By Pawl Espinoza Twitter: @pawlespinoza on August 7, 2016, 11:36pm

The Santa Ana Winds had some pent up frustrations from last week’s loss against La Máquina FC, and they were looking for a scapegoat to take it out on. The lucky team on target for this vengeful venting was Toros Neza USA hailing from Corona, CA.

Santa Ana’s club was without its usual lineup this match due to travel issues, which forced coach Jose Lopez to start in lieu of their missing right-midfielder to fill in the 11-man lineup. Despite the changes, the home side displayed the dynamic offense that we’ve seen from them thus far in the UPSL Summer Season 2016.

Right off the bat, the Winds asserted themselves into the dominant role between the two teams. Saul Sandoval, Santa Ana’s foward, got the Winds on the board in the 4th minute with a chip-in over the opposing goalkeeper after a quick pass and assist from left-midfielder Carlos Andrade. The Winds were dominating both sides of the ball to start the duel and all signs pointed north for the home side. 

Donning the number 20 for the match, coach Jose Lopez had his shining moment in the 16th minute after Andrade dished his second assist of the game to him. With Andrade rushing in from the left and taking on two defenders, Lopez had a clear cut to the goal from the right. As the goalkeeper dove towards Andrade to disallow any shot or pass attempt, Andrade reacted well and placed the ball perfectly for Jose to sink into the net.

Outplayed, the Toros were simply not quick enough to contend in the game. The few chances they had were marred by whistles of offside calls and when one player became open, bad passes ruined solid opportunities. Regardless, Santa Ana mishandled the mismatch at times and allowed a stoppable goal in the 26th minute. The reason I say stoppable is because of how it happened. The club from Corona swung and missed at a cross from the left side of the goal, giving the Winds chances to recover the ball; yet a soft block put it back at the feet of the Toros for a shot that just missed off of the post. Luckily for Corona, it lined up soundly for a rebound goal and voila: two to one.

But Santa Ana Winds FC still looked strong and determined to bulldoze over their opponents. Firing on all cylinders, their next goal came right before the break in the 41st minute, when forward Zaid Khalil collapsed the left-side defense on his own and slipped one in just under the left side of the goalie. The numbers were just pouring in, and the Winds were feeling confident going into the half-time break.

In the second half, Andrade made his presence on the field known once more, but instead of an assist, he added a goal to his stat sheet in the 47th minute. After outrunning two defenders, he took the ball up from mid-left field to fire it across into the right side of the net for the first score of the half. But this is where things began to become sloppy for Santa Ana.

Up four to one, their frustrations began to pick at them. The same issues we have seen in previous matches began to reemerge. Miscommunications and offensive-minded play began to give way to easy goals and the Toros took advantage of it. Despite Saul Sandoval’s back-to-back goals in the 65th and 71st minutes (leading to his hat trick in the game), the Santa Ana defense started to go awry. The double-edge sword of their vindictive play stirred them into getting beaten for three goals in the last 30 minutes of stoppage time. It appeared as if the focus became solely on scoring and assuming the weaker Toros Neza USA couldn’t retaliate, but that assumption is never reliable in sports, nor was it reliable in this match.

If you outscore an opponent, you win. It’s as simple as that, but against a lower-ranked team, defense tells all. If you can’t display your defensive machismo against a team under you, then how can you against a team above? Santa Ana Winds FC had a chance to make this game a blowout, yet failed to protect the goal and conceded four easy goals. Maybe they put too much focus on getting back on scoring track after last week’s loss? Maybe it was just the Toros getting lucky? Or maybe Winds FC was fatigued? Whatever it was, the Winds are proven offensive talent, but need to play defense for all 90 minutes.

Santa Ana Winds FC looks to jump up in the standings this upcoming Saturday at Lake Forest Sports Complex against Strikers FC from their neighboring city of Irvine. Catch the game on Field A at 8:00pm (PDT).