The consistency, though, isn’t always there. Some days, Valencia plays like a championship contender. And then there are times when it seems like they can’t finish in the final third.
That wasn’t the case on Monday as Ivan Arias and Jesse Gonzalez each scored goals in the second half to lead Valencia to a 3-0 victory against Sonora.
Valencia has scored 17 goals during the month-long tournament while giving up just five as they posted their fourth shutout during the summer.
Gardner said he had 65 players signup for summer league, which is about 20 more than normal, and he got 30 of them into the game on Monday.
“We wanted to see what different guys can do in different spots,” Gardner said.
But so far he hasn’t seen anyone who can replace Fernando Perez, the Tigers’ attacking, 24-goal scoring All County midfielder who graduated this past June. Gardner said he sees the Tigers scoring most of their goals off headers this season.
That’s how they took a 2-0 lead in the 33rd minute. Cole Ingstrom chased a ball down in the corner, turned and fired a perfect cross to the far post where Arias leaped high and knocked it in.
“I think that is how I think we are going to score,” Gardner said. “Most of our goals this summer have come off headers, but we will just have to wait and see. Usually we are more of a possession team, and we have been working on that since April, but now we seem more like a north-south team.”
The Tigers also lacked some of the width that they showed last season, packing everyone in the middle of the field on Monday. Gardner used nine different outside midfielders during Monday’s game to try and find a combination that could give the Tigers a little time and space.
“We got so compacted instead of keeping it nice and stretched,” Gardner said. “Practice tomorrow, we are going to work on opening the field up and trying to find the triangles. But that is why you play in summer league.”
Arias’ goal was the only one that the Tigers scored during the run of play. In the second minute, the Raiders knocked in an own goal when their keeper couldn’t track down a back pass.
And in the final minute of the game, Gonzalez drilled a penalty kick into the lower left corner after getting tackled in the area.
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