It was an electric first weekend in USL League Two, and with over 700 matches left on the horizon, we highlight some of the keys to look at moving forward from all around the league.
1. MBFC2, building quickly
It’s hard to glean much from a single match from a team, especially one that’s playing their very first match, but Monterey Bay F.C. 2’s 2-1 win over San Francisco City showed a willingness to play forward, and quickly. Not true route one soccer, but in prioritizing players with great foot speed to apply pressure as often as possible. It helped win them an early penalty on Saturday, and the work rate doesn’t drop off – An intense press that was more or less seven seconds worth of straight sprinting before applying a finish got Willy Omar Miranda his second goal an hour into the match.
2. Quesi Weston is back. The Mid South should be prepared.
Quesi Weston, the star striker for Louisiana Krewe, is back for another season. He’s kicked off the year with four goals against Blue Goose SC, who didn’t have the players available that they wanted to, but Weston arrived locked in and ready to get goals. His combination of pace, strength and positioning will be the primary concern for all Mid South defenses going forward, as he always appears in the spot his team needs to finish chances.
3. Project 51O: Youth and Stamina
Through 45 minutes, it looked like the strength and size of the players in Davis Legacy’s attack was going to pester Project 51O, whose starters, on average, were born in 2004, despite starting a player born in 1997. Once the hour mark hit, however, 51O took over. Five goals in the final half hour, including a ball stolen off a kickoff for Luis Saldana, emphasized the conditioning and relentlessness of the young squad. They made the playoffs last year and put up a good fight in their eventual elimination – is there more in store for them?
4. Academica SC is ready to challenge immediately as a Nor Cal playoff contender.
Despite the loss in the opening week to an engaged and quick SF Glens team, Academica SC weren’t out of place in the 1-0 defeat. Both teams spent the match searching for that finishing product, or a way to break through the back line, but both also showed a technical ability that lends itself to confidence going forward. For their first game in the competition, Academica showed steel and ability against a playoff team, and they’ll hope to be in the mix at the end of the season.
5. Des Moines will be Des Moines
In case there was any doubt, the 2021 League Two champions look to have gotten right back to business. St. Charles played well in their League Two debut – first-year coach Lawrence Olum should be encouraged by the effort. The inevitability of the Menace, and the tendency to pounce on mistakes, made them an incredibly imposing first opponent. Back in the Heartland division, it’s difficult to predict a match they may lose. The Menace haven’t lost a match during the run of play (they were eliminated on penalties in the 2022 playoffs) since June 30, 2021. They’ve set their sights firmly at the mountaintop for 2023.