This past weekend the Chicago Riot faced a critical match-up of playing the Omaha Vipers away on Friday and then here in sweet home Chicago on Sunday. Lose both games and face almost certain playoff elimination. Win both games and take the driver's seat. Split the games and... well that's why you read these kind of things. Safe to say the Riot are deep in the playoff hunt with their odds increasing every day. Follow me after the break for a recap of this week that saw everything come up Chicago Riot playoff chances.
Sunday, February 13 - Chicago Riot defeat the Omaha Vipers 16-15
The Riot could have won both games last weekend. Friday's game in Omaha had Chicago up 7-2 at halftime and 15-12 with 2:06 left to go. Give credit to Omaha for scrapping back into the game on the back of Johnny Torres who scored 4 goals in the 4th quarter with an assist to boot. Torres' last goals two were the difference makers and the Riot lost a real heart breaker 16-15. Back in Chicago, the team took care of business entering halftime with a 8-4 lead and finishing the game with a win to the tune of 12-6. While still outside and looking in to the playoffs, the Riot were 4-10 while Omaha was 7-8 in a 20-game season. It was getting dark but the lights are not off yet.
Monday, February 14 - Omaha releases its top goal scorer and starting goaltender
On Monday, the Omaha World-Herald reported that the Vipers had released Carlos “Chile” Farias and starting goalkeeper Jose Bontti. The move had to be cost-cutting because Farias represents a massive amount of the Vipers offense, as in Farias has 49 points, Torres has 34, and defender Ryan Junge is 3rd on the team with 19. Bontti's stats aren't other worldly but you simply don't switch goalies with 25% of the season remaining unless you have a major crisis. The crisis for Omaha is most likely financial. It is sad to see that dictate the end of the season, but the Riot can certainly take advantage.
Monday, February 14 - Major Indoor League Soccer announces Bato Radoncic is MISL Player of the Week
As a sign the Chicago Riot are really coming together as a team, Bato Radoncic received his second MISL Player of the Week award. The prior week he scored 4 goals against the Missouri Comets and this time he scored 4 goals and had 2 assists between the two Vipers games. Bato is not creating these chances by himself. He is not finishing the shots that comes after his passes. After a tough dozen or so games, the Riot are finally getting some results from their solid teamwork. Radoncic has catapulted into the top 5 players in the league in average points per game. He is simply on fire.
Wednesday, February 16 - Omaha loses to the Milwaukee Wave in overtime
In a rare mid-week matchup, Omaha took the field eager to show they did not need Farias and Bontti. A scrappy, defensive battle ensued and the teams went into halftime with a score of 2-0 in the favor of Milwaukee. The scoring opened up in the 3rd quarter as Milwaukee took a 8-5 lead entering the final 4th. The Vipers' Victor Quiroz managed a 3-point shot from beyond the midfield line to tie it up at 8-8 and seven minutes of scoreless soccer followed. Milwaukee's Travis MacKenzie quickly ended the game at the 1:46 mark with a sudden death shocker. Omaha lost the game 10-8 and fell to 7-9 on the season.
Thursday, February 17 - Omaha World-Herald's Mike Patterson breaks down tough road ahead for the Vipers
Patterson provides some great context on Omaha's internal struggle. He also mentions the tough schedule that we have been looking for awhile now. The Vipers have three of their last four games against the juggernaut squads of the Milwaukee Wave and the Baltimore Blast while the Chicago Riot have half of their games remaining against the last place Missouri Comets. The Comets continue to rack up goals but the defense refuses to come along with the offensive success.
Friday, February 18 - Omaha falls for the third time in 6 days
Omaha had the lead first thanks to two goals by Freddy Moojen. The squads than see-sawed and entered halftime 8-8. Baltimore struck fast out of the gate with an attack that included a short-handed goal by Robbie Aristodemo. The Blast never looked back from that 10-8 advantage and the final score ended up being 14-10. The Omaha Vipers sit at 7-10. The Chicago Riot sit at 4-10.
Saturday, February 19 & Sunday, February 20 - Chicago Riot take on the Milwaukee Wave and Missouri Comets
The stakes are high. The race is on. Never count a team with a little Chicago spirit out of the hunt. Watch the Riot take on the Milwaukee Wave tonight at 6:00 PM. Watch the Riot take on the Missouri Comets tomorrow at 3:10 PM. The MISL website has you covered. The Chicago Riot Twitter page will provide a verbal play-by-play. You don't want to miss Bato Radoncic continue his reign off MISL terror.