Footie at All-High: Erie at FC Buffalo
First, a disclaimer: I’m not a hardcore soccer fan. I’m barely on the periphery. I haven’t watched a game since the World Cup in 2002 and haven’t played since I was 10. I don’t know the lingo or the proper terminology of the game. I’m just a dude who writes about Buffalo sports teams who wanted to support and talk about our new hometown club. I apologize to any hardcore footie fans who take offense to my using hockey terminology in order to flesh out my thoughts.
Singing fans. Swinging scarves. Happy kids in a variety of jerseys. A gorgeous day. All that was missing was some offense to support Dan Panaro’s excellent effort in net and it would have been a perfect game. But first game jitters against last season’s championship game runner-up does not make for an easy afternoon. Throughout the first half, the Blitzers were outshot by a far margin and generally out-played, with Panaro’s poise in goal being FC Buffalo’s saving grace. Even allowing a goal in the 44th minute to Conor Meade on a mis-play didn’t seem to phase him.
Coming out for the second half, the Blitzers brought more pressure but couldn’t sustain it. Two excellent chances in a scrum in front of Erie goalkeeper Daniel Mudd didn’t produce anything, with the second chance kicked away at the last second. As the half went on, it was apparent who was playing last season and who wasn’t. The Blitzers didn’t look bad, per se, but the Admirals made them look it.
It was Erie’s terrific play in the middle and their calm during messy situations that won them the game, but if the Blitzers had the chemistry that players who’ve spent time together do (like Erie does), this game could have gone differently. Next week, I expect a much better game, for sure.
– First, I want to say thank you to the front office staff for giving me space in the press box and treating me like a member of the press. It may have only been All-High for a game played between two fourth-tier soccer teams, but it was an awesome gesture toward just a dude who blogs.
– I had the chance to go into the locker room and talk to head coach Jim Hesch, but I ducked out. Why? It was my first time covering a game in any capacity and I was kind of nervous. I’ve got my sea legs now, so I’ll definitely be down there next Sunday after New Jersey.
– A group of five dudes down in the stands were belting out tunes all game like an organic sound system. Thank you, “GaGa Boys”, for breaking out Hungry Like The Wolf, My Girl, and the thunderous Let’s Go Buffalo chant.
– Forward Mike Unwin reminds me of the Bandit’s bonkers star Mark Steenhuis. Why? Just like Steener has his trademark orange Reeboks, Unwin has a pair of bright yellow cleats. He’s from London, England and was UB’s star player this last season, so if it’s your first game next week, watch the guy in the yellow kicks.
– The local flavor from the owners down to the men on the pitch will help this team thrive if they can get hot and win a few games in a row. It’s obvious this team is about Buffalo, from the nickname to the colors to the name on the front of the kits (local pub Papa Jake’s), and in a town that rewards loyalty with loyalty, this club has a chance to do well.
Next week, New Jersey comes to town on Sunday the 6th. The game starts around 3PM again, so make sure you come out. It’s a cheap way to spend a couple of hours watching a great game (I forgot how much I love watching soccer up until today) in the city you love during our gorgeous summers.