Last night was a rarity in soccer, a big game in which the final score didn’t really matter. RSL’s reserves beat the BYU Cougars in the Coug’s brand new Stadium at South Field in front of 3110 fans. Beat is probably too soft a word, RSL’s Robbie Findley put the ball past BYU’s Brandon Gillam twice in the stretch of two minutes midway through the first half, at which point RSL seemed to let off the gas. They continued to play very well in the defensive and middle thirds of the fields, but didn’t look like they were trying very hard in the final third. RSL put a third goal on the board minute when Quinney Varela scored in the 90th.
Oft injured Nathan Sturgis started for RSL and took a knock in the opening minutes, and was off the field by the fifth minute. I saw him at halftime with ice on his ankle, but not looking too put out. Hopefully it’s just a ding and doesn’t affect his return to the senior side or his olympic aspirations.
It was also interesting to see Clint Mathis in the midfield for RSL. A Real staffer I was sitting next to said that he was just a friend of Jason Kreis and was playing to keep in shape for the upcoming European season.
Kenny Deuchar and Robbie Findley both started the game. Robbie looked pretty good, but my first up close and personal view of the good Doctor didn’t impress me too much. His touch seemed off, his passes were often weak dribbles, and he put another nice chance over the crossbar. Hopefully he gets past whatever is holding him back, but I’m no longer convinced that he’s the answer for RSL’s front line.
Mattias Mantilla started in the back, and looked good and not-so-good by turns. By the tenth minute of the game, it was obvious that Mantilla was unhappy with the refs. He seemed to be getting awfully close to a card for dissent at several points in the game. His tough challenges also earned the displeasure of the crowd who were booing his every touch by the end of the game. He did come up with several big plays, but also had a couple of gaffes—misjudging a long ball and letting BYU get control in the backfield at one point in the first half, and being undressed by a BYU player (Jordan Cushman?) in the second.
One last RSL observation, it was interesting to see how intent Jason Kreis was even in the closing minutes of the game. Although he was very gracious in his post game comments (see Drew Daniel’s write-up for Kries’ comments), it was obvious he was ‘on task’ during the game.
On the BYU side of the ledger, they put a lot of players out on the field (working through four different keepers for example). I’m sure the experience was good for all of them, and they all seemed to have enjoyed the night. The usual suspects looked good. Jace Green and Zack DeFrancis both looked as though they might score at several points in the game.
The new stadium looks like it will be a great place for BYU mens’ soccer. The crowd was loud and fairly involved in the game. (They even drowned out the small contigent of RSL fans—at least from where I stood.) I don’t envy visiting PDL clubs, this place has the makings of a PDL fortress.
I also really enjoyed sitting with the BYU-International Spanish-speaking commentators. I loved hearing them call the game, and thought it was cool to hang it with them as they interviewed Javier Morales at the half. Javi seemed to enjoy being interviewed in Spanish, and it was nice to be able to follow along with most of the questions and answers.
Oh, and I’d like to thank Robbie Findley for being very friendly and posing for a picture with two of my former scouts who caught up with him right after the game. Moments like those go a long way in community building.