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.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The battle of the UFL Division II cellar dwellers

Cheering on their compatriots: Green Archers United's Dan Ito, Global's Yu Hoshide, and Kaya's Masa Omura.

For whom the bells toll
The battle of the UFL Division II cellar dwellers
by rick olivares

Talk about hitting rock bottom.

I went to watch my first UFL Division II game last night and it was between Manila All-Japan and Navy. I really thought I was in for some boring and lackluster football as both team are mired at the bottom of the standings. but it turned out to be a terrific and well-played match.

MAJ won by the score of 2-1 in a match that went back and forth all throughout. Navy threatened early but they misplayed their final passes or fired wide. The Japanese team came into the match with a 1-0-3 record that placed them squarely at last place. Navy was slightly above them with a 1-1-2 record.

So this match was like the battle to avoid the cellar.

The Japanese team received some badly needed coaching help from Masa Omura (of Kaya) and Yu Hoshide (of Global) before and at the half of the match. However, they struggled at first but began to put it together largely due to the industriousness of their wingers and forwards.

The team of Japanese expatriates have skills but they do not have chemistry. Maybe a few players read each other well but not all.

For example, #34 Rafael Halili (one of two locals on the roster) who plays left back. He brings the ball up on his flank then sends a diagonal pass to the right only there is no one there and the ball goes out of bounds. The proper thing to do is to take a second or two to assess the situation before making a pass.

For the most part, MAJ had good ideas on offense but there’s something lacking in most of their players.

Another example is their holding midfielder Yagi Masahiko. Early in the match, he dribbled right through three defenders to put himself in a one-on-one situation with the Navy keeper Benito Rosalia. Yagi sidefooted a weak shot that Rosalia easily corralled. That should have been goal right there.

During the first half of play, he was slow in his decision making and that would cost MAJ chances on the counter. More often than not he would miss out Shin Tanaka on the left.

Tanaka, given more exposure could be a solid Division One player. He’s like OJ Porteria who can dribble in and around trouble. Shin and Gulliver Tanaka play sweet music up front.

Yagi, who found his rhythm late in the first half, formed a threatening trio from the flanks and the middle.

But it was Shin who proved dangerous when he would run up the left and go around two or three defenders before unleashing a cross. He found Yuki Tanaka in the 67th minute with a well-laced cross for a goal. Navy did not know what hit them. They had made excellent adjustments in the second half and it reminded me of that Stallion tactic where they found Rufo Sanchez in the middle just outside the box. He could pass wide of turn and shoot. Navy played this with Loreto Kalalang in that target position. Surprisingly, he performed well at this.

However, they were down a goal.

Five minutes later, Shin slipped a throughball that Yohei Tanaka latched onto. Navy’s offside trap failed and Tanaka scored to make it 2-0.

But Navy came back when Michael Jay Fernandez scored on the right side following a cross from the left. But it was a case of a little too late as it came in the 90th minute. MAJ held off a couple more attacks in the three minutes of added time for the 2-1 win.

It was a well-played game except for the cheap shot by one of the Navy players on one of the Japanese players who crumpled to the turf with blood streaming down his nose.

The win helped MAJ to a 2-0-3 record while Navy incredibly is continuing to sink even in the UFL’s Division Two with a 1-1-3 record (they are dead last).

1 comment:

  1. I watched the Socceroo-Navy match last month. Yellow cards flew out of the ref's pocket. To say Navy is a rough team is an understatement.