Kortrijk, Belgium – After joining KV Kortrijk on loan from AS Roma a couple of weeks ago, Bryan Reynolds was a late addition to the Kerels starting line-up after Aleksandar Radovanović picked up an injury in the pre-game warm-ups. 

Three different players found the back of the net as Sint-Truiden V. V. came away with the 3-1 victory, denying the hosts their first victory of the new year.

The Texas born defender, who had previously registered just ten minutes in Belgium on his debut against Club Brugge last week, went the distance against a Chris Durkin-less STVV at the Guldensporen Stadion in West Flanders. The American midfielder had to sit this one out after accumulating five yellow cards. 

The visitors got to work right away, and after just 11 minutes the team was celebrating with Aboubakary Koita who had a wonder strike, worthy of the highlight reels. Christian Brüls received a short pass from Daiki Hashioka on the right side of the box, looked up, saw Koita making the run and watched the former KVK man hit it on the volley and into the inside netting of the far post. 

Over the 90 minutes, Reynolds was often seen joining the attack and had his first sniff at goal in the 22nd minute from the right side, but American born Japanese keeper, Daniel Schmidt claimed the effort.

The Kerels did have a hard time dealing with the pace of the game in the first half but one moment that could have been their best one was when Dylan Mbayo used his pace to fly down the field and past the defending black shirts; but when he came one-on-one with Schmidt, he missed the target completely.

When KVK were on the attack and lost the ball in the 32nd minute, Brüls got on his horse and was ready to take the fight down the other end but Reynolds intervened, snuffing out the potential danger. The hosts then went back on the attack and Ante Palaversa struck, but the Manchester City loanee couldn’t keep it under the crossbar.  

The Canaries were more successful at rippling the net and in the 39th minute the opportunity was presented from the charity spot after Tsuyoshi Watanabe brought down fellow countryman Taichi Hara and was shown yellow. Brüls did the honors, sending Joris Delle the wrong way to double the lead.

A minute later, Faïz Selemani served up a sweet cross for Mbayo but the Belgian fluffed his lines and let Schmidt off the hook. KVK, along with their American defender, did have some nice first half rampages into the final third but once there couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities.

It must have been quite a half-time talk by Coach Karim Belhocine because his men came out with a purpose and got straight to work.

Minutes in, the Texan raced up the flank past a pair of defenders and put a half-decent cross into the box for one of his team mates to help them to a goal. Unfortunately there was nobody fast enough to get there and take advantage, wasting his efforts. This was followed shortly after by a chance from Selemani that Schmidt dealt with. 

It was past the hour mark that the hosts went from one end of the field to the other at hyper speed and got themselves back into the game. 

The move started from a throw-in, to a couple of passes that ended with Abdelkahar Kadri tapping in from close range at the far post after a meticulous cross from Muhammed Badamosi. It was the Algerian midfielder’s first strike of the season.

Try as they may however, another goal to pull even was just not on the cards.  Another score was in the plans for STVV however. 

As the hosts ran out of ideas late in the game, their opponents had one more trick up their collective sleeves. After Koita almost knocked the crossbar off with his scorcher, the goal that put the game to bed was struck four minutes from the full 90.

João Klauss, who had just come on the field minutes before, ran up the right wing and either shot the ball or meant it as a cross, but regardless, Delle got a hand to it and knocked the ball into the path of Hayashi who scored from inches out. 

“I thought we played better than them,” Reynolds told Yanks Abroad after the game. “The first goal was a really good goal, to be fair.  I think nine times out of ten that ball would go sky high but well done to him [Koita].”

“But the other two goals were so preventable that we just have to play smart and not make those types of mistakes.” 

“[Overall] I like how we played,” he continued. “We had the ball and we had chances to score but it’s all about finishing your chances.”

Pressed on exactly what went wrong, especially the other two STVV goals, the young man elaborated. “The goalkeeper hit the ball to Kristof [D’Haene] and you’re always expecting a good ball, but you always have to be ready.” 

“Then the third one, I thought the ball was going to go across and he wasn’t going to get to it, so I was already starting to run to the end line and he punched it, and it went right in between me and Su [Watanabe].  And the guy [Hayashi] was right there.  It was a bad goal for me but what can you do.”

Having put in a good performance, the American will hope to be back on the field of play Sunday night when they travel to Antwerp to take on last place Beerschot at the Olympic Stadium. 

By Michael Adubato

The old man of Yanks-Abroad, having been around since the very beginning in 2004, Known as the resident Belgian expert since that’s where he has lived for a couple of decades. Over the years he has interviewed Nats such as Kasey Keller, Brian McBride, Oguchi Onyewu, Jozy Altidore and Tim Weah, to name a few. When not working the day job, he can often be found in stadiums around Europe, watching games from the top flight to the lower leagues. To prove that he is not just a pretty face, Mike received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Maryland and a Masters from the University of Oklahoma. Boomer Sooner! On a non-soccer note, Adubato has just released a book of poetry from his travels, Missing the Exit, published by Broken Keys Publishing in Ottawa, Canada. So that must make him the YA poet laureate! You can grab your copy on Amazon.com, order online and pick it up and Barnes & Noble or get an e-copy at various outlets.

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