USL Recap-Week 8

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San Antonio FC (SAFC)-0   Seattle Sounders 2 (S2)-0    (Toyota Field, San Antonio)

SAFC:  NONE   S2:  NONE

Four Observations:

  • There is not a whole lot to say about this game.  I hope this was not the first soccer match for anybody attending last night.  They may never come back.  The game was generally a defensive slog.  Sounders 2 were physical, tenacious and well organized defensively and SAFC lost the efficiency in-front of goal (20% shooting accuracy last night) that it has enjoyed this year. SAFC has been somewhat fortunate this year as their shots to goals ratio has been off the charts. Unfortunately what Expected Goals theory tells you is all that evens out in the end. SAFC had the better of the chances, but the closest anybody came to scoring was when Sebastian Ibeagha slipped and Steven McCarthy made a hash of a clearance after attempting to step in.  S2 forward David Olsen won the ball and the resulting shot rattled off the woodwork (a good friend to SAFC so far this year).
  • Kris Tyrpak was named the USL Man of the Match and I would agree with that assessment.  He was lively all night and managed 5 shots, though only 1 was on goal.
  • The field was awful.  Full of sand and all kinds of unanticipated bumps for the players to navigate (see pictures below).  This certainly didn’t help the flow of the match.  I understand that this is the time of the year when the grounds-keeping crew at Toyota Field changes to a summer grass configuration. This change over-process didn’t work very well this year and I hope they can apply whatever lessons they have learned to future years.
  • I give Seattle Sounders an enormous amount of credit for the willingness to develop their Academy talent.  Of the 35 rostered players last night, 14 were Academy players.  4 of these Academy kids played last night, including 15 year old Azriel Gonzalez.  9 of the S2 rostered players come from the first-team.  This leaves only 12 players who are just there as part of the USL roster, and a number of them are young international players who are being vetted for the first team.  This philosophy is in stark contrast to the Dynamo and FC Dallas. The Dynamo have no Academy players at Rio Grande Valley and the Academy graduates there now don’t play much.  FC Dallas hasn’t set up a USL team yet and I do understand their rationale for this approach,   Unfortunately, the lack of a USL team means, since they have few loaned players at their affiliate in Oklahoma City, that the extremely talented young players on the first team roster get very little playing time. To be fair, since Seattle has players at all levels training in the same place, the integration of their Academy is much easier.  Regardless, I like Seattle’s approach better than how both Houston and Dallas are approaching their use of a USL program.

SAFC stay at home next weekend when they face Phoenix Rising.  There is a chance that this game may mark the USL debut of English Premier League legend Didier Drogba.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Rafa Castillo in one of his least demonstrative discussions with the referee.  Later a yellow card followed after the ref decided he had heard enough.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
SAFC head coach Darren Powell
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The United States Air Force out in strength in the supporters section
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Billy Forbes had a quiet night (might have something to do with three people trying to stop him) in front of an announced sellout crowd that had quite a few fans disguised as empty seats.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Ultimately unsuccessful first half corner kick
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The grass? turf left something to be desired

Rio Grande Valley FC (RGV FC)-1  Swope Park Rangers (SPR)-0  (H-E-B Park, Edinburg)

RGV FC-Todd Wharton-18  (Eric Bird)   SPR: NONE

Five Observations:

  • For the second consecutive game, Toros head coach Junior Gonzalez elected to start attacking midfield stalwart, Eric Bird, up top at forward.  This decision paid off again last night as Bird set up Todd Wharton’s left footed blast with a pretty back-heel flick for the only goal.

  • According to Greg Luca in McAllen’s The Monitor, Bird was able to play this no look pass to Wharton because they understand each other well, having played together in youth soccer and at the University of Virginia.
  • Wharton, who missed most of last season due to injury, has been in the starting lineup the last two weekends.  He was obviously pleased with the quality of the goal he scored last night when quoted in The Monitor.

“I haven’t hit many goals better than that in my career,” Wharton said. “So I was really happy, obviously, and most importantly we won from that goal, so that’s the most important part is the three points.”  

 Greg Luca’s game article can be found here:

http://www.themonitor.com/sports/article_e7bcb952-3860-11e7-8395-5fdafe09c6b5.html

  • Swope Park got off to a slow start and had only 2 shots in the first half, partly perhaps because it was 102 degrees in Edinburg last night.  They were much more dangerous in the second half and had an excellent opportunity when striker Kharlton Belmar was unable to convert either his first attempt or the rebound on an excellent 49th minute opportunity.
  • The Dynamo loaned reserve left-back Dylan Remick to RGV FC for the first time since he joined the first team from Seattle in the offseason.  He had nine total interceptions, clearances and recoveries.  He did give up one foul in a dangerous spot on top of the 18, but otherwise played a tidy game.

RGV FC continues its long home stand next Saturday night when LA Galaxy II come to visit the Valley.

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