Soccer observers truly keen on LA Wolves and Chula Vista FC expected an even match by two clubs with similar possession-based style. This one had the makings of a chess match, a coach’s game, one in which the first team to make a mistake would pay dearly. It took 115 minutes for that mistake to occur in the form of a penalty kick awarded to the Wolves that striker Paolo Cardozo slammed into the upper right corner with a left-footed shot, enough to lift LA Wolves over Chula Vista 1-0. The win sets up a third round match with USL side Orange County SC, once again at Azusa Pacific University.
The match was a deadlock all throughout, with the Wolves creating some chances, but with greater difficulty and certainly less comfort than their first round match versus San Diego Zest. The few clear chances that they did create ended poorly, complicating the game for them.
And complicated it most certainly was for LA Wolves who had 5 yellow cards on the night, 2 of them in the first half, and 2 more by the 65th minute. This was a testament to CVFC’s individual skill on possession, with their players able to create their own space and get forward, needing to be cut down by fouls. CVFC had two yellow cards on the night and a pardoned card very late in the match on a tackle from behind on striker Chuck Pitts that very easily could’ve been a yellow, if not a red card.
After the match, Wolves head coach Eric Wynalda said, “We’re lucky to get through. We are. We need to say that. We had some injuries prior to the game so we had to shuffle things around in our midfield, and clearly it affected us. You have to really say that there was a lot of great technical ability on the other side of the ball tonight. The only good news is that we didn’t get scored on. Our keeper kept us in the game and we could’ve done better with our chances, but the truth is, all in all it was a very good game.”
When asked if this was the type of match he expected, Wynalda said, “We knew that this was a very good team and they made some additions from the last time we played them. This is what this tournament is about. There’s a lot of passion and a lot of heart.”
Goalscorer Paolo Cardozo said, “It was a very good, very intense match and we came out to fight to the end. Thank God we got the win.” On Chula Vista FC he added, “They’re a very good, very ambitious and difficult rival.”