MIDLAND — In their inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League and amidst a thinning roster due to departures and injuries, Midland-Odessa FC made a bit of history in the biggest home match in team history on Saturday night.
Midland-Odessa FC became the only club amongst 168 NPSL and Premier Development League teams to reach the national semifinals in both 2016 and 2017, thanks to a 1-0 win the NPSL South Region Finals against Inter Nashville FC on Saturday night at Grande Communications Stadium.
“I don’t think people realize how hard this is to do in Midland,” Midland-Odessa FC head coach Matt Barnes told reporters following the match. “We don’t get returners ever. It’s a new group every year and for us to take a whole new group in a whole new league with no experience back to the final four. I’m so proud of these boys.”
In a scoreless first half, the best chance for a goal came for Inter Nashville FC in the 27th minute off of a free kick. The kick came in and Nashville’s Andrew Chamberlain was right there to defect the ball toward MOFC’s goal, but the ball hit the post. Inter Nashville retained possession and was able to get off a close range shot that was saved by Midland-Odessa goalkeeper Braulio Linares-Ortiz, who finished the match with seven saves.
The first and only goal of the match came in the 71st minute as Richard Palomino streaked down the right side of the field and into the middle of the field and found Zach Penner in front of the goal and Penner would punch it in for the score. For Penner, it was his second game-winning goal in as many matches as he scored in the 90th minute against FC Wichita in the South Region Semifinals.
“We came close,” Inter Nashville FC head coach Richard Askey told reporters following the match. “We were mightily disappointed. This is the worst we have played all season to be honest with you.
“We did create chances, but in the second half, maybe the traveling got to us a little bit and the heat. We just couldn’t find that second gear in the second half. It’s so unfortunate because we have been brilliant all season long.”
After advancing to the PDL National Semifinals in 2016, Midland-Odessa FC is one of four teams left in the NPSL in 2017. After a re-seeding of the four remaining teams based on regular season points per game, Midland-Odessa FC comes into the NPSL National Semifinals as the number three seed.
They will travel and face the number two seed, Detroit City FC in Hamtramck, Michigan on Saturday, August 5 at 7:30 p.m. The other semifinal contest features the number one seed Elm City Express out of New Haven, Connecticut hosting CD Aguiluchos USA out of Oakland, California.
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