Milwaukee Torrent 2-0 Chicago House AC: The House loses their first game in club history
Photo by Adnan Bašić

Chicago House Athletic Club’s first game in history ended in a loss, as they were beaten by the Milwaukee Torrent 2-0 at Hart Park in the 2021 NISA Independent Cup.

A relatively even contest throughout, a brace from Malik Mennana would lead the hosts to victory on the night. The House arguably beat themselves, though, as both goals came after defensive mistakes. In the end, it was a fair result, as Milwaukee took their chances, while Chicago did not. 

Story of the match

The first chance of the contest would fall to the away side. Louis Bennett went on a superb run, flying past a number of defenders before going for goal from the edge of the box. He couldn’t keep his effort on target, though, as the ball hit the wrong side of the side netting.

They really should’ve opened the scoring midway through the first half, as a wonderful cross picked out Wojciech Wójcik in the area. However, he failed to convert from close range, hitting a shot right at the goalkeeper, who made the simple save.

Milwaukee finally got into the game a bit later, and they came inches away from taking the lead. A loose ball fell to Ian Cerro, and he unleashed a strike despite being at a tough angle. It seemed destined for the top corner, but the ball would instead hit the crossbar before ending up in the arms of the opposing goalkeeper. 

They would go in front right before the half thanks to Malik Mennana. A woeful backpass from a House player put the Torrent striker through on goal, and he made no mistake with the finish, slotting the ball into the back of the net.

Chicago were the better team to start the second half, and they had a great opportunity to tie things up in the 66th minute. A corner wasn’t dealt with properly by the opposition, and the ball eventually made its way to an unmarked Alexis Nino. He bottled the finish, though, heading his attempt over the bar.

They were almost made to rue that miss as Mennana managed to get past the backline once again moments later, but his strike from a tight angle was saved.

The House kept sending bodies forward in search of an equalizer, and they had another big chance with about 15 minutes to go. However, their poor finishing continued to haunt them, as Keegan Thompson skied a shot from only a few yards out.

Both teams had opportunities late on, but it would be Milwaukee who scored next to put the game to bed. Coming via another mistake at the back, Mennana won the ball high up the pitch before chipping the onrushing goalkeeper, sealing the win for his side in some style.

Takeaways

It was clear to see that this was Chicago’s first ever game as a team. They have some talented players, but they just aren’t used to playing with each other yet. As a result, they looked sloppy at times, and things just didn’t click for them. Only time will tell if they can turn it around, though.

Defensive issues cost Chicago the contest, as they practically gave the opposition two goals due to mistakes at the back. It was a stark reminder of what can happen when you mess things up at this level, and they were ultimately made to pay at the end of the day. They’ll now have to learn from what happened here to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. 

Drew Conner showed his class on occasion, which is a good sign. He constantly dribbled past his marker in the midfield, and he played some superb switch passes on the night. As the House captain and star player, there will be pressure on him to lead the team, so he'll likely need to put together more performances like this when the regular season starts.

Playing as a lone central defensive midfielder in a 4-1-4-1 formation, Michael Kafari had an excellent game. He helped control the tempo when his side were on the ball, and he used his large frame to support the defense when necessary as well.

Forward Wojciech Wójcik, meanwhile, had a rough outing, but it may not have all been his fault. It seems like he’s the type of striker that needs service, and he didn’t get much of that versus Milwaukee. However, he bottled the one chance he did have, and he’s going to have to bury those kinds of opportunities in the future if the House wants to succeed.

Man of the match - Malik Mennana

A threat throughout, Malik Mennana was the matchwinner on the night as his two goals were the difference between the two sides.

He just kept running, which made him a nuisance for the Chicago defense. All of his hard work would be rewarded in the first half, though, as the striker got on the end of a loose back pass to race through on goal and find the back of the net. He then put the contest to bed in style in the final few moments, with his picture-perfect chip putting the cherry on top of an excellent performance.

All in all, it was a masterclass in finishing from Mennana.

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