On Saturday evening, the Greenville Triumph took on the Flamingos of Forward Madison in their snowy home opener. After a 30 minute delay to kickoff, the two team’s battled in what can only be described as a tale of two halves. At the end of the 90 minutes, however, neither side was able to notch the go-ahead goal and instead split points in a 0-0 draw.
There was plenty to break down from this match. Let’s dive in.
What Looked Good:
- Cole Seiler in Midfield – For the second week in a row, Coach Harkes moved one of his defenders into a midfield position. This week, that person was Cole Seiler. As good as Cole has been on the back line, and he has been great, he looked equally as good in the midfield this week racking up 26 successful passes, 5 recoveries, one interception, one clearance, and drawing one foul. Perhaps most importantly, he did not pick up a yellow card this week, something that has not happened since week one!
- Flexibility – Along the lines of the Seiler move this week, and the Polak move last week versus Richmond, I continue to be impressed by Harkes’s flexibility in terms of where to put the pieces on the board. He does not seemed to be married to a system or to players in particular places on the field. Heck, he even switched up the captain’s armband this week giving that honor to Aaron Walker. Harkes is obviously trying to get the best players on the pitch and find the right placement to allow this team to be as successful as possible.
- Braving the Elements – It was cold and snowy. The team traveled over 800 miles in their first air travel road trip. There was a sold out crowd of 4,400+ in Madison for the home opener. There were a lot of eyes on this game. No one would have been surprised if the team dropped this match. But they didn’t. Not only that, but they looked dominant in the first half. I said it in the match preview that splitting the points was a good result here, and I stand by that. However, there were some frustrating things watching this match.
What Needs Improvement:
- Second Half Woes – In the last two matches, Greenville have started hot with dominant first halves followed by lackluster second halves where the team looked borderline anemic. My theory is that they are so good in the attack, but fail to capitalize, that it is causing them to feel drained and discouraged coming out of halftime. I think the solution here is to address this next issue, which I am certain is happening behind the scenes.
- Scoring – The Triumph have scored one goal in their last three matches and none in their last two. They only have three goals on the season in five games. It is still early and I am not ready to panic over this, but things are not trending well in this regard.
- The Broadcast – I was so excited when the league announced a partnership with ESPN+. By setting up a centralized broadcast partnership, the league is able to deliver all of their matches to ESPN seamlessly and easily pull highlights like the ones we share with you each week in these recaps. I, perhaps mistakenly, thought this would mean seeing a pretty consistent product across the league from week-to-week and make away days that much easier. For the most part, that has been the case. But that wasn’t so on Saturday in Wisconsin. This broadcast was a complete train wreck. From the dumbfounding camera work, to the seriously home-team-centric play by play, to the incredibly wrong first half stat graphic, and, yes, even the audible yawn let out by the broadcaster in the second half. This. Was. Bad. Be better League One. Be better ESPN.
CASHINHO’s Man of the Match:
There is a player for the Triumph who has been instrumental to the team’s defensive success all season and he was on display Saturday in Madison. Kevin Politz had 23 successful passes, five clearances, three fouls won, three interceptions, three recoveries, one successful dribble, one tackle won, and one monster block late in the match. Politz has been a beast all season and was this week’s MOTM.
The Triumph welcome North Texas SC to Legacy Field on Saturday May 4 at 7:00 pm. Stay tuned to GVLSoccer.com for a preview of that match-up later this week.
Forward Madison FC – 0
Greenville Triumph SC – 0