Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Yakima Reds – Spokane Spiders (23-05-2009)

The state of Washington is not just home to the newest MLS team, the Seattle Sounders (see above), but also to a broad variety of Premier Development League (PDL) teams, including the Yakima Reds. The name sounds more Japanese than American, but refers to a Native American tribe, the Yakima, who have a reservation in central Washington; an area that looks more like the Southwest, with a mix of steppe and desert, than the Northwest, known for its luscious green.

We took our time driving the 477 km up from Eugene, so we could thoroughly enjoy the beautiful Columbia Gorge River, as well as sample some burgers along the way. In the end, we were pressed for time, and even arrived late at the game; or better, at the right game, as we first mistakenly entered a (American) football game of a local high school. Anyway, roughly 12 minutes late we bought two huge tickets for $6 each and entered the one stand of the Marquette Stadium (capacity 1,500). We had missed the first goal: 1-0.

There were some 200 people at the game, mostly Hispanics, many families and kids, enjoying a glorious warm summer evening (though with increasing wind gusts). This was not that surprising, as the town of Yakima has a large Hispanic population and most players of the Reds are Hispanic. Although Yakima is the closest opponent for the Spiders, it is still 327 km away, so it was no surprise that there were no away supporters.

The level of play was not much different from other PDL matches I saw recently, although some Yakima players had good skills. Still, the pace of play was low and overall neither team played very aggressively. Hence, not many big chances and a half time score of 1-0.

The second half started with a good safe of the new goalie of the Reds. Although the game remained relatively scarce on real chances, there were more flares of excitement. For example, in the 53rd minute a Yakima player tipped the ball beautifully over a defender, but then shot wide, while in the 61st minute a Spiders player controlled the ball phenomenally, but then shot just wide. As the teams started to tire, there were more bad passes and scrimmages, but still no goals.

As the last time I saw the Yakima Reds, against the Cascade Surge, I enjoyed watch the little midfielder (nr. 13), who is agile and very technical (though not always very efficient). In the 70th minute a semi-planned attack over three players was finished from 3 meters: 2-0. Game, set and match!

The Yakima Reds are a tiny team from a small town in the middle of the Evergreen State. Undoubtedly, it will not grow beyond a PDL team, but as long as it keeps a largely Hispanic squad, it will have a solid support.

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