MAST Super Group Champions

The tournament did not start well for the team. However, anybody who knows a thing or two about out of town soccer tournaments knows that playing the host team for the first game is always challenging. You end up playing against their crowd, their fields, their weather, their rules, etc. You then factor in the long flight 24 hours earlier, returning from the holiday break, a fragile roster with depth issues and all bets are off. I must say, the scoreline (1-3) for the first game was deceiving. For those of us who watched the game, it had its moments of decent FCD soccer with SIMA gold elite (SIMA from here on) playing very direct and using their speed to create the more dangerous chances overall. It is important to note that going down 0-1 in the first five minutes of the match (on top of my pretexts given above) against a top quality opponent is like ice-skating uphill trying to come back. At the end of the match, the boys and the coaching staff quickly shifted their focus to the second game…

The quality of soccer improved in the second game against Valencia and the coaching staff finally learned their rules (ex. unlimited substitutions and reentries permitted). Furthermore, FCD did not fall victim of overconfidence and there were no early forced substitutions due to injuries (incredible player management by the club on the eve of a U20 MNT camp). Also, Valencia plays a different brand of soccer so it was easier to stick to a ball possession plan. Overall, Valencia was supposed to be the opponent to beat but my guess is that this was not their “A” team. I find it interesting that a Spanish team would fly 11 hours to come play a “meh” tournament in the middle of their season (according to their schedule, they are supposed to play a regular season game in a few hours). Anyway, the final score was a tie with us conceding a soft goal in the winding minutes of the match for the second consecutive game. We really could have used those two points to secure a smoother pathway to the championship game but hey, live and learn…

Given SIMA’s dominance in their first two matches, it was a “do or die” situation for FCD’s third game against Esporte Clube Jacuipense . On paper, the Brazilians appeared to be the least known and most flexible opposition and that was indeed the case. FCD had the majority of the opportunities with our GK and defense having very little to do throughout the game. FCD went up on the score in the first half with a PK and closed the deal in the second half off of another set piece. 2-0 was the final score and that in conjunction with the continued dominance of SIMA (undefeated in the first three matches) setup a must see rematch for the “championship” game between SIMA and FCD.

Keeping the score tied at zero in the first 20 minutes of the championship game was of utmost importance in order to start playing our game (possession and mental); however, that was almost achieved until a soft PK call was given to the host team around the 10th minute. After going down 0-1, our team realized that PK calls were going to be soft and we ended up benefiting from two in our favor; one of our players is a master of that art. The game quickly turned more intense and aggressive with players on each team earning a red card and some yellows earned in the process as well. This was a battle not just against SIMA, the crowd, the fields, but their long winning tradition. SIMA had never lost this tournament in the 9 years they had organized it. Good job players and staff for the collective and individual hardware…it was a “good ride”. Thank you.

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