3United’s 2017 SIFL season started with a match-up against the Shanghai Krauts on a new, well-maintained (and Much larger) pitch at Jiangwan Stadium. The 3U squad had some new faces mixed with the old for the first game, all eager to finally play a competitive game together and find a new groove for the season to mirror the quality that 3U saw at the end of the 2016 season.
The opening whistle blew and it was immediately apparent that 3U was not quite in sync yet, with the midfield heavy Krauts dominating possession for the first 25 minutes. The 3U squad has been trying a new formation to add to their arsenal but it had yet to be battled-tested before the match. Jonny Sumner, 3U keeper, kept the game alive for 3U with many key saves to keep the team in the game. 3U finally found their feet for the remaining 20 minutes of the half but did not manage to put together any dangerous chances to really test the Kraut defense or keeper. The first half ended with no goals scored and a tired 3U squad having had to adjust to much bigger pitch dimensions with just one sub to bolster their ranks.
The start of the second half started with a Krauts goal that snuck through the diving fingers of Sumner to give them the lead. 3United didn’t let this go to their head and settled solidly into their new formation, where they dominated possession and the chances for the next 20 minutes. After some more back and forth between the two sides, 3United was able to equalize the scoreline with a header from Andrey Kravchenko off of an Armando Chiu header across the goalie box. The adrenaline from the goal was soon neutralized after a dying cross bounced off the shoulder blade of a Kraut attacker, who had no idea the ball was there, and ricocheted into the corner of the 3U goal to give them the lead once again. But 3U refused to let that kill their spirit and gave everything they had for the last 15 minutes. They kept their heads up and their efforts finally paid off in the final minutes of play when a cross from Josh Chileshe was volleyed with monstrous power off the left foot of Kravchenko into the back of the net. This gave 3U their second goal to even up the scoreline and completed a brace for Kravchenko. The final whistle blew in the next two plays of the ball and put an end to the action-packed game. Final score: 3United – 2, Krauts – 2.
Man of the match honors: Andrey Kravchenko