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Vics Lose Independence Day Fixture To Miami, 3-1

July 5, 2007 - USL First Division (USL-1) - California Victory News Release

SAN FRANCISCO (July 4, 2007) -- The California Victory stumbled to a 3-1 home loss to Miami FC Wednesday, missing an opportunity to lift itself off the foot of the league table.

Just a point would have sufficed: the Victory are on equal points with second-to-last Minnesota, and a full three would have put the San Francisco team on level points with opponents Miami in 10th place.

But a first-half strike from Sean Fraser, an own goal from Victory captain Chris Schwarze and a brilliant deflected rocket by John Pudilo was plenty to defeat the Vics, who finished the game with 10 men after Ricardo Sanchez was ejected with a straight red card.

A late goal by Chuck Kim gave the home-side a glimmer of hope, but in the end it proved to be a consolation.

"Unfortunately we do well against the top teams but we are giving points away to the teams that matter," said Victory head coach Glenn Van Straatum after the game. "It really hurts. We have to win these kinds of games if we want a chance at the playoffs."

The game opened brightly as both teams settled into a neat passing game, displaying a similar style of creative, one- and two-touch soccer.

Miami's Brazilian legend Zinho connected well with Sean Fraser all night, carving the Victory defense open on several occasions. At times the home side were guilty of ball watching as Miami's experienced squad moved the ball around comfortably.

But the Vics also spent time in the Miami half, with Josh Hansen driving a low, hard shot that was saved in the opening minutes.

Mike Muñoz came close in the 23rd minute after controlling the ball brilliantly while on the ground in the Miami six-yard box, but 'keeper Gabard Fenelon pawed the midfielder's shot away.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 35th minute when Zinho played a classy ball to Fraser, who coolly finished.

Early in the second half the Vics looked most likely to score the game's second. Sanchez attempted a dipping shot from 20 yards, Hansen headed off the far post from a corner and Muñoz powered a shot from the right that was easily saved.

Miami had chances too -- Fraser looked certain to double his tally when one-on-one with Victory 'keeper Reed, but he dragged his shot horribly wide.

But the Victory's chances of a comeback slipped away when midfielder Sanchez was ejected in the 79th minute for hauling down Zinho from behind. With just 10 men on the field, the Victory lost its rhythm and resorted to frantic defending.

Miami's second came within three minutes of the ejection after Luchi Gonzales' corner pinged off the head of Victory captain Chris Schwarze and into the net for an absurd own goal, and they quickly added a third when John Pulido fired a rocket from 20 yards, taking a wicked deflection on the way.

Perhaps the most inspiring goal of the game came in the final minute when the Victory's Omar Aguayo side-footed a perfectly weighted pass to Chuck Kim, who had made a run on the right. Kim remained composed and buried his shot neatly into the back of the net, but it was all too little too late as Miami held on for the big road win.

"We need to take advantage of our momentum when we have it," said Van Straatum. "We dominated parts of the game and we had plenty of chances but again we didn't take them."

The Vics will try to bounce back Saturday when they take on the Portland Timbers at Kezar Stadium. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. Fans are reminded that ticket stubs from Wednesday's game are good for FREE ENTRY to the Portland game.

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