It wasn’t (just) that they won, but how they won.
I almost wish this game had been the end of the season, as originally intended, because what an end to the season it would have been.
There was a fair bit of anxiety prior to the game, with Jeff not able to attend the game, then Vedad also not being able to be there and finally a realization that our other trainer coverage was having difficulty and wouldn’t make it. Vedad even called me on the way to the game. He wanted to make sure I emphasized to the team that they were capable of winning, but that to be able to do that they would need to play the right way. In defense they would have to pressure quickly but not overcommit, while in attack they would have to move the ball well, show for the ball, receive the ball positively, and communicate—all things I was planning on saying to the kids as well. But then he revealed his expectations for how the game would likely go when he asked me to go easy on the boys if the game went poorly.
To be honest, I shared his feelings. I knew the team was capable of great things, but I also knew that this would be a difficult test. For those who were there, you know how it went. But for those of you who didn’t make it, you missed your boys playing the best team soccer I’ve seen in a long time. This wasn’t a game where the team stole a goal and then defended for their lives (or defended for their lives and then stole a goal) to get the 1-0 win. They played and played great. As I sat there on the bench, 10 minutes in, I turned to the two players sitting next to me and said, “What do you think about the game so far? You think we can win?” “Yes,” they replied. “Me, too,” I agreed.
Either team could have won. Texas United had 2 or 3 good chances to score. But we had 2 or 3 good chances to score a second. The play was fairly even, but I felt we had more of the ball in the attacking half than they did. I don’t think anyone could have walked away feeling the result wasn’t a fair outcome.
There was one more critical detail I felt this game showed in the scoreline. Prior to this game, the team had scored 3.2 goals per game and given up 2.6, for a total of almost 6 goals scored in any game. Winning 1-0, being able to win 1-0, is an important thing—that is what the good teams do, and that is what the boys did this day.
Soccer in Houston’s Three Stars of the Game
Well, it may sound corny, but there are not three stars, there are ten. Every player on the field this day played absolutely awesome, and I can’t imagine how we could have done as well without him. This was truly a team effort, and the whole team is a star of the game.