DeKALB – DeKalb County United coach Mike Gecan said he didn’t have any expectations heading into the team’s first preseason match in its inaugural season – only hopes.
In a 6-0 win over USA Indiana Old Bhoys in front of an announced 233 fans at the DeKalb Rec Center, most of those hopes were met.
“A lot of hoping [that] people would come out and support us this first preseason game,” Gecan said. “We originally weren’t going to open this up, but there were some people asking out there if we could, and we decided we would. That was the big thing – hoping the fans would come and hoping we would perform. This our first game. Our measuring stick. We don’t know how we’re going to perform.”
Gecan said he wasn’t sure what would happen on the field with the quality of play and off the field with the attendance level, and he said he ended up pleased on both fronts.
“I was really impressed with the fans in particular,” Gecan said. “The showing was enormous. That was exciting. And then there was our performance. To win our first preseason game with only two practices, especially by the margin we did, I’m very pleased and happy with the way the boys both defended and attacked; especially in the beginning, we attacked well. And we defended well the whole game and got the shutout.”
Carlos Gallardo had the honor of scoring the first goal in the team’s history against Old Bhoys, a fellow UPSL Midwest Conference team out of the East Region. The United will play in the Central Region this year when the regular season starts at the Northern Illinois soccer stadium against CKS Warta at 6 p.m. May 12.
Alberto Martinez scored twice in the first quarter – the game was split into four 30-minute sessions for training purposes – and Genoa-Kingston grad Anthony Parra scored one in the first as part of a two-goal performance.
“I thought the turnout was awesome from the fans,” said Parra, a 2009 graduate of G-K. “We love the support. A lot of people put a lot of work in, and it turned out awesome. We just put in our part on the field, work as hard as we can, to thank the fans.”
Gecan said he was impressed with the play of defender Ryan Salazar, a 2009 Hinckley-Big Rock grad.
“We came in not really knowing what to expect, but held a clean sheet,” Salazar said. “We were nervous to begin with, but once we opened up some, we started scoring some goals and looking really good.”
Salazar played two years for Aurora Borealis SC, also a USPL Midwest Conference Central Region team. He said he was impressed with the turnout for a preseason game.
“I’ve been playing in this league for two years with different clubs, and I never had that many fans at a game,” Salazar said. “For our first game, let alone a preseason game, that kind of support is awesome.”
By the numbers: Leo Lenth also had a goal for DKCU, scoring in the second quarter. Neither team scored in the third, and Parra scored the final goal of the game in the fourth.
Beyond the stats: In addition to Salazar’s defense and Martinez, who scored twice, Gecan said he was pleased with DeKalb grad Angel Martinez’s performance at the center midback spot.
They said it: “It was exciting, thrilling, fun,” Gecan said. “Not enough words to feel how it felt. It was above and beyond what I expected.”
Up next: DKCU plays its first road game against the Croatian Eagles at St. Augustine Preparatory Academy in Milwaukee at 5 p.m. April 21. The Eagles are in the USPL Midwest Conference North Region.