It was a big week for former Lane United FC striker Ricky Lopez-Espin, who scored three goals in helping to lead Fort Lauderdale CF to a win and a draw. Read more about his performances and more former Reds in action below!
RICKY LOPEZ-ESPIN – FORT LAUDERDALE CF (USL LEAGUE ONE)
Lopez-Espin continued his scoring spree with three more goals this week. The red-hot striker started things off last Friday by tallying Fort Lauderdale CF’s lone goal in a 1-1 draw with Orlando City B. After his squad fell behind early, Lopez-Espin’s defensive pressure earned himself a goal, as he closed down goalkeeper Austin Aviza and blocked his clearance into the net. The forward had four total shots on goal and completed over 86% of his passes in the match.
Then on Wednesday night, Lopez-Espin scored a brace to help Fort Lauderdale CF earn its first ever home victory, 3-2 over North Texas SC. A high press again led to the opener, this time in the 26th minute as teammate Eduardo Sosa took advantage of a bad back pass and then slotted the ball to Lopez-Espin, who took a touch before placing a left-footed shot off the inside of the far post and into the net. Sosa set up his teammate for the second goal eight minutes later, beating a few defenders down the left flank before crossing to a wide-open Lopez-Espin to tap home. The former red was also involved in his side’s third goal, as the rebound form his own follow-up shot was slotted home by 15-year-old Felipe Valencia. Ricky now has five goals in four matches to sit atop the league’s goal scoring chart. He also leads the league with 17 shots.
Lopez-Espin will look to stay hot on Saturday against Greenville Triumph SC.
JOHN GALAS & AJ VALENZUELA – FC TUCSON (USL LEAGUE ONE)
Former Reds skipper John Galas also had a busy week, first facing off against Darren Sawatzky, the former Tucson FC manager and now the head coach of the Richmond Kickers, then heading to Florida to take on Orlando City B.
In the matchup of former coaching colleagues, Tucson had the familiar, frustrating outcome of enjoying a majority of the possession – 65% to 35% -- but coming up short on the scoreboard, falling 2-1. Richmond took a 2-0 first half lead and Tucson once again fought back, cutting the lead in half through Shak Adams in the 81st minute, but were unable to grab an equalizer despite applying late pressure. Defender AJ Valenzuela was an unused substitute.
Galas was able to get the reaction he wanted from his charges in the second match of the week, as FC Tucson exploded for four first-half goals en route to a 4-1 victory on Tuesday. Valenzuela was also given the first start of his professional career at center back and didn’t disappoint, contributing three clearances, three interceptions, one tackle one, and even taking a shot on goal while playing all 90 minutes.
Galas had mixed feelings on the match, stating, “I was pleased with the score line, but I wasn’t pleased with how we were playing,” said Galas. “Statistically in everything but goals, it was arguably our worst performance…but what I’m most proud of is that we bent a lot; they came at us, but we didn’t break. We got a 4-1 result on the road after playing three days ago. That’s a big ask in this league,” he added.
Touching on his team’s goals, he highlighted that, “We knew that if we solved that pressure of three, four, five players that they were going to throw at the ball and come after us, we could get at this team and get balls in behind. That said, it only works if we actually run behind and play…we have very fast attacking players…we have weapons. Credit to our guys,” he added. “They executed really well and did enough to not necessarily put the game to bed but make the second half a lot easier.”
FC Tucson have this week off and will return to play on August 29th against Union Omaha in Nebraska.
NICK MOON – INDY ELEVEN (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Moon was on the bench for the second straight week and came on as a substitute in the 83rd minute of Indy Eleven’s 1-0 victory over Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. He won two duels and created a chance in his short time on the pitch, helping his team see out the win. He also won two fouls and added a clearance. Moon will hope to see more of the field in Indy Eleven’s next match on August 26th against Louisville City FC.
AKEEM WARD – NORTH CAROLINA FC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
It was a tough week for Ward and his NCFC teammates, as he missed the team’s first match last week due to injury, a 2-0 loss to Birmingham Legion FC, and returned to the lineup for their second, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of the Charleston Battery on Wednesday. Ward played the entire match at left back and won 12 of his 20 duels and had two shots – one on target – while making four clearances, winning two tackles, making one interception, and blocking one shot.
Ward and NCFC will try to get back into the win column next Wednesday against the Charlotte Independence.
JARET TOWNSEND – SPORTING KANSAS CITY II (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Things weren’t much better for Jaret Townsend and SKC II, as they dropped both games this past week, 3-1 to Saint Louis FC and 4-1 to Louisville City FC.
Townsend played the final 13 minutes in the loss to Saint Louis at striker, completing all of his passes, and earned a start at right midfield against Louisville City, playing 56 minutes before being subbed off.
KYLE COFFEE – REAL MONARCHS SLC (USL CHAMPIONSHIP)
Coffee and his Real Monarchs teammates also dropped both matches last week, first losing 1-0 to El Paso Locomotive FC over the weekend, and then falling 2-0 to New Mexico United.
In the first match, Coffee started up front and played 75 minutes, completing 89% of his passes, creating one chance, and taking one shot, while adding two clearances in defense. He came off the bench in the 73rd minute versus New Mexico with his squad already down 2-0 and was unable to help them turn things around. They’ll get a chance at revenge this Saturday in a rematch with New Mexico United.
WILL SEYMORE – SLIGO ROVERS (LEAGUE OF IRELAND PREMIER DIVISION)
Seymore suffered a strained hamstring recently and missed both of Sligo’s matches last week, a 3-0 loss to Cork City and a last-minute 2-1 win over Waterford. The midfielder faces a late fitness test ahead of this Saturday’s matchup with Dundalk.