Week 3 Recap: They Also Serve Who Stand Around On Defense

As regular readers of this journal will recognize, the story of the season for us is manager David Jorgensen’s insistence in drumming some defensive discipline into the squad.  So far, this has led to our selling our only real forward, playing our keeper in central defense during cup matches, dogs and cats living together, and other assorted oddities.  However, nothing during this time has been odder than watching Alex Barton attempt to play fullback during our cup matches- as a defender, he’s been a heck of an attacker with two cup goals, a tally which exceeds his number of successful tackles by three (Jorgensen instructed our statistician to give Barton a minus-one in that category after he accidentally dispossessed Abel Jonas with an especially belated slide).  In any event, due to poor opposition, we’re still alive despite three fairly gruesome displays.  Our luck’s likely to run out this week, but our focus is squarely on the league this year anyway.

In any event, its the league where Barton has continued to shine this year.  We’ve generally been playing him in the middle, but with license to drift wide and interchange with our wings when the spirit moves him (which is often).  This has worked fairly well so far, producing the few offensive bright spots in the somewhat dour draws we notched in the first few games, but really came into its own against the mighty Celtic SFO.  Why?  Well, in large part, Barton was helped by our taking a more expansive approach.  I mean, we didn’t do anything crazy- we still rolled out a 5-4-1, but it was an attacking (if oxymoronic) 5-4-1, as we abandoned counter-attacks and instead gave the central defenders license to contest possession in mid-field.  As a result, we saw more of the ball, which gave Barton a platform to unleash a little magic in the 75th minute when he sped between two defenders to score the opening goal.  He was also instrumental in our other goal, making an intelligent run to drag a Celtic wingback out of position, opening space for Niemiec score from just inside the 18 and complete a 2-0 victory (which the media heralded by somehow putting six of their players and none of ours on the Team of the Week, but I digress).

Our coaching staff is still trying to tamp down expectations, insisting that anything better than auto-demotion is a success.  This effort may have convinced our beat writers, which put six Celtic players and none of our lads on the Team of the Week.  However, its clear that the fans are having none of it, with some brave sparks suggesting on the call-in shows that we have a chance to win the league!  Are they right?  Of course not!  We’re talking about jobless layabouts calling chat shows, after all.  That said, even our sober and sensible fan thinks that a top-four finish is now a viable goal (and, yes, after dealing with that lot all week, I do believe that just one of our fans is both sober and sensible).

Anyway, next week we take on a desperate Sharks de San Jose team still looking for its first points of the season.  Also, if we’re still in the cup after Wednesday, I’ll need to actually write about it.  Jorgensen’s threatening to have Barton man-mark someone though, so don’t hold your breath.


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