Rock, Flag, and Eagle (2-2-1) arrived at the pitch on Monday eager to shake off a heartbreaking loss to The Firm, facing off for the first time against expansion team Club Mudd. New to the league, Club Mudd sat in third place with a record of 2-1-1, comfortably in contention for playoffs.
It was a blind date. We’d never seen Club Mudd before and didn’t know what to expect. On paper, she sounded great. Her online dating profile spoke of an evolved kind of woman. A winner. She seemed charming and successful with an independent streak. What’s not to like, right? Besides, after last week, you just want to get back on the horse. You don’t have to fall in love, but it would be good to get back out there. Right?
We get to the field and think, I thought she’d be smaller, leaner. Maybe she’d have a pretty face, a button nose and full lips. But she’s got beady little eyes and a pointy chin. Her body isn’t memorable, with the exception of her legs, which start and end at the same width and can rightly be described as thankles. Thinking back, her online profile did show more of the sunset landscape than it showed her face.
But here you are. She’s only vaguely a woman, but tonight, she’s your woman. Gross.
Oh, we’re paying? In that case, she’ll have the surf and turf. And just to add insult to injury, she orders her filet well done.
As you might expect of such an audacious broad, Club Mudd came on strong. In the opening minutes of the game, Club Mudd set up a slowly rolling shot from just inside the 18 yard-line. On most nights, this is an easy save for goalkeeper Alex Bard, but in the moment, things didn’t go so well. The ball ricocheted off his chest and Bard was unable to recover. The ball crept across the goal line, too soft to even make it to the net, and put Club Mudd up 1-0. (To be fair, Bard had a stellar performance the rest of the game to make up for the folly.)
RFE continued to have a tough time getting the offense moving throughout the first half, sitting down for oranges at halftime still down 1-0. But this is a dare to be better-than-shitty situation. So, with a new strategy, RFE set out to do just that.
In the second half, the game really began to open up for us. Defensive middie, Shaina Ross, won every 50/50 ball at midfield and carved up Club Mudd’s unsuspecting defenders. Jeremy Gordon also had some clutch offensive possessions that would help set the stage for dominance.
Club Mudd had been really clinging to Tommy Park‘s nuts all game and not in the good way. They were grabby little gnats, face-guarding Tommy and making it harder for him to see daylight. But let’s get real, that’s not going to work forever. Marissa McBride jostled the ball loose at midfield and RFE began to advance as a unit. Then, breaking free, Tommy received the ball at thirty yards out and began to close on Club Mudd’s keeper. At this point, fate was sealed. Tommy twisted the corkscrew and opened up a fine wine. RFE was back in it, 1-1.
After another five minutes elapsed, David Geller won a tackle in the defensive third and sent it forward to Kevin Gemp who carried it until seeing Fabian Galvez streak on a perfectly timed run. Taking one touch to control the ball, Fabian served up a hot dish, the main entree, sending it into the lower far post. Always the gentleman, Fabian gave RFE a 2-1 lead.
And, I cannot tell a lie. After running 36.7 miles on Saturday, my legs were heavy and slooooow. I lost at least half a step, maybe two full ones. So, to bolster the slogging weak link (guilty as charged), Fabian, Tommy, and Marissa shaded back to protect on defense. It was a tactically brilliant move that would ultimately (and unselfishly) win us the game.
But not before the proverbial icing on the cake. Catching Club Mudd off-guard, Kevin Gemp received the ball just inside the 18 and struck with his right foot, ordering dessert and putting RFE up 3-1. It was the Friendly’s Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Sundae of goals. Ice cream. Chocolate syrup. The best peanut butter sauce you’ve ever tasted. And it doesn’t stop there. Add yourself two Reese’s cups and some whipped cream. That indulgent. That delicious.
Club Mudd thought they’d have a few spoonfuls, but then we ate the whole goddamn thing. Check please.
In the end, it sure wasn’t a great date. But sometimes that doesn’t matter. You don’t have to marry her. You don’t even have to kiss her. But here you are. Might as well enjoy the meal.
Rock, Flag, and Eagle take on second place FC Purple Rain (4-1-0) tonight at 7:30. The playoff field is still wide open, and with a victory, RFE could put themselves in great position heading into the final games of the season.