Despite not having fully grasped the concept of making a cup of tea (looking at you, Boston), the USA certainly found a chokehold on the Flyers in Lurin, bringing their unbeaten-on-grass streak of 2022 to a juddering halt with three punishing first-half goals.
Kiteflyers kicked off under the sun somewhat behind schedule after corporate travel was held up by traffic on the Panamericana Sur, setting up in a classic 4-4-2 formation looking to capitalise on the recent run of good form against both Holland and Chile. A few opening salvos from both teams aimed to probe the respective defences with both teams making early runs in on goal, with Hardie collecting a half-hearted volley that bounced off the post after a good move down the right wing from our North American counterparts. It was, however the USA who managed to break the deadlock just 5 minutes in. A slicing ball on the left hand side of the box was initially cut out by Hill, but fell to the oncoming striker reminscent of Sonic the Hedgehog in both pace and hairstyle who dutifully buried it into the back of the Kiteflyer net.
Unfortunately fortunes filed to improve much for the Flyers as the game progressed with USA players proving difficult to pin down. With movement and position swaps between the front two and midfield the Kiteflyers defence was split several times by oncoming attackers who failed to capitalise on good early chances. Not to say that the game was entirely one sided - a long-range effort from de la Puente was well held by the keeper and a powerful run from Captain Casey shortly before his self-subsitution resulted in a driving shot from the edge of the box, tipped over only for Whelan and the American keeper to tangle from the ensuing corner. Howes, as always, making himself a nuisance inside the opponents box despite an early muscle strain found himself denied a penalty shout before receiving an excellent ball over the top from Whelan only to be ruled out for offside.
An increas in pressure around the edge of the box from the USA saw Hardie called into action several times, and a quick succession of two yellows for Start and Quigley for heavy tackles and handballs respectively. As the game began to settle into a pattern of defence splitting balls the linesmen became the centre of attention for several questionable offisde calls, prompting the acute observation by Hardie that one of them was 'a weirdo'.
The latter stages of the first half saw several chances spurned for both sides, with the USA defence proving themselves hard to break down in both in the air and on the floor. An ambitious and acrobatic attempt at a volley from Start after some wonderful exhange play between Castillo and Whelan saw itself just over the bar with the Flyers ruing missed opportunities.
At 1-0 the game was still hanging in the balance, but a quick 1-2 sucker punch at the end of the half from the USA saw the Flyers heading into half-time with a three goal deficit. Despite the unexpected introduction of a dog the size of a small horse at right back, the Americans proved a difficult side to contain. Hardie left 1-on-1 with Sonic saw himself rounded and beaten, and a second following soon after with the Kiteflyers defence peeled open like a tin of sardines. Half-time, 3-0.
Half-time discussions between Captain Casey and Vice Whelan raised quickly in temperature, with conflicting philosophies on how to adapt the second half gameplan.
The second half started well, with de la Puento finding himself free on the right wing early on to swing a delicious ball to the back post for Castillo to tap in, at 3-1 the fight back was on. Shortly followed by Whelan being hacked down in the box, and Breeze clattered from the ensuing corner it seemed that nothing was going to go the Kiteflyers' way in the second half as the USA tightened ranks.
Kiteflyers continued to sally forth, and Castillo was left regretting his lack of inches as Captain Casey shouted from the sidelines to pull out, only to see the ball sail over his head inside the box. Hardie was called into action several times to close down oncoming strikers, and Whelan and de la Puento saw balls escape them in the final third. The pressure wasn't to last, however, as a USA break saw the striker dink the ball over the advancing Hardie for a 4th goal to put the game to bed.
Some final throws of the dice saw a few chances for both sides as the game began to fizzle out. A fine save by the keeper denied Castillo who was through one on one, and late substitute Bowman found himself through in the box from right wing, but saw his shot saved by and away for a corner. At the close of play the Kiteflyers found themselves outplayed by the better team, reflected in the 4-1 scoreline.
Man of the Match: Ross Hardie (1) Play of the Match: Quigley with a superb, late second half tackle Twat of the Match: Will Whelan (3) for running his mouth at the captain during half time Freestyle Award: Glenn jumping out of the team bus for a piss on the way