Temple’s offense struggles in loss to American

Temple Men’s Soccer still searches for its first win after falling to American 4-1.

Temple forward Juan Zepeda prepares to strike the ball in Temple's 4-1 loss to American Friday. | Joshua Crellin / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Temple Men’s Soccer (0-2-2, 0-0 American Athletic Conference) lost to American (1-2-1, 0-0 Patriot League Conference) 4-1 Friday night at the Temple Sports Complex. 

Temple fell into an early hole when American forward Dilan Zouantcha scored the first goal of the game on an assist from defender Cooper Nunn in the fifth minute. That was the fastest goal of the season allowed by the Owls.

“That was on me,” said Temple head coach Bryan Green. “The first goal, we weren’t set up how we should’ve been.”

Temple nearly fired back in the 14th minute with a shot from forward Juan Zepeda, but his header was off target. 

Later in the 16th minute, American midfielder Zemi Rodriguez scored his team’s second goal of the game. After Temple turned the ball over, Rodriguez capitalized, rocketing a shot past goalkeeper Flannan Riley. 

“The second goal was a turnover that we didn’t need to make,” Green said. “We could’ve kicked back, gone long, but we put it up the middle.”

Between the 28th and 31st minutes, the Owls were able to land two corner kick opportunities and put up two shots, but they could not get the ball in the net. American’s defense kept the lead at 2-0.

In the 40th minute, Riley stepped out of his box to meet American forward Robbie Matei on the fastbreak goal attempt, but Riley’s slide into the ball tripped Matei, which resulted in a Temple yellow card. On the ensuing penalty kick, Matei put the ball through the bottom of the goal and put Temple in its largest first-half deficit of the season at 3-0.

Just before the first half came to a close, the game went into a lightning delay in the 43rd minute. The delay ran for one hour and 55 minutes and cut halftime to just five minutes.

Temple matched its total shot attempts in the first half within the first 17 minutes of the second. Defender Nikolai Zapolskikh put up a shot on goal in the 53rd minute of the game, but American goalkeeper Matthew Tibbetts made the save. 

“In the second half, we felt like we had nothing to lose,” said midfielder Elias Betancourt. “We started playing, and we started to trust each other.”

Midfielder Draven Barnett took a shot in the 55th minute and earned the Owls a corner kick, but neither opportunity ended in a goal for the Owls. Nine minutes later, Rodriguez went down the field for his second and American’s fourth goal of the game in the 64th minute.

“We finally broke pressure, then we got in our own way,” Green said. “A loose ball falls to them without us even defending.”

Betancourt put the Owls on the board with a goal in the 73rd minute. This was Betancourt’s first collegiate goal. 

“It was nice,” Betancourt said. “I wish I got to celebrate it, but I had to get back to half and try to get the next one.”

Temple’s defense played well to start the year, allowing just one goal in the first two games combined. However, Temple has allowed three or more goals in both of its last two outings.

“The defense needs to get better,” Green said. “But, it’s a lot of little mistakes that result in goals instead of bad defense.”

The Owls are still looking for their first win of the season. Temple will play against Saint John’s (2-1-1, 0-0 Big East Conference) at Belson Stadium in Queens, New York, on Sep. 11 at 7 p.m. 

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