Christian Enriquez’s wonder strike from distance put Forward Madison ahead but a late concession after going down a man had the away side settling for a draw in Tucson.
The Mingos remain both unbeaten and winless after three games in USL League One play, earning draws in all three matches.
“It seems like we search for ways to throw games away,” head coach Matt Glaeser said after the match. “It was a couple of petulant decisions on our end, some naivety. We’ve got some young players that are gonna have to learn the hard way, unfortunately. it’s a learning experience. And we’re all learning together. I think we’re all frustrated. I think we’re better than what we showed on a number of fronts. At the end of the day, you’re playing down a man for 30 minutes plus. We’re fortunate to get out of there with the point.”
In an evenly contested first half in which neither side managed a shot on goal, Madison seemed to have the better of things, maintaining well over half the possession. After the break, Madison came out looking to sit deeper and apply pressure on the ball in Tucson’s end, which paid off early in the second half.
With Mateus Cassini applying pressure to Tucson substitute Muengnenshime Goshit, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu was able to tackle the ball away to the foot of Enriquez, who carried it quickly forward. With numbers moving with him spreading the defense and nothing but green grass ahead of him, he opted to take the shot, firing a rocket on one hop from 27 yards out.
“That happened pretty quick on the field,” Enriquez said. “That whole press to win the ball was something we’ve been training since we got together as a team, so it was nice to see it finally clicking away where we could take advantage …Andrew did all the dirty work.”
Things took a turn in the 64th minute as left back Cyrus Rad was sent off. Already carrying a yellow card for delaying a restart after a foul, Rad was whistled after a collision with Tucson’s Daniel Bedoya, but kept playing after the whistle, earning another yellow.
“It just can’t happen,” Glaeser said of the error. “I spoke to him at halftime and I said, ‘Cyrus, look, leave the ball alone.’ The referee mentioned it, I said, leave the ball alone, and they get called a foul, he kicked the ball away and got sent off.”
Down a man for the remainder of the match, Madison compacted itself defensively and conceded possession, fending off a few chances before conceding. The back line cleared a corner kick, which was collected on the wing by Louis Perez, whose cross found the head of an in-running Jake Crull.
Madison had two stoppage-time chances to secure three points – one put wide by Eric Leonard and one put just over the bar by Jeremiah Streng.
Glaeser said the attention now turns to Minnesota United of Major League Soccer, coming to Madison Wednesday for the third round of the US Open Cup.
“To be honest, we didn’t play well. We gotta turn it around, dust ourselves off and try to play a little bit better,” he said. “I think it was clear that we’ve got some tired legs. We’re going to try and turn around, find some freshness and see if we can go in and give an MLS team a run for their money.”
After the US Open Cup match, the Mingos host the Badgers of UW-Madison in a friendly April 23 and resume league play with a home match versus the red-hot Central Valley Fuego on April 30.