Iowa Raptors vs Chicago House: Midwest Premier League
Rami Scheetz- Iowa Raptors Journalist
Last Minute Heroics Saves a Point for the Raptors in Chicago on Sunday
CEDAR RAPIDS- The Iowa Raptors followed up their dominant 2-0 victory on Saturday with an experience that can only be compared with riding the tallest roller coaster at Disney World in Orlando. But instead of a roller coaster in Orlando, it was this past Sunday’s Midwest Premier League soccer game in Chicago between the Iowa Raptors and the Chicago House. This game had it all: Defensive lapses in both back lines, offensive moments of brilliance, and last second weak-foot equalizers from twenty-five yards out all lead to an astonishing six- goal second half from both sides. After a mundane nil-nil first half from both sides, the first break came the way of Iowa Raptors and Marquette University’s winger Alan Kim. In the 52nd minute of play Mu’azu Sagir put a defender on his heels in the box, proceeded to beat that defender but not before he got his legs taken out from beneath him inside of the penalty box. Alan Kim walks up to the penalty spot and produces a belting opening goal for the Raptors as Chicago’s goalkeeper was merely a bystander.
The Raptors energy visually changed after the opening goal as the Cedar Rapids squad seemingly became satisfied with their one-goal lead, leading to a three-goal barrage from the Chicago House in the next fifteen minutes. A defensive error from the Raptor’s back line in the 66th minute gave Chicago’s David Alamzon just a fraction of a look, which he finished clinically between two defenders. Only two minutes later, the Raptor’s midfield was picked apart through intelligent, quick one-two passes leading to a pure strike from Alex Salvino from twenty yards out. Momentum has obviously shifted at this point with Raptor’s players looking at one another with hands on their heads, looking for answers in defensive communication. Game script continued to favor the House as a defensive error within the Raptors own penalty area provided a golden opportunity for super-sub Jean Al-Zate to put in the third of the game the Chicago side in the 80th minute of play. Uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns came in a twenty-minute burst for the Raptors this match day. Heads were down and hope was lost for the Raptors side until a moment of hope came from seemingly nothing in the 89th minute.
Substitute striker and leading goal scorer for the Cedar Rapids side, Keaton Woods produced a moment of magic to provide minutes of hope before the final whistle. Woods received the ball at his feet thirty yards from the goal and with a beautiful leading touch split two House defenders after a change of pace, leading to a classy finish as he sat down the keeper and tucked the ball away in the bottom corner. Woods has been one of the massive bright spots for the Raptors, as he has been a de facto scoring option when needed. Taking a look into Woods’ potential for the future, the 6’2 striker has game-breaking speed, hold-up ability, and is a threat to finish clinically inside of the opposing third. These traits will certainly give Woods an opportunity at the next level.
Being one goal down in stoppage time the Raptors pressured relentlessly until an opportunity was produced. Midfielder Jonah Dancer won the ball twenty yards away
from the goal, and came up with a top-bins finish from another planet. Dancer won the ball and instinctually produced his best Lionel Messi impression on his left foot, striking an absolute peach of an equalizing goal. Late mental fortitude and Dancer magic saved a point for the Raptors in a test in the Windy City on Sunday, with the game ending in an electric three-three draw. There are still a few questions to be asked of the Raptors side defensively and how Iowa’s Coach Everton can clean up a few of these errors on the training grounds during the coming week.
The Iowa Raptors Senior men’s side has a test this upcoming Saturday at John Wall Field in Cedar Rapids against a tough Bavarian Soccer Club from Milwaukee at 4 pm. This clash of Midwest Premier League titans will be followed by the UPSL Darby between the Raptors and Barilleros at 6 pm.