In his sixth blog entry for Goal.com, the USMNT academy goalkeeper breaks down his home debut for Deportivo Táchira and the team's most recent games.
Hello friends of Goal.com!
Diego Restrepo here. I hope everybody had a great weekend and had fun watching all the World Cup qualifiers that took place. Here in Venezuela it was a very intense weekend, because the national team, known as the "Vinotinto," is in the middle of the fight to earn its first world cup berth in the country’s history.
Most leagues around the world stop competition during FIFA qualifier dates, but the Venezuelan league is one of the exceptions. We had two league fixtures and one Cup match during the last week and a half.
Our first match was against el Vigia, a game that was true roller coaster ride. We started off great, took a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st half, but el Vigia quickly came back, tying the game 2-2 right before halftime. Starting the second half, El Vigia took the lead 3-2 and put us behind the eight ball, with all the momentum and crowd support in their favor. Just when it looked like we were going to lose the game, coach Contreras made two subs, and in the 41st minute we tied the game on a header off a free quick, and 60 seconds later we took the lead on a goal from our last sub Charlis Ortiz. It was a very exciting game, where we showed our grit and determination.
Last Sunday we traveled to Puerto Ordaz, on the opposite side of Venezuela, to face a tough Mineros squad. After an odyssey of a trip due to the fact that Venezuelan airlines love to postpone/cancel trips without notice, we finally arrived in time to play the game. It was a very tight match, with opportunities for both games. In the second half we took the lead and were controlling the game, until the referee red carded our center back and captain Andres Rouga, on a foul that the local press agreed did not merit even a yellow card. With 10 men, we were defending stoutly, until again the official called for a penalty kick against us, even though all TV replays showed the foul taking place outside the penalty box.
Mineros tied the match, and in the final minute took the lead after a bouncing ball in the box was put away. Final was 2-1 against us.
After two away games we came home with three points out of six, and we were happy with the result but not satisfied. We felt we should’ve taken six, or at minimum, four points out of the games, but that’s soccer. We are in the middle of the table, and in great position to compete for the top spots in the league.
Last night we had our return leg match for Copa Venezuela. If you recall, the first leg was away to San Antonio, and the match ended in a 0-0 draw in very difficult conditions. The first game was also my debut in Venezuela. Coach told the media that I would be the keeper for the remainder of the Copa tournament, for as far as we go in the competition, which made me very happy knowing that the coaching staff had the confidence in me to perform.
Last night was a fun match, where we had a ton of shots on goal. We didn’t have the best finishing on the night, but we won comfortably 3-1, we played well and we qualified to the second round of the Copa tournaments. Personally, I had a good match, was able to make some good saves to help the team get a positive result.
It was a special night for me since it was my debut at home, at Pueblo Nuevo Stadium in front of our fans. It was also my fist professional match where both my parents and my brother where in the stands. And most importantly, we won!
That’s it for this blog entry. See you guys in a couple of weeks!