Even though I hate to “repeat” a team in consecutive features for STAT BOX STORIES, my narrow loss at the hands of the LA Galaxy last week in FIFA 12—combined with the fact that the Galaxy were playing the Houston Dynamo in the MLC Cup final yesterday, November 20th—allowed me to convince myself that it was okay to feature LA’s soccer team once more to begin Week 4 of this blog feature.
A national TV audience watched last night as American soccer hero Landon Donovan scored the lone tally on the way to a 1-0 victory for the LA Galaxy; taking control of the Dynamo in an attempt to avenge my last-minute loss to the Galaxy last week, I did my best to try and reverse that result in FIFA 12.
When I used the Seattle Sounders FC to take on the Galaxy last week, the match-up was skewed towards Los Angeles but not too drastically; by comparison, taking control of Houston put me at a slightly bigger disadvantage this time around. However, FIFA 12 has proven to be one of the more unpredictable games to play against the CPU AI, so I knew that I had at least some chance to emerge victorious.
I could not, however, have foreseen how I would take an early advantage in this MLS Cup rematch. In the seventh minute of the match, Los Angeles committed a foul against one of my players in the box and I was awarded a penalty kick. With a one-on-one opportunity to try and deliver an opening strike in the game, I successfully converted the opportunity with Brad Davis to go up 1-0.
Only ten minutes later, the first of a string of injuries over the course of the game occurred. Jermaine Taylor of the Dynamo had a hamstring injury and was unable to bring himself back into the game, forcing me into my earliest FIFA 12 substitution yet to avoid playing at a disadvantage in numbers. In the 35th minute, striker Brian Ching also fell injured, though he was able to return to the pitch shortly after the incident and continue to contribute to the game.
In the 45th and final minute of the opening half, I was again fouled in Los Angeles’ box and Brad Davis stepped up for another attempt at converting a penalty kick. This time, however, I was not as careful as I had been for my first attempt. With the chance to make the score line 2-0, instead my strike went high over the goal and into the stands for a horribly wasted penalty try. When the whistle blew to draw the opening half to a close, I was definitely feeling vulnerable after wasting a golden opportunity to begin to put the game out of reach.
In the early moments of the second half, it was LA’s turn to be bitten by the injury bug. Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan were forced to the sideline within minutes of one another in the 58th and 60th minutes respectively; Gonzalez’ injury was significant enough to warrant an immediate substitution, while the Galaxy waited until the 75th minute to sub for Donovan. Aside from these injuries and substitutions, however, the second half passed by without incident and I was able to cling to my 1-0 lead all the way through to Full Time to take home the victory.
When looking at the Match Facts, one of the keys to my win this week was keeping LA from getting so many shots on goal; the Galaxy finished with only a single shot on target, while I had four shots on target over the course of the game. Possession was still slanted rather heavily in favor of the CPU squad, but LA’s 2 fouls compared to my clean sheet in that category helped me in terms of keeping strong position on the pitch. My passing accuracy was again sub-par—76% compared to the Galaxy’s 87%–but I was fortunate enough in this instance that some of the careless pass attempts I made did not end up resulting in solid scoring attempts for the opposite side.
Looking at the Player Stats, Brad Davis of the Dynamo had the best numbers among the players—though he easily could have had two goals on two shots on target if I’d been able to convert the penalty kick at the end of the first half—while Brian Ching of Houston and Juninho of LA each had a single shot on target over the course of the game. Tally Hall managed a clean sheet for the Dynamo—stopping the single shot sent his way—while LA’s Donovan Ricketts stopped 3 of the 4 attempts on target in a valiant effort to keep his squad in the match.
All in all, I felt better about my defensive effort in this game compared to the lackluster three goals and multiple shots on target that were conceded in my previous match-up against the Galaxy. Though some purists may find this particular victory cheapened due to the nature of the game’s only goal—coming on a penalty—I am taking it instead as evidence that my offensive pressure is improving to the point where I am able to force the opposition to foul my players instead of letting me take advantage of goal scoring opportunities. Perhaps this is giving myself and my FIFA 12 skill-set too much credit at this stage, but my hope going forward is that I will be able to continue to put together solid efforts in this challenging game.
This brings the first entry of this Thanksgiving week to a close here at STAT BOX STORIES; be sure to come back tomorrow as the NCAA Football 12 feature will be “The Game” between the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Michigan Wolverines!