MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Azkals had a nightmarish start but played a more inspired second half to settle for a 1-3 defeat to the Chicago Inferno of the Premier Development League (PDL) at the Joe Bean Stadium in Wheaton, Chicago Sunday morning.
The Azkals surrendered three goals in the first half, the first coming in the seventh minute courtesy of Inferno's Carl Haworth.
Jason Sabio dealt with the Inferno's initial foray, but the ball went straight to Haworth who fired the shot into the top corner, out of the reach of goal keeper Eduard Sacapaño.
The Inferno made it 2-0 in the 14th minute when Andrew Jeskey chipped in the ball right over Sacapaño's head.
Jeskey added another goal in the 31st minute when he took advantage of a miscommunication in the Philippines side and easily converted a free kick.
The Azkals had their own chances in the first half, having three shots on goal but lacked the finishing touch. They also relied too much on long balls, and the Azkals' offense was easily broken up by the taller players of the Inferno. Their attempts at goal rarely troubled the Inferno's tall goal keeper, Reece Richardson.
But adjustments were made in the second half, starting with the substitutions of Matthey Uy, Demitrius Omphroy and Patrick Reichelt, who would all play vital roles in the Azkals' second-half fight back.
The Azkals' defense was stronger and more organized in the second half, as they limited the Inferno to only one more shot at the goal.
They were more creative on offense as well, and the Azkals finally broke through in the 73rd minute when Carli de Murga coolly slotted in the ball off a long pass from Reichelt.
The Azkals had more chances in the second half, especially from Reichelt who twice tried to head the ball into the net, but could not beat Richardson.
The Azkals wound up having more attempts than the Inferno, 9-7, and had seven shots on target compared to four from the Chicago side.
But the Inferno were more accurate with their strikes, while the Azkals took some time before they could find the back of the net.
The Azkals' United States tour continues next Saturday, August 18, when they take on the US Virgin Islands in Indianapolis, Indiana.