Lansing United’s front line have finally hit their stride.
After scoring nine goals in the first six league games of the 2015 season, the Hoops made short work of the Minnesota United Reserves’ defense, putting away four goals in less than 50 minutes. A fully fit Matt Brown looked active and at the center of the Lansing United front three, while Cholo Petit and Steven Owusu looked constantly dangerous on either wing.
“When you look at our first couple NPSL matches we were creating as many opportunities today, we just weren’t actually capitalizing on them,” head coach/GM Eric Rudland said. “I think that that’s that process we talked about continuing, trying to reach gain with our attack in the starting third.”
Within three minutes the home team was in the lead after a late tackle in the Minnesota box cut short the first of what would be many weaving runs from Owusu. Captain Matt Brown stepped up to take the penalty and put it away confidently, stroking his shot cleanly down the middle.
“It’s always been the same with me, usually when I’ve started scoring I’ve gotten on a good run,” Brown said.
United continued to dominate the run of play, netting two more goals before the halftime whistle. In the 13th minute right back Freddy Gomes bombed forward, whipping in a vicious cross that just missed the head of Brown before Owusu following up on the back post connected with his chest, sending the ball looping over the outstretched fingertips of the Minnesota goalkeeper.
Just before halftime midfielder James DeCosemo scored his first ever goal for the club, lengthening the Hoops lead to three. Finding himself on the Minnesota back line he darted through towards the Minnesota box and a pinpoint through ball from midfielder Charlie Constantino found him in stride. Without missing a beat DeCosemo slotted the ball passed the onrushing goalkeeper with ease. The goal was a perfect way to reward the United stalwart, who played every minute of all three matches during the week.
“It’s the same story wherever I go, I’ll shoot from everywhere but I’m just trying to get that first one to go in,” DeCosemo said. “Hopefully I’ll get a few more after this.”
United finished the first half with 64 percent possession and six shots on target, their most complete half of the season so far. Attacks for Minnesota were few and far between, and the away side struggled to put together a contiguous buildup.
After the break it took only two minutes for United to continue what they had started in the first half. Finding himself inside the box with a defender on his hip and an onrushing goalkeeper, Brown managed to poke a shot through the chaos, which sneaked in before a recovering Minnesota defender could clear it off the line.
With the game firmly in his control, Rudland gave his bench a runout, replacing the front line that had been so dominant in the first half with Matt Rickard, Zach Pagani and Yves Nzwanga, as well as resting starting center back Josh Horne.
The substitutes put on a show, displaying plenty of invention and attacking flair, but couldn’t manage to break down the Minnesota back line for a fifth goal. Minnesota’s lack of any outfield substitutes began to show just as Rudland made a flurry of changes, and the last half hour saw the visitors venture into their attacking half on only a few occasions.
Brown stressed their team development heading into the last month of the season.
“We’ve got a good togetherness in the team,” Brown said. “We’ve gotten to know each other and our chemistry is even better than last year.”
United’s best run of form all season couldn’t have come at a better time. They will face what will likely be their toughest remaining league game when they travel to Detroit City FC on Sunday June 28. But the outlook can only be optimistic if the Hoops, led by Brown’s four goals in three games, can continue their lethal success in front of goal.