Oh, the joys of watching lower-league American soccer. I am lucky that I have been able to attend all the home games and a handful of the away games. I didn’t have to try to stream the Doctor Strange Multiverse camera that was the Loudon US Open Cup match. I attended the Chattanooga home game where the feed kept going down, and one of Markus Naglestad’s goals was missed and will never exist in video footage. I have not had to watch a Salt Cit Union match with the camera focusing in and out on the baseball net. The worst I’ve had to contend with was an LA Force match where the video feed dropped off at the 45-minute mark and we could only listen to a stoppage-time goal that had no video. And now we have the Gold Star FC Detroit match…
If you’ve ever attended a soccer game, preferably at a high school or middle school, you can imagine what watching this game was like. The camera is essentially in small stands, barely off the ground, zoomed out, impossible to see 75% of the field. There was no commentating, so we got to listen to fans say things like “Hi Amanda! Hi Shelly!” or “Drink some milk #10”. The setting sun was beautiful, but it was like watching with a glare in your eyes, and also lens flares from the camera. We could see another camera down on the pitch level, but we don’t know how that feed looked, as ours never moved from its zoomed-out, slightly off-center position.
It’s disappointing that the game was pretty unwatchable for specifics, as the first half had a large number of goals. The first came in the 6th minute, when something happened on the far side in Salt City’s end, and Detroit ended up with the ball and put it past Salt City’s keeper. Looking on FotMob it appears it’s Salt City’s starting keeper Michael Mejia (or Mija as the app says) but I could not verify that from my viewing. At least it didn’t take long for the equalizer. According to FotMob again, TBD scored the equalizer in the 12th minute. I didn’t even know the goal ended up in the net, I was wondering why play had stopped and people were heading back to midfield. NISA’s Twitter says it was Stephen Elias who apparently redirected a free kick.
It didn’t take long for Detroit to bring their lead back though. As the sun went down, shadows were growing long and the camera was getting dim, Mejia dove to his left and the crowd of 25 people cheered, so I guess they got their goal lead back in the 14th minute. The rest of the half was mostly uneventful. There was a play where the ref called Mejia for a handball outside the box, but after some discussion with the assistant referee, he was determined to have been in the 18-yard box. Thankfully everyone involved was animated enough that I could determine to the best of my ability that this is what happened. Salt City had a few shots on goal, but there was nothing too troubling for either team for the rest of the half.
The second half added a new dimension to the interesting camera work. Every time the camera panned all the way to the right or left, or up a little bit, the video kept getting more and more yellow and got super bright at the ends. It didn’t make the game more watchable, but it made it more unique. Also unique was the new score/timer graphic they added for the second half, which didn’t actually count the time or track the score, so it always said the score was 2-1 with a time of 2nd 45:00. And the video only got worse as the night wore on, as that bright yellow with horrible contrast became normal.
It was a mostly uneventful second half, and it was pretty unwatchable until the 77th minute. The camera angle actually worked out perfectly for the first time of the night. Stephen Elias took it down the right wing, and passed it across the mouth of the goal. Alioune Diakhate was right where he needed to be, and easily put the ball in the back of the net. It was another lucky camera angle in the 81st minute, as Matt Bolduc took the ball perfectly in a line away from the camera. He had the keeper one on one and shot it right to the top right corner.
This article is basically useless as any sort of description or historical reference as a report on the game. But the fact remains: Salt City Union had their first-ever league comeback win. They have never come back from a deficit to even draw, and have now done that to win. This comes after recently having their first-ever comeback in the NISA Independent Cup and by far their best league form ever. The Union is finally starting to put the points on the board, and Wednesday’s game is incredibly important, as another win and they will be in a playoff position for the first time ever.