Week 1 is done and dusted for the USL. Charleston grabbed a dramatic late winner, while the Sounders took advantage of an injury-riddled Sacramento. In our game of the week, well, sparks didn’t exactly fly.
Game of the Week
Real Monarchs and LA Galaxy II fought it out at the StubHub Center’s Track and Field complex, with the Monarchs stealing a point on the road in the 0-0 affair.
The first 20 minutes of the game were lost to history, as technical difficulties roughly cut out the first quarter of the game. Neither team was really able to find a sense of a sustainable rhythm, with fouls constantly being called on both sides. The best chance of the half came on a rocket of a shot by Adonis Amaya that forced the Monarchs’ Lalo Fernandez into a diving save.
The Galaxy enjoyed the lion’s share of possession after the restart, but not before weathering an early storm by the Monarchs. Sebastian Saucedo found himself with enough space to launch a shot from distance that was well saved by Clement Diop. A dangerous corner kick then required some last-ditch defending to clear the ball out of the box.
After the early flurry, however, LA progressively revealed holes in Real’s defense as the youthful squad hit a wall around the 70th minute. Ariel Lassiter came on for Travis Bowen soon after and had a golden chance with time and space at the top of the box. The forward was unlucky to slip on the shot and saw his toe-poked effort fly over the crossbar.
LA would again have a chance to take the lead in the 79th minute, but Jack McBean’s initial shot was blocked by a sliding Monarchs defender before Raul Mendiola was stonewalled point blank by Fernandez. Lassiter would then have a chance to make amends for his earlier missed shot on the break. However, his decision making was poor, as instead of slotting the ball to his two unmarked teammates in the middle of the box, he attempted a near-post shot that went wide of the post.
The Monarchs would weather a flurry of corner kicks as the game edged towards its conclusion. The visitors, however, would record the only shot on goal in the four minutes of stoppage time, but it was hit directly at Diop. The game ended soon after, with both sides earning a share the spoils.
Around the League
– Despite surrendering a two-goal lead within the first 16 minutes of play, Charleston’s veteran roster was able to pull out all three points courtesy of goals by Dane Kelly, Shawn Ferguson and Taylor Mueller. Jordan Hamilton and Molham Babouli scored for Toronto II.
– After treating the 2951 spectators to a dreary first half that saw zero shots test either keeper, the Republic and Sounders 2 exploded for six goals in the second half. SSFC2 took the game 4-2. Andy Craven, Sam Garza, Pablo Rossi and Christian Roldan all found the back of the net for Seattle. Justin Braun and Octavio Guzman both opened their 2015 accounts for the Republic.
Goal of the Week
There were two free kick goals in Saturday’s night cap, but I’m giving goal of the week to Guzman. While Rossi’s was good, it wouldn’t have gone in but for the back of McLain’s head after it ricocheted off the post. Guzman’s on the other hand, went straight up and down over the wall and there was no hope of Charlie Lyon stopping it. Also, his attitude after scoring the goal and just walking off back to the center circle was fantastic.
Assist of the Week
Victor Mansaray for Seattle gets the assist of the week. His early cross with the outside of his right foot was absolutely filthy. The cross got all the way to the back post and set up perfectly for Roldan on the half volley.
Save of the Week
Alex Bono claims the Week 1 award after his great reaction save on Haviel Cordoves. The Cuban National Team defector received a cross from Quinton Griffith right on the doorstep and sent his headed shot low to Bono’s left that looked destined to find the back of the net. However, the Syracuse man dropped quickly and pushed the shot out of danger.
The 91st Minute
– The Republic clearly missed the influence of several key performers in Thomas Stewart, Nemanja Vuković and Rodrigo Lopez. Lopez ‘s play in the middle of the park especially would have helped to stabilize the side. Take Seattle’s win with a slight grain of salt, but credit still goes to the hosts for being lethal in front of the goal.
– While Bono did well for the most part in goal for Toronto, he’ll probably have nightmares about the last two goals he gave up. Both came as a result of failed clearances in the six-yard box on corners. He got knocked down on the goal by Ferguson, so there were legitimate shouts for a foul. However, Bono will need to show more command of his box going forward in the season. He’s a young keeper though, so there’s still plenty of time to learn.
– Braun’s goal for Sacramento makes him the team’s first goal scorer in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Not that it means anything, but people around Sacramento might want to keep that in mind for future bar trivia.
– Kelly’s first goal of the season saw him move into a tie for second all-time in the USL. He has 32 career goals in the third division.
– Given the amount of professional debuts for the Monarchs, I think they acquitted themselves well in their first match of the season in a hostile environment. Fernandez was very tidy in goal to earn his first clean sheet, while Ricardo Velazco showed confidence to try and take opponents on one-on-one.
– The 2014 season averaged 2.79 goals per game. There were 11 goals scored through the first three games of the season for an average of 3.67.
– It’s a minor annoyance, but the Galaxy II field still has USL PRO branding. Given the rebrand was over a month ago, surely they would have had time to replace the signage. More important was the technical difficulties with the live feed. Those kinds of issues cropped up fairly often last season, and I had hoped they would be resolved in the offseason. Obviously, freak accidents can happen, so let’s hope this was a rare occurrence for this season.
(image courtesy of Seattle Sounders 2)