Slumping Royals will face the league’s best
By Davie Wong, Sports Editor
After a tough opening week, the Royals men’s soccer team will be looking to steal a win against the PACWEST’s best men’s team so far, the Capilano Blues. Safe to say, this will be a tough one.
The Blues lost a couple of key pieces of their team during the offseason, with the departure of talented young striker Kristian Yli-Hietanen being the biggest loss. However, they kept some of the larger parts of the team together for another dominant season in the PACWEST. Hudson Nelles returns as one the PACWEST’s best goalkeepers. Even without his partner, Keith Jackson is set for another dominant season.
Looking at their results last week, the Blues dusted the Langara Falcons. Keith Jackson scored a hat-trick, and Hudson Nelles had three saves to clinch the game, 4-1. The only weakness that seemed apparent was their aggressiveness, which earned them three yellows and 15 fouls, but as last weekend showed, the Royals have plenty of aggression issues of their own.
The Blues are a team known for their strong set pieces, and the Royals will have their work cut out for them as they were slaughtered off set pieces last week.
Something the Royals do have going for them is the Blue’s schedule. Slated to play the VIU Mariners after the Royals, it’s highly unlikely the Blues will prep to play the Royals, whereas the Royals only have the Blues to play. Training leading up to the match will be focused solely on exploiting the Blues, as well as shoring up some of the Royals’ issues… of which there are a lot.
I already mentioned set pieces, but that leads to the greater picture of defensive organization. The Royals’ backline was a sloppy mess last week. While it got better against VIU, it still wasn’t good enough. Offensively, it has been a messy situation, with goals coming out of chaos rather than organized play. Crosses have gone to no one, and opportunities have fallen flat due to the lack of support. While it’s understandable that coordination takes time, the team has a long way to go in order to compete.
My prediction would be that the team loses this game, 2 or 3-0. If they get a draw, that would be an amazing result for this young team. The team should be using this game as a competitive learning experience. It’s still early in the season, and while going 0-2-1 to start the year is concerning, teams have bounced back from much worse.