We kept the Three Questions in house this week and spoke to ICS associate editor and Arizona resident, Kyle Kepner, to get an idea of how Arizona United SC’s season is going ahead of this weekend’s match.
Indomitable City Soccer: Arizona United don't seem to be having the best year so far, but are currently on a three game unbeaten run. What has gone right for AZU recently that wasn't clicking earlier?
Kyle Kepner: The defense has been outstanding all season, but center backs Uchenna Uzo and Julian Ringhof continue to improve as a unit. So, giving up two goals in three games (and one of those goals was an ugly fluke play) is quite an improvement over early results.
That being said, posing a significant threat on offense keeps the opponent honest, and the return of Chris Cortez a couple weeks ago has been the single greatest factor in United’s good form. He occupies defenders in a way that allows teammates Long Tan and Tyler Blackwood to get free and show their danger as well. It's great to have Chris back.
ICS: How are the fans feeling about new Head Coach Frank Yallop now that it's (nearly) halfway through the season?
KK: Patience is the word. Most of United’s core fanbase really know their soccer, and they are generally impressed with what we've seen so far. That's why, even languishing below the playoff line so far this season, the feeling has tended toward "wait and see," rather than "#YallopOut." The signs of better things are apparent, and so far at least, folks here in Arizona are satisfied with the progress that's being made.
ICS: Who have been some top performers in attack, midfield, and defense for AZU that Republic fans should keep an eye out for?
KK: I've already hit everyone but United’s number ten, Luke Rooney, and you definitely want to watch this player. He's been given free reign across the field, and that's where you'll find him: everywhere. He's just as likely to play the final ball in the opponent’s box as strip an attacker in his own. He is yet another weapon Arizona hasn't utilized until this year, and he's working out well.