GAMES 4 AND 5: FIRST WIN AND GAME AGAINST MY MENTOR!
During the season in this blog I will keep writing about my U17 DA team and mix it with some of my thoughts/reflections on football in general. The season so far goes terribly but I think it is extremely important experience for me and I want to write about it. I understand that many of you don't care too much about my team but hope some additional thoughts will make up for it.


Last weekend we flew to San Jose and played two games: vs Breakers and vs DeAnza. Both teams do not have pro club behind them but De Anza is well known in youth soccer. During last two years their director of coaching was Albert Puig, former director of La Masia, and now their director is Paul Bravo - Colorado soccer people should know this name pretty well. For me Paul is not just the guy who invited me to Rapids DA but also who became my mentor in soccer career and one of few guys whom I can ask advise on anything regarding soccer and my coaching path. I was his assistant at Rapids U12 DA for 5 months and that was so far the best coaching time I had in my life! I had freedom to design and run practices but I also had a lot of valuable feedback from Paul and watching him running training also was very helpful for me as young coach. At that time at Rapids we had really great crew of coaches under Paul's leadership!

In preparation for these two games I made few changes:
- changed one center back
- moved my #8 into center forward and gave him total freedom to play either as classic or false 9. He is the best player on the team but never played organized soccer so he has to learn a lot especially in defense. Moving him to #9 simplified his defensive responsibilities a lot.
- moved previous center forward to left wing position with freedom to play as center forward when new forward drops deep as false 9.
- put in the middle of the field (#8 and 10) two very mobile and disciplined players.

SO I CHANGED A LOT AND WE HAVE BEEN TRAINING WEEK PRIOR WITH THESE CHANGES.

The game against Breakers started again with GK mistake but we quickly got goal back and then scored another one from PK. In second half we score two more goals and won the game 4:1. As for quality of the game it was only ok - we actually got lucky as we scored two goals from PKs (one is 100%, the other one not sure) and also opponent's GK got red card (last foul - no questions there) around minute 60, so game became significantly easier for us after that.
But win is a win especially when it is a first win!

Game on Sunday was against DeAnza and Paul is not only director of the club but also U17DA head coach.
And again the game started with terrible mistake by GK - he received the ball from my CB and held on it too long so DeAnza forward poked it in the goals! We were shocked and DeAnza controlled the ball well and scored another one. After that boys relaxed little bit and we had good counter and scored from it. So we finished first half 1:2. Unfortunately in second half another mistake by GK (didn't come out from the goals to clear the ball) cost us another goal and we lost the game 1:3. But in terms of game it was clear that they understand possession soccer much better than us - we have a long way to go.

Analyzing the game afterwards I could see few mistakes I made:
- asking to press high in second game is not very smart since boys got tired quickly and the press was not efficient.
- but what was even worse is that when we got beat on high press we were not able to stay compact and hold back line - instead dropped too much and gave opponent space to play between our lines.
- also our own play out of the back is at very premature state - we can't play efficiently out of well organized high press.

SO FOR NEXT TWO WEEKS WE DO NOT HAVE GAMES AND I'M WORKING ON SETING UP GOOD DEFENSIVE BLOCK AND IF NECESSARY DROP BY LITTLE (AND ALL LINES TOGETHER) AND OF COURSE WE ARE WORKING ON PLAYING OUT OF THE BACK. LET'S SEE HOW IT WILL LOOK IN COUPLE WEEKS.

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