DEARBORN – After a late start and a tightly contested battle, Liquid Football (1-2-1) tied with AIM SC (1-1-1) in their rescheduled game from Memorial Day weekend at Fordson High School Tuesday night.
Availability was an issue for Liquid Football coming into Thursday’s game, as early season injuries were starting to pile up leading into matchday. In addition, Albaraa Alsoufi was granted transfer to AIM during the week, putting Liquid Football down a key member of their starting 11 and searching for answers. After shuffling the roster and calling a few players up from the practice squad, the sideline was filled with fresh faces ready to make an impact in their debut. One of those players, Charles Halt, brought his high work rate and determination right out of the gate in his first action as a member of Liquid Football. But not every addition to the roster was a new face.
While the game may have started late, the action started up as soon as the referee blew their whistle. The first few minutes of play felt like prize fighters feeling each other out in round one; controlled but physical. While neither side was making aggressive runs, you could tell possession football and tight marking was in the gameplan for both sides. The strategic stalemate finally broke when AIM made their first successful push downfield, stringing together quick 1-2 passes, and craftily breaking through the defense. Unfortunately, the action came to a stop in the 32nd minute when AIM Center Back Nathan Souza de Castro, a Madonna college staple, was injured and had to be subbed out. You could tell AIM was missing him leading into the latter part of the first half, and the momentum rapidly began to shift in Liquid Football’s favor.
Liquid Football was playing very positive, pushing the ball deep into AIM territory and getting a handful of shots on goal. However, things took an unexpected turn after a Liquid Football corner kick was cleared out of play. There was a bit of shoving at the end of the play, leading to referee intervention and a discussion between the two sides. While the referee was focused on the players, an agitated fan ran onto the field, yelling at the referee, eventually being restrained by the players. The AIM coaching staff and players eventually corralled the fan and escorted him out of play, letting play resume.
Right after the chaos subsided, Liquid Football was awarded a free kick. Donning the first Captains armband in Liquid Football history, George Chomakov stepped up to take it. Chomakov paused, took a breath, and drilled it right past AIM goalkeeper Ali Chokr into the back of the net. Liquid Football was now up 1-0, controlling their own destiny as extra time turned to half time.
You could tell that the halftime speech from both sides included mention of physicality, as the two teams somehow managed to ramp up their intensity even more entering the second half. It was a fight for every ball, but AIM continued their rapid passing from the first half to break down Liquid Football defenders as AIM marched down the field. It didn’t take long for AIM to come back with the equalizer. The tying goal came in the 62nd minute when a through ball split the defenders again, setting up AIM’s attack. Reaching the box, the AIM attacker shot the ball at point-blank range, only to be punched out by Goalkeeper Esmail Haidan. Despite the great save, the rebound bounced right to AIM’s Murad Mohamed, who made no mistake and tapped it into an empty net to tie the game 1-1.
Despite fatigue starting to creep in from both sides, the intensity of the game got ratcheted up a notch after the equalizer. Pace of play was increased as substitutions started to make an impact and come into their own on the field. Both teams were getting chances and moving the ball quickly, sensing the clock running out of time. Physicality stayed high too, with four yellow cards handed out in the final 30 minutes of play; Three to AIM, and one to Liquid Football’s Jonah Dahn. With extra time closing in and the score still showing 1-1, Liquid football used their fresh legs to make one final push down the field, deep into AIM territory. With one last corner attempt saved by AIM, the referee blew the full-time whistle, and the crowd at Fordson High School congratulated both sides on a hard fought, 1-1 result.
Liquid Football: 1
Liquid Football’s next game is a friendly against Ft. Wayne FC in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, on Saturday, June 3rd, at Bishop D’arcyStadium. Kick-off is at 7:00pm.