New York Countour Wins the UPSL National Title against East Valley United
On Sunday, New York Contour defeated East Valley United 2-1 in the UPSL National Final to be crowned the 2021 Spring champions.
On a bright, beautiful day at the Championship Stadium in Irvine, California, the stage was set to see who would win the UPSL 2021 Spring finals. The two finalists would represent the best in the east and the west after both teams dominated their semifinal opponents by large goal margins. Both teams have also yet to see a loss in their journey to the final match as Countour, and East Valley finished their regular seasons undefeated. Nonetheless, the game would kick off. Within the first 5 minutes, both teams played to their strategies that got their victories in their previous matches; East Valley played lob and chase with their top forward and NY Countour being patient in the build-up. In the 4th minute, NY had a chance to get an early goal with a cross from the right side with a Countour teammate alone in the box, and his finish is just left of the left post. The early troubles will continue for EV as one of their defenders, Ledesma, gets an injury after clearing a Contour shot attempt inside the box, to the coach's displeasure as he was very verbal about losing a player early in the match. He would be assisted off the field and subbed off. Afterward, EV would start having more possession and driving up the middle of the pitch. They continued their lob and pass strategy to their #10 Bryan Medina, who has the guts and dribble ability to run up the midfield to beat midfielders and defenders. However, the New York team is physically stronger, especially on the 50/50 balls, and have accurate defensive-cutting passes. They would also have more corners in the first half, which played to their advantage, having taller players. The game got choppy around the 23rd minute as multiple yellow cards were issued to both sides for sliding tackles, mainly from East Valley, who showed ruthless effort to win the ball back.
More choppiness ensued as in the 26th minute, another EV player, Hernadez, would be subbed off after a 1v1 with NY's winger Reneau. Hernadez was pulling down on Reneau's arm and took a hard fall, attempting to slow down the speedy winger in a play that could have gotten Countour's first goal. Once Hernadez fell, Reneau sent a low cross from the right side of the box that beats the keeper, but the NY player in the middle got blocked by two EV defenders. Hernadez would have to be subbed off. That strategy of sending lob balls to Reneau, who can outmuscle defenders on the right-wing and send a cross to the box, have resulted in 2-3 great chances that should have been goals. They have been dangerous keeping possession inside EV's final third of the field. This helps grow the Arizona team's frustration as they are vocal and disagreeing with each other, especially on their left side, where Reneau is doing damage. Then in the 39' Reneanu finally gets a goal to put the New York team up by one.
Then shortly after, Countour gets another goal, this time by Oscar Rivas.
The half would end with NY Countour leading 2-0 over East Valley.
The second half kicks off. A notable trend was apparent in the early minutes of the half for the Arizona team; when attacking, they send midfielders up, but when losing the possession in NY's own 3rd, they leave gaps for Countour to switch and send long balls. They also didn't press Contours build-up for an attack. This might be due to fatigue. Afterward, the game would get very choppy with fouls and aggressive tackles, mainly from East Valley. However, they would cut the Countour lead in half during the 64' by a goal from Bryan Medina.
Surprisingly, the East Valley bench and staff would get disciplined after the goal; a red card to a substitute and a yellow to a coaching staff member. Their fans were not too pleased by the referee's decision to book their team, yelling their thoughts to him in Spanish. The reason for this remains unclear but most likely due to verbal remarks to the referees during the celebration. The emotions would only get more elevated from this point on, especially for the boys in red. They fought to get a second one back while NY Countour still played their calm, collective build-up and switch plays. The fouls continue around the 73', and players from both teams were getting aggressive with each other, exchanging words and getting close to each other's faces. This situation resulted in another red card to the EV bench as now their bench is almost all vacant. These choppy fouls and intimidation were mainly coming from East Valley, and their fans would continue to mock their opponents and referees. With numerous hard fouls and yellow cards, it's surprising that they didn't explode into a fight. Countour did concede to the trash talk by fans and East Valley players, seemingly losing their calm composure, but they bit their tongue and played on. In the final 10 minutes of the game and 7 minutes of stoppage time, EV was still trying to find a goal as now all the players focused on getting the ball to their playmaker Bryan Medina who would withdraw the NY defense and find someone on the run. NY would bunker down and fortify their defense and anticipate a turnover for a counter-attack. It would pay off for the team from New York as they endured till the final whistle, where they won 2-1 to win the 2021 UPSL Spring National championship.