“Wow! What was that about!?” “Whose idea was that!?” “Ugh! This is painful!” How many of you guys were saying things like that? I want to say a couple of things about this game and our opponents, and about our performance.
First, about the game and the Houstonians team we faced:
- Those guys are, by far, the best team we will face this season. Or perhaps even ever again. I must admit that I find the naming of Houstonians teams a bit confusing, so when I scheduled this game I didn’t realize we were facing the very best Houstonians 01 team. How good are they? They will not play in the U10 average bracket, as we will. They will not play in the U10 strong bracket. They will not play in HYSA at all, because HYSA won’t let them play up at U11, so they will only play in tournaments, against U11 and U12 teams. Last year, as a U9 team, they played in the U10 strong bracket. And did pretty well.
- I scheduled this game with the idea that it would be the toughest game of the year. Now we can honestly say that it’s all going to be easier from here on. I also wanted our boys to see that there is a way to play with intelligence; a way of playing that is more than just randomly kicking the ball forward and hoping a teammate runs onto it. The next task will be to help our boys figure out how to do that.
Now, a few thoughts about our team, our boys, and how they feel about what happened.
- On Sunday, I went to a six-hour coaches licensing coarse, and was dismayed to learn that we would be expected to perform in the drills, training exercises, and scrimmages. I played soccer from 1st through 9th grades, but was never particularly skilled at it. Now, I am a nearly 40-year-old, asthmatic, overweight, far too sedentary guy. And I’ve got to play? I got beaten, turned, left in the dust, pushed off the ball, and otherwise humiliated far too many times. But the whole time I was driving home and then showering off the remains of what must have been 2-3 gallons of sweat, I had a vague smile on my face, because all I was thinking about was the sublime cross I had put in, arcing over one defender’s outstretched leg and another’s leap, right onto the head of my teammate to put on goal (too bad the purpose of the drill was just to keep possession). I want every player to leave every game thinking first and foremost about the great play(s) they made that day. I will work hard, as I learn your boys better, to find those moments and help them remember them, but I ask you parents to do the same. Houstonians scored a lot of goals on us. I lost count after the 9th, but my son tells me they scored 12. But I still think back to the one we scored, and what a great, well-worked team goal it was, and I smile.
- The game was not all “bad”. At the end of the first quarter, we were tied 1-1. At the end of the first half, we were only down 3-1. In the second half, things fell apart. In the past, when Chelsea has played Houstonians teams, or other good teams, we have had pretty good first halves of games, followed by breakdowns in the second half. What does this mean? It means that our boys are not that much worse than the other teams, but they get tired, and then things fall apart. Why? Two reasons: lack of substitutes and lack of positional understanding. I will talk about a lack of substitutes another time but I want to emphasize to our boys that learning how to play their positions, when and where to be and especially how to hold a defensive line means much less running. I would not be surprised if, between the extra substitutes they had and the smarter play Houstonians players might have run half to two-thirds as much as our boys did.
Basically, I am proud of our boys and what they did, and I believe that we will have a good season, and that the boys can learn to play smarter and have more success on the field, but most importantly that we will have fun out there.
Chelsea01.com’s Three Stars of the Game:
I feel a bit uncomfortable doing this, as I know two players much better than I know the others, and there were lots of good things I saw players do but I just can’t remember who did them, but this has been a tradition on the website so I will try to go with it. If anyone is disappointed that they’re not mentioned remind them the season is just starting and, if I am not able to mention everone at least once in a season then I am doing a bad job.
- Julian Meyers. Julian has mostly played right back with Chelsea in the past, but I really am trying hard to move him around. This was, I believe, the first time he played center back and I thought he did fantastic. He covered his two outside defenders well, he tracked the runs of opponents in the box, and he helped organize the back line well. Overall, a fantastic job.
- William Symmans. William was the key to the goal that still makes me smile. Just before that play, he (while playing as a left back) had gotten the ball and started upfield, only to stop and try to pass the ball off. Keep going, I told him, don’t stop; let your other defenders cover the space behind you (something we had talked about as a team before the game). Shortly after that he found himself the recipient of a goal kick, which he turned around and started moving up the line. Evading the first challenge, he found lots of room and kept going. Finally, deep in the opposing half, he muscled his way through another challenge and sent a ball in for Noah to score on. Great. Just great.
- Alex Wintz. It’s always difficult as a coach to name your own son to this position but I do feel his play in goal merits it.
Honorable mentions to Noah Ryan for his goal and Ryder Ballard and Sean Gilmore. It is tough to play goalie, especially when you have to keep picking the ball up out of the net. They did, though, and we would have been much worse off without them.
That’s all I have to say about the game, parents; I promise that my reviews will usually not be so long. Any comments or questions? Leave a comment below.