An interesting game on an interesting weekend. Hurricane Sandy had rendered some confusion, especially with the Parks department’s contradictory note as to whether the facilities were open and the game was still on. The teams chose to believe the Parks closure of 5pm which turned out to be correct. With only one panicky last minute withdrawal by new boy Purhonen it was still going to be a decently strong team of 13 to face Argo Silver, a team whose results seemed to be very dependent upon what squad members they had available on a particular day. Despite the fact that they were short players, the Legends tried to caution each other to play their own game and not worry about the other team, except for trying to keep the tempo up to wear them out.
For the first time in what seemed like months the Legends got to play on a decent turf field instead of crappy grass, and were very much looking forward to it. Playing against 8 men & Dana looked like it would be a good tonic to recover after the previous week’s cup loss, but it quickly turned out not to be the case. 8 men though they were, it was readily apparent that they had their strongest club players out starting from the enormous keeper. The small field that was usually a help for CPR was a hindrance this time as Argo marshaled themselves well to congest the middle. The extra men advantage was apparent at the back for the Legends but the congestion made it difficult to carve out clear cut chances. Argo periodically threatened down the wings with pace, but they forced their way into the game mostly by Legends errors & lack of urgency. Normally encouraged to shoot from distance, in this case the chances just went begging as balls were sprayed high and wide, the few on target proving no problem for the Keeper. A few balls bounced around in the area but any shots made were not venomous to cause issues. The best chance of the half was a cross to Pritchard who met it with a searing scissors kick that shuddered the cross bar.
Half time seemed to come quickly and on reflection it was an error on the Legends part not to question the 38 minute half. They were too busy trying to reorganize and formulate a means to unlock the stubborn Silver back line. Pushing the defence up further due to lack of offensive pressure and limiting the long range shots were some of the options discussed. Argo themselves made some interesting adjustments, most notably deciding to play a very high line in response to Legends lack of pace up front.
The Legends started the second half with all the urgency they lacked in the first, switching the ball from each side and pushing it up and into the area. Clean chances were still hard to come by though as Argo continued to close down the middle, with the smaller pitch benefiting them and hurting the Legends. At this point the referee started to assert himself, or more like started to relinquish control. Silver started playing more aggressively as the referee started letting the physical play go. The Legends put some hard tackles in of their own, but the game was starting to disintegrate into a more physical contest that favoured the bigger Argo team. Apart from a near post shot wide and a couple of set pieces Argo’s attacking chances were minimal, but for all their possession CPR were unable to create concrete chances.
As expected though the two men difference was starting to tell as Argo were slowly starting to tire. As any smart veteran team would do, they spent the second half milking the clock for as much as they could. With the Legends repeatedly pointing this out to the referee, he nodded and pointed to his watch that he was noting this down. As such, it was an absolute shock when the referee blew the whistle for full time, again after only 38 minutes.
It is very difficult to give a proper accounting of the match without noting the stunning clock management by the referee. Total time played was 76 minutes, which meant the game was short 14 minutes without taking into account a minute of injury time for timewasting. In addition, on being questioned regarding several physical illegal plays by Argo the referee commented that they only had 9 players. This isn’t Little League. If it’s a foul, it’s a foul and trying to rig the game as an even contest for the nonexistent spectators is not the job of the referee. Furthermore, we all understand that there was a hurricane on the way, but the referee was paid $76 for a 90 minute game, not to hurry it up and run off home. To add insult to injury, he had the audacity to point at his watch (which said 44 minutes based on his manipulation of the start tme) as justification. 44 minutes means you played -1 minute of injury time, idiot.
The flipside was that Argo Silver played a tremendous defensive game, and the Legends had 76 minutes to score and didn’t manage it. But that’s why the games are 90+ minutes long. Manchester United probably would have had several less titles if the games were played to 76 minutes and not their proper length.
A final word goes out to valued team member Tony Vamvouris, whose father passed away last weekend. Our condolences go out to you and be well.
Competition: Argo Silver, League opposition
Location: Randalls Island #74, Randalls Island
Conditions: Windy afternoon
Result: 0-0 (0-0 at H/T)
Yellow Cards: None
Red Card: None.
Mike D’s aka No Shows: New boy Purhonen, who two hours before game time canceled due to being worried about subways closing (at 7pm, for 2pm game time) and needing to stock up (Sandy was known about for days). Not exactly Leonidas at the Hot Gates determination.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: None, although Teesdale had hurt himself previously with a broken rib.
Old Man of the Match: Obviously a disappointing result, but there were some stand out performances despite the overall inability to pierce Silver’s defences. Honorable mention went to the Referee with 2 votes for his undeniable influence on the game both time wise and trying to make it an even game by his own admission. However tied for joint OMoM were Luciano Belizano for his defensive & attacking prowess in central defence & Chris Muro for a great attacking cameo in the first half and solid central midfield play. Due to his presence at the bar Muro got to drink out of the chalice for the night.
Old Man of the Bar: Another good night, but once again last man standing after several hours was Manohar Venkataraman. Honorable mention to the other two managers Resnik & Hodges.
El Presidente (new award for Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None.
Team Bar Showing: 6 out of 13 (46%)
Team Bar Night: 4 out of 5: With Hurricane Sandy canceling most work days the next day, a few people were able to stay longer but a few people had to hurry back home while they still could. Overall a good performance, with thrilling Giants victory over the Cowboys providing a nice backdrop.
Team (No new profiles this week): Jonathan Lerner (GK), Luciano Belizano (DF), Pete Hahn (DF), Lars Murray (DF), Mark Resnik (DF), Dan Ochoa, Willian D’Andrea, Steve Pritchard, Steve O’Connell, John Hodges, Chris Muro, Manohar Venkataraman, Will Rhem