It’s been two weeks since Flower City Union’s last outing, a win against fellow struggling team Savannah Clovers. They’ve looked better in recent games than they have all season, and finally put points on the board in June. This weekend’s match-up was a real test though, as Club de Lyon sat 8 points and two places above FCU in the table, holding the final potential playoff position. The only major change to the lineup was regular starter Stephen Elias is out injured, with Frederick Opoku moved to the left side and John Requejo Jr taking Elias’ place on the field.
Things got off to the worst start possible. I’m not sure whether it was miscommunication or what happened, but after less than 2 minutes, Club de Lyon passed the ball around a few FCU players, and easily put it into the net. Goalkeeper Michael Mejia made the first save, but no one came back to clear the ball, so two Lyon players just escorted the rebound into the net without much trouble. Only 3 minutes later they should have doubled their lead, as it was passed behind the last defender, but the ball was put just wide of a diving Mejia. Defending had been FCU’s strongest aspect for most of the season, so while they have given up their share of goals, it was uncharacteristic to have made it that easy.
FCU finally found some life a few minutes later, as a long pass from inside their half was sent to Luke Ferreira. The goalkeeper stumbled and was out of position, but Ferreira was unable to find one of the other two attackers before it was cleared away by the Lyon defense. The 17th minute saw FCU exploiting the high back line of Lyon, with Alioune Diakhate and Malik Stewart in on goal, and I truly have no idea how it was just given away instead of being the tying goal. Lyon punished them for it, as they took it down the field with Mejia way off his line, and the Lyon attacker carried the ball into the net unopposed. Things only kept getting worse for FCU. The 25th minute saw them give up the third goal of the half, as a nice pass was made across the field, and defender Mumbi Kwesele was beaten by his man, making it 0-3.
The remainder of the first half was pretty lackluster. The referee seemed to take pity on FCU, so while Lyon was physical, everything was being called a yellow card or foul. It was not an exciting 20 minutes. FCU finally came alive in stoppage time. What had easily been their worst half of play the entire season, finally turned around slightly at the death. Matt Bolduc had some wonderful footwork to get around a couple of players, then had the keeper beaten, but put it off the post. It seemed like they’d be entering the second half down by three goals, but 2 minutes into stoppage time FCU got 3 players past the defenders with only the keeper to beat, and Malik Stewart slammed the ball nto the top of the net to bring one goal back. It was the perfect game for him to get on the score sheet, as the game was dedicated to him as his father recently passed, and there was a moment of silence for him before the match. The Lyon players were all shouting for an offsides call, and without seeing a replay I think they were correct, but it didn’t come and the half ended 1-3. The Lyon coach was awarded a yellow card at the half, and I’d have to guess it was due to arguing for an offsides call that never came.
Flower City Union played alright through the start of the second half, but finally got back in the game in the 59th minute. A free kick was taken from the right sideline, with a header put on goal with Lyon’s keeper making a nice jumping save, but crucially not controlling the ball. The ball went to Kyle Nelson who headed it into the back of the net. It also featured the hallmark of a team that wouldn’t give up, as they grabbed the ball and ran it back to midfield to restart play with the score now 2-3.
The story of this game was 2 or more attackers on net behind the defence for both teams. Some of these led to goals, but an inexplicable number came to nothing. In the 70th minute, it seemed like FCU’s hard work was going to be erased, as Lyon got a two on zero, but Mejia cut off the angle and somehow prevented a goal. Unfortunately, less than 3 minutes later a Lyon free kick led to a fantastic curling shot that went around the wall and past a diving Mejia who had no chance.
As poor as their play was for the first 3 goals, the 4th Lyon goal was wonderfully delivered and well deserved, Flower City Union did not give up. In the second half, FCU were the better team and gave their best effort. It all came to naught with a home 2-4 loss, but I do have to commend their play from first-half stoppage time onward. While their poor play at the start meant they gave up the 3 points, they tried their hardest to get back into it. That’s what being a Flower City Union supporter has been about: you have to take the little victories where you can and look for the positives in losses. At least this team doesn’t roll over and give up, they try their damnedest until the final whistle.