3 Thoughts After BYU’s USOC Loss to Harpo’s FC

May 13th, 2015 | by Nephi Henry
BYU South Field, U.S. Open Cup (Nephi Henry)

(Photo: Nephi Henry)

First off, let’s get this out of the way: if you’re from BYU, it’s weird that your opponent is named after a bar. And if you’re from Harpo’s FC, it’s weird that your opponent is named after a polygamist.

Now that we’ve taken care of that, let’s get down to business. The Premier Development League’s BYU Cougars lost its first U.S. Open Cup game since 2007 to USASA side Harpo’s FC in the first round of the 2015 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

After 120 minutes of scoreless play, the game went to penalty kicks, with host BYU falling 4-2. Rough stuff for the team’s home opener, in which they outshot Harpo’s 21-12 during regulation.

Here are three quick thoughts on the game. Keep in mind that the team is at the very beginning of its 2015 PDL season.

BYU’s defense is speedy, but prone to errors.

I noticed the crowd holding its collective breath several times as the back line held the ball too long before clearing, took questionable touches, and made risky passes. Those decisions will clear themselves up over the season with good coaching. But there were some really scary moments tonight. That liability was mitigated, however, by the fact that these boys know how to get back and into position fast, especially against a counter-attack. I remember three or four runs by Cougar defenders that had me slack jawed. Give these guys time to jell, and they’ll be formidable.

BYU played better possession than I’ve seen RSL play for most of this year.

Were there some stinker-passes? Sure. Some silly-looking long balls? That too. But for several stretches, I saw the Cougars looking very much like they knew how to control the pace and feel of the game. Crisp passes and off-ball movement often meant really fine build-ups to excellent chances. If BYU is able to re-create that all season, the Cougars will be scoring plenty.

Communication hasn’t solidified yet for the Cougars.

For all the raving I’ve done about their passing, too many chances were squandered unnecessarily during what could have been excellent build-up. Either a player would pass where a man should be (but wasn’t) or a player would have perfectly open position, only to be ignored or not seen by his teammate. The latter was especially true in potential opportunities for a big switch. Again, the attack still looked very potent — despite this lack of communication. When this piece comes into place you’ll see an even more dangerous offense.

By and large, I think the Cougars have a lot to look forward to in 2015 with loads of talent that already looks comfortable together. But there is obvious room for improvement. With that improvement, maybe the school named after Brigham Young can make a PDL run this year and qualify for the 2016 edition of the Open Cup — what would be the fourth time in program history.


Were you at the game? Comment below and tell me what you saw.

Nephi Henry

Nephi Henry

Nephi is an Indiana native living in Provo, Utah. Among his earliest memories of soccer are the 1994 World Cup and the hair of Carlos Valderrama. A French studies major and folklorist at heart, Nephi tends to focus on the broad-strokes cultural trends found in the soccer world.

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