Thursday, August 02, 2012

Palmetto FC – Northern Virginia Royals (15-07-2012)


The season of the Premier Development League (PDL) is extremely short, roughly the two-and-half months that universities are on break. So, although I had just moved to Georgia three days earlier, I had to drive to South Carolina to see at least one last game of the season. On the agenda was Palmetto FC in Greenwood, SC, a completely new team, founded in 2011, which tries to attract an audience from around South Carolina, the Palmetto state.

After driving around the campus of Lander University for about 10 minutes, we finally find out that the university’s sports complex, Jeff May Complex, is off campus. It is a beautiful new multi-sports complex with a baseball field and a soccer pitch, where during the regular season is home to Lander University’s soccer team (its coach also coaches Palmetto FC, but most players are from other universities in the Southeast).

We pay $7 for a beautiful big ticket and join the ca. 100 local people on the one bleacher. Most fans seem linked to the university or the players; few seem real soccer fans. The game is 20 minutes old and the Bantams, the home team, is already 1-0 up. It is extremely hot this afternoon, ca. 100 F (38 C) and humid, but they have to play this early as the visitors have to get back to North Virginia after the game.

Despite the excruciating heat, the players are quite mobile in the first half. In the 25th minute Palmetto volleys the ball from 16 meters at the post. Roughly five minutes later the Royals have a nice attach which ends up well over. 

Overall the passing is quite decent, but very slow; the quality of play overall is mediocre. However, the incredible heat and humidity make any movement hard; in fact, I’m sweating just sitting on the bleachers. Half-time: 1-0.

After adorable half-time entertainment, involving several tiny kids trying to score a goal without falling over, we are ready for the second half. I’m impressed by the audience, which has stayed despite the brutally hot sun and lack of breeze or shade. In the 52nd minute a Palmetto attack goes wide and in the 59th minute a foul in the box is given outside; the consequent free kick is easily saved by the goalie.

After a harmless free kick of the visitors, the Bantams extend their lead when everyone misses a cross: 2-0. Time for a well-deserved drink break. In the 73rd minute a great long ball is beautifully finished: 3-0. Finally, in the last minutes of the game, Palmetto FC scores a fourth: 4-0 is also the final score.

Palmetto FC is a new team in a relatively small town, but with a good institutional link to Lander University, which has great facilities. There was a decent crowd and atmosphere. Definitely something to build upon in the next season!

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