Michigan's second match of the season finds a better result than the first for the Wolverines as they defeat the South Florida Bulls, 2-0.
Michigan started the game off better than their first match as, despite a bit of back-and-forth, they saw a good amount of possession and a handful of chances, getting close with a pair of chances, albeit, a pair of chances that were ultimately ruled offside.
It did not take too long for Michigan to strike first. In the 20th minute, sophomore striker Mohammed Zakyi, off a dead ball, found the net for the second straight game. Umar Farouk Osman was brought down on the left side of the pitch, and Zakyi curled the free kick past the keeper. Michigan was given the early lead and the opportunity to play with the lead.
The opportunities continued for the Wolverines as Robbie Mertz had a nice shot inside the box saved. Just minutes later, Austin Swiech, getting his first career start at right back, sent a long throw into the box that met Jackson Ragen's head, who just went wide.
Michigan were given a massive boost in the 42nd as, again, Osman was taken down by Gallina and, again, Gallina saw yellow, sending him off and forcing the Bulls to play with ten men the rest of the way. It's a credit to Osman, as both cards shown to Gallina were a direct result of some great skill by the Ghanaian.
The second half saw plenty of the same from Michigan as they tacked on a second goal just thirteen minutes into the half. Marc Ybarra found Jack Hallahan on the right wing with a fantastic cross field ball. Hallahan's cross was sublime and Mertz directed the into the net with a nice header. The Wolverines lead was doubled, and they would not give up the lead.
Even with the lead, Michigan continued to press on with some good chances. Swiech's cross in the 68th minute found Zakyi in the middle, but the game's first scorer could not tack on a second as his header was aimed down into the ground. Zakyi had another near chance in the 73rd, but could not bring the ball down with his right foot.
South Florida could not threaten the Michigan defense in the later stages of the match as Michigan continued to hold the ball well. Freshman Sosa Emovon made his debut and looked threatening in the second half alongside Osman. Chaka Daley also handed season debuts to midfielders Carlos Tellez and Joe Hertgen in the late portions of the second half, but Michigan dominated the ball and was happy to see out a 2-0 victory.
Michigan was in firm control of this match throughout and held it in all aspects of the match. As opposed to the first match, with Tulsa's pace troubling the defenders and putting pressure on the midfield, South Florida allowed more of the ball to be at Michigan's feet. That let the boys in maize and blue build up in possession while picking and choosing their spots of attack.
Mohammed Zakyi, for the second match, has found the net via dead ball. In addition to his fantastic delivery, he continues to make runs, show skills, and create chances that certainly have to make him a focus for opponents from here on out on the scouting report. It's a weapon that Michigan have the skills to execute perfectly with as Osman's shiftiness will certainly see many frustrated opponents stop him by fouling out of necessity.
With Daniel Mukuna out suspended as a result of his red card, heads turned to the reshuffled defense. Austin Swiech, the sophomore listed as a midfielder, was slotted into the right back role instead of senior Peter Brown, and the Jenison native played well with strong attacks down the right wing, but also covered himself in defense well. Likewise, Abdou Samake's debut was a success as his quickness moving in the back line is a nice compliment to Jackson Ragen's physical ability. The addition of Swiech and Samake proved smart from Chaka Daley as Michigan held a clean sheet in their first victory.
Another story of the match is Jack Hallahan's increase in play time as he works back from injury. Seeing just about ten minutes at the end of the first half in the season opener, Hallahan saw about 40 against the Bulls on the right wing. He looked dangerous as ever with just a bit of rust. The hope will certainly be that he's 100% within the next week or so.
Michigan's midfield was key in the match as well. Marc Ybarra, Robbie Mertz, and Ivo Cerda all saw plenty of the ball and did well to try and find ways through the Bulls defenders. Ybarra's brilliant ball to Hallahan set up the cross that led to the second goal, while Mertz deserved a goal for his strong efforts pushing forward and leading the side along with fellow captain Cerda. Both seniors are outstanding leaders who organize the side very well through midfield, especially when pushing forward. Combined with Ybarra, who, despite being a sophomore, leads from his deeper midfield position, Michigan have plenty of leadership on the pitch at all times.
With a win in their pocket, Michigan will be a bit happier following this opening pair of games. Up next for Michigan is another set of Friday/Monday games before classes resume. Michigan welcomes Cal Riverside on August 31st at 7 PM before their traditional Labor Day match on September 3rd, where the Wolverines will welcome Canisius to Ann Arbor at 1 PM.