BYU had a couple of changes to their normal line-up. Dallin Cutler was sitting out due to a silly red card at the end of Thursday's game and Jace Green was off after getting married — there are some things more important than soccer after all. David Gates was also held out at first because the coaches thought he needed some rest with this game coming on two days rest.
The Fuego were a tough match-up for BYU. They played an undefeated regular season last year and already had 11 points out of 6 games (3-1-2) with a +4 goal differential this year.
Here's my break down of the game in fifteen minute chunks:
Kick-15 — Fuego looked to be faster and tidier with the ball. Their coach was very vocal calling out guidance to his club. Brent Hale looked steady as he was called upon to clean up a couple of chances from Fresno.
16-30 — BYU's passing and distribution are a little off. The seem to win a fair share of challenges only to give them away. Both team traded chances in this block, but the Fuego's was much better, only being stopped by the cross bar.
31-45 — "We'll solve it, just be patient." was the call from the Fresno bench, and it seemed likely to be true, then BYU's Toni Nicolli nearly got onto the end of a long ball as they countered.
Halftime Thoughts — Garrett Losee is still being treated for a mouth injury of some type that occured in the closing minutes of the half. BYU has been playing with fire, too much of their possession has been in the defensive third, and too many of their passes forward have gone to the feet of Fuego players. BYU ended the half lagging Fresno's possession 43% - 57%. The BYU coaching staff pulled together after the halftime whistle to talk about ways they could open up the game.
46-60 — Fresno finally broke through the BYU defense in the opening moments of the half with a goal by Andrew Campbell. The poured on the pressure with several close calls in the following minutes. It really looked like the Fuego were going to blow the game open until David Gates and Sterling Hancock came in. Coach Watkins later said that they were the game changers for BYU.
61-75 — In the 62nd minute, Fresno's Andrew Campbell undercut BYU Goal Keeper Brian Hale as he went up for a ball and received a yellow card. Adding insult to inury, he also either fell hard or was landed on by Hale and had to be subbed off after receiving treatment both on and off the pitch.
In the 71st minute, sub David Gates broke free on a counter and leveled the score with a well taken goal on a 1v1 against the keeper..
76-90 — Following BYU's goal, they've looked confident and dangerous. Bryson Pope was able to really stretch the field, with several break aways, but just wasn't able to finish. Seven minutes of added time (two Fresno injuries and several subs) made for an exciting finish with both teams pushing hard and getting some good looks on goal — though neither side was able to wrap up the win.
Closing Thoughts & Coaches Comments — BYU played hard in the second half after a disappointing first half and deserved the tie. While the crowd was thin, they certainly had an entertaining game to watch and should have gone home happy.
Fresno's Coach, Scott Alcom:
"They [BYU] have a real team this year. That was a good result by them. We've got some soul searching to do. We're rebuilding, we've got a lot of young kids, but I'm not happy with the result."
BYU's Coach, Chris Watkins:
"I was really pleased with the last 35 minutes, but disappointed that we gave them too much in the first 55."
"Our plan, Coach Sackett's plan came together. We wanted to hold out Gates until the second half, then put him in with Pope and make this a track meet. We thought if we could hold them in the second half we could win this thing."
"Sometimes it was like we thought we were Barcelona and we didn't need to work to get the win — but we're not. We're not skill guys, we're a blue collar team."
I think Brian Hale got wrong footed on the goal — he's such a great athelate, I can't believe that went in on him."
BYU's Coach Sackett:
"It's hard, it's frustrating to get the tie, but we did well. We did what we needed to do. Maybe a little more in the first half and we might have had the win."