About Author: geigerted

Posts by geigerted

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Transfer Shocker! The Viscount Is On The Block

Just when I thought I could skive off a bit early to enjoy what little remained of the holiday weekend, the Chairman took a break from his demanding schedule of day-drinking and internet scrabble in order to demand that I put out a press release.  “Hollen,” says he, “put out a press release- we’ve just listed Davie Edler.”  I started to ask why, but apparently a digital “Q” presented itself, and I was abruptly dismissed.

In any event, the news has cast enough of a pall around the place that we would probably cover  the mirrors and sit shiva, but for the fact that the Board would never shell out for decent whitefish.  Oddly, Edler himself seems to be taking the news in stride, claiming to welcome the new challenge and the chance to escape a New York winter.  Its the rest of the Baby Bagos that are the most heartbroken- Edler was one of a group of seven that have been together since playing rec league ball in the park, and the gang figured that they would spend their careers together here.  Now, the lads are finally internalizing the truth of high-level soccer- no matter how much you kiss the badge, you only get a mouthful of lint and the right to stay as long as management rates you, and not one second longer.  The realization of how ruthless of management can be (they already knew about the lint) is a heavy blow for them.  Ok, maybe not for the joker who convinced Gavin that we were sending Edler to a farm upstate, but for the rest of them.

As it happened, I wound up sharing a cab downtown with our Technical Director, Conrad von Hilst, and took the chance to ask him why we made the move.  He responded with a lot of blather about expected goals, contribution penalties, radar graphs and other statistics that, frankly, I did not begin to understand.  The gist of it, however, was that he and the rest of the analytics staff became convinced that players like Edler, who depend on their technical mastery to overcome a lack of pace or elite strength, were going to become obsolete as the game shifted towards man-marking tactics.   If he’s right (and he likely is), it’s a tragedy- a bit of the magic of the beautiful game being replaced by brute force.  Of course, we must be practical and adjust with the times, but you’ll forgive me if I take this bottle I liberated from the Chairman’s desk and spend the evening remembering a more romantic era.

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Week Four Recap: Vainly Searching for Wolf’s Bane

It is hard to overstate how big this last week’s trip to EDH Wolves was for us.  For us to even dream of winning the league, it was a match we had to have.  It was certainly the big kahuna, the whole enchilada, time to put up or shut up.  Unfortunately, we chose to shut up.

Unable to match the Pups’ skills in midfield, and no longer able to summon the passion to inspire our boys to transcend their limitations, manager Danny Budde chose to send the Bago out in a counter-attacking 5-4-1.  Essentially, we knew that we were going to be overrun in midfield, but hoped that our defense would shut them down and that between Arroyave’s pace, Gavin’s aerial ability, Edler’s technical wizardry or Mitcham’s maverick streak we could nick an undeserved goal or two.

Sometimes, a Fabian strategy like that works for us.  This time, it didn’t quite come off.  Edler hit a post with one shot, Mitcham missed the net by inches on another, and we never really threatened beyond that.  Defensively, we were able to shut down attack after attack, but their star forward, Jaider Gomez, was able to summon up a couple moments of magic out of his aching, 34-year-old legs and notch the 145th and 146th goals of his distinguished career.

With the loss, a difficult path to the title becomes near-impossible, as we’d need to pull off upsets in both matches against title favorite Col Gunners and beat EDH in the return fixture.  Stranger things have happened, but not often.  Still, there’s always next year.

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Week 3 Recap: The Magnificent Mr. Z

This week saw the Bago solidify an unlikely lead atop V.122, dispatching the more-local-than-the-name-implies U.S. Daggers 8-0.  Frankly, that scoreline favored the Daggers, as we jumped out to an early lead and cruised to an easy win.

Really, the most notable thing to happen in the match is that Tono Zalaeta notched a hat trick.  That would be impressive enough if he were an attacker, but Mr. Z is a defensive midfielder.  More astonishingly, he’s now notched 8 goals in three league matches and leads the golden boot competition.  Can he keep this up?  Absolutely not, but it would sure be nice if he could keep up this rampant run of form for another week or two.

Anyway, next week sees a critical league match away against EDH Wolves.  Win, and we’ll have a great shot at second, with the league title not out of reach.  Lose (and we’re definitely the underdog), and we’re probably fighting for third.

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Cup Recap: Canute vs. The Tide

Once one of England’s greatest kings, Canute is best known today for an incident where he ordered his knights to hold back the tide and wound up with wet feet.

Last night’s cup tie followed a similar pattern.  The far superior West Virginia Rovers came out in an ultra-aggressive 2-5-3, in an attempt to swamp us. However, following impassioned dressing room speeches by veterans Eugen Harangus and Aleksander Frasek, the Bago came out with an unusual verve, flying around the pitch to deny them the time and space necessary to work their magic.

The pressure paid dividends to begin with.  Frasek forced a turnover in midfield, and the ensuing counter-attack ended with Anibal Arroyave being taken down in the box.  Harangus slotted home the ensuing penalty and the Bago had a shocking lead.

Still, class will tell, and the Rovers quickly scored twice to retake the lead.  Things looked bleak, but then Parker Mitcham went on a mazy run down the right wing before unleashing either a truly ill-advised shot or a brilliant cross.  Either way, Frasek was able to tap it in and the scores were level.

In the second half, Rovers took the lead once more, but the Bago found the will to equalize once more, as Edler audaciously chipped the keeper.

That was as far as we could go, however, as fatigue inevitably slowed us the fatal half-step, causing us to drown in the Rovers’ tide.  A lucky fourth goal was shortly followed by a three-goals-in-three-minutes barrage that saw us fall 7-3 in a match far closer than that scoreline would indicate.  Still, an honorable exit and, in facing a team playing the style that the Baby Bagos will likely embrace when they grow up, a valuable learning experience.

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Media Day

Due to pluck, grit and our opponent’s forgetting to field any midfielders, we’ve managed to sneak into the Third Round Proper of the U.S. Open Cup.  As a reward, we’ve drawn a Third Division mainstays the West Virginia Rovers, which means that the media’s glare shines on us far more brightly than usual (i.e. we’re drawing actual reporters for once, and not just a couple fans claiming to be bloggers in order to cadge free bagels).  As is apparently traditional such circumstances, our Manager, Danny Budde, gave a press conference after our pre-game walkthrough.  Here are some excerpts:

Q: How do you think you’ll stack up against the Rovers tonight?

DB: Well, they are stronger, faster and more skilled than us, but they are also vastly more experienced, in better form, and don’t have their best player out with an injury picked up in some stupid international friendly.  So, its going to be a long night.

Q:  So, what will you tell your team to inspire them?

DB:  Exactly what I just told you.

Q:  What do you say to those who believe that you’ve lost your fire to motivate your team?

DB: [draws on cigarette] When the rats follow the pedi-cab, it is because they think pizzas will be dropped on the sidewalk.

Q:  Seriously, are you so burnt out that you can only muster a cut-rate Cantona impression?

DB:  [shrug]  Just be glad its not a Joe Kinnear impression.

Q: Ok, so do you plan on sitting down with the Rovers manager after this one and having a chat?

DB:  Absolutely, I usually meet with the opposing manager to share a few glasses of Two-Buck Chuck after each match.  Today, however, I laid in a special bottle.

Q:  So what did you get?

DB:  Three-Buck Chuck.

In an unrelated story, I’ve written a memo to the Chairman asking that funds be allocated for a media training program.  Given the usual attitude towards expenditures here, I would not expect much.

 

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League Week 2: League Leaders!

Racing Winnebago flew all the was to sunny California this week, and emerged victorious with an 8-0 win over the creatively capitalized cOS AnGelnUT.  Notably, Tono Zaleta notched his first-ever hat trick in the fabled Yellow-and-Blue, mostly due to the fact that he got to be the set piece taker on the day we faced an opponent with both an, ahem, exuberantly physical approach to defense and a general inability to defend set pieces.  Nevertheless, it was a memorable day for Zaleta, the type of heady journeyman midfielder that has future coach written all over him.

With the win, the Bago have taken over first place in the league, which is arguably due to the fact that we haven’t had to play either of the title favorites yet.  Still, any week in first place is a banner week.

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A Neighborhood Team In An International City

[Note:  In addition to my duties as Club Secretary of Steeple Sinderby Wanderers, I also play a similar role with its sister clubs:  Racing Winnebago and The Turtle Pond Armada.  Journal Entries regarding The Bago, as they are affectionately known, go here-  Trayvon Hollen]

Once upon a time, Celtic won the European Cup with a squad made up of players who grew up within ten miles of the stadium.  Of course, with the internationalization of football in the intervening 50 years, it is inconceivable that such a feat could be repeated today.  Fortunately, the Chairman of Racing Winnebago does not know the meaning of the word “inconceivable,” or many other words.

Accordingly, Racing Winnebago is built around a core  of players from the Upper West Side of Manhattan, most of whom are still 18 or 19.  Let’s meet them:

Curt “Big Cat” Gavin:  A gentle giant, Gavin generally relies on his fellows to do the thinking for him.  However, he is more than able to handle the running and, especially, the heading portions of the game.  Indeed, Gavin’s managed a prodigious 33 goals in just over two seasons, and recently received his first USA U-20 cap playing as a Forward Towards Wing.  However, he was bitterly disappointed to learn that this honor was not actually accompanied by an actual hat, which may have led to his going down with a calf strain in his debut match.

Nick “The Bull”  Chang:  While outsiders frequently think that Chang received his nickname due to his powerful frame and willingness to shove defenders out of the way to slot in rebounds, it is actually due to his pathological hatred of the color red.

Davie “The Viscount” Edler:  A natural trequartista, Edler’s regal countenance has been shaken lately by our rivals’ increasing adoption of man-marking tactics.  Nevertheless, he still has the occasional moment of glory- just the other day, he dazzled Chang with a series of stepovers, leading him to demand two ears and a tail.

Anibal “The Cannibal”  Arroyave:  The Luis Suarez of Washington Heights, Arroyave’s well-rounded skills and blazing pace make him a natural winger.

Parker “Bad Horse” Mitcham:  Also known as the “Thoroughbred of Sin” to the Bago faithful, Mitcham has more than a passing familiarity with the footballing dark arts.  Nevertheless, his maverick streak and slick finishing mean that he may be the ideal choice to lead the line for us in the years to come.

Jose Maria “El Aguila” Cuesta:  The most talented of the Baby Bagos, Joe Mary’s leaping ability makes him an ever-present threat on set pieces and he’s a deadly threat in his natural winger role.

Duke “Duke” Gilbertson:  A cautionary tale about choosing nicknames after one too many headers.  Our coaches believe that Gilbertson’s strong playmaking skills will make him our midfield dynamo once the Baby Bagos settle into their long-term roles.

Austin “Hobson’s” Choice:  Currently the terror of our youth academy, partly because of top-grade skills, but mostly of a playing style reminiscent of an overly caffeinated Roy Keane.  Choice has not yet shown the kind of specialized talents that the other Baby Bagos possess.  Nevertheless, he has a good shot at eventually becoming our central midfield enforcer.

Jonah “The Whale”  Jackson:  Another promising academy prospect, Jackson’s an inspiration to alopecia sufferers everywhere, as his bald pate allows him to put some extra spin on his frequent headers.  He’s not the talent that a Gavin, Cuesta or Choice is, but the coaches think he has a fair shot at a central midfield role.

Seeing the potential of this lot, we have decided to surround them with a platoon of veteran mentors.  Maryusz Chlystek, Aleksander Frasek, Niccola Fraccaro, Eugen Harangus, Jaccomo Krimm, Pere Carrau and Tono Zaleta currently fill our IM, CD, FW and keeper roles and are studying for their coaching badges while the Baby Bagos polish their winger skills.  None of them will be here (at least in a playing capacity) once the youngsters grow up, but they are playing an invaluable role in their development.

Finally, a word about our manager.  During his playing career, Danny Budde was a legendary striker- the former “Danish Dynamite” notched 156 goals in all competitions.  Now in his fifth season as our manager, Budde’s still an excellent developer of talent, but his locker room speeches have grown more than a bit stale.  He’s probably destined to be the man who laid the foundation of the Bagos, but not the one who will lead them up the league pyramid.