I have never loved a Kiwi more in my life than I do today.
Up until the 78th minute, Elliot Collier had a quiet night. The loaned player from Chicago Fire received a yellow card in the 76th, and before that registered 1 shot on goal. Most of his touches seemed to morph into turnovers within .5 seconds, and his lack of quickness was non-threatening to the back 4. Then, out of nowhere, it seemed like Elliot lulled Loudon FC defender Harri Hawkins into stagnant defense before cutting left and burying a shot past goalkeeper Calle Brown.
In a night that saw possession for 901 FC creep close to 60%, and attacks by Duane Muckette and Rashawn Dally that maybe should’ve registered Adam Nejam with 1,000 assists (kidding, more like 2-3), the end result was a draw 1-1. For a city with more soccer heritage than most people know, this was a decent result for the second game on the inaugural season, but not the warranted result for the confidence, skill, and lack of hospital balls (Google this) played by the home team. With all that said, the purpose of this article is to take a deeper dive into the play of the team, and rate their efforts on a scale of 1-10 formatted as player number, player name and ranking.
#1 Jeff Caldwell (6.5) – The 901 FC Goalie didn’t have a ton to do tonight, and the deflected goal couldn’t be blamed on the keeper. Caldwell performed when he was called on with some key decisions (laying out in the 70th minute to stop a 1 on 1 was huge), which altogether helped keep the opposing goals to 1
#5 Tristan Hodge (5) – Some shaky defense in the second half with some poor clearances almost made this night long for Hodge. Fortunately, he was solid on the ball for most of the game with multiple short-short-long clearances to keep both offenses honest, until he was subbed in the 65th minute.
#6 Dan Metzger (5.5) – Metzger had some solid tackles that kept Loudon aware, but he also had a poor tackle leading to a yellow in the 90th that seemed unnecessary. Altogether he gets a 5.5 just due to being a workhorse on defense (if anyone remembers Brek Shea’s efforts for the national team on offense, this is a direct comparison).
#8 Marc Burch (8) – Can you think of someone more calm, cool and collected with the ball at their feet for 901 FC? Burch controlled the game from the backfield, pinging up several 20-30 yard passes that were spot on for a quick attack. Nothing less is expected from someone that spent around 15 years in the MLS before joining 901 FC. If passing was the only stat discussed of the night, he would’ve had had a great game, but the lockdown defense mixed in with some dangerous in-swinger corners has me excited for the season.
#10 Adam Nejam (8.5) – For someone without an assist or goal on the night, you would be surprised to find that he is my player of the match. Nejam looks as though he’s watched every film of Eden Hazard, creating some curious chances for himself (burning 2 defenders in the first half to almost setup a 1-1 with the keeper), and setting up numerous through balls for his teammates. In all reality Dally should’ve had a goal from Nejam’s pass in the 17th minute which would’ve opened up a flood of scoring I believe. Keep up that confidence, sir!
#14 Rashawn Dally (6) – Dally showed some bursts of speed on the ball that made me giddy. He also should’ve had a goal on that ball from Nejam, but granted it was a helluva trap on his part to keep running at speed. I believe him and Muckette had the same issue, which was the pressure of scoring the first goal. With Collier etching his name on the sheets, let’s hope this opens the floodgates.
#17 Ewan Grandison (5) – Too many telegraphed, low through balls and poor crosses have me asking for more with Grandison. Being the first sub off I would like to chalk this up to stamina, or an off night.
#18 Elliot Collier (6.5) – I’m going to be honest with you. Without the goal, Elliot was having the worst match of the entire bunch. He seemed sluggish to start, and had too many turn overs in the offensive 3rd when we really needed some hold up play. Granted, maybe this was his strategy all along to convince the Loudon defense to sit off and play some lackluster defense? Regardless, Elliot has made himself a place in history for Memphis sports.
#20 Todd Pratzner (4) – Poor Todd, poor defense. You usually don’t like to see a defender come out so late in the game, as it has the potential to throw off the chemistry the backline has garnished over the match, but this was needed. He looked out of sorts, and had trouble getting anything going out of the back (could be that the center mids weren’t checking in, but unlikely).
#21 Duane Muckette (6) – Muckette has some poor choices in tackles (that leg chop in the 13th minute was just not needed), and was almost burned in the 34th for not sticking with his runner. The big redeeming factor though was his ability to actually take shots, and decent ones at that. His shot in the 60th minute from outside the 18 surely had to kiss the post, and had me yelling GOOOAAAALLL before I realized I needed glasses.
#22 Wesley Charpie (6) – The announcers for this game were all about Charpie, and I think his game could be summed up into one play from the 90+ minute range. In a time where fatigue usually takes your mind, and you’re thinking about what steak and shake milkshake you’ll be grabbing after the game, Charpie pushed aside his sweet tooth and tracked a great run from Kyle Murphy at the top of the box, which stopped a cross from potentially causing a disappointing last second loss. Gotta keep that mind Charp (Get it?)
I usually will have a piece on the subs, but Junior Sandoval with the assist is the biggest talking point from the bench players. Nothing fancy out of him, just slight bit of hold up play and a simple layoff to Collier changed the game for Memphis. Well done!
— Casey Long