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, February 5, 2013

UFL Match #1 preview: Army vs. Loyola

Army vs Loyola
It’s battle stations for Army as Loyola brings more firepower to bear.
by rick olivares

Rizal Memorial Football Stadium
For the nth year running, Army will field the same team minus one key player from the past season and a half while Loyola has tinkered a wee bit with its lineup of the same time.

The inability to recruit due to the system of military teams (they must be enlisted and cannot receive pay) will clearly hurt them and in all likelihood cause problems for years to come. Time was the best way to continue one’s football career was to go to the military teams. The semipro league has allowed players to a certain degree to earn a living but that’s not the point here.

Every time Army steps on the pitch they are not only fighting for respect but also survival. Loyola is fighting for the silverware they think they richly deserve given their star-studded lineup. They know however that this will not be handed on a silver platter. They will have to claw, fight, and stand up for it beginning with Army that nearly upset them at the start of league play last season.

The Sparks have made their changes in the head coach position while adding players on offense and defense and now there are no more excuses. Former assistant coach and national player Vincent Santos is now head coach replacing Kim Chul So who is now team consultant. Anto Gonzales is back with Pachanga-Diliman while Matthew Hartmann is back in action. Freddy Gonzalez is counted on to alleviate the goal-scoring pressure on Phil Younghusband while long time Kaya icon Armand Del Rosario and Pachanga left back Jalsor Soriano will help on defense. They provide depth and options for Santos.

By dropping Phil Younghusband in the middle, it has added another dimension to their smooth ball movement. If the forwards in Chad Gould and Mark Hartmann (who was has been terrific in the last few months) cannot find the back of the net then that causes problems and will see Phil moving up with Gonzalez coming in. 

Loyola’s loss to Kaya in the quarterfinals of the recently concluded PFF Smart National Club Championship is a huge setback (with all due respect to Kaya). Two seasons ago, they did not have the bench to keep up with their high-powered starting unit. Now they do. It’s winning time for them.

Army has lost Champ Baron who came up big with a couple of goals for them while providing some spunk off the bench. He’s gone now and in his place are several newcomers in Efren and Elmo Pabilona, Estorque Percinipilis, Carlos Sescon, and Erwin Silvestre. And as usual, Army will have to count on its bevy of national players in Roel Gener, Boogie Margarse, Eduard Sacapaño, and Ric Becite to lead the charge with Meliton Pelayo and Relan Bretaña up front. For Army to get their offensive going, Margarse and Becite will have to lift their games to another level. When that fails, they resort to the longball and Loyola will be waiting with their taller but no less speedy defenders.

The new promotion relegation scheme will keep everyone on their toes. With other teams getting better (Stallion and Green Archers United to name a few), every game will be huge with wins, losses and draws telling in the standings.

Army can hold off Loyola and put the fear of God in their counters but if Loyola scores early, they’ll be deep in their foxhole. If Loyola doesn’t score early, then Army can pip them like Kaya did (the Sparks owned ball possession and had more shots on goal only that doesn’t guarantee a win) in the Smart Club tournament.

Expect no quarter from Army but Loyola has more firepower.


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