The Triumph made the short road trip down to Statesboro, GA on Friday to compete in the first match of USL League One history. While the lads in green seemingly outplayed the Fighting Ibises, it was a defensive mistake in the 72′, coupled with several good chances for the Triumph coming up empty, that led to the Georgia boys taking all three points and earning the league’s first ever victory.
There was a lot to be optimistic about for Triumph fans however. Let’s dive into the specifics of a really fun first match for this brand new team.
What Looked Good:
- Speed on the wings and chance creation – Jake Keegan played most of the game out on the left wing. Chris Bermudez played out on the right. Both were impressive in those roles. Keegan is very fast with the ball at his feet and even took a few long range shots that had good chances to find the back of the net. Bermudez, on the other hand, is a bit of a magician with the ball. He was able to maintain possession, dribble at will, and nutmeg defenders to create solid chances, or draw fouls. One complaint I have about the youngster is he seems to hold onto the ball about a second too long at times.
- Physicality – The referee in this match allowed the game to play a bit more physically than other refs may. Ultimately, I think that played to Greenville’s advantage. Aaron Walker and Paul Clowes played as strong defensive mids who bodied opponents off the ball. The cherry on top of the physical play is that Greenville was able to do it cleanly without picking up a single card in the match.
- Defense – Dallas Jaye had a strong showing, but there is some obvious match rust still visible in his keeping. There is perhaps no position on the pitch where minutes matter more to form than keeper, so I think as the season progresses, he will round into form nicely. Perhaps the most visual example of the strong defensive performance put in by the Triumph is the Tormenta heat map (seen below). There is almost no possession inside the 18 yard box. That is incredible and says a ton about how strong this defensive back line should be this season.
And for comparison, here is Greenville’s heat map:
What Needs Improvement:
- Breaking down opponent’s midfield – Tormenta did a fantastic job of clogging up the midfield and squashing a bit of the Triumph’s attacking nature. This led to the defenders pushing up into the midfield, often times into the Tormenta half, to help break down the defense. This was the root cause of the single goal in the match as Kevin Politz, Cole Seiler, and Tyler Polak were all caught pressing high and ultimately missed tackles in transition on the counter attack.
- Set Pieces – There were a few instances where free kicks were given in very good spots just outside the box in this match. The Triumph also led 6-1 in corners given. Yet, with each set piece, the team was not able to capitalize on the chances. There were a few close calls but ultimately nothing came of them. That leads to our next area for improvement…
- Finishing – In my Five Bold Predictions piece I wrote last week here at GVL Soccer, I predicted that the team would make at least one big signing by the summer who would see significant playing time. Currently, there are only two forwards listed on the roster. When the team lines up in the 5-3-2, they are both being utilized. We need more depth at that position. Additionally, Cameron Saul plays with his back to goal a good bit and had difficulty making the turn on Friday night. He has amazing potential as a striker, even though he has mostly played as a midfielder (the position he was announced as), but it may take some time. I was surprised to see Jake Keegan out on the wing as I have seen great footage of his finishing prowess. I will be interested to see what adjustments the team makes, and if maybe there is a forward out there in MLS or USL Championship that Coach Harkes has his eye on signing.
CASHINHO’s Man of the Match:
There are a lot of ways I could go here, and honestly it feels wrong to not honor one of the defenders. Had it not been for the blunder on the scoring play for Tormenta, I could easily have thrown Kevin Politz’s name here, but I won’t this week.
Instead, I want to highlight a player who was all over the pitch on Friday. Sami Guediri not only created plenty of offensive attacks through the midfield, he also hustled back and made some great defensive plays. He was positionally in the number 10 role for this match but played much more like a flying 8 box-to-box guy (similar to the role Miguel Almiron played during his time with Atlanta United FC).
Sami has all the skills to be the heartbeat and engine for this team’s attack. I am interested to see how this continues to develop throughout the season.
The Triumph welcome Lansing Ignite FC to Legacy Field for their home opener on Saturday. Stay tuned to GVLSoccer.com for a preview of that matchup later this week.
South Georgia Tormenta FC – 1
Greenville Triumph SC – 0
South Georgia Tormenta FC – Alex Morrell – 72′