Inland Empire Republic failed to defend their open division cup against AMSG FC 2 in Sunday’s championship match on penalties.
This championship game would be the second encounter for both sides as north division winners IER defeated the south division winners AMSG 2 convincingly 4-1 during the regular season back in match week 3. IER would finish the 10-game regular season undefeated, scoring more than 50 goals and allowing only 7.
In contrast, AMSG would only lose one match to FC Juarez Academy 2-1 in match week 2. In their previous last five games, AMSG 2 form was W-D-W-W-W before claiming first place in the south division.
Once both teams finish their regular season, the north and south champions would face off for the title last Sunday at Biola University in La Mirada, California.
The final match was set to start on a surprisingly cold and rainy SoCal afternoon. AMSG in the red would get the first shot on goal after going through a compact IER defense. AMSG would get several chances on goal as IER struggled with the boys in red control of the ball, individual efforts to break defensive tackles, and 1-2 passes in the midfield on the attack.
IER in blue would have their 1-2 pass attempts to attack in the final third of AMSG, but the reds would break up the attack before a shot on goal. They did find their groove with a counterattack chance in the 23′ that caught AMSG being slow to react.
Overall the first half was even for both sides. However, AMSG looked slightly better with having more possession, making minimal errors, and remaining calm when pressured offensively or defensively.
While the blue team struggled with constant fouls that hurt their aggressive standing tackle game plan and ruined chances with lob passes, they adapted to change their strategy to use the counterattack, which got them some success. The half ends 0-0.
The second half saw a change in pace for both sides after various substitutions before the whistle blew. IER saw their aggressive style become successful with turning over the ball to transition into the attack and using their athletic abilities to beat AMSG off the ball. They would still use counterattacks and make incomplete passes.
AMSG would also make incomplete passes that saw IER punish them but retained more possession, and their defense was tested in emergencies near their box.
The game would also get choppy with bookings around the 80-minute mark for both sides. That’s also when the reds and blues had dangerous chances to break the tie, but the 90 minutes ended up scoreless, and the final would be decided on penalties.
Here is where both teams had one last chance at a goal before the end of regulation.
After the final whistle, a physical scuffle between an IER and AMSG player saw them both get red cards before penalties were set up.
The video below shows the penalty shoot-out, with AMSG winning 4-3, defeating the undefeated, and reining 2022 champions IER to take the 2023 SoCal Premier open spring division title.