An up-and-down season.
This was the second game of the weekend, the Sunday game out at Katy Park. Prior to the weekend, my thoughts were that both games would be challenging, but that this would be the harder of the two. So what happened? We lost the one I thought would be easier by a disappointing 4-1 scoreline, then picked up our heads and played a great game to win the one that should have been harder by the same impressive scoreline.
So kudos to the boys. They could have dropped their heads after losing the game they had a lead in and let this one get away from them. But they didn’t. They played a really good game, passing well, defending well, and not in easy circumstances. It was an ugly game—not the way our boys played but the other team’s play. Their trainer complained vociferously about every call, and their players did too. That overdeveloped sense of justice was not matched by self-awareness, and I felt they actually played a fairly dirty game, exemplified best by the Albion player who, after falling down while tussling with Nicholas to win the ball near the goal line, tried (while still on the ground), to take Nicholas’s legs out from behind as Nicholas carried the ball back upfield.
But it was to no avail. Our boys reacted well to the physical pressure, matching it in defense while avoiding it with speed of play in the attack.
So was this topsy-turvey weekend symptomatic of our inconsistent up-and-down season? It seemed that way at the time, but now with the benefit of hindsight which allows me to see this match as the beginning of a three-match winning streak (where we scored 11 goals and allowed 1!) I can say maybe the loss on Saturday and this game’s reaction was the turning point of our season.
Soccer in Houston’s Three Stars of the Game:
- Kenji Chevray – this game marked the return of Kenji. It seems each of his three seasons Kenji starts a little slow (by his standards), but by mid-season he raises his level of play and becomes just about unbeatable, while adding possession and good passing. Aside from one error in the previous game he was already showing it then, but this game truly marked the return of redoubtable Kenji. Excellent work.
- Nicholas Fetzer – as with goalkeepers, it’s hard to be a defender. An attacker who does things well just 2 or 3 times a game is having a good game, but a defender who does things poorly 2 or 3 times a game is having a terrible game. That’s just the way it is, fair or not. So it was vital that Nicholas rebound from his 1 or 2 errors (costly though they were) and put in a fantastic game, and he did just that, playing physical enough to frustrate and negate the opponent without playing so physically that it attracted the ire of a referee who was making quite a few strange calls that day. Near perfect from Nicholas.
- Daniel Dibos – a player as talented and spirited as Daniel can leave a coach tearing his hair out at times, because he wants so desperately to take on the entire opposing team, not so much out of selfishness but to just help his team. But of course that doesn’t work in soccer. I think seeing how that kind of play leads to giveaways in dangerous parts of the field finally got through to Daniel, because he worked really hard to spray the ball around and it worked beautifully. Daniel is the engine around which our attack flows, and when he passes quickly the speed of attack becomes just too much for the opponents to handle, as happened in this game. Very well done from Daniel.