Aug. 27 - 12 noon
Well, we couldn't keep them out last night. It is very frustrating, because we all know that if we were to play them when both teams were rested, it would have been a completely different game. I don't like to make excuses, but I think it was Vince Lombardi who said "fatigue makes cowards of us all." They broke down our left flank and whipped in a cross that was finished with a good header by their target forward. Their fans were very vocal and it was extremely humid, which didn't help our cause. At the end of the day, we had our hands full all night against a team fighting to keep their playoff ambitions alive.
We now have only two games to play and we are second in the table. We took six out of a possible nine points with a very difficult three games in four days stretch and travel days in between! So, overall I think we have to be satisfied with our performances this weekend. Puerto Rico could be one of our opponents come the first round of the playoffs, so we'll get our chance to show them what we're all about.
As for now, we will have a good week of training and prepare for Carolina next weekend. A win there should see us solidify that coveted top two position. We know you'll be following us and we certainly appreciate it!
Cheers and have a great week!