The matchup between the Long Island Rough Riders and Real Monarchs SLC was without a doubt skewed in favor of the latter, but you would have never guessed that after seeing tonight’s match. And while the Monarchs still pulled out a victory, it did not come easy for them. The only goal in the match was scored in the 76th minute by Ricardo Velazco, who put the ball in the back of the net after a series of miscommunications by the goalkeeper and the defender.
Even though the final result of the match was based partially on a communication error, the error is not telling of how close the match was. Going into halftime, the match was a complete stalemate, with neither team breaking through the others defense consistently. While the first half was quite a bore, the second half was very different. Both squads were much more willing to shoot the ball from the get go, and that’s what inevitably led to the goal that broke the stalemate.
Even though the Rough Riders as a whole were fairly strong tonight, there were a few players who were extremely underwhelming during the match. The one that sticks out in particular is Benjamin Wignall, who was subbed off in the 46th minute. After a great performance in Round 1, Wignall lacked inspiration in the forward role, rarely touching the ball and not having any significant impact on the game. In addition to the lack of quality shown by Wignall, in the 68th minute, Joe Holland was subbed off after sustaining an injury when he fell awkwardly to the ground after tripping. Holland is one of the star players for the Rough Riders and will surely be missed if the injury is serious.
On the other side of the pitch, one particular player had the night of his life. Tyler Arnone, a Long Island native and former Rough Rider, made his first appearance in the starting 11 this season, and he had a major impact on his team. When asked about how it felt to come back to Long Island to play the Rough Riders, Arnone humbly said, “…It meant the world to me to play at Saint Anthony’s again cause I dedicated so many hours of my time to playing here…” Arnone proved himself to be a great candidate for first team soccer tonight, and I would not be surprised if he gets another chance very soon.
The match was very hard fought, and it was obvious by the crowd’s reaction at Saint Anthony’s High School that they felt the Rough Riders could have gone farther in this prestigious competition. But now the Monarchs are bound to the 3rd round, where they will host fellow USL team, the Colorado Springs Switchbacks.