Pacheco! In Toronto!
Before going through all the important plays and moments, I want to introduce a new playoff format called the "U-21 Premier League" that is replacing the old reserve system. From now until January are "group matches" and then after that is a knockout round playoff which culminates to a final match for the championship. Matches will take place from Friday to Monday and a U-18 system will still be in place. To read more about the new format more click here.
In their first match of the new season and new format, the Liverpool U-21 team drew rather disappointingly against Wolverhampton 1-1 after dominating most of the match. The starting eleven for Liverpool was strong with Dani Pacheco leading a 4-2-3-1 formation, however Raheem Sterling and Suso were surprisingly left out of the team, and after doing a bit of research I have concluded that Brendan Rodgers intends to use them in the upcoming Europa game against Hearts. The other surprising tactical decision made in the starting lineup was to play Michael Ngoo as a left attacking midfielder which is an awkward role for the large forward.
From the opening whistle it was clear who the better side was as Liverpool looked vicious on the counter-attack. Dani Pacheco squandered the first real chance of the game as he pulled a shot wide when he was in tons of space, revisiting the common Liverpool issue of creating but not finishing. Later in the half, with Michael Ngoo and Pacheco switching positions, a heatseeking Brad Smith cross bounced off of Ngoo and into the net to give Liverpool an early 1-0 advantage.
The second half began just as nicely as the first with more good movement and passing. Pacheco missed a glaring opportunity to score when he curled a shot from inside the box just wide and John Flanagan had a open-net shot blocked by a bit of last ditch defending by Wolves. Unfortunately, the missed chances came back to bite the U-21s as Wolverhampton scored a bullet of a goal into the top corner to secure a 1-1 draw.
The MOTM was probably Ngoo just because he scored, but nobody stood out that much. I think that in the next match Ngoo will start off as the striker and Pacheco will drop back to an attacking midfield role to compliment the players strengths. Not the best start to the season, but as the first-team knows, not the worst either.