A lot has changed since the California Gold beat the Nevada Wonders 4-0 on April 25 in Modesto, Calif. Nevada now has a completely different lineup than the one that struggled in that game. Meanwhile, California, which had struggled in its two games prior to playing the Wonders, have soared to the top of the Pro Select League standings.
Whether or not it will affect the outcome of the tonight's game at 7:30 p.m. at the Carson High soccer field remains to be seen. However, Nevada General Manager Randy Roser was impressed with the Gold then, and it expects to be again tonight.
"They didn't have any standout players but they had 11 solid players on the field," Roser said of California, which is 7-3-2 in the season and leads the Carolina Dynamo by one point in the 13-team PSL. "The Tahoe guys were with us the last time we played them and they're all gone now, so I think it'll be a good game. We just need to finish. That's it. If we can put away some of our chances, we'll be fine."
It will be the second consecutive game the Wonders have played against a team from the PSL, the third division of professional soccer in the United States. They also must play the Utah Blitzz next Friday night in Carson City before ending their season with a home-and-home series against the Gold in July.
Last Saturday Nevada lost 1-0 to the PSL's San Diego Gauchos of the PSL. It was a game Roser felt his team should've won. It also was a game his team had a chance in since the opposition came into the game overconfident because it wasn't playing another pro team.
"I think the Gauchos were thinking like that, but once we came out and controlled the game, they were humbled a little bit," Roser said.
The Gold, though, are a much different team than the Gauchos. Anthony Bussard leads California and the PSL in points with 27 on 12 goals and three assists. Teammate Jerrus Roxas is sixth in the PSL in points with 16 on eight assists and four goals. Roxas' eight assists are the second most in the PSL. The Gold bring a three-game winning streak into tonight's game.
The Wonders (1-9-1) are still searching for their first goal since a 3-0 win over the BYU Cougars on May 30, a scoring drought of three games. When Nevada plays California again in about a month, though, it again will have a completely different lineup.
Sebastian Rowe, Matt Morris and Bernard Morley, all from England, will return to England July 2 because their 90-day visas will have expired. Morley has been a mainstay in the midfield for the Wonders while Rowe has been one of the Southwest Division's top goalkeepers this season. He earned PDL Team of the Week honors following a superb performance in a 1-1 tie against the Southern California Seahorses.
Kenneth Otalor and John Blackley will be the two lone players from England who will be on the team for the remainder of the season because they arrived in the U.S. after the other three. Hassan Shabazz, a former Reed star, will take over goal keeping duties when Rowe leaves.
Notes...Wonders' defender Sean Nealis, who had thought he wouldn't be able to play much because he accepted a new job, will be available tonight. Randy Roser, though, isn't sure if he'll play...The BYU Cougars play a pair of road games this weekend against opponents from the Northwest Division of the PDL. They played the Yakima Reds on Friday night and take on the Cascade Surge tonight. Yakima is in third place in the Northwest Division and the Cascade is in second...San Diego Gauchos' midfielder Robie Monroe earned Pro Select League Team of the Week honors for Week 9. Monroe scored the game winner in San Diego's 1-0 win over Nevada last Saturday...Orange County beat the Southern California Seahorses on Wednesday. If the Seahorses don't beat the first-place Fresno Fuego tonight, only Orange County will have an outside shot at catching Fresno in the Southwest Division standings...Fresno hosts the Utah Blitzz of the Pro Select League on Wednesday at Fresno Pacific University at 5:30 p.m. in the second round of the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The winner of that game will play the El Paso Patriots of the A-League on July 16. El Paso is currently in second place in the Central Division with a 5-5-2 record. The winner of that third-round game would then play an MLS team in the next round.
PDL Western Conference
Southwest Division Standings
Team W L T GF GA PTS
Fresno 11 2 0 37 13 33
O. Cty. 7 3 0 22 17 21
So. Cal. 5 5 2 20 18 17
Nevada 1 9 1 5 31 4
BYU 1 8 0 11 29 3
Orange County 2, Southern California 1
Yakima Reds* vs. BYU, 7:05 p.m.
Cascade Surge* vs. BYU, 7:05 p.m.
Nevada vs. California, 7:30 p.m.
Southern California vs. Fresno, 7:30 p.m.
*Yakima and Cascade are from the Northwest Division