Written by: Billyle Alman
The University of Michigan Men’s Soccer team hosted UW Green Bay for a friendly today at U-M Soccer Stadium. The Maize and Blue wasted no time in this match finding the back of the net in just the 5th minute. Freshman Mohammed Zakyi buried the ball in the back of the net off an amazing cross from Robbie Mertz on the right wing.
The game settled down from there but umich enjoyed the majority of early possession as Green Bay continued to sit in deep. In the 16th minute Freshman Umar Farouk Osman beat two defenders in the midfield, then found Billy Stevens on an overlapping run in the right corner. Stevens curled in a cross that met head of Zakyi giving Michigan the 2-0 lead.
Just 16 minutes in and Zakyi’s name was on the score sheet twice. Following the second goal of the match, sides traded possession. With no major stoppages, the halftime whistle blew and the Wolverines went to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
Entering the second half, Michigan looked to its bench for some changes. Switches included Peter Brown in for Abdou Samake at centerback, Johann Bittner out wide for Tristan Jacob and Lucas Rosendall up top for Zakyi. Most notably, Andrew Verdi came in at GK for Henry Mashburn.
A less eventful second half did see some added physicality. In the 58th minute, Green Bay was caught sleeping one last time as Robbie Mertz carved his way around a defender to find the feet of Lucas Rosendall who calmly prepped his touch and curled his shot in the right corner of the goal.
Michigan, while introducing a lot of new faces, were able to hold on to the clean sheet earning a 3-0 home victory in the friendly. Billy Stevens lead all players with 78 minutes played.
Mohammed Zakyi has to play. First note that Michigan’s top two returning offensive players, Francis Atuahene and Jack Hallahan, sat out today’s contest due to injury. This club did not miss a beat at the #9 spot. Zakyi seems able to play the post up target forward spot as well as any player we’ve seen here in years. We imagine the Michigan staff will be brainstorming ideas for Zakyi and Atuahene to be featured at the same time. Our thought is Francis could slide out wide leaving the target #9 role for Zakyi.
Believe the hype with Osman. Umar Farouk Osman deserves all the rave in regards to his touches on the ball. We did not see Green Bay players force the issue with him physically, but there was no intimidating Osman when he was on the ball. The immediate relationship between Osman and Mertz in the middle of the field is seamless. Mertz and Osman traded passes and positions well and often creating a nightmare for the Green Bay midfield. We were curious to find Osman playing out wide for the most part, but it looked great in this match.
The goalkeeper position still looks to be up for the taking. Henry Mashburn and Andrew Verdi each got 45 minutes to prove themselves today. Neither disappointed. Verdi finished the day with 2 saves, Mashburn with just one. With the experience and talent, our pick would be Verdi, but it looks like the Wolverines will spend the rest of the week analyzing before deciding a starter for Friday night’s match.
Fans have to take the clean sheet as a positive. Daniel Mukuna looks to be the one locked in at the center back role. The transfer looks the part, and today backed it up. Mukuna, though there was more to show with the ball at his feet, made all of the necessary tackles in today’s match. Abdou Samake joined him as the starter in the back for today’s match, who seemed to be the most comfortable out of all of the CB options with the ball at his feet. Abdou was later replaced by Peter Brown. Brown, who has the most experience with this club, made his share of tackles as well. It was disappointing to see Brown choose to go long with his services more often than not, but he was a stable option defensively in the match.
Freshman Marc Yabarra started today as the holding #6 role. His poise allowed Ivo Cerda to venture forward aiding Michigan to look like a quality attacking side. Some touches let Ybarra down today, but he seems to be a quality option as a holding midfielder for this club.
Again, without Atuahene and Hallahan, 3 goals is brilliant. A clean sheet is even better. With this club still sorting out its CB options, today’s result points to the leadership in the backline from Borges and Stevens. With Francis and Jack back in the lineup, Michigan looks set to deliver in Friday’s opener vs William & Mary from an offensive standpoint. A step in the right direction defensively today, but so much depends on the GK choice for Coach Chaka Daley.
Overall, a great performance from the Maize and Blue. Though today’s contest was a friendly, Zakyi and Osman are names to remember. Find tickets for Friday's Men's Match vs William & Mary here.