Welcome, to the first edition of Coach Dale’s Blog. This blog is meant to share some thoughts and insights with the fans and supporters of AC St. Louis. Thereare several other fantastic blogs out there about AC St. Louis and thecoaching staff thought our fans may also enjoy reading our insightsbefore and after each match.
Each week the blog will be short. I do not like to hear myself talk. The only thing I enjoy less is reading my own writing. As such, I will do my best to give brief and concise reports.
WHERE WE ARE
The guys have evolved into a good soccer playing team. Overthe last 6 weeks, we have seen the players move from a team whodefended in numbers who depended on the possibility of getting out onthe break to create a chance. As a team, wedecided that while playing in that style may allow you to win anindividual game or a tournament, it would not allow us to garner thepoints necessary to get into playoff picture. In short, sitting back may help you win a battle here or there, but you end up losing the war. Unfortunately,when we try to play soccer we will inevitably open ourselves up whilegetting forward. As such, our margin for error at the back becomes niland the reality is that for us to compete against the upper echelon ofthe league, we have to be spot on with every detail if we are going tobe successful.
I had an Interesting conversation with the Portland staff after the game. Theysimply said, we tried to out football you two weeks ago and you beat us3-0, we were not going to let you play football this time. I think that sums up the game vs Portland and where we are in the league. If we are allowed to play, we have a good chance. If the referee calls a game where he protects players from rough play that is outside the rules of the game, we have a chance. Ifthe game is going to be played in a physical way, we absolutely have tomatch the intensity; but we also have to find the right moments to tryto play. It is hard for us to create chances through a physical style because teams have bigger, stronger, faster athletes than us. If we can find those elusive soccer playing moments and we can finish that one chance, the game will change in our favor. Ihave watched the Portland game a couple of times now and we were thebetter team between the 18 yard boxes, but they were better than usinside the 18’s and because of this, they won.
ABOUT THE FANS
I felt the fan support in the Portland game was the best all year. Fans were more emotional in the game vs Portland than they have been in the games up to this point. After a number of matches, I have observed that we seem to have three distinct types of fans at the games. We have the supporters groups, that love AC St. Louis, they want pro soccer to make it in St. Louis so bad that it hurts. Their unconditional support means the world to the guys. Their songs, chants, and revelry help create an atmosphere that we all desperately want in this country. We have families, mom’s and dads who bring their children out, their kids are likely players at some level, the product is exciting, they enjoy being close to the action, and the kids can relate to the game. In short, games are exciting; the families like the environment, kids getautographs and are up close and personal with the players. If we all do our jobs, fans included, these kids will be lifelong fans of the game and support the movement for years to come. The last group is the educated soccer person, the adult who has played and or coached the game at some level. This group of people who typically sit on their hands can make the biggest impact on the match atmosphere. This person watches the game from a critical level and spends their time critiquing the game and players. My request to this fan is to show your soccer IQ by cheering when appropriate, by acknowledging when the guys put ball movements together that were tough, applaud when a player makes the run that you know they need to make, but that is difficult to do. Help educate, by your reaction, other fans through the acknowledgement of quality defending moments by individuals. Once people feel you enthusiasm for soccer moments, we can create an even better soccer atmosphere that people want to be a part of.
Puerto Rico will be difficult. The ousted the LA Galaxy from CONCACAF Champions League by beating them 4-1 in LA. Theyare everything that we find difficult: big, hard, organized and willingto play on the break; however, we have been very good in training overthe last 2 weeks. Our ball movement has been very good and we are beginning to put some coordinated movements together. We spent a lot of time this week in front of both goals in an effort to clean up those areas. Finally, we have a few injury issues that we are sorting through before the game tonight. Ifthings fall into place leading up to the game, we should be able to putthe most attacking lineup on the field that we have so far. Now, the question is: can we be better than Puerto Rico in front of the goals?
Again, thank you for your support and I hope to see you at the match tonight.