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, June 12, 2013

Loyola rains on Stallion’s parade

Loyola rains on Stallion’s parade
by rick olivares

June 11, 2013
Emperador Stadium
Here’s one that literally rained on another’s parade.

Stallion, 55 minutes away from celebrating it’s first league title after Lee Joo Young blasted a shot from the right side of the box for a one-goal lead, succumbed to a dogged Loyola that gave no quarter in a 1-1 draw.

At the time of the Korean’s goal, Stallion had eight shots on goal while Loyola had none. The rain had been falling non-stop since the first game of the UFL Tuesday double header between Green Archers United and Nomads (an emphatic 4-1 win for the latter) and not soon after Lee’s strike, it turned into a heavy downpour. Small ponds began to appear on the pitch and visibility turned bad.

After referee Roel Emnas temporarily suspended the match at the 36:45 mark of the first half, both team repaired to their benches.

Stallion’s unorthodox 3-5-1 formation had thrown Loyola’s offense and defense (already missing five starters to injury and several more to national team duty) in shambles as they repeatedly raided the latter with simple run and pass plays.

The 30-minute respite helped Loyola gather their wits as they fixed their defense to mark the attacking midfielders that thoroughly confused the defense.

The match officials also asked Stallion to change from their pink to their green ‘home’ kit as Loyola wore their orange ‘away’ shirts.

Upon the resumption of the game, with the rain falling albeit a bit more lightly, Stallion’s momentum was clearly blunted. Loyola was more physical and aggressive and their efforts paid off when James Younghusband headed in a long free kick by Matthew Hartmann in added time of the first half.

“Come on,” egged Stallion head coach Ernie Nierras to his bewildered players. “Let’s get it back.”

Loyola had already handed them an advantage when they defeated Global, 2-0, last week, restoring a five-point lead in the standings. A win against the already eliminated Sparks, would give them the trophy outright. A draw, they’d have to sweat out the results of Global’s last two matches. A loss would have calamitous effects.

The reset saw Loyola reinvigorated as they pressed and harried Stallion. A connection between the Younghusband brothers saw Phil set James up for an attempt that was blocked by Matthew Nierras.

Jake Morallo had a couple of brilliant chances to score but Stallion’s defenders furiously raced back to prevent him from lining up a shot on keeper Guilherme Hasegawa who was starting in the place of still injured keeper Wilson Muñoz.

In the 56th minute, it looked as if Stallion would get that elusive second goal as Loyola defender PJ Fadrigalan headed back a ball towards Ref Cuaresma following a long ball by Stallion’s Diego Barrera. Cuaresma had to scramble back to grab the slow roller that could have gone in.

By the 60th minute, as Stallion rediscovered its attacking resolve, the match saw both Nierras and Loyola head coach Vincent Santos counter each others moves with timely substitutions. Sanchez blasted one towards Cuaresma who was up to the task.

With a the change in momentum, Loyola introduced into the match its youth players Chy Villaseñor, Arnel Amita, Eric Giganto, and Val Jurao. Their spunk and industriousness on the pitch gave Loyola its second wind as they also had Stallion backpedalling on defense.

Nierras sent in Matthias Bonhevi who almost scored seconds into his entry.

Stallion’s brilliant striker, Rufo Sanchez, had several scoring chances however, if they weren’t on target, Cuaresma easily corralled the shots.

In the 86th minute, following a cross by Kim Hyo Il, the ball evaded several Loyola defenders and towards Sanchez who was unmarked. But in his haste to blast the ball in, he hardly got his golden boot on the ball and it meekly rolled towards Cuaresma.

Bonhevi and Sanchez would have two more excellent chances to win at death’s door but Loyola’s defense held fast.

“We played with a lot of heart but I wonder why we waited until we were missing several players to come out this way,” noted Santos who was nevertheless pleased with the effort that saw Loyola finish strong and deny Stallion a coronation at their expense.

On Nierras’ part, with Stallion having no more matches to play, it is now up to the football gods to determine their fate. “We had two chances to win the league but we fumbled it two times (the 2-1 loss to Global and the 1-1 draw with Loyola). We squandered a lot of chances to win this match. Now it’s out of our hands.”

And for the second time in two weeks, Stallion will be cheering for others teams to do their work on the pitch.

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