Utica City FC jumped out of the gates quickly and didn’t look back as they dispatched the Canada MetroStars 6-2 in an exhibition match Sunday afternoon.
With a raucous crowd amped up after what seemed to be a never-ending offseason with so many ups and downs, the boys in blue got to work right away loading up the scoring sheet. Just over three minutes into the first quarter, UCFC drew a free kick, which was stopped at first by the MetroStar defense, however, the ball ended up at the feet of Liam Callahan, who drove a shot through traffic and into the back of the net.
“I had a lot of people tell me they voted for me to score first,” Callahan elaborated after the game, “a lot of pressure in that aspect, but it was good to get the first goal in front of the crowd for the first game of the season.”
Later in the quarter, with just seconds remaining, captain Bo Jelovac took a volley from Nate Bourdeau and tapped in Utica’s second goal of the day. UCFC was already looking like they were in the late season form we saw going into the playoffs last season.
In the second quarter, Superman appeared as Logan Roberts kicked on the afterburners chasing down an outlet pass, and slipping a shot pass the diving keeper, making it 3-0 in favor of the home team. The power play unit also got its chance to shine with Jake “The Snake” Schindler heading home a 50/50 ball in front of the Canada goal to make it 4-0 UCFC at the half. Goalkeeper Andrew Coughlin was superb in net, stopping all seven shots he faced for the first half shutout.
“It was good,” Coughlin said after the match. “I think this is the year I try to get one (shutout) the whole game.”
The third quarter was a stalemate, neither team scoring nor really creating any chance on either end of the pitch. The only notable event was Jelovac being assessed a blue card for a hard foul against the boards. The Utica penalty kill unit easily took care of the MetroStar power play.
In the final quarter of play, the scoring picked up again as newly acquired Christian Segura blasted a cracker of a shot into the goal and extended the Utica lead to five. Unfortunately, Canada would end the Utica clean sheet with a goal just minutes later with a shot from Shaquille Agard getting past keeper Matt Perrella. Down on the other end of the pitch, some crafty passing by Utica would result in trialist player Nick Tunic scoring the sixth and final Utica goal. The final scoring play of the quarter would come seconds later as Agard used a nifty chip to beat Perrella again, making it 6-2 Utica, which would hold til the final horn.
After the match, General Manager Tommy Tanner was pleased with the outcome of the exhibition but said there is more to come before the first game of the season.
“We have another signing we haven’t announced yet, but that is coming this week, so we are excited about the team,” Tanner said.
Other Important Game Notes:
-Several players were rested for the second half of the match. Notable players who did not play include Moises Gonzalez, Ricardo Diegues (he will be joining the team this week), and Domenico Vitale.
-Diegues will not play Friday against Baltimore. Newly acquired James Togbah will miss both Friday and Sunday’s matches due to suspension carried over from last season.
-UCFC has a new in-game host, Alicia Daddario, who previously worked for a local Utica television news station. She brought a fresh energy to the position and was received well by the fans.
-The most important note that stuck was Tommy Tanner’s response to evaluating this offseason, “It was good knowing we were going to have an offseason. Every year was always, ‘Will we be able to come back?’ and this year we knew we were going to come back so we were able to do some things we haven’t been able to do in quite a while.”
Utica City FC opens the 2019-2020 season this Friday night in Baltimore against the Blast. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:35pm. Utica City returns home for their home opener Sunday, facing off against the Blast at 2:00pm.