Despite the constant threat of rain all week, it turned out to be a beautiful day down on Seagram Drive with the sun shining brightly on the stands and the United players showing even brighter lights on the field. The scoreline flattered Dayton, who could barely cross the half way line without being intercepted, tackled, and generally haggled off the ball. It lead to our Hamilton supporting visitor, James Hutton, to remark that the whole thing looked like a training match.
This game marked the return of Mathieu Laurent, and showcased the incredible depth that United has this year in the back line. Justin Springer has been arguably one our best defenders all season, but he was dropped for the returning Laurent. Mathieu didn’t put a foot wrong for most of the match. He was equally matched by the impeccable Tomlinson, Miller and Callahan (who recorded another assist).
Dayton stuck 5 players on the backline and they often lined up right on the edge of the 18, looking like an impenetrable wall. But that was broken by the acrobatic Wesley Cain. Liam Callahan and Sameer Fathazada hooked up on the left hand side, with Liam delivering a fantastic ball that was just asking to be knocked in, two United players were waiting but it was Cain who lept highest to open the scoring. Dayton was shocked and 14 minutes later, Wes would repeat the trick. peeling off the back of his defender just as Sameer Fathazada, again looking extremely tidy on the ball, delivered a fantastic cross to the back post. More back flips ensued.
The rest of the game was about damage control for Dayton and seeing if Wes could get this hat trick. Both Callahan and Sameer continued to deliver teasing balls to the Cain with a couple of shots flashed just wide and Dayton starting to ensure they had two people covering at all times. The game didn’t, thankfully, dissolve into the sort of battle that transpired against West Virginia.
Cain picked up yet another well deserved Man of the Match award. He is tied for third in the league for assists while now adding in two league goals. Although a quieter game than against Virginia, Kitchener’s Saleh was again a destroyer in midfield, breaking up attacks and covering expertly. Jiro Barriga, a native of Japan whose father is from Colombia, also slotted in and showed some incredible feet throughout the game and looks like a solid addition to the midfield.
All in all, it was hard to see how the Bucks lost to Dayton. In K-W’s only loss, the Bucks looked like the clear champions, yet somehow they lost to this same Dayton side that United, quite frankly, handled expertly. There is still the nagging issue, despite all of the goals, of needing a truly great striker but with depth in midfield and their shutdown defense United should go far. That loss to the Bucks on opening day may prove crucial but coming out of this week with two more wins will set United up nicely for their home game against Michigan on July 2nd.