King Henry Leads Battle to Victory
"Come and take it."
That was the sentiment coming out of the locker room of the Alamo City Battle after this weekend's 7-4 victory against Gateway United. The Founder's Cup match up held all of the scoring, excitement, and drama that was expected. Superstar performances from both clubs made this one an instant classic. This match also illustrated why these two clubs had raced to the top of the BSL table early in the season. The offenses were on display once again, but it was the defense and coaching of Alamo City that made all the difference in this one.
"As well as we've been playing so far this season, the credit for this win goes right to the staff. They mulled over the game plan and went back and forth over the player selection. They got it right and we went out and did our jobs. The staff put the right lineup out to maximize the points this week. This is how you build a great club. Players and staff working together fluidly and making all the right moves at the right time. Tonight you saw the staff at their best." Those were the words of team captain Thierry Henry in regards to the player selection for this weeks match up. Specifically he was referring to the choice of keepers. While he hadn't recorded a save point or clean sheet so far, Kevin Hartman had been playing extremely well. That's not to say that Michael Gspurning hadn't. He'd actually gotten on the board with a clean sheet already. "You go with momentum, with form. So we did. Michael was facing a club very much in form. Kevin was as well, however they were at home and were due to break the unlucky streak and secure a shutout. He did that for us by putting in a superb performance." Indeed it was and it was that performance that provided the difference in the game despite being the first points on the board for Alamo City. His clean sheet and save point gave Alamo City a very tough to come by double score from their net minder. Gspurning did do his part as well recording a clean sheet, but the point will not go down on record.
The tactics though, weren't all from Alamo City. In the first match of the week Gateway looked as though they might have managed to sneak in a point that could decide the game. Paulo Jr took a PK for RSL and got Gateway on the board. "Completely out of the blue. Sure, we knew he'd be laying in the woods but when he took the ball from Beckerman and lined up from the spot ... we simply couldn't believe it. We were 1-0 down and a bit shocked to be honest." Immediately, Kevin Hartman stepped up and put Alamo City in position to grab hold of the match. Try as they might, Gateway couldn't bet past the Battle goalkeeper. Hartman held them at bay and grabbed two crucial points to put Alamo in the lead. "Yeah, I did my part but for a minute it looked like it wouldn't be enough," said Hartman. "Cooper came up to the plate right after me and returned the favor. He slotted two home and put Gateway right back in the lead." At that moment, the best player in the BSL this season took his turn and took control of the match for good. Thierry Henry not only answered his MLS teammate by matching his two goals, but he provided the assist for one of Cooper's goal to give the edge to Alamo City. From there, Hassli and Boyd added an assist and goal respectively to render Neilsen's clean sheet a moot point.
It was the biggest stage so far this season in the Bigtime Soccer League. The two hottest, highest scoring clubs went toe to toe. Both clubs had star players come up big. Both clubs had multiple players put points on the board. Only Alamo City though came out on top. Putting up the highest point total so far for any club this season, the Battle have firmly placed themselves at the top of the table in the early going. Now it's time to push. Now it is time for the rest of the league to "come and take it."