By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, February 21, 2016
While Saturday night’s game between Arizona United SC and the Swope Park Rangers at the Desert Diamond Cup finished scoreless, both teams took away positives as they build toward the start of the 2016 USL regular season.
In its first preseason contest under new Head Coach Frank Yallop, Arizona came closest to breaking the deadlock on numerous occasions. After a heavy opening week of training, Yallop utilized separate lineups for each half, and came away pleased with what he saw.
“We’ve got some good players in camp and good players know how to play and they learn each other’s tendencies quickly,” said Yallop. “Just that final touch, that final finish, was missing. But the general play was good and our sharpness and passing was not bad for the state we’re in right now.”
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For the Rangers, who opened preseason with a 3-1 win against the Colorado Rapids on Wednesday, the night was a bit more of a battle, which Coach Marc Dos Santos put down to the rigorous schedule his players had over the past few days.
“I think we had a very tough week, a lot of work, a lot of training,” Dos Santos said. “It was a little more difficult to play this game. Physically I think we felt it a little bit, but at the end of the day I think it’s important for the team not to lose. It’s good for them mentally. We’ve played two games in three days, trained a lot, won one game, tied another, conceded one goal in two games, so I think we’re in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
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The Rangers also utilized a large portion of their squad on Saturday, as Dos Santos pieces together his squad for the club’s inaugural season.
“We’re learning a lot about the players, we’re learning a lot about their characteristics, what they like to do on the field, and at the same time we’re looking at certain things in our collective shape that have to be better,” Dos Santos said. “I think the guys are embracing what we’re doing, they’re growing into it, but again, there’s a lot of work to be done, but we’re in the right direction.”
As United looks to rebuild its squad, meanwhile, some of the club’s new additions were pleased with the start they had made.
“We’re just started this journey … and so we’re going to continue to push and press,” said midfielder Blair Gavin. “We have a lot of clean guys on the ball who like to play, so it’s fun.”
“First game together is always going to be tough,” added forward Sam Garza. “We don’t have that game fitness yet. … Obviously we take the positives out of it. We got the 0-0 tie.”Both teams will be back in action in Tucson on Wednesday, as Arizona takes on hosts FC Tucson, while Swope Park Rangers meets Columbus Crew SC.