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View From the Booth 5/9/19

Greetings, fans ... it's time, once again, to ... STAND UNITED!

United played a much stronger game in the season opener against Cedar Rapids, and were unlucky to share the points.  Leo Lenth's goal in the 15th minute was just the start the lads needed after the clean sheet thrown at them by NIU.

Keran Milacevic's spot-kick on 60 minutes drew Cedar Rapids level and accounting for the final score.  The call was clearly a penalty, and United paid the price for sloppy defending.  A true shame after defending so well the final 67 minutes against the Huskies, and for the first hour against the Inferno.

If you were at the match, or tuned into my call on, you'll recall that, in the second half, there was a minor dust-up between Milacevic, who doubles as player-coach of the Inferno, and our own head man, Mike Gecan.  If I may digress slightly to touch on the incident and share my opinion with you ...

Milacevic was extremely vocal towards the game officials, beginning in the 15th minute when he and his goalkeeper, Zach Serovy, were convinced that Leo Lenth was offside on the opening goal.  Milacevic was excitable, but Serovy was nearly apoplectic, berating the assistant referee on our side of the pitch.  Both she and the center referee gave the "over and back" signal to indicate that while Lenth *had* been in an offside position, he had played himself back onside before the ball was played forward.

Later, just before the penalty, there was a bit of jostling in the goal area and some arms went up, but no violent conduct, no punches, just a wee bit of chest-bumping.  Milacevic lost it ... you could hear him screaming up in the press box (admittedly, we're not a million miles from the pitch, but you could hear him clearly).  Though he is the coach and was wearing the captain's armband, Milacevic was anything but gentlemanly, and a complete and utter embarassment to coaches and captains everywhere.

Coach Gecan, once he'd had enough, jumped off the bench, and shouted at Milacevic: "Just SHUT UP!  You're embarrassing!"  First time I've ever heard a coach yell at a player or another coach ... though I understand that could all change if United bring Jose Mourinho aboard ...

The UPSL cannot allow this to continue.  It is, as Coach said, embarrassing.  Embarrassing to watch, to listen to, and to have to sit through when we'd all rather watch two clubs play soccer.  Part of the blame is on the referee ... as a former ref myself, I was trained to avoid escalating a problem, to be the calmer head when all about you are losing theirs.  But that training also tells you that you're not supposed to be a doormat, either.

Dissent, especially the shouted-out-so-everyone-can-hear-it kind, is, to me, an automatic booking.  I'm okay if you want to come over and privately disagree with the call ... if you can do so without resorting to name-calling or just venting to vent ... I can listen and hear you out.  Privately.  But ... you scream out so that everyone can hear you?  Now, you're showing me up and trying to humiliate me in front of players, coaches, and fans.  And that's not happening on my watch.

All I can say is ... Milacevic is fortunate I wasn't the center ref.  Because I wouldn't have let his first outburst go without a booking ... which meant his second outburst which *did* earn him a booking, would have been his sending off ... soccer is passion, but, to paraphrase the Bill Yoast character from "Remember the Titans" ... "There's a fine line between passion and crazy, Coach, and you're flirting with it ..."

This week, a trip to Brew Town for a match with the defending UPSL National Champions, Milwaukee Bavarians. A daunting task, to be sure, but we have a plan ...

Rumor has it that two truckloads of The Forge's new 815 Brewnited (which I have yet to sample) will be shipped to Bavarians' clubhouse a couple hours ahead of the match. If they are true Bavarians, the beer should disappear by kick-off, which will make our normal 4-4-2 look like an 8-8-4 to them ... game over. I think. At least I hope. As can we all ...

Until next time ... that's the view from the booth ... so long, everyone ...


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