ATLANTA, GEORGIA—In an early summer Sunday temperature in the upper 80,s at Upper Groveway. Both teams had identical records and are now meeting in the finals.
The Gunners showed up with 12 and added another to make it 13. The Hammers showed up with 18+. The Hammers were there early and were warming up while the Gunners were chit-chatting and trying to put on their stuff. I think they were trying to delay kickoff to allow more players to show.
I was discussing with Rob Murray, (the former College of Charleston, Genesis and Somber Reptile FC sniper) and Sharam (Persian comedian and former defensive midfield specialist formerly of FADO Villa, Neusoft, Rose and Crown, ARAS…etc) and we all agree that it was going to be very difficult for Gunners to withstand a high tempo for 90 minutes.
Rob, who was feeling good from having played earlier and sipping mango/IPA juice, was adamant that it would be an uphill battle for the Gunners unless they got some kind of reinforcements or if Paulo got on a tear and Mike Dent would hack him in the box.
Sharam, who was holding to his 2 giant man-eating sheepdogs and analyzing(critiquing) the fitness and skill of every single player on the pitch, agreed. He factored in many data points and variables to come to the same conclusion.
Speaking about sheep…It was like herding sheep to try to get these teams to line up for a team photo. Hammers were ready and were somewhat geeked up while the Gunners were in different stages of getting ready. I thought to myself “….this is mighty foreboding”. However, as I was walking away, I saw Rob( former FADO, (who I had not seen in 20 years) ask me where I got my FADO jersey. I then knew that they might have some muscle in the midfield…and a chance.
I went back to the press box and continued sipping on Robs IPA/Mango juice summer treat. Sharam was drinking something but I could not tell what it was…he had it concealed but I had my suspicions.
The road became more difficult for the Gunners when they gave up a penalty in the early minutes of the match. Chris Arragali converted. We all looked at each other and rolled our eyes as the Gunners began to dig a bigger hole.
The Hammers were pretty geeked up. They even started to foul each other ….Alan Redd and Mike Dent almost took themselves out of the game when they fouled each other. Casie, (Tony Fordham’s better half who happened to next to us in the pressbox) was relieved when she found out that it was Dent and not Tony at the end of the collision. To be fair, there were many skinheads at the Upper Groveway Park on that sunny day and confusing one red skinhead with another is an understandable mistake.
We thought the game was over when Thomas “Boom Boom” Bigelow aka Biggs came in and started asserting himself and rifled in a shot in the top part of the net and made it 2 zero. Rob remarked, “He is the Jozy Altidore of the Roswell O50s”.
The midfield was dominated by the Hammers and outside midfield was all over them. Martin Clark began to bully the right midfield with hard-nosed defense and quality delivery of his passes while Selby Neese started running riot with his vibrating nervous ginger energy.
As the game settled, we noticed that the Hammers midfield was letting the Gunners move the ball in the center of the pitch. Sharam asked, “ …with 18 players on the squad and benchwarmers frothing at the mouth to get in, why doesn’t Tom Elias go full press to wear out the Gunners?” He then continued to lob insults at both teams.
Farhad was passing the ball to the other team and Chris Fernandes was invisible. Paulo was covered by 3 people and the team could only deliver hospital balls to him. It did not look good for the Gunners. Sharam exclaimed, “Ruben is not doing anything out there.” and I yelled at Chris Fernandes to get his head out of his arse.”
At this point it looked like the Gunners were finished when Chris Fernandes” the man with one quadricep” picked himself up, gave me the middle finger, and delivered lazer corner to Ruben who buried it in the back of the old onion bag. 2-1
Sharam exclaimed, “I better be careful who I rag on because they will score.”
The goal brought some life to a tired Gunners and gave hope to Sean Alexander’s squad.
The Hammers attributed it to a fluke but Gunners began to get more into the game. The Gunners began to go at the Hammers. Farhad was making 50-yard gut-busting runs into the box causing chaos for the Hammers. If one of the Gunners would have seen him and gotten him the ball, it would have been an equalizer.
Then Rob M remarked sarcastically…” watch Paolo score.”
As soon as Rob said this, it turned into 2-2 when Paulo pounced on a Hammer mistake with a hard shot. Nick and Kian had him under control most of the game but could not do anything when a teammate scuffed a pass and Paulo pounced on the mistake.
The fans were stunned, the Hammers were shaken and the Gunners were gaining confidence.
Before we could make any cynical comments, the Gunners were awarded a free-kick at the top of the box where the kick was taken and somehow the ball bounced to someone we could not identify and a bullet shot to the left corner. The Gunners were about to take the lead and park the bus for the rest of the game. An excellent shot…does anybody know who took the shot?
This was when Brent Docker (former Datagraphics and male model) made the pivotal play of the game. From a standing position on the right side of the goal, he rose and flew to the other side of the wall
Sharam then said, “Look! Alan is in the midfield of the Hammers. Ha, ha ,ha…He’s not going to do anything.”
Alan then took over in the midfield and actually scored a goal! You could see the Gunners sigh.
At that time we thought it was over….and it was. We gathered our empty bottles and cans to begin our exit when we heard another goal by the Hammers. We were not sure who scored but we knew it was over.
As we were walking out, we could see that things were getting somewhat chippy. Nobody threw a punch but a few shoves and chest-bumping took place. As someone who shies away from violence, I hurried my exit. Just then, I heard the crowd roar for a goal by the Gunners.
The game ended 4-3 with the Hammers taking the Cup.
Referee assessment: Score 7 of 10 main refs did a good job in keeping tempers from flaring but missed a foul by the last man red card.
Review: We all knew the Hammers were going to win this by the number of good players on the Hammers and the Gunners showing up with 13. The Gunners showed a lot of heart but ran out of gas in the end.
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Commentary By Quique Lopez, Rob Murray and Sharam Famorzadeh