"Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that." - Bill Shankly

Monday, July 4, 2011

FC77 Rangers 2:1 Hawks

FC77 Rangers 2 - 1 Hawks
(Muralt 50', 58')

In a curious twist of scheduling fate, the GPSD O30-Third spring league season decided not to schedule any matches on Easter weekend, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day weekend and, mysteriously enough, the weekend of June 25th and June 26th, which I will dub "Didn't Renew our Field Permits with the City of Portland Weekend"...but did decide to play matches on Independence Day Weekend. With so many players off celebrating freedom, liberty, and the right to purchase automobiles and mattresses at dramatically reduced prices, Manager Seanny found himself scrambling to assemble a skeleton crew of Ranger stalwarts to combat Hawks, our bugaboo rivals from the other side of the Columbia River. Forfeit: Not an Option. Rangers have never just rolled over and died in their entire illustrious multi-decade history and Sean wasn't going to be the first manager to fly the white flag, especially since a similar Hawks forfeiture last spring cost us goal differential and the chance to play for a championship. Many, many frantic emails, Facebook messages and passive-aggressive queries went out to secure a full-strength squad. As July 3rd dawned cool and gray, eleven brave men stepped forward to answer the call:

Do you know that there's still a chance for you?
'Cause there's a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
'Cause baby you're a firework!
[Queue fireworks and explosions shooting from Katy Perry's ample bosom.]

Starting XI:
Silverman, goalkeeper
Pullen - Bauman - DeBar - Payne, fullbacks
Siegel - Muralt - Calkins - Ingersoll, midfielders
Holstein - Fahrbach, strikers

Reserves: Reserves? Seriously, didn't you read the dramatic introduction?

A full side Rangers complement, including Andre DeBar and Glenn Siegel, assembled on the pitch and were greeted by a...a...not quite full-strength complement of gray-clad and graying Hawks. As the referee checked the rosters, it became clear that the Vancouver rivals would be...umm...compact and determined. You know what I mean. Don't make me say it. The Hawks captain originally considered forfeiting because of their determined compactness as one of their players had an expired card and was deemed not eligible to play, further reducing their squad. Ingersoll had a brilliant managerial idea.

"So, if we allow your one player to play with an expired card, Hawks will play a real match and not forfeit?"
"Yeah, we'll play," the Hawks captain said.

Liking the odds of the Ranger's eleven vs. Hawks not eleven, a pre-match conference was held with the official. Dramatic calls were made. Eventually, the referee hung up his phone and agreed to the arrangement, but with the caveat of thirty minute halves. Some looks of consternation flashed among 'Gers. Sixty minutes? That's it?

Ingersoll, recalling the non-match a year ago, flashed a steely look of snarky, vengeful malice: "We outnumber them by a lot. Let's pound the shit out of them." Bauman and Muralt nodded in approval.

"Works for us."

The referee started the match, Hawks kicked off, and four minutes later they sent a long hero ball over the top and scored. F**k!

Sucker punched by a dose of footballing karma and a really fast striker, 'Gers regrouped and attempted for the next twenty-six minutes to equalize. But we didn't. Maybe it was the long break since our last match. Maybe it was the new combination of players. Maybe it was the lack of goose crap on the pitch that somehow threw our bearings off, but whatever the reason...we were awful. We had difficulty connecting on passes, making traps, and finishing. Ingersoll sliced a shot so far right from the top of the box it may have struck a small child playing in the grandstand. Hawks' keeper, a strong stickminder despite his penchant for wearing a Flounders kit, scooped up the long balls ably and compensated for his right back's lack of mobility. Fahrbach and Holstein started getting chances but the net continued to elude us for the first half. The referee's whistle was a mournful clarion call to action.

"Their backs are old and slow. Drop some deep balls behind them."
"Spread them out and make them run."
"One of our midfielders needs to body up on their fast striker and ride him."
"Win the fifty-fifty ball! They are beating us to every ball!"

No panic was evident, but there was some concern. That proffered 1-0 forfeit was looking pretty sweet in hindsight now. Stupid hindsight. 'Gers took to the field and, although the passes were still spraying all over, they were connecting. Ingersoll and Siegel got more involved on the flanks and the back line was solid with Silverman only having to make two of his trademarked sliding saves. When their dribbling midfielder started getting mazy at the top of the box, our backs collapsed and forced him into a low percentage shot. DeBar, Payne and Pullen controlled the back line and allowed Bauman to roam forward.

With ten minutes to play and the situation looking dire, Calkins fired a long pass behind the Hawks right back and allowed Ingersoll to surge forward into the box. Their keeper covered his angles and Ingersoll laid off a gentle pass to the on-rushing Muralt, unmarked and lonely to the left of the penalty spot. He took his time, picked his shot, and finally beat the keeper with a clean strike through the middle. 1-1 was at least not an embarrassment, but did the Yellow and Black have another in the tank to make the result respectable?

Indeed they did. Two minutes from time, Bauman charged forward from his stopper position and split the two defenders, getting a good double dry-humping in the process. He blasted a shot from just inside the box and beat the keeper--


The striker rebounded aggressively off of the right post! It fell kindly to Muralt, who calmly collected and passed it into the net. The keeper, for all of his match day heroics, had no chance. There were a few cries for offsides, but it was a clean goal and 'Gers escaped with all three points, a modicum of self-respect, and a solid mid-table position with two (but likely only one) match remaining.

Thanks to Muralt's family and Stella Bauman for coming out to watch.

Match Summary:
HAWK, 4'
RAN-Muralt, 50'
RAN-Muralt, 58'
Halftime: RAN 0-1 HAWK
Discipline: None
Attendance: 9

Next Match:
KMA (5-1-2, 17 points) v FC77 Rangers (3-4-1, 10 points)
Sunday, 10 July, 2011
LaSalle High School
Portland, Oregon
6:00 p.m. KO

Monday, June 13, 2011

FC77 Rangers 6:1 Wolfhounds FC

FC77 Rangers 6 - 1 Wolfhounds FC
(Ingersoll [PK] 10', Holstein 15', Burden 20', Payne 30', King 40', Schutte 70')

Losing to Wolfhounds = NOT ACCEPTABLE

A four match losing streak. About half of the team unable to play due to injuries, scheduling conflicts, or drunken carousing in Vegas. (You know who you are. Ahem.) Stagnating at the bottom of the O30-3 division table, below friggin' Hawks of all teams. And now the return leg of the famous Blue Monk Derby against Wolfhounds FC. Desperate times called for...something. A ray of hope. A glimpse of glory. Perhaps a catchy mantra or slogan that could rally the remaining squad members around a common cause of purpose and drive.

Losing to Wolfhounds = NOT ACCEPTABLE

Some things a recreational adult soccer team can't control, like when your bosses make you work on Sunday or the team you coach is doing something teamy at the exact same time. I mean, you can't just not show up for a bunch of kids, right? (Well, technically, I have but my priorities are kind of whack.) But some things a team can control...like getting eleven players on the field. Blessed by last week's reschedule of the KMA match, Manager Seanny did some research and realized that having only played six matches, the team roster was not required by league rules to be closed as it is on the seventh match. As such, he was able to acquire some other on-loan players. Normally that means contacting FC77 Hibernian, the O40 squad, and hoping Brian Gaffney and several others would play another match...but Hibs were playing immediately after the famed Blue Monk Derby in another part of town, so that wouldn't work. Well, bollocks! Wait. Bollocks! FC77 Bollocks! A quick email was sent to Open 2nd Division side FC77 Bollocks manager Jeff Lucas and, happily, he and two or three other players offered to come "help a brother out". Ingersoll also chanced upon former Ranger Dan Holstein at the Timbers-Rapids match Saturday night and casually dropped the nugget he was looking for some players on Sunday. Holstein's eyes lit up and after a few moments, it was evident the Prodigal Son was comin' home to Daddy. And by Daddy I mean Rangers. Just want to clear that up.

Starting XI:
Silverman, goalkeeper
Pullen - Calkins - Payne, fullbacks
Travis from FC77 Bollocks, stopper
Burden - Nic from FC77 Bollocks - Jeff Lucas - Ingersoll, midfielders
Holstein - Youssef, strikers

Reserves (Oh, glorious reserves!):
King, Schutte, and Fahrbach

Not Available:
Abso-freakin'-lutely everybody else

Sometimes everything just clicks. Sometimes the weather is just right, the passes are going where they are supposed to, the ball falls to the right person in a 50/50 challenge, and the opposing goal looms really, REALLY large. Sunday, June 12th at 11:30 a.m. was just such a day. The new players from Bollocks and Holstein immediately found their groove and place in the starting scheme and everything just kind of went the way it used to--the way it is supposed to. Sharp runs down the outside flanks. Smart hold-up and control in the middle. Silverman bored out of his gourd from most of the first half. Ten minutes in, Burden made a run into the 'Hounds box and was adjudged by the match official to have been unfairly tackled by the opposing defensive line. As the 'Gers left winger dropped to the turf, the referee showed no hesitation pointing to the spot.

"You want to take it?" Ingersoll asked Burden.
Ron graciously shrugged it off. "Naw, go ahead."

And thus began a complex (ha!) psychological mind game of captain and keeper. See, Ingersoll and the 'Hounds keeper have played on the same winter team before and one afternoon, during a practice at PSU when Ingersoll was practicing his penalties, he distinctly told this very keeper this: "My coach in high school told me to always shoot at the exact same spot. Make it automatic so you never miss. Find your spot in the net and always shoot at it. I once took a PK in high school and put it so far over the bar that my coach made me take 25 PKs after every practice and I had to shoot at the same spot every time. Since I figured most keepers were right handed, I would shoot right (their left) hoping their left side would be weaker. So every practice my senior year, I took 25 PKs to my right." The 'Hounds keeper is a smart man and I was sure he remembered that conversation. So what would he do? What would I do?

Would he leap to the right because he knew I always shot right? Or would he leap left because he knew I knew he knew I always shot right? Or would he still go right because he knew I knew he knew I knew I shot right but he was trying to fake me out? Or would he go left because he knew I knew he knew I knew he knew I knew I shot right?

Ah...f**k it. I'll kick it down the middle and see what happens.

The keeper leaped right. The ball drilled into the net in the center of the goal. It wasn't Hasli's chip of Keller from the spot over the weekend, but they don't ask how, just how many. 1-0 'Gers.

Losing to Wolfhounds = NOT ACCEPTABLE

Thus began a veritable deluge of goals. Holstein opened his scoring account after only fifteen minutes with the team with a deft move from the left side, finding the net from well within the box and doubling up the score. With Travis subbing himself off due to a calf strain and ankle knock, 'Gers was still left with two subs available and took full advantage of the fresh legs. 2-0 became 3-0 when Burden himself connected also from the left side, sliding a worm-burner into the far corner of the goal and then, just a few minutes later, launching a 25 yard effort that went just wide. The comfortable lead loosened up the side to make smart runs and play with added confidence. Lucas made an unopposed run from his center midfield position to the right side of the box onto Nic's slicing pass behind the 'Hounds back line, but the field was just a little too short to support the move. Nic later played a looping ball from his central midfield position to the left side of the opposing goal, finding Roy Payne of all people making a sixty yard run deep into the box. Payne took full advantage of his rare foray forward and hit the ball with the outside of his foot, sending it across the goal mouth and into the netting for his first goal as a Ranger and the team's fourth of the day. (Not bad considering he was only 90 yards out of position! Ha!) Youssef was integral to several passing plays and King later scored from another left-sided series that beat the keeper near side, I recall, and all but killed any vestige of momentum, hope, or desire 'Hounds may have entertained.

Losing to Wolfhounds = Not Likely at This Point

The back line provided rock solid protection all half. Silverman was required to only make a few collections, mostly long through balls that were fast on the turf, and Calkins, Angry Mike, Fahrbach and Payne (when he wasn't in the other box!) all totally dominated the infrequent balls that got into our half. Lucas eventually dropped back into a stopper role and further denied any 'Hounds movement through the center. 'Hounds started finding more success in the second half as the sides got tired and the field was broken into the "attacking" and the "defending" halves of the team. Eventually, they played a long ball and got lucky, but Payne did make their striker pay for it with a decent tackle to get his pound of flesh for the goal. Schutte answered with a strike of his own--his first goal as a Ranger, too!--midway through the second half after anchoring the center midfield and working the right side enough to get close for a pop. 'Gers did an excellent job of making off-the-ball runs, exploiting space, and retaining possession. The game was wide open back-and-forth for the last twenty minutes, with Silverman making a few of his signature slide tackles to keep additional shots from not happening. I think someone even cracked wise, "Hey, Aaron, a few more tackles like that and we are going to make you a field player!" 'Hounds got a yellow card for dissent late in the match, but the overall mood was generally cordial and the final whistle welcomed by all, including the three Ranger supporters in attendance...Kendall Ingersoll, Toby Holstein, and Paddy's lady friend.

Losing to Wolfhounds = Not Gonna Happen

So another three points, no new cards, and a rousing Blue Monk Derby performance...that's a pretty good afternoon's work. Hey, here's a crazy thought...let's do it again next Saturday against CHA and get a new Streak of Awesomeness started? What do you think? Sound cool? Right on.

Match Summary:
RAN-Ingersoll (PK), 10'
RAN-Holstein, 15'
RAN-Burden, 20'
RAN-Payne, 30'
RAN-King, 40'
WOLF, 60'
RAN-Schutte, 70'
Halftime: RAN 5-0 WOLF
Discipline: WOLF (1) - Dissent
Attendance: 5-19, depending upon what time you counted

Next Match:
CHA CHA CHA 0/30 (0-5-1, 1 point) v FC77 Rangers (2-4-1, 7 points)
Saturday, 18 June, 2011
Gladstone High School
Gladstone, Oregon
8:00 a.m. KO
CHA has one point...from a tie with us.
They have only scored five goals this season...and three of those were against us.
I find this...NOT ACCEPTABLE.

Due to Technical Difficulties...

...match summaries for Match Days #3, #4, #5, and #6 were not available. Specifically, technically we did not win, ergo, I found it difficult to write about them. But for the sake of future generations--or perhaps aliens from another planet who may seek out our planet as a source of natural resources or slave labor--who may peruse the electronic archives to learn more about what people did for recreation in 2011--or try to learn more about the species they have abducted en masse and thrown to work in their tyrannium ore mines--I humbly offer this abbreviated synopsis of the ill-fated matches against Hawks, Symmetry, Controlled Chaos, and FC PFA. Actually, it is just scores, scorers, and dates...'cause that is all I remember. Well, that and smelling like seagull shit after one of the matches.


Match Day Three
FC77 Rangers 1 : 3 Hawks
Seriously?! Friggin' Hawks?!
Sunday, 17 April, 2011
Devereaux Field, Vancouver, Washington

Match Day Four
FC77 Rangers 2 : 4 Symmetry
(Gullung, Radigan)
Sunday, 1 May, 2011
Rob Strasser Field, Portland, Oregon

Match Day Five
FC77 Rangers 1 : 2 Controlled Chaos
Rob Strasser Field, Portland, Oregon

Match Day Six
FC77 Rangers 1 : 4 FC PFA
Rob Strasser Field, Portland, Oregon

Match Day Seven
FC77 Rangers v KMA
Rescheduled to July 10th
Hey, at least we didn't lose!