The inaugural home opener for Greenville Triumph SC did not disappoint. It was a match full of red cards and high emotions, but one that Greenville ultimately Triumphed (fully embodying the name they have identified with). It was a match that will keep fans coming back week after week if they came to “test the waters” of professional soccer in the upstate.
While there was plenty to love about Greenville’s first ever victory, there are still some areas that need improving if this team wants to make a push for the playoffs, and dare I dream a championship, in their first season.
What Looked Good:
- The atmosphere – 4,014. A sellout for the first ever home match in franchise history. Numbers and sellouts aside, this felt like something big. Everything from the fan fest, to the Reedy River Riot tailgate, to roads being blocked off, to the LED boards on the sideline, to the crowd living and dying with every touch. This was soccer at its best. Not “lower-division soccer” at its best, but soccer at its best. Jake Keegan put it best after the match saying, “The atmosphere wasn’t that of parents and their kids sitting on their hands, it was a rowdy atmosphere and it definitely made the difference tonight.”
- Grit – For the second time in as many games, Greenville saw themselves go down thanks to a quick counter-attack by their opponents despite having more and better chances themselves. But this time, unlike last week on the road, Greenville was able to fight back and find not only an equalizer, but a game-winning goal in the second half. The team’s grit and tenacity showed in the second half, and Coach Harkes was able to make adjustments on the fly to give the lads the best chance for victory.
- Formational Flexibility – Coach Harkes switched his formation up going into this match, going with the 4-3-3 over the 3-5-2. He also shifted Jake Keegan to the central striker role, a move that paid off with better chance creation and, ultimately, the team’s first franchise goal. But it was not just the starting formation changes that impressed, it was the in-game adjustments made as Lansing went down to 10, and ultimately 9 men, and when Greenville went to 10 men later in the match. Harkes’s eye for making those changes showed his tactical mindset and ultimately led to the team’s first victory.
What Needs Improvement:
- Still Finishing – While the team scored two goals this match, and earned the victory, neither of them truly came from the run of play. The first goal came from a quickly taken free kick to set up Jake Keegan’s low shot across the box. The second goal was knocked in from a corner kick. The chances created from the run of play, 23 shots (12 on target), still failed to capitalize in a big way. Sure, Lansing’s Michael Kirk had an incredible game in goal, but Greenville needs to working hard to improve their finishing, or look to sign someone more proficient in that arena.
- Counter-Attack Vulnerability – Two matches. Two goals conceded. Both on couter-attacks. This seems to be the biggest vulnerability for the Triumph. Their high pressing attack is doing a great job of creating goal-scoring opportunities, but it is also leaving them susceptible to giving up great chances to their opponents. With a defense as strong as Greenville’s this should be something that can be corrected with the right tactical changes defensive mindset.
CASHINHO’s Man of the Match:
This was without a doubt a team win. Everyone on the field put forth a tremendous effort in grinding out a come-from-behind victory against one of the most potent offensive attacks in the league.
But on an occasion such as this, the first home match in franchise history, it seems only appropriate to look towards the man up top who notched the first goal in team history and sparked the comeback, Jake Keegan.
The Triumph welcome Chattanooga Red Wolves SC to Legacy Field on Saturday April 13 at 7:00 pm. Stay tuned to GVLSoccer.com for a preview of that match-up later this week.
Greenville Triumph SC – 2
Lansing Ignite FC – 1
Lansing Ignite FC – Ricky Lopez-Espin – 27′
Greenville Triumph SC – Jake Keegan – 53′
Greenville Triumph SC – Kevin Politz – 85′