2019/2020 has begun!!
After a few days of hard training in the Minnesota heat and humidity — Aston Villa finally laced up against another team to get the preseason properly started.
Dean Smith has named the first half lineup as: Steer, Bree, Hause, Konsa, Targett, Hourihane, Grealish, O’Hare, Jota, El Ghazi, Wesley.
Aston Villa had control of the match early while they stretched their legs. The wide players of Jota and El Ghazi were comfortable with the ball while Jack Grealish ran the show in the midfield with Hourihane.
But the first real chances came after 15 minutes into the match. MNUFC had a shot go just wide after Bree was caught out down the right. Wesley should have scored with header in the 24th minute from a cross from El Ghazi. Then Jed Steer was forced into action after a ball over the top got over to starting defense pair.
There were plenty of moments that reminded everyone it is preseason. Hourihane playing an easy pass while Wesley makes the long run. Bree not quite finding the ball at his feet. Steer giving up an easy rebound.
Jack Grealish opened the scoring. It sounded nice... the MNUFC (which was open despite some information from the club saying otherwise) was showing a replay of the previously mentioned Steer rebound. Apparently it was well hit from the outside of the box.
Minutes later Jack could have doubled his tally after the Minnesota goalie spilled a Jota shot — that he was blind on so spilled may be a bit harsh. Jack was at the far post but the shot had too much on it and went well over the net.
Thoughts on the first half team: Jota was involved quite a bit especially early — and seemed very happy to move inside. Both Konsa and Hause are comfortable on the ball anywhere on the pitch. Bree and O’Hare will be disappointed and will have to do more to stay in the team. Fitness looked good from the whole lot and no serious injuries. Both Bree and Jack went down at different times but both appeared to hop back up.
A video of Jack’s goal. Love to see the captain get on the scoresheet.
MNUFC Owned it on twitter during the break and gave us the goal. Glad they were rolling on isos.
Second half line change: Kalinic, Taylor, Chester, Mings, Guilbert, McGinn, Lansbury, Bjarnason, Davis, Green, Hogan.
So happy to see Chester back in the kit.
And Chester was called into action making a last ditch clearance just two minutes into the half. The corner was caught and rolled out to Guilbert who ran it all the way down the pitch. The cross was too far in front of Davis (playing on the wing). But love this distribution from the keeper and the run from the new man Guilbert.
Minnesota were much more defensive after the break. For long periods they had 10 people behind the ball and Villa were patient looking for weaknesses.
Davis was taken down in the box and there was no call. It is a friendly... and blah blah blah... but it was a penalty. Davis cut back to the right and had both his legs taken down. It was a nice play and a good pass from McGinn (after he intercepted a pass that was heading for Davis). Welcome to the MLS, I’m a season ticket holder in DC... no surprise at a missed call.
Andre Green and Keinan Davis switched sides while Hogan remained up top. Hogan had a couple of runs but seemed to looked to pass first... and didn’t always do it well.
McGinn took a beautiful free kick (after earning it himself). The ball was almost too perfect for James Chester who couldn’t keep the header on target. Minutes later Hogan turned and fired right at the keeper just short of 80’.
Aston Villa finally managed to double the lead when Guilbert sent a great low cross in and Henri Lansbury made no mistake finishing it first time. Then it was the left side’s turn — Andre Green floated a ball into the middle of the box and Bjarnason sent a diving header into the back of the net. Both goals were quite simply... sexy.
Second half thoughts: The first half team played better — but some of that was also Minnesota being more aggressive. Lansbury has great feet. I know he has never really lived up to it for Villa but his feet are so good. There is a really good player in Davis, even on the wing he impressed. Green (with the exception of the assist — that was good) and Hogan need to do better. Kalinic looked completely comfortable with his control of the box and his defense.
And — as always with preseaon — so happy to see no injuries!!