Contributed by: Christopher P. Adams, Ph.D.
Saturday January 20th saw the seventh meeting of US Revolution and the Canadian Northwind in the 49th Parallel Cup, held for the first time in Houston, Texas. This was the first of two games between the two teams in 2007 as both countries prepare for Melbourne 2008. In wet and blustery conditions that could only be described as “perfect Melbourne weather” (for winter at least), the Revos easily accounted for the Northwind, 4.10 (34) to 1.2 (8).
The game began with temperatures hovering in the high 40s/low 50s (around 10 Celsius) and a good breeze blowing across the ground favoring the Southern end of Tom Bass Park slightly. The Revos kicked with the wind to start the game. Despite having a little more of the ball and the breeze in their favor, the Revos were not able to put a major on the board and ended the quarter leading the Northwind by just 2 points 0.3 to 0.1. Again the Revolution had a slight advantage over the Northwind in the second quarter but the Northwind had the breeze with them. The Northwind took advantage of a 50 meter penalty to score their first and only major for the game. The Revos were only able to add only two points against the wind. The half ended with the Northwind taking the advantage 0.5 to 1.1.
While the Revos and Northwind headed to the locker rooms at half-time USFooty Kids put on a little league game with two teams made of players from inner city Houston school Escamilla Intermediate. USFooty Kids National Coordinator, Denis Ryan, worked with the kids during the first half of the Revolution/Northwind game and then “dropped them in the deep end” with their first game in front of the international footy crowd. According to USFooty’s Paul O’Keeffe, “the highlight of the day was watching the “future” Revo players playing the in little league game during the half.”
The second half started out similarly to the first half with a slight advantage to the Revolution in terms of possessions. However, San Diego Lions Best and Fairest and former Macquarie scholarship winner, Justin Valley, hit a purple patch allowing the Revolution to pile on three goals in just a few minutes. Valley took a couple of big grabs on the forward line and finished well including one from a difficult angle. Valley also played some hard defense causing the Northwind fullback to drop the ball. The umpire called a ball up and Nashville Kangaroo’ Dee Vseteka was able to add another major to the score. After the three goals, the rain started coming down making things difficult for both teams. The three quarter-time scores were 3.7 to 1.1. In the final quarter the Revos were able to hold the Northwind to a solitary point and Vseteka was able to add one more goal against the wind as the rain drizzled down. In the last quarter, Baltimore Washington Eagle and former Essendon Scholarship winner, Chris Carroll, roamed free in defense allowing him to picked up a large number of possessions. The Revolution won comfortably, however, but for a few minutes in the third quarter the game was very close and the Northwind will take heart in the effort.
After the game the new US Head Coach Trevor Lovitt said that he was pleasantly surprised by the quality of his charges. USFooty recently appointed Lovitt based on his experience coaching in the Melbourne suburban leagues and his work as an assistant coach with Frankston in the VFL. Asked how much of the boys he had seen prior to the game, Lovitt responded "Nada. Not at all. Nothing." The team was selected based on the "votes" of the other coaching staff and team managers, plus four guys from the "reserves" game were brought up for the second game against the Northwind. Lovitt said that he was very impressed with the Canadians and could not imagine how difficult it was for them to travel for this game. He said that they have four or five guys of outstanding ability. Lovitt was also impressed with his own coaching staff who had to get used to the fact that he rotates the team through positions and on to the bench very quickly.
The Revos brought about 45 guys for the weekend - enough to play two games including a game against an all-comers team as a warm up to the Revo/Northwind game. The Revo B team lost to the all-comer team by a solitary point 4.4 to 4.5. The difference due to the he experience of the Australians from the Baton Rouge club along with the all-comers having slightly more of the breeze. The Revolution players and coaching staff got together on Sunday to work through various scenarios and discuss team strategy. Coach Lovitt hopes that the other 40 players who have put their hand up for Revolution selection will be at the All-Star Weekend in Florida. After his first game, Coach Lovitt believes he has some great material to work with as he prepares for the 2008 International Cup.
The intensity of the game and the skill level were down a little reflecting the “pre-season” nature of the game for both clubs. According to O’Keeffe, “this was a very important game for both clubs to get under their belt as they prepare for the 2008 International Cup. We have two new coaches and two new teams and I think this was a great start to the campaign for both the Revolution and the Northwind.” The Northwind will be looking to even the series on home soil with the second game in Vancouver in August.
In a side note, the local constabulary took issue with the game as not all of the proper paper work had been filed. O’Keeffe was able to sweet-talk the Park and Local Police (something Paul has had plenty of experience with over the first ten years of USFooty) allowing the game to go on.
USA 4.10 (34)
Canada 1.2 (8)
USA - Valley 2, Vseteka 2
Canada - Murray Lovett 1
USA - Justin Valley, Marty Curry and Chris Carroll
Canada - unavailable at time of writing
USA B 4.4 (28)
All-comers 4.5 (29)
Revolution Team was as follows:
FB: Josh Loring, George Lakomy, Paul Raisanen
HB: Bruce Beilfuss, Curtis Jones, R.J. Wheelock
C: Walt Lin, Marty Curry, Dan Sarbacker
HF: Jon Loring, Chris Carroll, David Walker
FF: Brian Zimorowicz, Justin Valley, Dee Vsetecka
Foll: Dan Sergot, Rob Lutostanski, Benjie Bliss
Int: Luke Nemeth, Ross Siegel, Zach Weaver, Mickey Kleinhenz, Martin Mondia
The Northwind roster was: Matt Bernardo (Broadview Hawks), Chris Buczkowski (Toronto Dingos), Rhys Harris (Broadview Hawks), Nick Dirago (Hamilton Wildcats), Bill Kantartzis (Toronto Eagles), Matt Kidd (Red Deer Magpies), Kien La (Central Blues), Chet Long (Etobicoke Kangaroos), Matt Lowden (Toronto Eagles), Murray Lovett (Etobicoke Kangaroos), Frank Luisser (Toronto Eagles), James Maitland (Lakeshore Rebels), Dan McIlravey (Toronto Dingos), Kevin Minaker (Toronto Eagles), Scott Fleming (Vancouver Cougars), Bruce Parker (Central Blues), Dale Simnett (Mississauga Demons), Joshua Symonds (Calgary Kangaroos), Gareth Williams (Calgary Kangaroos), Dan Zimmerman (Central Blues).
World Footy News