Stegman’s Old Boys know what to expect from Dynamo Eden Prairie: a fairly challenging game with unfair challenges. That is what they got on Sunday, along with an uneven referee performance that left them wondering what could have been.
Man of the Match Ryan Horstman, showing off a fresh set of cleat marks in his chest after the game, summed up the feeling “there were at least two sending-off offenses from their end and that would have changed things for us. As it was, we didn’t take our chances. But we’re not ones to dwell. Sound & Fury better be worried – they’re facing a fired-up group of SOBs next week!”
Despite a rough start to the season, that attitude is why this team is so much fun to watch.
There is a strong spirit of togetherness and a never-say-die attitude that pervades the entire set-up.
The match was a see-saw from the very beginning, with both sides going guns-blazing for the three points. And, from the off, Dynamo were their usual selves, with their impy blond playmaker violently shoving Old Boys midfielder Will Reynolds in the chest after only five minutes.
The Blues were working the flanks well, using the pace of Graham Campbell and Zach Riggott to good effect. The team was a little over-elaborate in the final third and struggled to find that incisive ball. As in the first game, the result was shots being blocked by a tangle of legs in the area. The offensive work was good, but perhaps too slow.
On the other end, Dynamo played to type by knocking the ball over the top. Route one football does occasionally pay off, and it did for the home side right before the interval.
The goal seemed to affect the team in the second half, with passes going astray. Matt Gorrell was deployed as defensive center midfielder in a Keegan-esque attempt to bring a defender’s stolidity into the mix. Gorrell performed like Gareth Southgate and the team eventually found its rhythm, though still not its cutting edge.
“I wanted to use Matty in the middle because of his experience” said Manager Nick Sindt “this is a guy who has done it all before, see it all before, and I thought that the move would add some steel to our midfield.”
The best chance of the game fell to Luke Clayton, who got on the end of a 50-yard free kick only to screw his shot wide.
The St Paul-born marksman is usually so devastating from that position that it looked like he surprised himself with his miss. However, with two goals in two games, he remains as deadly as ever.
Dynamo continued to play very direct and very dirty, a ball over the top being cleaned up by Horstman only for the goalkeeper to receive cleats in his chest for his trouble. Like the first violent conduct offense, there was no card.
“The standard of refereeing is…variable” said Sindt afterward “they’re trying their best, but they really have to protect the players. We will be discussing this with the league. The cleat marks on the chest say it all.”
The Blues kept pushing, with Graham Campbell keeping up his searing early season form. His cross found Zach Riggott unmarked at the back post, but Riggott was only able to tamely knock his header right back at the goalkeeper. The chances were being created by the visitors, but finishing was proving to be an issue.
While chasing the game, the Old Boys were caught out on the break. The impressive Horstman was left completely alone and even he cannot do it all by himself. 2-0 was a very generous scoreline given the run of play, and Dynamo will be looking with some trepidation at the return fixture.
“That’s how these games with Dynamo go” said Gorrell “and we dealt with it as well as we could, two mistakes dooming us. That said, we’re doing all the right things, getting in the right positions and with some more quickness of thinking we’ll be as dangerous as we know we are.”
“We are getting into the right attacking positions, and that’s reassuring” said Sindt “and we’re having a great time playing, which is the whole point.”