After Saturday’s 1-0 win over San Antonio FC, Arizona United propelled itself to eighth place in the Western Conference table, the final playoff spot, with eight games remaining in the regular season.
Forward Tyler Blackwood, who scored the team’s goal, knows how important every game is from here on out, and how teams will now be looking up at them in these final games of the regular season.
“You always look at the table wondering ‘If we win tonight, where will we go?’” Blackwood said. “Now there’s going to be other teams in our league looking to match our results. Other teams will think, ‘They’re coming for us.’ The next game they might make a mistake making sure that we don’t catch them. We got to keep applying pressure and I have no doubt that we will be in the playoffs this year.”
The team had been lingering below the cutoff line for a number of weeks, but knew they had games in hand to make up the difference and find themselves in the middle of the race.
But United can’t rest on the fact they now sit in the playoff race. Upcoming games this week at San Antonio and at Whitecaps FC 2 will show whether this team has the makeup to remain in the race for the playoffs.
“We look at it, obviously we want to make playoffs, that’s our first and foremost goal,” goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski said. “We take it one game at a time. We know every game is almost a must-win right now, every team we come up against is one or two points up or down the table from us, so one game at a time. Trying to get three points every game, that is our mentality going into it.”
The recent three-match winning streak the club is on has obviously been a big contributor to Arizona United’s rise in the standings.
“Yeah, its been great. Teams gets hot seasons,” Woszczynski said. “I think we’re coming in at the right time, things are finally clicking. We’ve had confidence this whole year, we have great players at every position, depth at every position, so its finally coming together. You know, its been great.”
While Blackwood and Woszczynski keep their eyes on the table and continually watch where they are in the race, head coach Frank Yallop has a more controlled approach.
“Well most people will say it’s coaching but I wouldn’t,” Yallop said. “To be honest I think the group is growing. Our coaching staff does a good job and we try to give them enough information so that they can follow that, don’t over-coach, and to be honest it’s the players that have done it. They haven’t quit, they’ve kept going, great spirit.
“I’m really happy with where we are at right now, and from where we started to where we are now, we’ve come a long way, we look like a decent side. And I think it takes a while. And these guys started from scratch, we had a couple players from last year and everyone else come on as a trial or picked up. All the USL guys were gone and they’ve done a fantastic job to get where they are now.”