Early bird does not get the worm in the case of the Old Boyz

Monday, November 19, 2007 (post date)
There was much deserved grumbling at the absurdly early 8am game start in Brooklyn, and moods were not made any lighter on the news that the SC Gjoa manager summarily dismissed the offer of a noon kickoff also in Brooklyn at a better quality pitch. It turned out that the 8am start time was solely to benefit the manager as some of his players were equally taken aback on hearing the news. The idea that this is a fun recreational league seems to be lost on the occasional selfish individual, and CPR will certainly take steps to make sure their interests are taken into account the next time somebody uses self interest to push the envelope. Regardless, it was still an impressively decent sized group that made it to field on time, which is more than could be said for the tardy referee. At least this gave the Old Boyz the chance to inspect with distaste what could possibly be one of the worst artificial turf pitches in the city, with whole sections flopping out and catching boots.
Lincoln at his morning constitutional
Lincoln does appear to have some finishing ability after all. ‘Ma’am…’

The early hour wasn’t to blame for the quick deficit that CPR found themselves in, as they had more than ample time to warm up. It was quickly apparent that SC Gjoa had earned their lower table status on merit, but sadly so had CPR. Having plenty of men back, they still conspired to allow the Gjoans a chance at the top of the box which was well converted for the opening goal. Another one arrived in short order, but CPR felt more than able to make up the deficit, and the sight of the Gjoans arguing amongst themselves was a sight for sore eyes. Posta appeared very ready to play, and was soon tormenting the opposition via both corners, free kicks and during the run of play. His solid runs and good positioning were responsible for CPR’s first goal, a ball dribbling up to 30 yards out was given a mighty hack by Venkataraman which resulted in the ball bobbling gently to Posta, who was able to turn and fire a low shot for his first goal of the season.

CPR started turning the screws, dominating the possession, but as has seemed to be the case this season, the luck hasn’t been with them. Not 1 or 2, but 3 players went down injured in the first half, all of whom played at the back. This resulted in no more substitutes being available, not the best situation for a well over 30’s team. Adding insult to injury, a well placed kick by Posta rapped against the post, with the bounce eluding the onrushing strikers. Just as CPR’s relentless pressure looked to be rewarded a critical turning point arrived in the form of an unfortunate own goal by Nat Roberts, his attempted block of a shot wrongfooting Becker and given Gjoa some much needed breathing room.

Confidence hasn’t been in short supply for CPR this season as regardless of the results they haven’t been outplayed all season. With the solid Mark Dean and tall stalwarts Roberts & Shafranek both out at the back it was going to take some graft and grit to get back in the game. This was exactly what was on display at the beginning of the second half, as the ubiquitous Conboy robbed a Gjoan midfielder of possession and heeding the pleas of the strikers to attack the goal duly obliged to close the deficit to one. The opposition were rightly nervous again, and desperately tried to put the finger in the dyke of the relentless waves of CPR attacks. Luck is a fickle mistress though, and the bounces in the area never quite fell CPR’s way, with ample help from the Gjoans gritty back four, who didn’t have much of a defensive midfield to thank for keeping CPR at bay. Lincoln’s lack of respect from the referees continued with another decent shout for a penalty gone begging, and to twist the knife an excellent strike from outside the penalty box hit the woodwork and almost inevitably bounced away from well positioned strikers.
Dawn kick-off
Dawn? Must be the weekly kick-off for SC Gjoa

SC Gjoa were good value for their counterattacks, hitting the post on one attack and finally stretching their lead with another. The referee missed the rather obvious offsides call, but in this league the offsides call is one of the most difficult decisions to make, so although the referee’s laziness in barely making it to the other half of the field could be faulted the mistaken decision itself was understandable. With only 8 minutes left, CPR were somewhat deflated, but the churlish fat opposition midfielder did his best to light a fire under them by boasting about the goal that he had little to do with. Poor sportsmanship is relatively rare in the league, and combining his dangerously rough play the obnoxious opposition member stood out in stark contrast to his more phlegmatic and friendly teammates.

More CPR pressure resulted in another corner which was finally converted by Conboy from a Posta kick, which left 3 minutes for a final push. More pressure resulted in more space for both teams, and SC Gjoa executed another dubiously off-sides counterattack, with their quality Croatian striker completing a hat-trick with yet another fortuitous bounce, Becker saving the ball directly into his path in stark contrast to all the unlucky bounces that CPR had during their attacks.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for the loss. The team finally put 3 goals in only to give up 5. Good teams overcome bad bounces, and for the most part the team appeared in decent shape in the second half even without substitutes. One is tempted to suspect the team isn’t as good as it believes itself to be, except the dominant possession especially in the opposition’s final third does indicate that the Old Boyz are a good team. It has still been a decent foundation for the season, and with two games still left in the autumn part of the schedule and two games that require minimal travel CPR still has a chance to enter the winter break feeling good about themselves.

Competition: League Opposition, SC Gjoa
Location: Dycker Field, Brooklyn
Conditions: The first genuinely cold game, although I’m sure the unseemly 8am kick off had something to do with that.
Fans:0 (Season Low)
Result: 3-5 (1-3 at H/T)
Goals: 1-2: Posta, Assist Venkataraman
2-3: Conboy
3-4: Conboy, Assist Posta
Yellow Cards: None
Red Card: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: None, thankfully as that would have caused real trouble with the injuries suffered.
Old Man of the Match: For being all over the field and scoring two exceptionally finished goals, Mike Conboy earns his first OMoM of the season. An 8am exemption was granted to allow the award being presented in absentia.
Old Man of the Bar: The two old stalwarts Resnik & Venkataraman put in a strong 8+ hour display with various shifts joining them at times.
Team Bar Showing: 9 out of 14 (64%)
Team Bar Night: 2 ½ out of 5 – Again, the early hour didn’t help but a solid performance put in by those who did show up.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mark Becker (GK), Mark Resnik (DF) , Scott Shafranek (DF), Nat Roberts (DF), Mark Dean (DF), Mike Douglas (DF), Andrew Faherty (DF), Mike Conboy, Kevin Fink, John Hodges, Diego Rivera, Manohar Venkataraman , Fillipo Posta , Jonny Lincoln

Scouting Report: A relatively comparable team to the Old Boyz, with a couple of talented Croatians leavening out the rest of the short, older unathletic guys.
Goalie: By the standards of this league, a relatively competent keeper.
Defenders: They balanced their lack of mobility and age by playing with guts and grit. That won’t be enough to help them if they come up against Mike Rudy though.
Midfielders: Fairly one dimensional, with more interest in attacking than doing the dirty work necessary to protect leads and their defenders.
Strikers: The quick Croatian certainly didn’t look Over 30, and he knew how to finish.

Lack of bite up front comes back to haunt Old Boyz

Tuesday, November 13, 2007 (post date)
It was a moderately timed 1pm start for the Old Boyz, thankfully given the late night shenanigans from Walby’s birthday party the night before. New Utrecht turned out to be an easier trek than anticipated, given only one train switch for most people, but the ride was still long. The field itself was highly reminiscent of Brooklyn Tech, great field turf with a long but narrow field. The opposition had a poor record this year, but with the ‘boyz lack of consistency they couldn’t afford to underestimate anyone, especially with a smaller than usual squad of 14 for this game with a couple of late scratches.

With the 4-5-1 formation having worked relatively well the previous game, with similar personnel it was decided to start the same way, with the 3 headed central midfield monster of Creighton supporting Fink & Conboy marauding up top. CPR started okay, but it was clear given the age and girth of the opposition that they had far more time on the ball than displayed. It almost seemed like a game of hot potato, with the ball immediately kicked away the moment it was received, regardless of whether an opponent was within 10 feet or not. The sideline and other CPR members urged each other to take some time, but every play it was a separate culprit. Despite the lack of composure, the territorial battle was still being comprehensively won by the Old Boyz, with the ball consistently in Banatul’s half. However, whenever in the last third of the field, CPR was guilty of over elaboration. On the occasions when they did muster a shot, the goalie proved upto the task, notably from a Fink left footer. Clearly one of the best if not the best keeper that CPR had played against, it was not just the saves that were impressive but the clean grabs of each ball, lacking the fumbling or deflections that the CPR strikers feed on. Numerous corners and free kicks could not find the right person or the right space, usually going harmlessly long.

Meanwhile Banatul had few and far between chances, but the counterattacks did produce some opportunities that were spurned by their wasteful strikers. For the most part though CPR defenders were upto the task, in fact controlling the back so stoutly that it enabled the midfield to surge forward to try and help break the deadlock.

The 0-0 half time score was annoying, but there was a universal feeling that if CPR could just keep the tempo up and not allow their opponents any time on the ball that a goal was inevitable. Paying attention would also help, as the old boyz played the first few seconds with only 10 men as Conboy was missing ‘helping his wife find the bathroom’ (rumours of his sneaking out for a quickie are probably incorrect, although perhaps coincidentally he engendered a newfound respect among his peers at the pub later). Edmunds went out soon after kickoff, but with an early afternoon game most of the players appeared to be in decent shape, needing only the odd breather which the two substitutes capably handled. The game continued as it had previously, although Banatul had a few more dangerous chances, notably on a corner which swerved directly from the kick and had to be cleared off line at the far post by Fillippo. CPR’s accuracy on goal improved, but the goalkeeper proved upto the task, making every save that was asked of him. Fink, Venkataraman and Lincoln all had decent chances, but although on another occasion getting the shots on target would have been sufficient, it wasn’t to be in this game. Probably the most clearcut chance of all was one denied by the referee, who was in a perfect position to see Lincoln unceremoniously bundled over by a defender twice his size, only to keep watching. As everyone stood around waiting for the obvious penalty, Lincoln had time to fall down, complain to the referee, get up and recover possession, all while the two defenders right next to him stood staring at the referee waiting for a decision that inexplicably never came. To his credit Lincoln recovered enough composure to pass the ball out for a shot that was once again saved, but the referee’s vociferous and meaningless denial of the penalty was but a foreshadowing of what was to come. With the quality (sic) of the referees in this league, it may be sooner rather than later that a referee’s scouting report may be necessary, as this referee took ‘let ‘em play’ to a whole new level, much to the chagrin of the opposition.
Lincoln robbed
This game’s referee would have waved play on even if he saw the opposition throwing the punch

The whistle blew, and as this was a State Cup game it was on to penalties. Finding volunteers for the first 5 penalties was no issue, and CPR were also fortunate enough to win the toss and take the obvious choice of going first. One hoped that saving shots during the game was completely different to the psychological warfare of penalty kicks, and Posta immediately made the decision look smart by burying the first kick. The one point to factor in to the opposition penalty kicks was that age and athleticism were no longer a factor, so the old and fat Banatul were able to play to their strengths of ball skill and poise. 1-1. Up strode Fink to the spot. Although the keeper had shown a propensity to dive to his left, Fink’s shot and subsequent save were more than understandable since the mortal sin of penalty taking is overthinking the issue. 1-1, which swiftly became 2-1 as another portly Banatul player buried his penalty. Up strode Conboy, for many years a confident Metroboyz penalty taker. Not this time, as the keepers late movement provided just enough of a distraction to cause the kick to go down the middle, where the smartly alert keeper was able to use his legs to stop the ball. At this point Becker threw CPR a lifeline, making a block to keep the score at 2-1. Mershon was the only Old Boy who had scored a penalty this year, and true to form coaxed the ball into the side netting. The ice cold Banatul player promptly made it 3-2, also making it sudden death. Venkataraman strode confidently to the spot and made it 3-3 to the keeper’s left, but sadly it was to be all for naught as to their credit the last Banatul player was able to hit an unstoppable shot triggering a mass celebration.
Alas cruel fate!
These guys would have been very familiar with the final result of this game

After the previous week’s draw against an impotent Shamrock on a 4 game losing streak, this defeat was hard to take. Although inability to score goals is an age old problem for teams the world over (See Liverpool FC), making this many chances and usually having the more talented team should count for something. Penalties are a crapshoot and even the missed ones were on target, but truth be told the game was lost during regular play when one of the numerous chances should have been converted, with CPR showing precious little penchant for giving up an opposition goal. If only they had a well known striker riding on a white steed to add steel to their attack it could yet be a successful season. Perhaps one such striker might soon be available…

First Touch Match Summary from last match against Shamrock Rovers: http://www.firsttouchonline.com/cosmo/cosmo11_8_07.html

Competition: State Cup, Banatul
Location: New Utrecht, Brooklyn
Conditions: Finally getting towards late autumn, a chilly day
Fans:2 (Liz, Meridyth)
Result: 0-0, Lost 4-3 on Penalties (0-0 at H/T)
Goals: Penalties: Posta, Fink (miss), Conboy (miss), Mershon, Venkataraman
Yellow Cards: None
Red Card: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows: Clive ‘Ollie’ Morgan narrowly escapes the dishonorable mention with a late email to the team. Besides, I’m sure he’d rather have been playing and drinking than working. Honorable positive mention to Mike D, who executed a reverse Mike D by showing up when not expected.
Old Man of the Match: Decent performances all around, but although a solid group at the pub the discouragement after a game that should have been won didn’t lead to a strong vote for Old Man of the Match.
Old Man of the Bar: Nobody stood out, but a solid performance by a number of the usual suspects. Honorable mention shout out goes to Conboy & Liz, who reluctantly decided to let ‘Morning Guy’ off the hook by leaving after a few hours of festivities.
Team Bar Showing: 9 out of 14 (64%)
Team Bar Night: 3 ½ out of 5 – A strong showing by a good selection of the squad making it back from the arduous trek to New Utrecht. Not only good in numbers, but good in longevity as well, making it way past the end of the second game.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mark Becker (GK), Mark Resnik (DF) , Mark Walby (DF), Scott Shafranek (DF), Lars Murray (DF), Mike Douglas (DF), Mark Edmunds (DF), Mike Conboy, Kevin Fink, Diego Rivera, Creighton Mershon, Manohar Venkataraman , Fillipo Posta , Jonny Lincoln

Scouting Report: An older team with decent ball control but age has robbed them of any athletic ability they might have had. With better finishing, CPR should crush them on a normal day.
Goalie: Clearly their best player. Made a number of good saves including the two decisive penalties, and didn’t just save the ball but didn’t drop the ball invitingly to any strikers
Defenders: Lack of speed due to their age, but able to play fundamental football. Aided by CPR strikers continuing to not pay attention and constantly putting themselves in borderline offsides positions
Midfielders: Large of stature, were able to win a few headers and control the ball well.
Strikers: Also large guys, but did not take the few clearcut opportunities they had to score.

Old Boyz have Shamrock on the ropes but fail to land knockout punch

Monday, November 05, 2007 (post date)
The Old Boyz woke up on game day with several factors in their favour. In addition to gaining an hour from the clocks turning back, the game was at 10am on the upper west side, producing an easier commute than that for 9am Randall’s Island games. In addition, a substantial squad had responded positively and playing at Riverbank ensured that the flat surface would play to the boyz strengths, if not the speed of the field. By game time at least 14 were somewhat ready to play with a few more stragglers trolling in, much to the displeasure of El Presidente who was preparations for a warm breakfast and some light picture taking were discarded by the need to dress for the game.

With an army on the sidelines, the boyz were instructed to utilize their energy and numbers to harass Shamrock at every turn. Learning from their preseason loss, the boyz opened up with a new 4-5-1 formation to flood the midfield and prevent the strength of the Rovers from having any time to dwell on the ball. The initial plan worked well to stymie the opposition, and CPR earned themselves some dangerous half chances. Indeed, CPR looked certifiably dangerous when passing the ball around as opposed to lobbing it over the top expecting one striker to beat two defenders and the goalie chasing for the ball. However, with the referee’s stunning failure to understand the off sides rule the tactic wasn’t entirely without merit. Both teams were bemused by the referee’s diktat that a player could not be offsides if the ball was played from his team’s own half, a rule that even Vlad the Impaler would have been embarrassed to have tried to implement.
Rivera’s Debut Goal
Rivera’s rather subdued celebration with the two players who helped set it up, Conboy & Dean. Perhaps his mood was dampened by the fact that he missed the memo that it was crazy socks day.

The traffic was all one sided to begin with, with Shamrock having one open chance that they failed to convert. As the game wore on though CPR stopped pressuring as they had done, and with more space the talented Rovers midfielders started to assert their authority. With their second attack of the game they managed to take the lead, a gorgeous flowing move that sent players open down the left side to cross to a striker whose one time volley at the near post was a thing of beauty.

It was no time for CPR to be discouraged though, especially as they had owned the game so far. In short order they were able to equalize, with Mark Dean perhaps the beneficiary of the referee’s unique interpretation of the offsides rule. Charging down the right side with no defender nearby he was able to pass it square to Conboy. His shot was blocked by the keeper, but hovered right around the goal line for Diego to crush dangerously high into the net off the crossbar from one yard out to even the score. It was a pleasure for CPR to be the recipient of a referee’s largesse for a change instead of the victim.

The tussle in midfield started to become more competitive whenever the Rovers midfield had time on the ball. Thanks to the steel of Conboy, Mershon and Teesdale though CPR were able to not only throttle them down but also generate some attacks of their own. In particular CPR were surprisingly dominant in the air, a phase that Shamrock had fully owned in the preseason game at the Met Oval.
Moron of a Referee
Randall’s Island Asylum may be missing an inmate. Description: Guy wearing a yellow shirt, zero knowledge of the offsides rule and no idea of how time is kept on the field. If you see him, please return him.

The half time conversation revolved around continuing to use CPR’s dominant numbers over Shamrock’s minimal substitutes. Unfortunately for the most part the Shamrock players were in good shape for an Over 30’s side, so it wasn’t until near the end that they started flagging. In the meantime the Old Boyz started created clear chance after clear chance for different players, with none able to convert and give CPR the win they deserved. Although it was commendable that CPR were putting players in such good positions, they really should have converted at least one of their chances, which ranged from one on ones with the keeper that were hit straight at him to chances muffed from 4 yards out to chips from outside the box that drifted wide. By the end Shamrock were completely under siege, with repeated pleas to the referee requesting how much time was left. Meanwhile, the referee who had been a relaxed bystander to most of the action (ignoring some very physical tackles on both sides) decided to make sure that everyone was fully aware of the state of the game. If his loudly announced call for one minute left was unusual, his countdown of the last 10 seconds of the game was downright buffoonish. Upon the polite inquiry as to whether this was his first game as a referee, his indignant retort that this was a FIFA rule and that he was going to be refereeing a World Cup qualifier next year prompted less guffawing and more of a cautious check to see whether the Asylum at Randall’s Island was missing any inmates.

His final countdown from 10 seconds to 1 prompted the referee to blow his whistle, for the first time that day as anyone could recall. Much like the current Liverpool side, the team had dominated but come away with a draw, and this could be seen as 2 points dropped instead of 1 point gained. At least the boyz had played some pleasing football on a field that allowed them to do so, but as always the finishing needs some work. With next week’s cup game the last one before the ostensible arrival of Mike Rudy, one hopes that gap will be plugged by the Metroboyz career scoring and points leader.

First Touch Match Summary from last match against GH Metros: http://www.firsttouchonline.com/cosmo/cosmo11_1_07.html

Competition: League Opposition, Shamrock Rovers
Location: Riverbank Park, Manhattan
Conditions: A cool brisk autumn day, perfect weather to play in
Fans:1 (Pilar)
Result: 1-1 (1-1 at H/T)
Goals: 1-1: Rivera Assist Conboy
Yellow Cards: None
Red Card: None
Mike D’s aka No Shows:
Old Man of the Match: Creighton Mershon had a solid overall game, and in addition was voted OMoM as a season long achievement award since he finally had a free pass to get to the pub. Teesdale and Becker garnered honorary mentions.
Old Man of the Bar: Kevin Fink garners another OMoB award, partly for providing endless enjoyment to everyone regarding his inability to use the right side of his body and partly for reciting a soliloquy from Wedding Crashers verbatim.
Team Bar Showing: 8 out of 18 (44%, season low)
Team Bar Night: 2 ½ out of 5 – An average showing that might have been longer with the 4pm Pats vs Colts kickoff, except there were no representatives from any other team at the pub to act as instigators.
Team (No new profiles this week): Mark Becker (GK), Mark Resnik , Mark Walby (DF), Scott Shafranek (DF), James Scanlon (DF), Lars Murray (DF), Drew Faherty (DF), Steve Teesdale (DF), Clive ‘Ollie’ Morgan (DF), Mark Dean (DF), Creighton Mershon, John Hodges, John Bodt, Mike Conboy, Kevin Fink, Diego Rivera, Manohar Venkataraman , Fillipo Posta

Scouting Report: A solid but beatable team when CPR has the right attitude to play them.
Goalie: Did not generate any presence, but was aided by the feeble CPR finishing. Certainly worth challenging next time.
Defenders: Easily the weakest part of the team, they actually played better than they did in the preseason friendly. Nervous under pressure and apt to launch the ball in any direction at the hint of an opposition member near them, constant pressure on them should produce some easy goals.
Midfielders: Talented and dangerous when given time and space, they need to be physically handled and closed down as much as possible. Good skill and the ability to take on players.
Strikers: Quality players, and it was beneficial to CPR that they did not see the ball as much as they probably should have. The flying volley struck across the body near post was finishing of the most sublime quality. Choking off the supply was definitely the smartest thing that CPR could have done.


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