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.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

War is the theme for UFL Knockout Thursday

War is the theme for UFL Knockout Thursday
by rick olivares photo by isko jose/interaksyon

Expect a war no less when the Loyola Meralco Sparks face Army in the first match of Thursday’s quarterfinals doubleheader at the University of Makati.

Army started out like a blitzkrieg on a warm summer day as they took down Stallion and Agila with a pair of 2-nil wins before settling for a pair of 1-1 draws with Air Force and Sta. Lucia that was cause for concern for their brass. They too started out last year’s league on a high note being one of two teams to defeat eventual champion Global. Eventually they petered off.

They’ll be up against Loyola whose roots – although continents away – are military. The Sparks derive their name from Saint Ignatius of Loyola who was once a soldier for the Spanish crown before he turned to serving the Faith.

The Sparks are rounding out into form after their last two outings where they positively beat the crap out of their opponents by scoring 20 goals and conceding only one.

While Loyola is the clear favorite to win the match, they are expecting Army to hunker down and prepare for trench warfare. Army is the last military team standing in the tournament as Air Force has been deposed while Navy has been sunk. They scored six goals in their group stages and conceded only two; an indication of stinginess in a tough group that included Stallion and Air Force but they will need more than that if they want to hold off Loyola that knows that its time for them to take the next step and be more than a mere contender. "Hindi namin ibibigay 'to sa Loyola," promised head coach Sgt. Ricky Cain. "Laban 'to!"

The Sparks have competed for the two trophies available in last year’s UFL season as well as in the recent Singapore Cup. Loyola came close to snatching some silverware but ended up empty handed.

In the main match of the doubleheader, it’s the Korean War that will be fought on Philippine soil as the Korean-flavored General Trias International (there’s that military connection once more after being named for a place in Cavite that was also named after a revolutionary war general) take on Stallion that has its own Korean contingent.

General Trias is the surprise of the tournament as they drew with Global and Pasargad with the latter result bouncing the former UFL champions from the competition.

“We do not have much resources as Dab Leung, manager of the squad explained. “We have not even fielded a full roster of players of the 25 that is allowed. But we play with purpose and to win respect.”

Stallion has come a long way from being a Barotac Nuevo, Iloilo-based club to one that included the Koreans who have turned Central Philippine University in Iloilo City into a local power. They were the surprise of last year’s league where they displayed the best passing game of all the teams en route to stunning finishes. But injuries took its toll as they ground to a halt and finished fourth. This year, they added Rufo Sanchez and Joaco CaƱas from Internacional de Madrid for a full season. The two have clearly sparked this team with scoring and defense.

General Trias will have its hand full from the slippery Sanchez whose predatory instincts in and around the box have been lethal for opponents. Sanchez is third in scoring with seven to his tally; a goal behind Pasargad’s Shahdideh Masood and Loyola’s Phil Younghusband.

But General Trias isn’t too shabby up front as they have Myung Soo Song who has struck thrice for his side.

“This game will be won in the midfield,” said Stallion head coach Ernie Nierras. “Whoever can impose their will on the game will win this.”

Added Leung, “It’s also a battle for pride as both teams have their Koreans. They will want to win over the other.”

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