FIFA 11 diary 4: Scotland the bravo

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FA Cup scoring leader Jason Scotland

Disaster! The written record of my FA Cup deeds has been lost. Maybe I could unearth it somewhere in the FIFA interface if I had an HDTV. Short synopsis: After beating Man Utd, Everton lost 3-1 to Wolves even WITH a 4-2-2-2 formation. Kevin Jarvis didn’t get all three goals this time. Ipswich and Cardiff kept dominating with Bellamy and Scotland being easily released by through balls to go one-on-one with the keeper and then pass back to someone else who scores. Eventually Arsenal beat all my teams and triumphed behind Marouane Chamakh, the second best striker in the world behind Eto’o in FIFA 11’s estimation.

St Mirren are plugging along, a solid third in the SPL. Every time I think we need to step up the difficulty, one of the Old Firm takes us down a peg. We do have two of the six double-digit scorers in the SPL (Higdon, Dargo, Kenny Miller, Anthony Stokes, David Goodwillie, and Andrius Velička who in reality scored a whopping 1 goal in his Aberdeen career). Game-by-game SPL results to follow after these isolated observations.

  • How can Hamilton be so terrible, both in reality and in ludic simulacra, when they have the SPL’s fastest player, Marco Paixão?
  • It’s very impressive that they got a clip of Martin Tyler saying at least one player’s name for … every team in the game? Every first-division team and every English team? Either way, it’s more than I expected and it’s especially impressive that, of all the players on K.A.A. Gent, the one name you hear Tyler pronounce is “Ljubijankič”. That’s going above and beyond.

Zlatan Ljubijankič, World Cup hero and scourge of U.S. fortunes, teams up with John Terry for the halftime three-legged race in Port Elizabeth.

  • But it’s odd that for some players the name is only said in a certain situation, which the game tries to identify but sometimes gets wrong. Is Jamie Carragher ALWAYS in with power and purpose? “That’s Lúcio’s tackle” may be the most obvious example. “Feed the Yak and he will score” was a nice surprise since in Everton’s default formation the Yak is absolutely never in a position to score. (No special soundbite for Saha?) When either Finland or Swansea play, Tyler practically harmonizes with himself, he’s saying “Now, Kuqi” so much.
  • Everyone notices the inaccurate comments, like “Great save by the goalkeeper! / Top, top stuff” for the most basic save, but most view it in good humor — particularly people who remember how awful the commentary was five years ago. I only get irritated when the game sends out contradictory assessments. The game’s Mind knows all and sees all within the game, am I right? It knows where every user- and algorithm-generated pixel is, and communicates the result of my actions visually on the screen in real time, auditorily through its twin larynxes Tyler and Gray in real time, and at a slight delay through the actions of the referee. I can understand when they compliment me on a clean tackle that then becomes a red card — that happens in real life. But what’s happening when I steal the ball, the opponent steals it back a second later, and two seconds later I’m complimented on stealing the ball? What kind of irreversible neural network was set into action? How can it possibly be irreversible? And why, when every single offside call is followed by an NFL-style replay using parallel lines to display exactly how far offside the fellow was, do they so often say it was just a hair offside when it was actually five feet, or vice versa? Some reminders of the fallibility of humanity, or the curse of the commentator as robo-Martin Tyler likes to call it, are welcome, but some are clearly forced.
  • There’s more than one team with Polonia Bytom’s sickly red-and-lavender color scheme. SM Caen do it in real life although they don’t look as purply in the game. And then there’s Catania, but they pair the red with more of a Marseillaise brilliant blue.
  • Can it be possible that there are more Irish kids joyful over the new addition of League of Ireland teams to the game than there are Irish kids embarrassed about how horribly every Irish team is rated?
  • ADO Den Haag always put up a good fight, but I always beat them. More satisfying guaranteed victories than those over utter tomato cans like Drogheda United, Bray Wanderers, Bohemians, St Patrick’s Athletic, Bohemians, or Strømsgodset.
  • Wikipedia reports of Pascal Bosschaart that “Strangely, he has never scored a goal in his long and relatively successful career.” Well, he scored a goal playing against me in FIFA 11. An own goal.
  • That game (Fluminense – ADO Den Haag) would have looked brilliant in HD.
  • More bad luck with Moroccans, following Zaaboub’s FA Cup snafu. Abdelghani Faouzi of Vitória de Guimarães got knocked out with a broken leg in the first 2 minutes against SM Caen. That was one of three yellow cards Caen accrued within a quarter hour of kickoff. In real life they’ve avoided going one-and-done from Ligue 1 so they must be doing something right.

    Faouzi does look like he might have a delicate bone structure. Definitely a delicate hair structure.

  • I swear it used to be that the green button did the through ball to where a teammate is going to be, and the yellow button did the pass directly to him. Now it’s the opposite.
  • It’s nice how the blue button clearance seems like it’s going in a random direction but it ends up going to a teammate. Whereas the red button clearance actually does go in a random direction, to make up for getting it off quicker.
  • Is it wrong that my main substitution method, presuming no injuries, is to wait until the 65th minute and put in three guys at once? I like to think of it as the ice-hockey style of subbing. “And here’s the second shift.”

FIFA 11 diary 3: Drinkbitter and Leadwater

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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.

FIFA 11 diary 2: Skyscrapers of St Mirren

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It’s time for a full season. A season in the Premier League seems daunting, so who to choose?

I can’t claim to be a supporter of any team other than Everton and Bolton [they aren’t rivals, I can have both]. Because I can’t watch games, or even highlights, of any other league on TV right now. Sympathies arise for various teams [Schalke, Fiorentina, Udinese, Lokomotiv Moscow, Molde], but it’s all superficial. The virus-laden aggregator websites that people keep lauding on discussion boards are intriguing, but watching long videos on the computer is intolerable. We don’t have Fox Soccer Channel. I’m excited about the Philadelphia Union, but haven’t been to a game yet and I know the roster in the video game is going to be vastly different from the eventual 2011 Union. So where to go, outside the English Premier League?

After all these years of sponsorship, Ūkio Bankas is no closer to dominating the wallets of the Scots.

I don’t have any ethnic or tourism-based links to any countries outside Britain [and Lithuania, whose league sadly is not included here], so you’ve got the other levels of English football, and Scotland. Playing as Cardiff was fun, but the SPL will probably let me detect progress better by having to play every other team at least thrice.

Vague SPL sympathies lie with Motherwell, Hearts, and St Mirren. Why? They aren’t dominant, and they have distinctive color schemes. And in Hearts’s case, it’s the Lithuanian connection. St Mirren get a really low rating in the game, significantly below Motherwell and Hearts [they were 10th, 5th, and 6th last season, respectively]. Being a low-level team unable to dominate would be good. And I know more about St Mirren than other teams at the bottom of the league, like Hamilton, St Johnstone and Kilmarnock. Is there even a city called Hamilton? Where are they from?

Facts I know about St Mirren:

  • They represent a city called Paisley, west of Glasgow.
  • They wear black and white stripes.
  • They used to play at a place called “Love Street” which was legendary for being windy.
  • Their name is spelled wrong. Saint Mirin was an Irish saint of the first millennium.
  • Two of their players’ names: Billy Mehmet and Andy Dorman. Neither of whom is on the team anymore, as it turns out.

The virtually unreadable text in FIFA 11 when played on a non-high-def TV is certainly irritating, but I’m trying to turn it into a positive. Who are these players? What does that say exactly? What do these weird marks mean in the Team Management / Squad view? How do I know who just got injured? It’s like using a shortwave radio to find out how the Hamilton Tiger-Cats game is going. I thought a player named “Weir” had been my Man of the Match in 2 of 4 matches, until the camera finally showed him and it turned out his name was “Mair”. Aha!

  • To get into the St Mirren spirit, go here to see the Paisley Panda. Go here to see him dressed for his day job.

So, how has the season been going? Well, Amateur level quickly got boring. I went from 4-4 against Dundee United, to 4-2 against Rangers [one of their goals was a penalty, the other came when my computer-controlled goalkeeper dove into my defender’s legs as he was about to clear it], to 7-1 against Motherwell and 7-2 against Kilmarnock. Higdon has 8 goals, Dargo has 3, McQuade has 3, van Zanten [I think that’s his name] has 1, Thomson has 3, Barron has 2, and Potter has 2. I can’t get Dargo to do what I want, and subbing in McQuade works better. Potter and Lee “Weir” Mair have both been man of the match twice, with about 18 tackles per game for each. The fact that my center backs are constantly having to clean up after my attackers give the ball away is a bad sign. And yet, it’s just too easy to score goals and too easy to win the ball, so it’s time to switch to Semi-Pro.

First game at Semi-Pro: 1-4 at home against Hibernian. 1 goal from Potter [assist from Travner…in other words, from a corner]. 2 of their 4 were penalties, but I got exactly 2 shots on goal, when I’m used to having 15. Deep breath. Let’s regroup with some time in the wilderness until I figure out how to pass with the yellow button no longer being magic.

Polonia Bytom's red and bluish army

Inter 3-3 Polonia Bytom. This is a struggle. I can’t pass between people while charging upfield. I just can’t. Polonia Bytom have a bizarre color scheme, like it’s supposed to be red and blue, but it’s actually red and lavender. In real life it’s closer to blue, but there is  something off about it.

Cardiff 3-3 CS Sedan. I was down 3-1 between the 50th and 82nd minutes. This may be a turning point.

Cardiff 4-3 Nordsjælland. Two extra-time goals this time in an all-time classic of mutual incompetence.

Bolton 1-2 Southend. Holy beans, it’s like wading through a swamp. Lee Chung-Yong managed to dribble between six people to score from beyond the penalty arc. I don’t know if I completed a pass of more than two yards.

Bolton 5-1 Hønefoss. Wow! Hønefoss just might be the ideal patsy for these situations. In addition to overall slowness and inability to shoot, their keeper barely ever kicks it. He rolls it out to the fullbacks like he’s Tim Grgurich running a basketball scrimmage. The EA programmers know a lot, but is it possible that they know the Hønefoss keeper does this in real life more than other keepers? Maybe he sustained an injury against Bolton and I didn’t notice.

Udinese 1-1 Grossetto. Low-scoring calcio in action…

Lokomotiv 1-0 Sibir Novosibirsk. Or maybe I’ve figured out how to defend, but not how to pass in attack. Well, at least I can keep the score down while working on other stuff. Let’s go back to the SPL.

Hønefoss GK Thomas Solvoll, either figure out how to boot a clearance, or sit out a game and give ex-Oakland University Golden Grizzly Steve Clark (center) a shot.

St Mirren 1 (Higdon 34), Hearts 2 (Elliott 6, Elliot 78). Yellow card for Mair.

St Mirren 1 (Dargo 18), Celtic 4 (Stokes 20, Hooper 22, Stokes 61, Samaras 82). Yellow cards for Mair and Higdon.

St Mirren 3 (Dargo 8, Higdon/Dargo 45, Dargo 49), Aberdeen 2 (Velicka 17, Velicka 25). More patient passing does the trick. As does the good odds that I can run up to the keeper, boot it at his face, have it bounce up in the air and then put it in. More importantly, why does a team other than Hearts have a Lithuanian star?

St Mirren 4 (Higdon 10, Potter/Brady 13, Brady 55, McQuade/Thomson 71), St Johnstone 1 (Hardie 86). Things are falling into place. St Johnstone is a really abject team, probably the first relegation candidate I’ve played. The guy at the point of their spear is about 5 feet tall and decisively prefers to dribble it into the goalie rather than shoot.

And let’s just do a little experiment.

Semi-Pro mode: Inter 2, Brann 2. Either the gulf between St Mirren and St Johnstone is huge compared to the gap between Inter and Brann, or I’m starting to tailor my attack toward St Mirren’s unique qualities, whatever those are. Had my first instance of an opponent diving, by way of “girly man-forward” Erik Huseklepp.

Amateur mode: Inter 17, Brann 1. I feel bad habits re-emerging. Martin Tyler says “That’s Lúcio’s tackle” about 25 times. As for Huseklepp, the feminine frontman‘s wiles fail to tempt the officials into handing out cards.

Captain Potter’s log, February 5th, 2011.

Recent accomplishments:

Figured out that sometimes I might like to pass laterally or backward.

Figured out which defender I should be controlling when the opponent has the ball. Hint: not always the one covering the guy with the ball.

Figured out to wait on corner kicks until my teammates have gotten into a promising position. It does make a difference.

No longer hitting the colored buttons as soon as I get the ball. The ball is occasionally under control now.

Current playing strategy:


  • Blue button: lofted pass. Must be hit very very quickly to work.
  • Green button: fast pass.
  • Yellow button: sluggish pass. The yellow button is no longer a sure bet to get the ball to a teammate, so I’m using the green button almost all the time now.
  • Red button: shot.


  • Same as before, except that a slide tackle is no longer a guaranteed foul.


  • Blue button: powerful throw that always goes to the opponent.
  • Green button: short throw to a teammate.
  • Yellow button: short throw to a teammate.
  • Red button: N/A

Things to work on:

  • How to score on a chip shot. Am now ~0 for 50 including practice games.
  • How to aim a lofted pass towards somebody instead of having it go in a random direction with a random amount of power. Am tantalizingly close to being able to do this.
  • Try out different formations, split between halves of a game.
  • Stop falling into the habit of using only the green button.
  • Watch the tutorials and read the manual again. There has to be something in there about what to do on a header.
  • Figure out how to get music to play during the games instead of the commentary. I’m sick of these guys already.

FIFA 11 diary: Amateur hour is over

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The last time I played FIFA, it included teams called “Moss”, “Wil”, and “Guingamp”.  In the quest for ego gratification I spent many hours looking for patsies in the Norwegian and Swiss leagues, and among the ill-designed national teams of places like Gabon.  This dates it as FIFA 02, a year-old copy, since that was the last edition that included generic unlicensed national teams, and 2002 was the last year Moss was in the Tippeliga.  I have become addicted to FIFA 11 as well, though not quite as much because I don’t have classwork to avoid. It’s much more complex of course…stochastic procedures mean you never know exactly where your shot will go, or what the computer opponent is going to do.  Or what the referee is going to do. Basically, you can’t be Arsenal against Barbados, steal the ball on every opposing kick-off, dribble up the wing and pass to Henry for a goal 28 times in two five-minute halves. Maybe you can score 28 times in 10 minutes [probably against one of the League of Ireland teams], but not 28 identical goals.

Moss fans watch their lads lay the smack down on Bodø/Glimt.

At first, it was hard to shoot.  Every shot went over the bar.  And it was hard to tackle.  The only time I was obviously doing anything was after the blue button slide tackle, so I kept doing that, and boy did that lead to a lot of yellow cards.  Red cards pretty much never happen at Amateur difficulty level, though.  And slide tackling is never necessary at amateur level either, after your first couple hours of play.  It’s great to have different referees with different degrees of strictness for fouls, but it would be exciting to have more risk of yellows and reds.

I started out as Bolton and played other Premier League teams, losing close games.  At Amateur level every opponent is going to fail to score on virtually all its shots, unless you’re playing Inter or Germany.  But I couldn’t score either, and I couldn’t tackle.

Then I trolled Europe looking for patsies, and started winning 3-1 and 4-1. Charleroi is a particularly dismal all-around team, with the black-and-white stripes giving them the Generic Opponents look you want in your patsy.  Strømsgodset and Nordsjælland are good choices if you want to experiment with something without worrying about having 30% possession. Or if you want to compare how different teams behave in your hands. I liked being Lokomotiv Moscow, not so much Schalke.

How dare the beeves of Hereford stymie the noble Toffees?!

English low-level teams seemed way too good despite one-star ratings. I played as Everton exactly once and lost 2-1 to Hereford United, as Louis Saha missed 15 shots and the rest of the team missed 16. ADO Den Haag kept winning the ball and eluding my defensemen [They’re 7th in the real-life Eredivisie right now after being 15th last year. How did the EA programmers know?]. Playing against N.E.C., or as I call them, Nijmegen Eendracht Combinatie, wasn’t fun either. The red, black and green shirts blinded their opponents with luxury, and a guy named “Vleminckx” scored twice [he currently leads the Eredivisie in goals, with 15. How did the EA programmers know?]. The much-acclaimed Dutch coaching and discipline really pays off in the cyber-universe.

Then I switched from being Bolton against horrible teams, to being Inter against mediocre teams. The 4-1 wins turned into 8-1 wins as I suddenly controlled people who could pass between three defenders and outrun everyone, and I figured out tippy-tap passing [and switched to 10-minute halves]. Returning to England, I thought it was time for equal opposition, and started a Premier League season with Bolton. The first two games I lost 4-0 and 5-0 and never had a shot on goal. The first game I was not suspicious, but after the second one, in which Maynor Figueroa dribbled through my entire defense and Hugo Rodallega scored on a bicycle kick, I realized the difficulty had somehow changed to Legendary. Still only 5-0! We didn’t disgrace ourselves! We looked that bullet square in the banana, and we blinked a finite number of times.

At long last, let’s try life as an inferior team. Cardiff City, versus Dundee United.  Should be a challenge.  Ended up winning 12-0 with seven different goalscorers, despite Danny Drinkwater’s red card. Whoa. Cardiff versus Bury… 5-0.  5 goals, 5 assists.  Bolton versus Oxford United [wait, that’s not a challenge] … 8-1, and the only game so far with assists credited to the keeper. Stop letting your defensemen go so far up when you’re attacking, cyber-Oxford cyber-manager Chris Wilder.

After a few more games to practice tackling and heading [Inter 11-0 Charleroi, Arsenal 14-2 Aalesund], it was time to start a sustained challenge. A season with one of the worst teams in a league with at least two teams clearly superior to them in every way. After four games I would finally leave Amateur for Semi-Pro, but the details of this season will have to wait until our next instalment.

Of course I would never judge a book by its cover, but a cursory GIS for Björn Vleminckx makes him look like kind of a jerk.

Captain Potter’s log, January 20, 2011.

Recent accomplishments:

Became able to push the button I want when I want, instead of panicking and using the wrong motion.  Have not used the Xbox for anything since Beautiful Katamari.

Became able to basically win the ball from any opponent whenever I want.  This is what finally made me increase the difficulty level.

Current playing strategy:


  • Blue button: lofted ball that usually goes near somebody.
  • Yellow button: accurate pass that can get intercepted.
  • Green button: inaccurate pass with some zip on it.
  • Red button: shot.  You must hit the red button for no more than 0.0001 second or it’ll sail over the bar, unless you have an empty net.  In your half of the field, hit the red button for a clearance so the opposing goalkeeper can have it.


  • Blue button: slide tackle, almost guaranteed to be a foul.
  • Yellow button: subtle tackle, not much different from what happens if you just run into someone’s path.
  • Green button: block tackle.  Works very well.
  • Red button: N/A


  • Blue button: long throw with a runup.
  • Yellow button: short toss.
  • Green button: short toss.
  • Red button: ?

Things I need to remember to do:

  • Get to the point where someone other than a center-back can be Man of the Match without scoring four goals.  I typically end up with Zat Knight as MotM in an 8-2 game. Once Gary Cahill got a red card and was still MotM.
  • Use LB and RB.  LB plus red button is a chip over the keeper.  I am ~0-for-30 on these so far.  RB does something.
  • Figure out what the different buttons do when you’re jumping for a header [other than the obvious red button to head it toward the net].  I think the green button is for chesting the ball but that may only be possible when you’re uncontested.  Blue/yellow: ?
  • Use the blue button to cross it in from the corner toward the penalty area.  This works better when you double-tap it.
  • Come up with more than one corner-kick strategy.
  • Figure out how to take penalties.  There are three different things to control, none of which bear any relation to anything else in the game, and all are crucial to avoid missing the goal by 100 feet.  Being the keeper during penalties is easy.
  • Figure out how to control the keeper during game play.
  • Figure out the names of the buttons, though calling them by the colors should be good enough.