The following is an email we received from a podcast listener named Pete Szilagyi who lives in LA and got to catch both the Los Dos and OC Blues matches. Instead of picking a small part to read on the podcast, I thought it would be best shared in its almost-entirety. – Kyle
It’s Pete, the LA resident who has been tweeting you guys from the games this week. Thought I’d shoot y’all a little email with some thoughts and observations from both the LAG2 and OC games I attended this week.
Some background – I was born and raised in Austin, but have been living and working in LA for the past 12 years. I’ve always loved basketball and soccer growing up, so loving the Spurs was a no brainer. My dad would drive us down to SA to see a couple of games every year. I love that team, even today in the heart of Laker-land. So, it was a no brainer when the Spurs started a soccer team that I would be an instant fan (especially considering a portion of the Spurs logo is in the crest!). I wanted to watch the Scorpions from afar, but the games were never online. I tried getting into the Aztex, but that team was so minor league both on the field and in presentation, it was hard to go all in with them. Suffice to say, even if Austin gets its [act] together, I think it’s safe to say there’s no way I can’t not root for a soccer team that was put together by my favorite basketball team.
So I was thrilled to be able to attend the third and fourth games of the club’s existence. At first, I thought it was weird that LAG2 held the game in StubHub – I was expecting it to be on one of the practice fields nearby. It was strange to sit in a big, empty stadium to watch a game, but compared to the minor league-ness I would experience in OC a few nights later, this felt downright like being at a Premiere League match!
A quiet affair other than the six-man LAG2 supporter section in the corner, I was surprised to see so many SAFC shirts in the crowd. I assumed they were transplants from the central Texas area like me, but I was wrong. It was actually Carlos Alvarez’s family. They had customized the white SAFC shirt with a #10 on the back. So, you can imagine their delight when Alvarez had the equalizer in the 89th minute. Half the crowd of about 500 went nuts (I even lost my keys when I jumped up celebrating), and SAFC was able to get a result after a sloppy game.
Make no mistake, LAG2 is a good team. They looked the better through most of the match – our attack and confidence really didn’t come through until the final fifteen minutes of the game. I sat there thinking – great, I get to have the dubious honor of witnessing the first loss in club history. But that’s the great thing about soccer – if the score is close, any team can win or draw it, even if they play like crap most of the time.
I got to meet some of the players afterwards, and they were all very polite and charming. Alvarez hopped into the stands to take pictures with his family. I congratulated JJ on having the first goal in club history. He responded by fist pounding and saying, “that’s what’s up.” They all seem to like each other, which will be huge for results on the field this season.
Unfortunately, I would experience the dubious honor down in the OC Saturday night, as we had visibly tired legs. This place was janky, and reeked of a minor league sporting experience in every way. The field and seating was smaller than most high school football stadiums in Texas. The entire night had the feel of a high school football game on a Friday night. There was a lot of children running about unruly. Most of them ended up in the bouncy house near the “concessions,” which was just a table offering bags of Cheetos and Snickers bars. And the PA announcer would make some sort of statement every five minutes, either to advertise something, or to remind us to visit the new USL site at USLsoccer.com.
The game was entertaining though, and very physical. Obviously y’all saw all the yellow cards, but that was for good reason – if the ref didn’t hand out yellows early on the game would’ve gotten out of hand, because those two were going at each other. Not sure why, but the two sides didn’t seem to like one another, and the game was physical right off the bat. The scoreline could’ve been worse, as some shots hit some crazy crossbar action, and Josh Ford made a hell of a save in the second half. (Josh came to visit the stands afterwards and looked visibly frustrated by the loss). Alas, none of our attacks found the back of the net, so I did end up witnessing the first loss in franchise history, anyway.
An interesting note was, again, Alvarez came over to the stands afterward to talk to his people. He said their attacks keep coming down the middle, and the team doesn’t kick the ball to the side of the box enough to create chances via crosses inside. If you look at our goals so far, they do come from straight on. Carlos seemed annoyed that they’re not crossing in from the sides enough. Something I wouldn’t have really noticed, but it was a nice “inside baseball” moment that makes sense when you think about it.
So there you have it. Hope that gives you a little inside look on their LA trip. Love the site and the podcast. You guys are doing great work, keep it up!