Friday, August 27, 2004

City plagued heading into Locust final

Morris Dalla CostaThe London Free Press

My, oh my, how things change.
"We don't stink. That's rude saying that, " Harry Gauss said on the other end of the phone. "We don't stink, we just aren't playing very well."
Two weeks ago his Canadian Professional Soccer League team was hovering around the top of the Western Conference. But three losses later, City is 6-6-2 and struggling, looking below rather than up.
City plays Windsor Border Stars tonight at Cove Road in the second game of the Locust Challenge Cup. The Border Stars won the opener 4-1, the third time this year that Windsor beat London.
If City wins tonight, the teams will go into an immediate mini-game of two 15-minute halves.
"It's guaranteed win night," said Gauss, whose team desperately needs a win.
A guarantee may be Gauss's way of motivating his team but it will need a lot more than motivation. Windsor has beaten City like a tin drum every time this year. With City playing as poorly as it has been, the only thing that's guaranteed is a struggle.
"Why would you say that? We've been playing great," Gauss said. "I hope you note the sarcasm. We haven't been playing well. We lack confidence coming right out of the dressing room. We were too comfortable when we were playing well. It's nice to be complacent but you have to live up to to that.
"We got a lot of chances to move into first place because other teams have been doing the job for us. We haven't been doing the job for ourselves."
Gauss is like the proverbial one-armed paper hanger, a guy who has his hands full doing most everything that needs to be done for the team.
He has to be careful about money spent, which means he can't sign all the players he wants to sign. And soccer players are known to have fragile egos, so you have to be as much a psychologist as you do coach. When a team plays well, everyone is willing to take credit. When it doesn't play well, it's always someone else's fault.
Gauss is frustrated right now. He's frustrated by the lack of success and by injuries. Having to fill spots on the roster is nothing knew for this team at this time of year. It's as predictable as kids going back to school.
City always seems to have to fill several spots because of injuries or players heading elsewhere.
Gone are Nathan Greene and Attila Salamon. Paul Munster, who leads the league in scoring, missed a game because of suspension but will play tonight. The loss of central defender Marco Peeters to injury was devastating.
Gauss gets strong midfielder Gentan Dervishi back tonight. He has been out since the start of the season. But filling the other spots hasn't been easy.
"I've tried to make some deals. I'm trying hard to plug some holes but everyone wants the farm for a chicken," said Gauss. "I can't do that. (The other teams) know I'm in a tough spot."
Gauss hopes things get back on track as some of his injured players return. His team is still involved in the Locust Challenge Cup and Cove Road will host Canada's Challenge Cup on Labour Day weekend with $10,000 at stake.
The key player in all this is Munster. Gauss feared that some team needing a goal scorer would come in and scoop him. That hasn't happened -- yet.
If that does happen, Gauss won't be worrying so much about having to trade the farm for a chicken.
He'll have to worry about how to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers.


Post a Comment

<< Home