Nobody likes a wake up call. They're an incredibly jarring experience that force someone to face the reality of having to get up at an unreasonable hour. But a literal wake up call, like the kind you get from a hotel, is much, much better than the figurative wake up call.
Those can force teams to face the reality of how they're truly playing: not great.
"I think (our play) caught up to us and I think it was an eye opener," said forward Dennis Chin of the club's 3-0 loss to Orange County. "And it's better to do it now, than later."
According to Chin, even though the team practiced and warmed up well going into the match, and confidence was high from a three-match winning streak, everyone came out flat and that allowed Orange County to force Arizona back on its heals. Despite the club playing its fourth consecutive road match, Chin wouldn't use that as an excuse for the poor performance. The team, he said, just didn't have enough energy.
The lack of energy allowed Orange County to snap Arizona's winning streak, but the Blues weren't the only team to be on the offensive first. Even in the club's wins, United has struggled to be the aggressor early, usually taking some time before taking control of a match.
"We might've snuck out a few of those first games," said goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski."We had one really good half against Galaxy II, which we were optomistic about. And that's how we want to play every half of every game."
He added: "We need to start quicker and that's one thing we've focused on this week and coach (Dellorusso) has talked about with us. Trying to start off from the front foot instead of getting attacked at the start of games. So I think we'll look to do that more often this weekend."
Home Sweet Home
Finally...FINALLY...Arizona United gets to play in front of a home crowd in 2015. The 3-0 loss to Orange County may have refocused the group, but the pomp and circumstance surrounding the game (the club announced it expanded seating to meet ticket demand) has given the players plenty of reason to look forward and forget about the past.
"The juice will be flowing," said head coach Michael Dellorusso. "The adrenaline will be there, but also the comfort level. It's great to be able to be somewhere that you're used to. There's no big question marks or things that will come up that are unexpcted. ... I think the fan support that we've seen already is great and I think these guys are looking forward to making them happy."
It remains to be seen how the club will play at home versus on the road. At its best moments, Arizona was more attack minded away from home than is generally expected. With an expected crowd of 5,000+ watching, screaming and supporting them, the team will have plenty reasons to put on a show.
"Obviously you want to play and impress the first showing of the team in front of the fans," Chin said. "If that doesn't give you extra motivation, I don't know what will."
Field of dreams
Arizona United's new home, Scottsdale Stadium, is also the spring training home for the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. As a result, the grounds crew has had to convert a baseball field into a soccer pitch.
To do that, the grounds crew rolled sod over the entire infield, plus the baselines and home plate area. They also dug out the pitcher's mound so that it would be flat and sodded over that as well. Just about the entire sodded-over infield will be in the field of play, which means the club doesn't have to make the field narrower to accommodate the space (the field will run along the third-base line).
"I'm very happy with it," Dellorusso said. "Obviously there is some different surfaces out there because they've had to cover up the infield. But I think they've done a tremendous job. ... I've been nothing but plesantly surprised and very, very pleased with everything."
Time for a ... water break?
If you pay close enough attention prior to USL matches, especially any played in Arizona, you may notice the fourth official holding one of these:
No, it's not some sort of tracking device from the new Star Wars films (if only). It's a device that measures the RealFeel temperature outside (think wind chill, but for heat). This season USL is implementing a water break policy. If the RealFeel temperature reaches 89.6 degrees or higher, then teams will take a water break at around the 35th and 75th minute of the match (whenever the most convenient stoppage of play occurs).
The new policy, which was created in coordination with MLS, is all about player safety and ensuring the players are properly hydrated when the conditions are particularly brutal. Like, say Phoenix in the summer.
According to David Wagner, the Vice President of Competition & Operations for USL, the fourth official will note the RealFeel temperature (using the device pictured above) and decide prior to the match if there will be water breaks needed. If the temperature drops by at least 10 degrees during the game the referee can modify or cancel the breaks.
There is also a standard for when and where the measurement takes place. The measurement will always be taken at the center of the field right after the pre-game warm-ups.
According to Accuweather, the forecasted RealFeel temperature for Saturday is just 82 degrees.