Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Greenville 2-0 FMFC: Depletion and Diffidence

The Flamingos fell to Greenville for the 3rd time last night, taking the head-to-head matchup to 3 Madison losses and 5 draws overall. Glaeser’s squad was reduced to just 16 who traveled, unable to bring a full bench – the overall team sheet decimated by illness and injury. The players who did travel looked tired, uninspired, and at times uninterested in playing creative football. Some fans commented on Twitter that the first half was among the worst they’ve seen this team play in the club’s short existence. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my fair share of hyperbole but in this case it’s hard to argue the point, considering this Greenville side was arguably one of the weakest of the past 4 seasons and it never really felt like we were going to get something out of the game.

Greenville led with an early press, and we looked slightly disorganized at the back for the first couple of minutes, Madison struggling to contain Walker and Gavilanes’ direct style of play. It’s unclear as to whether or not some of the Madison players are carrying knocks, but multiple times were seen putting their arms up, signalling for offside calls and not hustling back to defend. Rule number one of literally any sport: Play to the whistle. Madison frequently looked a step behind, and man marking seemed confused in the middle third. There were multiple occurrences of Madison players switching the pitch without a clear target or at least one who can win aerial balls, and this resulted in many cheap losses of possession.

Mikey Maldonado gained his 4th yellow of the campaign, meaning with his next he’ll be suspended for the match that follows, which is a bit concerning considering he’s our main backup for the 6 position whilst AWO recovers from injury. Madison struggled all game to create chances, something which Rob Chappell (Talkin’ Flock) pointed out, if you can’t generate from the buildup, you have to do something with set pieces. Madison had only 1 corner all night, and were unproductive from a handful of free kick opportunities in Greenville’s half.

Both Greenville goals came just 7 minutes apart, the first from an Aaron Walker volley off a corner, and while the delivery was good he was largely unmarked in the box. Their 2nd came in the 35th minute, Gavilanes is played through after leaving Rojay, who oddly throws his arm up signaling offside instead of trying to defend (again, play to the whistle). I mentioned on Twitter that not only the level of communication between Gavilanes and Walker is the type of thing this Madison team is missing, but the intentionality of the run and finish.

Late in 38th minute Breno makes great diving save, one of 3 on the evening. At the top of the 57th minute, Rad, Torres, and injury returnee Derek Gebhard came on for Maldonado, Rojay, and Murillo. In the 60th min, Streng has a 1-2 with Gebhard, and Derek puts in a low cross and beats 2 defenders but Streng’s effort ends up a bit weak and goes straight to the Greenville keeper. This is our lone effort on target all evening. Early in the 75th minute Alvin Jones comes on for Enriquez, and then a minute later Streng works hard to keep possession under pressure, lays it off to Sukow and is available for a through ball 1-2 but Sukow backs off and passes it laterally. This was a golden opportunity for a chance and an incredibly frustrating moment to watch as a fan, as it’s exactly the type of opportunity we should be taking.

The question many fans are asking once again is whether it’s time to hit the panic button. We’re now 6 games into the league season with only 1 win to speak of, with a total of just 12 shots on target during league play. In my opinion, despite the frustration we’re enduring at the moment, there isn’t cause for alarm (yet). It’s a long season with lots of games left to play, though these next few games will be crucial for bringing back players from injury and illness and working toward that ever-elusive cohesion. The league table still looks incredibly tight and we’re far from being out of the playoff race, but now is the time to nip some of these nagging issues in the bud if we’re serious about mounting a title challenge. After the game, Coach Glaeser had some very candid comments about the performance:

The way the game went, it’s a time for us to go back to basic principles and resolve some things in the locker room. It’s lack of mentality from the group. Greenville had some quality, but I don’t think we played well. We started to lose our organization and composure in the first half, we can’t play like that moving forward.

-FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser

What’s interesting is that since Kyle’s excellent Macro Deep Dive writeup, we’ve only managed to increase our forward passing by 0.1% – a stat which on its face might worry some, but when you look at the league table and drill down on current league leaders Chattanooga, their pass direction matrix looks eerily similar. So what’s the difference? Shots on target. I mentioned earlier we’ve managed just 12 in the first 6 games, while the Red Wolves have managed 23 – almost double Madison’s tally of not only shots on target, but goals as well.

While I understand that a team sheet ravaged by injury and illness is frustrating, how long before it stops being a valid excuse for a lack of productive play? The issue of why we’re seeing so many injuries needs to be remedied, as does the reliance on an ideal starting XI in order to score goals. Hell, I’d settle right now for a squad displaying a semblance of ambition to do so. Ultimately for me the root of the issue seems to be a cultural problem, and one I’m hopeful can be fixed and turned around. It’s not just fan interpretation, either – the stats speak for themselves, and Madison spent very little time in Greenville’s 18 yard box, yet another trend this season.

What is it that drives these guys to show up to training, to lace up their boots on matchday? I’ll be the first to admit I’m a full-on romantic about this game, but I’m not daft enough to think that every third division footballer is playing for the badge – especially when only one of them grew up here and these guys play for a club in just it’s 4th year of existence. What we can and should expect as fans beyond a baseline of professionalism is a spark of initiative and purpose. Passion. And even if those qualities aren’t reflected in the results, they should at least be discernable in the way the team plays.

The only attacking player I noticed last night calling for forward passes or directing traffic in the middle and final third was Drew Conner, and from a fan perspective, even if his efforts didn’t come off I still fully appreciate the effort. Eric Leonard also made a decent account for himself, with 92% passing accuracy from 54 passes and over 1/4 of the team’s clearances on the evening. Glaeser and the club owners talked ahead of the season about the identity of this team being gritty, but also a team that plays attractive football. I believe the gritty part in most games as it pertains to our defense during open play, as we’ve generally looked quite astute. The attractive bit can’t just apply to good passing; it’s absolutely imperative we add chance creation and finishing to that identity as a team.

The squad now has a full week off before they square off against Charlotte next Saturday, let’s hope they can pick chins up, pull magic out of hats, and get back to winning ways. Sigh. My kingdom for a 3-0 win at Breese and a good run of form. I’m off to let Clyde out and ice things down. Until next time.


  • 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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