Page 6 of 6 FirstFirst ... 456
Results 251 to 273 of 273

Thread: An American Manager in America [Football Manager AAR]

  1. ISO #251
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 3, Part VII: Spielmann's End

    The big story of the leadup to the last World Cup, at least in terms of Team USA, was whether Jeff Suarez would make the final roster or not. The aging striker's decline, my uncertainty if Luke Gee was any good or not, and my general indecision about what to do provided for many an American soccer columnist's livelihood in the autumn of 2033 all the way through summer of 2034.

    Early on, I anticipated that we'd be repeating that story in the 2038 cycle, only this time with Ged Spielmann in the Jeff Suarez role. The winger had had a fantastic 2034 World Cup for us, even making the Team of the Tournament, but he was also 31 and would be 35 by the time Mexico 2038 rolled around. Suarez didn't survive to that age, at least not as a contributing USMNT player. Neither did Lee Holness. I had forcibly dropped former captain Andy Alvarez before he turned 35. Spielmann was a better player to begin with than any of them (including Suarez), but time is undefeated, and the clock was ticking.

    By the autumn of 2036, his physical decline had begun. This is what his stats looked like on the occasion of his 100th cap, which he marked by scoring two goals and assisting one, a 6-0 beatdown of Guyana in qualifiers in September:



    This is what they looked like the next March:



    It wasn't the end for him, not yet, but it was close. His pace and acceleration were going, fast, and you need those if you're a wide player, particularly the only wide player on your side (which he is in the 3-5-2). Chelsea, which had signed him to a one-year extension the previous summer, had severely reduced his minutes and made no secret about the fact that they were not going to give him a new deal this time around.

    So in order to spare myself another Suarez-esque "will he or won't he" period, I made the call in the spring of 2037: Spielmann would not go to the next World Cup, regardless of what happened. The 2037 Gold Cup would be the man's last hurrah, and then we would move forward without him.

    I figured that by setting this decision in stone so far in advance, it would give me and the rest of the team (not to mention Spielmann himself) some peace of mind heading into the home stretch of the four-year cycle.

    But Ged Spielmann is apparently not one for extended goodbyes. Mere weeks before the Gold Cup was set to begin, he surprisingly announced his retirement as a player, calling time not just with the national team but his club career as well.



    The retirement was certainly abrupt, and my questioning of Spielmann, asking him if there was any outside pressure being exerted on him to walk away from everything didn't lead me to any conclusive answers. But he wasn't changing his mind, and thus there would be no farewell tournament for the national hero after all.

    Spielmann retired on the same day as Cartagena icon Borracha, having attained 108 caps with the national team and having scored 25 goals, about half of which were absolutely highlight-reel material. He scored the match-winner in the 2029 Confederations Cup final, the 2030 World Cup Round of 16 match against Portugal (in extra time), and bagged a hat trick in the 2034 World Cup quarterfinals against France while playing in an unfamiliar position. For every one of his goals with us, he provided at least two assists, being a big part of the reason why Suarez and later Escobedo have been so successful in front of goal for us.

    Spielmann was the first player I gave an international debut to who crossed the 100-cap mark with us (the others, Alvarez, Musa, and Espinosa, had all first played for Team USA before I took over), and at the time of his retirement had the most caps of anyone I gave a debut to. He will be missed.



    ---

    Life went on, though, and we had the 2037 Gold Cup to deal with. I very much wanted to win it for a number of reasons: first of all, I obviously want to win every tournament we're entered in. Secondly, this was some of our Olympians' chances to get some tournament experience in with the senior team, and I wanted to see how they responded.

    But third of all, and most importantly, I wanted to win this one because the concept of losing it was too depressing for me to process.

    The four best teams in CONCACAF, in no particular order, are us, Mexico, Canada, and Costa Rica. Out of those four, Mexico and Costa Rica sent their A-squads to the Confederations Cup (Mexico placed third, Costa Rica didn't make it out of groups). Both would be sending B-teams to the Gold Cup. Canada was under no such restrictions, but we had just beaten Canada fairly comfortably back in November, and they had an older team than us. Basically, there was no team taking part in this tournament that I would feel remotely understanding about losing to.

    Always a good mindset to have going into a tournament with a bunch of young, untested players. Luckily, our group wasn't too difficult.



    Three things of note happened in the group stage. The first one happened in our opening match against Haiti. In the second half, trailing by a score of 1-0, Haiti goalkeeper Jean-Jacques Duvalier (no relation to Papa Doc that I'm aware of, however...) apparently became so captivated with a beautiful woman in the front row, he neglected to turn around, face the rest of the field, and thus did not realize whatsoever that a routine back pass was coming directly at him.



    The second thing happened in our final game of the group stage: we recorded our biggest-ever win, a 10-0 thumping against Nicaragua. Notably, most of our goals were scored after I had told the team to ease off and conserve their energy for the knockout round, so we could have conceivably scored something like 12 or 13 if we really wanted to.



    Phillips and Gee each scored four goals in the rout, with Escobedo and Josh Colon rounding off the scoring with a goal apiece. This brings me to the third event of note: Sam Phillips took up the mantle of our best and go-to player once and for all now that Spielmann was officially out of the picture.

    In the first match, against Haiti, Phillips was named Player of the Match with a 7.8 rating despite not having scored or assisted. In the second match, he rested. In the third, the 10-0 beatdown of Nicaragua, he bagged four goals and picked up a 9.9 rating for his trouble, along with another Player of the Match award.

    Phillips didn't stop dominating in the knockout round, though. In the quarterfinal against Trinidad and Tobago, I decided to start him again, with the idea that he'd rest in the semis and be fresh for the final. We won the match 4-0, Phillips scored another goal, and picked up another incredible 9.2 rating (though he didn't get Player of the Match this time, largely due to Luke Gee having scored twice of his own). All of the little holes in his game were fixed. His tendency to shoot long from an angled run had disappeared. He wasn't supplying any direct assists, but he was still setting up the attackers for success, and when he deemed he'd be forcing a pass, he took it in himself.

    Jamaica upset Canada in the quarterfinal, earning a date with us in the semis. I went back to the 4-3-3, probably for the final time this World Cup cycle, and rested to Phillips. As a result, we struggled. We dominated possession and shots, but Jamaica decided to batten down the hatches and made sure that they stayed in the game regardless of the consequences. Spearing put one away for us in the 25th minute, and that proved to be the decisive goal. We were headed into the final, Phillips was rested, and we could go back to using the far-more-effective 3-5-2.



    At first, the other semifinal didn't seem to be too interesting to us, unless you're a fan of El Salvador's national team and Cinderella runs. But their story came to an end by falling 3-0, and as a result our opponent would be who everyone expected it to be once the brackets were revealed: Mexico's B squad.



    There was no winning this one from a PR standpoint. If we won, great, our A team is better than Mexico's B team, which, I sure freaking hope is the case. That wouldn't impress anybody. And if we lost... well, then we had serious work to do between now and next year.

    ---

    The final battle ended up being a tale of two halves. The first half was an over-the-top offensive light show. Mexico took the early lead, going up 2-0 in the first 15 minutes by sending a lot of long balls through and generally catching our defenders napping. After I made some quick adjustments, our guys responded. Gee brought us within one, then Escobedo equalized, and then central defender Daniel Ledesma scored his first-ever goal with the national team on a set piece to take the lead for us. When the whistle finally sounded, we were up 3-2 at the half and everyone blinked, as if they had just come out of a daze. It hadn't been the most direct path, but we were 45 minutes away from victory.

    Both managers preached buckling down at halftime, and as a result the second half was far more cagey and tactical. The foul count and cards given shot up as the tackles became harder and more merciless; Gee had to be taken off in the 50th minute due to injury. We traded yellow cards once, then again.

    In the 60th minute, Óscar Ramírez, who had already scored once for Mexico, found himself on the end of a sharp cross. He didn't have the best angle at a shot, but tried anyway, kicking wildly in a half-volley to put the ball on net. He ended up hitting the ball with so much force from so close a distance, goalkeeper Emmanuel Musah wasn't able to handle it cleanly and it ricocheted off him into the net. 3-3, 25 minutes to go before extra time.

    I fell into the same trap I did in the World Cup loss to Mexico seven years ago by holding onto my subs, preparing for extra time. I couldn't tell you if this was out of caution, fear, or perhaps even confidence that things would ultimately turn out. All I knew was that this lineup, playing in this formation, was already one away from tying a record for goals scored in the Gold Cup to date, and I figured they had a good chance of getting one more.

    Enter Sam Phillips.



    The 79th-minute strike wasn't an exact mirror image of Ged Spielmann's famous Confederations Cup-winning goal in 2029, but it certainly brought comparisons to mind. It once and for all cemented our star central midfielder as the new tone setter and key player with this iteration of the lineup, and it nicely put a bow on one of the greatest run of games that any American player has ever had.

    Phillips finished with six goals and an average rating of 8.80 in the four games he took part in the Gold Cup (a record), winning the Best Player award by a landslide (not to mention placing second and third in the Goal of the Tournament voting). But, more importantly than that, he had given us the trophy itself.



    When Liam Espinosa surprised everyone in the immediate aftermath of the tournament by announcing he would resign from the captaincy, I figured that it was time to make the transition official. Keeping tradition with me passing over the current vice captain in the line of succession in these AARs, I decided to keep Patrick Escobedo in his current role and handed the armband over to Phillips.



    Escobedo, ever the selfless act, understands. Everyone already knew going into this cycle that this was Sam Phillips's time. He's already our best player, now he's our leader. The torches have been passed to him, first Cherneski's as our creative midfielder, then Spielmann's as our star man, now Espinosa's.

    We have one year to go before the World Cup. Our fate is in Sam Phillips's hands.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  2. ISO #252
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    Considering that was Mexico B, that was a bit more of a nailbiter than it should have been, but good victory. Your team certainly knows how to score the goals, which is my kind of play though.

    Also I always love those kinds of own goals where the keeper isn't even looking the right way. I haven't seen many of them since getting promoted out of the semi-professional leagues in England though.

  3. ISO #253
    Wants It More LanMisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    German Democratic Republic (former)
    Posts
    7,462
    Timezone
    UTC+01:00
    Community
    Forum Paradox
    Gender
    I'm kinda afraid that your defense will not be up to par during the world cup unless something amazing happens between now and then, and I don't think that your offense can reliably go into shootout matches back to back. Nonetheless, this seems like some spectacular football with crazy results might wait for us in the future, and since there is no pressure to win it at this point this might keep things entertaining.

    And very stressful for the poor manager.
    Last edited by LanMisa; March 28th, 2020 at 08:39 AM.

  4. ISO #254
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#253)
    I'm kinda afraid that your defense will not be up to par during the world cup unless something amazing happens between now and then, and I don't think that your offense can reliably go into shootout matches back to back. Nonetheless, this seems like some spectacular football with crazy results might wait for us in the future, and since there is no pressure to win it at this point this might keep things entertaining.

    And very stressful for the poor manager.
    Fully agree here, it's been a problem since I started experimenting with the 3-5-2 variant that I'm using and I haven't been able to crack it yet with the personnel available.

    But the inevitable happened and I'm stuck in quarantine for the foreseeable future, so with the extra time on my hands, last night I went back to my old Cartagena save (before the changeover) and played ahead a little bit for inspiration.

    Long story short, I have a plan. I think.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  5. ISO #255
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#254)
    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#253)
    I'm kinda afraid that your defense will not be up to par during the world cup unless something amazing happens between now and then, and I don't think that your offense can reliably go into shootout matches back to back. Nonetheless, this seems like some spectacular football with crazy results might wait for us in the future, and since there is no pressure to win it at this point this might keep things entertaining.

    And very stressful for the poor manager.
    Fully agree here, it's been a problem since I started experimenting with the 3-5-2 variant that I'm using and I haven't been able to crack it yet with the personnel available.

    But the inevitable happened and I'm stuck in quarantine for the foreseeable future, so with the extra time on my hands, last night I went back to my old Cartagena save (before the changeover) and played ahead a little bit for inspiration.

    Long story short, I have a plan. I think.
    You mean you've caught it? You got enough food? Stay safe.

  6. ISO #256
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#255)
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#254)
    Quote Originally Posted by LanMisa (#253)
    I'm kinda afraid that your defense will not be up to par during the world cup unless something amazing happens between now and then, and I don't think that your offense can reliably go into shootout matches back to back. Nonetheless, this seems like some spectacular football with crazy results might wait for us in the future, and since there is no pressure to win it at this point this might keep things entertaining.

    And very stressful for the poor manager.
    Fully agree here, it's been a problem since I started experimenting with the 3-5-2 variant that I'm using and I haven't been able to crack it yet with the personnel available.

    But the inevitable happened and I'm stuck in quarantine for the foreseeable future, so with the extra time on my hands, last night I went back to my old Cartagena save (before the changeover) and played ahead a little bit for inspiration.

    Long story short, I have a plan. I think.
    You mean you've caught it? You got enough food? Stay safe.
    Nah, I'm still safe and healthy, all set for the long haul. Company I work for has to shutter up for a while, until this all ends. Appreciate the concern, though.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  7. ISO #257
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 3, Part VIII: Ten Years Gone

    Sometime during the summer of 2037, we passed a significant milestone (albeit not really an important one): I had now spent ten full years in charge of Team USA.

    This was just about 150 matches where I was running things, not including B-team or Olympic games that I took charge of. It also meant that I had now spent a longer period of time with Team USA than I had with Cartagena, which is pretty sobering when you think about it considering how far we still have to go.

    The past decade has doubtless been the most successful in Team USA's history: two Gold Cups, two Confederations Cups, one Copa América, and progressing as far as the World Cup semifinal. But none of those are the ultimate goal, the only one that matters: winning the World Cup. Thus, my stay in purgatory continues.

    Here's my record with Team USA as of October 2037, broken down:



    Thank God for CONCACAF minnows artificially beefing up my stats.

    ---

    The least memorable Hex in a generation cantered to a close, with us topping the group and thus getting placed into a better pot for the World Cup draw. There was a brief moment of uncertainty in September when we only managed a draw against Canada, but we closed the Hex out with successive wins over Barbados, Costa Rica, and Guatemala to confirm our position.



    The problem, though, was our defense: the 3-5-2 had always had a weakness in terms of allowing attacks from the flanks, but with our defensive stalwarts of years past aging out, the new kids weren't quite ready to take up the mantle yet with the same panache. In the last four qualifiers of the Hex, all in the autumn, we allowed to opposition to score in each match.

    This is forgivable when you play, say, Canada away, but less so when you concede to Barbados at home, or to Guatemala, period. If we were leaking goals against opponents of this caliber, then who was to say what the Germanies and Brazils of the world would do to us in the World Cup next year?

    Given the long period of qualifiers and Mexico's absence from the last Gold Cup, the last time we had played a truly strong team was years in the past. I was worried that my younger players hadn't been properly tested yet, especially on defense. So with that in mind, I scheduled a pair of November friendlies against tough opposition: Mexico and Argentina.

    As I feared, the Mexico results were brutal. (I say "results" because, in the interests of full disclosure, I had to play the match twice due to a computer error.) The first game, lost to history, was a 2-2 draw where we were lucky to have pulled even. The second game, the one on the books, was a 4-1 thrashing. If you average the two outcomes I'd say it about sums up our level of quality and preparedness relative to our rivals.





    With the even tougher Argentina on the docket, it was time to put a plan in action. I shifted Scott Hernández out of midfield, tabbed left back Matt Carillo (born: Crofton, MD) to start, and instructed my wide players to play more in the wingback role. In essence, we were pulling back the wingers.



    The game calls this formation a 5-1-2-2 DM WB, which is an absolute mouthful, but it's still in essence a variant of the 3-5-2. There's a clear back three, a central midfield three, two wingbacks, and two strikers. We're sacrificing attack presence on the flanks in order to shore up our defense, and while I hate to do this, most of our goals came from the counterattack and the strikers making runs anyway rather than pressure from the wingers, so it's a calculated sacrifice.

    Argentina, because they are better than we are, still scored twice, but our defense was just that much more solid, and honestly, I think this tweak ended up preventing the game turning into a rout. On the offensive end, we equaled their output, and the match ended in a 2-2 draw where we just looked so much better than (both) Mexico matches. Obviously a single draw in a single friendly match is irrefutable proof of my genius.



    ---

    The plan is to go into the World Cup using both variants of the 3-5-2. We'll use the original variant when we need goals or against weaker opposition, and the newer, wingback version, when I want to buckle down. Neither Hernández nor Carillo are anything to write home about, and I loathed taking Hernández out of midfield, but they both can at least play the position and we really just needed coverage there.

    Time was running short on testing the formation, though. For whatever reason, the game would only allow me to schedule one friendly in March as opposed to the usual two, and our World Cup schedule was such that I decided to only play one pre-tournament friendly and ensure that everybody was well-rested rather than play two but go in with somewhat more tired players.

    Aside from working on the formation, there are still three things to decide between now and the start of the tournament:

    1. Espinosa's fate: The longtime central defender turned 34 in January 2038 and is following the path of the traditional "declining American player" - he got a move to MLS and his physical abilities are going (luckily, not his strength nor his jumping reach yet). I can't rely on him to hold up through multiple games on short rest anymore, but I'm leaning on bringing him anyway just because most of my other central defenders are very young and untrustworthy. Espinosa's experience and organizational capabilities will be missed if he's not around.

    2. Central midfield: Aside from Sam Phillips, this position and the question of who's going is still in doubt. There's a reason why I haven't really touched on the central midfielders much these past four years - and while it's not an extremely important position in the system I play, it's still necessary: it's because there's a crowd of players, all around the same age and capabilities, and none of them have really separated themselves from the pack. Further complicating matters is the fact that Alfredo Laudato, a 25-year-old Italy-born MLS player, lived in the USA long enough to gain citizenship. Bully for us, but there's a reason why Laudato never got a sniff with Italy. At worst, he gives me another name to think about.

    3. Starting goalkeeper: Eddie Rivera has supplanted Jeff Porter as Emmanuel Musah's heir in the net for us. He's developed nicely with Sevilla while Porter has stagnated. I've given Rivera, 21, every opportunity to seize the job for himself, but his shot stopping hasn't been the best and we kind of need that given the state of our defense. Musah is 36 and is doing everything he can to hold onto the job. With only two more games scheduled before the World Cup starts, each player is getting one more chance to lock up the job. Right now, gun to head, it's Musah's to lose.





    Lastly, there was the minor matter of Patrick Escobedo's wife being kidnapped by men with ties to both Mexican and Spanish organized crime syndicates:



    Between Ged Spielmann's unexpected retirement and now this from Escobedo, it seems that somebody has it out for us this cycle. (Escobedo's wife was later found healthy and unharmed.)

    ---

    The World Cup draw came down in November, and despite our better position than four years ago, we still had a rough go of it:



    France is obviously a favorite, and while Japan is technically the "worst" team in the group, they're always a tough out and certainly no slouch. Assuming France is a loss, our tournament will probably come down to how well we can do against Colombia. They barely made it to Mexico, finishing fifth in South American qualifiers by one point ahead of Paraguay, but they secured passage by upsetting Brazil on the final day of qualifiers and then taking down New Zealand in the intercontinental playoff. So basically, they're a true wild card. Perfect for us, really.

    Next: 2038 World Cup roster breakdown!
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 30th, 2020 at 12:08 AM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  8. ISO #258
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    TBH if I had any advice, it probably would have been doing exactly that, but I didn't say anything because I don't feel as if I know what I'm doing, so glad it appears to have worked out. Hopefully it helps the defense hold.

  9. ISO #259
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 3, Part IX: The 2038 World Cup Roster


    As I was making my final decisions on who to bring to Mexico, the primary question I struggled with was if I wanted to place more of an emphasis on building for the future, or simply do as well as we could right now, knowing full well that we weren't good enough to win the tournament. The above news report crystallized it for me: we had a young team, why not treat this as a learning experience and get well-situated for 2042?

    That said, I still ended up bringing along some old soldiers. My reasoning was twofold: First of all, I believe in instilling a winning mentality. What would our kids learn, precisely, if they got a cup of coffee in Mexico and promptly got blown out of the group stage? Better that they fight for it with some veterans of 2034 to show them the way and see what it takes, mentally, to perform in the knockout stages. Secondly, my role is, first and foremost, an entertainment provider. If I don't care about the immediate product on the field in the World Cup, why should Team USA's fans? They hunger for glory, and while they won't get it this cycle, I owe it to them to at least give them my best shot.

    Our group stage is structured in the same way that it was four years ago, going from hardest to least difficult in sequential order. We kick off with France, which will almost certainly be a defeat, then Colombia, then round things off with Japan. None of our group matches are at the Azteca. My goal is to get at least one match there before we're eliminated, but that's going to be a tough ask.


    Goalkeepers

    Positional breakdown: We have one veteran, one player in his prime, and one up-and-comer. The player in his prime, Jeff Porter, will be our third-choice keeper and not see any time on the field this tournament: the main battle was whether Musah or Rivera would start for us.

    Emmanuel Musah (born: Bridgewater, NJ)



    Musah retains our starting job after holding off Eddie Rivera in the past several months. As a result, he is the last remaining member of the original Ride or Die Lineup to continue to be the unquestioned starter in a major tournament. This will not only be his final World Cup but also his final tournament as a starter; while I normally treat the next year's Gold Cup as a sort of "last hurrah" for my aging-out players from the previous cycle, we do have to move to Rivera sooner or later.

    Eddie Rivera (born: San Juan, Puerto Rico)



    There's probably a psychological block with me in terms of giving Rivera the keys. Because I initially was a little put off by his shot-stopping, that meant I fixed an unblinking eye on him whenever he faced a shot later on, a level of scrutiny I certainly didn't subject Musah to. Regardless, this block will resolve itself soon, simply because Musah will be aging out and the job will be Rivera's whether anybody likes it or not. He'll be 25 next World Cup, still young for a goalkeeper.

    Jeff Porter (born: Chicago, IL)



    I blame circumstance for the reason why Porter got surpassed by Rivera in the pecking order. While Rivera has had a steady, focused development up through the ranks of a strong team like Sevilla, Porter has spent time with seven separate clubs between contracts, loans, and trials. All the moving around and different systems he's had to learn means that, while still a decent goalkeeper, he perhaps was not able to realize his full potential. Situation matters!


    Central Defense

    Positional breakdown: Did I go into this wanting to bring six separate central defenders? Reader, I did not. However, between injury, unsteadiness, and physical decline, I just straight-up do not trust any one or two of them to be absolute lockdown defenders. Thus, we're going with a "quantity over quality" approach. Most of these guys are big, physical dudes - hopefully, if we stick enough of them in the box they'll be able to keep goals out between them. (Plus, a few of them can play fullback or defensive midfielder in a pinch, which could free up those players to play elsewhere.)

    Jeff Michaud (born: Frisco, TX)



    Almost certainly my best defender in terms of leadership and ability. Michaud is at an excellent age, the perfect combination of veteran smarts and still-peaked physical skill, and I'm going to lean on him heavily in at least the group stage. Also important: He's left-footed, which has more value than normal when you're playing in a back three. Can also play left back and defensive midfield.

    Rees Jones (born: Austin, TX)



    The most versatile of our defenders, Jones can play fullback on either side (though not wing back) in addition to moving up into defensive midfield if I ask him to. Our scouts have long called him the most promising of our younger defenders, and over the past year or so he's finally come into it. Here's hoping he can take another leap in this tournament.

    Norberto Hernández (born: Conroe, TX)



    The other left-footed central defender that I've brought to Mexico, Norberto will man the left side of the defense when I have to rest Michaud. Not the most technically skilled, but he's physical and hard-working and usually doesn't make mistakes. That's all I can ask for.

    James Kramer (born: Chicago, IL)



    The biggest and nastiest of our big and nasty group of defenders. Kramer's had a bit of an odyssey of a career: he failed to catch on at Bournemouth (a reliably midtable Premier League team in this universe) and went on a bit of a world tour in terms of loans, spending time in Canada, France, the USA, Germany, and Spain, before finally catching on with Atlanta United and carving himself out a career there.

    Daniel Ledesma (born: Hollywood, FL)



    The man who began his international career as a surprise injury replacement into the World Cup squad four years ago himself found his prospects in doubt by sustaining a broken toe in April. The physios were unsure of whether he'd be fit in time, but Ledesma - who also displayed remarkable stamina by playing every minute for us in the grueling Olympics - healed faster than expected and was proclaimed good to go. He's not 100% in match shape, but considering I only scheduled one pre-tournament friendly to keep everybody fresh, he's not the only one who will be playing himself into shape here.

    Liam Espinosa (born: Murrieta, CA)



    The former captain successfully - and barely - managed to hold off Father Time to get a spot in what will be his final tournament. Can't do as good of a job as he used to, and whenever I play him I'm going to shield him by putting him in the absolute middle of the back three, but he still made it. Can still jump well and muscle people out of the way for constested balls, and his mental skills bring a dimension that most of his counterparts just don't have yet.


    Wing Backs and Wide Players

    Positional breakdown: Four players in this section. The first two are wing backs: primarily defensively-minded players who I'll look to to lock down the flanks. The second two are wingers, more aggressive players who I'll tab when I think we're better than the opponent or if we need a goal.

    Scott Hernández (born: Shawnee, KS)



    My most versatile player gets shifted from central midfield to somewhere else that isn't his natural position, but it can't be helped. Aside from the 36-year old Sam Lapore, who is retiring in a month and who I put to pasture after the last Gold Cup, Hernández is the only player in the entire country who can play the right wing back position and look like he fits in at the international level. He'll be manning the right for us in games where I expect we'll need defensive solidity, which is *checks schedule* pretty much every game. Godspeed.

    Matt Carrillo (born: Crofton, MD)



    A dual national with Mexico. When I first capped Carillo there was some hullabaloo in the press about me potentially stealing one from under Mexico's nose, but I'm not so sure he would have merited a regular place on their team. Carillo can do a job well enough, but he's definitely a pale shadow of Christian Musa in terms of ability on the left.

    Jeff Escobar (born: Temecula, CA)



    It's a shame that we're playing a back three, doubly so since I'm going to wing backs half the time, because Escobar is legitimately a good right winger. He's been Ged Spielmann's heir for us on the right, and while he's not quite at the American hero's level of brilliance, he reliably provides a solid performance for us in the position. After the World Cup I'm going to take a look at the entire roster and see if there's a way I can get Escobar to play where he's most comfortable (right wing) without us sacrificing our entire shape.

    Chris Cantú (born: Arlington, TX)



    Left winger/midfield is, bar none, our weakest position in the national pool. The amount of players who are naturals at this position is incredibly tiny, so Cantú basically won this spot by default. He's okay but not particularly inspiring. He'll usually put in a shift, at least.


    Midfielders

    Positional breakdown: The defensive midfielders (the first two names on this list) picked themselves through positional scarcity, though some of our defenders can also play here in a pinch. The central midfielders were a different story: behind Sam Phillips, they were all pretty interchangeable and I had to weigh a few options in cutting the list down. Basically, the solution here is probably going to be "play Phillips until his legs fall off."

    Andrea Pozzo (born: Temecula, CA)



    Pozzo never quite developed into the force that I was hoping he would for whatever reason. He's another one of the Lost Generation, like Jeff Porter, who has spent time with a bunch of clubs but never really caught on with any of them. At the very worst, he's still a physical presence who, if properly positioned, will give opponents a fight when trying to get past him. Frequently picks up dings and dents; hopefully he'll make it through here unscathed.

    Matthew Triche (born: Chicago, IL)



    Triche - a natural central midfielder who I've tapped to play further back - is probably the quietest and least memorable player on the roster. This isn't the worst trait that a defensive midfielder can have. On one hand, it means that he doesn't really impose himself on a game and strike fear in the hearts of opponents. But on the other hand, it means that he doesn't make many mistakes, either.

    Sam Phillips (born: Carson, CA)



    It's unfortunate that Phillips's absolute peak is coming during a period of transition for the national team. Our captain and hero of the last Gold Cup was too young to really contribute during the Golden Generation's heyday, and by the time this new batch of players fully come into their own, he'll be on the downswing. Nevertheless, Phillips is incredibly skilled and has a wealth of big game experience that will be invaluable to passing onto our youngsters: he's started for Arsenal in each of the last two Champions League finals.

    Alfredo Laudato (born: Qualiano, Italy)



    Born in a suburb of Naples, Laudato came up for a team in the Italian third tier and got a move to LAFC in the MLS in 2032 at the age of 20. He's been a stalwart for them ever since, making their Team of the Year in every season since he came to the US. Were Laudato to go back to Italy, he could probably hold down a position in a lower-performing Serie A (the top Italian league) club. Instead, Laudato decided to call America home and gained citizenship (and thus eligibility) last year. I promptly capped him, played him in a couple of games, and was impressed enough to have him make the team.

    Alan Phillip (born: Plano, TX)



    Remember the 17-year old dual national who England was looking at who I cap-tied a couple years ago? Here he is now. The past couple years have been good for Phillip's development, and, better yet, Liverpool appear to not have given up on him. There are certain ways to tell that a player's going to be legitimately good beyond the scouting recommendations, and Phillip has checked off more boxes than most. He more than any other selection is a concession to the "look to the future" mindset, but it's not like Phillip is actively bad right now either. My dream of running a Phillips-Phillip midfield remains alive.

    Juan Wallace (born: Bradenton, FL)



    Wallace was the final addition to my World Cup roster, beating out Olympic team feature Antony Cruz for the last spot. The difference? Wallace can play defensive midfield in a pinch and has four goals with us; Cruz, a more attack-minded midfielder, has none. I figure in a worst-case scenario, it's never a bad idea to have one more guy out there who knows how to score.



    Strikers

    Positional breakdown: Easily our strongest position, and not even really a contest. The four names here aren't surprising at all, and while this is probably Escobedo's and Colon's last rodeo (and potentially Gee's as well), our bullpen at this position is deep. The only complaint I have here is that three of them are left-footed; I wish the R/L breakdown was 2-2.

    Josh Colon (born: Salt Lake City, UT)



    The least-heralded of our four strikers has had a weird four years with us. More often than not he was the victim of my experimentation with formations, sometimes being asked to play out of position, and the Gee-Escobedo partnership was so successful that despite Colon's excellent overall skill, more often than not he found himself on the outs. Nevertheless, he still does a strong job for us and wears the #9 shirt with pride.

    Luke Gee (born: Taylorsville, UT)



    For a guy who I wasn't sure I was going to bring to the last World Cup in favor of the corpse of Jeff Suarez, Gee has turned out to be a hell of a player for us. He inherited Ged Spielmann's #10 shirt, and his partnership with Patrick Escobedo as our most advanced striker means that he can really bang the goals in. Spent a lot of time with Betis in Spain but they cashed on him and sold him to Guangzhou Evergrande for €35 million in 2036. Immediately after that, Gee's hair turned grey. The Chinese league: not even once.

    (that said, he was a big part of why they won the Asian Champions League in 2036)

    Robert Spearing (born: Loveland, CO)



    Check out that goals per game ratio with us! Spearing won't be our starter, at least not right away, but with a scoring record like that I won't hesitate to call on him to be our super sub. He's had a tortured club career: After escaping loan hell with Arsenal in 2036, he signed with Brighton, who promptly got relegated from the Premier League. They then sold Spearing off to Middlesbrough... who promptly got relegated from the Premier League. As checkered as his club history might be, he's been nothing but money for us, and is happy that he's with Team USA in what would otherwise be yet another summer of uncertainty for him.

    Patrick Escobedo (born: Alameda, CA)



    Our vice captain is starting to slow down, but he's an American hero and still has game in him yet. Still captain of Everton, but just had his worst year statistically with them and they just barely managed to avoid relegation. Escobedo has always been one of our guttiest players, and I'm going to need him to channel that trait one more time if we're to achieve our goals this tournament. He knows this might be it for him; I want to start giving some of the younger strikers tournament time in the Gold Cup next year.

    ---

    Here are the two formations I'll be using. The more defensive variant, with the wingers pulled back, will be considered the formation with our "starters" but, as usual, most start/sit decisions beyond formational fit will be based around player availability.



    NEXT: The 2038 World Cup begins!
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 31st, 2020 at 06:02 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  10. ISO #260
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    I enjoyed this breakdown much more than usual, don't know why, but maybe I just feel like this is a team that's going to mesh pretty well.

    Glad to see some IL representation, even if one of them is Porter. I feel kinda bad about the lost generation, but only so much you can do, and I can't really complain about the goalkeeper situation, sounds like you have a handle on it.

    Also interesting player Alfredo Laudato. Not exactly a traditional dual national, but my stance has always been the more the merrier, and those who are results oriented surely won't have a problem either. I've always found MLS' domestic player rules surprisingly lenient, but again, I'm not one to complain! The same thing could be said for a few other of the choice picks, looks like a lot of your previous scouting is now coming to pay off, though the players may not be fully developed at this point quite yet. As a final note, glad to see Gee getting some recognition after I backed him a few cycles ago, even if moving to China is a weird choice (that said, I'm loving all these quirky paths these players are taking. Way more interesting than the paths going on in my save, please keep detailing them where appropriate).

    Also, if it's not too much trouble, could you give us a squad number breakdown. Picking squad numbers always brings out the really nerdy side of me. I know that's a lot of extra work, especially after I asked for everyone's hometowns too, so maybe just every time you do one of these posts, and you don't have to retroactively do one for this if you don't want to. Your comment about the #10 shirt just got me thinking about it.

  11. ISO #261
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#260)
    Also, if it's not too much trouble, could you give us a squad number breakdown. Picking squad numbers always brings out the really nerdy side of me. I know that's a lot of extra work, especially after I asked for everyone's hometowns too, so maybe just every time you do one of these posts, and you don't have to retroactively do one for this if you don't want to. Your comment about the #10 shirt just got me thinking about it.
    The main issue with this is that the game does not permanently assign squad numbers on national teams aside from tournaments. For example, even though I assigned Ged Spielmann the #10 in every competition he took part in, if he was just called up for a set of qualifiers or friendlies or something, he'd wear #11 - or whatever the game decided to give him as a starting right winger. If he came off the bench, he'd wear something like #17 since #s 1-11 automatically go to whoever's starting in a non-tournament game.

    You can get an idea of what number the players wore in the most recent tournament (provided they were called up for said tournament) because their number is at the top of every player screenshot that I take, but due to the game's limitations that's unfortunately the best I can do. I myself held off on making this post until I got to the squad number assignment screen, mere days before our first match, in order to get everyone's number down.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  12. ISO #262
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    Quote Originally Posted by GeneralHankerchief (#261)
    Quote Originally Posted by OrangeP47 (#260)
    Also, if it's not too much trouble, could you give us a squad number breakdown. Picking squad numbers always brings out the really nerdy side of me. I know that's a lot of extra work, especially after I asked for everyone's hometowns too, so maybe just every time you do one of these posts, and you don't have to retroactively do one for this if you don't want to. Your comment about the #10 shirt just got me thinking about it.
    The main issue with this is that the game does not permanently assign squad numbers on national teams aside from tournaments. For example, even though I assigned Ged Spielmann the #10 in every competition he took part in, if he was just called up for a set of qualifiers or friendlies or something, he'd wear #11 - or whatever the game decided to give him as a starting right winger. If he came off the bench, he'd wear something like #17 since #s 1-11 automatically go to whoever's starting in a non-tournament game.

    You can get an idea of what number the players wore in the most recent tournament (provided they were called up for said tournament) because their number is at the top of every player screenshot that I take, but due to the game's limitations that's unfortunately the best I can do. I myself held off on making this post until I got to the squad number assignment screen, mere days before our first match, in order to get everyone's number down.
    Ah yeah, I meant to say "for the world cup" cause I figured it'd be pretty fluid for the national team. With such a long comment I got kinda distracted though.

  13. ISO #263
    Wants It More LanMisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    German Democratic Republic (former)
    Posts
    7,462
    Timezone
    UTC+01:00
    Community
    Forum Paradox
    Gender
    The team looks okay, but it's obvious that there is a sharp decline compared to the last world cup (understandably so, of course). I do hope that you will be able to leave the group stages at least and maybe even cause an upset during the tournament; this might ignite some growth and self-esteem in your young boys that will help them grow in the future.

  14. ISO #264
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 3, Part X: Channeling Mourinho



    That fashionable gentleman in the above gif is one José Mourinho. For those who don't know, Mourinho is a club manager, active on the scene for the last 15-20 years, who has a certain... style, both in terms of his personality as well as his tactical approach.

    A hypothetical dry textbook on famous soccer managers, attempting to be as unbiased as possible, will state that Mourinho is a pragmatic manager who prioritizes results above all else, including, sometimes, aesthetics. A novelist or journalist, attempting to capture the minds of the public, would call him a misunderstood genius, mad at the world and especially Barcelona for perceived slights against him, a man who, while undoubtedly a master tactician, ultimately too gets caught up in his own siege mentality he perpetuates and always has things blow up in his face if he stays in one place for too long. A detractor of Mourinho's, hoping to win an argument, will call him a troglodyte, a troll, a $#@!houser. A fan of Mourinho's will call him the same.

    Let me try to synthesize all four (three?) explanations of him into one easy-to-swallow package. In a sport where large sections of the fanbase very much care about aesthetics, José Mourinho's defense-first tactics have never been met with unanimous approval. Despite this, his record is unmatched: he won the Champions League with two different teams, neither of whom have done much of anything since he left. Additionally, he was pretty much the only person able to stop Barcelona about a decade ago when they were at their absolute peak and destroying everything in their paths. That said, these results come at a cost. Mourinho's system works best with cagey veterans willing to buy in: he's the ultimate "win now" manager whose tenure with a team usually turns sour around his third season in charge when everybody gets sick of him.

    Generally, I don't like emulating Mourinho when I play Football Manager. I'm a builder; I like to find young talent, nurture them, and stay with teams for a while. Additionally, all other things equal, I like a team that scores goals. I'm playing a game, after all, and a bunch of 0-0 or 1-0 borefests - which Mourinho specializes in if everything's working properly - aren't really fun for me as a video game player working through a campaign.

    That said: In this exact situation, under these exact circumstances, with a less-than-talented American team in a tournament setting where we're not expected to do much in what's obviously a long-term AAR? Oh yeah, I can channel Mourinho for a few weeks.



    ---

    Four years ago, in the World Cup quarterfinals, we defeated France in a 5-3 thriller. We were a bit below them but still somewhat comparable in talent, and with a few tactical tweaks and some individual excellence by Ged Spielmann, we were able to send them home.

    This year, in the first match in Group C of the World Cup, we faced France again. The talent gap this time was not comparable.

    But a talent gap is prime opportunity for channeling Mourinho, and thus I sent the team out there in the more defensive variant of the 3-5-2, with Scott Hernández and Matt Carrillo as wing backs rather than Jeff Escobar and Chris Cantú as wingers further up. In addition to these tactics, I also sent the team out with a more defensive mentality than I ever did before: normally we go with "counter", which leads to trying to stop a team on the break; this time we went with straight "defensive". Mourinho approved.

    For 35 minutes, we parked the bus and held up against France's assault. But in the 36th minute, left midfielder Rémi Robert was able to send in a low, ground-hugging cross. Two players were in the area: our defender Jeff Michaud and their striker Guillaume Morel. Both took wild swipes at the ball; Morel connected and was accurate enough to get it past Musah. 1-0, France. Mourinho was not pleased.



    We buckled down and kept the score close, though. France certainly tried to seal the game away, but we denied them. Their possession count steadily improved, their shot count rapidly improved, but we stood firm.

    That was half the battle, though. A 1-0 loss might not psychologically as bad as a 4-0 loss, but it still counts the same in the standings. We had to equalize. Our most likely candidate to do so, Luke Gee, sustained a concussion and was done for 2-3 weeks. It wouldn't be him. Midway through the second half, I adjusted our mentality to "counter" and hoped that somebody would make something happen.

    In the 78th minute, midfielder Alfredo Laudato, with a rare free kick in our half of the field, sent it in the box in the hope that one of our attackers would get to it first. Defensive midfielder Andrea Pozzo, who has never scored for us in 63 appearances, went up for the ball, but so did France left back Jeremy Girard. Girard pushed Pozzo out of the way, the referee saw it, blew his whistle, and pointed to the spot. Penalty, USA!

    Patrick Escobedo, who has never missed a penalty for us, stepped up to take the kick, and blasted it past the France keeper. 1-1, and ten minutes later (plus stoppage time) the referee made it official: we had taken points from by far the strongest team in the group and one of the World Cup favorites. Mourinho approved.





    ---

    Colombia was next. While stealing points off France was helpful, this was the critical match in terms of advancing to the group stage. If we won, we had a ton of breathing room against Japan. If we drew, we probably still needed a win. If we lost, we were in big trouble.

    Mourinho is a defensive manager in big games, but he knows when he needs to turn on the offense. With that in mind, I went with the more offensive variant, put in Escobar and Cantú, and sent the team out there to try to bag one early on. In the 13th minute, Robert Spearing, he of the fantastic goals:games ratio for us, got a neat little pass from strike partner Josh Colon and found some daylight. Spearing lined up his shot and fired it into the far low corner, just past the outstretch arms of Colombia goalkeeper Carlos Fernández. 1-0 USA.

    We had the early lead, but a big part of the Mourinho philosophy is making sure you defend that lead, so I told the team to not let up and definitely not to lose their concentration. There were a couple of close calls: Liam Espinosa, 34 years old and showing every single day of it, got beaten twice on long balls that Colombia's lead striker was able to get a beat on, but Musah was up to the challenge on both occasions and held the lead.

    Halftime passed. I told Espinosa to hang further back no matter what the situation was. The second half came. Time ticked away. And in the 75th minute, we made the most of a set piece. With an attack started by a throw-in in enemy territory, the ball eventually found its way to wing back Scott Hernández, who sent a ball forward into the box. Spearing got to it first and headed a high ball not aimed in any particular direction. Left winger Chris Cantú, the guy who made the team basically by default, charged onto the scene, got to the ball first, and poked it past the goalkeeper. 2-0 USA, 15 minutes to go! Mourinho was so happy he could have set it to music.



    Mp4 (as soon as imgur comes back up)




    We conceded a late goal to Colombia a few minutes later, just enough to make me (and Mourinho) sweat, but the defense locked it down for the last ten minutes and we got out of there with a critical win.



    With one game to play in the group stage, this was the situation:



    Overall, the Colombia result plus France beating Japan was huge for us. The final set of games would pit us against Japan, the worst team in the group both by my own estimation as well as standing, and France (the best team) against Colombia, who we had just beaten. If I only cared about advancement, and not particularly placement, then all we had to do was basically not get blown out against Japan and hope that France took care of business against Colombia.

    Well, this isn't a Mourinho thing so much as an Alex Ferguson thing, but I, for one, was already looking ahead to the knockout rounds. After running through a bunch of scenarios in my head, I figured that we would probably not be able to blow Japan out enough to make up for the one goal difference that France had over us, and thus first in the group was out of reach.

    With this in mind, I sent out a weak-but-offensively-focused squad against Japan. The idea was that I would mostly rest the defensive, stronger players for whoever we inevitably faced in the Round of 16, sacrificing a chance at topping the group. With France playing Colombia at the same time we battled Japan, we would get instant in-match feedback about how the other game was going, but I was unable to alter the rosters ahead of time.

    Say what you will about this strategy, and whether it was cowardly of me to cede control of the group like that, but France bagged two early goals against Colombia. This gave us quite a bit of breathing room. So when Japan took an early 1-0 lead against us, Mourinho wasn't too concerned.



    We equalized shortly before halftime, courtesy of Josh Colon by way of a really nifty pass from Jeff Escobar, but with everything looking like a finish of 1) France 2) USA, I told the players to conserve their energy in the second half and they basically played it at a trot, especially after Alfredo Laudato got banged up.

    Japan secured the victory by scoring in the 78th minute, but it was too little, too late for them. Colombia was out of it and while Japan had leveled us on total points, the goal differential was still in our favor. We had progressed to the second round, and the result of the final game literally wouldn't have mattered unless we had beaten Japan by at least three goals.

    Mourinho saw the final result and, while he was not amused by us giving up two goals, ultimately, he was aware of the greater good, and thus was satisfied.







    Our opponent in the Round of 16? Well, let's just say that Fun Mourinho needs to beat a quick exit in favor of Serious, "Our Backs Are Up Against The Wall And It's Time To Put In A Masterclass" Mourinho:



    At least our players will be well-rested. That's pretty much the only thing we have going for us.

    ---

    Around the World Cup:

    A sad day for fans of bracket chaos, as the group stage results were almost entirely chalk. The most notable omissions from the knockout round were probably Argentina missing out in favor of Wales on goal differential, and Scotland holding their own in a weak group. Hosts Mexico topped their group to make it to the Round of 16; both Canada and Costa Rica finished last in theirs and thus only two CONCACAF teams were able to punch their ticket to the next round. Brazil finally broke their whammy by making it to the knockout round for the first time since 2026, proving my prediction during the last Olympics correct.









    Next: Another World Cup date with Germany, and this time in a match that actually matters.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; April 2nd, 2020 at 01:50 PM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  15. ISO #265
    Wants It More LanMisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    German Democratic Republic (former)
    Posts
    7,462
    Timezone
    UTC+01:00
    Community
    Forum Paradox
    Gender
    I know that this is an American AAR, and I do understand that you wish to advance and further your team's improving, but there is but one thing that I can say here:

    GER-MA-NY! GER-MA-NY! GER-MA-NY!

    Just kidding, good luck, and hopefully you can get in another upset like against France!

    Last edited by LanMisa; April 2nd, 2020 at 06:28 AM.

  16. ISO #266
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    That's pretty big for Scotland and Wales, too (The only British ancestry I have is Welsh, despite having an English last name, so I always feel a little more attachment to them).

    Anywho, loved the Mourinho gifs. He's seriously the most entertaining manager, other than maybe Simeone. Maybe you haven't seen it because it's from this season, but a bit sad you didn't use my favorite gif of him

    Also decent results for USA I guess, though a the loss against Japan doesn't sit well with me, even if it's technically all that's needed. If a good showing against Germany is forthcoming I'll forgive it though, with the rest it was able to enable.

  17. ISO #267
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Saw the gif and definitely enjoyed it, but there wasn't any real context in which I could have used it during the group stage, (un?)fortunately.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  18. ISO #268
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 3, Part XI: Zimmermann's Revenge


    In January 1917, at the height of World War I, British Naval Intelligence intercepted a coded transmission (sent over American lines!) from Germany, with the intended destination of Mexico. The telegram, originally sent by German Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann, requested that Mexico declare war on the USA in exchange for financial support and guaranteeing Mexico select territories in the peace negotiations. After the British showed the intercepted and decoded message to the Americans, and subsequently after its contents became public, the American people became outraged. What became known as the Zimmermann Telegram was one of the major catalysts for the USA's declaration of war against Germany later in 1917.

    Over a century later, the USA and Germany would again do battle with Mexico as a proxy, and the stakes were no less severe: our soccer teams were facing off in the World Cup Round of 16, at Estadio Azteca in Mexico.



    Despite all of my preparatory efforts to keep the players rested, we were still in worse shape than the Germans. Gee, my top striker, remained out with a concussion. He would be available if we made it to the quarterfinals, but not before. Jeff Escobar, my right winger, had picked up two yellow cards in two matches and thus had to sit this one out. Additionally, the above picture didn't show this, but midfielder Alfredo Laudato was still a little gimpy from a brusied ankle he had picked up in the last match against Japan.

    Finally, a day before the match, striker Josh Colon picked up a bruised ankle of his own in training. He could still play, but only coming off the bench. When match day came, I sent out a lineup of Musah ; Jones, Espinosa, Norberto ; S. Hernández, Carillo ; Phillip, Triche, Phillips ; Escobedo, Spearing.



    Germany, for their part, were so blessed at the striker position, they could afford to leave five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ludger Schade on the bench in favor of Dortmund dynamo Domink Lenz, whom the game describes as a "pacy hitman" - and it took me only a few minutes for me to realize how accurate of a description this was.





    I knew we had to hunker down and make sure that Lenz couldn't beat us too badly, not to mention give Germany's two wingers trouble, but this was no longer the group stages. Unlike the France match, a draw wouldn't do much for us. So, while still making some tweaks to make sure that our defense wouldn't be overmatched, I set our mentality back to the usual "counter" as opposed to the "defensive" that had worked for us against the French.

    Through thirty minutes, we were in the game. We had ceded possession to Germany, yes, but this was by design. Second striker Emre Türkmen got forced out of the game and Germany had to burn a sub on him (Schade still did not enter) five minutes into the match. The first highlight the match engine showed me was our 19-year-old Alan Phillip seeing some daylight at the top of the box and sizzling a shot aimed at the bottom right corner that goalkeeper Tomislav Ivic had to work for to keep out.

    But that was the only real offense that our side could muster in the first half. At halftime, Germany used both of their remaining subs, and I was sensing an opportunity.



    However, it was Germany who started to turn up the heat. Lenz, more than once, blew past Rees Jones into the box for them. However, he was so fast that there was nobody to cross the ball to, and considering he was at a bad angle to the goal, all he could really do was make sure that Musah wasn't caught unprepared (Musah was not).

    I started making subs of my own: Alan Phillip, who had never played a match at anything coming close to this intensity in his career, came off for Juan Wallace. I was weighing in my head the point I would risk telling the team to go for it at the expense of defensive solidity. 60 minutes in was too early.

    A minute later, Germany had a throw-in in their own territory. I had made especially sure to drill our players in handling defensive set pieces, as that had always been a weak point for us and the reason why a much better USA team was knocked out by England in the semifinals four years ago. Thankfully, this group appeared to be up to the challenge, and Norberto made two absolutely heroic tackles to keep the score even at zero.



    Soon after, I decided that was enough of a wakeup call to get going, but it took our guys a little bit to get engaged. Hernández and Carrillo shored up our defense, to be sure, but neither really offered much on the attack, and Spearing and Escobedo were often left isolated as the German defenders were able to handle any long balls that came their way.

    In the 73rd minute, Germany got another setpiece: this time a corner kick. Tobias Kirschbaum, the kicker, sent it in short to striker Tomasz Zielinski, who straight-up outjumped his marker (nothing I could do about that one, tactically) to head the ball on. Scott Hernández, manning the far post, was able to clear it off the line, but it fell at the feat of Arsenal defender Tjorben Kotuljac, who slammed it home. 1-0 Germany.



    Now it was time to go on the attack. Gimpy ankle or not, Josh Colon was still a striker on the bench at a time we needed to score, and I summoned him in favor of Matthew Triche. We were going to let it fly and hope that some combination of Colon, Spearing, and Escobedo would make magic happen.

    Kotuljac, who had already scored for Germany, now reverted to his primary role as a defender and helped ensure that his goal would be the difference. The final fifteen minutes of the match were some of the most frustrating that I've ever played, as Germany simply stifled our attacks and made sure that no chances of quality were ever produced.

    Content to simply see the game out, they battered us down without ever threatening us again, and the match ended with a final score of 1-0. We were out of the World Cup.





    ---

    I don't think there was any way we were ever beating Germany, no matter what tactical approach I took. When we tried a smart, defensive approach, Germany simply wore us down and got what they needed in the end without giving us a real chance to equalize. Had I gone with a more offensive strategy, I'm sure that Dominik Lenz would have absolutely carved our defense up, as many lesser strikers on lesser teams have in this cycle already.

    Eight years ago, after our loss to Mexico, I was devastated. Four years ago, I was saddened by the Golden Generation's last hurrah, but understanding. Now, I'm just puzzled. We had a defensive approach to the World Cup and thus avoided embarrassment, but did we really develop or progress? We scored four goals across four matches: one each from Escobedo, Spearing, Cantú, and Colon. None of those except for Spearing will probably be on the team four years from now. We beat Colombia and got a $#@!house draw against France, but lost to Japan in a match I openly did not care about and then didn't really show enough against Germany.

    This cycle was always going to be a learning experience for our younger generation. Did four games in Mexico teach them enough? We have four years to find out. Next cycle is when they'll theoretically be peaking, and I do not want to waste it.



    ---

    Around the World Cup:

    Mexico defeated England on penalties and advance to the quarterfinals, where they face... Germany. This proves once and for all that this game is unscripted, since if there was any justice in the world that would have been us instead. Aside from that, the knockout round has so far been more interesting than the group stage, with Ecuador, Wales, and Scotland all recording upsets over much more traditional powers and remaining alive. I feel a little left out.





    Quarterfinal, semifinal, and final results will be featured in the next update. As for me, I'm going to take my customary short break since the cycle has ended, and then dive back in. The 2042 World Cup takes place in Portugal, and I aim to be a contender.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  19. ISO #269
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    Ouch, but Germany is a good team. Like you said, maybe just nothing that could be done. At least it was only 1-0.

    Also wow at Scotland and Wales advancing.

  20. ISO #270
    Wants It More LanMisa's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Location
    German Democratic Republic (former)
    Posts
    7,462
    Timezone
    UTC+01:00
    Community
    Forum Paradox
    Gender
    To be honest, the Mexico game might have ended in an embarrassment, to be frank, since Mexico seems to be more talented and should be even more motivated playing at home. Losing to a strong German team by one goal is not... fun, but as you said yourself, there was naught that could be done here. Their "reserve striker" alone seems to have a higher net worth than the USA combined during this tournament after all.

    I hope that some new talents appear in the meantime and that we get another Olympics qualifier and I am looking forward to the next World Cup!

  21. ISO #271
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Alright, the mourning period is over. As the World War I general who was just notified that his son was killed in action put it: we continue, gentlemen.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  22. ISO #272
    Season 5 Champion GeneralHankerchief's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    On a pirate ship
    Posts
    9,706
    Timezone
    UTC-05:00
    Community
    Totalwar.org (The Org)
    AKA
    GH, Fuchs
    Gender
    Cycle 4, Part I: Trust the Process

    First up: World Cup results! They must be seen to be believed.

    Quarterfinals results:





    Germany ended Mexico's dream of winning on home soil, Brazil edged France and got revenge for their defeats in the late 90s and early 2000s, Italy finished off Wales's Cinderella run... but Scotland blew out Ecuador! Well, Ecuador was one of the weaker opponents in the quarters, surely they would meet their match in Brazil, right?

    Semifinals results?:





    I said a lot about Brazil potentially being Back this cycle, and they *did* make it to the semis, but good lord! A 4-1 defeat against Scotland? We played Scotland in the one pre-tournament friendly we had and won, and we were not a good team! What on earth is going on??!?! Meanwhile, in a rematch of the 1970 Game of the Century at Azteca, in the very same building, Italy repeated the result in another dramatic showdown.

    Third place match result:



    Germany attained their second consecutive third place finish, topping Brazil by the same score they beat us with in the Round of 16.

    Final match result (can Scotland do it?):



    I was so disappointed when I saw that Italy had pulled it out. Nothing against the Italians, but them falling to Scotland in the World Cup final would probably have been the funniest goddamn thing I've ever seen in FM, and I've got around 5,000 hours logged across all games in the series.

    ---

    It was a rough cycle for Team USA, but Scotland's miracle run gave me hope. Scotland isn't even a fully-fledged country; if they could take down such giants as Brazil and get a little bit of luck with the draw, then surely we could as well. And then, in the final match... well, I'll match my tactical acumen against the AI any day of the week. Fine margins, and we've seen just how fine they are time and again here.

    ---

    But let's move closer to home. In real life, I was born and raised in the general Philadelphia area in the United States. My sports fandom was developed in this environment, and as a result I count myself as a fan of all the Philadelphia sports teams - including, for basketball, the Philadelphia 76ers.

    The past decade for 76ers fans has been a wild one. They spent the first few years of the 2010s mired in mediocrity, generally either barely missing out on the playoffs or barely making them only to suffer a swift exit at the hands of more talented teams. This is exactly the place you don't want to be in as a basketball fan, as there's little hope of your team getting good enough on its own to get over the hump, but they're also too good to have a truly bad year and thus improve their fortunes by way of a really good player obtained in the draft. It's called purgatory, and it saps the life out of you.

    Well, in 2013, the new Sixers ownership group got fed up with this perpetual mediocrity and hired a bright young executive to run the team as General Manager, one Sam Hinkie. Hinkie, more of a numbers guy than a basketball, promptly took the team's best players and scrapped them for whatever he could get. He racked up a ton of draft picks, used them, traded others for still more draft picks, and started working his magic. In essence, he and the Sixers tanked harder than any team had ever tanked before (god bless the lack of relegation in American professional sports).

    The team was bad, by design. All of the holes in the roster were filled out by spare parts picked up for cheap. If the players sucked, no biggie. If they turned out to be decent, he kept them around or - more likely - turned around and sold them for even more draft picks. The Sixers were incredibly bad during those years, but Hinkie (and later, the rest of the team as well as certain sections of the fanbase) adapted a mantra: Trust the Process.


    Behind the mantra was an implication: Sure, we suck now, and this is by design, because we're going to use this time to acquire the players who will not just let us be good, but great. And indeed, the Sixers were so terrible that they got access to some really high draft picks: some of them were busts, but others, particularly one Joel Embiid, turned into a superstar.

    Alas, Sam Hinkie did not survive to see his plan come to fruition. The NBA as a whole has always tacitly looked the other way at tanking teams, but the Sixers job was simply too blatant to ignore. Hinkie was partially forced out of power by ownership, under pressure from the commissioner, and shortly after that he resigned, realizing he was in an untenable situation. Hinkie had shepherded the team through hell, but the even more critical part - the ascent - was out of his hands.

    ---

    The ascent for the Sixers has gone okay. There's no doubt that they're one of the marquee teams in the NBA now, led by stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, but the succession of GMs after Hinkie have made several horrifying missteps along the way that's made every Sixers fan wonder "what if?".

    Team USA is at the critical period where Hinkie got forced out now. Our lean years were still pretty decent, categorized by a trip to the knockout round in the World Cup and a Gold Cup win, but there's no doubt that they were still lean. This is not satisfying who won everything there was to win with Cartagena and came so close to tasting glory with the previous generation of American players.

    Luckily, I'm still in charge. There will be continuity. I know exactly which of the generation I can trust, which of them the jury's still out on, and which of them can be replaced as soon as is feasible. I know the exact strengths and weaknesses of our formations and will potentially be looking to make a change, and why I'd be making a change should I choose to go that route. I have a plan and I'm going to see it through, which is more than can be said of the 76ers.

    This is what's on the agenda for this cycle:
    • Rest of 2038: Friendlies. Blood some more players, see which older players can be phased out, basically mark time.
    • 2039: Gold Cup. Last hurrah for some older players, first real test against Mexico this cycle. Two shots to qualify for the Confederations Cup - either win the Gold Cup final and bypass the playoff, or *don't* win the final and try to do it via the playoff.
    • 2039-40: Olympic qualifiers. I will not have direct control over our U23 team, but should we make it to the Olympics I will absolutely run the team again, since this is rapidly becoming an extremely important tournament for us.
    • 2040-41: The meat of World Cup qualifiers. By this point, all of the older players: Emmanuel Musah, Patrick Escobedo, Josh Colon, Liam Espinosa, potentially Luke Gee, should be not only off the team but fully replaced by younger counterparts. Start getting a better idea of who's going to the next World Cup and who's a likely starter.
      2041: Next Gold Cup (potentially next Confederations Cup as well): No holds barred, hopefully we're at a competitive level at this point where we can stand and deliver against the better teams in each tournament.
      2041-42: Finalize rosters heading into Judgement Day.


    If all goes well, hopefully the team will be on the level it was in the first World Cup I took charge of, back in 2030 where we made it to the quarterfinals. Maybe even better. We'll see if my eye towards the current young players was correct by how high their peak is.

    As for the even younger players, the batch that I've only started to blood, my scouts really like their potential, but scouts have been known to overstate potential a great many times in the past. That's what I'm for.

    It's going to be an interesting four years, hopefully mostly a "productive" interesting moreso than a Chinese-style "may you live in interesting times" curse kind of interesting. Let us begin.
    Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; Today at 12:21 AM.
    Lenny - Today at 10:08 AM
    Atpg sometimes the paragraphs you write are pretty good


    Looking to waste an afternoon? Vamos Cartagena - Football Manager 2018 AAR (complete!)
    The sequel to the above: An American Manager in America (in progress)

  23. ISO #273
    Soul Reader OrangeP47's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    2,034
    Timezone
    UTC-06:00
    Community
    W3D Hub
    Gender
    Scotland always seems to hit above its weight in FM, so in a way that run doesn't surprise me. In my game, for club competitions, they managed to secure two group stage CL positions for awhile, though I've noticed when countries do that, the influx of a lower quality team, and the fact that the country they just knocked out now has their better teams in the EL instead of the CL, typically mean that state of affairs doesn't last. Oh well.

    Looking forward to the Gold Cup. I know I said same old same old vs Mexico was getting dull, but it feels like it's about time for another rival matchup.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Keyboard Shortcuts

about us
Mafia Universe is a community hub for people who enjoy playing the forum variant of Mafia (also known as Werewolf). We offer fully automated Mafia games and a wide variety of customized features crafted to optimize your game experience. We also proudly host the Internet's only database of Mafia/Werewolf communities.

We hope you stick around!
Role of the Day
Peeping Tom

The Peeping Tom may each night target a player to learn if they were visited by someone that night.