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.

Friday, January 25, 2013

PFF Smart National Club Championship semifinals preview: Green Archers Utd vs Pasargad

Semifinals Preview: Pasargad vs. Green Archers United
by rick olivares

When Green Archers United and Pasargad met during the 2012 UFL season, both clubs figured in a pair of 1-1 draws.

That was then. Both teams are vastly different sides now.

Green Archers is no longer the wholly La Sallian club. It is now a homogenous mix just the way pro clubs are nowadays. They have brought more firepower to bear with the transfer of Ayi Aryee from Global, Jon Melliza, Ronnie Aguisanda, and Sean Lee from FEU, Jovanie Simpron from Stallion (who is also a FEU alum), and local football icon Chieffy Caligdong from Air Force. They also shored up their defense by grabbing Lawrence Ikegwuruka from Loyola and Dominic Mensah from Nomads to shore up the back four that has had only one consistent fixture in the last two years in Reynald Villareal. With a more complete lineup, they looked to build on the promise of the 2012 UFL Cup where they finished fourth.

Even if Caligdong has played only two official matches with GAU, he seems to have blended well with his new teammates. It helps that he played with Tating Pasilan and Arnie Pasinabo Jr. before in the national squad.

Two years ago, GAU made its name as a defensive-oriented squad. They could score but not much. The additions have certainly augmented the defense but have significantly improved their offense. Caligdong is probably the last piece to their puzzle (although they might need one or two more backups on defense) as the bench isn’t that deep. When Jon Melliza returns from UAAP duty as does starting keeper Patrick Deyto then they will have depth.

Pasargad is no longer a wholly Iranian club. If you look closely, they only have only four Iranians. But they do have five Africans and a new bunch of homegrown talent and Fil-foreigners. And the players who carried them from the second half of the last league play to the cup are now gone. They, like GAU, are a team in transition having lost its two leading scorers from the past year in Shayan Dastjafarjerdi and Masood Shahdideh. They look good with Emmanuel MBata and Promise Jolomi in front with Hamed Hajimehdi running the middle.

Yet for all the talent, PSG, as the club wants to be known now, they have yet to be a real team and make sure the different parts or ethnic groups come together for a common goal.

During Pasargad’s quarterfinals match with General Trias International, midfielder Charles Ujam began the game with a lot of talking and complaining to the referee. After a stern warning from the official that he would be cautioned if he persisted with his yakking, Ujam clammed up and concentrated on the game. From that point, he played well as he disrupted the opposing midfielders.

PSG began to mount some serious attacks on GTIFC’s goal with Angelo Marasigan’s screamer of a winner coming late in the extra period that prevent the match from going into a penalty shootout.

The loss of Shayan and Masood is huge because with them in the lineup PSG cannot be considered as pushovers. Mbata is good but needs help in getting that final pass. Hajimehdi is terrific in the middle but is not yet in sync with his other teammates.

GAU seems to have the edge in this match up more so now because they are more cohesive than PSG. They now have consistent wing play with Caligdong on the left and Pasinabo on the right. The twin threats with Aryee in the middle will allow Pasilan easier runs from the flanks or from the center. They can also exploit Reza Ataei’s penchant for leaving his line when he shouldn’t. If PSG’s keeper doesn’t watch it, Pasilan or even Aryee will make him pay from long distance.

While the game will hinge on the breaking down one team’s midfield but it also boil down to maintaining one’s verve. More so with PSG that plays with a lot of emotion.

If Pasargad plays under control they will be tough to beat. Both clubs have shown a capacity for holding teams scoreless for stretches before scoring late goals. It’s easy to say that it will come down to the midfield play but right now, I’d say, it’s all about composure.

The Road to the PFF Smart National Club Championship semifinals for both clubs:

Round of 16: Pasargad vs. Army 2-1
Quarterfinals: Pasargad vs. General Trias International 1-0

Green Archers United
Round of 16: Green Archers United vs. Romgarjal 6-1
Quarterfinals: Green Archers United vs. Pachanga 1-0

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