2 games, 1 point is probably not quite the way Coach Rudland drew it up when he laid out the game-plan for this weekend. His plan probably didn’t include giving up 5 goals in 2 games, after conceding only 2 goals in the first 6 games combined. But that’s how it went down, ending with a 2-2 draw vs Cleveland and a 3-2 loss vs Cincy.
Neither game suffered for a lack of excitment. Friday night, United fell behind 1-0 late in the first half after Cleveland put home a rebound off of a free kick. New guy Marcos Ugarte tied the game up in the 68th minute, before Tyler Pasher put United ahead in the 89th minute. Just when it seemed like the comeback was done and United would come away with 3 points, Cleveland put home a goal in stoppage time off of a throw in.
On Sunday, Cincy took a lead just 2 minutes into the game, then both teams scored just before the half, for a 2-1 Cincy halftime lead. United managed to tie the game briefly in the 2nd half, before quickly conceding a 3rd goal, to fall 3-2.
Set pieces, defending, and a lack of cohesion
Three areas seemed to cause the most problems for United, leading to the less than stellar results. Set pieces, both on the offensive, and defensive end, were not executed well, especially in the Cleveland game. Both Cleveland’s goals came off of set pieces, one after a free kick hit the post and the rebound was put home, the other off of a throw in deep in defensive territory. Offensively, United had 9 corners against Cleveland, and came away with no real chances from any of them. Pasher in particular didn’t have a great night taking corners (though the rest of his night was pretty great, so that can be forgiven, after all, nobody’s perfect).
The overall defending against Cleveland was pretty good, with the exception of set pieces, but against Cincy it seemed less organized and efficient than usual. After not rotating the backline much in the first few games, and having Dunn and Lamb consistently at CB, the Cincy game featured a lot of rotation on the backline, as Dunn was the only regular. Maybe this contributed to the poor defensive performance?
The whole team in fact seemed to lack some cohesion in both games. In the first 3 games of the year that we were able to watch, United played fairly attractive soccer, passing it around, maintaining their shape, holding possession, and generally dictating the flow of the game. There seemed to be a lot less of that, and a lot more direct, route 1 soccer being played this week, with balls being bombed forward. Granted, with speed like Pasher has on the wing I’d be tempted to just bomb the ball forward and hope he gets there first too, but that works more often when it’s the surprise move, not the standard. Maybe it’s that we had a few new players in this week, maybe it was the opponents, but the boys looked disjointed. Even when we did manage a good spell of possession, when the ball got to the final 3rd there didn’t appear to be the chemistry there to string together passes and create chances.
While the defense struggled, the offense did not. Usually, if you score 4 goals in 2 games you’re going to get at least 4 points, if not 6. Tyler Pasher, back from Canadian National Team duty, and new guy Marcos Ugarte looked really good, and we’ll look for them to continue to improve as they gel with the team. It was also great to see Ryan Keener join the back line. Keener came on as a sub at halftime, and while he wasn’t outstanding, he should be a net gain for the back line, so it will be good to have him going forward.
1,072. That was the attendance at Lansing United’s 3rd ever home game. Say that with me… One-thousand and seventy two. It has been so great to see so many Lansing area fans come out and support United, and the crowd standing and singing with Sons of Ransom grows bigger and louder every game.
The atmosphere was great all game long, even when United fell behind you all did a great job staying loud and being the energy the team needed. I have to say though, the atmosphere when Ugarte scored to tie the game, and again when Pasher scored for the lead have to be among my favorite moments of the season. The explosion of noise, smoke, and energy in those moments brought a new level of energy to the game.
Even more impressive was the way you all responded when Cleveland leveled the game in stoppage time. Rather than sulk quietly, the noise grew, and you could see after the game, as our boys came over to our side of the field, that they truly appreciate the environment we have created at the games this year.
If you don’t believe that the guys appreciate what we do in the stands, check out this message from the team, led by Captain Matt Brown.