Yet another 8am start in Brooklyn. This time the squad was greeted with a disjointed pick-up game on the field that inevitably fueled confusion among the interlopers of the concept of a “permit”. Despite the fact that 8am kick-offs at McCarran are hardly unusual the riff-raff still had the audacity to argue over territorial rights as if this were a third world country where permits were more of a suggestion, similar to stopping at red lights or democratic rule. Some Legends went the negotiating route while others weren’t particularly charitable at 8am on a Sunday morning. Regardless, between Megas not being as organized as the Legends, the goalie net needing to be tended to and the referee on CLRST (Cosmopolitan League Referee Standard Time) it wasn’t until 8:15am that the game kicked off.
Very soon it was apparent that Megas Alexandros were second in the division for a reason. They passed crisply, switched fields rapidly and were constantly looking to spring the offsides trap with #6 running in from deep and #14 constantly on the last shoulder of the defender. The speed and guile of play was the best CPR had seen since their drubbing at the hands of the JC Eagles. One such long ball lob in the 20th minute put the Legends at a vast disadvantage. #14 appeared to have a couple of steps on Resnik but miscontrolled the ball enough to allow him into the play, only for heavy contact to bring them both down. The referee had no hesitation in proffering a straight red (although the crowd were slightly bemused as the red card appeared to be more of a neon orange, perhaps the league had gotten a good deal on orange cards). Although the Legends are as vocal as most teams at the mere hint of bias against them it was hard to argue with the decision even if the tackle was more clumsy than cynical.
Nothing was to come from the free kick, but the attacks were coming in thick and fast. Mark Kuhrt had a debut by fire in goal, but proved himself very worthy with a plethora of saves ranging from the mundane to the sublime. With CPR now rearranged into a 4-4-1 and the opposition playing a high line, it looked like it was once again going to be a rearguard action with the occasional counterattack, one which agonizingly almost came to fruition right at the half time whistle.
Tactical adjustments were straightforward given the situation. Pack the middle, stay defensive but have the lone front man ready to deliver to the wings for quick counterattacks notably from O’Connell & Pritchard. A 0-0 draw with 10 men against this talented side would be eagerly grasped at this point. Unfortunately the lob ball threatening the off sides trap paid dividends for Megas half way through the second half as two players ran through unopposed and even Kuhrt was unable to foil them this time.
The Legends were now forced to chase the game, which on the large field against a comfortable ball controlling side was a tall order. However with the midfield now pushing up, the Legends surprisingly started gaining some possession and causing issues at the back for Megas, although clearcut opportunities were as rare as stroller free pavements in the surrounding Brooklyn neighbourhood. During the twilight of the game, a golden glimmer did appear. Pritchard found himself in a one on one situation on the left hand side but was cynically taken down. Before the Legends could start revving up their vocal chords, the referee had already rushed over and brandished an orange card. Although the challenge was professional one wonders whether the opponent would have been set off as speedily if it wasn’t for the first half transgression by CPR. The Brazilian Willan stepped forward and teased a long shot that caught the crossbar and bounced back, but to Hodges’s eternal thanks the resulting miss from 4 yards was deemed offsides (claims that the miss was a result of hearing the referee call offsides were treated by stone faces by teammates). Although now even at 10 a piece, a lot of energy had been expended chasing the game, and to add insult to injury Megas managed to take advantage of one of their myriad chances on the last kick of the game to end 2 goals to the good.
Two weeks off before the next game, the Legends can still cement themselves into third place by keeping consistent while continuing to learn the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents, something that has already seen an improvement in overall play since 2012.
Competition: Megas Alexandros, League Opposition
Location: Mccarran Park, Brooklyn
Conditions: Mildly chilly morning
Fans: 2 = Pritchard’s missus and child
Result: 0-2 (0-0 at H/T)
Yellow Cards: Teran for a retaliatory foul after a poor non call against Pritchard.
Red Card: Resnik, the first Red in Legends history, slightly unfortunate thought it may have been
Mike D’s aka No Shows: None.
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: The somewhat astonishing streak of non Old Man injuries continues, fatigue and fat notwithstanding.
Old Man of the Match: Many weeks there are arguments about the pros and cons of various players. This week the award was sewn up in the first half as Mark Kuhrt debuted with several marvelous saves and a few lengthy punts that challenged Megas down the middle.
Old Man of the Bar: A relatively short session didn’t provide any candidates.
El Presidente (new award for Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None.
Mr. “Bed, Bath & Beyond” (Season award for least appearances as a full time squad member):
Season Appearances (Games = 13)
|Michael ‘Mike D’ Douglas||
|Mark ‘Tactics’ Dean||
|Manuel ‘Essentially’ Casanova||
Team Bar Showing: 6 out of 15 (40%)
Team Bar Night: 2.5 out of 5: 8am certainly makes it challenging at the bar when there are no distractions, and with it being spring and international weekend, there was nothing on the telly to keep the group enthralled beyond the usual few hours.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mark Kuhrt (GK), Panu Purhonen (DF), Kyle Sherwin (DF), Luciano Belizan, Steve Teesdale (DF), Mark Resnik (DF), Dan Ochoa, Steve O’Connell, John Hodges, Tony Vamvouris, Chris Muro, Manohar Venkataraman, Willan D’Andrea, Steve Pritchard, Ernesto Teran