Five games into the Premier Development League season, the Otters are still looking for their first victory. Their latest result, a 4-3 loss to the Mississippi Brilla on Friday night, showed they have the firepower to stay in most games, but they haven’t shown the kind of defense needed to beat the better teams in the league.
“It hurts to lose that one,” Otters coach David Strickland said. “That’s one of the better teams in the league and we were right there with them.”
The defeat dropped the Otters to 0-2-3. Mississippi remained in first place in the Group K of the PDL with a 4-2-1 record. The Brilla recently made the third round of the U.S. Open Cup, beating two professional teams along the way.
Guillermo Segovia, a forward from Madrid who plays at Ohio Valley University in West Virginia, scored twice for the Otters, including a goal in the 81st minute that gave hope to a big, enthusiastic crowd.
Tri-Cities got on the board first when Raphael Campos sent a pass through the Mississippi defense and Segovia finished it off with a chip over goalie Jordan Bell.
The lead lasted 20 minutes until Napo Matsoso scored the equalizer for the Brilla.
In the 40th minute, the Otters’ Oscar Perez scored with a paralyzing strike from 30 yards out. The ball curled into the upper right corner as Bell couldn't even react.
Koray Easterling then tied it up again for Mississippi with a spectacular left-footed volley for a 2-2 halftime tie.
Mississippi took the lead for good when Gerber Chavez found himself all alone at the back post after a corner kick and drilled home a goal from point-blank range for a 3-2 advantage with 25 minutes remaining.
Rich Bryan put Mississippi up 4-2 in the 73rd minute.
“We created a bunch of chances,” Strickland said. “We had a couple of breakdowns on the back post and that was the difference. We have to clean that up.”
Moments later, Segovia received a pass at the edge of the penalty area, got past the goalie and rolled in his second goal of the night, but the Otters couldn’t beat Bell again.
“I’ll go back and watch the game again,” Strickland said. “We’re going to have to work on some defensive shaping, but we’ll go out of here with a positive.”
The Otters return to action Tuesday when they play host to the Carolina Dynamo at 7 p.m.