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.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Why can't Nomads play like that all the time? Or looking at that Loyola-Nomads match.

Why can't Nomads play like that all the time? Or looking at that Loyola-Nomads match.
by rick olivares

You have to ask, why can Nomads not play like that every game? The last time they played this good was against Global in a 2-1 loss. Against Loyola, they sustained the energy level all throughout the match. Even the subs that came in played well.

The last time I wrote about Nomads, I wondered aloud, why isn’t Phil Connolly starting? In fact, I have wondered aloud about that for much of this season. Sure early on he might have been unfit. But he has very good footballing sense and a feel for the game. Connolly was the big difference Tuesday night for Nomads. He assisted on Mikko Mabanag’s first ever UFL goal (and against his former club at that). He had a number of chances to score or find a teammate. And it took several Loyola defenders to dispossess him of that ball. Not only is he bigger and stronger than Chad Gould but he’s faster too.

Basically, Nomads sought to box Phil Younghusband in and make sure that he doesn’t get any shots off. This they did successfully and it fell to the other Sparks to try and beat their dogged foe.

Still not a fan of Loyola’s formation. Of course, the idea is to attack and defend as a team. They move up and down as a team. But as I have said time and again, the formation doesn’t suit the players on the field. When the Sparks go up on the attack, they leave three, sometimes two defenders. More often than not the opposing forward is a speedster. Look at the other teams’ forwards – Stallion has Rufo while Global has twin threats Misagh and Izzo. Those are just the forwards. Their wingmen are just as fast.

Connolly up front is much better than having Fidel Nnabuife who tends to dribble too much and make suspect decisions with his crossing. Let Fidel finish and not bring up the ball. Had Steven Borrill played that would have been more difficult for Loyola.

This is where I have to credit Aaron De Rama for his heads up play. He’s largely under the radar because at times he launches forward without rhyme or reason. But in this match, he was good. He was a threat in the secondary line.

For Loyola, not having Mark Hartmann start (because they felt he didn’t do too well in practice) might be a fair enough reason to bench him but someone ought to carry that midfield and distribute that ball. Loyola might have had better possession but they couldn’t translate that into any clear attacking threat.

Nomads had two chances in the first half and in the second, the made it count when Connolly assisted Mabanag on the goal.

Hartmann’s late first half entry saw Loyola move the ball up much better and that paid immediate dividends as they equalized. They looked to have solved the riddle of Nomads when Hartmann scored in the very first minute of the second half. But this is where I have to credit Nomads. They didn’t slack off and put the pressure on Loyola. Two minutes after Hartmann’s goal, Bafio Magassa, continuing his game long brilliance saw his side draw level.

At this point, Loyola still retained possession but their shots were handled well by Nomads’ superb goalkeeper, Friso Klok.

This might sound like hindsight now but I always thought that Phil Younghusband played better in an attacking midfield role. Maybe dropping him behind at this point in the match then maybe moving Jang Joo Won up might have helped.

Last season, one of the Sparks’ problems was their right back position. They solved that to some degree with PJ Fadrigalan. Now they have Simon Greatwich in that spot. It really helps that James Younghusband is on that side because he will track back and help out on defense.

The formation leaves a hole in THE LEFT WING. Roxy Dorlas has received an unfair amount of criticism for the holes in this side. That’s because the wing defense is porous. How can he defend two attackers at the same time?

When he moves up for the attack, the triangle formations crucial to the passing game SOMETIMES aren’t there because the players are already too far up.

I cannot understand this team (Loyola), they have so much talent and they play some really good football but they can be found wanting. They always start strong but fade in the end.

Mentally, I don’t think the Sparks are there. The loss of Freddie Gonzalez is huge not just in terms of field position but also veteran leadership. They need some one to lead on the pitch and not scream dissatisfaction with another’s play. When they make mistakes, they commit them in bunches and they can unravel.

It’s a draw on the record but this one, especially since it knocks them out from title contention (barring a late late meltdown by Stallion and Global), feels every bit like a loss.

This is not the result they want or need especially heading into the Singapore Cup this weekend.

Phil Connolly thus deserves to be named, Man of the Match. Mark Hartmann is second. Bafio Magassa is third.

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