Part 2 in a 2-part article
This article contains my previous week’s travel to Moraga, CA, Davis, CA, San Jose, CA and Stanford, CA. This article includes the following schools: Bucknell, Maryland-Baltimore County, Northeastern, Delaware, Santa Clara, Saint Mary’s, UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, California State University, Bakersfield, San Jose State, California and Stanford.
Next week, I’m staying fairly local – well, if Tennessee is local.
Just a reminder, this year, I’m concentrating on just a few players at each game.
Davis, CA – After dominating the first 20 minutes, UCSB was able to snag a victory in overtime 2-1 that deflated a very young UC Davis team. Remarkably, UC Davis starts only 1 senior and their starters are primarily composed of freshmen and sophomores.
UCSB has some severe problems with injuries that will impact their hopes if they don’t get some of their talented players back before the NCAA tournament.
UC Santa Barbara: 4-3-3
F: Dom Sarle, Michael Nonni, Sam Garza
M: Luis Silva
DM: Fifi Baiden, Nic Ryan
D: James Kiffe, Peter Schmetz, Tim Pontius, Josue Madueno
GK: Andre Grant
UC Davis: 4-4-2
F: Matt Wiesenfarth, Alex Aguiar
M: Tony Rascon, John Joslin, Mustafa Chopan, Elliott Hord
D: Sam Del Gobbo, Ramon Martin Del Campo, Lance Patterson, Brian Ford
GK: Omar Zeenni
UC Santa Barbara Observations:
The first goal was scored by senior left back James Kiffe in the 11th minute from a set piece from 20 yards. On the free kick, senior Luis Silva dragged the ball behind him to allow Kiffe to have a shot that was clear of the wall and Kiffe buried it into the side netting.
While junior Sam Garza scored the game winning goal in the 97th minute, his first half was absolutely awful. He stunk up the pitch. Garza was unable to do the simplest thing. It appeared that Garza had not touched a soccer ball prior to Saturday morning.
In the 1st minute, Garza toe-poked a poor shot.
In the 4th minute, he lost the ball on the dribble – no control.
In the 9th minute, his cross was off-target.
In the 13th minute, he lost the ball on the dribble on a mis-touch.
In the 14th minute, he held the ball too long on the pass.
In the 17th minute, he lost the ball on the dribble.
In the 18th minute, he was replaced with sophomore David Opoku.
In the second half, Garza was much better.
In the 59th, Garza stroked his shot, but right at the goalkeeper.
In the 61st minute, he took a pass from Nic Ryan took the ball to the corner and crossed the ball to Gaby Okito 1 yard from goal, but his touch was wide.
In the 73rd minute, he crossed a ball onto David Opoku’s head in front of the goal. But, Opoku’s header was off target from 8 yards.
Garza is a strong, fast player who can be frustrating to watch when he’s not playing well. I was impressed with his play against Akron on national TV earlier in the week.
Senior Luis Silva continues to impress being very creative and being tremendous on the ball. He moves off the ball exceptionally.
It was nice to see junior Michael Nonni back on the field after he has been recovering from a hamstring. However, I was disappointed when he left the match in the 27th minute apparently aggravating his hamstring. He had an excellent game against Akron and he was playing well against UC Davis.
I wondered why sophomore David Opoku didn’t start against Akron or UC Davis. However, after watching him play, he is not the same player that I watched earlier in the year against Duke and North Carolina State. I once considered him one of the best candidates for a Generation Adidas contract, but his performance in the last 2 matches makes me question this assertion.
Opoku missed an open header in the 73rd minute. He went down too easily in the 31st minute. He popped up a ball in the 23rd minute and struck it on the volley, but it didn’t have the pace or the accuracy required.
Most concerning for me was that Opoku wasn’t aggressive. In the 80th minute, he was 1v1 against senior defender Lance Patterson with 40 yards of space behind Patterson. I would have expected that Opoku would have tried to get behind Patterson, but he didn’t try.
According to Coach Tim Von Steeg, Opoku’s form has been off in practice and this has carried over to his game. He’s too good of player to not be confident of his abilities – I still have confidence in him. He just needs to reclaim his confidence. UCSB is going to be rigorously tested in the post-season without Opoku returning to play at the level that I’ve seen and that I expect him to play.
Senior Josue Madueno continues to impress. He seems to have settled into the right back position that was vacated when Peter McGlynn was injured right before Labor Day week-end. Madueno gets forwarded, and he is highly competent defending 1v1. Madueno is going to be highly sought after in next year’s draft. I like his versatility that he can play midfield and defense though I think he might be a midfielder.
In addition to Nonni’s injury, senior Waid Ibrahim suffered an apparent ACL injury in the 44th minute. Oddly, besides the two UCSB trainers carrying Ibrahim off the field, UC Davis players Lance Patterson and sophomore goalkeeper Omar Zeenni carried his legs. I’ve never seen opponents help carry off a player. Finally, a backup goalkeeper helped get Ibrahim from the sideline to the UCSB bench.
Junior Machael David is sidelined with a hamstring injury.
A poor goal kick by junior Andre Grandt set up the UC Davis goal. His clearances leave much to be desired.
Sophomore Dom Sarle continues to play well (if you didn’t see his goal against Akron, it’s time to find it on the internet). I’ve liked Sarle since I saw him in a preseason game last year at Maryland. In the 21st minute, he hit a rebound from an Opoku shot, but Sarle’s shot was blocked. In the 58th minute, Sarle combined with Silva using a heel pass. Next year, I expect him to be offered a Generation Adidas contract.
UC Davis Observations:
Senior Lance Patterson is a huge center back listed on the roster at 6’ 4” at 200 pounds and I easily believe it. He’s a big guy. I was dissatisfied with the way that he lumbered around lacking agility and his technical skills were unrefined. He kicks the ball out of bounds under the slightest of pressure. His foot speed was lacking. I didn’t like how he didn’t follow his pass in the 12th minute.
Generally, the only positive thing that I came away is that he’s tall and with his height he could lurk around the box being an obstruction.
I was incredulous when his coach informed me that Patterson is the fastest guy on his team; not only fast, but “blazing fast”. Really? I’m still stunned several days later. The coach described his running style that he lumbers around, but he doesn’t allow attackers to get behind him (which was true). Furthermore, Patterson has split time between playing forward (in 2010) and defense (this year and prior).
Now, I’m perplexed, because his coach has seen him for over 4 years. In my lone observation, I wasn’t impressed with Patterson especially with his athletic ability, but he seems like a nice guy (carrying off injured opponents and such).
I prefer freshman center back Ramon Martin Del Campo to Patterson. He moves better and has stronger technical skills.
Freshman Matt Wiesenfarth scored the lone goal in the 32nd minute from a square ball by freshman Matt Sheldon. Wiesenfarth is quick and quite talented.
When he left the match right before halftime and did not return, the UC Davis attack was stunted. Coach Dwayne Shaffer informed me that Wiesenfarth left the match with symptoms related to heat exhaustion. After the Cal Poly match, Wiesenfarth didn’t feel well and needed to lay down on the way back to Davis. I hope that there Wiesenfarth isn’t suffering from anything major. He’s quite a talent.
San Jose, CA – CSU Bakersfield beat San Jose State 2-0 in a game where San Jose had 2 men ejected with straight red cards. The first was legitimate when senior Dan Addiego for punching Jesus Sanchez in the back of the head after several players had physical confrontations. The second red was much more suspicious. After another physical contact, junior Omri Brinner yelled an expletive.
CSU Bakersfield: 4-2-3-1
F: Gyasi Zardes
M: Lucas Dall’Orso, Jesus Sanchez, Evan Fassler
DM: Ken Taylor, Richard Menjivar
D: Kory Kindle, Justin Finch, Chris Widdy, Scott Luedtke
GK: Eric Shannon
San Jose State: 4-3-3
F: Nick Cashmere, Allen La Spina, Steven Sanchez
M: Diego Ochoa, Roberto Casteneda, Dylan Murphy
D: Jose Cortez, Nick Murphy, Edwin Velazquez, Dan Addiego
GK: Jonathan Lester
CSU Bakersfield Observations:
Junior Jesus Sanchez scored the first goal in the 34th minute. After several attempts by junior Kory Kindle to get the ball centrally to Sanchez that were blocked, Kindle unleashed a shot that goal keeper Jonathan Lester blocked. Sanchez finished the rebound first time from 10 yards.
Sophomore Gyasi Zardes scored an insurance goal in the 78th minute. Zardes started the play trying to dribble through San Jose but it was knocked away going to Sanchez who quickly got the ball wide to Kindle. Kindle passed the ball back to Sanchez at the top of the box who one touched it forward to Zardes. He struck the ball past the goal keeper from 7 yards.
Zardes is a raw talent with a sturdy body, speed with unrefined technical tools. His touch isn’t sharp and he hasn’t put his game fully together. There are obvious glimmers of ability, but the sophomore has much to learn and to polish to become successful as a professional. I hope that he trains with a MLS team in the summer to better acquaint himself with the standard that will be expected. Then, after next fall, I expect that he might be ready for a Generation Adidas contract – assuming he commits himself and continues to develop his tactical and technical understanding.
Sanchez is a tiny midfielder with outstanding vision and the ability to link with other players. His technical touch is superior providing superlative service. He’s crucial in the attack for Bakersfield. His primary obstacle is his stature. Sanchez looks like someone’s little brother wandered onto the field, but it’s readily apparent after his first touch that he’s the man for guiding the Bakersfield attack. I like his play and the way that he involves the wide players into the attack, but I wonder if he’ll be successful in MLS given the physical nature. Sanchez picked up a silly yellow card for dissent in the 42nd minute.
Sanchez reminds me of UC Irvine former maestro Irving Garcia who was with the Red Bulls until earlier this year.
Senior Ken Taylor is important in stopping opponents in the midfield. He has a good feel of the game and anticipates the play effectively. Taylor is satisfactory on the ball. He is the Sanchez’s counter from a defensive perspective. I won’t get another chance to watch Taylor and he deserves another look.
San Jose State Observations:
It’s no secret that I came to this match to watch Zardes and Sanchez. But, San Jose has a few interesting players that have potential. They start an experienced team with 7 seniors and 4 juniors.
Senior Allen La Spina moved from his forward position to play right back (which he used to play) after the red card to Dan Addiego in the 22nd minute. La Spina did well in the back, making a pair of quality plays in the 30th minute, blocking a cross and making a sure tackle. La Spina needs to quicken his passing to prevent players from blocking his passes and to keep his teammates onside.
Senior Roberto Casteneda nearly beat the goalkeeper with a looping 35 yard shot that the goalkeeper scrambled back to tip wide in the 41st minute. He combined with La Spina before unleashing the shot.
Senior Nick Cashmere is a strong, fleet runner. He was able to hold off sophomore Scott Luedtke and stay on the ball in the 80th minute.
Stanford, CA – On a cool evening, California and Stanford tied 1-1. California played very quickly at the beginning of the match but weren’t able to maintain the pace. Nor did California end the match when they had early opportunities.
F: John Fitzpatrick, Alec Sundly
M: Connor Hallisey, Seth Casiple, Tony Salciccia, Chris Ortega
D: Christian Dean, Steve Birnbaum, Kyle Lunt, Ryan Neil
GK: Robby Gogatz
F: Dersu Abolfathi
M: Alexander Binnie, Adam Jahn, Garrett Gunther
DM: JJ Koval, Grant Grafentin
D: Eric Anderson, Tommy Ryan, Hunter Gorskie, Adoni Levine
GK: Jason Dodson
California doesn’t have a single senior on their roster. Ted Jones is taking a red shirt this year. But, they are anchored up the spine with a quartet of quality juniors.
Junior John Fitzpatrick scored the lone California goal in the 27th minute. He works hard hustling around the field. He is a pest for opponents. Fitzpatrick has excellent timing jumping for headers. He’s not particular tall or fast, but extracts all of his talent by working hard. Fitzpatrick made a gutsy clean tackle in his box on the quick Stanford midfielder, Garrett Gunther.
Junior Tony Salciccia is a small defensive midfielder with mighty hits. He seems to relish contact. He picked up a smart yellow in the 33rd minute on a wild tackle to thwart a Stanford transition. Like a Mutt-N-Jeff contest, Salciccia stood up junior Adam Jahn 1v1 before blocking his cross in the 75th minute.
Junior center backs Steve Birnbaum and Kyle Lunt solidified the central defense. Birnbaum has a taste of nasty in his game engaging in bite in his tackle and with his body. He is hard to beat in the air mainly from his positioning and balance. Lunt listed at 6’2” (same as Birnbaum) looks slightly taller and thicker. I like Lunt slightly better as a defender, but Birnbaum has a better disposition on the ball.
Freshman Seth Casiple is very talented. In the 63rd minute, he took a ball out of the air, made several moves while advancing the ball confidently, but his shot was too easy for the goalkeeper.
Junior Adam Jahn is a tall, technically proficient player who plays in a central midfield role, because he is Stanford’s best player at this time. The more time that the ball is with Jahn, the better it is for Stanford.
Jahn scored the Stanford goal in the 78th minute from a 27 yard free kick that brushed the underside of the cross bar in the upper 90. The free kick was awarded because of a reckless foul by Kyle Lunt. Jahn could excel at center back with his technical skills, height and calmness on the ball at the next level. I’m not sure if he has the quickness to play defensive midfield, but that isn’t out of the question.
I love the heart of senior Garrett Gunther. He’s a tiny player, but he’s a footballer. I’m not a Buddhist, but I could believe that he’s a reincarnated Chihuahua. With his quickness and low center of gravity, he can turn much larger players into uncomfortable positions. He has a sweet touch and quick feet. In the 60th minute, he plucked the ball out of the air (after the California goalkeeper punched it away from his goal) and struck it first time on goal, but it was blocked for a corner kick.
Early in the game, Gunther found himself too centrally not providing the proper width in the attack. Also, he sometimes finds himself going so fast that he is out of control and making inaccurate passes.
Senior Tommy Ryan is a strong medium sized anchor in the back. The left footed player doesn’t possess sufficient quickness for the next level, but he is a smart player.