25 February 2012

Disney Day 2: High winds, high entertainment

I had seen enough weather reports to know that today, Saturday, would be the coldest day of the tournament, but I still wasn't prepared for the cool temperatures and whipping wind that wreaked havoc with any notes that weren't taped down and kept my nose at a constant run. Despite that, I felt like Simon Borg and I got to call the best game of the tournament so far in the opener, and I enjoyed watching the nightcap despite the weather.

The first game pitted the host club, USL Pro team Orlando City, against Toronto FC. Although a minor-league club only in its second year, Orlando clearly (and publicly) has aspirations of reaching Major League Soccer some day. It showed why on and off the field on Saturday, as a solid team effort (for a team just 10 days into its preseason) was cheered on by an enthusiastic couple of thousand. That crowd made all the difference in the atmosphere, filling the small stadium with color and noise in stark contrast to most preseason contests.

We had prepared for Toronto by watching its training session and talking with head coach Aron Winter yesterday, so I had a good idea of what to expect and what the lineup would be, although we didn't get the lineup until less than an hour before kickoff. For Orlando City, meanwhile, Simon and I had trouble syncing our schedules during the day but got head coach Adrian Heath on a mid-afternoon conference call. He was great, letting us know his lineup in advance and highlighting some of his players' accomplishments. Between that conversation and discussing the club with team staffers from both sides, we felt prepared going into the broadcast.

Last night's game and broadcast were fine, but tonight - even though Simon and I hadn't talked much before the game - we were more confident in the way things would work (when we would get replays, how to keep track of subs, how to communicate non-verbally when on the air), and that made a world of difference. We weren't perfect (somebody on Twitter pointed out that I accidentally said Swiss instead of Swedish at one point), but I thought we improved over the day before.

And we got an entertaining game, to be sure. That's always a help, and there's a certain joy that comes with watching a lower-division team play confidently against an MLS club. Even though we had respect for Orlando City coming in, when you see them take the game to Toronto (which they did after being on the back foot for about 10 minutes), there's something cool about it. These are not household names with big followings, at least not in MLS circles, but they knew their system and executed it well. John Rooney, carrying the family name with him, was moderately effective as an attacking midfielder, and Orlando gave Toronto problems all night.

The game had four goals, with Orlando twice taking the lead and Toronto twice tying it, and I felt I handled them pretty well, even though a couple were awkward. Torsten Frings' second-half equalizer caught me by surprise - I was trying to prepare for Toronto's mass substitution - but I felt we made the best of it. Then we had a series of saves by Stefan Frei from Toronto, preventing the hometown team from winning the game, which was fun and dramatic to call.

Even though I felt a little surrounded by Kansas City coaches and staffers, shivered more than a few times, hit the cough button relentlessly so I could wipe my nose, and surely made some mistakes along the way, I felt really good about the broadcast and, more importantly, I had a blast.

In the second game, I watched from a few different vantage points while trying to stay somewhat warm and get my first in-person look at FC Dallas, for whom I will call at least 14 games this year. With a smaller (though still vocal) crowd and no broadcast duties, I was able to hear on-field communication more clearly than ever, and I was struck by how much Dallas talk is done in Spanish. It didn't surprise me, given the numbers and the Dallas reputation as maybe the league's most Hispanic team, but it's always striking to hear Schellas Hyndman and Kevin Hartman regularly calling out instructions en espanol.

David Ferreira must have suffered 10 fouls, drawing several yellow cards, but ultimately Dallas fell prey to a classic goal related to a set piece, with defender Mattias Ostberg heading home a late goal after a corner kick was cleared. That leaves everybody in this group with one point heading into Tuesday's second round of matches.

We face a quick turnaround for Houston-Vancouver tomorrow, but I know both teams well and am looking forward to a little warmer weather. As long as the rain stays away!

Toronto FC (0-0-1) vs. Orlando City (0-0-1)
February 25, 2012 – ESPN Wide World of Sports, Orlando, FL

Scoring Summary:
ORL -- John Rooney 1 (penalty kick) 17
TFC -- Miguel Aceval 1 (unassisted) 23
ORL -- Kevin Molino 1 (unassisted) 54
TFC -- Torsten Frings 1 (Terry Dunfield 1) 62 

Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei, Richard Eckersley (Doneil Henry 46), Geovanny Caicedo (Aaron Maund 46), Miguel Aceval (Michael Green 63), Ashtone Morgan (Kevin Huezo 63), Torsten Frings (Matt Stinson 63), Terry Dunfield (Oscar Cordon 63), Eric Avila (Sergio Camargo 63), Reggie Lambe (Efrain Burgos Jr. 63), Danny Koevermans (Nick Soolsma 32), Joao Plata (Moises Orozco 63)
Substitutes Not Used: Milos Kocic, Luis Silva, Ty Harden, Adrian Cann.

Orlando City -- Miguel Gallardo, Jerome Meshack, Rob Valentino, Kieron Bernard (Wes Allen 61), Luke Boden (Erik Ustruck 72), Anthony Pulis, James O'Connor (Don Smart 66), Kevin Molino (Nick Sowers 83), John Rooney (Dustin McCarty 72), Charlie Campbell (Adama Mbengue 76), Maxwell Griffin (Dennis Chin 61).
Substitutes Not Used: Sean Kelley,  Ian Fuller.

Misconduct Summary:
TFC -- Efrain Burgos Jr. (caution) 84

Referee: Geoff Gamble
Referee's Assistants: Phillipe Briere; James Conlee
4th Official: Edvin Jurisevic
Attendance: 2,100
Weather: Windy-and-59 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

BK Hacken (0-0-1) vs. FC Dallas (0-0-1)
February 25, 2012 – ESPN Wide World of Sports, Orlando, FL

Scoring Summary:
FCD -- Fabian Castillo 1 (Zach Loyd, Blas Perez) 46+
HAC -- Mattias Ostberg 1 (Kari Arkivuo 1) 79

BK Hacken -- Christoffer Kallqvist, David Marek Frolund (Tibor Joza 76), Mattias Ostberg, Mohammed Ali Khan, Kari Arkivuo, Bjorn Anklev (Jesper Westermark 76), Josefe Elvby, Dominic Chatto (Martin Ericsson 63), Rene Makondele, Dioh Williams (Andreas Drugge 85), Eddie Hernandez (Majeed Waris 63).
Substitutes Not Used: Emil Wahlstrom, Andres Vasquez, Oscar Lewicki, Jonas Henriksson, Daniel Forsell, Maranhao, Damir Mehic, Tom Soderberg, Leonard Zuta, Rasmus Iversen.

FC Dallas -- Kevin Hartman, Zach Loyd, Hernan Pertuz, Ugo Ihemelu, Jair Benitez, Daniel Hernandez, Fabian Castillo (Andrew Wiedeman 67), Andrew Jacobson, David Ferreira, Carlos Rodriguez (Scott Sealy 87), Blas Perez.
Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Richard Sanchez, Bruno Guarda, Ricardo Villar, Bobby Warshaw, Bryan Leyva, Matt Hedges, Christian Ibeagha, Victor Ulloa, Moises Hernandez, Jonathan Top, Ruben Luna, Alex Lee, Ange Pacome Dogba.

Misconduct Summary:
FCD -- Blas Perez (caution) 18
HAC -- Rene Makondele (caution) 42
HAC -- Mattias Ostberg (caution) 45
HAC -- Mohammed Ali Khan (caution) 51
HAC -- David Marek Frolund (caution) 66
HAC -- Jesper Westermark (caution) 87

Referee: Silviu Petrescu
Referee's Assistants: Daniel Belleau; Matt Kreitzer
4th Official: Elias Bazakos
Attendance: 2,100
Weather: Windy-and-59 degrees
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial

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