Madison Moves Forward After Penalty Agony

Forward Madison suffered a rough loss last week and will look to bounce back quickly.

Penalty kicks can be just what the doctor (or desperate player) ordered. They can give a team just the edge it needs to get back into a game or close it up. Unfortunately, for those same reasons, penalty kicks can also be heartbreaking.

It is hard to say which form of penalty kick theater is most heartbreaking: A shootout to decide the result of a drawn match from which only one side can emerge or an award for a foul late in the game which finally jolts one side ahead after trading even blows. The latter is more relevant to this article, but both come to mind given one of the narratives around Forward Madison FC’s meeting with North Texas SC.

Madison’s 18-man selection lacked four familiar faces from the Flamingos’ recent lineups. Mason Toye, Wyatt Omsberg, Carter Manley and Dayne St Clair, on loan from Minnesota United FC, were given leave to attend their club’s inaugural match at Allianz Field in St Paul. Seven years ago an intrigued bystander offered MNUFC’s second-division predecessor, the Minnesota Stars, another chance at survival after the club lost the 2012 title in dramatic fashion: A penalty kick shootout.

The club met its aspiring new owner in the visitors’ locker room at Al Lang Stadium that day. That meeting is now part of the lore of the club, now called Minnesota United FC, which led to the grand opening of Allianz Field in St Paul, Minnesota on Saturday afternoon. As the loanees witnessed history unfold with their host club, Madison prepared to kick off their second road match down south. With the first franchise loss out of the way, the Flamingos appeared more relaxed and the first franchise goal in league play appeared possible. Midfielders Josiel Nunez and Jeff Michaud played a longball game and had some quality chances, like this one:

But, as in Chattanooga last week, the finishing touch was not where it needed to be. The other side had the same issue, though Forward’s keeper/coach Ryan Coulter had their number, keeping his side in the game until late in added time. A staunch challenge from defender Connor Tobin inside his own penalty area led to a penalty kick rewarded to the home side. And one is all it takes. The ball narrowly cleared Coulter’s outstretched glove for the lone goal of the night.

Despite the disappointment, head coach Daryl Shore highlights his squad’s improvement. “We feel like we have been doing a lot of good things, especially on the defensive side of the ball in our first two games,” he told BGN. “We know that we need to improve in the attacking part of the field and we feel once we do this, we will be able to put together a complete game and start getting the points we are looking for.”

The Flamingos put together a 2-0 win in their first home match, a friendly against UW-Madison on Tuesday. Brian Bement and Abu Danladi (on a one-night training loan from MNUFC) each scored beautifully in front of a large crowd. The midweek match was the perfect chaser to the loss in Texas.

Expect Forward Madison to go into Orlando City B on Friday fired up for a result. OCB is also winless in league play and, like Madison, they gave up a late goal last week, dropping two points in stoppage time. Concerns?

“Another road game so another challenge for us. They are young and athletic, so we must be able to match this,” said Shore. “They have a lot of good young players who can make plays so we must be aware of this. We do feel like there are some areas on the field where we can exploit them.”

While Forward Madison is looking forward to their inaugural home match in League One play on April 27th, picking up three points on the road to end a long week would be huge for the club, potentially bumping them up from last place to kickstart the homecoming party.

You can catch the match at 6:30 pm CST on ESPN.

 

Photo credit: Dylan Nadwodny

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