Once again there was a sizeable squad available on game day by dint of hard work behind the scenes by management. The fairly distant New Jersey field produced some logistical difficulties for the New York based team members, but the Jerseyites were happy to finally have a simple ride in. The quirky field looked like it would provide a fair home field advantage, between the combination of narrowness, American football field markings and speedy bouncy surface. However home field didn’t prevent America from starting with only 10, both team’s goalkeepers arriving on the late side for a game that was delayed 15 minutes. The Legends sought to take advantage of the sun angle and the man advantage but were often undone by their sloppy passing and decision making. America pressed up high and feasted on turnovers as the Legends passing game could barely muster 2 or 3 passes in a row. Almost inevitably the Legends were architects of their own demise, trying to pass the ball out when a more agricultural approach was needed. Although there were a couple of unfortunate bounces to provide the America striker a gratefully taken opportunity, the initial mistakes allowed the goal to happen.
The game soon devolved into a physical shouting match as the America #5 started where he had left off in the previous game against the Legends. Having been sent off for a disgraceful tackle on Teesdale he started in on any Legend remotely near him. After getting justifiably booked, he pulled back a player on a counterattack which inexplicably did not result in a sending off. Meanwhile a couple of the opposition started flinging themselves to the floor holding their faces whenever a tussle for the ball occurred, a truly unsavory practice. All of these shenanigans served to help the Legends as they held their heads while all about them were losing theirs. Winning a free kick at the edge of the area, a beautifully weighted cross from Stower provided the simplest of tap ins for Subah.
At the half the Legends team talk mainly focused on keeping their heads and letting the referee handle the dirty tackles, while also making sure they had a plan in place for the predictable goal kicks and throw ins. Also as hoped for, the extra substitutes started wearing down America as they struggled to keep pace. The Legends started taking advantage of the increasing gaps but once again their decision making let themselves down, almost unerringly making the wrong choices when outnumbering the defence. Almost by accident they finally took the lead, 3 men in the box allowing Ciolli to find Sawyer for his trademark clinical finish. Despite having all the momentum, the Legends knew they needed a safety margin but for the life of them could not get one. Subah’s chip dropped agonizingly wide and a later shot caromed off the keeper. Phillips blew by almost the entire team but from a tight angle could not find the net, and sundry other advantageous attacks could not be converted.
With a mere couple of minutes left, disaster struck. The Legends once again had issues getting the ball out of the back. With most of the American team camped in the Legends end, they were able to get the ball in a dangerous area, pass around the packed CPR defence and almost pass the ball into the net. The Legends tried desperately to regain the advantage but there was not enough time. A draw that felt like a loss against a strong team showed how far the Legends had come. The last game of last season had the same result, but this time 2-2 felt like a loss instead of a win. With a little more nous the Legends could have walked off victors, and the hope is that they use this as a learning experience going forward.
Competition: America FC 1927, League Opposition
Location: Phil Rizzuto Park, New Jersey
Conditions: Pleasant bright afternoon
Fans: 5, Resnik, Jones’s, Stowers
Result: 2:2 HT: 1-1
Goals: 1:1 Subah Assist Stower
2:1 Sawyer Assist Ciolli
Yellow Cards: Azzo, Linehan
Red Cards: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: None
Conboy’s aka Reverse Mike D’s: Phillips schedule changed so he was able to make it, giving the game day squad a robust 16.
”Mr. Glass” Fragility/Old Man Injury Award: None on the Legends side, fortunately given some of the appalling tackling going on especially from the opposition #5.
Old Man of the Match: Disappointing as the result was, there were many strong performances all over the field. Phillips direct attacking runs, Ciolli’s midfield robustness and Carducci’s long distribution from the back. However it was Jones narrowly edging out Shobowale for the way they handled what could have been a very awkward day with the long ball booming kicks dropping out of the sky. Some have suggested the narrow edge could be attributed to providing refreshments post game, but this could neither be confirmed nor denied.
Old Man of the Bar: None.
El Presidente (Old Men who don’t make it to game but come to the bar): Hodges dropped by to watch his beloved Saints outlast the Cowboys in a fairly putrid game.
Statistic of the week: Enticott was back for cameo appearance but was unable to add to his prolific totals, the rust needing to be dusted off a little more.
Team Bar Showing: 12 out of 16 (75%)
Team Bar Night: 3.5 out of 5. Almost everyone stayed for at least a beer before heading out. Venkataraman and Resnik joined Hodges for the Saints Cowboys game at Blondies
Team (No new profiles this week): Mike Carducci (GK), Manohar Venkataraman, Neil Stower, Gavin Moore (DF), Ernest Subah, David Sawyer, Danny Azzo, Andrew Jones, Charles Linehan (DF), Jeremy Phillips, Olatokumbo “Tokes” Shobowale (DF), Mark Dean (DF), Mark Ciolli, Jan Carlsen, Jason Jarecki, Rich Enticott