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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Masango Akale, Luis Gil lead Spokane Velocity to 2-1 win over Chattanooga Red Wolves

By Taylor Newquist The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Velocity have been looking for an edge to win their first match in nearly two months.

The Velocity found it Saturday, if only by a fraction of inches and a single strike of excellence.

Masango Akale and Luis Gil both scored to lead the Velocity to a 2-1 win over the Chattanooga Red Wolves in USL League One play in front of 3,845 fans at ONE Spokane Stadium.

The first goal was far from definitive. The second was as emphatic as they come.

Akale opened the scoring in the 12th minute as the Velocity (4-3-2) gained control early, creating multiple chances on long balls over the Red Wolves defense.

Akale handled a cross from Gil in the left side of the box and made just enough contact to push it across the line as Chattanooga goalie TJ Bush scrambled to keep it out. Players froze, unsure if the goal would be allowed, and the Velocity players ran off the field to celebrate at the referee’s signal. Chattanooga coach Scott Mackenzie was furious at the call and was given a yellow card for dissent.

“I saw Luis out wide and I know he has the quality to find me wherever I am on the field,” said Akale, who scored his first goal for Spokane. “I didn’t get the best connection, but it slipped in. It just feels great to help the team.”

Akale made an impact on the left wing, often cutting by his defender to get a look at goal or pass to a teammate. Akale felt he had the upper hand against his defender , but that’s not uncommon for the midfielder, who’s seen more playing time in recent games.

“Yes (I had the advantage), I always do, I always feel that way,” he said.

The Red Wolves (3-4-1) tied it in the 32nd minute when Mayele Malango broke free on an overlap and scored one-on-one past Spokane goalie Brooks Thompson, who was making his second start of the season. It was Malango’s fourth goal in as many games.

Gil put the Velocity back in front 6 minutes later, converting another chance created by a pass over the Chattanooga defense. Gil called for the ball from defender Ahmed Longmire and watched it bounce ahead of him before striking it into the left side netting with his first touch.

“It’s a run I’ve been making in previous games as well,” Gil said. “It was a wonder goal, but it’s a (pass) I’ve wanted for a while and I took advantage of it.”

Spokane coach Leigh Veidman has come to expect it from his leading goal scorer.

“That’s Luis,” Veidman said. “That’s what he does. What a finish.”

Spokane’s two goals rewarded an energetic defensive effort, which Veidman praised as the reason they won the game.

“Of late we haven’t been the greatest in that department,” Veidman said. “The guys have known that, and they’ve held themselves accountable.

“Between the 80-yard boxes, they’re probably one of the best teams in the league. It’s what we do when we’re attacking and when we’re defending the boxes.”

Neither team had many chances in the second half until they were sparked by a scuffle after a tightly contested corner kick.

Spokane and Chattanooga went end-to-end in the 90th minute, and Thompson made the save of the match, diving to push the ball away in added time.

“I just react and trust my position,” Thompson said. “I just got down and got a good hand on it.”

Spokane won its first match since May 11. The Velocity will have a week off to build on the result until traveling to Central Valley Fuego FC for a Jagermeister Cup game on July 19.

• The Spokane Zephyr were introduced before the match for the first time.

Spokane’s professional women’s team will kick off their inaugural season in the USL Super League against Fort Lauderdale United FC on Aug. 17 at ONE Spokane Stadium.