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Opening a can of whoop-a** -
FC Denver Premier v. Colorado Sporting

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Man of the Match

Written By Brandon Best – Pictures By Destiny Fernandez

Match day: Sunday August 21st, 2011

Starting XI: Campbell, Gonzalez, Kroening, Burstein, Yarletts, Firebaugh, Woodworth, Marks, Greenley, Marchant, Bravo

Subs: Best, Harrison, DelPiccolo, Elbin, Imbrongo, Wilson, Bourland

Broomfield, CO (Broomfield Commons Park) -

After a disappointing week one draw against El Alamo, FC Denver was slated to take on the recent winner of this summer’s Vail Adult League Tournament, Colorado Sporting.  In the first week, Colorado Sporting dismantled 3-0 a Pars America squad that has had a recent resurgence.  The FC Denver squad knew that they were going to have to improve on their effort from a week prior, if they were going to get the result they desired.

Coaches Firebaugh and Elbin decided that a more aggressive formation would work best with the personnel available on the afternoon, and that it would help stymie Colorado Sporting’s strengths.  Right after kickoff, it appeared as though FC Denver had erred, as they were under immediate and sustained pressure for about the first 10 minutes.  Colorado Sporting though, were unable to capitalize though as most of their shots were from distance and off target to boot.  The individual efforts of Juan Gonzalez, Dave Kroening, and week one MVP Mario Burstein were all key at one point or another in keeping a clean sheet through the first portion of the match.  Eventually, FC Denver’s players were able to better understand their roles in the new formation and Tom Marks and Jesse Woodworth began to close up Colorado Sporting’s opportunities through the midfield.  With the defensive battle being won, FC Denver’s offensive trio of Vitor Bravo, George Marchant, and Skipper Kyle Firebaugh, were allowed to show their creative chops and started to find seams in the Colorado Sporting backline.  The initial goal would not come from the creative play of the attackers though.  It would come off the head of the mighty Juan Gonzales (correction), whose streaking run into the box on a corner allowed him to test the tensile strength of the net nylon.

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The goal energized the proceedings as the intensity of both squads picked up, which would lead to a slew of hard challenges and some greater pressure on the FC Denver goal.  Ian Campbell was able to marshal the backline and clean up any opportunities that Colorado Sporting created.  However, he would need the help of the cross bar as a Colorado Sporting player was able to rock the woodwork with an impressive donkey kick while running at a good clip.  It was about this time that FC Denver began to bring on their bench, and to once again create some decent opportunities on the Colorado Sporting goal.  A run into the box by sub Tyler Wilson would actually be the catalyst for the 2nd FC Denver goal, but instead of scoring himself, he was fouled in an area the referee deemed to be inside the penalty area and awarded a PK.  Brandon Best was selected to finish the business, which he eventually did after following up his blocked PK shot and putting the rebound underneath the Sporting Colorado keeper.   The rest of the half would go by without much fanfare; except for injuries sustained to Gonzalez as he was trying to hit a cross field pass and Tyler Imbrongo who was injured during a nice American football open field tackle from a Colorado Sporting Defender.  The injury to Juan would give Kevin Bourland his first minutes of the season.

Having the most dangerous lead in soccer to FC Denver’s advantage, the players knew that coming out and establishing themselves would be vital to securing 3 points.  It didn’t take long for FC Denver to establish their style of play in the second half, as Firebaugh was able to increase the lead shortly after half with a shot from inside the goal box.  Firebaugh was the beneficiary of some hard work in the corner by Marchant, where he beat two Colorado Sporting players before hitting a low cross into Firebaugh for the goal.  With the third goal against them, Colorado Sporting knew that their chance for a comeback was slipping away and all but made it official when their central midfielder was sent off for his second yellow.  The additional caution coming after a run in with Kroening, who did well to squash an attacking play, draw Sporting’s player into picking up his second yellow, all while avoiding receiving his own early exit.  That my friends.. is what I call a trifecta.

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FC Denver was able to completely kill off the match when Marchant, blasted in a fourth goal from a quick turn and shoot from about 12 yards out.  With a score line of 4 nil, the only things left to do was to try and avoid injury from the hard tackles that were taking place and to perhaps try and better the 8-0 score line laid against Colorado Sporting by FC Denver United in the Spring season.  Fortunately, most everyone was able to avoid injury in the second half, but unfortunately the game ended with no more goals for FC Denver.

Next week, FC Denver Premier will take on Aguilas at the Dick at 3 pm.  FC Denver United will be the game before at 1.

Coach Firebaugh’s thoughts on the match:

“That was the Vail Tournament Champion?  I thought we were real creative offensively. We attacked from the flanks. We attacked with small touches centrally. We even stretched them defensively using the long ball. It kept them off balance for most of the game. After the first 5 minutes we were organized and tenacious defensively. Sometimes it’s about looking at the player opposite you and thinking – I’m gonna shut this guy down today; and I think we did that”.

Man of the Match:

Congratulations to Curtis Greenley for being the smartest player on the field with a simple off season choice to join FCD.  He also did a great job of tormenting Colorado Sporting on the wings all day and kept his head when some hard tackles were directed at him.  Revenge is sweet!

A Disappointing Draw: Premier v. El Alamo

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

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Written By Brandon Best – Pictures By Destiny Fernandez

Match day: Sunday August 14th, 2011

Starting XI: Hengeli, Gonzalez, Miller, Wilson, Burstein, Yarletts, Randquist, Elbin, Greenley, Marchant, Imbrogno

Subs: Best, Harrison, Schramm, Burns, DelPiccolo, Marks, Bravo

It is only midsummer but the Denver areas most competitive and fun men’s soccer team, FC Denver Premier, was back in CASL league 1 action this past Sunday at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.   Their first contest saw them match up with an El Alamo side that had shaken up the league’s power structure in the previous season.  The numbers for Premier were good, with Kevin Bourland and Kyle Firebaugh forced to sit as the game day roster is limited to 18.  With the advantage in numbers and confidence high from a summer which saw FC Denver qualify for nationals, the squad seemed certain that they would be able to raid El Alamo for three points to start the season.

From the first whistle, FC Denver enjoyed a majority of the possession with El Alamo getting few real chances at goal.  However, Premier’s defense was still active and it was actually from defense that the first tally of the year came.  As Juan Gonzalez stepped up and hit a shot which was deflected past El Alamo’s keeper by a defender.  With an early goal and having a man advantage, FC Denver became a little too lax behind the ball and El Alamo, was able to retain more possession and move play into their offensive third.  From there, all it took was a bit of inspired dribbling from Alamo’s center mid and some lazy tackles by FC Denver, for the score to be leveled at 1.  Not long after, Alamo was able to go up after FC Denver was slow to pressure an Alamo player who found himself alone at the top of the 18 yard box.  From there, he was able to blast a shot which beat Greg Hengeli to the near post.  Trailing 2-1 FC Denver started to use their greater numbers to their advantage and made personnel changes in most areas of the pitch.  With the fresh legs, FC Denver was able to once again apply more pressure and enjoy greater control of the ball.  With the higher pressure Denver was able to draw a penalty kick, when Kyle Burns was taken down after running through a loose ball in the Alamo box.  Vitor Bravo neatly went about his business to send the game to half tied 2-2.

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With the momentum of the penalty, FC Denver took to the field in the second half looking to put the game away.  There were a number of decent opportunities, but the breakthrough came about when George Marchant tore down the left side of the Alamo penalty area before cutting in and finding Brady Yarletts crashing the front post.  Yarletts was able to redirect the cross off his head and past the Alamo keeper (who may also moonlight as the El Tapatio mascot during the week).  With the lead and little to no offensive pressure from El Alamo, FC Denver took their foot off the gas and failed to get a crucial insurance goal.  The soccer became bogged down when the game through the middle of the park became chippy and the referee was felt the need to insert himself into the proceedings of the game.  Perhaps it was a lack of fitness or a lack of urgency brought about by the seeming inability of El Alamo to connect more than two passes past the half mark, but whatever the reason, the solid second half that the FC Denver defense had been having seemed to crumble in the last few minutes of the match.  After a decent save by Hengeli, El Alamo was able to rebound a shot and feed a runner in the box, who tied the score at three.  A goal against the run of play is definitely an understatement, but hopefully it will be a small matter when the season ends.  The goal seemed to shake the sleep from the eyes of the FC Denver players, but alas it was too little to late as the Referee ended the game at about the 88 minute mark.

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With one game gone, FC Denver is left with one point and a strong belief that they had definitely under performed.  A feeling definitely reflected in Coach Firebaugh’s post match comments:

“I thought we were weak through the center of the pitch. The goals we allowed were real soft and were all avoidable. We need to be decidedly more aggressive in our play. We hit a rhythm and can be effective in our play, but sometimes it’s only in 3rd gear. We need to press on both ends of the field and play the entire 90 minutes without mental lapses. Whenever your offense puts up 3 goals, you should be winning your league games. This week we will be re-evaluating and focusing on a tough match against CO Sporting this Sunday”.

The match this next week will pit Premier against a resurgent CO Sporting side that won their first match 3-0.

Man of the Match:

Congratulations to Mario Burstein!

According to Coach Firebaugh “He played a full 90. He was our best player defensively and real close to our biggest threat offensively too.  The kid works incredibly hard”.

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