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.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Loyola hammers Green Archers for third place

Loyola hammers Green Archers for third place
The Sparks take another Bridesmaid’s finish. It’s an accomplishment but it’s wearing thin on them.
by rick olivares

Phil Younghusband held up his Golden Boot Trophy, smiled for the cameras, then went to the side and pouted.

“I have three of these,” he said referring to the award handed to the tournament’s top scorer. “Yes, this is cool but this is not the one I want.”

The striker for Loyola and the Philippine Men’s Football National Team then recited a litany “of short finishes” – second place in the 2011 Smart Club Championships, the 2011 UFL Cup, the semifinals of the 2012 Singapore Cup, the semifinals of the 2012 Suzuki Cup, and now, third place in the 2012 UFL Cup. The hunger is growing.

Hungry for the silverware that matters, Loyola, with several key players missing, conceded an early goal to Green Archers United then found their fluid game to crush their opponent, 4-1, for the second runner-up position.

At first, the sluggishness and lack of chemistry that would later hound Global in the championship match was evident in Loyola’s game. The club sent four players to the Suzuki Cup in James and Phil Younghusband, Ref Cuaresma, and Anto Gonzales while the remaining team played a series of friendlies. Then central back Chad Gould suffered a pinched nerve eliminating him from making the line up on match day. Team captain James Younghusband was also unavailable because he served out a one-match suspension for accumulating two yellow cards.

Archers, with an intact lineup kept busy during the three-week stoppage in play as the UFL gave way for the Suzuki Cup, looked bold in the first few minutes as the spotty right side of Loyola was repeatedly blitzed by Tating Pasilan while Ayi Aryee served notice that his booming volleys were getting close to beating Ref Cuaresma.

After a Archers long ball that got away from right back Alex Elnar, Pasilan controlled the ball the launched a one sublime cross that found Aryee. The Ghanaian’s one touch volley struck the first post then ricocheted in for the opening score.

As Aryee ran to the Green Archers bench where he kissed the insignia on his jersey, the Sparks looked at one another to marshal their defense.

Almost immediately, as if a switched were flicked on, Loyola took control of the match. Showing fluidity on offense, the Sparks began to pick off Archers with a series of well-placed passes and well-timed runs.

And it came from a most unlikely source.

Cameroonian centerback Rodrigue Nembot, who started for Gould, picked off a pass in the backfield. Unchallenged, he dribbled some then found Phil Younghusband lurking on the left wing. Younghusband, playing behind the forward line as was his customary place while at Chelsea, sent a diagonal pass to Mark Hartmann whose header beat keeper Patrick Deyto for the equalizer.

Archers answered with a pair of attempts by Ayi and Pasilan but both turned up negative.

Minutes later, on another enterprising venture, Jake Morallo picked off another pass. One quick pass to Elnar who ventured forward, Loyola was on a quick counter. Elnar found a cutting Hartmann in the middle. Hartmann chipped a ball over the defense and teammate Byeong Yeol Jeong latched on to the ball for a one-on-one with Deyto. Goal, Loyola.

Hartmann made it a brace for himself minutes later when he took a chip pass from Jeong (who returned the earlier favor) and quickly volleyed with his thunderous right boot for a shot that evaded the outstretched arms of Deyto in the first post; 3-1, Loyola.

With Loyola firmly in control of the match, Archers struggled to generate offense. The Sparks put the game out of reach when another run – initiated by Nembot – saw a pass by Jeong to Phil Younghusband who headed in a cross for a 4-1 lead they saw through the final whistle.

“We couldn’t stop them from making their plays,” lamented Aryee after the match. “They did whatever they wanted.”

Pasilan sat on top of the team’s cooler and looked forlorn. “Hindi namin na-expect yung ganito laro namin. Very disappointing. Sa league na lang.”

As all the teams watched Stallion celebrate their cup win several hours later, Younghusband watched and said, “If you don’t get motivated by that (pointing to the champions’ whooping it up) then I don’t know what will. The league couldn’t start soon enough.”


My thoughts on the match:

I don't think that GAU anticipated Phil Younghusband playing in the secondary and distributing the ball to his teammates especially Mark Hartmann. With Hartmann on his game on both ends of the field that made Loyola difficult to stop. The two silent operators for me were Anto Gonzales who was excellent in his holding midfield position and Rodrigue Nembot who was solid. Nembot came from Union Internacional and his improvement over the past few games for the Sparks will mean more playing time.

Moving PJ Fadrigalan to the midfield position also showed what he can do outside playing right back. With more playing time there and familiarity with his forward teammates he can be a huge asset.

I really wondered why GAU made use of Sean Lee to far back. I don't know if there were instructions for him to go up on the attack but he was in a timid role and far from his element in central midfield. The substitution by Ayi I feel was crucial. Sure nothing was happening in central midfield but the Archers' offense had become predictable -- find Tating Pasilan on the win then let him create. That is exactly what Air Force has done with Chieffy Caligdong. Once stopped, the offense stagnated. I thought that Agbayomi Oloweyeye should have been subbed out or even Shapay Johnson. With those guys not functioning, they really missed the services of Nikko Villa who was also out with a match suspension.

1 comment:

  1. exhausted na masyado ang Loyola dahil sa paglalaro nila sa Singapore di sila masyadong prepared o pagod na nang hinarap nila ang Global para sa semis kaya sila natalo. Palamig-lamig lang ang global naghihintay samantalang nakikipagbakbakan sila sa Singapore, di pa masyadong regained ang strenght nila sumabak na after 2 days para labanan ang global. Anyway, 1 point lang naman ang difference Not bad!