I finally got a chance to get up to the RFK Auxiliary Fields on a sunday morning to watch the reserves play.

It was well worth it.

The crowd was great. Which is especially awesome considering it is 10am on a Sunday morning, and these guys are the backups (for the most part). The entire bleachers was full, and there were people lined up pretty much all around the field whereever there was space. The Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles and La Norte were well represented as they were up and making noise almost the entire game. Even heckling the opponenet and the referrees! They chanted “We want Buddle! We want Buddle!” to the NY bench, and when he finally got in the game they gave him the business including one guy yelling “Hey Buddle, you should join the Barra, we aren’t sober by gametime either!” (Buddle had just recently earned a DUI). When a NY player was on the ground feigning injury, the crowd sang “Get up, stand up… Get up off your ass” to the famous Bob Marley classic. If you want to hear low-brow humour, ammusing songs and chants, and general heckling of opponents and referees you must go to one of these games.

I took some photos, which you can see in the photo gallery. I set the exposure to +1 which washed out most of the photos. I rescued them as best I could in Photoshop, but reallly, they are below par. I’ll have to get better at framing the photo, and figure out all the buttons and menu options to take better photos. I’d shoot in RAW format, but that would severely limit the number of photos I could take (I don’t feel like buying another CF card at the moment). If you do choose to scroll through all 200 photos, feel free to leave me comments :)

Anyway, on to the game itself.

The pace is very fast. It reminds me of watching high-level travel soccer. Like a pair of really good U-19 teams in a tournament. This is because, there are still some players who when they can’t control a ball will just whack it into the air which leads to more contested 50/50 balls which leads to more of the ball just flying back and forth without purpose. I don’t mean to imply that the game was disjointed… because it wasn’t. It just had more of those types of things than the senior-level. The overall technical level of the players was pretty good.

The RBNY team got a penalty kick early in the match (theres no game clock so I don’t know exactly when). It happened just as I was taking a photo of the skyline so I didn’t see what happened. But as it is, one of our guys got red-carded which of course changed the whole course of the game.

There were a couple of players who really stood out to me. First up is Brian Carroll. That man covers a LOT of territory. He played endline to endline and sideline to sideline, constantly around the ball. His dribbling and control of the ball have improved greatly since he first came into the league. He was one of the standouts which isn’t surprising since he’s a senior team regular.

Steven DeRoux was another one. He is really fast/quick and really skilled. At this level he is really head and shoulders above the others, but when he plays with the seniors, his limitations (namely lack of vision and finishing) get exposed. He is one of those players I like to categorize as “trouble-makers”. Their speed and ability to unbalance a defense creates havoc and chaos. The key is getting him to recognize where to play the ball next so that the unbalanced defense can be taken advantage of. Right now he’s not capable of doing this.

One guy who surprised me in a negative way was Steve Nickell. He is a forward, a little bigger, but not a huge guy and he seems to like to play that target role. He positioned himself really well. He showed for the ball and kept the defender at bay when he receives the ball with back to goal. The problem was his first touch was *so* bad that he almost always lost the ball. If he can just get a handle on the ball control, he could be a real player.

Another surprise was Leo Cullen. Cullen was a high draft pick of the Miami Fusion several years ago and I thought was a decent player. He kinda fizzled out of the league and I think he has played for our reserves before. He seems like he can still play as he was one of the better players on the field while he was on. I wonder what his story is since he doesn’t seem to be playing elsewhere, but yet he comes and plays for the reserves on occasion. Hmmm…

On the whole I thought we controlled play very well, especially considering we were down a man (seems to happen often lately). This is definitely a trip I will make more often next year (this was last home game of the season). It gives a great chance to see the players up close, see the guys who hopefully will be playing with the regulars soon, and on occasion see the regulars who couldn’t play the night before due to injury, suspension or what have you. I highly recommend for anybody.