Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Rumble in the Dome

I realize I've once again taken a short recess from my blog posts, but I think I may have pinpointed the problem - I'm not scoring.

Don't get me wrong, I still score goals, but not as regularly as I did a year ago - or even three months ago. At first I would say I was slumping, but in recent games my assists have outnumbered my goals greatly. Perhaps I am evolving as a player. Probably not.

Anyways, this season has been a disappointing one for ANI Direct (maybe that's the problem). We started out 0-3-0 with a goal differential of -4. With the exception of next week's game, you could call those first three games the "thick of the schedule." We have since brought our record to 2-3-0 thanks to tonight's win, which could wind up being a turning point in our season. We started the game strong, holding a 1-0 lead for most of the half (I think they equalized just before halftime) but we should have finished a few more opportunities. I had a nice assist on the goal, knocking the ball of the wall at the corner to Jason streaking through the middle and he was able to redirect it to the far post. After the contribution, I was pretty much a non-factor, in fact I was probably the reason they tied it up. After all, I did spend nine of the first twenty minutes in the penalty box. Whoops.

The second half was a different story as we were able to take control of the game and they slowly deteriorated until the ref was forced to end the game early. It started when we were up a goal and one of our players committed a foul. Their pudgy defender took offense, ran/waddled up and shoved him in the back. He promptly threw his fists up as if he expected a rumble to go down. Apparently trying to fight only merits a yellow card and two minutes in the box. If you say so, ref.

We continued to build our lead as the game got dirtier by the minute. With a group of fans (theirs) talking smack to us all game, it was only appropriate to celebrate each time we grew our lead, right? The final straw was when a perfectly timed backheel (by me) found Rich (the instigator) at the back post. He knocked the ball home for a 5-1 lead and that was it. After the restart, smack talk continued on the field until the same pudgy offender (why is he still playing?) decided to up the ante. He shoved Rich to the ground and benches were cleared. After some pushing and shoving, the game was called and we were awarded our 5-1 victory.

Trash talking continued to the other side of the building and being outnumbered about 20-9, we decided to wait for them to clear out before rushing to our cars. A wise man once told me that you shouldn't let on-field skirmishes carry into the parking lot at Inwood Soccer Center. I wasn't willing to take my chances.

Perhaps ANI Direct is back. Next week will be our big test - a must-win against a strong team if we want any hopes at a playoff berth. Until then, Go USA!

Gold Cup Quarterfinals
USA v. Jamaica
Sunday, June 19 at 3pm
Fox Soccer Channel

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Not Very Beautiful Game

On Sunday, my team played a team that we matched up with pretty well...on paper. They had lost to a team that lost to a team we lost to (did that make sense?) so we thought that the game would be pretty even.

From the get-go, it appeared that we were wrong. The opposing team worked the ball all over the field, leaving us to watch and chase pass after pass until they set up goal-scoring chance after goal-scoring chance. In just a matter of minutes, the score was 1-0 after a well timed run got behind or defense to finish a one-on-one opportunity against our keeper. The rest of the first half was pretty much the same and we never really came close to scoring.

They figured out I was left footed early on, so every time I touched the ball, they forced me to the right. Normally I relish the opportunity to show them up with the right foot, but today all my efforts were as they expected - off target and lacking velocity.

At halftime, we felt lucky to only be down a goal and thought we might still have a chance. Our hope was all but lost after giving up a pathetic second goal a few minutes into the half. After a free kick was awarded to them at the top of the eighteen, they quickly played a pass to a wide open player in the box who calmly slotted it past our keeper. Our defenders just stood and watched, stunned by the clever play. After appealing to the ref that they were not ready, he reminded them that it didn't matter. Goal stands. 2-0.

The next few minutes were played without any sense of urgency as our team had pretty much given up. It wasn't until we were given a penalty kick for a handball in the box about ten minutes later. After losing rock, paper, scissors to take the kick, I watched our other forward confidently put it in the net. Probably for the best that I didn't take the kick. I grabbed the ball out of the net and we suddenly had a little momentum. We capitalized on that momentum about fifteen minutes from the end when our central midfielder put a cross to the back post from the right flank. After calling off the forward, the ball dropped near me and bounced up by my head. With the keeper charging out, I reached up and struck a low volley past him and into the net. 2-2. Momentum was ours.

Thinking we had a legitimate chance to win the game, our team began to play a little better. That was until their go-ahead goal. After our wall blocked a free kick near the top of the eighteen, one of their players collected the ball. He somehow dribbled past about five of our defenders to finish the goal, resulting in an over-the-top celebration complete with shirt over the head and thumb sucking. Damn.

That was pretty much the end of the game and a few minutes later it was official. This game was frustrating on many levels. Pretty much everyone on our team nagged at everyone else on the team. There were arguments among our players all over the field and no one really had room to talk. On top of that, we made their game-winning goal scorer look like Messi, the way he shredded our defense. To put it lightly, it was an embarrassing game and I have lost much of the confidence I had in our team. We'll see how things go next week...

Monday, February 28, 2011

Jalapeno and Pepperoni

After my game last night, I had to opportunity to satisfy a craving I'd been having for weeks. Not sure why I waited so long for it, but as soon as I got home I put in my delivery order to Pastazios New York Pizza.

The quality of Pastazios is unmatched in the area and, for the price, it's a no brainer when deciding between them and Dominos. I placed my order for a small jalapeno and pepperoni pizza. Only one type of crust here. Thin, crispy, oven toasted.

When the pizza arrived I could smell the flavors oozing out of the cardboard box. After crushing four slices, I made the smart decision and saved the remaining slices for another day. In fact, I may have to reheat those slices right now...

Check out my Yelp page for my Pastazios review and many more!

Back Outdoors

On Sunday afternoon I played my first outdoor game in what seemed like forever. It showed too. With the wind in full force, it was going to be difficult for anyone to look as though they had any skill whatsoever.

We elected to play into the wind in the first half, which played a pretty big factor. Despite battling the elements, we looked the stronger team and had the most chances (or half-chances might be more accurate). Through the first thirty minutes neither team had a legitimate shot on goal and it wasn't until then that the opposition broke the deadlock.

A ball was whipped into the wind from the right flank and just as I figured it was going to sail by everyone and out of bounds, one of our defenders decided to get in the way. The ball dropped down to the foot of one of their forwards, who didn't think twice before slamming it home. 1-0.

Over the next ten minutes it was more of the same. Failed attack after failed attack. Our best chance came when I chased a ball down to the corner flag. When no defenders came at me right away I took the ball along the goal line. As the first defender approached, I made a nifty little move to beat him to the left. As the ball neared the goal line, I sent a cross into the box hoping it would bang of someone and go in. The ball sailed through untouched and our opportunity was dissolved.

We finally got on the board just a minute from halftime when our left midfielder earned a free kick just outside the eighteen yard box. A teammate decided to loft the ball towards the goal, rather than shoot. I somehow got to the ball before the goalkeeper and headed it past him for the tying score. 1-1.

The second half was a completely different story (kind of). For the entire forty-five minutes we controlled the game. WIth the wind now at our backs we were able to attack with ease and kill their advances early. This resulted in plenty of shots, none of which were on target. I, personally, took several shots the just barely missed the goal. My best chance came when a ball was knocked towards their pudgy defender. Knowing he would take a bad touch, I applied pressure and he gave the ball right up. I took a couple touches to the right and hit a low shot to the near post. The ball pinged off the bar and richocheted across the face of the goal and out of bounds on the other side.

We finally broke the deadlock when one of our forwards made a daring run into the box, finishing the . opportunity he had created. Even though we only went on to win 2-1, we dominated the game and the other team was lucky to not have been beaten by more.

Next game in a week - hopefully the wind won't be such a factor.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Same league, New season

Last night, we kicked off the Inwood Soccer Center Spring I season. Just like the last time I checked in, we're still playing Tuesday nights - Division VI. Since my last post, we've probably played 2 or 3 seasons and I think we won a championship during that period. Can't really remember and it doesn't really matter.

Anyways, we started off the season against a much lesser opponent in the 10:30pm matchup last night. We'd only take a few weeks off in between seasons but you'd think it was a few years by the way we played.

I found myself starting on the bench (how did that happen?) and from the opening whistle our play was very flat, to put it nicely. Not one person was able to find his "touch" and passes were either way off mark or coming in at the knees. It was not pretty soccer. When I entered the game a few minutes in, I'd say the play got even worse. My first touch came after our keeper rolled a ball to me smooth as can be. Thinking I'd just give a nice little one-touch pass back to one of our defenders, I popped the ball up and over the wall out of bounds. Whoops.

After about 8 minutes of terrible soccer, we were able to get on the scoreboard when a ball bounced to be about ten yards out. I lined up a right footed volley and put a decent strike on the ball. It would have been caught easily by the keeper had it not taken a last minuted deflection into the net. I'll take it. 1-0.

Like I said earlier, the team we played was much worse than us and in the end we were able to walk away with the W, albeit in embarrassing fashion...

That's all I can bring myself to write about this game. Hopefully the play is a bit better when I make my triumphant return to outdoor soccer at 3pm Sunday!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Chicken & Waffles...who knew?

2011 is becoming the year of trying new things and the most enjoyable thus far has been Lemon Bar (in Uptown) brunch. Never having been to Lemon Bar, I can proudly say that I've gone twice in February alone.

Saturday brunch at this trendy spot is something like I haven't seen. It's a restaurant full of 20-somethings who look as though they are recovering from a long night out. With a room full of hangovers, what's more appropriate than bottomless mimosas served in bottomless carafes? Nothing, I tell you..

But let's be serious, I'm not here to talk about orange juice. The real showstopper is the Chicken & Waffles. The brunch menu only consists of about 7 items, but could be easily trimmed down to just one. The chicken is lightly fried and pairs nicely with the fluffy Belgian waffle. You can't eat the entire plate without trying the ultimate bite at least once: Chicken, gravy, waffle, syrup and butter.

The portion size is huge and after eating my entire plate and 2/3 of Courtney's, I was ready for a Saturday afternoon nap.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Farmer's Market and much more...

Yesterday was an adventure to say the least. We had the first great day of the year with temperatures rising into the 70s and not a cloud in the sky. Although I had a soccer kickaround scheduled, I blew it off and Courtney and I decided to take on our first new activity of the year - the Dallas Farmer's Market in Downtown Big D.

Farmer's Market entrance
11:00 a.m.

This is something we'd been wanting to try for a while and although the most desirable fresh produce isn't available in the winter, we figured it would be fun to check out the market. When we got there, we weren't sure of the parking situation so we just drove around until we ended up in Shed 1. After confirming that we were, indeed, allowed to park there we were on our way. Who knew parking would be so easy?!

After checking out the 20 or so vendors in Shed 1, we decided to venture on over to the indoor shed. Apparently they are in the process of renovating, but the appearance was very nice (at least much nicer than I expected). After tasting some locally produced olive oil and blueberry vinaigrette, we wandered over to the tamale stand. We chatted it up for a bit with the guy running the cash register and ending up buying a plate to share. Three tamales, rice, beans and chips for $5. Not a bad deal (plus the tamales were delicious).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I'm Back!

...and better than ever? Maybe.

I realize it's been a while since I've chronicled by adventures on the soccer field and I can blame that on SMU Football. The season has come to a close and I have more time to focus on some of the little things that bring me joy - this blog being one of them.

My resolution for the new year is to publish here more often and on a variety of different topics. Don't worry - I'll still cover my games as I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat, itching to find out how many goals I scored (2 last night), what I said to the ref, and/or how my team(s) are faring in league play. But an added focus is going to be chronicling the adventures of Courtney and me.

Our couples' resolution is to try at least one new restaurant and at least one new activity in the Dallas area each month. Throughout the year, we will try things neither of us has ever done and I will let you know how each event and meal goes. If we aren't able to fit a new event/restaurant into a particular month, have no fear! We'll just double up the following month or the month after that.

In addition to our new activities, I hope to chronicle some of the other things we do in the upcoming year. Hopefully you will enjoy reading my posts as I know I will surely enjoy writing them!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


So, last night did not turn out as we had hoped it would. With just three subs, we were missing a couple key players that might have made a difference. The game started out even enough and I think we exchanges two goals apiece. After that, though, we broke down for a bit and surrendered a bigger lead, maybe two or three goals.

Down a few goals at halftime, we still felt confident that we could win the game. They were playing as physical as ever and the refs, for the most part, were calling a pretty even game. Starting in the second half the physicality picked up a bit. They became a little more arrogant and talked some trash to go along with the hacks.

I finally lost my cool with about seven minutes remaining. After asking the ref to watch the big oaf in the red shorts as he inevitably throws a cheap shot after every challenge. Two of those instances later (with no ref intervention), I popped back up and gave the guy a shove. Stupid. Blue card and two minutes in the box.

While in the box, I was subjected to more trash talking by the same guy as well as several others on their team. I was fuming, but decided not to check back into the game after my penalty - mainly because no one wanted out and we were down 10-5 with a couple minutes left in the game.

Once the game ended, I grabbed my bag and headed for the stands. As I approached the door to leave the field, I hear the same big oaf call from behind.

"Hey, kneebrace!" Oh, great. What now? I turn to him to see what else he's got.

"Got something to say now?!" he asks. I don't so I tell him to calm down and let it go. As I turn back to leave, he rushed forward and pushed me in the back. Are you serious?

I was furious. I turned back to him (who would most definitely kill me in a fight) and several people rushed in to break anything up. But that lead to more pushing, shoving, and trash talking by the two teams. One guy was whining that I was pushing all game. Right, because only our team was playing dirty...

My problem with that comment is that both teams are dirty each and every time we play each other. So for one guy to start whining about us playing dirty fires me up. Granted this is the same guy he got in Rich's face saying, "Yeah b----, I b----ed you all game, b----!" Right.
Anyways, this game fired me up and hopefully next time a.) we can finally beat them as that is the only way to shut them up, and b.) I won't get beat up by the big guy in the red shorts. I hate him.

That's all for now. Next game is outdoor on Sunday.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Gameday Preparation

Tonight is the highly anticipated match-up against hated rivals, Curb Stomp.

Earlier in the week, we sent out the email to get a head count for tonight and it's looking like we should have a good number. Along with the head count, we had several people offering up some tactical suggestions. That's how you know it's a big game.

How am I preparing today? Good question. Thus far, I have come into work and prepared a large cup of coffee, which was used to wash down the pepperoni & cheese kolaches I ate for breakfast. I have yet to drink any water, but might shut down a couple glasses by day's end. For lunch, I'm envisioning something along the lines of Jack in the Box or Chipotle.

Just though I'd let you in on my secret to preparing for a big game. No hydration and heavy, greasy food. Just another day in the life of an amateur adult league soccer player.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Playing with Fire...

Looking to build off the momentum of last week's victory, we had a tough opponent for last night's game, Fire, a team that is very difficult to beat. They are always a favorite to win the championship. Luckily for us, the best indoor soccer player in DFW (not named Bomber) was not there for them last night. Without their by-far best player, we had a more favorable match up, although it wasn't going to be an easy game by any means.

From the beginning the game was a close one. It took a few minutes of missed chances for both sides before we finally took the first lead of the game. It was nice to take the lead, but almost instantly it was erased as they scored a quick equalizer.

After a few more minutes of close soccer, a few seconds of brilliant soccer regained the lead. Watching from the bench, four of our players combined one-time passes to eventually find an open man in front of the open goal. 2-1.

With the seconds winding down, we were able to tack on a third goal on an impossible freekick by Rich. Halftime score: 3-1.

We were feeling pretty good at halftime but it was important to keep our composure and not come out slow. This was a good team and we couldn't let them feel like they were back in the game. We came out in the second half with good intensity. As the minutes wore on, they began to get more and more frustrated, resulting in us getting hit in kicked more often.

For the time being, I was doing well and keeping my cool and was able to score a couple goals of my own - nothing spectacular; just some good teamwork combined with good finishing.

With a two or three goal lead, I finally lost my cool after a good stretch of games keeping it under control. After getting hacked time and time again, the refs refused to call anything. His justification: if you stopped, i would have called it. I guess the fact that I didn't stop, but was unable to do anything with the ball was irrelevant. That, combined with the defender throwing an elbow into my chest after the play, set me off.

I fired off a barrage of obscenities and borderline racial remarks (oops!) at both the ref and the opposing player. Luckily, either they didn't understand me or they just didn't care, because I was able to just sub myself off and regain my composure.

Unfortunately for them, I did regain my composure and retaliated in the form of a line drive laser fired into the corner of their net from just inside midfield. That goal put the finishing touch on a great win for us and yet another momentum boost for our game next week against hated rival, Curb Stomp. Until then, go read something else.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Back on Track!

Last night was our first game since the embarrassing loss a week ago and we were out for redemption. The opposition was another new team to the league, though the have done signisficantly better than the others in the first four weeks of the season. (Side note: this team, El Fuego Verde (EFV), consists almost entirely of players from my outdoor team).

With our number one keeper in goal and a bench full of subs, we had put ourselves ina good position to get back in the win column. We looked to come out strong and did just that. After blowing a couple of easy chances, we were able to capitalize when a rebound from the keeper bounced directly to me at the top of the arc. I put good contact on the ball (actually it rolled down my shin and slingshotted off my foot) and the ball wound up in the goal.

At this point, we felt like this game would be a breeze and began to play a bit too nonchalantly. As a result, we conceded the equalizer just a couple minutes after our go-ahead. Shortly after their goal, I put a yellow-line free kick into the top corner of the goal, giving us the lead once again. This time we didn't let down and were able to tack on a couple more goals.

Fast forward to the second half and we found ourselves with about a five goal lead and the flexibility to play around with the ball. I took this opportunity to drop back and play defense. I won't do that again. Every time I received the ball I proceeded to play a perfect ball to the nearest EFV attacker. Our keeper got some pretty good practice during the stretch I was on defense, and after one finally got by him for a goal, I switched back to forward.

We closed out the game without incident. Aside from a couple injuries, everyone kept their cool. I was happy to not show my true colors against my outdoor teammates, and even happier to get a big win and put our team back on track.

Outdoor game on Sunday. Here's to hoping it doesn't get rained out again!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I don't want to talk about it...

Last night was our first game in two weeks and it showed. I apologize for keeping this so short in advance, but I am getting angry hashing this back up.

Having to put Marcus in goal to start, we needed to come out strong and play end to end. That didn't happen and, in what seemed like a matter of minutes, we were down 5-0. Unbelievable. This was a team that we had beaten more times than not and they were wiping the floor with us.

After getting a couple of goals at the end of the half, we were looking at a 6-2 halftime deficit. Our real keeper had shown up halfway through the first but it hadn't made a ton of difference. We were playing lazy and little to no defense. The second half was a bit better, but not by much.

We started out strong and may have even closed the lead even more, but our lazy defense got the best of us and each time we scored to close the gap, we let in a soft goal to open it right back up. My temper almost took over with just a couple minutes remaining but I was somehow able to keep my cool. The game ended 9-5 but it felt much worse. We got embarrassed and need to turn it around as we are about to face the strongest teams in the league.

As I said last night, hopefully this is just our once-a-season game that gets the other teams to underestimate us...

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Don't call it a comeback!

Last night's game was a good one. We were playing a team call Lions, which sounded familiar but I didn't really recognize any of the players. Saying we started out slow would be an understatement.

We had a good group of players and a solid keeper but we just weren't really playing soccer to start the game and found ourselves in a 4-0 hole at halftime. The best word to describe the first half is embarrassing. After an inspiring pep talk from Ace, we decided to come out and play like we usually do - with structure, passing and finishing. Although 4 goals is a lot to come back from, we were determined.

Out of the gates, we earned a few quick free kicks. No goals. Finally about 2 minutes into the half, we broke the ice. I don't remember how most of our goals were scored, but once that first one went in, we were in better shape. The score quickly started to tilt in our direction. They scored 1 goal in the first part of the half to our 7. With the score at 7-5, the game got interesting.

We went into a defensive shell, but still conceded another goal. 7-6 with about 2 minutes remaining. That's when tempers started rising. Their biggest punk had the ball at midfield and Ace went for an ambitious tackle, coming up with mostly leg. The punk retaliated but getting in Ace's face, calling him a "flop." When Ace stood up, he shoved him in the chest. Looking to get into the action I ran over to get in his face, and he shoved me. Then Rich came over and also got shoved. Red card. As the punk was backing towards his bench, he counted us out, "one, two, three, four...I'll take all of you!" Simultaneously, he held his hands above his head, forming a diamond with his hands signifying that all four of us are, indeed, pussies. 

The bickering went back and forth and another red card was shown to someone on their bench. Above five minutes later, the clock was reset to 1:14 and they had a free kick, down a man. We held on to our lead, almost adding to it toward the end.

Once the game ended, the punk who challenged four of us to a fight came over to apologize for his actions. Our keeper put it best, "It's funny how many people playing sports will shoot their mouths off and challenge the world to a fight. Those people would never act like that in a bar or in public."

Sadly, I am one of those people.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Return of the Bomber

Not on the field but in the blogging world. For whatever reason (and probably as no surprise to those who know me) I lost motivation to continue writing after each one of my games. Perhaps it was the 3 games per week, or maybe I just got lazy. Whatever it was, it's gone and I am, once again, ready to tell the tales of my soccer adventures.

Since we last spoke, there has been no shortage of action and drama. To keep it short, I will just say that: 1.) neither of my teams made it to the Finals, 2.) I "trampled" an opponent's face which nearly lead to my own broken leg/blown out knee, and 3.) in that same game, both benches cleared and a decent shoving match ensued.

Now that we're caught up, let us focus on last night's game - the first game of the new season for ANI Direct. Our opposition for the game was a new team, that called themselves Pie Cookers. Their oldest player was probably 20 years old and from the looks of them, they were going to be pretty bad. From that standpoint, they didn't disappoint. This one was never a game and we quickly jumped out to a 5-1 lead. Though I scored all 5 of those goals, 2 of them stand out to me. In both instances, we had free kicks from about 12-15 yards out. The keeper had an interesting strategy: "NO WALL!!" I didn't know what to make of this. Actually, I did. With no one in my way, and about 5 people standing on the goal line, I decided to kick the ball as hard as I possibly could. Turned out to work quite well as both shots ricocheted of several players (and one face) before finding themselves in the back of the net.

Halftime saw a score of 6-1, after Bryan added a late first half goal. In games like this, the intensity drops and the play suffers. This game was no different. Although we ended up winning 9-1, the second half wasn't pretty with a lot of individual efforts going unfinished, and a lot of ankles and shins getting hacked at. Fortunately, no tempers really got going and the game ended peacefully.

It's always nice to start off the session with an easy game to get everyone ready to go. We don't play the good teams for a couple more weeks so hopefully the other new teams provide us with more opportunities to tune up. The game that is metaphorically circled on the calendar is July 28th when we play Curb Stomp, the aforementioned team with which we cleared benches.

This season I will be chronicling ANI Direct (Wednesday nights) as well as Inferno II (Sunday outdoor) so make sure you stay tuned. It's good to be back.

-GB Bomber

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Must Win Wednesday

Our Wednesday night team has found itself in a rare must-win situation. New, better teams added to our division along with poor attendance on our part has led to us being in fifth place with just two games to go, two points out of a playoff spot. Last night we played the team sitting in third place so a win would propel us past them and into a good position to make the playoffs.

The game started it out very even and both goalkeepers will playing well, keeping us deadlocked at zero for maybe seven minutes. We finally broke through when we were awarded a free kick on the left side of the field about fifteen yards from goal. At this point my shot accuracy had been pretty bad, but I took the kick anyways. A low line drive to the near post beat the keeper and we were up a goal. 

Unfortunately, the lead didn't last too long. Rich went out with an injury so we were down to just one sub. Fatigue kicked in earlier than usual tonight (maybe because the game started at 11:15pm), and we were running around pretty winded. I don't remember how they scored but they did and we were suddenly tied again. The rest of the first half was very even, going almost ten minutes without a goal. Just before halftime, with the seconds winding down, a ball was sent deep into their territory. I settled it around the top of the arc. After facing up to the goal, there were two defenders standing in front of me. Two of my teammates ran to either side of me, making the defenders think about what they wanted to do. Their hesitation was just enough, and I blasted a shot that beat the keeper and gave us a one goal lead going into halftime.

At halftime, I had my concerns for the second. Overall, they seemed to be a younger team and history shows that drop off significantly in the second half of games. Tonight was different. We came out very strong. Or maybe they came out soft. Either way, we jumped out to a two goal lead and didn't look back. 

By the time we were halfway through the second half, we had a safe lead and were able to kill the clock a bit. Our keeper, Tommy, proved to be the best keeper we have played with to date and made several key saves to preserve our large lead. The highlight goal for me would have been the shot I sent from just beyond the yellow line deep into our own half. The ball soared over the keeper, but didn't drop fast enough and hit the wall just above the goal. Instead, I will call my third goal the highlight of the game. Jason was carrying the ball just inside our half. I started to make a run at their last defender. Not knowing where Jason was going to play the ball, I saw a lot of open space to the left and ran that way, evading my defender. Just as I turn I see the ball headed in my direction towards the wall. As I get to the ball, I turn it inside away from the wall. Just as I did, the defender closed in slid for the ball. Perhaps luckily, I flicked the ball up and over the slid, against the wall and back into my path. I ran at the keeper from a tight angle and, just like my last outdoor goal, as I closed in I ran away from him to draw him out and slipped the ball past the near post. A very nice goal indeed.

We had no problem putting the game away and ended up on top 7-1, I think. I scored four goals and kept my cool all game long. A successful game.

Tonight I'm back in the dome and hoping I can rebound from my abysmal performance last week.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Thursday Night Smackdown

Every once in a while, even ringers in a ringer league can drop their game down to the level of the competition. That was the case in the game last night. I will spare you most details, as my personal conduct was embarrassing, to say the least.

The game was actually pretty evenly matched, however; about two minutes in, their best player went down with an injury which put the game in our control. They were a very physical team, and made little to no attempt at the ball when going for a tackle. That never sits well with me and I would soon be fed up.

I didn't do too much to establish myself as a game changer. I think I ended up with just 2 goals, which didn't stand out much in our 6-1 victory. The real drama came in the second half of the game.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Cinco de Mayo Soccer

Tonight was a rare Wednesday game in the dome. Though the field is smaller, there is something about the closed in facility that makes it difficult to catch your breath. After starting out the season strong, we have struggled as of late and tonight's game was a must-win for us. We're rarely in this position but some new teams were added this season so competition is  a bit tougher. Tonight's opponent was a team that we have played several times. A few seasons ago, I might have called them a rival but their roster changes so often that I can only recognize them by one or two consistent players. Their keeper was the showboating type, looking to run forward with the ball after making a save. We were definitely looking to make him pay for his constant runs deep into our half, however; he got the first laugh as he blasted a free kick past our wall and keeper for a 1-0 lead. Then your boy took over...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday Afternoon Game

Yesterday was a great day for soccer. Eighty degrees and sunny. I'm starting to remember how hot it gets in Texas during the summer and not really looking forward to it. The team we were playing was a combination of young and old guys and we lost to them earlier in the season, although I was not at that game. From the opening whistle, it seemed to be a pretty evenly matched game.

The other team broke the deadlock about twenty minutes in when a ball was sent over the top to a lone forward running on. With a one-on-one against our keeper, it was an easy finish for him. The problem with our defense is their lack of speed and athleticism makes us very vulnerable to through balls and breakaways. But that's just part of what you have to deal with in NTPSA Division V soccer, I suppose.

We struck back about ten minutes later, kind of. I collected the ball over along the left sideline. And with my love for cross-field switches, I didn't hesitate to find one of our forwards at the far side of the box. I sent a long ball towards him but, just as it was about to reach him, a defender came out of nowhere to get his head on the ball. And put it into his own goal. 1-1. Credit goes to me, right?

So at the half, we were tied but we had the majority of goal scoring chances. My shooting was horrendous and no one else seemed to offer anything much better. We came out in the first half a little stiff and after just a minute, one of their midfielder took the ball in the middle of the field. With no one there to apply pressure, he sent a shot towards our goal from about thirty yards out. Our keeper never stood a chance. Not because it was a great shot. But because it was on target and he's just not very good. 2-1. 

After that goal, we controlled the ball but saw scoring chance after scoring chance go unfinished. Then we caught a break. As their defense was swinging the ball around the back, they hit a bad pass out towards the right touchline. Playing forward, I raced their right defender to the ball. He got there first, but didn't know what to do with the ball. After dribbling towards the sideline, he was running out of options. I was just staying in front of the ball, not letting him get rid of it. Finally, he made a move to dribble past me. Didn't work. I stuck my foot out and got the ball, sending it twenty yards down the line. Now it was a race between me and their last defender. Just as I was about to get to it, I sensed that he was about to slide. I was correct, and was able to knock the ball past him and jump over his slide tackle. Now I had plenty of room in front of me, but was coming in from a tight angle. I had scored many goals like this as a kid and was very comfortable. As I carried the ball along the goal line, I started out to give myself a bit of a shooting angle. And just as the keeper came off his line, I slipped the ball between him and the near post. 2-2. I was exhausted.

I subbed myself off after my tying goal, which was probably a mistake as our attack didn't produce too many chances for the fifteen minutes I was on the bench. Once I got back in, with just over ten to go, we started to attack more. We saw two breakaways go unfinished, but my best chance came with just two minutes to play. I made a diagonal run through the defense to try to collect a pass from my teammate. Just as it was about to get through, a defender got a foot on it, sending the ball straight up. As it came down, I settled the ball to a small bounce and with plenty of space, I sent a shot towards the far post, missing by just a few feet. 

That was our last real scoring chance and the game came to an end shortly thereafter. We fought back from being down twice, but still felt like we left something on the table. We definitely should have scored the go ahead, but it wasn't to be. Our team looks much better than we did at the start of the season, but it appears to be too little, too late as we would have needed a win to have a chance at playoffs. Still one game to play, but it looks to be a consolation game. Here's to hoping we finish on a winning note!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday Night in the Dome

Just another ringer league game last night. The team we were playing (Swingin D's) was short a guy or two at the start so we came out kind of sluggish assuming it was going to be an easy game. Instead of shooting the ball as I normally do, I was making the difficult pass to teammates in front of the open goal. Unfortunately, there was never a teammate to receive the pass. We went down 2-0 in a matter of minutes. I started to get frustrated, so decided to turn my game on. I went back to my usual self, shooting and dribbling instead of passing. Even though the rest of their team showed up, I scored a couple goals and were tied. The game was a clean one. Their two best players were a couple of little Mexicans who like to dance around the ball. Reminded me of former-ringer Jose, who is currently plying his trade in beautiful El Paso. After encouraging my defenders to apply pressure on the ball, we were able to contain them rather easily.

The first half was very even, though we should have been winning by several goals. The highlight of the half was my second (or was it my third?) goal. The ball was sent forward and was bouncing around the top of the arc. Both the keeper and myself ran towards the ball. When he saw I was going to get there first, he started backpedaling towards the goal. As I approached the ball, I put the softest of touches on it. I popped the ball up in the air. The pudgy little keeper jumped as he neared the goaline and reached with everything he had. He swiped for the ball but got nothing. As he crashed down to the ground, the ball dipped in just under the crossbar and hit the net. A truly beautiful goal.

So with the scored tied at the half, we needed to come strong out of the gates to start the second. That didn't happen. Instead, we exchanged a few goals and with about ten minutes to go, we were tied at 6. That's when we kicked into gear. After their latest tying goal, I collected the ball from the ensuing kickoff and carried it towards the goal along the boards. As I neared the corner, I fired a shot to the far post. Goal. A minute later we stole the ball back from them deep in their end and, after a nice pass from a teammate, I tucked the ball into the net. Up by two goals now, the game was ours. We closed out the half with a couple more goals and won the game. When all was said and done, I think I netted five goals. Not a bad night.

Although it was a bit closer than usual, we were able to pull it out and our quest for an undefeated season and championship t-shirt continues. Rain is in the weekend forecast, so a Sunday outdoor game might be out of the question. Oh well - that's the life of an amateur I suppose.