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, January 14, 2013

On FEU’s Men’s Football Team and those blue sharks of Ateneo

Ateneo captain and goalkeeper Yu Murayama stops a header by UP's Raymark Fernandez. photo by Arvin Lim.

On FEU’s Men’s Football Team and those blue sharks of Ateneo
by rick olivares

Just how good is this Far Eastern University Tamaraws Men’s Football Team?

They way they carved up the defense of the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigers is best described as exquisite workmanship. One touch passing. Two at the most. Filling the gaps. Quick turns with nifty dribbles – have you ever seen so many ankle breakers in a football match (and you think they were only on display in basketball)?

The final score was a pedestrian 5-1 for FEU. If Jon Melliza didn’t muff a shot where all he had to do was simply push the ball in (the UST keeper was several feet away as he rushed out to cut Melliza’s shooting angle only to be flailing away at the grass as the Tamaraw striker was gone). If Chy Villaseran also didn’t miss from point blank range…

I got the sense that the Tams also well in love with their own skill as they began to play a little more fancifully. Head coach Kim Chul So wasn’t amused but I would cut them slack. In case they bothered to check the UST squad, a few of them were guilty of watching the Tams systematically eviscerate them.

At one point, UST head coach Marjo Allado chided midfielder Ronnel Lagrimas for playing like a freshman and not the super senior that he is. But these Tams are only froshes and sophs? Defender Dexter Chio and forward Melliza are the only other veterans on this squad (the former is a junior while the latter is a senior).

Yes, UAAP. The kids are all right. Melliza scored four goals to add to his ridiculous tally of 13 in six games. The first was a sublime finish off a well-timed run to beat the offside trap while the second – this is where it gets delicious – Melliza saved the ball from going out along the goal line much to every UST defender’s surprise. He put it back in play, drew out the UST keeper who he ditched with a nifty side step before using his wrong foot – the left – to fire away into the empty net. In the meantime, the UST back four was guilty of watching this tournament’s god.

FEU midfielder Paolo Bugas, right before he went out with an injury, headed in a cross to join the goalfest.

UST’s Lagrimas played better in the second half as he pulled back one to make it 3-1. Sadly with not much of a midfield as former playmaker Shirmar Felongco was playing upfront, UST didn’t have much to show for it except for a few attempts that reserve keeper Patrick Rallos had not much trouble stopping (regular keeper Michael Menzi was ill).

FEU’s win gave them sole possession of second place with a 5-0-1 record.

In the main game of Sunday’s football bonanza, Ateneo piped UP to stay unbeaten with a 5-1-0 slate.

From the moment I watched the Blue Booters this season, they reminded me of a shark. They quietly glided right in – no angas, no rhetoric – just plain football. Last year, they began to get better under first year head coach JP Merida who was an integral part of Ateneo’s three-peat in UAAP football from 2004-06. Merida reinvented the team as a defensive squad with an eye towards owning possession.

It’s a unique set up Merida has going. Team skipper Yu Murayama (he got me for his defense of his thesis) has alternated with Nick O’Donnell, who once suited up for Loyola in the 2011 UFL Cup. Murayama’s play has improved since last season and this Season 75 at goal? He has been superb. Against UP, he turned back several shots on goal.

Both Murayama and O’Donnell have kept clean sheets through six games making it an incredible and unlikely feat. Shades of 2006 when the Blue Booters conceded only one goal (in their penultimate game of the second round against UST) en route to the three-peat.

Of course, it is still a long way to go as the first round only ended. With a Final Four format now in place, anything can happen.

Talk about payback as midfielder Leo Carlo Liay scored in the 85th minute for Ateneo to beat former Blue Booter keeper and now UP mainstay, Tyrone Caballes. Last season, Ateneo dominated their match-up with UP but conceded a late goal for a loss.

What made the win even more significant is that two starters Val Calvo and Migs Tuazon were unavailable on account of two yellow cards.

This season, their confidence is growing with every game. They no longer glide in like a shark. Everyone knows about them.

The second half of the season is going to be even more intense.

In the first game of the day’s triple header, newcomer National University nailed its first-ever win with a 2-0 pasting of punchless UE. Without the injured Fitch Arboleda, UE has struggled with their offense. NU’s Pritchill Evans Pascual and Ivan Arriesgado scored goal in the 66th and 82nd minute mark, respectively.     

1 comment:

  1. Yu Murayama ? Wasn't he the GK for the NCR Team which played in the 2005 Palarong Pambansa in Iloilo City? Wasn't he a HS senior then? I think he also played for NCR in the last COKE Go for Goal in Sta. Barbara