Van Straatum: "We battle until the end"
SAN FRANCISCO (Sept. 4, 2007) -- The California Victory wraps up its inaugural season this week with a road game at Seattle Sounders on Thursday, followed by a home tie against fellow-expansion side Carolina RailHawks Saturday.
"This week will encapsulate a season of learning on and off the field for the team and the organization," Victory head coach Glenn Van Straatum said. "On the field, we've put together a team that is competitive and has been in most of the games we've played."
Van Straatum pointed out that six of the Vic's losses this year have been tight, 1-0, decisions. He also noted they have played well on the road, recording wins against such heavily favored opposition as the Montreal Impact, as well as ties at Vancouver, Rochester, Atlanta, Puerto Rico and Miami.
The Victory also made the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, dumping BYU Cougars and fellow USL First Division side Minnesota Thunder.
"The good news is that the key areas of improvement on the field are controllable," Van Straatum added. "Areas where we can improve are winning more of our home games, but also our control of yellow and red cards, which came to hurt us in games that were close."
The Victory finishes 2007 without a shot at post-season play, but has an opportunity to play spoiler this week: the Sounders are chasing rivals the Portland Timbers for the First Division top spot, trailing them by two points, while the RailHawks are just a win away from the final playoff berth with two games remaining on their schedule.
Seattle owns a 2-0 record over the Vics, most recently edging them 1-0 at Kezar Stadium last month thanks to a contentious penalty call. Last week, second-from-bottom Minnesota Thunder snapped Seattle's 11-game win streak, beating the Sounders 2-1.
The RailHawks have enjoyed a relatively successful inaugural season, having always been in the running for a playoff spot. The one meeting between the two expansion sides this season ended in a 2-0 result for Carolina in a game featured on Fox Soccer Channel.
"This weekend we will battle against the Carolina Railhawks until the very end to get all points we can gather," Van Straatum said. "The biggest asset that our team has shown time and again is that we cannot be counted out until the final whistle. We battle until the end."
Van Straatum also paid homage to the superb support at Kezar Stadium throughout the season.
"We have a small group of great fans in the 1906 Supporters, who are the heart and soul of our growth opportunity," he said. "If we grow this group to a larger size, we'll soon look like the bigger clubs like Portland, Seattle, Rochester, Vancouver and Montreal. The potential is definitely there."
In closing, Van Straatum said, "Off the field we've learned many other lessons of what not to do, but I look forward to closing out our first season with a great group of players who I am very proud of for their efforts on and off the field. I hope our fans will come and celebrate with us."
SUMMARY California Victory at Seattle Sounders, Thursday Sept. 6. The match kicks off is at 7 p.m. and can be seen live at www.usllive.com.
California Victory v Carolina RailHawks, Saturday Sept. 8 at Kezar Stadium, San Francisco. Kick off is at 7 p.m. Tickets are available www.californiavictorysoccer.com or at the gate prior to kickoff.
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USL First Division Stories from September 4, 2007
- Silverbacks Finish Regular Season with Important Road Trip to Canada - Atlanta Silverbacks
- Van Straatum: "We battle until the end" - California Victory
- Impact Faces Atlanta Silverbacks Wednesday - Montreal Impact
- Portland's Knowles, Wicks Earn First Division Team Of The Week Honors - Portland Timbers
- Weekly USL-1 Honors announced - USL-1
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