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.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

My thoughts about the Philippines' historic first opening win ever in Group Stage play in the Suzuki Cup

We're going thataway! Simone Rota points to his teammates after scoring the equalizer for the Philippines in its 4-1 romp over Laos.
This appears in the Monday November 24, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

My thoughts about the PMNT’s historic first opening win ever in Group Stage play in the Suzuki Cup
by rick olivares

There’s a sense of history coming into the 2014 Suzuki Cup. The Philippines, for the first time ever in the tournament’s 18-year history, won its group stage opener, 4-1, over Laos.

That certainly sets a good tone for the tournament. Far better than the 1-1 draw with Singapore four years ago and certainly much better than the 2-1 loss to Thailand two years ago.

Here’s what I think of the Philippines’ win.

I love the pace and power the PMNT displayed.
From the opening whistle, the Philippines attacked dictated the pace and that had the Laotians on their heels. Martin Steuble on the right flank and Misagh Bahadoran (including Jerry Lucena) on the left created problems for David Booth’s side.

If the central midfield play had been better then Laos might have been blown out even worse.

They moved up the ball better than any time I have seen them in the Suzuki Cup a far cry from the slower pace and supposed ball control in the previous edition.

It looks like the Philippines is in superb shape as they sustained their attack for 90 and change while the physicality somewhat took away from Laos’ attack.

You have to love the response of the PMNT after going down, 1-nil.
In 2010, the team was happy to be there and take down those who underestimated them.

In 2012, there was pressure to prove the 2010 semifinals seat was no fluke.

This time, the PMNT is considered to be one of the best sides in Southeast Asia, and for the first time are going in with a lot of confidence never mind if the lead was poor. The lead up to the Suzuki Cup has always been poor. There is something about playing in the main tournament as opposed to friendlies that brings out the best in teams and the Philippines, at least in the last four years, has been no exception.

Want further proof? In 2010, after Singapore scored first, the nationals responded with a Chris Greatwich goal. In 2012, after going down by two goals to Thailand in the first half, the Philippines responded much better in the second. Paul Mulders pulled one back and the Philippines had good chances to equalize as they got better in the second half of play.

That goal by Phil Younghusband right before the halftime whistle was a killer.
You’re even Steven at 1-1 and are thinking of adjustments to make. All coaches would love for no mistakes to be made right before the break and that pace of the Philippines and cross by Lucena saw Phil Younghusband break through with a header for his 41st international goal and his third in Suzuki Cup play. Now Booth has to figure out how to get on level terms aside from stabilizing his team.

Know that every time Phil scores in the Suzuki Cup, the Philippines is 3-0.

The substitution of Mark Hartmann by Patrick Reichelt was an inspired one.
Thomas Dooley has taken a lot of stick from his players and some quarters about his choices to come on to the game.

Mark Hartmann wasn’t his usual influential self and Dooley send in Reichelt who normally starts. As if the Philippines’ pace wasn’t giving Laos problems then there’s another speedster with a good head for the game coming in. From a 2-1 lead that was by no means safe, Reichelt’s third goal all but put out the fight in Booth’s side. Reichelt would score another making it two goals in 12 minutes. Talk about an impact substitution.

And Dooley will forever be the man who finally gave Patrick Deyto his chance. And it’s about damn time. Deyto was great for much of the match except for that near howler in the 64th minute when a forward pass – similar to the Lucena to Younghusband connection that resulted on a score – found a gap and was nearly poked in when the PMNT ran out. But since there no goal was scored I am sure Deyto will not make that mistake again. But if the midfield defense – especially on the flanks – was quick to recover then they would have not been in that position.

As for the tactics? Steuble on the wings? Great decision. No one saw that coming. Nice ace, up Dooley’s sleeve.

What does the team need to work on?

The play coming up the middle.
If Hartmann can spray those passes forward and diagonally with his trademark accuracy then opponents are in a world of hurt. And a strong presence in the central midfield will create for better combination plays.

The defense just outside the box.
I noticed some acres of space. Good teams will exploit that. Some players play too high. Simple adjustments in positioning will solve that.

Massive win. Now to take care of business with Indonesia and repay some old debts.


The Philippines, for the first time ever in the tournament’s 18-year history, won its group stage opener.

Know that every time Phil Younghusband scores in the Suzuki Cup, the Philippines wins. That tally is 3-0.


  1. Don't you love the weekend: ALE wins their first game, so did the Azkals, and now Pacquiao, with 6 knockdowns to boot.

    Also, I like that your pieces primarily call the team the "National Team", rather than the "Azkals", but that's because I feel the latter term "glamorizes" the team too much.

    1. I began to drop mentioning the "A" name some time ago for many reasons. I don't think you will hear Hugo Lloris say, Les Bleus or even Steven Gerrard say, The Three Lions must win. It's "France" or "England". The name of the country is not the "A" name but "Philippines".

    2. Wow that's true Rick, Now I should call them Philippines more!