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, March 12, 2014

UFL Tuesday: Breaking down Loyola’s 5-0 win over Pasargad

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Breaking down Loyola’s 5-0 win over Pasargad
by rick olivares



Fadrigalan    Bonney    Ashime    Dorlas

Elnar    Del Rosario    Lee WH    Hartmann

Younghusband   Lee JY


Fateh    Akbari    De Los Reyes

Bayemeg    Hossein

Echin   Ubiam    Weidmar     Mendiola



Pre-match overview of Loyola and Pasargad
Coming off their first loss in a while, Loyola (9-2-1) needed to take this game with Global breathing down their necks. No way were they going to underestimate Pasargad even if their opponent had a massive facelift (they dropped six including Jaham Taher and added six including). Loyola Coach Vince Santos said you have to put your guard up against the unknown especially with Boyet Cañedo, James Younghusband, and Park Bo Bae injured.

After not having watched the Sparks in a while, I was surprised to see that they had gone to a 4-4-2 formation rather than the 4-2-3-1 they ran almost exclusively the previous year. I always felt that they were a big field team where the 4-2-3-1 works better. When they ran that some players had a tendency to run up field leaving behind large tracts of open space to be hit for the counter. That was evident in the Kaya game that was the main match of the Tuesday doubleheader. The 4-4-2, I felt, would give them a more compact formation in my opinion.

But that was to be tested as well.

Pasargad on the other hand is not the one I had seen the previous two years. There had been wholesale changes with Charles Ujam the only familiar face. Without knowing the on goings behind the team, I am not sure how competitive they could be with all the changes. One or two new and good players will not be enough to save a team.

I felt for my friend Pasargad coach Ayi Aryee who is in a difficult position as his side is mired in the relegation zone (1-1-6).

First half:
The Sparks struggled to get the ball into the final third. Either the pass to the strikers was short, long, or intercepted. The midfielders, Alex Elnar in particular, couldn’t get his passes right and his decision making wasn’t too good for this match (it was one of those days). It didn’t help that Pasargad’s new signing, central midfielder and playmaker Hossein Doustdarsefidmazghi – that’s a mouthful -- was tearing right through Armand Del Rosario and Lee Won Hyung.

The Sparks were bothered initially by the physical play (physical not dirty and there’s a difference) of Pasargad. Coupled with the poor passing in the final third, they couldn’t mount a proper attack. Their best offense came from the corners – seven in the first half – where Phil Younghusband targeted the tall Sam Bonney – for chances.

Aryee’s team had better shot opportunities to Loyola as their new signings – Hossein Doustdarsefidmazghi and Mohsen Akbari Sarabi – made their presence felt.

Despite a lack of chemistry, Pasargad mounted some serious threats because of Hossein’s ability to switch his team around in a millisecond from defense to a quick counter.

Hossein has pace, vision, and a mean right boot. I thought his ability to find Hamed Fateh on the left wing as well as Akbari or Cuyos in the middle was fantastic. He reminded me of Hamed Hajimehdi (who along with his former Pasargad teammates were cheering from the stands for 50 bucks quipped Misagh Bahadoran) except Hossein is faster.  

Hossein nearly put Pasargad on the score sheet with a long-range effort. He spotted Loyola goalkeeper Baba Sampana who had ventured off his line and Hossein fired a howitzer from some 10-feet past the midfield line. Sampana’s full extension tip while backtracking saved the ball and a goal.

Despite his near howler, the Ghanaian was Loyola’s MVP in the first half for his series of wondrous saves. With Loyola looking shaky on defense, Hossein was finding cracks in the defense. Akbari even had a bicycle kick from outside the box hit the crossbar.

Pasargad’s second best chance to get a goal ahead of Loyola was when Hossein found Fateh with a forward pass from the middle and the former beat PJ Fadrigalan. He darted in from the left with Akbari providing support up the middle. Fateh fired a powerful low range shot that Sampana saved.

In Loyola’s next offensive, Matthew Hartmann’s forward pass found an onrushing Phil Younghusband whose one-touch volley beat keeper Jerome Cuyos.

Pasargad had paid for blowing their chances.

Second half:
Loyola made crucial changes to fix their shaky defense and their right midfield when Freddie Gonzalez came in for Elnar (Lee dropped back to Elnar’s slot while Gonzalez moved forward).

When Yves Ashime went out early in the first half because of an ankle injury, Joaco Cañas came in shoring up the middle.

The other change was the tight marking of Hossein with some gulang to go with it. As it was his first taste of UFL football, all his getting knocked to the ground, shredded his concentration. He became a non-factor. With no one to get jumpstart their offense, Pasargad came undone.

Matthew Hartmann continued his brilliant play with another cross this time finding Gonzalez (who up to that point had not had any influence on the game) for a header and a 2-nil lead that eased the pressure and broke the game wide open.

Hartmann was rewarded for his efforts when he struck from the left with a difficult shot that hit darted in from the right, 3-nil.

I’d like to point out the first two goals that came off assists by Hartmann. In the first half, when Loyola was struggling, the support from the middle was too late. When the cross came in there was no one home to slot or fire the ball in. Cuyos too made excellent reads and saves.

Hartmann’s crosses were on the money.

In one instance in the second half, Fadrigalan was coming in from the right side of the box and instead of a chip or lofting the ball over to a teammate his cross went long and sailed out of harm’s way (for Pasargad). Hartmann’s and Gonzalez’ crosses were examples of precision.

Phil Younghusband closed out the scoring with his second strike of the match to make it 5-nil.

Post-match thoughts:
Great adjustments by Loyola.

Huge “bunots” by Vince Santos. Cañas helped plug that hole in the back. Furthermore, you really have to be ready to play as shown by Jake Morallo’s goal.

But Loyola paid for this win with Sam Bonney getting a red card and Roxy Dorlas foolishly picking up a yellow for a deliberate handball near the midfield line after he was angered when he had his foot stepped on. I don’t think that you can lose concentration and pick up needless cautions that will hurt your club.

However, the bigger hurt was laid on Pasargad that succumbed to their eighth loss. I hear they have a few more talented players coming in but it will take more than a few recruits to turn things around. We saw this two years ago.


Goal of the game: Phil Younghusband's volley off a pass by Matt Hartmann.

Player of the Game: Matthew Hartmann. Two assists and one goal! Nice!

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