Saturday, August 30, 2014

Charlotte Eagles – Pittsburgh Riverhounds (29-08-2014)



Most lower leagues in the United States play only from June till mid-August. After that there is only the MLS, with just a few teams in this huge country, and the different leagues that try to be the official second division. The USL Pro is the recently renamed top division of the most established league. This not withstanding, the USL Pro is at best semi-pro and many team lack infrastructure and fans.



The Charlotte Eagles play their games at Dickson Field, which is the football stadium of Queens University of Charlotte. It is a beautiful small sports complex for a fairly small university. At the soccer pitch next to the football field are some (mostly Hispanic) youths playing.



I pay $10 for a nice ticket as I walk through the small building to the outside, where there are small bleachers on a hill, then some grass, and only then the pitch. There are some 3-400 people, mostly teens and kids with parents and some local college students. I think I was one of the few over 40 without kids there.



Most people sit on the small bleachers, but many have taken seats and blankets to sit on the lawn. At least 50 kids are just running around and play soccer or ask their parents when the game is over (even though the parents seem to be there for them).



The AstroTurf pitch is quite confusing, with both football and soccer lines, and in a very poor condition. It is not too warm for an August evening in the Southeast. Both teams have mostly non-white players, which are not the usual college kids of lower divisions. 



Still, the play is very mediocre and the pace is slow. There are few chances in the first minutes, as both teams play without much skill or urgency. Charlotte is the better team, but that changes around the 20th minute, when Pittsburgh gets better. 



In the 32th minute they have a free header after a corner, but it goes far wide. Ten minutes later they score a nice, but offside, goal. Half time score is 0-0 and that is a perfect reflection of the game so far.

video

The second half is much the same. Fortunately, it has cooled down a bot and oit is now a perfect summer evening, so I don’t mind the boring attempt at football at the pitch. Here is a summary of probably the most exciting ten minutes of the game. In the 60th minute Charlotte gets a free kick that goes nowhere. Six minutes later a scrimmage in the box almost leads to a Pittsburgh shot at goal. In the 68th minute Charlotte attack over left, pull the ball back to the penalty spot, but the player misses badly. A minute later a Pitt corner is headed on the crossbar.



In the 75th minute a Pittsburgh corner is unexpectedly headed in from within a large crowd of players: 0-1. This leads to Charlotte actually pressuring and going after a goal, but there is simply too little tactical and technical capability. Final score: 0-1.



To be honest, it is on nights like these that I see groundhopping primarily as collecting scalps, i.e. new stadiums, as the football part of it can be truly uninspiring – and definitely not worth a 6.5 hour drive back and forth. This USL Pro game looked even worse than some PDL game I have seen. 

1 comment:

John Henry Brebbia said...

Professor,

Tried to reach you on Mar. 17 by email at Groundhopper@hotmail.com to ask permission to use a photo of a building that appears on this bloodspot for the template to the cover of one of my novels and would appreciate an email response at jbrebbia@gmail.com. Thanks. John Henry "Jack" Brebbia.