If I say this was our best game yet, would you even believe me? As I was talking about the game with Alex later that evening, I had enthused over his performance in goal, and he asked, “Why do you always say it’s my ‘best game yet’?” With that I realized that he was beginning to not believe my words because he’d heard them so many times. But it was still true, and said without guile; each game was an improvement over the last and, therefore, the best game yet.
The exact same can be said about the team’s play as a whole. This game was their best yet, and if I sound repetitive it is only because the team keeps improving each game. Watching them has been exciting this year from a coaching standpoint because the things that Paul teaches the boys, and the things that Jeff and I try to teach them, can be seen in their play. They are all working hard to improve their play and incorporate the lessons they’ve learned, in practice and in the hard school of the earlier games in the season.
What had me really excited was that we had more scoring opportunities than we’ve had in a while, and I attribute that to better positioning from attacking players and much better ball movement between the attacking players–players didn’t try to dribble the ball into crowds, but rather they passed to open teammates and then moved to get open for a return pass. Outside midfielders dropped the ball to their outside backs and ran ahead, or sent the ball into the middle and moved forward. This ball movement is critical to getting scoring chances. Excellent work from the whole team.
Soccer in Houston’s three stars of the game:
- Josh Wolf – Adding a strong passing component to his game has greatly improved Josh’s play. It was truly a joy to see him playing out on the right, combining well with the forward to his left and the defender behind. I especially enjoyed the latter, watching him several times running the ball down the flank, getting into trouble and dropping it to Noah behind him, who sent a long ball for Josh to run on to and make the cross. On top of that Josh has done as much as anyone to attempt to get our first header goal this season, meeting a corner kick but sending the ball just a bit too high. Fantastic work from Josh
- Alvaro Escamillo – Alvaro did a great job as an outside midfielder this game, but what I was truly impressed with was his play in central defense. He hadn’t played that position since much earlier in the season as he had struggled there, but he put in an absolutely fantastic shift in there this game. If he will just remember to use his head more he will be a force to reckon with there. Great work from Alvaro.
- Alex Wintz – aah, it’s always hard to pick your own son but wow, he made two very impressive saves. A lot of people (including myself) were impressed by a save midway through the first half, a diving save on a powerful shot. But I actually liked a later save he made, reaching up at full stretch to just get enough to swat a high ball down, then with a Tigres player backing into him to obstruct his path to the ball so a teammate could get to it and score, Alex ran the opponent over and got to the ball, earning a foul for the Tigres player in the process. Both saves were plays Alex would not have been capable of last season and as a coach and a father nothing pleases me more than improvement. Strong play from Alex
Honorable mentions go to Nicholas Fetzer, who shows strength, commitment, and intelligence wherever he is placed on the field (and he is always willing to cover a teammate as well), and Noah Ryan who has repeatedly shown himself to be one of the smartest passers on the team (his combinations with Josh were fantastic), and is now showing more determination to recover when beaten. Great work guys!