Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Richmond 0-1 FMFC: Winning Ugly

Good Sunday all, Andrew here with a recap of the first Henny Derby matchup of the 2022 season. The sun shines a bit brighter with 3 points in the rearview, does it not?

First, a personal note: Apologies for the late posting, I’ve been in the hospital the past couple of days due to an emergent issue related to some ongoing heart issues I’ve had for a while now. While I feel fine physically, I will likely be getting the Christian Eriksen treatment in the coming days, I’d be lying if I didn’t say this current episode didn’t rattle me a bit. Lisa and I just had a wonderful holiday in Belize, I had a very busy week at work (including a presentation to several hundred customers), and was looking forward to a relaxing weekend with Clyde and enjoying the nice weather (finally!). When I arrived home from Work on Friday I received a call from my doctor’s office with the results of a monitoring test earlier in the week, and the news that I needed to be admitted to the hospital right away for monitoring.

While I probably should have been immediately scared, I was annoyed — having my weekend relaxation and plans to see friends ruined, I lamented the forthcoming incredibly boring hospital stay. Before going to check in at University Hospital, I went to get my hair cut (an appointment for which I’d sheduled earlier in the day and was about to leave before this phone call from my doctor), and in the barber chair a bit of the fear set in. No matter how much time we’re gifted on this big blue rock, we always want more, no matter how good it’s been so far. I fit squarely into that “wanting more time” bucket, even though I know the time I’m on is borrowed. I started thinking about all the things I still want to do, the time I want to spend with my family, friends, and especially the joyful things like seeing Clyde go apeshit when I come home from work after a long day, or absolute limbs in the Flock End after a 2nd half goal.

It got me thinking about how in the grand scheme of things, the time I spend on NDZ, supporting this club, the people I’ve met over the past 3+ years around all this soccer nonsense — it might seem silly or a waste of time to outsiders, but it most certainly means the world to me. So as I sit passing time in my hospital bed for the 2nd day in a row of who knows how many to come, I’m incredibly thankful for the time I spend doing this, because it sure as hell doesn’t seem silly to me. I’m grateful for you reading this, and the idea that in some small way the life force we pour into the things we care about can make a positive impact on others. And if the silly words I write helps bring people together through this sport/club, then all the work will have been worth it.

Anyway. That’s my TED talk, and thanks for reading ✌.

By all accounts, Madison should have lost this game. The home side held the lion’s share of possession at 60%, nearly 150 more passes, 14 corners to Madison’s 1, and tallied 5 shots on target to Madison’s 2. With that being said, we’ve had our share of games thus far this season where the stats were largely in Madison’s favor, though a bit of bad luck rolled our way to not get results. Last night the pendulum of chance swung in our favor, and yeah it’s cliche, but that’s football for you. That’s nothing to say for Breno’s stellar goalkeeping and good game management on Madison’s part to get the win, but for me, the edge this time was Madison being able to match Richmond’s gamesmanship. After the match, Coach Glaeser weighed in:

It was a gutsy win. Definitely the best team we played against so far, it was a difficult game. We did whatever it takes and the guys did it. It was ironic because we didn’t play that well, but that’s how it goes.

– FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser

Match Recap

The game was (as predicted) a physical affair, the referee issuing fouls and yellow cards liberally throughout. By full time, a tally of 9 players were in the official’s book and 33 fouls called. Rain and wind kept conditions sloppy, making it a slower-paced match overall. The home side largley abandoned their usual counterattacking system/style, opting for possession-based attack which was rebuffed over and over by Madison’s staunch defense. The Flamingos were notably without the injured Abdou Mbacke-Thiam, Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, and Derek Gebhard, and while Christian Enriquez also didn’t travel, there’s no word yet from the club as to whether his absence was injury-related.

Play was end to end the first half hour, chock-a-block with gamesmanship, physicality, and fouls. In the first half alone, 3 yellow cards were issued for dissent as the referee tried to gain some control of the game. Phil Breno stepped up big to make a massive save in the 28th minute from reigning golden boot winner Emiliano Terzaghi. While doggedly marked by Eric Leonard, the marauding Argentine found a small bit of space to let a shot fly, and Phil did incredibly well to stretch and push the ball wide of the back stick. Audi Jepson had a free kick on frame in the 37th after Crisler fouled Streng, which cleared the wall but but was met by Fitzgerald at the near post. The intermission came and went without much to say about good or clever football — this outing was always going to be a slugfest.

The second half started much like the first, with a lot of back and forth and more fouling. Sukow came on for a seemingly-injured Jones in the 66th (we found out today from the club that Jones isn’t injured, he just isn’t fully match fit). 54 seconds after coming off the bench, Rojay switches play from the left to the right finding Sukow with the pass, Sukow cuts left and beats Stuart Ritchie. Sukow rips a shot just inside Richmond’s 18 yard box, it ricochets off a flat-footed Jalen Crisler and into the back of the net. Watching it back, you can see there was a real possibility Sukow’s shot could have tucked inside of the back post, but unfortunately for Crisler and Sukow it was given to Crisler as an own goal.

The quality we saw from Sukow in this game will leave Glaeser with a tough choice to make during squad selection, but his interplay with teammates, cleverness of touches, and physical presence were all impressive. In my mind, he should be starting if his fitness is there. He especially seems to work well with Streng, as does Bartman. If nothing else, his performance proves this team has good options in the midfield when fresh legs are needed or if a certain pairing is needed for a specific opponent.

In the second half Madison’s final third still looked a little disjointed, cohesion looking better but still not quite there enough to be productive in front of goal. There were glimpses in this game, one of which happened early in 75th minute. Sukow runs directly with the ball at Vinyals and is stripped by the Spaniard, and you can see in this case how 1-1s might not always come off, but they ramp up intensity and defenders make mistakes. Vinyals ends up being pressed by Sukow and Maldonado, the latter of whom wins back possession and offers an incisive through ball to Streng. This is the type of play we’ve been missing.

Breno was called upon again in the 78th from minute to make yet another acrobatic save from a Terzaghi diving header. Bartman would later chip the ball up to to be met by a diving Streng header in 87th. This was another good example of a proper cross and good use of possession, but unfortunately it went straight to the keeper. The final 3 mins of regulation was more about disrupting Richmond’s play and killing the clock, and Breno was cautioned in 90+1′ for time wasting as he went to dry off his gloves again.

The dying moments of the game saw a continuation of some bizarre officiating, as Nil Vinyals took yet another illegal corner. By my count that gave him 3 on the evening, the first of which came early in the 77th. Vinyals takes an illegal corner, and the commentator even mentions it’s illegal placement and how the former Tormenta man has a habit of this, and that he’s scored off these corners before.

Definitely not déjà vu-inducing

You’d think with all the other cards and fouls and re-taken set pieces in this game that Fateh would have whistled it, but no dice. Breno ends up needing to make a save from Vinyals’ curling effort, and this same exact scenario repeats only a minute later: illegal corner placement, dipping curling corner, Breno save. Then in 90+5, the commentator says, “Richmond putting the pressure on once again, as Nil Vinyals ignores the corner arc.” 90+7′ Richmond has another chance on a corner, goes off the post, back out, then back on goal again and Phil saves it yet again.

And people wonder why USL1 fans have zero faith in PRO Referees. At one point during play, the commentator stated, “Not the best of nights, Nickrod Fateh. Handed out a ton of yellow cards and some puzzling decisions.” It’s extremely maddening that while clubs around this league work hard to step up the level of play and talent acquisition, PRO does fuck all to make officiating better. It would appear the league has no recourse as well, because who else are they going to pull in to ref these games? Something absolutely needs to be done, but nobody seems to have answers, meanwhile fans are just expected to endure match after match of dire officiating.

As we mentioned earlier in the week, Eric Leonard made his 73rd appearance in the pink and blue, making him officially the most-capped player in club history. With 12 clearances on the night, bailing Madison out multiple times, he acquitted himself quite nicely. After the game, Leonard had this to say:

It’s definitely an honor to be part of a club that’s been my family for the last several years. Forward has been my family since day one. We were coming here to play the team at the top of the table. We have a group of guys ready to win the championship. This is our turning point, grinding out a result for over 100 minutes. First and foremost, a clean sheet tonight. Sukow off the bench, forcing an own goal to give us the lead. We need to keep improving as a group technically, but we’re well on our way.

– FMFC Defender Eric Leonard

When asked about Eric after the game, Coach Glaeser had more glowing words for him:

Eric is a leader, he’s a guy that’s all heart. He’s an emotional leader on the team, I’ve been very pleased with him.

– FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser

The entire back line had one of their better games yet, keeping Terzaghi quiet when most teams cannot. Drew Conner showed good signs as a metronomic presence in the midfield, frequently able to switch play quickly, winning the ball back, and while his passing quality could have been better, the game conditions were poor. I’m excited to see more of the player he’s becoming for this team, and hope he can keep it going into this weekend’s matchup vs Greenville. The press all game was good, especially from Audi, Cassini, Maldonado. This Kickers team is a tough one to best, and it would seem they pulled it off, despite what the stats had to say about it.

I hope Eric is right, that this is a team with ambitions for the USL1 title. I also agree with Eric’s estimation that the team needs to improve technically for that to happen, but plenty of title winning sides haven’t always have emphatic performances. Sometimes you have to win ugly.

Right. That’s about all I’ve got in the tank today, and with a day filled with specialists popping into my room, putting me through my paces with PT, OT, the signing of forms and patient education, I need to wind down and get a good night’s rest. Y’all take it easy, and wish me luck on Tuesday when I get wired for sound.


  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.


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