The final day of Lansing United’s 2015 season was a good one.
On a beautiful sunny afternoon in East Lansing, Matt Brown scored two in his final match for United and Freddy Gomes sealed the deal with an incredible long-distance strike as the Hoops held off the visiting Erie Commodores 3-0. The win helped to end the season on a high note after a string of disappointing results.
“It could’ve been a game where the players didn’t come out to play, but I give them a lot of credit for really representing what we’re about and getting the final result of the season,” Head coach/GM Eric Rudland said.
The first half started with a bang as a Brown header went just wide of the post in only the third minute. Yet United failed to capitalize on their early pressure, and possession was even for the rest of the half. Both sides created several half chances in the first 45, but neither could really dominate the run of play, and the first half ended in stalemate.
The second half was a different story altogether.
Barely a minute in, United jumped into the lead. Nearly 50 yards from goal, Gomes was clipped from behind, and midfielder Ross Lindsay stepped up to take the set piece. Lindsay delivered a curling ball into the box, where Brown met it with a beautiful diving header that looped into the Erie net.
Minutes later Brown had doubled the Hoops lead. In the 51st minute Lindsay turned and played a perfectly weighted through ball to midfield substitute Esteban Russell. Russell streaked into the box and played the ball across the face of goal to the waiting Brown. Brown took a touch, waited for the goalkeeper to flail past him, and coolly slotted the ball into the back of the net.
“As soon as the ball was coming across the box, I just thought composure,” Brown said.
Before the cheers had died down United had added a third. Just three minutes later United’s buildup found Gomes all alone on the left wing, 35 yards from goal without a defender in sight. Gomes took a touch inside to set up his favored right foot and let rip. His shot flew into the top corner of the near post, dipping and swerving as it travelled, leaving the Erie goalkeeper frozen.
“Ross [Lindsay], from behind me, said ‘Just take it.’ So I took it, and it just went at the perfect angle,” Gomes said. “After every game I think back and I say to myself, I should’ve taken this shot or that shot. This time I just thought, this is my opportunity, and obviously it was perfect.”
After their third goal, United’s lethal attack cooled down, and the game settled into a rhythm similar to the first half. Both sides created a few other half chances, such as in the 69th minute when United goalie Wes Mink collided with the onrushing Erie forward, leaving the ball to be won and the goal unguarded, only for Gomes to clear off the line just in time. Yet after their 10 minute onslaught the result was no longer in doubt, and the rest of the half played out comfortably.
“We talked a lot of attacking concepts at the break, about getting our wingers and strikers more involved, as well as our outside backs,” Rudland said. “The guys really soaked in what we wanted to accomplish in the second half.”
All in all, it was a day of mixed emotions, as Matt Brown played his final minutes for the club he’s called home for the past two summers.
“[Lansing] has given me and my family a lot of memories and I’ll never forget it,” Brown said. “I had a lot of emotion, but I made sure I controlled it and put in a good performance for the Sons of Ransom and the club to remember.”
United finished with a record of 6-4-2 in the NPSL in their sophomore season, But Rudland believes finishing on a high will prepare them to improve in the season to come.
We were playing for pride today, in front of our home fans,” Rudland said. “Hopefully we can use this match as a springboard for next year.”