Arizona United came home Sunday to a raucous crowd and a youthful opponent waiting for them, the Mexican U-20 National Team.
And despite playing Friday night at Real Monarchs SLC, then traveling all day Saturday, the club put on a gallant effort despite losing 2-1 to the U-20 team.
The lone United goal came from Long Tan in the first half on a penalty kick.
“We obviously wanted to show our fans the players, but playing on Friday night, less than 48 hours ago, it’s never easy, but I thought our guys accepted it well,” Arizona United coach Frank Yallop said. “I thought it was a good game, playing especially against a good team, but the exercise was to get people into the stadium, see us play, obviously not at our best, but considering, I thought we did a good job.”
Sunday’s game was a good chance for United fans to get to see some of the new acquisitions, such as midfielders Luke Rooney and local products Blair Gavin and Tony Cascio, forwards Chris Cortez and Tyler Blackwood, and to see some of last year’s heroes, including goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, defenders Brock Granger and Daniel Antunez and Tan, just to name a few.
For United players and coaches, Sunday’s match was more about getting accustomed to the playing conditions of Peoria Sports Complex, where United played in its inaugural season in 2014.
“It’s nice to get out here because we haven’t moved up into the stadium and kicked around at all,” Yallop said. “Really, really good to get this under our belt and we turn up against Portland and we’re not all new to it.
“It was a terrific exercise, a great crowd, I don’t know what it was but it looked huge to me and I thought it was a very entertaining game.”
For goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski, playing just 48 hours after a tough 1-0 win at Real Monarchs was hard, but at the same time fun.
It was also Woszczynski’s first chance to play in Peoria since he played there in 2014 when he was with Orlando City, and defeated Arizona United 1-0. Woszczynski is pleased with the conditions of the stadium so far.
“The pitch looks great, I like the field this way (from left field to the 1st base line) and I like the setup along the wall there (the left field line),” Woszczynski said. “It looks great. The infield’s a little bumpy right now but it will level out. That’s how Scottsdale was last year and I think it was the best pitch in the league, so I’m expecting the same here.”
And after a 2-3 start with five tough road games to begin the season, Woszczynski feels the club is right in the thick of the conference race.
“Very tough five games against three or four of the top teams in the league, so it’s great to be home,” Woszczynski said. “Six points off those five games isn’t bad. You look around the league at teams who have played five games and don’t have six points yet, so I think we’re fine. We’ll get home now and make this a fortress and get some wins here.”