1. FC Köln / Bundesliga / football / Germany / soccer / Sports

Risse and Thiel Score, Send Effzeh to Second Round

Quite a weekend!

  • 1. FC Köln earns first victory of the Peter Stöger era
  • Hometown club (Seattle Sounders) acquire American stud Clint Dempsey
  • All sorts of fighting about fireworks in the fan stands
  • Less that 24 hours after a Fortuna fan with a questionably Bieber-like haircut called me “doubly dumb” via Twitter, I had the pleasure of seeing his team lose their first round cup match, and I did not even point and laugh.
  • Ponies, too!
  • Sascha Bigalke back on the microphone interviewing players for FC-TV is something I love.
  • My elder son continues to sing Viva Colonia after scoring goals in our front yard net.

Lots going on, but little time to write about it over the weekend. That’s just how it goes with the family time.

Even though it’s going to be more than two days after the fact, I cannot fail to address Saturday’s action. If you do not care at all about my take on things, check the highlights here and move toward the bottom!

Going in, we knew it would not be a third-consecutive draw, at the very least. No draws in cup competition meant we’d see either the first victory of the season or a major-league failure likely to raise alarm bells, even coming at the hands of a club known for their giant-slaying capabilities.

Even with the victory in hand, two goals (with one coming on a penalty shot) against a fourth-tier club is not going to go far in quieting the rumblings about the lack of punch in the Effzeh offense so far this season. Not unlike last year, there’s been too little actual threat to the goal on the part of the Billy Goats, especially considering significant advantages in possession. Simpy put, if you have the “REWE” on your chest but not “Ujah” on the back, you may be doing a whole lot right, but you’re not really contributing to the kind of pressure on opposing back lines and keepers that destabilize defenses and cause the pressure to eventually build to unbearable levels.

Had the referee given the penalty for which he’d appeared to have blown his whistle early in the first half and assuming a successful conversion, perhaps we’d have seen a very different story Saturday night.

Schiri, you had it right the first time.

Schiri, you had it right the first time.

Perhaps, but Martin Peterson seemed to have fallen victim to self-doubt or was simply easily convinced by his linesman and/or Eintracht players, calling instead for a free kick for Trier. Replays would show fairly clearly (much more clearly than my freeze-frame screen capture does) that the Trier defender leapt for the ball with arms flying freely and the right bicep stopping the ball from otherwise continuing along it’s way to…well…who knows, but that’s a penalty.

I’m, personally, not a huge fan of penalty kicks. Far too often the penalty kick is given in a situation that was likely to have turned into a goal otherwise. Goals are difficult to score in this game. The penalty kick simply, for my tastes, is a little too big a penalty for some of the fouls. Yet, even with the steepness of the penalty, defenders take a lot of aggressive, physical chances to defend play deep in their area, maybe gambling they will somehow avoid illegal contact, but maybe also gambling the referee will not get a great look at it or be hesitant to point to the spot. I cannot even imagine what challenges would look like in today’s game without them, so I do accept them as a necessary evil.

So, I’d have liked to see the hand ball penalty given there, without question. Also, I do not let my philosophical opposition to the rule stand in the way of celebrating it ultimately delivering a lead for 1. FC Köln when Anthony Ujah had one step on and a better angle than Steven Kröner to a ball deflected to the right of Trier keeper Andreas Lengsfeld with no other soul in the area. Ujah played the ball just before Kröner could reach it. Kröner’s late-coming leg sent Ujah sprawling and that put Marcel Risse on the penalty spot with an opportunity to take the lead.

Ujah JUST beats Kröner to the ball. It's a game of inches, folks.

Ujah JUST beats Kröner to the ball. It’s a game of inches, folks.

Even with Trier pushing forward a bit more, needing to equalize, Lengsfeld was not asked to make the spectacular saves to keep his club within striking distance. To be fair, Timo Horn didn’t really have to do that much either. Probably the most-dangerous shot from Trier all night was put directly in his hands without him needing to move but a little bit to his left.  Cliche-wise, it could have been said that Köln was letting Trier hang around, rather than putting them away, which always is a dangerous situation.

And then…

Nice job, kid!

Not quite 20 minutes after being substituted on for (wildly ineffective) Thomas Bröker and, hence, making his debut for 1. FC Köln, Maxi Thiel simply HAMMERED a free kick from just outside the far right side of the penalty area into the net just out of the reach of the diving Lengsfeld. It was easily the moment of the night and maybe even the announcement of a sensational young talent to more-frequent playing time for Stöger.

At least, that’s what I’ll hope for. I had hoped Thiel would play from the start. Without question, the young man seemed to carry himself with confidence. The aggression he showed in taking that free kick was, for me, energizing. I can’t imagine it didn’t get the attention of his teammates as well.

Overall, the game was largely unremarkable, in my opinion. Was happy to watch the match, but it took Thiel’s free kick to literally get me excited.

Of course, the important thing is the victory, rather than style points. As we saw on Sunday when our friends from Mönchengladbach and Düsseldorf were left shaking their heads on their way to the exit from the tournament, there are worse fates in the tournament than not scoring a bunch of exciting goals in a rout of a smaller club.

That being said, let’s discuss a few items, shall we?

Thomas Bröker…maybe it’s time we spent some time apart.

I’ve been a bit of a Bröker apologist in the past, overlooking some technical deficiencies in favor of his bulldog-like aggression on the ball and in one-on-one battles. Yet, all I could see Saturday night was utter ineffectiveness. Early in the match, Bröker cut to the inside from the left flank getting enough clearance to take a shot at the goal. Unfortunately, said shot sailed so far off the mark, I thought it might have a better chance of crossing into Luxembourg than it did of getting into the goal. With the offense still seeking an identity of something other than “Ujah and whatever we can get,” the inability to do anything positive with the ball in the offensive end is not really inspiring.

Personally, I somewhat expected Bröker to be benched for this match, considering his lack of form last weekend, so I guess I can’t say I’ll be surprised if he starts in Paderborn.

Except, I’d still be really surprised.

Maybe even more surprised than I was at the reasonably good play of Matthias Lehmann? Granted, Eintracht Trier spent the entire first half defending and waiting for an opening to counter-strike. That doesn’t mean the back end of the squad did nothing. They made sure there was little-to-no space for Trier even to consider making a push forward. When a goal was finally scored and Trier necessarily had to take more chances, the opportunities were few and largely not dangerous. Is it not fair to credit Lehmann, by nature of his positional duties, for some of that?

Daniel Halfar clearly has something to offer in the starting eleven, but MAN did he seem to be trying too hard at times Saturday. I don’t know if he feels he has something to prove or that’s simply his style, but I hope he can get a goal, get the monkey off his back, and get to the business of applying his talents a little more evenly. I loved the effort (much like what appeals to me about Adam Matuschyk), but reel it in a little! Look over at Risse!

Marcel Risse continues to be a steal, in my opinion. He’s even better than I’d hoped he would be. I love his game. Never change! The goals are coming, I am certain.

Otherwise…there wasn’t a lot to take from the match. I’m glad for the successful escaping of a dangerous tournament side and look forward to the second-round draw on Saturday. I still think the team is enough of a ‘work in progress’ to wish to avoid a top Bundesliga team in the second round, even with seven weeks between now and the next Pokal matches. It might be fun to go to Wiedenbrück or Darmstadt to show Fortuna or the Ponies how to deal with those clubs, since we can no longer hope for an extra derby through the Pokal. A home match is good for obvious fiscal reasons, too, just please not against another second-league side. That’s always a bit dull.

Not as dull as sitting home and watching because your side it out, eh Philipp?! (Couldn’t help myself. I tried!)

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