The Legends have flattered to deceive this season, playing well only fitfully yet managing to rack up the victories by playing about 10% better than their opponents in each game. It was very apparent that these two weeks playing in the Cup & league against a Cozmos team laying waste to the league would be a sober wake up call. After having large squads to choose from on game day the Legends fell back the other way, struggling to get a team together and benefitting from the Old Boyz forfeiting due to their own numbers issues. The addition of Subah, Stower & Morse would provide some brawn, outside relentlessness and calm possession respectively. On the flip side, Subah’s relaxed Liberian approach to the concept of time almost caused a disaster as Management arrived right at game time only to find the referee & Cozmos had similar approaches to punctuality.
|Subah may live his life in Liberian time, but this is a real problem when you are driving management with the passes & roster to the game.|
From the beginning it was clear that this was a very different proposition than any the Legends had seen so far this season. The Cozmos team were fit, fast, athletic, technically adept & ruthless defensively. CPR were immediately on the back foot as the opposition rapidly passed their way through the team in all spots, down the middle and the flanks. Meanwhile when CPR had the ball there was no characteristic time to look around for options as they were immediately swarmed with the Over 36 version of gegenpressing. The downward spiral of players nervously receiving the ball expecting the pressure resulted in almost continuous possession for Cozmos, which they finally converted with a ball across field finding a player at the far post who buried the shot. Soon after, a Cozmos player received the ball at the top of the box & unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner and the Legends looked in real danger of being routed. Fortunately the panicked yelling started being more focused and all the Legends belatedly realized they were going to have to contribute a lot more defensively than they were used to. The energy level rose if not the possession, and this was enough to frustrate Cozmos. Meanwhile attacking chances were few & far between, limited to a shot into the wall from Pattinson.
The half time talk in no uncertain terms told the team that the needed to continue to work hard, but as it was a cup game they would be attacking a lot more as the half wore on. In a cup game, losing 2-0 or 6-0 was irrelevant as the strategy was to reduce and then eliminate the deficit by throwing more players forward. Gaps started to show up in the Cozmos possession game as the Legends started to gain a real foothold. Roberts & Roberts stood strong & the Legends started creating more chances on the counter. An initial chance went begging as the keeper dropped the ball off a free kick only for Ollie & D’Andrea to get in each other’s way at the far post with the goal gaping. Unfortunately this chance wasn’t the most egregiously missed as the Legends sprung the offside trap to perfection. Stower carried the ball from the wing with 4 attacking teammates in the box to choose from and zero defenders who were all still complaining to the referee. However the overwhelming stimulus of 4 players screaming for the easy pass & open goal proved too much as Stower instead picked Door C, passing the ball too close to the keeper instead. This was the most egregious example of gallows humour on the sideline since Casanova launched his penalty into orbit over the Triborough bridge several seasons ago. To their credit, the Legends continued to work hard on the counter and this time Subah rescued another potentially disastrous mess on the counter retrieving Stower’s pass to bury it in the net. Cozmos for the first time looked legitimately disturbed and resorted to timewasting, no doubt for the first time this season. The Legends huffed & puffed but ultimately couldn’t score the equalizer and take the game to penalties.
It was a good natured physical game, the question is whether the Legends have learned anything from this question and whether they are smart enough to implement those lessons (Hint: There is a clear explicit blueprint to beat this team, the question is whether the Legends are smart & disciplined enough to follow it).
|The pressure of a 5 on 0 counterattack was too much for the Legends & Stower, the loud noises resulting in no goal|
Competition: Cozmos, State Cup
Location: Bush Terminal Piers Park, Brooklyn
Conditions: Brisk afternoon
Fans: 3 (Mrs Morse, Mrs Telly & alumni Cory Caouette)
Goals: 1-2: Subah Assist Stower
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Chris Williams with a late game time notification due to work
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: None
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: The speed of the opposition caused the Legends to have to run much more than usual, resulting in hamstring strains for Venkataraman & Steve Roberts
Old Man of the Match: Another solid performance marshalling resources made Ollie Roberts the OMoM
Old Man of the Bar: None
El Presidente (new award for Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): None
Statistic of the week: Resnik gets his 50th cap to add to over 50 for the Old Boyz & Metroboyz
Team Bar Showing: 8 out of 14 (57%)
Team Bar Night: 3.5 out of 5. A good showing at the bar including a first for Telly Vamvouris
Team (No new profiles this week): Telly Vamvouris (GK), Ollie Roberts (DF), Steve Roberts (DF), Drew Faherty (DF), Mark Resnik (DF), Steve Morse (DF), Simon Mckeown, Tony Vamvouris, Tom Pattinson, Neil Stower, Manohar Venkataraman, Willian D’Andrea, Hakan Nizam, Ernest Subah