They say home is where the heart is, and in this case, home is where the wins are for Albion PROS. The PROS welcomed Sports Club Corinthians USA and a plethora of travelling fans hoping to play the spoilers on Albion’s return home after two difficult weeks on the road on Saturday, but the night belonged to Albion who emerged victorious with a 3-1 scoreline.
The match started just as it ended. 90 minutes of attractive football played by the hosts constantly attacking and creating opportunities almost at will, with just one moment that was beyond the reach of PROS goalkeeper Jean Antoine as the first half was coming to an end.
Within two minutes of the opening whistle, Albion was knocking on the Corinthians door, this led to an early defensive set from Corinthians which consisted of all 11 men behind the ball in their own half.
It was not until the 10th minute that Corinthians had a proper venture into the Albion’s box, although defender Jakub Waligorski cut the action to rid the PROS box of any real danger.
With a barrage of attacks coming from both flanks, the PROS continued knocking on the door until a brilliant give and go, which would become the theme of Albion strikes for the night, broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Frankie Sanfilippo gave Felipe Liborio a lovely touch into space, leaving the midfielder free to get a low strike on the Corinthians keeper Henry Martinez for the first goal.
Not much time wasted for Albion in terms of attacking. Only 2 minutes later, Albion was back to celebrating with another brilliant wall pass in the Corinthian box that set up Travis Nicklaw to have a go with a vicious strike that ricocheted off of keeper Henry Martinez, the rebound fell to Luan Oliveira, fresh from his stint with the San Diego Sockers, to score what may be the easiest goal of his career.
The PROS’ high press remained and Corinthians were stuck. Massive pressure was placed upon the visitors which resulted in a questionable no-call penalty on when Matt Clare played a through ball from the right flank to Travis Nicklaw into the box who appeared to be clipped while delivering a delicate touch off his heel for anyone trailing, but the referee waved for play to continue.
Corinthians began to advance their lines and expand from their defensive tactics as the match progressed. Although they were subject to constant counter attacks, the shift provided dividends just before halftime when a foul was given just outside the box.
A lovely free kick off the right foot Guilherme Andrade ensued, and the ball deflected off of Antoine’s right post, nestling in the left side netting of the goal.
A deafening silence fell upon the PROS supporters’ side as the whistle blew for the half while a rejuvenated Corinthians side regained its voice. What looked to be a controlled game for Albion suddenly saw the lead cut to one.
Coach Ziggy Korytoski would have to make changes in the second half to bring more attack. The only way to come out with a win would be to apply pressure high in the Corinthians side and get a quick goal to put the visitors away, as they always seem to comeback one way or another.
The second half did see an immediate change in attack with forward Amani Walker coming on to do what he does best.
Serving as a post and for the likes of Luan Oliveira and Matt Clare to play off of him and find space behind Corinthian defenders proved to be fruitful in 50th minute when Travis Nicklaw found Walker with his back to goal. Walker fed a fine ball for Nicklaw to cross his shot to the right of Corinthians keeper Henry Martinez.
Nickalw’s strike proved to be the final dagger to put Corinthians away. Following a bit of adversity, this is the type of response that is required of a championship caliber squad.
The PROS were able to comfortably play out the rest of match, maintaining high pressure in recovering virtually every ball, then simply circulating the ball in the midfield while runs were made behind Corinthian defenders backs. Corinthians had no answer to the fitness the PROS displayed on pitch.
“We are a work in progress,” said coach Korytoski at the end of the match.
The work that is put into training is visible on the field, the progress is being made and the romance with the goal seems to be flourishing, although it is yet to be seen on road.
At present, Albion sits in 4th place in the Southwest Conference of the National Premier Soccer League with a 2-2-0 record. Catching league leaders Riverside Coras (4-0-0) will be no easy task but it is possible. Albion is playing attractive and attacking football matched with high energy and full 90-minute fitness.
“We will win San Diego a National Championship,” said Korytoski.
There is no place like home for Albion SC PROS, and it is proven with a perfect record at Mission Bay High School, now, they just need make all visits feel like home, a Championship would then be inevitable.