Sunday, July 14, 2024
Sunday, July 14, 2024

Fresno 1-1 FMFC: Kinetosis

Morning all, Andrew here. Thank Bergkamp it’s a 3 day weekend, right? Normally I pack as much activity as possible into each weekend, trying to accomplish as much fun and tasks not possible during the workweek as I can, but Memorial Day and Labor Day offer a great late spring and summer oasis from that, allowing for a (gasp) — bit of a lie-in 😱.. Especially with the late start last night, quite the rude thing to do to my 40yo body. JFC, who does this scheduling, USL?

Last night’s matchup vs Fresno was quite the physical one, with many fouls entirely waved off and cards given out very sparingly. I’m not sure if this was a deliberate choice from the head official due to the seasonal winds (on which the commentator remarked early). You could tell from the first kick this game was going to be hard-tackling and a bit messy, and for card-addled players like Bartman (at 4 after last night), the more open officiating style likely came as a bit of a reprieve from the usual PRO style of handing out cards like candy.

The camera work was a bit vertigo-inducing during the first half, cropped incredibly close on the action and frequently losing focus on the ball and run of play. As it’s quite difficult for fans to make the 16-17 hour return trip from Madison to Fresno, the quaity of the stream is paramount. Being that these clubs shell out several thousand dollars for each game to VISTA Worldlink (USL’s mandated broadcast production partners), fans definitely deserve better.

Phil had some great saves on the evening, proving once again his status as one of the better keepers in USL1. Breno tallied 6 saves (2 at full stretch) and a total of 15 recoveries, his average position much more close to his line than last week – a welcome sight for many fans that he’s hopefully a bit more mindful about the potential of being chipped. It’s great to see he’s improving and shoring up these types of issues – Phil really is a crucial piece of this team, often bailing out a defense caught high on the break, something that happened multiple times vs Fuego.

Abdou got the nod over Streng, while Torres took the spot of Alvin Jones, who we’re told was left home due to illness. The continuity of the starting lineup was a welcome sight, and while we still struggled to convert chances – putting just 4 of 13 shots on target all game, the boys overall kept Fresno’s high-powered offense quiet most of the evening. The aforementioned Mbacke-Thiam had 5 of those 13 shots – all of which were his first of the league campaign – one of which was on target and barely a minute later, another went off the woodwork. That will hopefully help his confidence, knowing he can get those touches in front of goal – next step is putting them in the back of the net.

Madison once again struggled to impose themselves on the opposition box, and let Fresno out-pass and out-possess them. Fresno won 7 corners to Madison’s 1, keeping to the trend of the Flamingos not seeing much in the way of set pieces. A tough pill to swallow when the team is struggling to generate goals from the buildup. With just 4 goals thus far this season from open play, one would think we’d be aiming to get more set piece opportunities, especially in a situation like last night where we needed to close things out and chances weren’t seeming to come as the game rolled on.

FMFC Attackers Heat Map

Jeremiah Streng came off the bench for Abdou in the 77th minute, scoring an exceptional free kick just 5 minutes later. For a team that’s struggled to make the most of set pieces, and a player like Streng who’s generally had a tough time getting service and chances in front of goal, this is a new development and a much-needed one. Jeremiah’s now even with Bartman at a team high of 2 goals apiece this league season, Streng hopefully now continuing to play a part in our set piece delivery when within striking distance. If nothing else, this should bolster the big Finn’s confidence going into this upcoming pair of home games.

While a point on the road against a high-scoring team like Fresno might be seen by some as a decent result, it truly felt like we had them where we wanted them and just needed to kill off the final ~dozen minutes of the game. It seemed like things were going to plan until stoppage time when Fuego really started pouring on the pressure. In the 92nd minute Diego Casillas picks up a loose ball on the right flank near the Madison box, is barely touched by Mikey Maldonado from behind and then flops to the ground. Fuck. Fuckety, fucking fuck fuck.

It’s a dumb foul to concede this late in the game, but you could argue it’s dumber that we’re trying to play it out from the back in stoppage time while up a goal – just hoof the ball down the pitch and let the defense reset, but instead we’ve fouled them and given away a free kick in a dangerous area. Hornsby steps up to take the free kick, and an on-rushing Bijev meets the near post ball with his head and puts it in the back of the net. Why nobody was marking near post is beyond me, but here we are again wrestling a draw from the jaws of victory. Speaking last night with Rob Chappell of Talkin’ Flock / Madison365, Coach Glaeser didn’t mince words after the game:

“Ninetieth minute, we’re trying to dribble out of the back. You need to just toe that into the stands and get organized…We shoot ourselves in the foot by making bad decisions. It doesn’t matter how well we play if we keep doing silly things.”

– FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser

While I can appreciate Glaeser’s candor, part of me wonders where the buck stops and who’s taking responsibility for these lapses in judgment and the lack of offensive production. And I understand we’re trying to play within a system, but what happens when the buildup isn’t working for generating chances? Who on the pitch can direct the team to push to win corners, to draw fouls near the box, to generally think a bit smarter than trying the same ineffective approach over and over? Last night we totalled the most shots (13) since the home match vs Omaha (14) all the way back on April 9 – while allowing Fresno their highest tally of shots all season (21), nearly double their per game average.

There’s no doubt about it, this has been an incredibly frustrating run of games to watch. Where do we go from here, after seeing some promising bits of play and interactions these past two games, but it still not being good enough? We keep searching for that cohesion, and at some point things will well and truly need to start firing on all cylinders if this Madison team wants to climb out of the bottom of the table and into playoff contention. After 8 matchweeks and just 7 points separating dead last with the top of the table, there’s still time – but not much. Glaeser et al wil need to string together those bright spots this week and further galvanize this squad if a post-season is to even be on the cards. Next up the Flamingos host 9th of 11 place FC Tucson, even on points at 7 and -3 compared on goal differential, but separated from Madison on the table by 1 win.

“We can’t be nervous at home. We’ve got to play with personality, we’ve got to play with confidence…We’re playing playing alright, just cleaning up some of these mistakes, whether it’s nerves or individual errors. Going back home, we’re confident that we can win games.”

-FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser [source]

Right then. I’m going to take Clyde for a long walk, watch this Sleaford Mods KEXP performance, practice my chanting and rune-tossing, paint some pentagrams on my garage floor, and light some candles whilst thinking about that Streng free kick, hoping to manifest more of that energy for next weekend at Breese. Enjoy the rest of the long weekend, I know I will 🍹.

Author

  • 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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