By Matt Feltz
A pair of goals by Sean Hoek gave GPS Portland Phoenix a 2-0 win over the Boston Victory on Saturday night in Quincy. The first strike came in the 39th minute, as Blaike Woodruff eluded Victory defender Matt Keys on the right of the goal, then picked out Hoek in the center of the box. Despite the traffic in front of the Phoenix forward, he had no problem placing his shot past Boston keeper Vinny Papageorgiou and inside the left post.
Hoek’s second goal, scored eight minutes after halftime, was practically a mirror image of the first. Joel Thiessen worked free to the left of the Victory goal before finding Hoek in space. The striker’s left-footed effort was good enough to hit the net and put the Victory (2-7-1) into an insurmountable hole.
Victory head coach Sergio Taborda hoped for more consistency from his team, which was unable to build off a strong performance last Saturday against the Ottawa Fury.
“It’s the same players, it’s the same formation, the attitude on the first half was poor,” Taborda said. “We are in the midseason, and these teams, they’re fighting for the top. So they come here with everything, and I thought the players’ attitude today was kind of, they give up.”
The Phoenix asserted control of the match in the first half, helped by some sloppy defending from the Victory. On the quarter hour mark, Keegan Campbell lost control of the ball at the edge of the box, leading to a quick shot from Ben Havey.
Thiessen looked to dip his long diagonal shot under the crossbar, but Papageorgiou got a fingertip on the shot to tip it over the goal. The ensuing corner found Portland forward Jason Massie in the center of the box, whose low shot had to be cleared off the line by Ruben Resendes.
The Victory had their best chance of the half just before Hoek’s first goal, starting with impressive work from Zico Veiga. The forward chested down a long pass, then stuck a toe on the ball to play it oncoming teammate Andrew Sousa. It looked like Sousa was clear on goal, but Neil Harries swept in from behind and deflected his shot wide of the post.
The second half was mostly a series of Portland chances, starting with Hoek’s second goal. Three minutes after setting up Hoek, Thiessen just missed two Portland players in the box with his cross. Then on the hour, a free kick caught Papageorgiou in no man’s land, forcing an alert headed clearance from David DeMelo.
In the 66th minute, defender Keys almost deflected a Portland cross into his own net. Woodruff was standing all by himself to volley home the deflection, but ended up sweeping it well over the bar. Then Massie played a beautiful through ball for left back Brian Fekete, which required a great save from Papageorgiou to keep the game at 2-0.
Substitute Hayk Kaya had a golden opportunity to give the Victory a consolation goal, rounding Portland keeper Terrance Dieterich three minutes from the final whistle. With the hard work done, Kaya only needed to tap the ball into the open net, but somehow managed to hit the post. The ball deflected to Veiga, who looked to be pushed in the back as he tried to shoot, but the referee failed to spot the infraction.
Fireworks ensued at the final whistle, as Portland defenders disapproved of the way Victory defender Pat Hamilton challenged Dieterich for a corner. The referees and coaches had to separate the players as they headed back to the locker room.
The Victory got more disappointing news when skipper Sousa had to leave the game in the 77th minute with a hamstring injury. The former New England Revolution reserve has been a bright spot for the team all season, but is unlikely to return for the last five games of the year.
Taborda expects the team to step up after the captain’s injury, though Sousa will be a difficult man to replace.
“Sousa has potential to play a high level, and he needed to play until the end of the season to show what he can do. We feel for him,” Taborda said. “We’re going to be true to ourselves, we have some quality. I believe them.”
It will be a two-match week for Boston, as the club heads to Vermont to take on the Vermont Voltage on Wednesday night. The Voltage were the last team to lose to Boston, when Sousa scored the only goal in a 1-0 win on June 9th. Then the team returns home to Veterans Memorial Stadium on Saturday night to take on the Western Mass Pioneers, with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 pm.
Boston: Papageorgiou; Hamilton, Campbell, Keys, DeMelo, Resendes; Oost-Lievense (Vieira 56), Latif (Kaya 73), Assaf (Sidibe 45); Sousa (Barros 77), Z.Veiga
Portland: Dieterich; Kennedy, Short, Harries, Fekete; Woodruff, Havey, Thiessen, Fubara; Hoek (Banks 70), Massie