My thoughts about Green Archers United’s win over Loyola
by rick olivares
Matches are sometimes won on what we call “the breaks of the game”. True. Sometimes, they are decided because of poor decisions.
Last night’s match between erstwhile UFL leader, Loyola and Green Archers United is a prime example of how a poor decision that leads to a straight red card can change the outcome of the match.
Archers had not beaten Loyola in over three years and without midfielder and star player Chieffy Caligdong, looked hard-pressed to take this. The LMS Sparks looked sharp in their attack for the first 10 minutes. Then right back Dodong Villareal got under Loyola midfielder Matt Hartmann’s skin with some physical play. Surprisingly, the Sparks as a whole looked affected over supposed non-calls or “bad” calls. The midfield practically disappeared as they were unable to slip that ball into the final third or into the box. There were gaping holes in the midfield tat forced Loyola’s center backs to move up a little higher to plugs the gaps.
It was certainly tough for Loyola that did not dress Arnel Amita, Paolo Bugas and Simon Greatwich who would have helped in the middle.
Just like that the game turned with Archers making repeated runs at Loyola while puncturing their defense with startling regularity. I would venture to say that the Sparks’ defense saved Loyola (as did the superb goaltending by Baba Sampana) in the first half. GAU, as they are wont to do with their inability to get inside the box, fired away from the outside. Of the four defenders, I’d say that right back PJ Fadrigalan did a superb job with his marking, defense, and runs along the line.
With time slipping away in the first half, LMS head coach Vince Santos moved Phil Younghusband from the forward line to a midfield position (one I always felt where he played much better) while older brother James took his spot alongside Freddie Gonzalez up front.
But Archers’ with their solid back four, held fast.
The second half saw a more compact midfield (close to a diamond formation in the middle) for Loyola as they began to move the ball forward and threaten. Archers’ attacking threat had been squashed.
Fadrigalan’s importance was underscored in two plays – the first was when he did not give up on the ball along the right line to beat Arvin Soliman. Fadrigalan passed the ball to Gonzalez who was inside the box. Gonzalez, sealed in his man, drew another defender before passing out to Lee Joo Young who raced in for and blasted a shot just a foot inside the box that beat GAU’s terrific goalkeeper Patrick Deyto. The shot was too powerful for Deyto to parry as the ball was beyond his fingertips from the lower left side.
Loyola looked to smash Archers as Phil raced in on a pass from James but his blast went high.
Loyola would have another chance to pad the lead but Lee missed another shot inside.
I was surprised however to see Gonzalez and Lee go out for other players (I thought the other players should have been the ones to be subbed out). Am not sure why they were subbed out but when Fadrigalan was erroneously sent off my referee Ariel Motaña in a battle for the ball along the line with Tating Pasilan that changed the game. Fadrigalan bumped Pasilan hoping to get him to push the ball out of bounds. Pasilan turned and swung at the Loyola defender.
Montaña was behind the play but he docked Fardigalan a straight red while giving Pasilan a yellow (there were several of us atop the grandstand of the Emperador Stadium and had an excellent view of what transpired and we all thought that Pasilan would be sent off). Instead, it was Loyola that paid for it.
I spoke with the fourth official and the linesman who saw what happened but they didn’t even bother to exchange notes with Montaña. After the match, I asked why he didn’t call a red on Pasilan and he said that he didn’t think the GAU forward swung at the LMS player but merely warded off (the other two officials disagreed but didn’t bother to correct the referee).
Nothing personal against the ref but he is the guy who gave a card to former Stallion defender Jeremy Hohn who wasn’t even in the play (it was a case of mistaken identity) and was once chased by the entire Army team after a controversial call during the Globe Supercup. Every time he officiates is an adventure because you are not sure what call he is going to make.
Having said that, I was informed that all season long, Archers had been victimized by bad calls and this one was the first that came their way.
Fadrigalan had played well and I’d say would be a candidate for Man of the Match as he had made sure Pasilan wasn’t a threat on his side. He too made that run that led to the goal.
A man down and the substitutions of Gonzalez and Lee would hurt them (GAU made terrific use of their subs that were well-timed as well).
For sure Boyet Cañedo would help but he had just returned from injury. The former Global and Pachanga midfielder had never found his groove with LMS. He didn’t factor in much.
On the other hand, there would be one small but hardly unnoticed sub that would spur Archers. I have always championed their young central midfielder Sean Lee who doesn’t seem to be a fit for GAU.
You see, Lee likes to play the midfield, receive the ball, make a pass, move forward to another spot, receive the ball, and pass again. Not for Archers that likes to play long forward balls to the flanks.
It has been said that there is a lack of commitment or even an attitude about him. I think people conveniently forget that in what is more or less becoming a pro football setting, the young Korean is still a teen or a youngster in a league teeming with twentysomethings and 30-year olds. Of course, he’s immature and still lacking in certain qualities. That is why it is up to the coaching to work on his confidence. Sports is a confidence game.
Lee won three fouls including one that led to their first goal, a near one off a free kick by a Jesse Martindale dummy, and the marginal score by Jonjon Melliza.
All one has to do is take a look at the recent success of Stallion and General Trias to see how the short passing game by the Korean-flavored squads helped them win. Lee’s game is better suited to teams that like to play the middle like Kaya (with the superb Chris Greatwich pulling strings in the middle) or even Global. Martindale is good addition to the club but there is a glaring lack of play in the middle. It is my belief that central play opens you up to more options as compared to simple wing play and a cross. I am not saying that Lee is on Greatwich’s level but GAU really needs to build confidence with some of their players. Having said that, I have always wondered why they dropped Gong Villa to Forza. Why drop him and not get anyone to replace him in the central midfield spot?
On the other hand, Lee has to improve on his decision-making. This is not the UAAP where he played awesome in his lone season with FEU in Season 74. He has to build his body in order to not get knocked down by the taller, more physical and beefier opponents (I wonder if their coaches recognize that). By the same token, I would work on Phil Younghusband’s acceleration to make him more dangerous.
Melliza’s goal came off the side that was once occupied by Fadrigalan.
The result was a huge 2-1 win for Archers and a loss that will hurt Loyola’s standing with Global having a game this coming Tuesday.
This was Loyola’s to win and as much as a bum call changed the complexion of the match, they should have done better in the first half especially since Chieffy Caligdong wasn’t there to raid their flanks. I am told that they played superb early in the season until injuries hurt them. And now they’ve traded long-time players Ref Cuaresma and Jake Morallo to Jeepney.
It’s back to the drawing board for them.
Humility is knowing when you should voluntarily go out for someone else who can get the job done.