This doesn't sound good. Saturday night, a team making its "worst performance" of the young season defeated the Salt Lake Sting at Derks Field, 2-1.
Before an umbella-sheltered, Hefty bag- and blanket-wrapped crowd estimated at close to 1,000, the Sting and the Albany (New York) Capitals slipped and slid for 90 minutes that left both coaches disappointed."It was the worst performance we've had," said Capitals coach John Bramley. "We were terrible tonight."
Well, if Albany, which is reportedly one of the best teams in the APSL's American Conference, was terrible, what were the Sting?
Error-prone, at least on defense. "Our defense made too many mistakes," said Sting coach Valery Volostnykh. "Number 8 scored a goal that was incredible, not a professional goal."
That's the Capitals' second goal he was talking about, scored by Ramiro Borja after a first shot caromed off the Sting goalpost two minutes into the second half. As the ball bounced back through a knot of players in front of the goal, several defenders tried in vain to get to it, including goalie Mark Lehnert.
"I tried to get to it but slipped," Lehnert said. "I barely got my fingers on it. There was no way I could grab it."
The Capitals scored their first goal at 28:02 of the first half, Mike Masters pounding a shot into the left corner from about 25 yards out. Give the assist to the wet grass. "It got deflected (by the Sting's Rich Ryerson) and it was skipping," said Lehnert.
The Sting scored their lone goal 70 minutes into the game, and 160 minutes into the season. From about 20 yards out on the right side, George Pastor fired a pass to Derek Sanderson, who headed it into the goal.
Salt Lake had other scoring opportunities but wasn't able to capitalize against a tight Albany defense. They had as many shots on goal as the Capitals, 12, but few of the Sting's shots posed serious threats.
Bramley said he was surprised at the pace of the game. "You'd have thought players would have reacted to (the wet field), and slowed it down, passed the ball around," he said. "But both teams wanted to play 100 mph."
Perhaps worse news for the Sting than the final score was the attendance. Even with bad weather, team officials had hoped to draw 3,000-5,000. For last season's home opener, 10,000 soccer fans showed up.
The defeat drops Salt Lake to 0-2 on the season, with a game coming up against the Vancouver 86ers at Derks Field on Friday, May 17. It's the Sting's designated game against a foreign team, something each American Professional Soccer League team has on its schedule.
Albany, making its only visit to Utah this season, improved to 2-0.