LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Los Angeles Blues tied visiting Antigua Barracuda FC 1-1 on Tuesday night in their last of three consecutive home meetings with the Caribbean side. Elvis Thomas gave Antigua the lead early in the match, followed by a 23rd minute equalizer by former Cudas man Peter Byers, who now has two goals in as many matches this season against his former team.
The visitors took the lead on the game’s first opportunity, Elvis Thomas forcing a giveaway from the Blues backline and placing a shot inside the far post from just outside the penalty area in the 8th minute of play. Israel Sesay nearly had the equalizer just three minutes later, as he received the ball from Akeem Priestley on a nice chip into the box and blasted a hard first-time volley on target that was tipped over by well-positioned Cudas netminder Keita de Castro.
Los Angeles did level the score halfway through the first period. Carlos Borja streaked down the left flank and whipped a dangerous cross into the area that was nicely headed on by Priestley into the path of Byers. The 26-year-old opted for a header of his own from close range, redirecting the ball past the helpless De Castro and inside the near post for the equalizer.
Byers nearly struck for his third in two consecutive matches against his former club when Blues defender Cameron Dunn pushed up the field to put pressure on the Antigua backline and deflected the ball into the streaking striker’s path. With plenty of time to pick a corner, the Antigua and Barbuda international pushed the ball wide of the near post to send the two sides into the locker room tied at 1-1.
The Blues were fortunate not to find themselves down a goal early in the second half. First goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh dropped the ball on an Antigua corner kick and took a sigh of relief as it was side-volleyed over the crossbar by Cowin Mathurin. Then the Cudas missed a golden opportunity on a wonderful combination play, Tamorley “Ziggy” Thomas being released down the right by Mathurin and sending a near-perfect pass across the face of goal. Crashing the box, Thomas came within inches of connecting with it for what would have been an easy tuck-away.
Los Angeles came equally close to scoring at the other end halfway through the second period, Byers finding himself one-on-one with De Castro following a Gerardo Bravo through ball and doing well to round the Antigua netminder, but only to see his attempted finish scraped off the line on a last-ditch effort by defender Orlando Mitchum. The hosts’ next dangerous chance came in the 75th minute. Bravo set up Jonathan de Leon with a beautiful heel pass and the former Tigres UANL man released a fierce drive from the top of the penalty area that whistled just wide of the near post.
The hosts dodged a bullet in stoppage time, goalkeeper Abedzadeh bobbling the ball on an attempted catch and giving Cudas substitute Theo Browne an open look at the target. Fortunately for Los Angeles, the striker misfired as the ball sailed well over the crossbar.
The Blues return to action this coming Friday, August 5, as they travel to take on the Wilmington Hammerheads in a game that will broadcast nationally on Fox Soccer Channel. Head Coach Charlie Naimo’s men then face Antigua Barracuda FC once again on Sunday, August 7, in the Caribbean side’s next match, which is also their final outing of the 2011 USL PRO campaign.