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Mass tops Philly
Uneven performance dooms Atoms




September 30, 2017

Glenside, PA – The Philadelphia Atoms (1-3 Fall, 4-9-1 overall) went into Saturday night’s match up with Mass United (1-0 Fall, 7-3-1 overall) with a shot at a two-game win streak and a share of 2nd place on points. But it was Mass United who would exit Lenox Field with the three points, leaving the Atoms and their supporters only to wonder, what just happened?

The Atoms inexplicably came out flat needing more energy and emotion. One would think that it would be the visitors who would be tired. After all, Massachusetts was coming off of a US Open Cup extra-time win, and had over a four-hour trip to Pennsylvania. But it was the Riders who came out sharp with a younger lineup. They took the action to the hosts bringing the majority of play to Philadelphia’s defensive third. After a few minutes in, it became clear that United saw opportunity to exploit the Atoms’ defensive center midfield and center backs.

Opportunity turned into results in the 10th minute as Alvenso Honore cut straight down the middle of the Atoms defense. Honore felt little resistance and beat the Atoms’ keeper with a low effort from about 25 yards out as defenders were caught ball-watching. Someone may want to pay attention to Honore since it was he who pasted Philly for two goals the last time these two teams met.

Now Philadelphia needed to chase the game. Without much of a team attack, Alex Kardos, who turned in a workman’s individual performance, found an opening on the right side and blasted a ripper that careened off the crossbar. Fortunately, the rebound fell to the waiting instep of Philly’s Yusef Humza, so he calmly introduced the ball to the back of the net to level the match at 1:1. The goal was Humza’s second in as many games and it was the second time he’s scored against the Riders. Yusef scored the Atoms' lone goal in Boston back on May 6, 2017.

But as it has been all year long for the young Philly side, the Atoms seem to take the pedal off the metal right after scoring a goal. More than half of their 36 goals allowed this year have come inside five minutes after a kickoff, be it the start of either half, or most of the time, right after they score themselves. Tonight was no different.

The blue smoke-bomb set off by the Atoms supporters to celebrate Humza's goal had barely dissipated into the night air when Massachusetts’ score their second goal.

This time it was Ibrahim Leavilly who waltzed right down Broad Street. Leavilly slalomed easily through the defensive midfield and center backs to regain the lead for Massachusetts. This happened only one minute after Philly had equalized.

To start the second half, both squads came out with no roster changes. With the score at 1:2, and, as mentioned in the prior paragraph, the Atoms gave up another goal within five minutes of a restart. This one came in the 49th minute, when a soft clearance by a newly acquired Atoms’ center back, Frank Palumbo, fell short and gift-wrapped a ball for Mass United. But this time they didn’t even need to shoot to score, well... almost.

Palumbo, a ju-co rookie from Camden, had recently come over in a deal with the Philadelphia Fury to provide depth, but was inserted as a starter to replace the injured non-rostered stalwart Tim DiBisceglie. Being new to the back four, the communications between the d-backs could have been an issue.

So as he tried to cash in on the gift, Honore was hauled down in the Philadelphia’s box. As a result, the referee was pointing to the spot and United's Charlie McMahon stepped up to the penalty mark. McMahon made easy work of his chance to double United's lead.

Fortunately, there was forty minutes remaining. This left plenty of time for the Atoms to cut their deficit back to one, but Philly could not manage a shot on goal for the next half hour. Can't score if you can't shoot.

Around the 70th minute, Atoms’ manager, Ken Enofe had seen enough of a few starters and brought on players like Josh Cirocco and Tez Hilliord. And it was Cirocco who immediately found space along the Rider right flank. He immediately connected well with Rich Stone and Nick Morris. Stoney, who was one of the Atoms' bright spots on the evening, combined with Cirocco as team passes began to have some purpose.

With time slipping away, Cirocco got a square pass through to Morris who was taken down illegally just outside of the Mass United box. Nick stepped up for the direct kick and bent a beauty around the five-man wall into the left upper 90. This fooled the Massachusetts keeper and the Arcadia alum put at least a tie within reach as his goal had brought the score to 2:3 in the 89th minute.

Now with only two minutes of stoppage time, the Atoms finally threw five and six-man presses against the young Mass backs, however they couldn’t find the net... but it was darn close.

It was the visitors now on their heels as they committed another foul in desperation. The final whistle was in the referee’s hand as Morris tried to duplicate his strike. This time it sailed harmlessly high over the crossbar to end the game.

The Philadelphia Atoms, now find themselves at 1-4 in the Fall table and are 4-10-1 overall since their March 2017 rebirth. They have a bye next week which gives the team two weeks to regroup. On October 14th the Atoms head to Lancaster for the 4th round of the Keystone Derby at Mennonite Stadium. For supporters, kickoff is scheduled for 3pm.

Men of the Match: Rich Stone & Nick Morris.
 

 
 
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