Sunday, May 6, 2012
FULLERTON, Calif. – The Los Angeles Blues and Wilmington Hammerheads played to a 2-2 draw on Sunday night in a match that gave little reason for excitement until the 66th minute, a brace from Hammerheads midfielder Jack Avesyan and tallies by the host's Irving Garcia and Cheun-Yong Park making for a final half-hour that had the fans inside Titan Stadium on the edge of their seats.
Despite the Blues having more of the possession in the opening period, the Hammerheads created the game’s first pair of opportunities within a one-minute span around the half-hour mark. First Blues goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh saw a long-range blast sail just over the crossbar, then Andriy Budnyy forced the Iranian to sprint off his line and cut down the angle, as the attempted finish was deflected behind for a corner kick.
The opening chance of the second half also went to the Hammerheads, Friday’s goal-scorer Bryce Taylor running onto a well-hit long ball by Gareth Evans in the 52nd minute and lobbing the onrushing Abedzadeh, only to see his effort land on the roof of the net. The visitors did get on the board six minutes after the hour mark as former Blue Chukwudi Chijindu tested Abedzadeh with a fierce drive from inside the area the goalkeeper could only parry, allowing former Ventura County Fusion standout Avesyan to clean up the rebound to make it 1-0.
The Blues would find the equalizer only two minutes later, as captain Ricky Waddell fed Garcia on the right edge of the penalty area and the skillful attacker sent a precise right-footed shot inside the left post to draw level. The Hammerheads nearly reclaimed the lead in the 73rd minute, Taylor showing outstanding technical ability to take down a long ball from midfield and attempt an acrobatic finish, only to be denied by Abedzadeh on a world-class diving stop.
Abedzadeh would be helpless two minutes later, though, as Wilmington made it 2-1 courtesy of a Avesyan snap-header at the near post, Hahop Chirishian registering the assist for his well-hit corner kick from the left. The Blues showed great fighting spirit after the setback, Waddell’s low free-kick attempt forcing a diving stop from goalkeeper Alexander Horwath in the 79th minute.
Waddell’s side would be rewarded for their attacking efforts six minutes from time, Bryan Burke finding substitute Park at the top of the box and the striker rifling a shot inside the left post. Once again, the outstretched Horwath was left without a chance. His counterpart between the Blues posts, Abedzadeh, was forced to make one last diving save in stoppage time, as the two sides settled for a highly entertaining 2-2 draw.
The Blues hope to build on their recent attacking success and shore up their defense when they travel to take on the Dayton Dutch Lions and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds next Friday and Saturday, respectively. Meanwhile, the Hammerheads will return home to prepare for their May 19 meeting with the visiting Charlotte Eagles.
Tickets for the Blues’ home matches against Dayton on June 15 and June 17 start at $10 and may be purchased by calling 714-738-8011 or by visiting http://lablues.ticketfly.com or www.labluesprosoccer.com.