Yesterday was my first game of the season. I got the start and played the full 90, so I was pretty pleased with my fitness. However, there weren’t many more positives for me to take from the match. We lost 2-0 and really were never very dangerous. I can count on one hand our chances to score.
The game was against a team called IF Sirius. They were tied in points for a promotion place last year from division 1 to Superettan, but didn’t get it because of goal difference. Needless to say they were a pretty good team. As always, I’m not going too deep into the match because that’s not necessary but I will make a few observations.
We played the match tactically in a way you would expect against a strong opponent on the road. Rather than constantly high pressure, we sat a bit lower than normal and only pressed if the opportunity presented itself. I think that’s how we should always defend, but that’s neither here nor there. We were looking to find the spaces in behind, specifically to me and the striker. We thought before the match that Sirius’ left back would be marauding forward the whole game, leaving the space he vacated for me to attack on the counter, but he mostly stayed home. I know that Sirius scouted us in our preseason match against Vasby and maybe they anticipated that we would look for me with passes behind their backline. Or maybe the left back simply didn’t feel like running. The result of our tactics though was that Sirius had a large chunk of possession, but mostly in the middle and back thirds. Our possessions were short and direct which actually led to one or two decent chances in the first half, but took a lot of energy to create. The second half was a bit different as Sirius essentially adopted the same tactics as us, leading to both teams having a fair bit of possession in safe areas, but no one really threatening goal. I almost got in on a pass at around the 70 minute mark, but the goalie beat me to it and again around 85 minutes, which led to nothing when I chose to slide a cross on the ground when I maybe had a good enough angle to shoot. We had a few good shots from outside the 18, but the goalie made a couple fantastic saves. That was the game.
Our tactics have affected me in a unique way within the team. Even without knowing Swedish, it was made quite clear to me (in Swedish and English) that Siggi wanted to get me and Joel in behind the defense. We wanted to get the ball there and get it there as soon as possible. This is great for me; I’m fit and all too happy to be a focal point of our offense. You could even say I’m honored at the faith put in my abilities. Unfortunately, it’s not really the style of the rest of the players on the team. From the first day I arrived here I noticed that the technical skill of individual players is very good. That’s because the roster is filled with guys who like to play a short passing game, even to a fault. I’ve already spent 2-3 games cursing my teammates for trying to be too cute when just booting it to me would actually work. It reminds me a lot of my early days at the University of South Florida when I would wonder aloud why no one would make the easy pass. I’m interested to see how these competing dynamics resolve themselves this year. Will the players adjust? Will Siggi change the tactics to what is probably more popular with the players, but less likely to be effective? Either way I just hope that I can help out and really use my skills to win some games for ESK.
Aside from the match I was impressed with the city of Uppsala (pronounced: Oops-suh-la), where Sirius play. Uppsala is a city in and of itself, but it’s also kind of a northern suburb of Stockholm. From what I understand it’s kind of a place for people to live who work in Stockholm but don’t want to live in Stockholm. The city also has a big college, so that will always boost population figures. I didn’t see much of the city, but I saw enough to know that I will visit sometime this summer.
That’s all for now. Another week of training is coming up then we go off to play Vasby United. They, along with Sirius were the preseason betting favorites to be promoted. I guess we’re running the gauntlet! I think we can win the game though so there’s reason to be hopeful!