The United Reserves fought back from a 2-0 deficit early in the second half to earn a 3-2 victory this morning at the RFK training grounds. Sitting out there for two hours, my arms are definitely sunburnt. Check out behindthebadge.com for the full match report, but I'll just point out some observations.
Starting lineup was:
Jeremy Barlow came in for Curtin at the half and played CDM, sliding Murphy back to central defense. If you're keeping track at home, Jeff Curtin was wearing #3 and Mike Zaher was wearing #20.
In a match that featured experienced forwards in Franco Niell and Rod Dyachenko, it was three rookie midfielders that were really the stars, along with some strong support by the two guys who signed just this week. I'm not going to write Top/Call/Rail ratings for the reserves, but this should give you a pretty good idea.
Players who impressed me the most:
1. Dan Stratford - Played the central attacking midfield role well, and had a first-team quality (hell, a Premier League quality) shot that scored early in the second half.
2. Jeff Curtin - Won every header that came his way in the first half. Until the very end of the half, when he went up for a ball and a Crew player cut underneath him, causing a pretty hard landing. That's probably the only reason he was subbed out. Looks like he has the quality to get some first team minutes. Although winning headers against Columbus reserves is probably a lot different from winning headers against guys like Dichio and Angel.
3. Jeremy Barlow - He's got the potential to be our new Moose. He's taller than Niell, but still very short (maybe 5'-7"?) and works hard. I was most impressed by his positioning. He always managed to find his way into open space to give his teammates an outlet pass when pressured. More of a holding midfielder than a true CDM. And his goal wasn't bad either.
4. Rod Dyachenko - Throughout the entire game, the attack constantly flowed through Rod. Without is absolute perfect cross-field pass on Cordeiro's game winner to hit him right in stride, this game would have ended a tie.
Players who I'm not quite sure about:
1. Ryan Cordeiro - Had a fantastic strike in extra time to win the game. Really clutch to bring the ball down and put it away with his left. But I'd like to see him communicate better with Zaher.
2. Mike Zaher - Clearly the FNG was trying to make a good first impression on the coaching staff. He's got some good speed and good work ethic, but he might be a little bit raw. Could have a future as a starting left back if he continues to work hard and refine his skills. I also have a feeling that he is going to be, um, pretty popular with the ladies?
3. Jose Carvallo - Looked shaky early in the match, and was beaten twice early on: once on a shot that went wide, and then on a shot that hit the crossbar. The first goal wasn't his fault, and I didn't have a good view of the second. But Carvallo really settled down in the second half and had a big part in the victory. He had back-to-back saves around the 65th minute on two point-blank shots.
Players I wasn't too impressed with:
1. Quavas Kirk - The dude's pretty big, and maybe needs to grow into his body a bit. There was one point when he lost the ball on the right wing, and then sprinted back to catch the Crew player before he could send in a cross. That's something you like to see. Although I'd rather see him not lose the ball in the first place. The own goal was more his fault than Peralta's was last night. Right off his leg while trying to bring down a corner kick.
2. Franco Niell - Even in reserve matches, he has trouble staying up. He really likes to dive, and obviously there's a language barrier, but he doesn't communicate with his teammates well. He does have a lot of talent though, and he was credited with an assist on Barlow's goal.
3. My camera - I took a bunch of pictures, but they mostly suck. I'll try to upload them to our new Flickr page later tonight or tomorrow so you can see for yourself.