By Eric Homa
Fresh off a long overdue dinner at the Chinese Buffet Star that found me doubled over in pain from the repulsive amount of dried up, cardboard-like chicken nuggets; I decided it was time to delve back into the world of soccer. By the way, I could go on for days about that absolute mess of humanity that frequents the Chinese buffet at any given time. If I could find a clever way to tie that into how my weekly drive towards global FIFA domination went, believe me I would.
Since the walnut shrimp I had didn’t inspire anything, but a cramp in my shoulder I suppose I will just get to the week that was in soccer. First I want to touch on some real world soccer news. In a game that saw my favorite club Arsenal get forced out of the Champions League tournament by possible world #1 Bayern Munich, I felt a tremendous sense of pride in what they were able to accomplish. To play against Bayern this season would be like playing Halo 4 against a group of 17 year old kids who have a lot of extra time on their hands. To say the least it would be an absolutely miserable experience that could set your pride back to an all-time low. Unfortunately that is just the team that Arsenal drew in the tournament. In the first match Arsenal lost 3-1 at home in the Emirates Stadium. They would need a miracle to move past Bayern in the second leg of the match. The unthinkable almost happened as Arsenal was able to pull off a 2-0 win in Bayern’s home stadium. Beating Bayern at home is a task that has been pulled off by only one other team this season. Arsenal showed a lot of heart and potential in that game. Holding an huber-talented team like Bayern to no goals at home was a tremendous accomplishment. Let me explain how Arsenal failed to advance even after a surprising win like that. The way soccer works is a system called goals on aggregate. Basically that means that after the teams have played each other twice with each team getting a home game, the total number of goals scored is added up and the leader advances. If you were scoring at home you would see the totals were tied up at 3. So how you ask do they decide the winner? That’s right just as you might expect it isn’t determined on the field of play like every other sport. It is instead decided by the simple fact that Bayern scored more goals on the road and therefore comes out the victor. What a crock of shit. Pretty safe to say there isn’t much more I need or want to say about that moronic set of rules.
Ultimate Team has to this point been my most successful endeavor. I have already conquered division 1 once before, and I decided to start my run at another championship. My team is rather loaded at all positions, but with the game having been out as long as it has most other teams are just as stacked as mine. I figured I should pay homage to my High School and name my team Newark Valley FC if anyone wants to test their skills against a world class organization such as mine. Some sad news came out of headquarters this week. I have been eyeing the strangely named Hulk, who is a Brazilian national player that plays for Zenit in the Russian Premiere League. He is just the type of player I like with a good amount of speed, but he also happens to be very strong on the ball. This is a combo almost as rare as a Buffalo Bills playoff birth. I finally found him on the trade market for a fair price and snatched up his services. In order to do so I had to open up a roster spot on my club. The decision on who to cut was rather troublesome, and was one that I wrestled with over a span of what felt like hours. I came to the realization that while in real life Jack Wilshere is my favorite club’s best player, and possibly the future captain of the English international squad, he just wasn’t good enough in FIFA to justify me keeping at this advanced stage of the game. So with my eyes turned away from the TV I reluctantly saw my favorite player swept away to the trade pile with the push of a button. Newark Valley FC would like to publicly thank Jacky Boy for all he has done for his old club and nothing but the best in the future. On the field the fighting Cardinals came out looking very rusty. Through 3 games the team had only earned one point. Another point slipped through my fingers as I saw my struggle to tie the game up at 2 get tossed aside as my opposition scored a 90th minute winner. My head was immediately in my hands as I pondered what it all meant. Why was I being punished in such a brutal way? The FIFA gods are obviously testing the intestinal fortitude of NVFC. I needed to prove to myself that I hadn’t lost my Ultimate Team touch so I played one more. My fourth game was a 2-2 epic the whole way. Back and forth the attacks went as we both pushed for the 3 point win rather the 1 point we would earn for the draw. In the 8-th minute I subbed in Liverpool star Luis Suarez to put a little more life into the Cardinal attack. The move proved genius as Suarez bolted down the right side of the pitch and crossed a beauty of a ball into the box. I held my breath as Napoli star Cavani leapt into the air. It was a thing of beauty as his head met the ball and directed it just past the keeper’s reach giving NVFC a much needed win in the dying seconds of the game! I did my best to get my large frame off the couch in the hopes of matching Cavani’s jump, and I’m quite sure anyone watching through my window found it puzzling. I grabbed at the upper left side of my shirt as if I had on the jersey worn by my Ultimate Team, and kissed the spot on my Zelda shirt where my Club’s patch would be so gloriously displayed. It is that exact feeling that keeps me coming back for more almost every day of the year. I should have ended my day on that note of triumph, but instead I told myself one more was in order. Although the game didn’t exactly go my way I was able to come to one realization about why European football doesn’t catch in in America.
I rarely have my headset on when I play FIFA as to avoid the obnoxiousness that will no doubt ensue over Xbox Live. I made that mistake of wearing it for a couple matches during my Ultimate Team escapades. As the whistle sounded indicating the start of the match between I was instantly in a fit of rage to see that my opponent was playing like a dickhead. He just kept passing the back and forth between his defenders and every now and again even advancing the ball up the field so much that it reached a midfielder a time or two. After a couple of minutes of this garbage I did what I felt was my only option and began a war of words, or as it turned out a war of my words versus his child-like screeching. I started out small time trashing with a few expletives thrown into the mix as I progressively became certifiably insane. After a few more minutes of my strikers running around aimlessly trying to somehow gain possession my opponent spoke. He informed me that he only needed a draw to earn one point which would give him his 5th division 1 title in Ultimate Team. As far as the game went we did end up drawing to give that prick his title, and give me a case of the picking on 16 year olds again. The more important lesson however was that soccer will never be popular in the United States because of acts like that in the real game. It is quite easy for a team to drop back and play a defensive game when they only need one point or are already up one goal and for the most part of what I have witnessed they do it more often than not. This just isn’t the American way of sports. Americans need the crunch of football helmets smashing repeatedly as two teams try to knock each other into next week. We need constant up and down action like what we will see in the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament. Watching 11 men kick a ball around with precision and accuracy that is at times breathtaking just isn’t what people look for in the fast paced world that is the American lifestyle. I can assure you that when it happens in the world of FIFA it is no less frustrating. Next week I will share some experiences of what has been going on in my head to head seasons campaign, as I use Arsenal to try and reach the pinnacle of FIFA greatness. Until next time Coopie signing off.