Week 6: Living to Fight Another Day

Today, we had what was probably the toughest of the four-match stretch against the two other contenders in our league.  Rusko Team United are a Bronx-based side that’s been yo-yoing between Divisions 4 and 5 since season 60 or so.  Stylistically, they’re fairly similar to us- roughly comparable in midfield, with the defense stronger than the offense.  We’re better attacking from the flanks, they’re best attacking up the middle, but really you wouldn’t think there’s much between us.

In any event, Jorgensen anticipated that Rusko would be fired up for the derby match and come out aggressively.  While we, rather than fight fire with fire, would set our lads out in a defensively-oriented 4-5-1 in the hopes of either catching them on the counter or relying on our superior stamina to edge them out at the death.

It was a good plan.  But like most good plans, it did not survive first contact with the enemy.   18 minutes in, veteran Rusko forward Jorge Vargas scored his 75th career goal at the worst possible moment, getting on the end of a through ball and calmly slotting it home.

Forced to come forward a bit more, SSW was struggling to create openings when, in the 39th minute, Alex Barton decided to create one for himself, blazing past a couple Rusko defenders and blasting home the equalizer.

From that point, it looked like momentum might see us through.  But then, things got weird.  On the stroke of halftime, our starting keeper, Ferdynand Pasieska, went down with a six-week knee injury, placing our hopes on the rickety shoulders of our geriatric Estonian reserve keeper.  Then, in the second half, Janos Pailing picked up a second (and admittedly deserved) yellow card for scything down a Rusko winger.  With no other option, Jorgenson had no choice but to trim sails and see out a 1-1 draw.

In terms of this season, the draw keeps our fate in our hands, but without little margin for error going forward, and practically ensures that we would face a qualifier even if we manage the league title.  Our brain trust faces the question of whether we can manage with a senior citizen in goal for the vital part of our season, or whether we should mortgage the future to bring in some short term help.  For tonight, however, we can breathe a sigh of relief as we’ve managed to live to fight another day.


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