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City Stars Defeat Minnesota Thunder 1-0 For First Victory Of Season

May 16, 2009 - USL First Division (USL-1) - Cleveland City Stars News Release

Blaine, MN - The Cleveland City Stars earned its first victory of the season behind a great defensive performance and a timely combination play in the offensive third for a 1-0 victory over the host Minnesota Thunder.

In the 64th minute the City Stars (1-3-1) pieced together its best looking attack of the season. John Michael Hayden, continuing his strong performance from a week ago after being named to the USL-1 Team of the Week, controlled and created in the Minnesota third before dropping into a slide and flicking a great ball to Pato Aguilera. The veteran midfielder picked up his second assist of the season by leaving a perfect one-touch ball to the awaiting Josh Boateng who dribbled into a left footed shot that bounced off the far post and in for a 1-0 City Stars lead.

The goal was the first as a professional for Boateng. The rookie subbed in for Ricardo Pierre-Louis in the 49th after missing the past three matches due to a red card suspension in the opener.

The Thunder (0-4-2) quickly responded with a chance in the 71st minute as Geoffrey Myers received the ball near the corner of the 18 and darted around Anthony Stovall and around the drawn up Hunter Gilstrap. Myers rushed into a shot that was deflected by Troy Roberts but controlled the redirect and settled into an open-goal shot that was stopped at the line and cleared out of the box by Julian Valentin.

Despite many last ditch efforts, it was the last real opportunity for the Thunder.

The combination of Roberts and Valentin was everywhere throughout the match for the City Stars as the two center backs with ties to the L.A. Galaxy repeatedly snuffed out Minnesota chances. Former Galaxy member Roberts played his best match of the season while Valentin, on loan from Los Angeles, made a huge impression in his first match with Cleveland.

"Tonight was a great all around performance and a huge result for us," said Cleveland City Stars head coach Rod Underwood. "We played some of our best defense. I thought Troy and Julian played well and Stephane (Guillaume) helped out in his first game at right back. The goal was a sensational play and it was great to see because it's something that we work on."

The first half featured strong defense from both sides with both clubs struggling to find clean shots on goal.

In the 10th minute Minnesota's Melvin Tarpley controlled at the top of the 18 but was stuffed by Roberts before getting off a shot.

The City Stars possessed for nearly all of the next ten minutes until Stephane Guillaume made a run from his right back spot and placed a perfect cross to the far post but just missed the outstretched leg of the streaking Leo Gibson.

Just five minutes later the Thunder had its best look of the half. Ricardo Sanchez forced a shot through the pressure of Valentin but the defender redirected the ball out of the box. Minnesota leading scorer Leonel St. Preux controlled the redirect and fired a right-footed laser towards the near post but the ball hooked left of the post.

In the 32nd, the Thunder looked to have another opportunity as Tarley slid into the box unmarked. After receiving the ball with his back to the goal, Tarley mishandled the initial touch and after gaining control was cut off by Roberts. The Cleveland defender won the ball and cleared it out of harms way.

In the 37th, the City Stars put together its best looking play of the first half as Guillaume played a long ball to the awaiting Aguilera who played a perfect touch to Hayden. Hayden controlled on the run and dropped it off to Warren Kanu who exploded into a shot from 30-yards out but the ball was driven over the top of the goal.

Ricardo Pierre-Louie, playing with a bandage around his head after receiving a cut over his eye early in the match, played a great cross to Aguilera in the 43rd minute. Thunder defender Brian Kallman intercepted the pass and cleared it with a slide just as Aguilera approached for the one-on-one shot on Minnesota keeper Nic Platter.

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