The semi-finals featured two of our three teams on opposite sides of the draw. Both games kicked off at 11:30am under sweltering conditions. I arrived at the field about 11:20 and watched our teams warm up behind several parents from the team the Lion’s would play. One parent was watching our Sharks group warm up, and randomly commented to the parent next to him, “those are the two teams to get beat by.” He rambled on about our team’s having played “together so long”, and not looking like “anything special”, and seemed to satisfy himself that our success was attributable to “coaching”.
I will concede that 3 v. 3 is a different game. The tactics are not complex, but they require strict adherence, and patience is indeed a virtue. Teams unwilling to submit to the demands of 3 v. 3 are shredded by those that do. With all respect to our coaches, Mike Kemp and Rodney Congreaves, it is more a template of play reinforced by uncompromising discipline and technical quality than Mourinho-esque coaching acumen that carries the day.
We, for the second time in three days, emasculated Stars United. Bryson picked up a yellow card for a tactical foul, only the second of his career, but responded within a minute with a terrific goal. We won 7-2. The Lions won 5-2 in a tighter game setting up an all FC America final.
In a display of unity the team’s stretched and warmed up together. Only in the minute or so before kick off did they go to opposite benches to prepare for the final. It was tense because one of us would have to lose, and it was utterly boring because both teams know how to play 3 v. 3. The tempo matched a Bobby Fisher/ Boris Spasky chess match, and favored the Sharks who’s roster weighed heavily in favor of possession players, whereas the Lions were faster and more explosive. The Sharks led most of the way with the Lions occasionally pulling even. It ended 3-2 Sharks with respectful handshakes and half-hugs.
It was Bryson’s first 3 v 3 National Championship. His mates, Mikey Lynch, Eric Brody and Braden Kemp’s 4th. The are individually and collectively “something special”.
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