Friday, February 10, 2012

League Cup Match 2: Disaster in Turku

February 10:

I was really excited about our match today against TPS.  They are a team from Turku that finished something like 4th or 5th last year I think.  Sami named me to the starting lineup again, which of course is a big plus.  If I’m going to play at Haka I want to be a starter so I can have as much time as possible to show my skills.  Also, Finland plays with 3 subs like most of the world instead of the 5 subs that were allowed in USL and NASL.  That means that there is a greater chance that if I don’t start a match I won’t play at all.  Long story short, it’s good to be in the first XI.
My excitement lasted until about the 3rd minute of the game.  I was playing as the center forward in a 4-3-3 formation with a #10 style playmaker underneath me.  The only problem was that the playmaker was Obi Metzger, a guy who has been sitting out training since I’ve arrived with injury.  I have no problem with people resting injuries and not training, and I don’t think for one second that Obi was milking any problems he may have.  Where I have a problem though, is the fact that I was made to play in a match against a team superior to us with my most important partner on the field being a guy I’ve never played with.  We’ve never even had so much as a conversation.  Once again, not knocking the guy, knocking the situation.  It sucked. 

Anyway we lost the game 1-0 but the score didn’t reflect the contest.  They didn’t have many great chances, but they dominated possession and prevented us from having any chances at all.  Other than a free kick in stoppage time of the second half, I can’t think of one chance that we created.  There were only one or two corner kicks and no dangerous flank serve set pieces.
As for myself, I was terrible.  I was gassed by the end of the first half because I spent the entire half chasing six guys (4 defenders + 2 deep lying CMs) who were happy to just pass around me while the rest of my team stayed in a tight block 20 yards behind me.  I tried to help myself by dropping back the line at which I started to defend, but it only had the effect of making the rest of the team drop as well.  So I took one for the team and ran like a dog with no hope of ever getting the ball. 

Apparently not enough.

At halftime Sami berated me, Obi and one other attacking player (I guess I should start using players’ names so you can relate better to who I’m talking about.  The other player was Topi Jarvi.).  Sami said that we weren’t working hard enough to get open and showed us certain runs he wanted to see in the second half.  The runs part was directed at me since Topi and Obi had both gotten subbed out in the first half.  I tried to do what Sami asked and in fairness I might have been clear on the goalkeeper had a cynical foul by a defender not been committed.  However a mix of fatigue and a red card to our left winger Juha Pirinen (Piri) made it impossible to be effective.
As a reminder, I have a clause in my contract which says I can be terminated on or before February 11.  I was really confident that my contract would not be terminated after the first match, but after today’s match and the halftime grilling I received I’m not so sure.  That said, I’m the starter here so there’s not really a ton of options if I’m let go.  Also, the whole team played poorly today so I don’t think Sami can place too much of that on my shoulders.

Tomorrow is a big day!  The team is having a bonding day with wives and girlfriends so I guess I’m going on that.  If they are planning on letting me go, I’m not sure exactly when they’d tell me.  It seems like it would be quite cruel to give me that news immediately before or after going to a team bonding trip.  But then again I was cut from the Colorado Rapids on picture day and the Columbus Crew the day before they left for trip to England, so I’ve been on the receiving end of some poorly timed pink slips.  Wish me luck!

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