Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Matchday 32: Losing is so last week

What the...


Oh shit.

 Now I’m no rocket scientist, but you don’t have to be to know what these pictures imply.

(What, you say?  You can’t believe I’m not a rocket scientist?  I know I seem pretty smart, but c’mon…could it really be possible that I have these movie star good looks, incredible soccer skills, AND super intelligence?  I can’t have it all, even though it seems like it ;) )

For those who maybe don’t get it, the shovel and swing cover are for impending snow.  I had hoped to avoid snow during my time in Finland, but now it’s looking like I will have no choice!  Fortunately though our last game is gonna be in the afternoon and the weather in Vaasa is warmer anyway.  Speaking of our last game…

We played Honka last night and for my first time in Finland…WE WON!


(Just play this song as you read the rest of the post.  It will help set the mood.)

This win was obviously a very big boost for us.  We closed the gap on Jaro to just one point, meaning that with the right result in Jaro’s game we could survive with just a draw.  We’re not playing for a draw, mind you, but if we find out that Jaro is losing 6-0 and we’re tied then I wouldn’t be surprised if we subbed in a few extra defenders and held out for a draw.  At this point it doesn’t have to be pretty.  Any combination of results that keeps us in the league will do.  It will be difficult, especially since our captain and leader Shane Robinson won’t be playing because of his red card (I’ll get to that), but we’ve got no choice.  This club is too important to go down.  We’re confident that TPS will do us a favor and beat Jaro which means that all we have to do is focus on winning our game.

As for the Honka game itself, we did just enough to win.  In my experience (I’ve been on more losing teams than I care to admit) the first win is always the hardest to get.  For anyone watching, you could tell that we never seemed fully comfortable with a lead, whether it be over HJK, KuPS, Inter, Mariehamn, etc.  Last night though was good because we kind of turned a corner.  Even though we were winning, we still attacked and put pressure on Honka all over the field.  We rarely sunk back and absorbed pressure, which is the only thing we did in the second halves against HJK and KuPS.  As a result, Kert wasn’t forced to make any big saves until the very end of the match when we had a bit of a goalline scramble, cleared away by your truly!  So the first big talking point of this game was our ability to close out.

The second point was the referee.  To be honest, we’ve had our fair share of bad refs during the season, but this guy was the worst.  We’ve also had quite a few very good refs in my opinion, but those guys must have been on vacation because we got stuck with a center ref who only saw one team.  Dema slides the ball and gets stepped on?  Yellow card on him.  Kris gets hit in the nose and starts bleeding?  Oh no problem we won’t even bother to stop the play to check on a guy on the ground holding his head.  Robbo gets taken down in the box?  Of course not we’ll just give him a 2nd yellow card for diving.  I get across my defender and will be free on goal but get pushed in the back?  Nope it must have just been a bad dream I was having.  The worst thing for a player is having to play by a different set of rules than the other team.  It’s even more infuriating than an inconsistent ref, which is the 2nd worst thing that can happen.  Nothing makes players madder and risks the game getting out of hand more than something being a foul at one end and then the exact same thing is not a foul at the other.  That unfairness happened all night and made the referee as big of a story as the players, which is never good.

The third talking point was Honka’s team selection.  They fielded a team of kids.  All of them are full professionals and first team players as far as I know, but the team we faced was certainly not the full strength Honka team.  I think all the new players in Honka’s team helped us to hold our lead late on, as they were probably pretty tired by the end.  Half their starting team wasn’t used to playing 90 minutes, so they couldn’t press us as hard as some other teams have in the last 20 minutes.

The last thing I’ll talk about before I go is my own play.  I definitely did not have my best game, but I made a few good plays for the team.  I assisted the goal after running about 60 yards with the ball and near the end I cleared a ball that was rolling perilously close to our goalline.  For my efforts (and specifically those two plays, I assume) I was awarded one star in the 3 stars presentation.  Yet again, I didn’t receive my prize!  I’m gonna have to go to the Haka office and claim my prizes from these games!

 The meme:

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