PEORIA, Ariz. – Paolo DelPiccolo’s first professional goal couldn’t have come at a better time as it extended Arizona United Soccer Club’s undefeated match-streak in a 1-1 draw against the LA Galaxy II on Friday night at the Peoria Sports Complex in front of 2,818 spectators.
After a slow first half, Arizona United SC’s attack awoke in the second half, which lead to the equalizer from DelPiccolo in the 68th minute. A clever turn from Jon Okafor on the halfway line from a Joseph Toby pass, allowed Okafor to attack space down the left-wing. He played a ball to Brandon Swartzendruber, who passed to a streaking DelPiccolo just inside the box. DelPiccolo cut a defender and lofted a shot with his left foot into the right-side netting.
“It’s big. It was big to equalize,” said DelPiccolo when asked about scoring his first goal for Arizona United SC. “We came out slow. To get a goal to even things out and push for the win was big. It felt good.”
Arizona United SC not satisfied with the pending draw forced LA Galaxy II into some helter skelter defending in the final minutes, which saw an ill-advised challenge result in a red card for LA defender Bradley Diallo in the 89th minute.
With the man advantage, Arizona United SC attacked with numbers, and a shot from Okafor on the right side went just wide in the 90th minute. Arizona United SC had one final chance three minutes in stoppage time when a cross from Matt Kassel found Bradlee Baladez, who headed the call just over the crossbar.
“I needed someone to step up and I told them I cannot be the emotional leader,” said Arizona United SC head coach Michael Dellorusso when asked about what he said to the team at halftime. “I needed somebody to show some leadership out there and we had a lot of guys step up in the second half. Now we have to take that onto our next game and hopefully they can start with that attitude of Saturday.”
LA Galaxy II emerged as the stronger side in the first half as they out shot Arizona United SC 5-2, and maintained the majority of possession. Chandler Hoffman had shots in the 4th and 9th minutes that missed their mark, and an unmarked Charlie Rugg headed his shot wide right.
As Arizona United SC’s defense continued to bend, it finally broke in the 34th minute when a turnover by the home side sprung an LA Galaxy II counter attack. Oscar Soto attacked space down the left-wing and rifled a low cross to Raul Mendiola on the back post. He took a touch and curled a shot into the left-side netting for the opening goal.
Kadeem Dacres, who made his first professional start, had a look in the 44th minute that was saved by LA Galaxy II goalkeeper Cody Laurendi. Okafor had the first half’s final shot in the 45th minute that missed the mark by inches
The draw against the LA Galaxy II is Arizona United SC’s third match in their four-match homestand to start the 2014 USL PRO season. Arizona United dropped their opening match to Oklahoma City Energy FC, but bounced back last week and defeated Sacramento Republic FC 2-1.
Arizona United SC will close out the homestand against the Charlotte Eagles on May 3 at the Peoria Sports Complex.