Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Jaro and The Swedish Job

I wouldn’t normally post again so quickly...

...but fuck it, I SCORED! That's two for the season.  Against our rivals Jaro, no less.

I was also hilariously credited with an assist despite two people touching the ball between me and the player who scored (ex-Jaro player Tomas Kula, in case you didn’t already know).

Interestingly, I didn’t speak with Celia the entire day before the game which is really rare.  I might have to consider giving her the silent treatment more often if it leads to me scoring goals!

The game itself wasn’t great, but we came through in the end and got the points.  I said it in my last post but I’ll say it again, the team is finally showing that perseverance that got us into the medals last year.  And don’t look now, but we have 25 points, exactly half of the 50 we got last year at the midway point of our season.  All this without the left back, goalkeeper, striker or center back you would have expected to be our starters back in March.  Imagine how good we’ll be if we ever get everyone healthy and can actually rotate our squad and keep all the players fresh.  Haha who am I kidding?  Everyone knows that VPS can only have 15 healthy players at a time!

We have a bit more time than usual to relax before our next game, so the team organized a quick trip to Tropiclandia for us.  It was really nice and was my first time visiting the facility.  I had a good time but it was nothing compared to Anthony, whom I think would build Tropiclandia in his backyard if he had enough money.  It was a great time though and honestly people must have thought we were a bunch of oversized kids the way we were running around and giggling on the water slides.

We head to Stockholm tomorrow to try and finish the job against The Bromma Boys.  I was hoping they’d lose big over the weekend to Malmo and be demoralized, but instead they drew 1-1 and are probably full of confidence.  The first goal in this game is going to be so vital.  If we score then they’ll have to open themselves up trying to score two goals and give us chances to settle the tie with counterattacking goals.  If they score first then they’ll be ahead on aggregate and we’ll be forced to chase the game and we are not great at that.  Though we did overturn a deficit against Brommapojkarna last week so we could do it again this week if necessary, I just hope we don’t have to do that.

We’ll head to Stockholm a day before the game, so I’m hoping I can get out in the city for a bit.  I really like Stockholm and there’s really no place I’d rather visit in Scandinavia.  Our schedule is pretty full though and I don’t know where our hotel is going to be, so I might be forced to just stay inside until the game Thursday night.

That’s all for now.  Hopefully some of you reading this are heading to Stockholm to cheer us on!  It could be a great night for the club!

The meme:

Friday, July 4, 2014


Giraffes fighting is like people on acid.

Or I guess I should say we’re winning.

We played our first game of the Europa League first round yesterday and came away with a 2-1 victory.  It was a hard fought win, but in the end I think we deserved to win and honestly should have scored one or two more.  We also should have had a great chance to score a goal at the very end of the game when I was played through on goal.  I was clean in, but slowed down anticipating that the ball would bounce up a bit.  Instead, the pass skidded on the turf and put me on a desperate chase.  Fortunately though I made it to the ball just in time before being cleaned out by the goalkeeper.  My foot got caught awkwardly under the ‘keeper and I went down with a lot of pain.  Unfortunately, the referee saw nothing wrong with this obvious foul and didn’t call anything, or check on me to see if I was ok.  This was terrible refereeing that pissed me off.  First, it’s as obvious a foul as you’ll ever see in a game.  Second, it’s a red card offence because the goalkeeper was the last defender.  That would have been enormous considering that Brommapojkarna didn’t bring a backup senior ‘keeper and possibly would have had to play a junior ‘keeper for the return leg next week.  Third, the double standard for attackers vs. defenders is infuriating.  Imagine if in that situation the goalkeeper had got there first and touched the ball past me and then I had slide tackled him?  I would absolutely be called for a foul and get a yellow card, if not red.  If the referee didn’t think the goalkeeper fouled me, then he must assume that I dived, in which case I deserve a yellow card.  But I didn’t dive, as you can see below. Besides, I want to score so that I can put a Europa League goal on my CV to give it some clout.

Although I didn’t write anything here, I felt very strongly that we could beat this team if we put them under adversity.  I was vindicated when we scored our second goal from a horrible mistake just two minutes after our first goal.  Brommapojkarna (which btw means “The Bromma Boys” and is the single coolest name in all of sports) have been having a bad season and the team is mostly young talents from Sweden.  Thus they are far less equipped to deal with adversity than a team of veterans like, to pick at random, VPS.  I played on a similarly-designed team with Enkoping SK.  We had a ton of skill, but no history with adversity.  It was almost the same team that had dominated Division 2 a year earlier and we had easily enough talent for Division 1.  But as soon as things went wrong they just compounded and by June we were just making up ways to lose.  We (VPS) screwed up by giving Brommapojkarna the first goal, but we really got in their heads once we took the lead.  None of their players looked tired until we scored our second goal, then suddenly they were all tired.

It’s America’s birthday, so I figure I’ll talk a bit about USA!  Not the country really, because who cares, but instead about our recently doomed World Cup campaign.  I won’t talk too long because this won’t relate at all to most people who may read this.  The United States both overachieved and underachieved simultaneously.  The team advanced to the Round of 16 and only lost after extra time.  On the flip side we only won one game.  We were dominated in three of our four matches, only controlling the game against a completely out of whack Portugal team.  We lacked creativity while our most creative players sat at home (Landon Donovan) or on the bench (Mix Diskeruud).  We brought Aron Johansson over Eddie Johnson or Terrance Boyd, then benched him because he wasn’t as big and strong as the guys we left home.  We took one of our best performers in the tournament (Kyle Beckerman) and replaced him in the knockout game with Geoff Cameron, a player having a horrendous tournament.  And we put Cameron in a position he literally never plays (he’s a right back at Stoke City and a CB with USA).  Despite all these coaching mistakes the team still made it out of the group of death, so that’s something.  The fact that we gave up the most scoring chances (72, tied with freaking Honduras) and created the fewest doesn’t seem to bother most people.  The point I’m making, and I promise I’m wrapping up though I could write 5000 words on this, is that USA got very lucky even though they shouldn’t have had to.  We have the players to get the same results without all the luck.  We should have been able to beat Ghana without a miraculous goal from a teenage reserve center back.  We should be able to lose by a goal to Belgium without our goalkeeper making literally 16 saves.  In the end, it all gets washed over because Americans care more about drama than results.  If we won every game 4-0 and won the World Cup the team wouldn’t be nearly as popular as they are as lovable losers.  Our goalkeeper Tim Howard is now a hero at home and the rest of our team goes back to their clubs honestly believing they did everything they could do, which is what everyone tells them but is not the truth at all.

Off the field the mood of the team is really good at the moment.  Players are finally starting to come back from injury, plus we’ve got a new player in Jordan Brown (or Jordan “B”, since I’m obviously Jordan “A”).  This has been good for the group and we’ve been able to improve the quality of trainings which has translated into better game performances.  The team is also showing the resolve that defined us last year.  Coming from behind to beat Brommapojkarna was something that reminded me of last year’s team, where every game we ran wild during the last ten minutes.  We’re getting stronger as the season goes on, and that’s great news for our fans!

Our next game is away to Jaro, a cruelly difficult and emotional game for us before our return leg in Stockholm. To make matters worse, we really need to get something from the game and we don't have enough players to trot out a B team even if we wanted to. Hopefully we get a good crowd and earn the 3 points!

The meme: