Far from the comforts of IMG and Academy Park, the Bradenton Academics played the Panama City Pirates to a 0-0 draw this weekend. Despite the seven-hour van ride and the second match in four days, the Academics were up for the match, and the Pirates played the perfect host with big crowds and a great stadium atmosphere.
The Pirates opted for a 1-4-5-1 formation and looked to counter-attack through a long striker. The "Bunker Tactic" was difficult for the Academics to break with only two training sessions as a team.
Bradenton carried the game in terms of build-up and possession, but never really found a seam through Panama City's defense, but avoided many dangerous moments from set pieces and counter-attacks.
Bradenton's Ryan Thompson needed one big save to record his first shutout of the year, and Ze Roberto Ramos came up with a big defensive effort to ensure the tie. Bradenton's best chances were confined to corners and shots from outside the box that were always blocked, deflected or rushed due to immediate pressure.
Dan Ingvarson, Corey Kendall and Happy Hall all did an excellent job with marking assignments and turned the second half into mostly one-way traffic for the Academics. Ramos at left back put in the performance of the game, which demonstrated his versatility as a player.
In the end, it was "a result that neither team was thrilled with, but one they both can live with" said Pirates coach Bill Elliott.
"We would have liked to come away with the three points, but it's a long trip and the Pirates have proven to be tough to beat at home," said Academics assistant coach Scott Bowers. "At this point in the season, we have to be happy to share the points."
The Academics travel to New Orleans on Saturday, May 16 to face the New Orleans Jesters at 8 p.m.