Well, we did it.
14 wins (team record), 51 points, 3rd place and a spot in Europe. Not bad for a team predicted to finish 11th. I’ll put on my “clairvoyant Jordan” hat and mention that I said back in March/April that our realistic goal was third place. I never liked the idea that our public stated goal was just to finish in the top half of the league. That seemed like stupidly low bar to shoot for. Turns out I was right and VPS was a better team than anyone thought, including perhaps ourselves.
I won’t talk about the games other than this: Jaro was our most comfortable game of the season, which I expected considering they had given up weeks earlier. IFK Mariehamn is a game that just as well could have been cancelled. Neither team had any interest in being there and after seeing how the field was cutting up, no player was willing to put in a challenge and risk tearing their thigh or groin or something else. To make things worse, we had a referee who made calls that make me wonder if he has any friends in Singapore, if you know what I mean. That said, after the game we celebrated our bronze medals!
Those first two paragraphs were written like five weeks ago, so I’ll leave them but not finish that post. It would be kind of useless to describe our celebrations that night and others at this point. Last season is in the past and that team is its own entity and separate from VPS 2014 and going forward.
For those who care, I’ve been doing well back home in Indianapolis. I see my family every day and I get to watch my niece grow up in front of my eyes. My friends who I’ve had since middle school and even earlier are around and I’ve enjoyed seeing them and catching up. I also love that beers cost $2 at restaurants and $0.60 at grocery stores!
|not the last pic of Indianapolis in this post|
A few people have given me well-wishes on facebook and I really appreciate that. I know how it is with fans, and rightly or wrongly they support the team over the individuals wearing the jersey. As soon as I walked off the field in the last game, the fans of the club really have no duty to support me whatsoever until/unless I return. The fact that quite a few people wished me well anyway is very heartwarming. These well wishes lead me to have to make something clear though: I was not homesick during the season. I knew what moving to Finland meant and the fact that I missed my family doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not I’d consider going back to Europe. I’ll talk a little bit about my situation later in this post, but I just wanted to say that I’m willing to live anywhere and having my family in America does not attach me to this country whatsoever.
As for the club itself, I’m impressed with who they’ve brought in this winter and also that they re-signed some key players in the club. The boys have already started training again which is crazy to me, but it seems like most Veikkausliiga clubs are training now so I guess that’s normal. On the flip side, I’m a bit disappointed by the players that don’t seem to be coming back. The class of 2013 (Henri, Dafaa, Kerr, Ameobi, Smith, Seabrook, Hoivala, Lomski) did A LOT for VPS last summer. We were by no means responsible for all of the success, but these players were the changes between 9th place in 2012 and 3rd place in 2013. I’ll note that we weren’t the only reason the team did so well; players like Koskimaa, Fowler, Antti and Strandvall played out of their minds the whole year. But I also don’t think that a random grouping of players would have done nearly as well as the Class of 2013 did. You’d think that type of contribution would be something that a club would fight to keep together. After all, there’s no reason we couldn’t dream about silver or even gold medals with that group plus Morrissey, a healthy Jarno, and a 3rd CB to rotate in to keep our defense fresh and allow Fowler (one of the best MFs in Finland) to play alongside Dafaa.
|Indianapolis...also known as NAPTOWN!|
That said, I haven’t loved how the recent crop of players has been treated these past few weeks. We had the best defense in the league, and unceremoniously dropped one of our CBs. We scored something like 35-40 goals last year, and as of now about 20 of those goals are not back. VPS kept Henri and Anthony who were the best two players from that class, but also seem to be letting a lot of us walk. I’m just speculating, but I think that they believe they can find another group of guys for the class of 2014 who will do just as well as last year’s new guys. I hope they do, because I really like VPS and want the club to succeed as much as possible. Or I could be completely wrong and they plan on bringing everyone back, which would be even better. I also know that everybody doesn’t necessarily want to be back and that can complicate things.
As for me personally, this offseason has been dramatically different from past years. Last year for example, I didn’t hear from any teams about a possible tryout/contract until February. That club was VPS and it’s a good thing I impressed them, because otherwise I don’t know where I would have ended up. This year though, my phone has been metaphorically “blowing up”. Of course I’ve spoken with VPS, but I can’t/won’t say anything else on that situation. Come next season I’ll either be there or I won’t, and at this point there’s no reason for me to fuel speculation beyond saying that we’ve spoken. I’ve also had interest from random places (Asia, Australia) as well as not-so-random places (America: MLS, NASL, USL-Pro, Finland). As a result, I’m sure that I will have a contract done far sooner than March like this past season. That’s always good on the wallet!
|Indy city center. In a lot of ways similar to Vasaa city center.|
I’ve said enough at this point. I’ll try to update this thing more often this winter, but I don’t know how much things of interest I’ll have to say. If you don’t see a new post, then trust me you haven’t missed anything. Til next time!