On Sunday May 28th, in front of a crowd that leaned toward 1000; the boys in blue played with their hearts on their sleeves. Spectators could see the determination that the players felt, despite the heat that would have slowed down a lesser team. The play was exciting, the team consistently pressing high and hard to hold West Virginia Chaos back on their heels. This high press put KW at risk for a successful counter, and indeed one mistake by a defender led to Virginia’s sole goal. Yet one goal was not enough to successfully come away with a point against the home team.
The game started with some open box-to-box play; both teams were really looking to put in a goal early and set the tone. It did not take long for United to take control of the play, however; using their high press and man-on-man defending to shut down Virginia runs before they were able to develop. Yet despite continual pressure, it would take a free kick to open the score sheet. Liam Callahan’s picture-perfect placement from roughly 30 yards out was met with a roar of approval from the crowd; it was a great start to what proved to be an intense game.
Callahan’s goal was the only point at the second half, but 6 minutes into the second, Wesley Cain’s assist provided the service that Sameer Fathazada needed to gain some insurance. This proved an important turning point in the game since, as West Virginia’s coach Luke Duffy explained post-match; “we came out all guns blaring 2-nill down and made it 2-1”. Only 2 minutes later, another Cain assist provided Janos Loebe with his first 2017 PDL goal in his debut game. “I think fatigue hit in”, Duffy said; “when you make mistakes against a very good KW team, they’re going to exploit you”.
Although KW United’s head coach Martin Painter is happy with the 3 points, he sees some definite areas of improvement for the future. “We just struggled to move the ball at speed and became a little predictable”, Painter explained. West Virginia’s backline was “really well organized and made it tough to penetrate”. KW’s players expressed similar opinions; happy with the result, but not fully satisfied with their own play. Justin Springer, the core of the United backline, wants to “stay a little more organized in transition” moving forward, and Munir Saleh thinks the team can “be more clinical and
create more chances” in the final third, “keeping possession with the ball”. Yet despite room for improvement, the game was a fantastic way to open University Stadium for the 2017 season. As Dayne St. Clair, the Blues’ keeper proclaimed; “we’ll only be rising from here”.
Sunday will see KW United play the Dayton Dutch Lions for the first time this season. The game will be held in University Stadium at 6:00pm.
KW United Roster:
- Wesley Cain (Jon Fraser, 86′)
- Johannes Pieles (Michael Halapir 77′)
- Donald Tomlinson
- Munir Saleh
- Adam Polakiewicz
- Justin Springer
- Kamal Miller
- Sameer Fathazada (Charles Novoth 62′)
- Liam Callahan (Jan Breitenmoser 45′; Mohamed Aborig 72′)