Saturday, June 30, 2012

Matchday 12: Different Process, Same Result

We lost again today, 1-0, to Eskilstuna City.  They were terrible and only created a handful of chances the entire match.  We on the other hand dominated the game, though we also only created a few chances.  I came on in the 58th minute as a striker and had a big chance from a scramble in the box, but the goalie blocked it.  Perhaps I should have scored but I didn’t have much time to really size up the goal and the keeper saved it with pretty much just throwing his arms up.  He did a good job of making himself big and in the end made the save.  Also, for the second successive home game, I put the ball in the net only to have it called back.  Last game I had no idea I was flagged for offsides and neither did the goalie.  Today though I thought I might have been off even though I didn’t see the linesman.  I don’t know if the goalie saw the flag go up, but I suspect he did because I rounded him rather easily.

I won’t go into much detail about the match.  The only thing I will say is that we’ve totally abandoned the passing game we played in the preseason in favor of long balls.  No offense to anyone on our team, but we have no Andrea Pirlo’s in the squad.  For that reason, we can’t be trying to unlock defenses with 40-50 yard aerial passes  from just inside midfield or our own half.  Today our strategy was to breakdown the defense with long passes from one of our holding midfielders.  He would come equal to our backline and then try to play perfect passes to streaking runners on either flank.  It’s the soccer equivalent of calling a Hail Mary every single play.  The problem with playing like that is two-fold.  First, you start off every attack with a pass that has a 30% chance of being completed.  By that logic, you will only retain possession for more than 10 seconds roughly 1 in 3 times you get the ball.  Naturally your players will be forced to chase the ball more and tire out.  The second problem is that the other team simply drops deeper and deeper, making the strategy almost impossible.  That reaction is the equivalent of a defense in football using 8 DB’s when they know your team will do a Hail Mary.  What was a 30% chance becomes too low a chance to really even be considered.

When I came on, I looked to change things a bit.  In the early moments I was successful, linking up with Daniel and Erik quite well and getting that goal that was called back.  Also was a chance where I linked up with the midfield and played a ball that would have put Erik in on goal, but was blocked by a sliding intervention from the center back.  Those were both within 10 minutes of coming on.  Things were looking good.  But then we went back to long diagonal balls and we hardly had another chance.

Training this week wasn’t very good.  We played last weekend, so we had plenty of time to rest but still prepare properly for this match.  Monday was a complete washout because it rained the entire day.  There would have been no way we could have had a decent training in the downpour.  Me and some of the guys didn’t take the day off though; we met at the stadium and lifted weights, while I ran some difficult fitness out on the track since I had only played 20 minutes the day before and needed to do some running.  I did a track-soccer hybrid type workout.  Pretty much that means that I use track distances, but with a soccer rest.  Actually that probably doesn’t help you so I’ll just tell you the workout.  I ran, in order, 200m-300m-400m-200m-300m-400m.  The rest was to job half the distance of the previous run.  So, after the first 200, I jogged 100m and then ran 300m then jogged 150m and so on.  It was quite difficult since my body isn’t used to making runs longer than 60m maximum at a time, but that’s what it takes to get truly fit.  You have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone sometimes.

Anyway, because Monday was rained out the team didn’t get to do anything together that day.  Tuesday all we did was have a intrasquad scrimmage with some filler players from the youth team.  It was largely pointless and afterwards we ran some really difficult fitness, which was even harder for me since I had run so hard the day before.  Wednesday was off (for my birthday, I presume J) and Thursday was a good training, though we didn’t actually work on anything for the match.  Friday was simply a walkthrough.  So, despite the fact that we have been consistently giving up set play goals, we didn’t spend any of our three trainings working on defending set plays.  That’s what made this week of training bad.  We worked hard, but accomplished very little in my opinion.

For those of you who care, I still don’t have my contract situation sorted.  My contract ends at the end of July and I don’t have any offers as of now.  I’ve played in every game I’ve been eligible so far this season except against Vasalunds (a 5-1 loss).  With the injuries we have at the club right now I think that I’ll be offered an extension, I just worry that once everyone heals up that I might get buried on the bench here.  I’ve said it before, but I’m too old to be buried on any lower-division bench. If an MLS team wants to pay me $90k a year and put me on the bench then I’ll happily sit, but for essentially $1200 a month(before tax)  I get here, no thanks.
Lastly, Allsvenskan started back up today after their Euro Championships break.  I like that Allsvenskan schedules games on a stagger because it gives me a game to watch every night during the summer.  I'm excited for the league to be back and running!
Actually I lied, that wasn't the last thing.  To quote one of my favorite shows in America, Pardon the Interruption, a melancholy happy trails to Tom Noden and Philip Zamayeri.  Both of these players have left the team.  Noden's contract was up today and Zamayeri left the team for his own reasons which I don't fully know.  Even if I did know I wouldn't put those reasons in a public forum like this.  I got along well with both of those guys and I'll miss them.  I wish them nothing but the best with their new clubs, whoever those clubs might be!  When you see this photo imagine Boyz II Men's "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye" playing in the background...
Zamayeri on the far left, Noden in the grey sweater in front.

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