Early hopes of a miraculous come-back for Luca de la Torre and Heracles were cruelly put to rest, as a second-half flurry by Excelsior Rotterdam handed the American and his teammates a trip to the Dutch second division.

Heracles Almelo 1 – 3 Excelsior Rotterdam (agg. 1-6)

Overturning a three-goal deficit was a tall task for the USMNT midfielder and the rest of the Heracles squad, however they played with intent in a strong first half, before capitulating after the break in what has been a repeated pattern for the team.

de la Torre lined up on the right side of the midfield as usual, putting in 62 minutes in what will likely be his last appearance in the team’s uniform ahead of a probable flurry of transfers away from the club in the summer.

His shorter-than-usual shift was not entirely unproductive, as he did manage one shot to force a save from the Excelsior keeper, set up another early chance, completed 80% of his 40 passing attempts, beating opposing defenders on all three of his attempted dribbles, and winning four of seven duels against the opposition.

In the 28th minute, Heracles took the lead in a dead-ball situation, with Bilal Basacikoglu launching a free kick from the deep towards the penalty spot, where Sinan Bakis headed it just inside the left upright for the 1-0 lead.

The hosts were boosted by the score, which cut the lead to two goals with an hour left to play. While they did generally control the flow of the game, holding 60% of possession, their guests were ruthless and put the game to rest during the final 45 minutes.

Two minutes after the break, Julian Baas drew several defenders on his run into the area and slid a pass to Thijs Dallinga on the left, whose low shot back to the right restored the three-goal advantage.

de la Torre came close to pulling one back five minutes later with a distance shot that forced keeper Stijn van Gassel into action, and then was pulled two minutes past the our as a part of tactical double-switch as desperation time set in for the hosts.

Moments later, any lingering hopes of a come-back were put far out of reach with a glancing header by Mats Wieffer, then Excelsior added a third on the evening for emphasis, Nikolas Agrafiotis completing a counter with a point-blank blast to set the final aggregate win at 6-1.

This was the fifth loss in a row by Heracles to complete their death spiral, and they will begin life in the Eerste Divisie when the new season starts in early-August. The American, however, will almost certainly be one of their more in-demand players who will find a new home during the summer transfer window.

By David Smith

I'm YA's resident doctor, but not the kind of doctor you would want giving you an examination anywhere outside of a lecture hall. I've been YA's feet-on-the-ground in Germany since 2008, have an affinity for overly verbose descriptions of irrelevant minutiae, keep an eye on YAs in most of the destinations on mainland Europe, and watch a whole lot of Serie A.

2 thoughts on “Dutch Recap: de la Torre and Heracles Relegated”
    1. He’s under contract with Heracles through the end of the 2022-23 season. This is a good thing, IMO. For sure, a team will pay for him, so he wont be stuck in the Eerste Divisie. It will also be a nice parting/thank-you gift to Heracles to get some cash for him, since they did well to help him develop to being USMNT-caliber player.

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