Is there parity in the PFL?

The Philippines Football League is set to start on May the 6th with its curtain raiser in thKaya-Ceres match at the University of Makati Stadium. With the existence of supposed ‘super’ teams in the league, the average filipino football fans asks: Is there parity in the PFL?

If we look at pre-season friendlies and training matches, no PFL team has come out unbeaten. Global and Ceres have been beaten by Stallion. JP Voltes has made easy work of Ceres. Loyola beat Ilocos but the northern squad has also beat Stallion who also beat the Meralco-backed squad. The results seem to be promising but do these practice games really tell the big picture?

Typical practice game sessions consists of two thirty-minute sessions with another twenty-minute one to complete the match. Clubs can play whatever combination they like in those periods and are usually not required to play the first team. There was one instance when Loyola played a team full of tryout attendees where one period saw Loyola fielding in a foreign eleven and a filipino eleven in another. Practice game sessions are usually used to test players and experiment on combinations that a club can use.

Pre-Season tournaments carry more weight as teams are exposed into a real match scenarios. The Stallion invitational early in the year was a good way for the clubs to gauge their teams performance in a competition environment. The hosts came out as winners of the pocket tournament which they won in extra time against a toughened Meralco squad. The win catapulted Stallion as contenders in the league but it also showed that that other teams can really catch up especially Loyola who they have played tough matches and Ilocos who have beaten Stallion in a separate match.

So what about these ‘heavyweights’? Ceres has announced the signing of Stephan Schröck this week. The Bacolod giants add another piece to what is deemed a very deep lineup where some online football fans regard the move as ‘overkill’. Global was deemed to have won the foreign player lottery with quality signings that compliment a strong first eleven. The added combiantion of Wesley dos Santos, Shu Sasaki, and Darryl Roberts have been instrumental in bringing them to first place in their AFC Cup group.

These clubs have achieved some improbable wins against regional heavyweights in the AFC Cup. Global has beaten Johor Darul Ta’zaim while Ceres has dumped Hanoi FC in their home matches. What our AFC Cup representatives have done has been nothing short of a miracle.

So does this mean the other teams are short changed given Ceres and Global’s AFC Cup success? I don’t think it is the case. The rest of the teams have the upper hand in scouting the ‘favorites’ and at this point already know how to beat them.

Last year’s United Football League had its fair share of title-changing results. Green Archers United put then Ceres-La Salle on its knees while JP Voltes brought Global down to earth with big wins. The win by the Archers altered the title chase gifting Global with a cushion comfortable enough for them to seal the 2016 UFL title. This year is no different.

So is there parity in the PFL? I would say yes. With all the teams consolidating this year together with the unpredictability of pre-season results, we can safely say that were up for a surprise in this inaugural season. 

[April Fools] Philippine Football League delayed to 2018

The upcoming Philippine Football League will be delayed to January 2018 according to a source in the Philippines Football Federation. The league was slated to start this April but was moved because of a major issue.

“We encountered a roadblock for the opening match,” said an anonymous source inside the federation. “We want to make this a very good opening for the league but met an unexpected challenge along the way,” the source added.

An interview with the interested teams also welcomed the delay of the league. “We cant move forward unless this problem is resolved,” said a team manager who requests for anonymity. “I mean we love the sport and we play football week in and week out and we but the federation needs to resolve the issue first before we start the league,” the team manager added.

Unconfirmed reports say that the Federation was planning an opening show in the grandest scale with song and dance numbers from top Filipino celebrities and international artists prior to the opening match. The opening however hit a snag when two teams fought over Lisa Soberano as the team muse in opening day. The issue is largely blamed to the actress’ manager whose a verbal commitment was secured by one team, but offered Lisa to another after cash was offered on the spot.

“It’s very ugly. I’m not talking about Lisa, I’m talking about situation” said the Philippines Football Federation source. “The teams have gone to court and hopefully it will be resolved on time for the opening. I hope it doesn’t reach the Supreme Court. Lisa is a very very beautiful actress and we want her to be in our opening day”. The actress nor the manager could not be reached for comment.

The Philippine Football League is not related to the Philippines Football League of the Philippine Football Federation. The Philippines Football Federation is a federation of American Football enthusiasts in the Philippines and must not be confused with the Philippine Football Federation that is involved with Soccer.

 

 

July-August 2015 UFL Power Rankings

The Perfect Pass presents the final edition of the 2015 United Football League Power Rankings.  This monthly feature will showcase who’s hot and who’s not in the Philippines’ top football league.

 

#9 Team Socceroo [ Last month: #9 ]

0 Points (0 Wins, 0 Draws, 5 Losses)

With no wins to show for in the last few weeks allowing 25 goals in the process, the Paranaque based squad will have a lot to work on for next years competition.  Socceroo will have to shape up with Laos FC coming into the first division.

#8 Pachanga-Diliman [ Last month: #8 ]
4 Points (1 Wins, 1 Draw, 3 Losses)

The Diliman-based squad earned four points with a win against Socerroo and a high scoring draw against Jeepney with all losses coming from the the top teams.  Pachanga has shown some flashes of brilliance this season considering many of their players shift from their day jobs to the league during game days.

#7 Green Archers United [ Last month: #1 ]
4 points (1 Win, 1 Draws, 3 Losses)

The Archers were brought down to earth this period as tough fixtures against the league’s top teams.  Though trailing with Pachanga in goal difference, United is up in the rankings because of their impressive draw with Stallion which eased the title race in Ceres’ favor.

#6 Manila Jeepney [ Last month: #3 ]
5 Points (1 Win, 2 Draws, 2 Losses)

Though falling to three places from last months ranking, Jeepney continued to surprise with their league altering draw with Global and their second round finale defeat of Ceres.  There is still some improvement needed defensively for them to push for a better place next season.

#5 Stallion [ Last month: #6 ]
7 points (2 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Losses)

Up one spot in the rankings, Stallion will have a lot to think about as points dropped in the first half of June made a big difference for their title aspirations considering they were in second place after the first round.  Though the finish is not what they wanted, the team is still commendable for their trust in young players throughout the tournament.

#4 Kaya [ Last month: #5 ]
9 points (3 Wins, 0 Draws, 3 Losses)

Kaya had a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance this period which did not help them with their title aspirations.  The LBC squad lost in their final chance for a league title after being beaten by eventual champions Ceres in their July meeting but their narrow losses against Stallion and Global made it difficult for them to lock the number two spot.

#3 Global [ Last month: #4 ]
12 points (3 Wins, 3 Draws, 0 Losses)

Coming from behind to draw Ceres was a great feat, but their draw with Jeepney became their stumbling block from snatching away the title.  Though being unbeaten for the last six games put them in 2nd place, the result of the current protest against them may have an effect on the final order of the league.

#2 Ceres-La Salle [ Last month: #2 ]
13 points (4 Wins, 1 Draw, 1 Loss)

With Ceres allowing Global to come back and draw them, the title race became interesting early July.  But due to results of other matches, Ceres virtually sealed the deal when they disposed of a tough Kaya squad.  Their final day loss against Jeepney is the reason why they are just in second place.

#1 Loyola [ Last month: #7 ]
13 points (4 Wins, 1 Draw, 0 Losses)

The biggest mover of this periods rankings, Loyola have made a good account of themselves after getting good results and being unbeaten in the process.  Beating Stallion and drawing Global were the highlights giving them number one spot for the final Power Ranking period for this year.

You can also view a summarized table for the league’s Big 5 Teams here: 2015 UFL First Division Big 5 League Table

Hope you enjoyed this monthly feature. See you next year!

By Ivan Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)

June 2015 UFL Power Rankings

The Perfect Pass presents the June edition of the 2015 United Football League Power Rankings.  This monthly feature will showcase who’s hot and who’s not in the Philippines’ top football league.

#10 Philippine Army [ Last month: #10 ]
Withdrawn

The last Armed Forces squad in the First Division has pulled out from all UFL competitions.  There is still no official announcement on the matter but it is expected that only nine teams will continue to play in the first division this year.  It is safe to say that Army is already relegated to the second division.

#9 Team Socceroo [ Last month: #9 ]

0 Points (0 Wins, 0 Draws, 3 Losses)

Team Socceroo had their worst month having three successive loses from big margins with no goals to show.  The Paranaque-squad is currently at the bottom of the standings and will definitely need to improve their defense to get better results.

#8 Pachanga-Diliman [ Last month: #7 ]
1 Point (0 Wins, 1 Draw, 2 Losses)

The Diliman-based squad did lose two games with big margins this month but their surprise draw with Global is the highlight of their season sofar.  A few more surprise performances would be good for the squad.

#7 Loyola [ Last month: #5 ]
3 points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 2 Losses)

After getting another hammering from Ceres and an epic collapse against Kaya, the reigning UFL Cup winners simply had their worst month this season.  It will be hard for the Meralco squad to get back on contention for the league title and must bounce back to finish at higher position.

#6 Stallion [ Last month: #2 ]
3 points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 2 Losses)

An end game loss to Global and a surprise defeat against Jeepney means that the former #2 team is our biggest drop this month. Stallion are now at the bottom of the now 4-team horse race to the title.  The former UFL double winners would need to rekindle their first half form to have a crack on the title.

#5 Kaya [ Last month: #4 ]
3 points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

The LBC-backed squad dropped one notch to #5 after splitting their June assignments.  Their 0-2 loss to the Archers have put them in a setback for the title race but their come from behind win against Loyola could jumpstart their final push for the season.

#4 Global [ Last month: #3 ]
4 points (1 Win, 1 Draws, 0 Losses)

Their come from behind win against Stallion proved to be the highlight of the month but their injury time draw with Pachanga partly negated that win.  Global’s points may be in jeopardy as the tagging of Hikaru Minigeshi as an ineligible player by Stallion Coach Ernie Nierras may be a serious issue for the squad.

#3 Manila Jeepney [ Last month: #8 ]
6 Points (2 Wins, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

The Jeepney squad earned the highest rise for this month, highlighted by their win against title contenders Stallion FC.  It was an impressive run from the beep-beep squad who narrowly lost to the streaking Green Archers where a win would have catapulted them to a #1 rank for this month.

#2 Ceres-La Salle [ Last month: #1 ]
6 points (2 Wins, 0 Draws, 0 Losses)

Ceres slid down to number two because of the Green Archers’ impressive performance but the Bacolod squad has some impressive wins this month as well.  Winning two games with a five goal average and highlighted by the 6-1 trashing of Loyola, the bus men are now favorites to clinch the League title.  With a 6-point gap from the nearest contender with one less game, the fate of the league leaders are now in their hands (or for football’s case, feet).

#1 Green Archers United [ Last month: #6 ]
9 points (3 Wins, 0 Draws, 0 Losses)

On target this July, the red-hot Green Archers are on fire scoring 14 goals this month.  After a 9-5 shootout with Pachanga, the green and white squad beat contender Kaya 2-0 and ended their June campaign with a tight win against Jeepney.  United has played much better with some players missing and are now gearing up for the tough July fixtures.

You can also view a summarized table for the league’s Big 5 Teams here: 2015 UFL First Division Big 5 League Table

By Ivan Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)

Marañon hat-trick powers Ceres-La Salle in dominating win over Loyola Meralco

By Ivan Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)

Newcomer Bienvenido Marañon scored a brilliant hat trick as Ceres-La Salle FC came from a goal down to demolish Loyola-Meralco Sparks 6-1.  National Player Patrick Reichelt scored a brace while substitute Jeffrey Christaens completed the tally for Ceres.

Loyola started the game with intensity which was highlighted by the 18th minute foal from new signing Bradley Grayson. The Meralco backed-squad was rewarded for their early pressure when Grayson broke free from the defense to put up a shot which was tapped by Ceres Keeper Louis Michael Casas but eventually went in.

It wasn’t long after when Ceres’ Reichelt found himself in a similar situation in the 25th minute.  The Azkals mainstay shot was tapped by Loyola’s Tomas Trigo but the ball still found its way to the bottom corner for the equalizer.

A handball in front of the goal in the 26th minute forced referee Linjun Talaver to call for a penalty against the Sparks which Marañon cooly converted for his first goal and the Ceres lead.

The Spanish player doubled his output in the dying minutes of the first half when he scored from the narrowest of angles to make it 3-1 for the Bacolod squad.  The Loyola keeper expected a Marañon   cross from the goal line but was surprised by a strike which went between him and the first post.

Twelve minutes after halftime, Reichelt broke away from the Sparks defense after a Marañon delivery to score the fourth goal for Ceres. Loyola also had their chances but the resolute Ceres backline and the timely saves of Casas prevented them from getting another goal.

Marañon completed his hat trick in the 71st minute. He also added in assist the the 85th when he cut back a goal-line cross to an onrushing Christaens who completed the demolition of Loyola with their sixth goal.

The 29-year old spanish player who last played for UD Socuellamos in Segunda B – Group 2, the third tier football league in Spain, proved that he was a game changer and a great signing for the USLS-affiliated squad.

It was an emphatic win for the Bacolod squad who were a bit rusty early in the game after to a month long layoff.  The win cements their lead temporarily to six points from number two team Stallion FC who still has a game in hand against Global.

Loyola will play Team Socceroo while Ceres will lock horns with the Pachanga for a midweek clash on June 23.

In the first game, Green Archers United outplayed Pachanga Diliman 9-5 in the highest ever goal output for a first division game this year. Robert Lopez Mendy topscored for the Archers who are

The second half of league play was shortened due to the pullout of Philippine Army FC from which effectively ends the relegation battle between Army and Socceroo.

 

 

 

April 2015 UFL Power Rankings

The Perfect Pass presents the April edition of the 2015 United Football League Power Rankings.  This monthly feature will showcase who’s hot and who’s not in the Philippines’ top football league.

#10 Philippine Army [ Last month: #10 ]
0 Points (0 Wins, 0 Draws, 2 Losses)

With no points having to show for this month, the Army men are in deep bottom with a point. They will need to get more out of the transfer window in order to get past Manila Jeepney who is second from the bottom ahead by a solitary point.

#9 Team Socceroo [ Last month: #9 ]

3 Points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 2 Losses)

Socceroo got their first win against the lowly Army squad but are still second bottom after getting two losses in the same month.  It is inevitable that the relegation showdown will happen with Army but psychological advantage is with the Paranaque-based squad

#8 Manila Jeepney [ Last month: #8 ]

3 Points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

A win against Team Socceroo this month is a good confidence booster for Jeepney but the ten-goal trashing from Global will remove all the gains for this leaving them still in eight place.  Losing Taher to Global will not help them in the second round but having five points will be a good buffer for them to avoid relegation

#7 Pachanga-Diliman [ Last month: #6 ]
3 Points (1 Wins, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

The Diliman based squap drops one spot to seven in this months ranking.  A win against Army was negated by a loss to Green Archers.  Pachanga currently has seven points after the first round and will need more to keep their standing in the league.

#6 Green Archers United [ Last month: #5 ]
3 points (1 Win, 0 Draws, 2 Losses)

The Green and White squad have the same points but have more losses than Pachanga, but the former has the higher rank based on their head to head performance. Losing by the same tight scoreline against top teams in Ceres and Stallion

#5 Loyola  [ Last month: #3 ]

1 point (1 Win, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

After getting a hammering from Ceres and surviving with a draw against Kaya, Loyola drops to number five this month and is currently the lowest of the Big 5 teams.  The sending off of Phil Younghusband will not help their cause in the next round and the whole team should step up for them to be in contention for the league title.

#4 Kaya  [ Last month: #2 ]

1 point (1 Win, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

The LBC-backed squad had a month to forget as they have performed poorly and settle for a point for this month.  Their loss to Stallion right after the departure of their manager was their lowest point in the month which was compounded after their draw against 10-man Loyola.  Kaya has to improve fast in order for the team to maintain its contention of the title.

#3 Global [ Last month: #7 ]

6 points (2 Wins, 0 Draws, 0 Losses)

The drubbing of Socceroo and an emphatic win against league leaders Ceres-La Salle makes global the biggest jumper for this month.  Inspired by their AFC Cup win and having healthy players back, Global showed the whole league its true strength and have cast themselves back as one of the title favorites of the league.

 #2 Stallion [ Last month: #4 ]

6 points (2 Wins, 0 Draws, 0 Losses)

The other undefeated team this month aside from Global, Stallion highlighted its month with the drubbing of Kaya and their last minute win against Archers.  Also the number two team in the standings, Stallion have shown the quality to finish games and match up with the best opposition in the league.

#1 Ceres-La Salle [ Last month: #1 ]

9 points (3 Wins, 0 Draws, 1 Loss)

Ceres maintains top spot this month after earning nine months this months because of wins against Archers, Loyola, and Socceroo.  Their massive loss against Global proved that they are infallible and that the top spot will be up for grabs in the second round.  With the UFL arms race coming to its end, it will be interesting to see how the current league leaders perform against toughened opposition.

You can also view a summarized table for the league’s Big 5 Teams here: 2015 UFL First Division Big 5 League Table

By Ivan Gayares (@ivangeoffrey)

Ceres outclass Loyola to claim seventh straight win

Ceres continued its spectacular run of form after beating Loyola Meralco Spark 5-2 last Saturday night in their seventh UFL League match.  Adrian Gallardo Valdes scored a hat-trick to lead all scorers in the game with Patrick Reichelt and Martin Steuble adding one goal each.  Phil Younghusband and Adam Mitter both scored the goals for Loyola.


Photo c/o Ceres-La Salle FC FB Page

Ceres started out strong in the first ten minutes forcing corners but Loyola had the first shot when Anthony Putrus-Schnell tried to curl in a shot which hit the side netting. In the 13th minute James Younghusband had a header from corner but Ceres keeper Louis Michael Casas safely tipped it over the bar. Loyola was without their first choice keeper in Tomas Trigo who is injured and had young keeper Enrique Montserrat to start in his place.

The Bacolod squad had it first clear chance when a cross from Orman Okunaiya was glanced by Kyum Son Cho towards Gallardo but his follow up header went over the bar. The Younghusband brothers showed great chemistry highlighted by great passing but the finishing touch was not there.

The tie was broken in the 20th when Manny Ott delivered a cross which again grazed Cho’s head with the ball ending up with Gallardo who buried the shot into the bottom corner. Six minutes after Ott provided a short corner to an open Martin Steuble but his left footed screamer when wide.

A minute after, Patrick Riechelt ran for forty yards from the right flank which led to a one-on-one with the keeper but the narrow angle made it difficult for him to finish. The La Salle affiliated squad had better control and possession which limited the chances of Loyola.  Phil Younghusband had a chance in the half-hour mark but he skied the resulting free kick.

The game became very physical as yellow cards were given in the latter part of the second half. Three minutes before halftime, Ceres made it 2-0 when Martin Steuble found Patrick Reichelt who had enough space to finish his first goal.

The Negros-based squad were again the aggressors at the start of the second half as they pressed Loyola even if they were two goals up.  Manny Ott tried to test the keeper with a long strike but his shot was way over the bar in the 49th.  The Vallacar Transit-backed squad showed great passing and technique and in the first fifteen minutes to frustrate Loyola.

Loyola had another chance in front of goal in the 61st but Adam Mitter’s chance went wide after connecting from a corner. Seven minutes later Martin Steuble made it 3-0 for Ceres with a strike from twenty five yards out. Ott played his free kick short to Steuble who again had plenty of space in the middle of the park to curl in a left footed screamer to the top corner.

Loyola hit back a minute fter when Phil Younghusband shot from the top of the box towards the top corner to make the score 3-1.  The Ceres defense were in protest of the goal as their was an apparent ‘non-call’ on Loyola just before the fourth goal.

The Sparks made it interesting in the 73rd when subsitute Joo Young Lee provide a cross and Adam Mitter made no mistake the second time around to head in his teams’ second.  They had another dangerous chance 4 minutes after when Phil Younghusband took a free kick from outside to box only for it to be punched out by Casas in the last minute.

Ceres sealed the deal in the 80th minute when Reicheldt broke away in the right flank and beautifully curls in a cross towards a waiting Adrian Gallardo who calmly picks his spot to head in his second goal. Minutes later, Sparks Coach Simon McMenemy was sent off following his assistant who was also sent off in the first half.

Things got testy again just before the 90th with a skirmish between Eddie Mallari and Mari Angeles.  Lots of pushing and shoving occurred in the sequence but no yellow card was given by the referee Wilfredo Bermejo.

In injury time, Phil Younghusband had another crack from a free kick on top of the box but his shot was cleared by Juani Guirado.  Adrian Gallardo completed his hat trick three minutes into injury time after heading in a cross from Nate Burkey.  Burkey got past his defender in the left flank and salvaged a cross from the goal line which went directly to Gallardo whose goal restored their initial three goal advantage.

Ceres maintained it unbeaten run in the tournament with its two remaining fixtures in the first half of the league against Global and Team Socceroo.  Loyola meanwhile incurred their second loss and is in solo third at the moment.  Gallardo is still the top scorer of the league with ten goals followed by Mark Hartmann with seven

The first two matches in the day were blow outs as Team Socceroo walloped Army 4-0 while Global destroyed Manila Jeepney with a 10-1 scoreline.