Lane United FC hosted PDX FC to produce a thrilling match in the club’s first competitive match at Civic Park.
While the Reds would lose by five goals to four, the atmosphere was electric and the game was overflowing with drama.
Lane United midfielder Henry Cromack scored a brace, while striker Jose Gonzalez and winger Ed Port added goals of their own. Despite a brief second-half lead, though, PDX FC would prevail.
In addition to hosting their first match of the USL League Two regular season at a new venue, Lane United were sporting an even newer head coach. Jason Carney had only been with his new team for three training sessions before Friday night’s match, with former head coach Manny Martins taking a collegiate head coaching gig in Utah.
Even with an unfortunate final scoreline, it was a night to remember at Civic Park.
PDX FC came out on the front foot and had a pair of early chances cleared by the Reds’ back line, but a giveaway in the eighth minute would give the visitors an early lead.
PDX FC winger Nick Scardina pressured high to win the ball deep in LUFC territory and crossed to Jesus Patino, who finished from inside the box to get the first goal. As with any lead in this match, it wouldn’t last long.
The Reds struck back quickly. Henry Cromack’s shot was saved by PDX FC goalkeeper Austin Rodgers, but Jose Gonzalez knotted the score with a rebounded header.
A mesmerising run from PDX FC’s Paco Alcides led to a saved shot, which Scardina converted to take back the lead in the 24th minute.
Once again, the Reds would punch back, this time just four minutes later. Cromack was the creator for a second time, although on this occasion he finished the chance himself while 1v1 with the goalkeeper after a poor giveaway by the visitors.
Just before half, a possible Lane United penalty was ignored by the referees after Jesus Medina was fouled in the corner of the box. At the break, the scoreline stood square at two apiece.
It would only take five second-half minutes for PDX FC to retake the lead. Patino broke through the LUFC back line and had his initial effort saved expertly by goalkeeper Albert Escuin. Unfortunately, Patino converted the rebound to sway the boys in black back in front.
Perhaps the best goal of the night went to Henry Cromack, who cracked a volley with the outside of his foot into the upper 90 for yet another Lane United equalizer. The 54th-minute banger made the scoreline 3-3, with both teams remaining aggressive.
As the match wore on, Lane United players began “dropping like flies,” in the words of Carney. At least three of his five substitutions were due to injury; including winger Habib Binate and center back Jordan Jackmon, both forced off due to ankle injuries.
One of the substitutes, Ed Port, made one of the plays of the night for the Reds in the 68th minute. After making a tackle in his defending half, Port sprinted down the pitch, received the ball, and combined with Gonzalez at the top of the box. He drove towards the byline and hit a perfect left-footed shot across the goal, tucking it into the far corner for Lane United’s first advantage of the match.
Straight from the kickoff, PDX FC substitute Abubakar Fofanah dribbled into the box and cut inside to send two defenders the wrong way. He slid the ball past an outstretched Escuin, tying the match for the fourth time. In the 69th minute, the score was 4-4.
Fofanah would strike again in the 85’ as he and Johnny Rodas combined superbly inside the box, one-two-three-four-ing passes through tired Lane United bodies for the ninth goal of the night.
Tensions swelled late in the match as the home team pushed for another equalizer. Three minutes before added time, PDX FC’s Daniel Saez was shown his second yellow card for a rash challenge at the top of his box, sparking huge protest from him and the PDX FC bench, which led to head coach Luke Babson also being sent off.
It took Saez quite a long time to saunter away from the pitch and into the locker room, causing a six-minute delay in total. Even his own teammates were encouraging him off at one point. Gonzalez eventually took the free kick, but it sailed well over the bar.
LUFC wouldn’t have many more chances, as the Portlanders scrapped the ball away time after time. Two more cautions were issued to the visitors, and Lane United would get one last chance in the tenth and final minute of added time.
Cromack, who had been the star all night for the Reds, curled a beautiful ball toward the top corner. “It was going in,” he confirmed postgame. In the end, though, it was Austin Rodgers coming up with one last massive, flying save for the visitors.
In the end it was 5-4 to PDX FC, who spoiled an attacking masterclass from the Eugene squad. Although the scoreline was disappointing, the match was certainly an entertaining one.
Lane United will travel to Albany to take on Oregon Valley Futbol Alliance on Sunday at 2pm.