Let’s get this out on the table. Charpie committed a foul, and a dumb one at that. It was definitely a foul, and it was meant to be tactical. One thing it wasn’t though, is a penalty, and it shouldn’t have dropped us 2 points on the game.
Now that I digress, have you ever watched a show and predicted the ending due to the lack of complexity? It’s like there’s a certain trend that allows for the story line to hobble along a peaceful path strait to completion? Whelp, 901 FC games are like Game of Thrones, season 3, episode 9 (aka the Red Wedding) every game. It almost never pans out like I plan it out in my head.
I guess it’s good that the game isn’t predictable. I would’ve preferred an easy win instead of the points being split, but I traveled 1,062 miles to get to this game and man did I get my $30 worth of action. In the past articles, I complained a lot about a lack of offense from 901 FC. Too many breakdowns in the offensive 3rd, no one checking to the ball, and poor decision making on the runs were just a few of the grievances. Saturday was a different story. Saturday was brilliant soccer. Memphis came out hot this game. Graf and Dally made it tough for the defense to make comfortable passes in the back, and the Hodge/Mohamed combo formed a brick wall on the left side of the defense (seriously, the Birminghamian’s can attest to this). Some of the best possession I’ve seen in 901 history made for the most thrilling draw I’ve ever attended. I think the question from the match is: did we solve our scoring problem?
#1 Jeff Caldwell (6.5) – Some low balls from goal kicks might be my only complaint against Caldwell tonight. He had a key save off the crossbar in the 48th that would’ve been a goal against a lot of other keepers, and came to our rescue when needed on numerous crosses. The first goal was near unstoppable, and the second goal was a PK (based on where it was placed, it was pretty much impossible to guess). We struggle with fatigue after the 70th minute, and Caldwell is taking the full brunt of this dilemma.
#3 Abdi Mohamed (7.5) – Our defense had some lapses this game (Hackworth on the first goal, and Charpie on the second), but it didn’t come from the left side of the pitch. Having Mohamed as left back and Hodge as left center back has seen the tenacity of the defense escalate to new levels. These guys are tough, they’re fast, and they anticipate as well as Burch. It’s nice to see defenders not get beat on the wing, and have someone challenge every ball that’s played into the box
#5 Tristan Hodge (7.5) – Just like Mohamed, Hodge set the tone early this game by LITERALLY smacking into a forward while sprinting in the 4th minute – leaving me slightly concussed from the stands. Hodge has played some center back in his days, so it’s natural to see him step into this role next to Burch and succeed. I think an important task asked of defenders is to put their bodies on the line to stop oncoming shots, and Hodge did this perfectly in the 20th minute. His dexterity and speed alongside Burch, Mohamed, and (maybe) Charpie sees a powerful back 4 we can work around.
#6 Dan Metzger (6) – It’s good to see Metzger back on the pitch after being out for so long. You can see some of his rustiness during his play (yellow in the 27th) but overall he had some solid crosses, and made some timely runs that almost saw him with a great scoring opportunity. He was subbed off early in the second, but I think this was due to the yellow and potential fatigue, not because of performance.
#8 Marc Burch (6.5) – Really a solid, but quiet performance from Burch. I like that Lindley is now taking corners for Burch to get into the box, and ideally we can see him put some more balls on frame instead of just creating out of the back. There was a great play in the 37th where Birmingham was at a minimum about to have a threatening shot, but Burch was there (like always) to make a sliding stop (and outlet pass) right at the last second. As soon as the blue 901 FC jerseys are available in a size different than smedium and quadruple large, I’ll be toting Burch around Denver.
#10 Adam Najem (8.5) – Najem gives hope to the hopeless, life to the lifeless, and a will to continue trying in the beautiful game. Seriously though Najem played some of his best soccer tonight with countless through balls to Graf and others that almost led to a goal. Then this guy did the cheekiest save on a for sure goal kick that led to the second goal. Out of all the 901 mainstay players (non-loaned players), Najem is the only person in the midfield that can consistently create regardless of opponent.
#14 Rashawn Dally (6) – This guy has legs for daaaaaayyyys. Dally is one of the most and least consistent players at striker (does that make sense?). He’s something important on offense always, but it’s never the same thing. For instance, this game he was a complete nuisance for the Birmingham defense, but only had one shot (not on goal). To me, he’s a solid player to have on the pitch, even if he’s not scoring as a forward.
#21 Duane Muckette (7) – Muckette did what we needed him to do this game. He made sound passes out of the midfield, and had a great presence on defense, while almost having two goals on the night (I guess we’ll settle for one goal from him). I do wish I could’ve seen some more shots out of Muckette (he seems to be one of our only confident shooters). Early in the 1st half he passed up a shot in the box for a pass that was intercepted, and with the wet field I think anything on frame tonight would’ve been threatening (Lindley proved that).
#22 Wesley Charpie (5.5) – Man, Charpie really had a decent game, and I wanted to give him a 7+ rating. He had some smart passes out of the back, and there wasn’t really anything threatening coming from the right side (most of their successful attacks seem to be through the middle). A lack of concentration in the final minutes of the game though has caused us to drop 2 points, and even though it wasn’t a penalty, Charpie should know better than to stab.
#27 Cam Lindley (9) – It’s like in the 40th minute Lindley finally heard the crowd yelling “just put the ball on frame already” (I yelled that at least 15 times). We could not have had a chance at winning this game if it wasn’t for Lindley’s efforts. Like I mentioned earlier, having someone to take the corners other than Burch is huge, and having the confidence to shoot from 25 yards out (AND SCORE) is much needed on this team. His shot even crossed the goal, which is such a tough shot to hit. I literally have no complaints about Lindley (even the yellow card was warranted), and if he would’ve put 1 more goal in I would’ve had him at a 9.99 ranking for the game (come on, no one gets a 10).
#28 Jochen Graf (7) – They’re going to rename the back heel pass “The Graf” before this season is over. I’ve never seen someone show up and create holdup play so well in the box, or appear out of no where on the run for a through ball. Two things you want from your forward that Graf capitalizes on. He has such a bullish demeanor on the pitch, which I think catches defenders off guard when he hits the turbo and blows past them (10th minute stutter step was so simple, yet so beautiful). Graf creates chances, and if he can start finding the back of the net (or land some assists from the backheels) I think we might actually build a statue in Memphis TBH.
#2 Morgan Hackworth (4) – Hackworth replaced Graf in the 74th when we switched to a 4-5-1, and unfortunately he wasn’t a big impact in the midfield. He also was the defender guarding against the 1st goal from Daniel Johnson. Granted it was a wonder goal by Johnson, but Hackworth should’ve continued his run instead of relying on a gassed Lindley to front the Johnson.
#18 Elliot Collier (6.5) – I love Collier as a sub (and as the lone striker when we switch to a 4-5-1). He seems to play with that need to prove himself as a sub, and this might be because he’s an MLS player on loan to the USL. In his mind, he probably doesn’t believe he needs to be a sub. He came on in the 60th for a winded Dally and played some smart, cheeky soccer and solid defense. He even had a hockey assist on Muckette’s goal with a great ball for Najem to work some magic with.
#17 Ewan Grandison (4.5) – Grandison played the most of the subs, coming on in the 55th minute for Metzger, but I cannot place him as making an impact (positive or negative) during the match. If we would’ve won I say he would’ve played his role well, which included maintaining possession, creating chances, being an outright nuisance in the mid, etc. but unfortunately that wasn’t the ending.
— Casey Long