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.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Grading the Azkals individually

I was supposed to post this the other night but I didn't. I will explain in the end. 

Grading the Azkals individually 
(the starting unit vs Malaysia)
by rick olivares

I was wondering if lighting was going to strike twice.

In 1991, the national team had a German head coach. Yet the entire team was home grown.

In 2012, the Philippines have a German head coach but for the first time in the team’s history, the entire starting eleven did not have a homegrown player. But if it’s the best lineup we had available for that day then why not?

We struck early and had other chances while Malaysia struggled with the Philippines’ defense.

Here’s what I thought of the starting unit:

Dennis Wolf – The goal aside, the Fil-German showed many qualities you like in a striker – tall, strong, fast, and able to fight for those high balls. Huge compliment to Phil Younghusband up front.

Phil Younghusband – Marked well by the Malaysians who have seen him for some time now. Phil managed to get some licks in but was more effective trying to find his teammates. Now that makes him even more dangerous because he will attract attention then find a teammate for a shot (like his pass to Jason de Jong).

Angel Guirado – One of his best games in a national jersey. He may be slow but he’s still got good instincts on the field. He can pass and target a teammate. But he reminded everyone that he can be a dangerous scorer. Had several decent chances to score. If he scored on that bicycle kick that would be right up there for goal of the year.

Lexton Moy – I love how Lex has carved out a place for himself in the starting unit. He sure was a crucial part on both offense and defense.

James Younghusband – One of those more quiet games for James. But that doesn’t mean he was crucial. I think that the Malaysians expected the ball to be funneled more into James but it swung the way of Guirado. He managed as best as he could.

Jason de Jong – Gotta love the toughness. He used to be such an offense threat early in his career with the national team. He had a brilliant chance to put the Philippines on the board but he didn’t finish it well. Those high studs and yellow card… typical. But I love the toughness in the holding position.

Ray Jonsson, Juani Guirado, Jason Sabio, and Carli de Murga – Any time Ray is there, I feel confident. Normally, I’d feel more at ease with Aly Borromeo and Rob Gier (and Anton del Rosario) in the middle. But the two weren’t there but Ray worked well with Juani Guirado. And Jason Sabio has come a long way since his debut (remember that assist to Phil Younghusband for a goal against Mongolia). He has become more fit, better on defense, and a threat offensively. His monster thrown in led to the goal. He would have been Man of the Match for me for his all-around game (next perhaps to Neil Etheridge) but his slip (because he overcommitted on defense) led to the goal by Ali. I am not taking anything away from Jason or Ali because the Malaysian faked off Sabio. It was just a great goal.

Neil Etheridge – What can you say about the big guy? He is a huge presence at goal for the Philippines both literally and figuratively. Good leadership from behind as he is always communicating with his defenders. When he’s there I feel more confident of our chances. Tough goal to concede in stoppage time. and as good as Neil was there was nothing he could do to stop that goal. as we dominated the first half, the Malaysians took the second half (from the 53rd minute onwards). They did work for that goal.


On another note, the news about the sexual harassment complaint filed by our Match Commissioner Cristy Ramos threw me off. Prior to the match, I noticed a sudden shift in her mood and I had no idea why. I spoke to her briefly right after kickoff and she was testy. After the egress, I decided not to join the team dinner and instead went straight back to the hotel to do some writing. I was so tired that I went to bed having written a few paragraphs. I finished  "Coming up close" (my thoughts about the RP-Malaysia match) and this one -- "Grading the Azkals individually". I posted the first and was saving the second for later as I had to attend to the Seaoil presscon the day after. I learned of Ms. Cristy's complaint Thursday evening and was somewhat thrown off that I forgot to post "Grading the Azkals individually". If this is true… well, I don’t know. I just don’t know what to think. It's kind of disappointing. Not the sort of news a team needs before a major tournament. Of course, there are two sides to a story and we haven't heard of Lexton Moy's and Angel Guirado's piece but still... 


  1. good and fair article :)

  2. ms ramos is a very respected person in the local football scene. oldtimers recognizes her contribution to the growth of football and ladies football in particular.
    its a pity that the present crop of men NT members, except a few, dont know who cristy really is!!

  3. Rick,

    I would consider Ray Jonsson and Jason Sabio as homegrown. Ray was born in Cebu and spent first 7 years of his life there and Jason Sabio was born in Manila and also spent the first 5 years of his life in the Philippines. Ray can speak fluent Cebuano. Both of them learned their football abroad though.

  4. Agree with you that everytime Ray Jonsson is playing, I'm more confident. Ray is very consistent. I like seeing Phil share the ball, makes him a complete player. Wolf is definitely solid up front.