Tormenta 2 will hit the pitch at least one more time this season as it hosts Reading United AC at 8 p.m. tonight at Erk Russell Park in the semifinals of the USL League Two national playoffs.
Tormenta 2 closed out the regular season with a win at S.C. United Bantams to clinch its second consecutive Deep South Division title. Where the 2018 version of the team fell short in the ensuing Southern Conference playoffs, this year’s squad has continued to soar.
A conference semifinal victory avenged last season’s playoff loss against The Villages SC before Tormenta 2 demolished a Brazos Valley squad, 5-1, that had entered the conference title match with an 11-0-4 record.
“It’s been a great season and we’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far,” Tormenta 2 coach Ian Cameron said. “I think we were exceptional in our last game, and that is what we need to carry on into the next.”
On the other bench, Tormenta will have an opponent that is very familiar with the gravity of tonight’s game. Reading United made it all the way to the league championship last summer and has made the postseason in nine of the last 10 years.
Reading cruised to the Mid Atlantic Division title and in the Eastern Conference title match – dispatched a previously unbeaten Western Mass Pioneers squad.
The fact that Tormenta was able to defend its division title was impressive enough, but accomplishing that feat was much tougher than normal given that most of the 2018 squad is now competing at the pro level with Tormenta’s League One side and this year’s League Two roster is a near total turnover.
With Reading’s proven pedigree and Tormenta 2’s relative newcomers, tonight’s visiting team will definitely have an edge in experience. But Tormenta 2 has gotten to this point with a wealth of young talent that can overwhelm experience with flat-out skill and the squad isn’t about to stop now.
“There’s no doubt that Reading is a very good team that probably has history on its side with all of the big games it has played before,” Cameron said. “But we’re just going to keep pushing. We have a lot of talent and we’re glad to be playing on our home field with our fans behind us.
“This is going to be an incredible match. There are two very good sides that deserve to be here and have played some tough games to earn the right to be here. I know the mentality of our team, and this kind of match is exactly what they want.”
Cameron didn't divulge exactly how his team will attack Reading tonight, but admitted that some of the advance scouting he's heard about Reading isn't going to fit with how he expects his team to play.
"We've seen a lot of film, but we've seen a lot of team's play back and try to defend while waiting to counter," Cameron said.
'That's not how we've approached anyone this year. Reading is a good team and we'll have to have a lot of respect for what they can do, but we have a lot of strength in what we can do offensively and we're going to keep pushing and forcing things on our end.'