Seaside – Rarely has there been so much noise at a pre-season game where venues located miles away from the peninsula’s biggest professional sporting event fill with the expected exciting atmosphere.
A three-team practice may not be ideal for game preparation, but Saturday was the only day Monterey Bay FC could host Major League Soccer’s San Jose Earthquakes at Cardinal Stadium at 7 p.m.
Union head coach Frank Yallop said, “It’s a game where you want to play well, you want to play well, and you want to show off your team.” “We’re thrilled to make it happen. We’re grateful that San Jose made it happen. We wanted them to see our market.”
With the Union kicking off its second season in the United Soccer League and sharing weekends and nearby parking lots at the CSU Monterey Bay campus with the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, expectations are mounting for spring. Latter half.
One stretch of the second half saw Union go 8-3-3, erasing a road-heavy 1-7-0 start in their first campaign and returning to the playoff picture.
Yallop, who led the Earthquakes to MLS titles in 2001 and 2003, warned against putting too much emphasis on non-regular season games.
“I never want to lose,” said Yallop. “But this game is about players getting playing time. It’s about performance, both individually and collectively. The result doesn’t matter.”
Still, the hype runs as union plays against MLS clubs, the premier league in the United States since its inception in 1996. Yallup was part of the first draft class and was placed 57th overall by Tampa Bay.
Nearly 5,000 fans are expected to be near stadium capacity for the match, as the Union was one of the USL’s top teams last year, despite the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am taking place on the same weekend will be
“My understanding is that golf spectators park in parking lots near stadiums,” Yallop said. “Come and visit us when you get home. We will entertain you.”
The Coalition is looking to utilize their entire roster against Quake.
Yallop, who is in the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame as a coach, hopes to use the game to bond with the new players he brings on the pitch.
“What we want is a competitive game,” said Yallop. “It’s a showcase. We have to work on the spots, especially those that didn’t work out last season.”
Having built a team from the ground up last year as sporting director and head coach, Yallop is in a much more comfortable position on the roster for his second season.
Instead of 22 players who have never played together, the core of last year’s team is intact, with some new faces expected to provide injections on both sides of the field.
“The guys we brought back are the guys I wanted back,” Yallop said. “They deserved to come back. We proved that we can do well in this league with the players we had. Let’s see how it ends.”
Last year, it wasn’t just the workplace that overcame the hurdles to build the foundation. His first seven games were played halfway due to renovation work at the Cardinale stadium.
“It would have been a struggle for an established team,” said Yallop. “It took us half a season to figure out our line-up. By mid-season we had put together a good unit and had some great results.”
In 14 games in the second half of last season, Union scored points in 11 of them. Yallop is using it as a starting point for this spring.
“This series of games is who we are,” said Yallop, who was the head coach of the Canadian national team from 2003 to 2006. “That’s us.” I haven’t taken anything less than that. Once we found the lineup, it was pretty good football.
What Yalop did in the offseason to strengthen Monterey Bay FC added depth to the roster, signing center back Alex Lara and forward Alex Dixon.
Lara was one of the USL’s top defenders in Las Vegas last season, while Dixon came from Pittsburgh with four goals and seven assists.
“Lara has had a great season in Las Vegas,” said Yallop. “He’s an elite defender.
Injuries were part of the growing process in the first half of the season and slowed the franchise’s progress. In his exit interviews with his players, Yallop emphasized the importance of coming to camp in better shape this season.
“It was nice to see so much around the building,” said Yallop. “We’re way ahead of last year. A lot of these guys came back and started running.”
Among the returning players is CSUMB’s product Walmer Martinez, the team’s first signing and a member of El Salvador’s international squad.
Chase Boone and Sam Greedl, who shared the team lead at eight in Union goals, both re-signed, as did goalkeeper Antony Sheaha, who recorded eight shutouts.
“Our identity is to work hard, entertain and beat our opponents,” said Yallop. “I don’t think there were many boring games at our place. We feel we can compete with anyone. I think we proved that in the second half. We want to make it to the playoffs”.