Saturday, August 31, 2013


The sky is not falling.

Things haven’t gone so well for us the past few games (or the past few months, really) but VPS is still ok.  We’ve still got games against all of our rivals for 3rd place, and we’ve beaten all of them at some point this season.  There’s no reason to think that we can’t go on a run to finish these last eight games.  Like I said in my last post I think, we only need four more wins to essentially guarantee a third place finish.  We have RoPS at home (we’ve beaten them here already), JJK away (won there too), KuPS at home, Inter away (drew there), HJK at home (beat them this year), Jaro at home (beat them here), MIFK away (won there) and MYPA away (not looking forward to that).  My point is that even though I assume the fanbase is freaking out right now, things are not as bad as they seem.  Of course, a bit better play in July and August would have us maybe talking about winning a trophy, but that’s in the past and now we need to do what’s necessary to finish in third.

Obviously the main reason that finishing third is important is that it will give VPS entry into the 2013-2014 Europa League qualifiers and the $120,000 that comes along with it.  The possibility of a big bonus motivates players to want to play these games as much as prestige, since there really is no prestige in the first round of Europa League qualifiers.  They don’t even bother sending the maroon signage to put around the stadium.  They just send you a referee from Latvia or Moldova or somewhere and match you against a team from Uzbekistan (I know, and I’m not changing it).  That said, I don’t think that VPS will be throwing around huge bonuses anyway, since getting too loose with the pursestrings seems to have been a big problem in the near enough past that people still remember how poorly it went.  Realistically, bonuses would only come if VPS progressed to the second round or beyond.

Moving away from soccer, I need to apologize a bit to people who regularly check up on the blog.  I haven’t posted for the longest time since I started the thing.  I’m sorry about that, but I’m just all out of things to talk about.  I’ve essentially holed up in my apartment since Celia left and have lived an incredibly boring life.  I even started buying more frozen foods so that I wouldn’t have to go to the grocery store as often.  Essentially, I’m just missing America.  Last year I really missed my baby niece, since I had just gotten to know her a little bit then came to Europe.  Now, I miss almost everything about America, even things that are available here but that I don’t have.  I miss SportsCenter and HGTV.  I miss driving my car.  I miss the $1 menu at McDonald’s (and every other fast food place).  I miss going to Indianapolis Colts and Indiana Pacer games.  I miss being able to read all the signs.  I miss all of those things, not to mention my family and network of friends.  The reason I go to London whenever I get a chance is that it reminds me of America, and as much as I like to think otherwise I get homesick every time I come to Europe.  I’d probably be less homesick if I made $1 million a year, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen.  I don’t blame Finland for my feelings - if anything Finland makes it easier because everyone speaks english and I can communicate easily.  But if I get a bit homesick in Scandinavia after a few months, I can only imagine how I’d hold up in a Turkey or Austria or China.  I’ve gone on a bit of a tangent again, but the thesis of this paragraph is that I haven’t posted to the blog because I’ve been doing nothing because I’m a little homesick.

That’s all for now.  There is no skyfall just yet.  If we don’t take points off our next two opponents RoPS and JJK though, then maybe it will be time to go to DEFCON 5 (which despite being a phrase, is ironically the opposite of what it means.  DEFCON 5 in reality is not panic, but the least alert DEFCON status.  Something like the phrase “I could care less” which in english is commonly used to mean the opposite of what the phrase actually says).  And if the sky does fall, we’ll just call James Bond and he’ll save the day somehow.  I don’t know the particulars because we watched the movie on the bus and I fell asleep halfway through and woke up during the final scene.  I assume he just shot a lot of people and jumped off ledges until the day was saved.

See you at the game tomorrow!

The meme:  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Slump Buster

I’ve got my new computer, and I’m back blogging again!

I haven’t posted any blog posts this month, but that doesn’t mean a lot hasn’t happened.  We’ve ended our losing run, strengthened our chances of finishing in the medals and I had my best game all season.

Before I talk about those things though, I will state the obvious: my option for the rest of the season has been picked up and I’ll be a VPS player for at least the rest of this season.  That’s a relief, because up until August 1 I was unsure if I’d have a job this month and going forward.  I always assumed that VPS would want to keep me, but soccer is a business and the club has to do the best thing for them.  The clubs interests may not have aligned with paying my salary for the next three months.  I’m glad that wasn’t the case though and I get to stay.

I thought about doing a long post about our chances of finishing in the top three before we started our last round of 11 games, but I got too lazy.  Instead I’ll do a brief synopsis of what I was going to write.  I figure that we’ll need 50 points to guarantee a place in the medals.  Based on the 33 points that we had coming into our last 11 games, we needed 17 points to get there.  Essentially that means that we need five wins.  I came up with these estimates based solely on how teams are performing this year.  I didn’t look at the historical numbers needed to finish in the top three, I just looked at the teams close to us and their individual situations.  Jaro just sold their best midfielder; TPS is in a terrible slump at the moment; IFK Mariehamn had their two top scorers hurt, their best player sent back to Turkey and their best current attacker inexplicably buried on the bench; MYPA and KuPS are both really good, but seem too inconsistent to imagine either of them getting the 20+ points they’d need to finish over 50.  Everyone else is too far down the table I think.  The good thing about those numbers is that we only have to worry about ourselves.  That’s a big advantage, and a luxury I wish we had at Haka last year.

Since I waited so long to write this post, I can confirm that last weekend we got our first of those five wins.  We beat FC Lahti who, under the guidance of my former coach Juha Malinen, have been playing some of the best soccer in the league during the second round of 11 games.  They also beat us 3-0 a few games ago so they had a lot of confidence coming in.  I didn’t start the game, but I came on after only six minutes after a head injury to Atte.  That caused a bit of a shakeup in our lineup, as we were already quite short on defenders.  Jesper had to play in the back and he did a really good job in my opinion.  I came on and played my best game all year, due mostly to my increased movement.  Over the past few weeks, I’ve had just about everyone I talk to about my game tell me that I was playing too passively; That I was standing when I should be running, or that I was passing when I should be shooting or dribbling.  Those words finally have started to stick in my mind.  I had those words in my head when I attacked a defender and played a pass to Atte that led to him assisting a goal against Mariehamn, and I had it in my head for both goals I scored against Lahti.  I won’t say much more about the game, besides that I was really happy with how I played and how the team responded to going behind early.  We were in a really bad slump, but still showed that incredible team spirit that I always talk about.  According to the experts before the season, we had the 11th most talent, yet here we are with a medal a realistic goal.

In off-the-field “news”, Celia came to visit me for the past week.  It’s always nice to have her around.  She really makes life bearable in the absence of my family.  We didn’t really do much, but just being around her is good enough for me.  I even managed to not bankrupt myself like I did when I last visited her in London!  I like playing for VPS, but I really wish that Vaasa was a bigger city than it is.  Exactly the same as it is now, just with 10x as many people and all the attractions that come along with a population of that size.  I kind of avoid having people visit me because I just assume they’ll be bored.  It’s not a swipe at Vaasa, just saying that if someone was gonna travel all the way to Scandinavia I’d like them to have more to do than there is in Vaasa.  Or maybe I just don’t know the city as well as I should!  And any boredom she might feel here is balanced out by the overwhelming number of things to do in London.  I’ll be going there either early next month or in October, depending on if/how much time we have off during the international breaks.

That’s all for now.  We head to Turku next to play TPS.  This is a really big game as TPS could well be our biggest rival for third place this year.  A win for us would put us 12 points clear of them, though they’d have two games in hand.  Regardless, a win for us would make it very difficult for them to catch us as they’d have to win 6-7 of their last 11 games and have us implode.  A loss on the other hand would possibly take our destiny out of our hands.  We’re making our final preparations now and we’ll see how it goes!

No meme today since I don’t have any saved yet on my new computer.