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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What ails the Loyola Meralco Sparks?

What ails the Loyola Meralco Sparks?
 by rick olivares pic by mark dimalanta/

After absorbing a 3-1 beating from rival Kaya, do the Sparks still have what it takes to win the league title?

First of all, the team has been beset by injuries. Two players are out for the season – striker Freddy Gonzalez and central back Rodrigue Nembot who fractured his hand in LMS’ last match against Pasargad. Midfielder and sometime defender Jang Jo Won is also out and has not played the last few matches.

There have been other niggling injuries such as James Younghusband who is finally rounding out into form after struggling and being out early in the season. Chad Gould has also been down and out as has Jake Morallo.

Putting different combinations on the field can be good and bad. Good because you get to try out other players if only to bring up their confidence. Bad if there is zero chemistry.

With Nembot on defense, he has helped his side to be one of the tougher defensive sides. Without him… there is a lack of a mobile defender not to mention a tall one.

But no excuses and we do have to give Kaya a lot of credit for bringing their A-game and coming out with a lot of energy. Some blame has to be levied towards the Sparks for not sticking to the game plan.

Loyola still has a very good team on the field. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the formation and where some players are assigned to have hurt this club.

I am not a fan of their 4-2-3-1 formation. With Freddy Gonzalez in the line-up it will possibly work because he is an out-and-out player. The other forwards drift to the sides and in this case, as I have previously written, a 4-4-2 formation will suffice.

This will also cover some ground lost defensively when Matthew Hartmann comes in from the middle to cover the secondary. In a 4-2-3-1, that has exposed Roxy Dorlas who has had to fend off two attackers more often than not.

Some might criticize Dorlas’ play as erratic and poor. But consider this, in the Sparks’ system of playing those triangles, he has to find a teammate and release right away. Can’t pass when there’s no teammate to be found. Some get excited about going on the attack that they forget that the ball has to be thread from the defensive line to the middle then to the forward line.

The passing lanes were not there.

I am not also a fan of placing Simon Greatwich in the back four. Don’t get me wrong, the Greatwich brothers – Chris included – have come into this season committed. And that’s a key word. They have been in superb shape and played some great football.

Placing Simon in the middle will help Loyola defensively as well as he tracks back (due to being in superb form) better now.

Plain and simple, Simon works better in a midfield position. Last year, he had all sorts of problems giving the ball away. This year, he’s been solid. Why not place Angelo Marasigan in that hole? Or even the other players who have manned that slot? Alex Elnar? Maybe even Armand Del Rosario?

Like Stallion before them, Kaya totally took Loyola’s offense out of the game when they controlled the midfield. What I am shocked about is not about Kaya’s capabilities but on how no one stepped up for Loyola.

As good as Kaya was last night, I have no idea why the Sparks did not come out like they wanted this. This where the team misses Anto Gonzales and Freddy Gonzalez. The two can lift their team up with their leadership on the pitch.

I recall when the Sparks played Geylang United in the first round of lat year’s Singapore Cup, it was Anto Gonzales who egged, badgered, and yelled at his teammates to dig deep. That game was won on sheer guts. I thought that would propel them to the UFL title. But they suffered from bad tactics on the field and some poor finishing.

With Freddy Gonzalez in the line-up, they could afford to drop Phil in an attacking midfield role that was akin to what he ran when he was in Chelsea. And that made him and the team more dangerous. When opponent’s key their defense to stopping Mark Hartmann, they would have more trouble with PYH also playing a facilitator’s role.

But that was then. The now is Loyola is in a bind. Four points behind the leader and two behind the second placer. Both Stallion and Global have played a game less.

They cannot afford any more dropped points. Actually, as of last night, they could not afford to drop points but they did. For Loyola to realize their title dreams, they will need to defeat every team from hereon.


  1. and loyola bids goodbye to the league tittle.. well there's always next year.. i really don't care who wins the league as long as its not loyola ang global....

  2. I don't know but I think james younghusband needs to tone down a little bit , medjo nababadtrip kasi ang mga team mates nya sa kanya , palagi nyang pinapapagalitan . unlike during the time when anto gonzales was there . he yells , but it encourages the team unlike kay james younghusband medjo na babadtrip yung teammates nya . tuwing pinapagalitan when they commit some mistakes .

  3. Loyola has to learn that when their offence isn't clicking they have to drop back down into defense. From the games I've seen, even when they come out on top everyone wants to just keep pushing the ball forward. When it comes to defense though people are unwilling to run back down. I'm not sure if it's ego or what but glory comes from defending an attack just as much as it is being part of the attack.

    There is no lack of individual talent, just a massive lack of unified direction.

    Loyola has always had the potential, they just need to keep composed and on point and let everything else fade into the background.