Excitement and controversy. It seems to happen to us every tournament. If you want to know where we stand and my thoughts on the games read on.
First, where do we stand?
I’d say we stand in okay position; not great, but not bad. Here are the standings:
As always, MP=Matches Played, Pts=Points, GS=Goals Scored, GA=Goals Allowed, GD=Goal Difference. In tournaments, the points are awarded differently from our league (and international standard). 6 pts are awarded for a win, and 3 for a tie. 1 point is awarded for each of the first 3 goals a team scores (win or loss), and 1 point for a shut-out.
To make it to the final, we need to finish in 1st or 2nd place. Right now we are in 3rd place, 8 points behind 2nd place West Houston Man U, and 13 points behind Revolution KAOS; we are ahead of 4th place National Fusion only on tie-breakers. However, we have played 1 less game than those teams ahead of us, so while they can only earn a maximum of 10 more points each, we can earn up to 20.
Our first game is against last-place team Sugar Land Soccer Club Tigers. Our second game is against first-place Revolution KAOS. If we get all 20 points, we will not only make it to the final, but win the group. If we just win both games, even without taking maximum points, we are almost mathematically certain to make it to the final. So that’s it: win 2, and we’re in. Both of our opponents are eminently beatable, but both need be taken seriously.
It was 2 strange games. In game 1, we had much better of the play, but just before halftime they figure out our weakness: a slow defense, and they sent every chance they could a long ball over the top for their forwards to run on to. It was how they scored, and the only way they got any chances, because if they tried to move the ball on the ground our defense was resolute. Unfortunately, some bad luck and some less than stellar play combined to leave us unable to score in the first game, and so we left with no points. Disappointing, because I think we can all agree which team looked the best. As the final whistle blew, the coach from the other team screamed “YEAH!!!”, and the kids all celebrated. At first, I felt a little bitter, that they were rubbing our noses in their victory. Looking back on it, I think it more likely an expression of relief, that the team with the most dangerous-looking attacks didn’t win.
In game 2, there were 2 radically different halves, where each team completely dominated. The difference was, we converted 1 chance on Will’s goal, and got a lucky break on the penalty call for the second when we had the better of play, while despite a very porous defense we managed to keep the other team off the scoreboard when they had the better of play.
A quick note about the way the game ended:
Things, obviously, got out of hand. The referee called an astonishingly poor game, both in aspects of rules (offsides calls/non-calls and the soft penalty) and fouls (not calling virtually any of the physical play). I try very hard to remind our players of how fortunate we are to have referees at all (without them, there’d be no games), but in this case the referee allowed the game to slip out of his control, and the consequences were serious on multiple levels. I don’t feel we did anything wrong in this situation, but I want to remind our parents and players of several things:
Intent is very hard to measure. One person’s violent play is another person’s passionate play, and it is important that we remember that, and remind our kids of that as well. The frustration and anger we feel are picked up quickly by our boys.
No parents on the field. When the woman ran onto the field it turned a negative situation into a highly volatile one. HYSA takes these situations seriously, requiring parents who enter the field to be ejected, along with the coaches and trainer for that team. If there are any refusals the match is abandoned. So no parents on the field under any circumstances.
Don’t engage in confrontation. I don’t care what the players from the other team say, to us or to the ref. There is no need to argue, or even approach the opponent. Just walk to the position you want to be in to prepare for the restart, and ignore what the opponents complain about. Likewise, there is no need to argue with the ref; I’ve never seen that work out well.
The best way for us to help our children is to keep calm (also the hardest way?). Those of you who were involved in the Missouri City Cup last season will remember that it was the parent’s and coaches’ outbursts at the ref that preceded the boy losing his temper and earning a 2nd yellow. Our calm demeanor helps our children remain calm. I’m very proud of how our boys conducted themselves, and want to do everything possible to ensure that we maintain that composure which has served us well in multiple games.
Now, back to the fun part–Chelsea01.com’s stars of the games:
- William Symmans. Will has done fantastically in both games. He has improved his play in both offense and defense. Offensively he got his crosses off earlier, even under pressure, than he has before, and that makes the crosses much more dangerous. His dribbling has improved dramatically, as well, and he has become very hard to dispossess. On defense he has been quick to run back and try to win a ball after we’ve lost it, and even if he didn’t win it back, he usually slowed up the other team’s attack enough to get our defenders in better positions. And finally, that goal–a thing of beauty. If Will keeps playing this well I know we can make it to the finals.
- Robert Navratil. Robert has put in two fantastic halves in goal, especially in the second game where he was put under heavy bombardment yet never faltered. Fantastic job from Robert. On the field he showed fantastic endurance and strong play; with his only flaw being his tendency to chase the ball into teammate’s positions, leaving his area open and crowding his teammates. But I can tell from his comments that Robert reads the game really well, and as soon as he learns to trust his teammates more and the value of holding his position he will do extremely well.
- Julian Meyers. Those of you who’ve been reading my comments all season know how pleased I’ve been with Julian’s play this season, describing it as the play of the Julian I knew before. He is a PEST! He’s so good with the physical aspect of the game, while rarely crossing the line into fouling. When I had him as the center defender I felt we played with a level of confidence at the back that liberated us to attack better. And that’s not even going in to the abuse he took from the other team. I couldn’t help but be proud when, after his first injury of the game, he stood up and announced he was ready to go back in–and just in time, as Alex McClain went down just moments later.
- Alexander Blankenship. Alex came off the first game not playing his best, but in the second game he really turned it on. He had a great spell as forward in the first half, and was just a bit unlucky not to score at least once, then followed it up with a strong 2nd half midfield role, until he finally just ran himself ragged. Great comeback from a disappointing first game.
I also want to give a little notice to Alex McClain for making my favorite play of the day. Many parents may not have had a good view of it, as it occurred right in front of me. Alex did a fantastic job chasing down a breakthrough and managed, from the inside position, to first turn the attacker, then push the ball away from him, out to the side and a little back. The ball looked certain to go out of bounds, but Alex continued to run, fighting pressure from the player he had just dispossessed, and with the ball on the line managed to make an excellent pass up the field, keeping not only the ball in play and in our possession, but initiating the counter attack. This was the perfect play in that situation, and he did it without any luck, just effort and skill. Fantastic.
Finally, a big thanks to Elise McClain for the Drinks and Snacks; they were much appreciated by the kids.