The Austin Aztex won a physical match against the West Texas Sockers Friday night 2-0 at Grande Communications Stadium in Midland, Texas. The Aztex made the most out of their early chances again, when Aztex midfielder Tony Rocha converted a penalty kick in the fifth minute after forward Callum Riley was taken down in the penalty area. The goal was Rocha’s second of the season. Aztex ring winger Kristopher Tyrpak set up the second goal for William Morse in the waning seconds of the first half. It appeared both teams were expecting a score of 1-0 heading into the halftime locker room. The Aztex goal changed the feel of the game for the second half. The physical play continued in the second half as five yellow cards were handed out, four of them to the Sockers. Aztex goalkeeper Josh Mikulewicz earned the clean sheet with as he commanded the area and suffocated the Sockers attack.
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Austin Aztex: West Texas Sockers:
GK: Josh Mikulewicz GK: Alonso Jimenez
LB: J.J. Elder CB: Mike Stewart
CB: Travis Golden CB: Raul Franco
CB: Ross Kelly RB: David Kamali
RB: Matt Boultt LB: Anders Moeller
CDM: Tony Rocha LM: Oswaldo Valdivia
CDM: James Martin CM: Shelby Sharp
RM: Kristopher Tyrpak RM: Sergio Rios
LM: Jesus ‘Chuy’ Cortes RW: Andrew Powers
CAM: William Morse F: Mariano Sapien
F: Callum Riley LW: Jose Munoz
GK: Devin Cook GK: Ray Clark
D: Josh Alcala D: Gabriel Mendoza
M: Pedro Pereira M: Joel Musambi
M: Justin Franz M: Lukas Garcia
M: Kendall Rockers F: David Freeland
F: Zack Pope F: Sabas Ruiz
M: Kekuta Manneh F:Kal Herbert
Rocha (pk 5’)
Martin (Yellow 14’) Kamali (Yellow 62’)
Elder (Yellow 29’) Willis (Yellow 68’)
Franz (Yellow 77’) Achondo (Yellow 70’)
Mendoza (Yellow 81’)
The Aztex continued their early scoring when defensive midfielder Tony Rocha slotted home a penalty kick in the 5th minute. The play formed when right midfielder Kristopher Tyrpak settled a long pass and sent a perfectly placed through ball to forward Callum Riley in the penalty area. Riley was taken down by a Sockers defender, and Rocha stepped up to finish the opportunity.
Both squads spent a majority of the first half battling for ball in a physical contest. The physical play led to two first-half yellow cards for the Aztex – James Martin (13’) and J.J. Elder (41’). As the play grew more physical, the Aztex relied on long passing attacks which were broken apart by the Sockers defense.
“Tyrpak was excellent,” Dalglish said. “He has been excellent ever since he has come in. He was terrific in the first half and it was very pleasing to be able to get him off at half and get him ready for tomorrow night. He has not done the preseason training with us so I don’t want to ask too much.”
Tyrpak joined squad for training on Tuesday and made the transition to the PDL squad seem easy even though he had less than a week’s worth of practice with the squad.
“The transition was smooth because everyone here knows how to play the game,” Tyrpak said. “It was easy to blend in and know that you can play your game and that the other players will be at the right place.”
The Aztex finished the half on a high note, as Rocha sent a long through ball to Tyrpak who sent a precise pass across the front of the goal. Aztex midfielder William Morse hammered the ball into the back of the net at the 45th minute mark.
Prior to the goal, it appeared both teams were ready to go to the locker room with the score 1-0. The Aztex carried the momentum into the half and changed feel of the game for the second half. The late first-half goal gave coach Dalglish the flexibility to rest some players earlier than anticipated given that the Aztex face the El Paso Patriots on Saturday.
“Once we went up 2-0 at half it gave me the opportunity to take an educated gamble to take some players off and get them some rest,” said Dalglish. “That gamble paid off and we will have some rested players for tomorrow.”
At the beginning of the second half, Dalglish substituted in Kekuta Manneh and Kendall Rockers to lead the Aztex attack. The fresh legs up front and the insurance goal helped calm the team’s nerves as they resumed their possession-heavy style of play.
“We have to be careful to use Kekuta the right way and protect him,” Dalglish said. “We want to make sure we are responsible with how we use him. Kendall has great pace and great energy and so does Kekuta as well. Kendall is only a little older than Kekuta. We have some top young players and it is exciting to have. ”
Manneh continued to show flashes of a goal scoring threat in the second half with two excellent opportunities. In his first chance, Manneh managed to navigate the slalom of defenders inside the box in a play that strongly resembled his goal from the Texas Dutch Lions game. However, Sockers goalkeeper Alonso Jimenez was able to jump on the ball at the end. The second chance came in stoppage time when Manneh beat the goalie to a loose ball and nearly thread the ball into a tight window from the goal line.
The second half was filled with fouls on both sides of the ball, as the West Texas Sockers tried to wrestle back into the match. However, the Aztex defense was able to keep the Sockers attack at bay and managed to keep the score at 2-0 through the end.
Aztex goalkeeper Josh Mikulewicz earned the clean sheet as he was aggressive and strong in his play to prevent the ball from slipping past him.
The game marked impressive Aztex debut performances from Kristopher Tyrpak and Pedro Pereira. Both college players were able to create opportunities in midfield and help the Aztex. The transition for these two players to join the rest of the squad will give Dalglish further depth against El Paso on Saturday night.