Vélez Wins the Virginian (Unabridged)

Posted by Miguel Nuila on May 26 2002 at 05:00PM PDT

Game #1: Annandale (VA) W 3-1 I really don't remember much about this game except that we were nervous, tight, and we kept tripping on the ball. They had a good team and their coach was really nice. Beyond that, it was 3-1 in what I would call, an "ugly win." Game #2: Clarkstown (NY) L 0-1 Shots on goal must have been 20-1 (I'll have to check the video) but their one went in and our 20 didn't. They hacked and they wacked and we're just simply not used to that kind of play. I carried more players off the field than any other game I've ever coached before. We have to thank them tremendously for beating us as they bursted our bubble and allowed us to get back into the business of playing soccer instead of worrying about losing. Game #3: YMS Xplosion (PA) W 1-0 I believe YMS to be the best coached team at the tournament. The integrity of the program is unparallel. Because they are extremely well coached and talented at the back, they did not allow any direct or early play goals (something we like to do a lot) and we were forced to dribble. We are master dribblers and began wearing them down at the flanks with penetration. Eventually this lead to a goal off of a cross (one time left footed half volley by a righty!). They are certainly capable of beating us on any given Sunday but this particular one saw us triumph. Game 4: The Rugrats (NY) W 3-2 Well, the Rugrats had beaten a partial Vélez team in March and we wanted paybacks. We had charted their team and we knew that eliminating their center forward (#6) and their very technical but not so fast midfielder (#8) were the keys to victory. Man marking would be required with help coming from the other match-up zone players (especially since we too play a 3-1-3, it was easy to organize). Flank play would then be matched by speed as one of their wingers is faster than the other so we adjusted our defensive personnel accordingly. We considered our wingers to be more technical and faster than their wingbacks so we made no adjustments there. We found their flat three to be VERY FLAT and scored an easy goal with a direct play. In order to prevent the direct play and the domination of our very tall and talented forward, they adjusted moving their wingbacks into cover positions so they could help their center fullback. That meant a change of style from direct play to possession up top and luckily our center forward is gifted enough to not only recognize the change, but execute it as well. Tactics aside, we were ahead twice, they got a couple of good runs and eventually two penalty kicks that to this day I think are very questionable. Because it was hot and they only had one sub, (we had none when we played them at Nether in March) we kept the kids hydrated and rotating every six minutes. It was just a matter of time before they broke. We missed two open netters late in the game that could have sealed the victory with extreme prejudice. I'm sure they'll be ready for us the next time. Game 5: Bethesda Roadrunners (MD) W 2-1 The theme of the day was, "you're suppossed to lose this one so it doesn't matter if you do." that allowed the kids to relax and just play. We threw out out zonal defending and we went to a serious mano-a-mano man marking system with a Libero. Our usual 3-1-3 became a mirror image of whatever Bethesda had on the pitch with the exception of their two backs against our one forward and our Liberos terrorizing the pitch. Tactics aside, it then became an issue of playing tough defense and really fast counter attacks. The pretty dribbling game and passing game that we are known for was NOWHERE to be seen today as we simply were not allowed any space in which to create. Dribbling would have been futile as beating one man only attracted two others. In the end we scored off of a corner that dropped into the box and on a quick counter that saw the first bounce from the goalie's punt touch the attacking third. I don't believe the Bethesda fullbacks really could believe the ball was going to travel as far as it did since they seemed slow to react to it. It then became a simple matter of knocking it home 1 v 1 against the keeper. Our goalie was critical this match as he mad many routine and some not so routine saves. He owned the box and it was pretty evident. Their lone goal came on a substitution mistake that saw the man marking break down. Both teams saved goals off the line late in the game with our defense bending but not breaking under the great pressure of the Bethesda passing game. How about them Velezian boys?


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