Match Preview: MOBA, SC United Bantams Battle in I-20 Derby
Nothing is more exciting in football than a rivalry. Manchester Derby. Any London Derby. Nordderby. El Clásico. California Clássico. Every rivalry holds extra importance for the teams that participate no matter where they are from, the PDL included. All around the league, rivalries draw spectators in droves, as two amateur sides battle it out for supremacy. Fresno Fuego-Burlingame Dragons. Charlotte Eagles-Carolina Dynamo. FC Boston-West Mass Pioneers. Rivalries are all over the place, and Tuesday, June 13th, one of these rivalries kicks off its third edition, as SC United Bantams head down Interstate 20 to take on Peachtree City MOBA in the I-20 Derby.
2017 has not been kind to Peachtree City, as pre-season expectations were crushed by the pain of defeat. After three pre-season matchups, MOBA dominated their opponents by a score of 14-3. Heading into the PDL season, it was a different story, as MOBA are yet to win a match, recording just one draw and four losses through five games. Goal scoring has been the main issue, with Peachtree City scoring just three goals all season long, and never more than one in a game. Things looked like they might turn around in a hurry following MOBA's 3-1 victory over NPSL side Atlanta Silverbacks FC in a mid-season friendly, however MOBA followed up that performance with a 2-1 loss at home against Nashville SC and a road loss at Tri-Cities 1-0. Following a ten-day break, head coach Volker Harms and his staff will look to fill in the gaps with lineup changes and tactical shifts with a hope of finding the back of the net, and SC United may be just the team to do that against.
SC United Bantams have seen minimal slip in form following last season's success, as the Columbia-based side sits at 2-2-2 through six games, one win behind last year's pace. The Bantams started off strong, opening with two wins in three matches against Tri-Cities and Tormenta FC, scoring four on the road against South Georgia. Despite that, SC United have struggled as of late, as they are winless in their last three, with a 1-0 loss at home against the Charlotte Eagles, followed by two draws. The Bantams were the first team this season to get a result against Nashville SC, however, as they drew at home against the U23's 1-1 following Shakeem Adams' late equalizer that stole a point for Nashville. While the Bantams have looked decent offensively, scoring seven goals through six games, their late-game defense has been a key issue, as they have allowed seven goals in the second half. In fact, overall opponents have outshot SC United 61-47 through six matches, as well as winning nine more corners. Currently sitting in sixth on the division table, three points for the Bantams would boost them back into the playoff race, as they would sit in fourth, trailing North Carolina FC by just one goal.
Keys to Victory
- Shoot: The main reason Peachtree City struggle to get a result is a lack of quality shooting. Through five matches, MOBA have been outshot by seven and are yet to score a first half goal. A quick start will be key to bagging three points at home, and the only way to do that is to shoot the football. The goals will come, but the effort has to be there.
- Defend the Final Third: Peachtree City has been dominated by opposing teams in the final third, as a number of crosses and through balls just force their way through the back four. Keep your shape, run with your man, and make smart tackles. Will Meyer can only do so much by himself, so the backline will need to step up and play their role.
Last year's matchups between these two sides were nail biters, as the final margin for both games was just one goal. This year, things will need to be different if Peachtree City hope to establish themselves in the series and the division. The playoffs looking more and more like a longshot, MOBA will need every point they can get, and three points would do wonders for this team's confidence. Following a tough road loss in Johnson City, look for MOBA to come out fighting and hopefully tuck away a few early goals. Tickets for Tuesday's matchup are still on sale at MOBASoccer.com/tickets. Come out and support your hometown Peachtree City MOBA as they battle SC United Bantams in the third edition of the I-20 Derby!