Match Preview: MOBA look for First Win Against Tri-Cities Otters FC
Four games into the season, and things have not gone quite to plan for Peachtree City. Sitting at 0-3-1 on the year and currently holding tenth in the division, things need to turn around in a hurry, and MOBA may have just found the break they were looking for. Match five of the PDL season pits Peachtree City MOBA on the road against a struggling Otters team in Johnson City, as Tri-Cities, who are also looking for their first win, play their first match at home.
Following a heart-breaking home loss to Nashville SC that saw MOBA cut the lead to one behind the ten-man away side, but eventually fall 2-1. Khallil Stewart recorded his first goal in a MOBA shirt, and Matthew Wooling notched his second assist of the season, however nothing went right for MOBA in the closing twenty minutes, as shot after shot went high or wide. Heading into Johnson City, MOBA will need to take what they learned in their third loss of the year and build off both the positives and the negatives. One of the most important things is the scoring. Through four matches, MOBA have only scored three times, and never more than once in ninety minutes. Something is going to have to change. MOBA have a very strong core of forwards, midfielders, and even defenders who can score the ball, including Stewart, Daniel Valenciano, Todd Fidler, Daniel Shaw, and Tomide Adabale, just to name a few. At least one of these players is going to have to step up and start shooting, as MOBA need goals desperately. On the defensive end, things have looked better since the 6-1 thrashing in Nashville on opening day, but there are still holes that need filling. Keeper Will Meyer, who has started the last three matches for Peachtree City, has done an excellent job, saving two of the three penalty kicks he has faced (the first successful conversion coming Saturday against Nashville late in the first half), as well as allowing just 1.66 goals per match. Despite that, the defense has looked rough, with opposing teams finding holes and making MOBA pay for any mistakes. Going forward, it will be necessary for players like Adam Sheikali, James Thomas, Mark Rodegas, and Daniel Olaniran to help solidify the back line and keep opposing attackers from getting to Meyer or Luke Oesterle, who dressed out for MOBA on Saturday, but did not play.
Tri-Cities FC have not had a great start to the season, either. Playing their third match of the season on Saturday on the road at West Virginia Chaos, the Otters lost the draw in the forty-eighth minute thanks to a Kevin Nadeau goal. Failing to record a point thus far, the Otters will be desperate to get their names on the table, or at least one of their players on the score sheet. In the South Atlantic Division, Tri-Cities are the only team lower than Peachtree City on the table, as the Otters have also fallen victim to the machine that is Nashville SC, as well as opening day loss to SC United. As if a 0-3-0 start wasn't bad enough, Tri-Cities are yet to score a goal on the season, conceding six to opposing teams. The Otters will no doubt be looking to correct their early season issues in front of their home supporters, as Tuesday's matchup marks their first home game of 2017.
Keys to Victory
- Fast Start: The Otters have not been a great defensive team to this point, and MOBA will need to prey on that. Apply pressure off the opening whistle, and get some shots off. Scoring a goal early will help calm the nerves and allow you to play your style of football, but don't get ahead of yourselves. Just because a team doesn't look good on paper doesn't mean they won't be trying, so respect their ability, but always be looking for opportunities to strike early.
- Protect the Keeper: One of the issues that has plagued Peachtree City this season is protecting the keeper. The back four will need to keep shape and defend attacks consistently. The earlier you take the ball away the better, because if the opposing attackers can get just a step on you, it will be tough to get back.
Kickoff in Johnson City is scheduled for 7:00 PM, and a livestream is expected to be available. Last year's season series between these two sides was an exciting one, as MOBA took the league double over their Tennessee rivals, including a 2-1 home victory thanks to Jessey Hein's winner in the ninetieth minute. Both teams are desperate for victories, and whoever gets the points will be right back into the race for the playoffs. It isn't too late for either squad, but points are in short supply, and should either team fail to record three points, it could have drastic consequences.