In the last game for each team at this year's Desert Diamond Cup, Arizona United SC fell 3-0 to the Colorado Rapids in Tucson, Arizona.
Zac MacMath got the start in goal for Colorado, and one has to wonder what was going through his mind given it was the day that news broke of Tim Howard's signing with the Rapids. It didn't seem to bother the five-year MLS veteran, who from the early going was in full command of the game en route to a well-earned clean sheet.
Colorado head coach Pablo Mastroeni was extremely complimentary of MacMath after the match, but rightly made no direct allusion to the still-unofficial Howard reports. He said, "I think there's very few goalkeepers in this league that have the quality of distribution with his feet as Zac does. He's a guy that sat in a secondary position last year, but what I saw was a guy that continued to bring it every day in training. And for me, character, personality is vital for our success. Really, a real true leader out there, and he's fairly young. So, I think the future's really bright for Zac, and I'm really excited to have a player of his caliber step up and be a leader."
Standing out to me during the match were the flashes of Arizona aggression going forward, especially from midfielder Sam Garza and trialist Luke Rooney. Also getting up the pitch were defenders Peter Kelly and Damian Rosales, who each had a turn at right back. When asked about it, Arizona head coach Frank Yallop acknowledged his affinity for including the right back in attack. "That's how I used to play, so, I like that. I think both Peter and Damian did a good job tonight."
A retooled Colorado team was just too much however, and took advantage of several Arizona breakdowns that are usually referred to by home fans as "unlucky."
Yallop was positive about his team's effort though, acknowledging the level of competition offered by the opponent and finding upside throughout. Among these thoughts, he said, "I think tonight... the score didn't look good, but I thought our performance was pretty good. We hit the bar, had some real close chances to score."
Indeed, the intensity of the Arizona attack, something sorely lacking in the 2015 season, was high, and the Colorado defense at times had difficulty coping with the volume of chances being created by the USL side.
Asked about particular players in camp, Yallop was quick to mention the new additions to the club, saying, "I've been very pleased with the guys we've brought in. I think they've looked impressive, and I've been pleased with, just the overall demeanor, everybody."
Arizona United will next face NASL's Indy Eleven in a March 10th friendly in Casa Grande, AZ.