One official game, one win.
We played a Finnish Cup 4th Round game last night against the local Division 2 team, IFK Vasa (or maybe they’re called Vasa IFK). We won 2-0 with goals either side of halftime from Jarno and Patu. Of course I don’t really do in-depth game recaps, but I will make a few points about the match before inevitably talking about myself since, hey, it’s my blog.
Now on to the game. First of all, Vasa IFK Vasa (I’ll just call them that or VIFK so that I get the name at least half right) is a really good team. I didn’t have any familiarity with the level of teams in Division 2, but from the looks of it it must be a decent league. That’s surprising to me, since I trained for a day with a Division 3 team last February right after I was released by MYPA to stay fit for my trial with ESK in Sweden. That Division 3 team was terrible and resembled a youth club. Vasa IFK Vasa on the other hand had a bunch of players that honestly wouldn’t look out of place in Veikkausliiga. I don’t know how it looked from the outside, but on the pitch it felt like we were just chasing shadows while Vasa IFK Vasa calmly moved the ball around for the first 15 minutes or so. We were making all the chances, but it seemed like we were just getting counterattacks and not controlling anything. Even though Jarno scored in about the 40th minute, I felt like the game was very even going into halftime.
This was my first halftime with VPS, since I didn’t start the previous game and was warming up during that time. It’s always interesting to see what teams do during the interval. I won’t get into tactics and stuff since that stuff’s not important to this blog. Instead I’ll talk a bit about a few of the things that go on during a professional soccer halftime. While you guys are out getting hot dogs or whatever food they sell at Finnish sports events, we’re underneath the stands doing the most random things ever. I think that people believe that halftime consists of a 15-minute team talk from the coach. In reality it’s more like a church, with 75% of the time spent on personal reflection and 25% spent by tactical/motivational discussion. Most of the guys took their jerseys off because honestly those things are like straight jackets. When I saw that VPS had long sleeve jerseys last year I thought it was so cool. But then again it was -3 degrees and the field was frozen. It’s a totally different story when you’re playing in a climate controlled hall. I didn’t take my jersey off, mostly because the previous #19 for VPS had a medium jersey meaning that I have the same and I simply couldn’t easily take the jersey off. I guess it’s all those big muscles I have!
Aside from stripping, there are other things going on. A couple of guys were doing sit ups and/or push ups, something I would never dream of during halftime. I think I even saw a player get a coffee which is crazy to me. Personally, I just sat in my spot in the locker room on the floor so my legs could stay extended. I was quite tired at halftime as this was only my second competitive game since last October. Anyway, after the 15 minutes were up and Oka (the coach) had given his speech we headed out for the second half.
In my opinion (I shouldn’t use that phrase. It’s obviously my opinion since I’m writing it, but I can’t really think of a better way to start this sentence right now.) the second half was much better than the first from our point of view. We did a better job of controlling the pace of the game and didn’t give up any chances that I can think of. We also created a bunch of chances of our own. While I didn’t really have any chances, I did help create some things and opened up the field with my pace. Great for the team, terrible for my lungs and legs. By the 60th minute I was just about completely gassed. Luckily for me and the team, Patrick Lomski scored in the 72nd minute or so and from there it was a stroll. Vasa IFK Vasa had to change their formation and it allowed us to dictate the rest of the game. 2-0 to the good guys!
I guess I did end up doing a sort of recap of the match. I’ll finish up by just mentioning a few things that I took from this match. First, I feel very confident that I can help solve the striker problem at this club. I know I didn’t score any goals and honestly did pretty poorly with the few chances I received/created. That said, I have all the tools to be a good Veikkausliiga striker. Given some time I think that I could make that position mine. Of course I’m prepared to play anywhere. I’ve spoken to Oka a few times about this and he knows that I’m a willing to play anywhere for the team. Let’s just hope that nothing happens that forces Oka to have to put me at center back or something! I’ll do it, but I can pretty much guarantee that we’d lose that game and that Henri (our goalie) will want to kill me afterward. Second, I’m really excited about this team this year. We played a game without a signed striker and with a handful of important players missing, but still managed to get a comfortable win against a team that I would guess could easily play in Division 1. And while they had their moments, I think a neutral fan would admit that we could have won by 3-0 or 4-0 with a bit of luck.
Ok enough about the game. The team has four days off in lieu of the Easter holiday. I find it kind of ironic that all of Finland shuts down for good Friday despite the fact that I’ve seen two churches the entire time I’ve been here. In America, there’s a church on every corner and we swear we’re the most religious people ever, but on Good Friday you take your ass to work. Same with the day after Easter. Anyway, I’ll be here in Vaasa training and getting my fitness up since I’m a model professional. Haha clearly that’s not the case, I just don’t have enough money to travel anywhere. I wasn’t lying about getting my fitness up though. If you see me walking in Vaasa (I’m not hard to miss around here) offer to drive me to the gym! It’s like a 40 minute walk from my house and I’m afraid to jog there because there’s still quite a bit of ice outside.
That’s all. Sorry again for no pictures. I’ve been doing a really bad job at that but it’ll get better I promise. I might look around and see if there’s any pictures on the newspaper websites or elsewhere and post them.
The meme. It's explains my writing style perfectly: