IC17: Revos tame Canada, Freedom fall to Ireland on Day 1

Treats from Oz

Opening day, IC17 has come and gone.  It was punctuated with the typical Melbourne flourish – four seasons in a day.  Pouring rain, cold, then bright sunshine, then cold again.

For the two USA teams competing at Royal Park on Sunday in their openers, one outlook was sunny, one was slightly more soaking.  The Revolution Men used a strong third quarter to blow past rival Canada by 20 points, while the women went down fighting to Ireland by 38.

USA REVOLUTION 6.9.45 DEF CANADA NORTHWIND 3.7.25 (Watch replay)

The opening seventeen-point-five minutes of the International Cup for the Americans were highlighted by control of possession and wayward kicking.  They seemed to cope with the wet ground early, and the rain would eventually dissipate as the southern sun would eventually show its face.  

Max Depina won a number of balls in the midfield, and Ryan McGettigan and Saleh Tyebjee kept Canada pinned into their half of the ground.  When the Northwind did foray forward, the halfback line, led by Kyle Johnson, turned retreat into advance.  The problem was, the Americans couldn’t find the big sticks, though they did score the first four points of the game.  Canada’s only serious threat of the term was when they earned a free kick from an off the ball tackle and an additional 25-meter penalty, which was slotted home by Northwind captain Jim Oertel.

It looked like it would be 6-5 at the first siren, but with just seconds left, Dave Grzesiak flattened halfback Mike Aspell forty meters out from goal.  The big Texan converted the ensuing free kick after the siren, and despite the lack of a kicking compass, the Revos were 11-5 to the good after one.

Canada wrenched away complete control of the game in the first quarter, they couldn’t seize it completely themselves.  Dan Livy and veteran Dustin Jones stepped into the forward fray and got some more touches, creating scoring chances that were wasted.  What’s more, the Canadians were hitting the Revos where it hurt, on transition.  That led to the Northwind’s only major of the quarter as Adam Nash separated from Jeff Kraemer for a mark and goal.  At the major break, Canada had clawed their way back in front, 14-12, with Ellis and his staff trying to rectify the leaks and insure his side wouldn’t rue all of those early misses.

After a tussling few minutes to start the third, the Revos grabbed the lead when Levy intercepted a kick-in, then kicked the go-ahead goal after being moved in 25 meters following a Northwind infraction.  Three minutes later, Dave Restrepo opened his Revolution account after picking up a spilled mark from Anthony Kennedy and drilling it home from 40 meters out with the aid of the wind.  From there, the floodgates opened.  Bryan Dragus, quiet up to that point in the game, pulled out his Stevie Johnson impression and snapped it around the corner for his contribution to the scoresheet.  Restrepo found his ‘round the wicket form too for his second minutes later, and then got a third when Ben Carpenter found the Lonestar forward with a brilliant weighted ball that was converted. 

Three-quarter time blared, and when the dust had settled, the USA had outscored the Northwind six-goals-to-none and what was once a tug-of-war became a long way back for Canada; the Revos were up by an even 30 points, 44-14.  A bit of a pushing match ensued after the siren, with the Canadians trying to rile up the Americans and maybe trying to get into their heads.  That didn’t work.

When the Revos beat Canada two years ago at Ft. Lauderdale, it came down to the defense.  Here, it was both sides of the ground that iced the game.  Buddy Spohn, who played last season here in Melbourne at Blackrock FC, has found the poise of a 20-year veteran of the game, and took confident touches.  Johnson, playing now with a cut over his eye, took a number of courageous balls to put the kibosh on any push forward.  The Americans would only pick one more point the rest of the way, but more importantly, they held the Northwind to just eleven as they peppered away, and that was good enough in a 45-25 victory.

The win made it 15 out of 16 over Canada going back to 1999, and 4-0 at the IC.

Besides the tangible scoreboard tallies of Restrepo, Depina shone brightest among the stars of the game, making for a memorable debut.

“It was so great to bust off the rust and play with these boys,” the Seattle defender said after the game.  “I loved it.”

Depina revealed that Ellis had told the Revolution boys to trust their teammates.  “When your boy goes in to get the ball,” he relayed Ellis’s message, “expect them to go on and get it.”

The boys will be buoyed by the fact that all three of their remaining opening round opponents lost on Saturday: PNG to Ireland, South Africa to Great Britain, and France to Fiji.  But there is still a lot of footy to play, and the Revos will be back at it on Wednesday against RSA at Glen Waverley to try and tick off another hurdle.

Canada Northwind





USA Revolution








CANADA: Nash 2, Oertel
USA: Restrepo 3, Dragus, Grzeiak, May

CANADA: Klein, MacDonald, Tersigni, Oertel, Nash, Loosemore
USA: Greziak, Spohn, DePina, Carpenter-Nwanyanwu, Restrepo, Garthright


USA FREEDOM 1.2.8 DEF BY IRELAND BANSHEES 7.4.46  (watch replay)

The Freedom knew they had a tough nut to crack in the Banshees, and within a minute of the start, the Irish had their first goal on the board through Christine McCutcheon, with Linda Connolly adding another right after and a second two minutes after that.  Shellshocked, the Americans had been hit for three goals and were quickly in a hole.  

The defenders were able to steady the ship through Katie Klatt and their captain, Hallie Kastanek, and Brette Brower was able to provide pressure and force a couple of turnovers.  Paige Kicker joined Klatt in starting to rove into the back and pick off some defensive marks.  Trips into the offensive 50 were few and far between in the opening stanza, and though the defense would prevent any more kicks through the big sticks, the ladies were down 20-0 at quarter time.

With the wind in the second frame, the Freedom tried to take advantage and finally got inside offensive 50, though Brette Brower missed a close in shot on goal, the first point of the game got them going.  Alison Bremner stepped up and made some key stops from the forwards, and Brower got another flying shot on goal that went wide.  After parrying away some Banshee chances, they got their first major of the game when Klatt threw the ball forward from the left boot, it rolled towards goal and Jessica Estrada slammed it home.  Klatt came the fore in that quarter, and the Freedom felt they would have some momentum, but they would not trouble the scorer again, though the still trailed by 20-8, just two straight kicks down.

Quarter number three started with the midfielders and forwards for the USA trying to make themselves more of an option against the wind and to keep up the pressure, trying to freeze it in the zone.  Carly Smolak got into the way of a few Irish clearances, and the Freedom held serve for the first five minutes.  Connolly extended the lead with a goal off of a free kick to open the third quarter scoring, and without the wind in the quarter, the Freedom just couldn’t get anything forward, just like in the first.

Sara Magallon and Meg Leone got a fair bit of touches in this quarter, and again the Freedom crept forward.  But midway through the term, the Irish hit back on transition, leading to a Gillian Behan goal, which seemed to have stung a bit.  Towards the end of the term, they succumbed to the pressure again, as McCutcheon smothered a Freedom kick in the goal square and flipped home her second of the match.  Three quarter time, and the USA were now behind 40-8.

Down but not out, Leigh Barnes’s club tried to lift and play more physically.  Emily Riehl stepped up and tried to play link up, Hallie Kastenak picked off passes, and Lindsay Kastanek made herself an option.  Kiecker tracked back to take more marks.  It was a sound quarter of football, albeit one that didn’t produce any further scoring, but one that limited the Banshees to a single score. Though Ireland were too good on the day, finishing up 46-8 winners, the Freedom should be pleased with the effort against one of the best teams in the comp.

What this loss, coupled with the with Papua New Guinea shutting out the European Crusaders 55-0, the Freedom's final four games are now must win matches if they want to be playing at the final at Etihad Stadium in two weeks’ time.  The next game is Wednesday against the PNG Flames, and a loss coupled with an Irish win would eliminate the Freedom and Crusaders from semi-final contention.

Irish Banshees





USA Revolution







IRELAND: Conolly 3, McCutcheon 2, Cullen, Behan
USA: Estrada

IRELAND: Breen, Fitzpatrick, Connolly, Quinn, Moriarity, Behan
USA: Magallon, Riehl, English, H. Kastanek, L. Kastanek

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