To say that the opening weekend of the 2019-20 MASL season has been wild is an understatement. Friday saw every game played be decided by a goal or two, while Saturday saw the Canada MetroStars abruptly fold, forcing the league to alter several teams’ schedules for the season ahead. Today, it was capped off by a rematch of Friday night with Utica City FC facing the Baltimore Blast in front of a sold out Utica Aud.
The match would begin slow like Friday night, both teams feeling each other out and playing methodically like a game of chess. Utica broke the ice at the 10:34 mark off the first quarter when Christian “Mighty Mouse” Segura darted down field and blasted a shot past the diving Willian Vanzela to make it 1-0 City FC. It would be the only goal of the quarter as both teams failed to connect on a flourish of scoring chances.
Utica City would dominate the second quarter, controlling possession for the majority of the quarter. However, Vanzela and the Blast defense would be up to the task and keep the match 1-0. That was until the 11:13 mark when the City would gain a restart at the top of the Blast arc. “The Bulldog” Liam Callahan fired an absolute rocket into the top left corner of the Blast net, extending the lead to 2-0. Just over a minute later, Segura caught Vanzela playing out of his net, and launched a 150 foot shot into the Baltimore goal to make it 3-0 Utica, which would hold going into halftime.
The second half once again saw both teams vying to play strategically and carefully picking their scoring opportunities. The Blast would finally get on the board with under three minutes to go in the quarter when Utica could not clear a ball in front of their net and Vini Dantas scooted the ball past Andrew Coughlin to cut the lead to 3-1. Just five seconds later, however, Logan Roberts would shoot the ball off the boards and Ricardo Diegues would send the rebound home to make it 4-1 Utica City FC.
The fourth quarter would prove to be controversial in several ways. Along with a couple Moises Gonzalez shots that went crossbar down and weren’t called goals, a hand ball penalty would be assessed to Liam Callahan when he slid across the Utica goalmouth to stop a Blast shot on the powerplay at the 5:46 mark of the quarter. Dantas would convert on the penalty shot to cut the Utica lead to 4-2. Upon viewing the replay, there didn’t appear to be any evidence that Callahan touched the ball with his hand nor upper body. From there, Utica City held strong and Coughlin came up with a pair of big saves to help City hold on for a 4-2 victory.
I spoke to Jon Ramin, MASL VP of Operations, at half time. He told me though the Canada situation is disappointing, there are several markets the MASL is hopeful of adding in the coming seasons. He told of two specific markets, one in the East and one in the West, but that is confidential at this time.
With the Liam Callahan handball penalty call and both Moises Gonzalez near goals today, the MASL definitely needs to look into goal line cameras and add reviews to the game. Like the NFL, scoring plays or plays involving scoring chances should be subject to review and made to be confirmed. I am anxious to see what comes out of this game concerning the three calls.
Callahan was issued a red card at the end of the game for card accumulation, meaning he will miss Friday’s road match against the Rochester Lancers. The scoresheet only listed two penalties on Callahan. The league will need to review this and hopefully it will be overturned.
Utica City is looking to have won the Ubiparipovic/Segura trade. Segura has scored five goals in just two games for the boys in blue. He is proving to be a force to be reckoned with for Utica.
Utica City FC is back in action this Friday, November 29th, as they go on the road to face the Rochester Lancers. I will be on hand for the game and will have a recap after the game.