Rappler Goal Line: Cebu no-show at Emperador; Hartmann dazzles for Loyola
Cebu Queen City United FC was a no-show in their Saturday match against Dolphins United FC in the newly opened Emperador Stadium in McKinley Hill. The match would have been the very first match to be played in the new football stadium but CQCU chose to start the season by not showing up.
The reason behind CQCU's boycott was the league's late response and denial to their request of a home-and-away format for their games. The management of the club decided to push the said request because they were having difficulties playing the games in Manila with the huge expenses needed and the weekly flights that the players will have to take that might affect their game.
The UFL organizing committee denied the request but the response was only given to the club's management a day before their match against Dolphins United. The committee said a home-and-away format for some games is not possible as of the moment as the league is still developing.
Will Cebu Queen City United continue to be a no-show for the rest of the season? We will see in the coming games.
Loyola Meralco Sparks FC (4) - (1) Philippine Army FC
F. Gonzalez 18', Mk Hartmann 40' (PK), Jeong 59', Gould 70' | Bretana 18'
Best: Despite the absence of mainstays, Younghusband brothers, and first-choice goalkeeper, Ref Cuaresma, due to national team duties, the Loyola Meralco Sparks opened its league campaign with a smashing win against an aging Philippine Army squad.
Mark Hartmann takes Rappler's Man of the Match award after scoring a goal from the penalty spot and assisting on the other three goals of the Sparks. The Philippine U-23 standout showed great form and vision assisting the headers of former national team members Chad Gould and Freddy Gonzalez as well as Korean teammate Jeong. The youngest of the Hartmann brothers is showing fine form ahead of the Southeast Asian games and a possible call up in the seniors squad is not far from sight.
Worst: What is to blame in this Loyola Meralco Sparks goal fest would be the Army's backline in disarray and a goalkeeper who seems to be uncomfortable between the post. With first-choice goalkeeper Ed Sacapaño suiting up for the national team match against Myanmar, Philippine Army looked to be vulnerable in defense against a goal-hungry Loyola squad.
Despite opening the striking of the match with a Bretana floater in the eighteenth minute, the Army squad found it hard to keep pace with the younger wingers of Loyola. Maybe the valiant army men should focus more on their conditioning to keep pace with the elevating quality of football in the country.
On the brink of relegation: The Philippine Army squad would have to do better and win their next games if they want to avoid another relegation scare as most Division 1 teams have no intention of taking the back seat. Loyola already showed them that and surely, other teams are raring to do the same.
Global FC (2) - (0) Pasargad FC
Ochotorena 46', Starosta 75'
Best: Reigning league champions Global FC walked the talk as they open their title defense by defeating a rapidly improving Pasargad (PSG) squad. New additions Ochotorena and Starosta scored the winning goals in the first match of Brian Reid as head coach.
Despite missing the presence of a handful of playmakers including Reichelt, Uy and the Angeles twins due to national team commitments, Global imposed its might in the midfield led by Azkals star Bahadoran against a strong PSG defense. Global will have to maintain its momentum as bigger and stronger opponents are looming if it is to maintain the title.
Worst: PSG showed class and quality against a formidable Global squad with just one stain in the record: their theatrical goalkeeper. Reza Ataei wasted a lot of time and simulated a lot of injuries, some of it without contact whatsoever, to the detriment of his team.
Down 2 goals, the PSG goalkeeper kept faking injuries, wasting time to the jeers and boos of the crowd. If PSG is serious in clashing with the titans of the first division, it has to withdraw their goalkeeper from acting classes and start attending team trainings.
Pachanga Diliman FC (1) - (0) Kaya FC
Cunliffe 29' (PK)
Best: It was the Guamanian connection of Jason Cunliffe and Ian Mariano that lifted the newly-promoted Pachanga Diliman to a victory after an exciting duel against a strong Kaya squad.
Cunliffe, skipper of the Guamanian national team, coolly slotted the ball past Kaya keeper Saba Sadeghi in the penalty spot. Fellow national team mate Ian Mariano took away a penalty after he broke through the Kaya defense when Dario Dakic was called for a foul after tackling the Pachanga Diliman striker from behind. Pachanga is looking determined staying in the top flight.
Worst (not really): There was nothing bad to say about this match as both teams showed class and quality in both ends of the field. Pachanga Diliman showed why it deserves to be in the first division while Kaya showed why it is the runner up of last season with their waves of attack and effective midfield.
The match, however, may have one thing notable: the absence of Azkals Chris Greatwich and 18-year-old wonder OJ Porteria in the Kaya line up. The two will be raring to be back with the team and gather some points
Stallions Sta. Lucia FC (3) - (1) Green Archers United FC
Sanchez 30', Boley 39', Park 65' | Simpron 48'
Best: Rebranded Stallions Sta. Lucia FC made history repeat itself with a 3-1 thrashing of Green Archers United FC, the same scoreline where Stallions defeated GAU for the UFL Cup trophy.
Despite missing the steady and feisty presence of Azkals midfielder Jason de Jong, Stallions Sta. Lucia owned the midfield and broke through the Green Archers defense several times in the match. Spanish Rufo Sanchez, former Kaya striker Prince Boley and Korean Park Bo Bae scored the winning goals for Stallions. The Iloilo-based team will be focusing their eyes on the league title to go along with their UFL Cup trophy to be the first team to score a rare cup and league double.
Worst: Defense wins championships. Apparently, that is the thing the Green Archers United squad will have to constantly work on after suffering a second defeat from Stallions.
Despite having added firepower up top in the form of Chieffy Caligdong partnering with striker Tating Pasilan, the Green Archers squad will have to be sturdy and steady in defense if they want to be taken seriously as a title contender for this season.
Nomads SC (1) - (0) Philippine Air Force FC
Best: New signing James Woldring is in the history books of the league. The 17-year-old Australian striker is the first goal scorer at the newly opened Emperador Stadium, the all-weather artificial pitch and the new home of the United Football League (UFL).
Nomads set a bright start to their league campaign scoring a win against a rejuvenated Air Force squad with young and new players coming in to spice up the squad. There will not be a "worst" section in this match as both teams played toe-to-toe against each other.
Philippine Air Force has to tidy up, though, as they carry the banner of the armed forces playing in the top-flight league. They will not have the luxury of time to lick the wounds after Chieffy Caligdong's transfer to Green Archers United.
DIVISION 2 Results
Cebu Queen City United FC - Dolphins United FC
(Default win for DUFC as CQCU did not show up for their match)
Cimarron FC (2) - (1) Manila All-Japan FC
Agila FC (3) - (2) Laos FC
Team Socceroo FC (2) - (0) Union Internacional-Manila FC