Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tucson 1-1 FMFC: Spare the Rod

Good Sunday to all, a bit of a late blog but you’ll have to excuse me as I’ve been traveling all day. As a quick aside, we’d like to thank Justin Nuñez of FNDM90 for covering this game for us, he provided photos and audio and just in general is an absolute peach of a guy.

Anyway. Despite the frustrating result last night, I hope you’re all doing well. I started this recap in my living room last night watching the game, then in the terminal at MSN airport this morning, added to it on the way to Dallas, and wrapped it in the living room of my oceanside bungalow in sunny, warm Ambergris Caye, Belize. I’ll be here for the next 12 nights and plan to move as little as possible. It’s going to be wonderful, and hopefully Lisa and I will have been down here outlasting the final death rattle of Wisco winters and return to a beautiful, FMFC football-rich, lush, green spring and summer. One can hope, right?

The view off my back patio on San Pedro Island

Living my best life aside, let’s get right into it. Many Madison fans who followed the club last season will have experienced a bit of deja vu last night, seeing the team go down a man not 10 minutes after an absolute laser of a goal from Christian Enriquez. In the 54th minute, after pressure from Cassini and AWO on Tucson’s Sunday, Enriquez pokes the ball and then runs onto it, takes 2 touches and drills it from 25 yards.

He’s found the keeper off his line, and the shot proves too much and finds the far post bottom corner against the run of play. It’s the type of goal we’d have hoped and prayed and performed all sorts of dark rites to experience last season, so it’s nice to see this campaign. Honestly, one of my favorite parts of this goal was Cassini’s reaction, standing awestruck with his hands up in the air like I was in my living room, Matheus enjoying it like the rest of us.

Is it Rad? Or Rod?

Cyrus Rad was booked in the first half apparently for dissent (walking away with the ball after the ref had blown the whistle following a foul on Tucson), a silly waste of a caution for the 22 year old. Then in the 62nd minute, the Tucson GK (Merancio) kicks it long, Cyrus receives it and chests it into his path, then attempts to play the ball with a touch and ends up kicking Bedoya. At the time I commented that the foul would be called a yellow nine out of ten times in similar circumstances, but upon rewatch it seemed 50/50 challenge-wise, as neither player had control. Ultimately it appeared Rad was booked for a second time for dissent for continuing play despite the ref whistling a stop, FMFC’s 10th collectively this campaign.

Both yellow cards were entirely avoidable, and if I’m Glaeser after this game trying to make a decision about Cesar or Cyrus on the team sheet, it’s Cesar every time unless Rad can get his on-pitch demeanor at least under control enough to where he’s not putting results at risk.

Tucson’s goal ultimately came via a set piece. A corner for Tucson resulted in a clearance bounced back to corner taker Perez, who gets a few touches and crosses it back into the area to find the head of Elijah Wynder. The cross was played in on Madison’s left, with Cassini deputizing as defensive cover due to Rad being sent off. The goal would later be credited to Jacob Crull, though it’s tough to tell from the broadcast/replays who actually puts it in.

One thing I’ve noticed from this FMFC team thus far this season is how it takes them a while after the opening whistle to find some semblance of intentionality. A good example of this happens a little after the 13 minute mark, when we start to break but it fizzles out due to a lack of offensive aggression. Against Tucson early on we opted for long balls from the back line to nobody in particular, though our attacking line did a serviceable job with a high press for most of the first half. Mitch Osmond overall looked quite good on the ball, breaking lines on the dribble before laying it off to attacking midfielders as opposed to the back-passes many of the Madison squad have employed vs Omaha and Tucson. AWO and Enriquez also did a fine job all game of preventing traffic from Tucson players through the middle of the pitch, which is something we frequently struggled with last season.

In the 33rd minute Abdou’s first touch looks quite good, and I found myself shouting, “TURN!” at my TV, wondering why our strikers struggle with turning and running at defenders. AWO has talked previously about upping our aggression, and to me that doesn’t mean just defensive aggression. Being unplayable means scoring goals and defending leads, and that doesn’t happen by accident – it has to be intentional. It wasn’t just Madison with a lack of productivity, as neither side tallied a shot on target in the first half.

There have been shades of previous seasons in these first few games, despite Madison keeping the ball in Tucson’s third for much of the first half we’d opt multiple times for ineffective crosses, or passes back to the defense or Breno after multiple attempts to move the ball into Tucson’s 18 yard box. Some of the squad need to work on their first touch – maybe it’s nerves, maybe it’s an issue of training, but we frequently squander possession before a final pass due to too heavy a first touch. I saw some criticism on Reddit at halftime about needing to work on the chemistry of the left side of our attack, which I generally agree with but it hasn’t been as much of an issue when Murillo is in the back line.

It raises an interesting question: will Mélé and Alvin add enough depth to the back line and wings to shore up that lack of solidity and intentionality? Will the manager still show faith in young Cyrus once Mélé is available for selection? Rad is still quite young (22) and more prone to the mistakes and behavior of a more inexperienced player. And while those yellow cards were stupid, they’re easy mistakes to make when you’re young and caught up in the passion of the game. All that to say, it’s behavior that needs to be fixed, but I don’t think it’s worth crucifying anyone over.

Ultimately for me the question is whether these issues are part and parcel of a team that’s only played 4 competitive matches together and are still forging a sense of familiarity, looking for an identity, and the ability to forecast each other’s body language, movement, and runs. I’m happy to chalk it up to it being early in the season, and I’m certain Matt shares these concerns though is likely prone to be a bit more patient than we are as fans after 4 games.

Our man on the ground Justin connected with Mitch Osmond after the game, who had a measured take on the performance:

“We had more of a focal point up high, we were trying to play off of getting the ball forward. Obviously the red card made it really difficult for us to have any kind of possession. After going to 10 men, we obviously changed the formation. Just being compact, playing around us, trying not to give anything away, especially silly set pieces. All game long, we didn’t give a clear chance away. There were a couple shots from outside the box that didn’t bother us too much, it was a set piece in the end and a lapse in concentration, and we got punished.

– FMFC Captain Mitch Osmond

On the US Open Cup game vs MNUFC on Wednesday:

It’s one of those things, you’ve gotta move on pretty quick. Especially when you have a game in 3-4 days time. But that’s the beauty of a quick turnaround, you can kind of make up for the mistakes you’ve made in the previous game, you don’t have to sit on it too long. But we’re excited for that match, to host a team like Minnesota at Breese is gonna be huge – huge for the city, huge for the fans.

Pack out Breese. get that Flock End full. Right behind the goal. Be loud, make it hostile, make it tough for them to come here. Be that 12th man and really get behind us, because we’re gonna give them a real shot.

– FMFC captain Mitch Osmond

Some positives to take away:

  • Abdou looks quite good in build-ups and plays some great 1-2s
  • Cassini and Streng look dangerous and positive every time they come on, Cassini possessing an extra bit of of creativity and technical ability on level with Osmond’s defensive talents.
  • Super happy for Christian, what a goal that was
  • AWO is AWO – helped make Enriquez’s goal
  • Mikey coming out of his shell a bit more

Officiating was inconsistent yet again, with plenty of no-calls for fouls on both sides and a decently high tally of 8 yellow cards distributed. I’m not sure how the tackle from Rad on Allen in the 33rd minute is not a foul, and similarly the one on Gebhard just moments later near Tucson’s box is a clear foul for me. PRO Referees at their finest, and an absolute mockery of Mike Dean’s primary art form.

The Lineup

Only one change was made to the starting XI from the Omaha match, Glaeser opting for Cyrus Rad in place of Cesar Murillo, a decision he may well have regretted come the 62nd minute. Traveling in place of Carl Schneider was the young Alann Torres, who would end up sitting the full 90 minutes. Tucson’s talismanic Deri Corfe made his 2022 debut for the Tucson fans in the 62nd minute, nearly scoring from a free kick in the 80th. 

This Tucson game raises a lot of questions about Wednesday, and who Matt and his team might field against Minnesota United. I’ll leave you with that question for now, as we’ll have a full preview out this week ahead of the game. If you have questions for Andrew, Grant, Kyle, or Eric Leonard (we’re chatting with him tomorrow) ahead of that game, shoot them over in the comments on this post and/or tweet at @NewDogmaZine, or if you’re a Patreon subscriber, shoot us a DM on that platform and we’ll make sure we address your quandaries with Eric.


Anyway. I’ve got sun to soak up, and sand to accumulate in my clothing and luggage. Hope you’re all well, shoot us some questions to ask Eric tomorrow.

Author

  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.

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