Looking to get above .500 after recent road woes, women’s soccer team Eugene Metro Fútbol Club Azul ran into an opponent that instead made more than just the sweltering Eugene heat difficult to bear. Seattle-based Emerald City Football Club looked to be a step above from the beginning, as they scored twice in the first 17 minutes to force the home team to play catch-up. Azul managed to hold its own, scoring once before halftime on a corner-kick, but ultimately couldn’t get the elusive tying goal and spelled defeat, 2-1.
Emerald City is made up primarily of college players; Azul has incoming college freshmen and high school players, and thus is far less experienced. Head coach Jürgen Ruckaberle acknowledged this discrepancy and the accompanying difference in levels of play, but despite being encouraged by Azul’s ability to fight back he thought his team could have executed better. “Tactically, we made a couple of mistakes in the first half that cost us the two goals,” he says. “The two goals, really, they were soft goals. We gave the ball away twice and defensively we were not well organized.”
Emerald City allowed Caitlyn Castillo to score the aforementioned goal in the 40th minute but didn’t let Azul get many chances for another. Their defensive spacing was superb, disrupting passing lanes with closing speed and positioning to create few opportunities for Azul to get out in open space.
Finishing up the season at home at South Eugene High School, Azul faces the Westside Timbers on 4 pm Saturday, July 6, then 4 pm Sunday, July 7, against the THUSC Diamonds. Although Azul fell to 3-4 on the year, Ruckaberle focused on what this experience can mean to his players. “I think we can learn from that,” he says, “and maybe be a bit better next week.”