It's always nicer to write about a win than another loss or a draw (for obvious reasons). And T2 had one of the more thrilling victories in a comeback 4-3 win over LA II in LA. Lot's of firsts from that game too. Let's dive in.
LA Galaxy II: 4-3 Win
This is a game of two halves. The first half played out as you would expect given both teams run of forms. The second half played out just as your wildest dreams could possibly imagine.
The game started off badly for T2 and the debut of former Newcastle United defender Steven Taylor. In the 9th minute, Taylor an own goal off a cross that was headed for LA II's Ari Lassiter. Ari was able to get his goal just a few minutes later in the 15th minute with a well taken long range strike. After digging themselves in quite the early hole, going down 2-0, T2 were able to hold on and tread water for most of the rest of the first half. My observation was that LA II almost seemed to just want to cruise the remaining 75 minutes of the game with their lead. They really felt they had the game in the bag for sure. The half did not end well for T2 because Ari Lassiter scored his second right before the break.
A goal kick was sent up to Ari Lassiter who was parked right between Taylor and Clarke. Steven Taylor went to win the long ball but missed. Ari Lassiter grabbed the ball and sprinted all alone at goal. Taylor almost looked disinterested in any attempt to try to close Ari down, Clarke too was slow to react and cover when Taylor went to try to win the long ball and was therefore not in a position to beat Ari or get to him in time. Lassiter, with all the time and space in the world, calmly put LA II up 3-0 in the first half. The home side looked and played like they were going to relax their way to a very comfortable win.
But it wouldn't stay that way! Taylor subbed off at about the 62nd minute and LA II's Adonis Amaya was given a straight red card reducing LA II to 10 men around the 65th minute. Just a min or two later Academy player Blake Bodily started T2 on their roaring comeback by taking advantage of 10 men slowly reacting to new T2 signing Augustine Williams slotting a ball behind the defense. Bodily pounced on it and put away his second goal of the season and getting T2 in the game.
Villyan Bijev took over from there converting a PK that was awarded when the LA II defense was judged to have placed a hand upon the ball in the box. Bijev brought the game level late in the second half, in the 87th minute when he was first to pounce on a loose ball in front of goal. And having fought their way from 3-0 to securing a late point in a 3-3 draw, that in itself would be considered impressive. Especially with Bijev getting a brace and giving himself 3 goals on the season. But T2 had other plans. They did not let off the gas.
In second half stoppage time, Arboleda dispossessed an LA II defender at midfield and started a quick counter attack. He passed the ball up to Bijev at the top of the 18 who quickly laid it off second half substitute Neco Brett on the left wing. Brett took on his defender, cut to his right, and placed a strong shot past the keeper's hands. Celebration erupted when the ref blew the final whistle just seconds later.
Brett's goal gave him his 5th on the season, and provided Arboleda and Bijev with an assist on the play. This was T2's first win in over two months (June 4th 2-1 win over Swope Park in Boise) and it was the first time this season that they had scored 4 goals in one game (let alone a half). Only once this season has the team even scored 3 goals. Every other game this entire season has seen 0, 1, or 2 goals scored.
I wasn't sure if I should specifically mention the first team's newest center back BUT I'm going to. It was stated by Caleb Porter that Taylor would play with T2 for a few weeks as he builds match fitness. He hasn't played (prior to the LA game) for nearly 6 months. So it would be about 3 weeks with T2.
He made his debut for the organization in the 4-3 win. He played 60 some odd minutes before being subbed off. His debut was not good. But we've seen defenders that we ended up falling in love with have rough debuts (see: Silvestre, M.). And everyone really wants to clarify that this is his own little "preseason training".
That said, an own goal in the first 9 mins of stepping onto the field and being at least partly culpable in giving up two more in the first half... pretty less than ideal. And we should have at least two more weeks with Steven Taylor being part of the T2 side. Which means the question is not whether he starts again, he will, guaranteed. The only question will be if he plays 75 minutes or a full 90.
I would expect him to be in the XI at Merlo Field vs OC Blues this Sunday for sure. And very likely in the XI for the remainder of a very busy week (@ Real Monarchs on Wed 8/17; @ Sacramento on Sat 8/20). After that he should be ready.
T2 in 2017
Most everyone who is a season ticket holder for the first team discovered recently that there will be a number of additional games included in their packages next season. Those additional games are T2 games. The information provided to everyone stated that all the home games would be moved to Providence Park in 2017.
I confirmed that to be the case, mostly. The organization still enjoys a very strong and close relationship with the University of Portland and wants to still have a few games at Merlo Field next season. So despite what the information sent out said, the plan is actually to have most of the games moved to Providence Park. Think of it like a swap in how the venues are treated. Merlo Field is their home but they play 2 or 3 games at Providence Park each season. Going forward it will be Providence Park where most of the games will be played with 2 or 3 played out at Merlo Field. Now that can always change but right now that is the plan.
I was told that the reasoning is two fold. The organization feels that attendance is better for the team when they play at Providence Park versus Merlo Field. It's possible. I know T2 averages about 1,200-1,500 people per game in official attendance at Merlo Field. I don't know what they average officially at Providence Park but despite the reasoning being attendance I'm sure there are other logistical issues that make them want to move the games to Providence instead of having a second location at Merlo.
One of those possible logistical issues that I know to be true is production standards. The USL will be implementing new, higher, production standards for all teams in the league. And if you've seen just about any non-T2 ran webstream (with the exception of a tiny few other MLS 2 teams) you know that higher production standards are desperately needed. And as nice as Merlo Field is, I was told that the higher standards will make it more difficult to use Merlo Field.
Up next will be one of the last three home games T2 has this season. They will host the Orange County Blues FC, at Merlo Field, this Sunday, August 14th, 2016, with a 2:00pm pacific kickoff.