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, August 25, 2013

Clear Dream Match: Revenge is a dish served wet and muddy

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Revenge is a dish served wet and muddy
James Younghusband evens up the Clear Dream Match series at a win versus Phil.
by rick olivares

What’s a Clear Dream Match without the rain and mud?

In another soggy affair at the University of Makati, Team James reversed last year’s result to come away with a smashing 4-1 win over Team Phil in the Clear Dream Match II thanks to two scintillating goals from James Younghusband and Izzo El Habbib. In the driving rain, Team James with former Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro and last year’s Clear Dream Match Best Defender Yves Ashime shutting down the area around the box, outplayed Team Phil to equalize the head-to-head match up between the Younghusband brothers in what is becoming the “all-star game” for local football players.

I felt that Team James was going to win this second bout not because of Cannavaro who is obviously far from his 2006 form when he won the Ballon d’Or Award after captaining Italy to the World Cup but more because Younghusband drafted shrewdly than haphazardly like he did last year. Like Phil the previous year, he selected the top defenders available and built from there. On the other hand, James’ younger brother opted for players who could play multiple positions.

However, to be fair to Phil, his team was dealt a stinging blow before the match when Rufo Sanchez hadn’t arrived in time for the match and Carlie De Murga and Armand Del Rosario went down with injuries.

Yet incredibly, it was Phil Younghusband who scored first when he blasted a heater from a foot outside the box that dipped right under the hands of Saba Garmaroudi. And all of a sudden, it looked like Team Phil could score an upset.

It’s a sight I won’t forget, Fabio Cannavaro berating Garmaroudi. I thought back to the pre-match press conference where the former Italy captain said that he’d like to keep a clean sheet as much as possible. Spoken like a true defender, I thought. I also made a mental note of that and wanted to see if he would make good on that promise.

Truthfully, I wondered how good Fabio would still be. You have to take every thing with a grain of salt because for one, both Cannavaro (who has had knee trouble for quite a while now) and Dennis Wise are far from their in-form days; two, they don’t really know their teammates; and three, the pitch was horrible.

At one point, Phil Younghusband beat him for a goal. But the goal was disallowed for some reason (I think I heard someone say that another teammate was offside).

Nevertheless, it was a thrill for me (and more so for the players) to have Cannavaro and Wise on that pitch. When Cannavaro stopped a forward pass with his chest I was watching him quickly survey his options (the crowd roared at the same time). Control, one dribble, and pass. He marshaled his backline like a true captain. Hey, I saw that when he played for Juventus, Italy, and Real Madrid, I said to myself.

Because I was in the media tent and with the rain pouring, I didn’t get to see much of Dennis Wise. I actively tried to search for him on the pitch to follow him.

After the match, Wise gamely posed for pictures and signed shirts and whatever was thrust in front of him. And he was going straight to the airport to fly back to England (1am flight)! “I had fun,” he said to me. “Obviously, I am not young but it sure feels good to put the shirt on again and feel the rain on my face.”

It could have been more fun and challenging had it not been for a call that might have possibly altered the outcome of the match.

I was upset with the red card shown to Team Phil’s Rodrigue Nembot, a late addition to the squad after Armand Del Rosario got injured. I felt for one, it wasn’t a foul because Nembot had gotten to the ball first before Misagh Bahadoran and, two, if it was a foul, it wasn’t like he went after the player and that it didn’t warrant a red card. Furthermore, this is an exhibition game and that spoiled it for Team Phil. And that was very early in the match.

Nevertheless, the game continued with terrific football on both sides.

Team Phil looked to have equalized at 2-2 when Phil beat Cannavaro and blasted a shot from the left side of the box. But the linesman flagged a Team Phil player for offside.

But that was about it. Team James dominated possession and scoring chances en route to a 4-1 win.

Last night, after most of the players washed up and left, I left the locker room of Team James after I gulped down the contents of a pair of water bottles (I was left extremely thirsty after minding the media tent). As I made my way back to the darkened pitch, I was surprised to see James Younghusband still talking with fans and posing for pictures with them. This was a good 30 minutes after the awarding of the best players of the match and close to an hour after full time. He had to be pulled away by the organizers to get washed up for the after match party.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is why the brothers are the most important footballers in the country today. They give their time and their lives to the game while never forgetting the fans.

I asked James two questions.

Question One: It’s a huge win. Two goals short of the 6-1 prediction. Your thoughts?

James: Uh… to tell you the truth, I was surprised that we scored that many with all the rain and mud.

Question Two: Now that you’re tied with Phil with one win each, do you think the third match will be a massive do-or-die match?

James: Definitely. I am sure that right now, Phil is thinking of wanting to win that third game. And I want to win it. But right now, we’ll celebrate and think about that when the time comes. But this is big win for my team. I’m happy.

While Team James emerged victorious, the biggest winners of the Clear Dream Match were Saba Garmaroudi, Yves Ashime, Ousseynou Diop, Freddy Gonzalez, Daniel Matsunaga, Fabio Ide, and Tony Tony.

Why? Because last year, they were on Team Phil where they won 5-1. This year, they were on the winning side.

Kidded Garmaroudi, “It’s Saba – two; Younghusband brothers one.”

Saba won his second Best Goalkeeper Award while Yves Ashime took home his second Best Defender trophy.

“I was inspired to play on the same pitch as these two legends,” admitted Ashime. “It is something to remember.”

In my opinion, they should name the trophies: the Saba Garmaroudi Award and the Yves Ashime Award for next year’s Clear Dream Match.

Ah, next year. Who will follow the tough act of Fabio Cannavaro and Dennis Wise? Which brother will emerge victorious? For sure, it’s going to be one exciting and slam bang match. But hopefully, not in the rain and the mud.


Interview with Dennis Wise

Interview with Fabio Cannavaro

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