Console time has been hard to come by lately, with my good lady wife embroiled in AssCreeBro, BioShock 2, and now BioShock DLC: Minerva’s Den. And my console time has been spent mostly on a more multifarious endeavor than the SPL season: a many-pronged assault on the English FA Cup, in the form of an array of teams, good and bad, that all wear blue. Plus a lot of exhibition games practicing skills such as “placed shot” which then atrophy when they turn out to be unnecessary for winning against Semi-Pro competition. [Necessary to get near double figures, perhaps.] Here’s the journey as yet unfinished [in fact I have no idea how many rounds are left].

Take one.

  • Southend 0-0 Charlton
    We may have been outshot 11-3, but we outtackled the ex-Curbishleyites 42-12. Playing as Southend United is not what you’d call exhilarating.
  • Southend 0-1 Charlton

    Wipe that smirk off your face, Zaaboub.

    Shots were equal at 13 this time. I committed a red card in the person of someone named “Zaaboub”, who “struggled for fitness and … had his contract cancelled” after only 3 games with the Shrimpers IRL.

  • Bolton 10-1 Bristol City
    First double-digit scoreline in Semi-Pro. Elmander, Zat Knight and Davies truly are kings among men.
  • Cardiff 0-4 Swansea
    Outshot 17-10 [10-0 in shots on goal]. As it turns out, the game settings switched to Legendary difficulty and 4-minute halves again. Am I pressing some sort of button combo that makes that happen? Let’s just restart the whole thing, because the main reason I chose all these blue teams was to be Cardiff. Bolton aren’t even supposed to be blue, no matter what their away shirts look like. Let’s stop using them for symmetry’s sake.

Take two.

  • Ipswich 0-1 Leicester
    What the hell! After a couple practice exhibitions at the normal, reasonable settings, I start another FA Cup and end up with Legendary and 4 again. And I’d like to say I’m getting better at keeping the score down when there’s no hope of my team scoring, but really it’s just that Márton Fülöp is the best goalie in all of FIFA 11. He was magisterial for these 8 minutes.

Take three.

  • Southend 3-0 Burton Albion
    [Paterson/Corr 21, Mohsni/Spencer 76, Zaaboub/Corr 79]
    Third time’s the charm as we get a fine performance from not just the chastened Zaaboub, but Mohnsi as well. As of this writing, Southend United, the 77th-place team in the English pyramid, have players of six different nationalities. Albeit the Welshman and the Barbadozer were really born in England. Burton Albion, yes, Burton Albion, have a guy who keeps doing stepovers, which I may not have seen in FIFA 11 before.
  • Everton 1-1 Peterborough
    [Osman/Saha 77]
    Great googa mooga, why is it so hard to play as Everton? The answer may be Louis Saha. No matter what the situation is, if he’s the only person attacking, and he has the ball, and it’s him and the goalie, he is not going to score. Even if I try to do “placed shot”, he hits the bar. If I don’t do “placed shot”, he hits it right at the keeper. And no other Evertonian ever follows him into the box. It’s almost as if we should change the formation or something.
  • Southend 0-5 Wolves
    Well, at least we had 50% possession. Track back!
  • Ipswich 3-0 Charlton
    [Townsend/Edwards 10, Edwards/Wickham 45, Wickham/Townsend 51]
    Symmetrical scorers. I’m sick of hearing Andros Townsend’s name already. What kind of name is “Andros”? I assumed Martin Tyler was saying “Ambrose”. And it actually sounded like he was saying “Ambrosch“.
  • Cardiff 3-0 Portsmouth
    [Olofinjana/Chopra 44, Chopra/Bellamy 69, Chopra/Bellamy 70]
    You may be noticing that I don’t score unassisted goals anymore. In fact, if I’m running up to the goalie unmarked, and I don’t have anyone to pass to, I’ve started just passing anyway, and then the other team clears it. That’s how unlikely I am to score one-on-one, no matter who the attacker is. Will have to work on the green button-red button shot fake thing. Or start using the right analog stick.
  • Everton 4-2 Peterborough
    [Arteta/Saha 28, Beckford/Saha 46, Bilyaletdinov/Arteta 52, Baines/Beckford 74]
    That Baines goal was a beauty, from a corner and several passes. May not have scored from outside the penalty area in Semi-Pro before. And guess what … I changed the formation. Now Saha isn’t by himself up there, for God’s sake. 

    Leadbitter (with Sunderland) and Drinkwater (with Huddersfield)

  • Ipswich 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday
    In addition to Ambrosch Townsend, I’m now sick of hearing Marcus Tudgay’s name. And this “Leadbitter” on Ipswich is the same player as Cardiff’s “Drinkwater” with different hair. Are they the two skinniest guys in the game?
  • Everton 3-1 Manchester United
    [Saha/Cahill 58, Saha/Cahill 64, Saha/Fellaini 74]
    Two thirds of this match was spent trying to confirm Everton’s status as the team of misfortune. Then I changed to 4-2-2-2 and scored within ten seconds. And then two more. Rio Ferdinand’s red card didn’t hurt. Saha’s hat trick means Phil Jagielka was Man of the Match. Does that yellow checkered flag thing really mean MotM? Because it takes a five-goal glut for any attacker on my teams to receive that honor – otherwise it’s someone who spends his time getting the ball off the opposing striker.
  • Cardiff 5-0 Bristol Rovers
    [Chopra/Bellamy 6, Burke/Chopra 24, Chopra/Drinkwater 45, Bellamy/Chopra 51, Chopra/McNaughton 84]
    Chopra gets Man of the Match with a mere three goals and two assists. Bristol Rovers have a nifty 5’7″ guy named “Kuffour” who runs circles around his foes. I like these short and elusive Allen Iverson types. Unlike Collin Samuel, his counterpart on St Johnstone who loves to dribble it into the goalkeeper, Kuffour is programmed to cross to teammates who could easily put it in but choose to sky it into the crowd.
  • Ipswich 7-1 Sheffield Wednesday
    [Norris/Edwards 8, Norris/Townsend 29, Scotland/Townsend 45, Scotland/Townsend 46, Scotland/Townsend 48, Scotland/Townsend 59, Scotland/Priskin 83]
    Turns out every team is better in 4-2-2-2. It’s so obvious now. Man of the Match: O’Dea.

Collin Samuel, back when he was with Toronto FC

I can’t read the dates or tournament details on our TV, so we might be in the quarterfinals already or we might be only a third of the way through. Whatever ineffable improvements have been made to my talents now need to be taken back to Perth and the rest of the SPL, to meet back up with Collin Samuel as soon as possible. And when we return to the FA Cup, we must remember to always check the Game Settings to make sure they aren’t on Legendary difficulty and 4-minute halves.

Captain Potter’s log, March 11th, 2011.

Recent accomplishments:

  • Learned not to use the blue button for heading when facing my own goal. The blue button seems to lead to the most powerful and directed headers.
  • The yellow button turns out to have a use after all. It’s for passing to where someone is going to be, rather than to where he is like the green button. You have to use it judiciously, but it’s good for getting the ball to a winger in his stride, so he can outpace the defense.
  • Have accepted that there is no way to control the keeper, until he has the ball. But it’s possible to get out of his way.
  • Can choose to play defensively. And rediscovering the yellow button for passing makes counterattack more feasible.
  • Can pass interminably back and forth to protect a lead.
  • Have successfully used the red button-green button fake shot. Once.
  • Have figured out how to shoot penalties.

Things to work on:

Jo Kuffour reptates through the Chairboys

  • How to switch back fakingly when running toward the goalie, without then running into a crowd of defenders.
  • Corner kicks. Does it matter which direction I’m facing, or which direction I point the stick when I kick it, or both, or neither? My corner kick technique seems to be regressing.
  • Chip shots, and “placed shots”. Presumably will be needed at higher skill levels.
  • Am now unable to succeed with formations other than 4-2-2-2. Am unclear why I would need to do so.
  • Have forgotten how to control the keeper on penalties.
  • That world-class striker Matt Jarvis racks up a hat trick whenever he plays my team. Maybe we should just let him enjoy it.
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