In its home debut, Pittsburgh City United FC broke through with a pair of goals late to surge past Germantown City FC, 2-0, in a UPSL Beltway North Division match on Sunday evening at Highmark Stadium.
City United’s Santiago Giraldo had a goal and an assist, setting up Christian Kapanda, who scored the game’s first goal to break a scoreless affair in the 81st minute.
“It was a hectic game. The intensity was going up. Everyone was fighting for that one goal difference. Scoring it, lifted up my spirits and the team’s spirits,” Kapanda said.
Kapanda also took it upon himself to lift himself up — literally — to do a few flips after scoring his goal.
“I’ve been doing them since I was eight years old,” Kapanda boasted.
Giraldo provided a non-stop, dynamic presence at the top of the attack and he scored the insurance goal in stoppage time, while goalkeeper Judler Delva made four saves and came off his line numerous times to deny Germantown in his first clean sheet.
“We’re still gelling,” Michael Monsour, CIty United Owner who’s also served as the team’s interim coach, said. “Once we made some adjustments, we started to create more chances. There was a lot of shifting, but we were trying to find the right balance.”
With the win, City United have improved its record to 2-0, earning the top spot in UPSL’s Beltway North Division early in their first-ever campaign.
HOW IT HAPPENED
In the first half, despite its high attacking line generating pressure and forcing some giveaways and solid play from its central midfield, City United couldn’t unlock the Germantown back line when getting forward into transition.
The home side had two early shots on frame, as Ramessess McGinness-Moore intercepted a bad pass from Germantown’s keeper Juan Cortez, but immediately sent his shot right back in the path of Cortez, who easily handled the save.
In the ninth minute, Giraldo won a ball in the attacking third, then made a few nifty moves to get to the top of the box, where he sent a bending shot right at Cortez.
Germantown had a few shots on frame, a couple of crosses and a corner kick, but each time, Delva, a former Haitian U-18 National Team keeper calmly handled each attempt and showed remarkable poise for a young keeper.
PCU were getting forward quite a bit thanks mostly to stellar play by its center, holding midfielders, including Jeff Blaschka and Ikechukwu Agbaeze in the first half, but were off side on six occasions.
At the start of the second half, PCU looked sharper on the ball and in getting forward. They created an excellent chance when Christian Kapanda drilled a shot from top of box which needed a quick reaction save from Cortez.
“We needed that talk we had at halftime,” Kapanda acknowledged, also adding that the coaches moved some players around, putting him more central, while moving over Santiago to the left and Marquis Flowers went over to the right.
“We were working harder. It lifted our spirit as a group.”
In the 58th minute, Germantown City‘s Martin Marchiado was booked for a yellow card after fouling City United’s Nydaisenga Emmanuel from behind in a moment that exemplified how the home side were continuing to give their opponents fits.
Despite continued advances into the final third, City United continued to fail to connect on one final pass or were taking difficult shots.
For the next 10 to 15 minutes, Germantown appeared to turn the match in its favor.
Germantown generated a great chance when Bryan Aguliar slipped behind City United back line on far post side, driving a shot from 10 yards on frame but PCU keeper Judler Delva made a great reaction save to keep the match scoreless in the 69th minute.
In the 79th minute, City United continued to mount more pressure, when Agbaeze won a ball in defensive third, then played a ball to Blaschka at midfield. As Baschka broke toward the attacking third, he found Kapanda on the right side making a run to get behind the last defender.
Finally, City United would find its breakthrough moment when they played through Giraldo, who provided a high-level work rate throughout the match and came back to the ball, then made a few moves to evade Germantown defenders, then slid a through ball for Kapanda.
This time the run was timed perfectly and Kapanda beat Cortez, who came off his line, to get to the ball, then deliver the ball into the back of the net.
Despite a few attempts forward and more physical play on both sides, Dudler handled a few dangerous balls in from Germantown, and City United denied any additional threats.
As things opened up late into five minutes of stoppage time, Santiago beat his man after receiving a ball, then used a clever back heel to chip the ball over Cortez and into the open net for the insurance goal that sealed City United’s first home win.
“The last two goals encompassed a lot of of the game, for us,” Monsour said. “We pushed (Kapanda) into central role, and Santiago creates so many match-up problems that you can pretty much move him anywhere. He’s consistent. The guy never stops. It’s an honor to see such a young person at that level and play in such an incredible way.”
While Monsour also admitted that his club still has a lot to still work on — both on the field and off as an organization, It was a satisfying win for a group of players from all over the globe, who’ve come together to be part of a team in Pittsburgh that plays for cause-related initiatives such as Alzheimer’s and creating greater awareness for head safety in soccer.
“It’s been really great,” Kapanda said. “In a short period of time our manager (Michael Monsour) has us doing activities that keep our bond growing. We’ve gotten used to each other in a short period of time. We’re like a family. We’re looking out for each other.”
POSTGAME REACTION WITH CHRISTIAN KAPANDA AND PCUFC OWNER/INTERIM COACH MICHAEL MONSOUR
ED THOMPSON PHOTO GALLERY
— UPSL Northeast Conference (@UPSL_Northeast) August 30, 2021
Looks like mother nature is cooperating, and this match will kick off on time@ThompsonFoto12 and I are here w/coverage for @pghsoccernow@UPSLsoccer @GermantownCity @pittcityunited pic.twitter.com/gT4SrrJR4h
— John Krysinsky (@JohnKrysinsky) August 29, 2021