3-1. That is the final score of the first ever win for 901 FC at AutoZone park. Is it a win against a top team? No. Is it a win in the league giving us 3 more points towards the top? Again, no. Was it a confidence boosting win? You bet your sweet tooshie it was. This was a win that will exude confidence right into the weekend against the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (what is that even??).
The purpose of this game was to give some quality time on the pitch for green players. If we were to lose, no big deal – and to win means more games for development. The players benefiting from this are new and old, which include long-term bench players like Josh Morton, and fresh arrivals like Lagos Kunga, both of which had standout performances.
Foreign leagues have capitalized on this structure, allowing for arbitrary tournaments scattered throughout league play. The English FA cup is a direct comparison which pits teams in different divisions against each other. Any bit confused? Don’t worry, I follow U.S. soccer regularly and half the time I’m left guessing what happened to the NASL (that’s a whole different can of worms), and if the PDL still exists (it technically does, but with a makeover). Here is the structure: MLS –> USL Championship –> USL League 1 –> USL League 2 (Formally PDL). Red Bulls U23 are in USL League 2, and we’re in the Championship. We were expected to win, and to win quite handily with possession at times looking like Man City playing Brighton (still tough for us Liverpool fans, but congrats to City I guess).
This game saw surprisingly little changes from the standard lineup, with only 4 changes from the regularly cycled players (Levene, Morton, Uccello, and Kunga). We didn’t get Caldwell’s dynamite goalkeeping, though Levene did a helluva job and Josh Morton may have moved from obscurity to legend for 901 FC. The biggest surprise may have been the re-emergence of Hauser-Ramsey at center back, with a commanding performance that leaves coach Mulqueen confident in moving around his back 4, or maybe more surprising is that Kunga might actually be faster than a cassowary (LOOK THIS THING UP).
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This game also saw some consistencies from the starters that left us giddy for more. Lindley arguably nailed the best free kick of his career, opening the floodgates for goals, while Graf continued to impress in that holding forward position. Graf even got to see his doppelganger (Bennet) attempt to fight 0.4 seconds into subbing in (Grit and Grind, baby!). Hodge showed that whether it’s Burch or Hauser-Ramsey, he’s comfortable in the Left CB position, and Hackworth proved he has enough energy to power a small city. It was hard to believe we would walk away with anything other than a win, and fortunately unlike so many other occurrences this season at home, that was the outcome.
Our next opponent is Hartford on 05/29 in the U.S. Open, and as you may know they have 1 loss to us already on the season in a game in which our confidence almost lost us the match. The most important thing to note is that whatever lineup we throw out; we’ve finally gotten a grasp on the one thing that had hampered us throughout the season, which is scoring goals.
— Casey Long