For the first two entries of STAT BOX STORIES using FIFA 12, I decided to stick with European teams who have long histories and large fanbases. For this week’s entry, I decided to keep things a little bit closer to home, pitting two of the top teams in Major League Soccer against one another as the MLS Cup Final awaits later on this month. The Los Angeles Galaxy–a team featuring well-known soccer stars like David Beckham and Landon Donovan–won the Supporters’ Shield for the 2011 season as the team with the highest point total from the regular season. The only team in the MLS which finished anywhere near the Galaxy was Seattle Sounders FC, who trailed the Galaxy by only four points and had earned 10 more points on the season that the next winningest team in the league. Taking control of the Seattle squad in this West Coast soccer tilt would prove a good start to the domestic soccer coverage in this blog series.
As with yesterday’s game in NHL 12 for STAT BOX STORIES, I was more than aware that the squad I was in control of sat at a disadvantage in terms of many of the ratings categories which can be compared between teams in FIFA 12. With a less talented squad on the pitch, I would need a great effort in goal from Kasey Keller–an American legend in goalkeeping–to keep the game close enough to earn a chance at the underdog victory. Unfortunately for me–and symptomatic of my time with FIFA 12 so far–I was unable to score the first goal of the game, watching helplessly as Los Angeles striker Robbie Keane put home a rebound after his initial shot deflected off the goalpost.
Facing a 1-0 deficit at the end of the first half, I knew that I would have to put forth a solid effort in the latter half of the game to try and equalize the score line. Just three minutes into the second half, I earned a throw in deep in Los Angeles territory and quickly scooped up the ball to try and get the ball back into play before the defense could run back into position. While typically I’m not very successful at making plays off of a throw-in, this time I was able to be successful.
Unfortunately, my highlight reel goal did not stand up very long. After a Galaxy header went out of bouds, I had a goal kick and decided to pass the ball short to attempt to burn some time off of the clock and secure a better hold of possession. My pass attempt was too slow, however, and Robbie Keane was able to chip the ball past Keller for his second goal of the game and a late 2-1 lead.
Trying to avoid my mistake from last week’s game of FIFA 12, I used substitutions in the midfield and striker positions in the 79th minute to get fresh legs onto the pitch. Even though I was able to generate some more shot attempts, it began to appear as though the game would end in a 2-1 loss. Then, in a situation eerily reminiscent to the game I played previously between Manchester City and Manchester United, I was able to break free on a rush wiith Fredy Montero and score to make the game 2-2 at the last second of Full Time.
In Extra Time, there were few legitimate opportunities for much of the time. Possession stayed fairly even, and shots were difficult to come by. As the 120th minute arrived, my attempts to just clear the ball itohe Los Angeles side of the pitch to force Penalties came up short. In the last action of the match, a beautiful pass in the box to English star David Beckham resulted in a shot that could not be stopped and a literal last-minute victory for the Galaxy.
Though some players might be prompted to “rage quit” a game ending with such a situation, the play to set up that winning goal for the CPU was too beautiful to deny. And–looking at the final game stats–Los Angeles deserved the win based on how well they were able to dominate the run of the game through both shots and shots on target. The rest of the statistics were kept pretty close between the two teams, but the Galaxy had such a clear advantage in shots that I’m still amazed that I was able to force the game to go into Extra Time. As a result, it’s difficult to be all too disappointed about how the final score line ended up. That said, my passing accuracy–coming in at under 80%–illustrates a continued need for me to improve my possession and ball control so that I can better exert pressure on my opposition in FIFA 12 match-ups going forward.
Even though this blog is focused mostly on video games and statistics, there is a real story to consider with goalkeeper Kasey Keller on this occasion. The stalwart keeper played for multiple American World Cup squads and was one of the first Americans to earn regular playing time in multiple European leagues. With the Seattle Sounders FC elimination from the playoffs this season, Keller’s lengthy career has drawn to a close through retirement. With six big saves in this game, the score line could have been even more lopsided if he hadn’t been able to make clutch stops which have been so emblematic of his career.
Unfortunately, this marks another week where I’ve taken consecutive losses in my games of NHL 12 and FIFA 12. Can I again stop the losing streak in tomorrow’s game of NCAA Football 12 for STAT BOX STORIES? Come back tomorrow to see if I can lead the Baylor Bears to an upset win over college football’s preseason #1, the Oklahoma Sooners!