T2 frustrated their hosts with a solid defensive performance and were able to go into the half scoreless for both teams. Austin were the better team in the first half, as has been the theme the past three matches. But it has steadily improved. They gave up 2 goals in the first half against S2, one against Los Dos, and now zero against Austin.
The Aztex dominated the majority of the first half against T2. Very similar to previous recent outings T2 were a bit sluggish to start. In the 23rd minute, Austin had their best chance of the match. Gleeson collected the ball in his box and moved forward to kick the ball back into play. However, he was unable to see the very pale yellow line that delineated his 18 yard box. So he took a few steps outside of the box thinking he was still inside and once people realized he left his box the ref whistled for the foul. The Aztex stepped up to take a free kick right on the edge of the penalty area. It was a fantastic kick taken, with quite a lot of speed on it, but came off the crossbar. It deflected downward and back into play and ricocheted off Austin Aztex player Caesar. Luckily for T2 it went out wide right.
It took about 35 minutes for T2's offense to start to come into the match and relieve a little bit of pressure on their defense. Clarke continued to make critical blocks and clearances while Gleeson had a handful of great saves in the half to keep T2 in the match. There were a couple of chances for T2 to score towards the end of the first half but nothing was too difficult for the Austin keeper. So after 45 minutes of both defenses holding strong, the teams went into the lockers scoreless.
And very similar to previous recent outings, T2 went into the second half with a much improved performance. Which culminated in a spectacular goal for midfielder George Fochive. In the 54th minute, T2 had a free kick that Jeanderson put right into the wall. He got the ball right back though and the ball was worked out left where it nearly got to Winchester but the Aztex were able to push it out for a T2 corner. The corner was sent in and Austin Aztex forward Kris Tyrpak got his head to the ball but sent it downward in his clearance attempt. The ball fell to George Fochive outside the box and he struck a left footed shot on the half volley into the back of the net for the lone goal of the match. They always say "put your laces through it". Well, Fochive put his laces through it and then some. Not entirely sure how much power was behind that ball, but I think he could've put a hole through a solid brick wall.
After the goal, T2 continued to try to get another goal for a little while. It wasn't until around the 65th minute that the Aztex began to regain momentum and increase the pressure on the T2 defense as they searched for an equalizer. With the last 5 minutes of regulation seeing Austin throw all 10 field players into the attacking third to try to break down the T2 defense. And both sides were getting frustrated by the other team's defense. Belmar in particular for T2 as the Aztex were trying to mark him out of the match or forcing him to find the ball wide. But it wasn't until deep into second half stoppage time that things boiled over.
Just before the 93rd minute in 3 minutes worth of stoppage time, Austin Aztex player Mikey Ambrose jumped up behind Belmar to try to win a 50/50 ball. He put a little extra effort into his jump and put a forceful elbow into the back of Belmar's head. This was the tension snapper as both teams looked like they were going to get into a fight with each other. But credit to the ref who had a good view of the elbow and was able to prevent a potential blow out of emotions between the two teams. There was still pushing and shoving and Belmar was incensed by the elbow to his head, but in the end his team kept him at bay. The ref gave Mikey Ambrose a straight red card and after that got the teams to finish out the last few seconds of stoppage time.
With the victory, T2 are one point short of the red line, tied with the Whitecaps 2. What T2 have going for them are 5 of the next 6 games at home. All against teams near them in the standings and all against teams that they should have good chances of defeating at home. First up will be the Oklahoma City Energy next Saturday, August 8th at 7pm at Merlo Field.