The Krewe have a busy two weeks ahead of them. Five games in fourteen days is a lot to ask of any team, but when you add in travel to Dallas and Shreveport, a difficult task becomes almost impossible.
Don’t let the team hear you say that, though. Undeterred by their upcoming schedule, the Krewe once again showed why they are one of the best teams in USL2, turning to their roster of experienced players to hold off a late rally by Blue Goose SC on Saturday.
The game began as expected, with the Krewe dominating possession but unable to find the net in the opening minutes of the game. Blue Goose relied on long passes to their wingers to stretch the Krewe defense, but fullback Munir Poca was able to shutter the attack time after time.
The Krewe opened the scoring with a headed goal by Alfi Conteh from a corner kick. Rising above the crowd of defenders, Conteh’s header rocketed past the Blue Goose goalkeeper to give the home team a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
Blue Goose returned from the break looking to repeat their go-to attack down the right wing, but once again Poca was able to snuff out any momentum. Conteh scored again on the other end of the pitch, doubling the Krewe’s lead.
As the game progressed past the hour mark, Poca was substituted and Blue Goose were able to finally progress down the right side to the penalty area, where a pass across the face of goal found the boot of Adam Morris who was never going to miss from such close range.
The goal gave the away team a much needed boost late in the second half, but despite their aggressive play they were unable to repeat the goal. The Krewe took advantage of the space left behind the Blue Goose midfield to drive towards goal, but despite repeated shots from inside the penalty area, the game would end 2-1.
Conteh, who is originally from Barcelona, is 37 years old and has been playing soccer professionally since 2001. Speaking after the game about his performance, Alfi Conteh said that while he enjoys scoring goals, the success of the team will always come before his personal achievements.
“Honestly, I’m very happy for the team,” he said. “For me, I’m happy too, when you score a goal you’re obviously happy because it helps the team and it’s my job. The most important thing is that we have done it together and we won this game that was very important for us.”
Munir Poca expressed a similar sentiment, adding that the team was expecting to go up against a lot of longer passes from Blue Goose.
“They play a lot of long balls to our backs and we knew that, the coach told us that we should just drop a little,” he said. “Fortunately we were able to stop them for the most part. One ball, one mistake, but that’s how it is.”
Poca said that the long passes did make it harder for the Krewe to connect passes between the defense and midfield, but praised the hard work of the Krewe’s holding midfielder to keep the team in possession.
“It is (hard to connect with the midfield) because we get a gap between the defense and the midfielders, but we had our 6 holding there and we could connect with him and keep possession from there.”
Head coach Joan Oliva said that he didn’t feel like his team had their best performance, but getting the three points to stay in the top half of the standings was all that mattered going into such a busy two weeks.
“It was difficult for us,” he admitted. “I feel like we’ve been practicing well, but now we have five games in fourteen days so that’s huge. We need rotation, because we need everyone involved and we need everyone fresh. I cannot complain about the players that we have, I really believe that all of them step up when needed. The performance wasn’t the best, but today we were focused on getting the three points to keep us in the top three of the league.”
The Krewe were without their top goalscorer, Quesi Weston, who served his second game suspension after receiving a red card against Mississippi Brilla FC. Oliva said that Conteh, who prefers to play as a second striker or attacking midfielder, brings years of experience to the team and can put in a shift up top if needed.
“Alfi is here for many reasons,” Oliva said. “One of them is scoring goals like he did today, and the first goal is always the most difficult to score. He’s also here to bring experience. Before he got a really bad injury when he was young, he was a top player who played professionally in 8 countries. That kind of experience and management of the game and emotions is what he brings to the younger kids.
He came to play behind Quesi Weston, our striker, but he isn’t able to play tonight because of a red card from two games ago so Alfi has to step up as a 9. He understands the game really well.
The Krewe will now turn their attention to their next opponent, Texas United, who currently sits at the top of the table in the Mid South Division.
With their victory over Blue Goose, the Krewe now have 12 points from 7 games and trail both Texas United (21 points) and Mississippi Brilla FC (13 points).