Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Monday, February 13, 2012

UP stays on top and pushes DLSU to the brink of elimination

UP stays on top and pushes DLSU to the brink of elimination
by rick olivares

February 12, 2012
Ateneo High School Football Field
Don’t look now but the University of the Philippines men’s football team seems to have finally found its groove. After several draws in the first round, the Fighting Maroons, seized the lead last Thursday after La Salle defeated UST, 1-nil, and stayed a point ahead of the Tigers, Sunday, with a 4-nil demolition of the punchless Green Archers on Sunday.

After watching UST make Ateneo pay for not being resolute with their numerous first half chances with a 2-0 victory, the Maroons were determined to stay atop the standings at the expense of La Salle. The Green Archers badly needed a win to stay in contention for the top two slots in the title game.

The Maroons applied suffocating defense in the Green Archers’ midfield from kickoff. And when the La Sallians moved forward on the rain-slick pitch, either the Maroons rock solid defense (that has yet to concede a goal in the tourney) or their tough at time bullying play stymied their Taft-based foes.

Midfielder Michael Simms opened the scoring for UP and teammate Jinggoy Valmayor, who woke from his scoring slumber last week, added a brace. Juan Miguel Roy closed out the scoring for State U when he pounced on a rebound that La Salle keeper Patrick Deyto was unable to hold on to.

The Green Archers tried to mount a rally behind the spirited sorties of winger Nathan Alquiros but they couldn’t break through even when right in front of the goal. When La Salle, missing Hans Smit due to a death in the family, couldn’t make any headway on the ground, their fullbacks resorted to the longball. But aside from the height of the UP defenders, the balls were oft short of their mark.

The Maroons on the other hand threw off La Salle by moving their attack from the left in the first half of play to the right side where their third and fourth goals came from.

The loss dealt a severe blow to La Salle’s title aspirations (that seemed bright after winning the University Games football title in Roxas City, Capiz last October). They now have to win their last two assignments while hoping that UST or UP stumble in their final games.

Ojay Clarino celebrated his return to UST’s lineup after serving out a one-game suspension (following a straight red card during a match against UE) by scoring on a deceptive strike from the left wing in the 83rd minute that Ateneo keeper RS Mantos thought was going to be a cross but instead dipped right below the left corner post.

But it was UST’s midfielder Ronnel Lagrimas (who has had an up and down season) who lifted a huge burden for his side that was under siege from Ateneo’s assault when he fired from less than 10 meters away from the first post on the right that caught Mantos unaware.

In the first game of the day’s triple header, the freshman-laden FEU eleven defeated UE, 1-0, to leapfrog past La Salle to go to third place behind UP and UST respectively.

My thoughts:
UP is peaking at the right time and you can see their confidence growing with every game.
UST is there but their midfield has been so inconsistent. In their loss to UP, it was obvious that without Ojay Clarino, they are not going anywhere. The onus is on them to beat the Fighting Maroons in the big games.
FEU is a joy to watch. There is no better passing midfield in the UAAP. But the decision making in the final third have been wanting. Incredibly, they are a team that plays better as the game goes on. If this team had a clear-cut and vocal leader on the pitch, someone willing to pick fights with other teams, they will go over the top.
La Salle’s morale has been plunging with every game. The game with UP hardly started and you can see from their body language that they were done.
Ateneo incredibly has been outplaying teams but their inability to finish kills them. And this with a new bunch of players. Now they will lose many seniors after this campaign. The question is for next season, do they progress or take a step backward?
UE will have to rebuild. And change the attitudes of their coaches.

Chatting with Ateneo Blue Booters' captain Yu Murayama after their match against UST (above). Will also be in the panel for the defense of his thesis. (Below) With Under-21 head coach -- the indefatigable -- Zoran Dordevic.

1 comment:

  1. Rick..clarification...UST lost to DLSU not UP during OJ Clariño's absence