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trman73

After 10 years with FM, my first career update

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trman73   

 

Hello all!

Since it looks like the 17.3.1 hotfix will be the last update to FM17, I’m going to embark on my first ever career update. I’m saving this career as “Last Chance FM17” as I’ve experienced some frustration with the last two versions of the game, and if I can’t get it together in this save and have an enjoyable experience, it’ll be back to FM15 for me, or perhaps even an overall break from Football Manager for a while. So I'm hoping that posting my progress here will inject some new excitement into the game for me.

Quick background: I’ve been playing since FM08 and have had dozens of careers, both successful and unsuccessful. As always I’m starting this career with my actual playing/coaching background (which is nothing - 43 y.o. American; no coaching qualifications; Sunday-league player). At age 43 I figure I’ve got a 25-year career ahead of me (assuming I last that long).

My goals are the following:

  • Win MLS Cup
  • Get hired by West Ham United
  • Take the Hammers to the Champions League title
  • Coach a national team (preferably the U.S.) in the World Cup
  • Retire a legend :)

Whether any of these things happen will partially depend on my first task: choosing my initial team. I always do this the same way: Using random.org, I start with all 51 playable nations, listed in alphabetical order. I then eliminate each country one by one until I arrive at the country where I will start my career. I then do the same thing with all teams within that country: list them alphabetically and eliminate them one by one until finally I know my starting team. So technically, I have the same odds of starting with Real Madrid as I do with the lowest-ranked team in Hong Kong.

For the record I highly recommend this method for picking a team to start a career. The suspense in each country being eliminated until you get down to the final three or four is legitimately exciting. Same with the teams. I’ve learned so much about teams and leagues by playing in different countries (some of which I had absolutely no interest in) than I ever imagined, and since I was a soccer novice when I started this almost a decade ago, all of my favorite real-life teams (West Ham, Sampdoria, and Watford) are based on my experiences coaching them in FM.

So that’s the setup. Hopefully I’ll have a long and enjoyable career, and this will be an interesting read.

Up next: Nation Selection

Edited by trman73

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trman73   

OK let’s do this!

While history has taught me that you can start anywhere and work your way to a prime job in FM, I do have some preferred destinations: The U.S., England, Italy, Poland, and Australia. Unless my memory is going, I’ve begun past careers in the following places: Australia, Belarus, Belgium (twice), Bulgaria, Colombia, Denmark, Greece, Holland (twice), Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Northern Ireland, Russia, Scotland, Switzerland, and Turkey. I’d love to start by managing one of the two MLS expansion teams starting in 2017 – Atlanta or Minnesota – and build a team truly from scratch. But obviously the odds of that are astronomical.

On to “Selection Sunday.”

Halfway through country selection and two of my preferred nations, Australia and Italy, are out. I get down to 15 and then the U.S. goes out. Poland goes out at 13. Only England remains from my list as I get to the final 10. At 7, they go out.

I always pause at the final 6, so here they are:

  • Chile
  • Malaysia
  • Serbia
  • Ukraine
  • Uruguay
  • Wales

Honestly, I’m not feeling this list. I’d say Wales, Ukraine and Chile would be most preferable. Definitely not Malaysia.

Wales, Serbia and Ukraine go, followed by Uruguay, which leaves Chile and Malaysia. With one more click, I discover that I will begin my career in...

 

58c61fc638f77_ChileFlag.jpeg.076512d88b04aa859c2e5a19f684a2d1.jpeg

 

 

 

 

Chile!

Not a country I would have selected or preferred, but I'm intrigued. Time to do a little research!

Next up: Choosing My Team

Edited by trman73

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trman73   

Since I don’t know anything about Chilean football I rip through team selection without much investment. The final four possibilities are:

  • Everton (1st Division)

  • Iberia (2nd Division)

  • San Marcos de Arica (2nd)

  • Santiago Wanderers (1st)

The two second-division teams go out, so I’ll be coaching in the top tier. And I’ll be coaching...

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Santiago Wanderers!

I start the save at the beginning of the offseason (25 May 2016), with a large database and 10 playable countries (Chile, Argentine, Brazil, Mexico, the U.S., England, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain), and get to work.

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Thanks Johnny! I'm excited to do this after reading so many great career stories over the years.

Back to the save...

The Chilean First Division (officially the Chilean Primera Division) is the third highest-rated league in South America. There are 16 teams and we’ll play an opening stage and a closing stage, facing each team once per stage. At the end of each stage there’s a champion, and then the next four teams participate in a playoff to determine who advances to the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League.

I’m a little confused as to who advances to the Copa Libertadores and the second-tier continental competition, the Copa Sudamerica, but we’ll figure it out.

Santiago Wanderers is actually the oldest football club in Chile and oldest football club in Latin America. Despite this, our trophy case is pretty barren. We’ve won the Primera Division three times: 1958, 1968, and 2001, and won the Chile Cup in ’59 and ’61.

Last year we finished sixth in the league (opening and closing stages combined) with 43 points in 30 matches (11-10-9). Despite this, early predictions for the upcoming season have us placing 14th out of 16 clubs, with 1000-1 odds to win the title, so there’s some work to do here.

Perhaps the early pessimism is due to the hiring of a complete unknown as manager. As expected, my hiring has been labeled a “huge surprise” in the media, and my initial meeting with the chairman, I’m told the board “hopes I am able to ignore the media’s claims that I’m too inexperienced to run the club.” Clearly I’ve got to win some people over. I’ve only got one year to do so, as I’m on a 1-year, $65,000 contract.

Following my meeting with the chairman, I sit down with my assistant coach, Daniel Cavallero, and tell him that for now I’ll handle all responsibilities. I feel a little awkward as I already know the chances are good I’m going to buy out this guy’s contract, as well as the contracts of the majority of the rest of the staff.

Following the initial meetings I immediately go back to the board and ask to start pursuing a National C license, which they agree to. Now it’s time to look at the personnel we have on this team, and prepare to meet the media.

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There’s some benefit to having low expectations at the start of your first year I suppose, but the board is really not expecting much from us in 2016-17. Their season expectations are to avoid a relegation battle in the league, and reach just the second round of the Chile Cup.

But a quick look at the team and I can see why expectations are tempered. First off, this is an incredibly young team; second-youngest in the league at just over 22 years old on average.

Second, we enter the offseason with a payroll of $1.045 million and a budget of just $932,000, so we may need to offload some players. And with a total roster (including the Under 19’s) of just 33 players, and four off on loan already, we don’t have a whole lot of flexibility or depth.

And the current staff is not cutting it. We have no scouting staff at all (most teams in the league have a chief scout), a head physio who is not very good at providing physical therapy, a goalkeeping coach with a poor goalkeeper rating, and an assistant coach who doesn’t appear to be good at much of anything.

I’ve identified targets for replacements at all these staff positions, but I want to hold my first press conference before making any moves. I’ve got my first of five friendlies in just eight days, and hope to have my staff in place by then.

During my presser I deflect questions about my inexperience and appropriateness for the job, give a diplomatic answer about our low payroll, and say that everyone on the team, players and staff, will have a chance to prove themselves. I then head back to the office and prepare mutual terminations for four coaches, and make offers to three new staff members.

Next up: Assessing the squad

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My new staff is in place by June 1, the day before our first friendly. After a quick look at the roster things might not be as bad as I thought. We don’t have much depth but we have some quality talent around the pitch. Right now I’d say our key player is an Uruguayan import, 26-year-old striker Rodrigo Pastorini.

Pastorini.thumb.png.c0f78bc56ddcc2443dd46f0681ad3fab.png

I've got a couple young guys with potential as well, including a couple quality attacking midfielders. For this reason I am considering playing a 4-2-4 with attacking right and left midfielders, a tactic I’ve never used. My other option is a more traditional 4-4-2, with my wide midfielders focused on attacking. I’m going to give the 4-2-4 wide a try, at least for the first couple friendlies. I’ll start with a Standard mentality and a Flexible team shape for the first couple matches and see what I like and don’t like.

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I've got five friendlies between June 2 and the 24th (all against second division or lower division teams, all on the road), and then the Cup kicks off on July 9, so I'll be giving everyone on the squad a chance to prove themselves and see who's ready when the important matches begin.

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trman73   

Thanks ManUtd! I'm enjoying this so far. What I've found is that I'm paying more attention to detail, and having to pause for a bit to write is creating a nice pace.

Anyway, let's recap our preseason friendlies:

friendlies.thumb.png.b93c403c25c766147d273f788c9006a6.png

June 2: San Marcos di Arica 1 Santiago Wanderers 1

Definitely some rust in our first friendly against this First Division B team. We give up a goal in the 10th minute, score on an own goal off a corner later in the first half, and then dominate the ball for the rest of the match while not finding the net.

June 4: Deportes Melipilla 0 Santiago Wanderers 2

Melipilla is a Second Division team and frankly they had nothing. We score twice in the first 32 minutes on a pair of pretty crosses, and dominate the first half. I hit the brakes at about the 65-minute mark and we coast, having no desire to embarrass these guys on their home field.

June 7: Union La Calera 3 Santiago Wanderers 0

Out third match in six days and it’s a complete dud. We’re down 2-0 after 15 minutes and 3-0 at halftime against a team that was relegated from the First Division last year. We had three guys (two starters) on international duty and our lack of depth was apparent as we never mounted much of an attack at all. I’m a little worried at this point, but we’ve got 11 days to train now before our next friendly, so it’s time to get to work.

June 18: Santiago Morning 0 Santiago Wanderers 2

A nice comeback against a decent First Division B team. We controlled the game but didn’t score until a penalty in the 80th, then tacked on a capper in the 89th. After 11 days of training with a good amount of focus on getting more comfortable with the formation, it looks like some of our work is paying off.

June 24: Barnechea 1 Santiago Wanderers 3

This was basically a fitness test against a Second Division team. We dominate, although we give up a frustrating goal with 12 minutes to go to ruin the clean sheet.

So we go 3-1-1 in our friendlies, dominating the two lower-division teams, outplaying two First Division B opponents and then laying one egg against La Calera. We’ve got two weeks before our home-and-home against Iberia, who we drew in the first round of the Chile Cup. The team is coming together, with a focus on teamwork and learning the 4-2-4 Wide tactic as the main focus of our team training. I’m excited to get started in our real games.

Edited by trman73

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I’m happy with the squad as we approach our first real fixtures of the season. Then on July 4th, five days before our Cup match, starting keeper Nery Veloso goes down with a broken finger that will keep him out of action for 4-5 weeks. He’s our highest-value player at $1 million and I was expecting him to be a nice security blanket for us. This is a blow, made more frustrating by the completely injury-free training camp and friendly season we had. Ugh. Gabriel Castellon, a 22-year-old who appeared in eight games for us last year, steps into the starting role.

Aside from that injury, I’m feeling confident about our opening match. Iberia is a First Division B club predicted to battle for promotion this year. These two matches will be a good test of where we are. I'm excited to get started in my first match managing the Santiago Wanderers.

Here’s my squad for the first leg of Round 1 of the Chile Cup:

58c9f15e0df76_FirstMatchSquad.thumb.png.908534a408819f9efaf16d06b56af2a6.png

 

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Chile Cup, Round 1: Iberia vs. Santiago Wanderers (First Leg)

We’re on the road for the first leg against Iberia so I want some goals, and sure enough one comes quickly. Our first goal of 2016-17 comes on a penalty in the 12th minute. Rodrigo Pastorini nails it and it’s 1-0 in a game we are absolutely dominating for the first 15 minutes. We’re getting multiple chances and Iberia comes dangerously close to getting called for another foul in the box in the 15th minute.

Iberia scores on its first shot on goal, in the 21st minute, and it’s 1-1. We play incredibly sloppy football for the next 15 minutes, but in the 38th Iberia gets called for a second penalty, Pastorini slams it home again, and we go up 2-1, which remains our score at the half.

In the 57th we score off a corner that leads to some great passing in the box, and our primary striker, Jonathan Charquero, finishes it off. Offensively we’re really clicking.

Iberia pulls back to 2-3 on a goal in the 66th, and that’s how the game ends. Offensively we looked really good, but the second goal we conceded was not a good one. Still, we get the win, and three road goals, so we’re set up well for the second leg.

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Edited by trman73

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Chile Cup, Round 1: Iberia vs. Santiago Wanderers (Second Leg)

We lose starting central midfielder Jimmy Cisterna for a couple weeks due to a pulled hammy late in the first leg, but other than that I start the same eleven for the second, home leg.

The game winds up being the polar opposite of the first leg. A scoreless and uneventful first half sees us hold our 3-2 aggregate lead. We don’t take advantage of a couple of chances to pad our lead in the second half, but Iberia never really challenges. The game ends in a 0-0 draw, and we’re on to the second round.

While I’ve clearly set higher expectations than our board for this season, it’s still nice to at least meet our first target by getting to the second round.

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The day after our match the second round draw takes place. We draw Palestino, a quality opponent predicted to finish fourth in the First Division this year. We'll certainly be underdogs, but for now it's time to focus our attention on the start of the league campaign.

Edited by trman73

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Chilean First Division Opening Stage Game 1: Santiago Wanderers (0-0-0) vs. Everton (0-0-0)

Our opening match of First Division play is at home against our main rival, Everton, which adds a little more pressure to my first league contest. Everton was promoted a year ago and is predicted to finish right above us in 13th place. So this match will be a good barometer of where we stand.

The day before the match we lose a key player, our starting left winger, David Terans, for 5-6 weeks with a sports hernia. This was the player I could least afford to lose, as we have absolutely no depth at that position. I need to move our right winger, Ruben Farfan, to the left side, and start a subpar player, Roberto Saldias, on the right side. We’re now down three starters. Damnit.

The first half is a back-and-forth, open affair, with each team missing a couple of quality chances. Five minutes into the second half we score on a really nice run along the left sideline by our left back Oscar Opazo, who plants a pretty cross right to Saldias, our replacement right winger, to break the deadlock.

Just over a minute later we score again, as Rodrigo Pastorini gets his first of the year. We seal it in the 74th on a 4-on-1 jailbreak that leads to the unlikely hero Saldias getting his second goal of the night. We lay back for the last 20 minutes and coast to a 3-0 win.

After the game we learn that Pastorini will miss 3-4 weeks with a strained back, another big injury blow. But for now, we’ll celebrate this win and get ready for next week’s match.

LG1.thumb.png.39734e0d87f2e4ad7d1faf9eaba8edeb.png

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Chilean First Division Opening Stage Game 2: Cobresol (1-0-0; 3 pts.; 2nd place) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-0-0; 3 pts.; 1st place)

Our first league road match is against Cobresol, predicted to finish 15th, so we have a legitimate shot at two wins in our first two league matches.

Before the match I pick up a left winger, Wilson Pinones, on deadline day, to provide a little depth at a position where there is none.

My replacement for the injured Pastorini is Javier Parraguez, who’s on loan from Hauchipato. He justifies my faith in him by scoring twice in the first half, but we are horrible defensively and trail 3-2 at the break.

We give up three more goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half and are down 6-2. But we mount a furious comeback of our own, scoring three times in 10 minutes to bring it to 6-5. But we can’t complete the comeback, and we fall 6-5. It’s a terrible defensive performance and we’ve got a lot of work to do.

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Edited by trman73

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Thanks for reading Keano. Unfortunately, we followed this crazy game up with an uninspired effort.

Santiago Wanderers (1-0-1, 3 pts., 7th) vs. Universidad de Chile (0-1-1, 1 pt., 12th)

We put Nery Veloso back in net after the six-goal fiasco last week. We’re the Monday night game this week so with all the other results in, a win will put us in fourth and a draw will put us sixth. It’s early, but my goal is obviously a top five finish and a spot in the first-half playoffs.

Depsite their early struggles Universidad de Chile is a quality club. We play a scoreless first half but they break through with a goal in the 58th and we trail at home, 0-1.  They add a capper in the 89th and win 2-0. Not a good performance, and the positive vibes from the Cup wins and our opening league victory are gone. Maybe we are a club that’s going to battle for relegation after all.

LG3.thumb.png.1c5adb6f532960932f0de1e34a160bc2.png

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Santiago Wanderers (1-0-2, 3 pts., 9th) vs. Deportes Iquique (1-0-2, 3 pts., 11th)

We need to get it together at home against a midlevel team we should get a result against. We have our starting midfield together for the first time in the league season, although we’re still missing two key starters: Pastorini and Terans. Then our other starting forward, Charquero, gets ill the day before the match and will miss the game. Injuries are killing us here.

Four minutes in we give up a terrible, long-range goal and go down 0-1.  We give up a second in the 25th and trail 0-2 at halftime.

In the 58th, we score on a freak own-goal and are back in it at 1-2. Five minutes later Iquique gets called for a penalty but the PK is saved, a huge missed opportunity. We continue our onslaught and in the 77th Parraguez scores a beauty to tie it 2-2! I decide to keep the pressure on and play attacking football. Parraguez airmails a point-blank chance in the final 30 seconds and we settle for a 2-2 draw and a quality comeback.

58cedaa9bb745_ScreenShot2017-03-19at2_22_51PM.thumb.png.e4d13fc9254efb271a1b7faa72b6deaf.png

Edited by trman73

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Audax Italiano (2-1-1; 7 pts; 5th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-1-2; 4 pts.; 9th)

The big news for this match is that we get back both our forwards, Pastorini and Charquero. Javier Parraguez was phenomenal in his three starts, netting four goals with an average rating of 7.53, but he goes back to the bench to hopefully provide some late spark when needed.

Audax Italiano is a quality opponent, predicted to finish 5th this year.

There are good 0-0 draws and bad 0-0 draws. This was a great 0-0 draw for us. We were on our heels the entire first half and were bailed out by our keeper, Nery Veloso, who made four phenomenal saves. He made another on a 1-on-1 break in the 89th minute to preserve the draw on the road. I’m really pleased with the result even though Audax Italiano was clearly the better team today.

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In news from other leagues, the LA Galaxy have fired Bruce Arena. Picked to be the top team in MLS, the Galaxy are fighting for a playoff spot at 10-7-7. Obviously I’m in no position right now to apply for any MLS job, but quite a different circumstance that in real life for Arena.

Edited by trman73

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A third of the way through the opening stage is a good time to take a step back and assess where we are...

We're 12th in the league at 1-2-2. We're three points back of the top five and just two points from the relegation zone.

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Despite being shut out twice in our first five, I actually like our attack. We're tied for tops in the league with 10 goals scored. Conversely, our defense is pretty leaky and we've given up the second-most goals in league play (with 60% of them coming in the nightmare 6-5 loss to Cobresol). We haven't played most the top teams, so we need to tighten up here in the next month. We're also getting healthy again, and our last injured starter, David Terans, will probably be ready to go for our next match.

We've got another road match coming up against 6th place Universidad de Concepcion, then the second round of the cup begins with the road leg against Palestino.

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squad.thumb.png.ddeeb5e7c5116cae637e06b5f1bb5cce.png

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Universidad de Concepcion (2-2-1; 8 pts; 6th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-2-2, 5 pts., 12th)

For the second time, Jonathan Chaquero gets ill the day before a match (nerves?). While he’s close to full strength by game time, I use this as an opportunity to put Parraguez in his spot and team him with Pastorini.

Parraguez scores, but we lose, 2-1. Not much to say about this one. We fall to 13th place and set our sights on Leg 1 of the second round of the Chile Cup coming up midweek.

58cf2f73837a8_ScreenShot2017-03-19at8_23_06PM.thumb.png.2c4d709f1cf95c413a2a8b052cb3a7be.png

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Chile Cup, Round 2: Palestino vs. Santiago Wanderers (First Leg)

With our league season headed in a lackluster direction, I’m hoping we can get a decent result on the away leg of our Cup matchup with Palestino. I make a few changes to the lineup to try to shake things up, but it doesn’t much matter. We lose 1-0, and will have to improve our performance in the second leg.

I’m going to pause her for a second and just note that I’ve read on the boards that many players have difficulty breaking out of slumps in FM17. Count me in this group. In previous versions, some tactical tweaks, shifts in training focus, and massaging of team morale has been effective to get a team out of a funk. In this game, there’s a legitimate chance I could go on a 12-game losing streak here. I’m aware that I’m managing a weaker team in this division, we’ve had injuries to key players, and I’m not professing to be an expert manager by any means. But this has happened to me in all of my (aborted) saves in FM17. I just can’t get out of the hole. I am pessimistic that it will happen here.

Anyway, I've got 11 days before my next match and it's time to re-assess everything.

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Santiago Wanderers (1-2-3, 5 pts., 13th) vs. San Luis (2-2-2, 8 pts., 10th)

We haven’t won since our opening match of the league season, but we’ve had a good 10 days of training and I’m looking forward to playing a home match for the first time in nearly a month.

It starts with the same old same old, as San Luis scores midway through the first half and we’re not even challenging. But in the 82nd  Farfan leaves a perfect cross for Charquero, who puts it away easily to pull us even at 1-1. That’s the final and we pick up a point and remain in 13th after seven games.

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O’Higgins (3-1-3, 10 pts., 7th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-3-3, 6 pts., 13th)

Desperate for a win, we may have found the perfect tonic. O’Higgins started the season on fire but has now lost five straight games overall and has been playing two games a week for the last month as they are in the Copa Sudamericana. We only have one point from our first three road matches of the league season, but I smell a result for us here.

We look great in the first 15 minutes, creating some decent opportunities, but in the span of two minutes we have two massive defensive breakdowns that lead to two breakaways, and O’Higgins takes advantage of both.

We’re down 2-0 at halftime, but Charquero brings us closer with a beauty in the 61st. But we give it right back two minutes later, then concede two more. We lose 5-1 in our worst performance of the season, and I rip the team’s effort to the media after the match.

58d0ac9f89873_ScreenShot2017-03-20at11_28_28PM.thumb.png.c22173b648b22157d022e81a3d1e4269.png

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Chile Cup, Round 2: Santiago Wanderers vs. Palestino (Second Leg; Palestino leads 1-0)

Following my harsh words after the O’Higgins loss I hold a team meeting and give the standard “let’s keep our heads up here” speech, which the club responds to. We've got the second leg of our cup match on Wednesday, and it’s a chance to get out of this funk.

We make some major lineup changes, shifting our defenders’ positions and bringing in four new starters, including Castellon in goal.

We concede in the 17th and go down 0-2 on aggregate, but midway through the second half we get goals from Charquero (his third straight game with a goal) and then midfielder Jimmy Cisterna, who scores his first of the year.

It’s a tense second half and I’m ready to head to penalties (no away goals rule here). Then it happens: in the 90th minute Charquero drops a beautiful pass to a streaking Farfan down the left side, and Farfan takes it into the box and scores a fabulous goal to give us a 3-2 win!

We are on to the quarterfinals of the Chile Cup!

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Edited by trman73

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Universidad Catolica (4-3-1, 15 pts., 3rd) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-3-4, 6 pts., 14th)

Obviously my hope is that the dramatic midweek cup win will create some momentum for us. But a road match against Catolica will be tough as they are playing really well. But we shoot ourselves in the foot in the 29th when central defender Mario Parra gets sent off with a (deserved) straight red card. We hang on for a while but finally concede in the 69th, and fall 1-0. The loss drops us to last place in the league.

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Santiago Wanderers (1-3-5, 6 pts., 16th) vs. Palestino (5-1-3, 15 pts., 5th)

I bag my National C Coaching License and immediately ask the board to embark on a National B, which is approved. I’m happy the board is allowing me to further my skills.

Palestino will no doubt be out for revenge after we knocked them out of the cup, but we know we can beat these guys and we have to get out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into. The game is a back-and-forth affair but no one can break through. In the 76th we bring Pastorini on as a sub, and almost immediately he gets fouled in the box for a penalty. But he misses the kick – a huge gut punch as it looks like we’re going to leave points on the pitch.

Or not.

In the 88th David Terans leaves a beautiful cross right onto the foot of Jimmy Cistena, who nails it into the net to give us the 1-0 lead! We actually hit the crossbar twice in extra time, and hang on to win and end our eight-game league losing streak! The win moves us up to 12th in the table, although we’re still just a point out of the bottom position.

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Chile Cup Quarterfinal: Santiago Wanderers vs. Universidad de Chile (First Leg)

We've won two of our last three matches (each against Palestino) and now face a tough challenge in the cup quarters. It would be great to get off to a fast start in this one and put the pressure on Universidad de Chile, one of the signature clubs in our league and winner of this competition a year ago.

We give up a goal in the 8th minute, but we're creating chances and playing well in the early going. Charquero scores his fourth goal in our last six games to tie it in the 19th and we go to the half 1-1.

In the second half, UdC continues to play aggressive and starts to make defensive mistakes. Charquero capitalizes on one of those mistakes in the 74th to scores his second and give us the lead. Then he caps off a phenomenal game by setting up Pastorini for his first goal in more than two months in the closing minutes, and we take the game, 3-1.

We have a nice lead heading into the road leg in two weeks. This was our best game of the season, and we're playing our best football of the year right now. I'm really pleased.

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Union Espanola (4-4-2; 16 pts; 6th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (2-3-5, 9 pts., 13th)

I’d love to keep the momentum going against a team that’s won its last two league games but is hardly unbeatable.

We hit the crossbar three times in the first half, then give up three second-half goals to bring our string of quality games to an end. Charquero scores again late but we fall, 3-1. It's on the the second leg of the Chile Cup quarterfinals.

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Chile Cup Quarterfinal: Universidad de Chile vs. Santiago Wanderers (Second Leg; Wanderers lead 3-1)

We know our opponent is going to come out aggressively down two goals, and sure enough they do, with Castellon needing to make a couple great saves in the first half to keep it scoreless at the break. In the 73rd minute our chances of holding on get a huge boost as Universidad loses a man to a second yellow card. Sure enough, they don't mount any serious challenges in the final 20 minutes, the game ends 0-0, and we are on to the Chile Cup semifinals!

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After the game we get some terrible news: central defender Luis Garcia, who I inserted into the starting lineup five games ago and really helped improve our defense, has a broken ankle and is out 7-9 months, basically ending his season. That's a big blow.

In the cup semifinal draw, we get Colo Colo, the best team in our league. But we're riding high in this tournament right now and are prepared to give them a run in the semis.

Edited by trman73

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Santiago Wanderers (2-3-6, 9 pts., 13th) vs. Deportes Antofagasta (3-3-5, 12 pts., 11th)

We continue our dramatically improved play against a team two spots ahead of us in the table. After a scoreless first half we take complete control in the second, with Parraguez scoring in the 49th, Wilson Pinones adding one in the 78th (just a couple minutes after coming on as a sub) and Charquero capping it off with two in the final 10 minutes for a dominant 4-0 home win.

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The win moves us up to 11th with three games to go in the first stage.

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In our last seven matches we're 4-1-2, not exactly earth shattering but certainly our best run of the season.

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Three of our last five matches of the first half of the season are against Colo Colo - the cup semis and then an away match there to close the stage.

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Santiago Wanderers (3-3-6, 12 pts., 11th) vs. Hauchipato (6-5-1, 23 pts., 3rd)

Hauchipato has been the story of the year thus far in the First Division. Predicted to finish dead last, they’ve spent more time atop the table than any other team. A run of three straight draws sees them in third, but their one loss is the fewest in the league.

Until today.

We give up two goals in the first half and prepare to go to the break down 0-2. But Hauchipato gets called for a penalty in the closing seconds of stoppage time, and Charquero nails it to give us some hope and pull us to 1-2.

In the 50th minute we get a huge boost when Hauchipato loses a man to a red card, and we immediately shift to attack mode. Jimmy Cisterna ties it in the 61st, then Charquero completely takes over, scoring in the 74th to give us the lead and again in the 80th to complete his hat trick. We win 4-2 in a thrilling match, and have scored eight goals in or last two league matches, winning both. We’re up to 10th in the league.

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We now take almost a month break from league play due to the international schedule. We've got the first leg of the cup semis against Colo Colo on Wednesday, then have three weeks off before the second leg.

Edited by trman73

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Chile Cup Semifinal: Santiago Wanderers vs. Colo Colo (Leg 1)

We're clear underdogs in this matchup, and our job is made even harder with two of our starting defenders, left back Frederico Perez and center back Augustin Parra (easily our best defensive player) out for the first leg due to yellow card accumulation. We bring Reinaldo Ahumada up from our Under 19s and start him, and have to move midfielder Jimmy Cisterna to right back. Still, we're playing great football right now and I've got a good feeling. We're going to see a lot of Colo Colo in the next month, facing them three times. I'd like to establish that we're not going to be a pushover for them.

We strike first in the 18th, with (who else?) Charquero scoring on a beautiful run where he splits two defenders right down the middle and drills it home. We hold that 1-0 lead at the half despite Colo Colo producing numerous chances. In the 64th a great hustle play by Parraguez leads to a steal, and he finds a streaking Charquero, who scores his second. I cannot believe we have a 2-0 lead in this game, but we do. Less than five minutes later David Terans gives us a 3-0 lead and we are absolutely rolling. Maybe they're tired, maybe they're frustrated, but Colo Colo don't create any chances in the final 20 minutes and we win, 3-0. A 19-year old making his debut, two players playing out of position, and a dominant win. A trip to the Chile Cup final is a real possibility!

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Let's get straight to the second leg...

Chile Cup Semifinal: Colo Colo vs. Santiago Wanderers (Leg 2; Wanderers lead 3-0)

We have to wait an unbearable three weeks between matches, and during the break we lose a key man, Parraguez, to an abdominal strain. He'll miss the second leg of the cup semis. Pastorini, who has really fallen out of favor with me, replaces him at forward. On the plus side, we'll get our suspended starting defenders back.

We avoid further injury and match day finally arrives. We're under no illusion that Colo Colo is going to roll over here, and I expect them to throw everything at us. Instead, they put in a surprisingly lackluster effort. They score in the 75th, but we clamp down, accept the 1-0 defeat, and advance to the Chile Cup final!

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We've defeated the two cup favorites in the quarters and semis, and will take on Deportes Iquique in the final in three weeks to end the first stage of our season.

Edited by trman73

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Deportes Temuco (3-4-6; 13 pts., 13th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (4-3-6, 15 pts., 11th)

Temuco has scored only nine goals in their 12 matches so far, so we've got a good chance of getting a result here. Still, we have just one point in our six road games in league play, so we can't coast on our recent success. With a win we'd guarantee a finish above the 14th place in the table that we predicted for us.

We play pretty sloppy football in this one but manage a 2-2 draw. We hold the lead at the half but give it up on a poor defensive sequence. Not much to say about this one... my mind is already on the cup final.

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Colo Colo (6-4-4; 22 pts., 3rd) vs. Santiago Wanderers (4-4-6, 16 pts., 11th)

Colo Colo is playing for a spot in the first-half playoffs, and they act like it, taking it to us for a 2-0 win. Despite just one point in our final two matches, we finish the Opening Stage campaign in 11th place.

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Edited by trman73

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Chile Cup Final: Santiago Wanderers vs. Deportes Iquique

This certainly isn’t the final the odds makers would have predicted, as the Chile Cup final features us against the team that finished last in the First Division Opening Stage. Iquique went just 3-3-9 in league play, but made a miraculous run to the final. I’d say we faced better competition, but we’re both here, and we need to put in a good performance tonight to lift the cup. We start our standard lineup while our opponents have their starting keeper and two starting defenders out with injury.

We control play in the first half but are unable to break through and it’s 0-0 at halftime. By the 70 minute mark I am getting nervous as we’re just not converting on our chances. In the 90th minute their keeper makes a brilliant save, then we whiff on a corner and the game ends 0-0.

With no extra time in this competition, the Cup final goes to penalties. We don’t have a lot of great PK takers, but we line up and get ready.

Charquero opens by scoring for us, then Iquique’s first chance goes wide and we have the advantage. Our second takers each make, then Farfan drills his. Castellon saves Iquique’s third, and we’re a goal away from the win. Parraguez steps up, calmly nails it, and we win on kicks, 4-1.

Santiago Wanderers have won the Chile Cup!!!!!

We thoroughly deserved this win as we were the better team all night. I'm thrilled to give the Wanderers their first trophy in 15 years!

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Edited by trman73

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2016-17 First Half Season Review

Chilean First Division Opening Stage - 4-4-7, 16 pts., 11th place

Well, we were predicted to finish 14th in the league, so technically we exceeded expectations. Still, we were much closer to the bottom of the table than we were to a playoff spot, so we'll need an improved performance in the Closing Stage. Grade: B-

Chile Cup - Champions!

A fantastic run to the Cup title was the highlight of our first half. Jonathan Charquero led the competition with six goals, and Gabriel Castellon led with four shutouts in goal. We earned a spot in the Copa Libertadores with the win, so we'll be in continental competition starting in February. We also earn $100,000 for the win in the finals and $150,000 total for our run. Grade: A+

First Half Most Valuable Player - F Jonathan Charquero

Our cup run, as well as our improved performance in our final eight matches of league play, were directly related to this guy's emergence as one of the best scoring threats in the league. He finishes with 8 goals (tied for fourth in the league) in 14 league appearances, and six goals with three assists (and a 7.47 rating) in our nine cup matches, for 14 goals and 8 assists in all competitions.

Runners up: AMR Ruben Farfan, who tied for the league lead with six assists in the Opening Stage; and GK Gabriel Castellon, who established himself as our top goalkeeper and improved a great deal as the Opening Stage and the cup competition went on.

Second Half Outlook:

I expect to finish in the top half, and legitimately think we can challenge for a spot in the second-half playoffs. As for the Copa Libertadores, which we enter in the second qualifying round, I'd just like to make a good showing.

I am going to put two players who we thought would be key contributors on the transfer list: keeper Nery Veloso, who started the season injured and never got on track, lost his starting spot to Castellon and is making too much money to sit on the bench; and, more surprisingly, forward Rodrigo Pastorini, who I thought was going to be our best player. Instead he scored just two goals in 10 league matches and has lost his starting spot. Valued at $175,000, I'm hoping we can stabilize our financial situation a bit by dealing him away.

We have a three weeks off before the Second Stage of the league starts on New Year's Day, so we'll focus on training and be ready to go at the start of the new year.

Edited by trman73

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Brazilian club Chapecoense, just relegated from the First Division, make me a $60,000 offer for keeper Nery Veloso, which I accept. This saves us the rest of his $110,000 annual salary and gets us out of the financial hole we're in. Veloso was going to be free at the end of the year anyway, and we've got our keeper of the future in Gabriel Castellon, so we let Veloso go and bring 24-year-old Jose Lafrentz up to back up Castellon. We have a 19-year-old as our emergency starter, so we don't need to find a replacement.

As we prepare to start the second half of the season, we'll be without a key player, as Adrian Cuadra, our 18-year-old starting midfielder, will participate in the South America Under 20s Championship, which will keep him away from the team for up to a month. Cuadra has started all but two of our matches thus far and has exceeded expectations, so he'll be missed. Matias Fernandez, who has been complaining about playing time, will slot into Cuadra's position.

On New Year's Eve, the day before our first match of the closing stage, Pastorini agrees to sign with Dorados de Sinaloa of the Mexican Promotion League. I get $30,000 for him and get his $80K salary off the books, and we're now more than stable financially. I plan to use the money from Veloso and Pastorini's sales to sign our pending free agents, and possibly improve our midfield and defense for the second half.

It's halfway through the season in Europe, so just for the heck of it I apply for the open Wolverhampton position. Wolves are 15th in the Championship and fired Sean Parrish on New Year's Eve. I applied just to see where I stand in the world at this point.

Chilean First Division Closing Stage, Game 1: Everton (0-0-0) Santiago Wanderers (0-0-0)

As the calendar flips to 2017, we open the second stage the same way we opened the first: against our rivals, Everton, who we smoked 3-0 last time out. Like us, Everton finished with 16 points in the opening stage, but they placed below us in 13th. It's really important for us to get a result here on the road in our first match of the second half.

We're down 1-0 at the break and I lay into the guys for their lackluster effort. They respond in a big way, with Farfan scoring twice and Augustin Parra adding another to give us a 3-1 lead. Franco Ortega, taking over for Pastorini as our backup forward, adds his first of the year and we cruise to the 4-1 win. We outscore our rivals 7-1 in two wins against them this year and are off to a nice start in the second stage of league play.

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Edited by trman73

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We tie up some contracts with the money we saved from our recent player sales, most notably Jimmy Cisterna, who's been excellent at center midfield.

Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (1-0-0, 3 pts., 1st) vs. Cobresol (1-0-0, 3 pts., 6th)

This was the team that beat us 6-5 in the craziest game of our season thus far, so revenge is on our agenda, and I'd love to get six points from our first two matches.

The first half is reminiscent of the cup final, as we have a number of chances but don't take advantage. In the 63rd we score on a great individual effort by Terans to go up 1-0. Right before stoppage time, Jimmy Cisterna suffers a gashed head and goes down, and while he's laying on the center of the field Cobresol ties it, and the game ends as a 1-1 draw. Definitely a missed opportunity to win our first two matches, but we're still playing well.

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Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Universidad de Chile (0-0-2, 0 pts., 15th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-1-0, 4 pts., 4th)

We suffer a major injury blow in training this week, as Augustin Parra, our captain and best defender, is lost for 4-6 weeks with a hernia. Reinaldo Ahumada, who started last week's game and has played well in two starts this season, will take his place, and I trust him to step up.

Injuries have really destroyed Universidad de Chile's season. Predicted to win the league, they finished 9th in the opening stage, fired their manager, and have lost their first two matches in the closing stage. They have five starters out injured for this game, two for the rest of the season, and are totally reeling.

In my tunnel interview I throw my support behind Javier Parraguez, who is on a lengthy goal drought. Sure enough, he rewards my faith with a goal in the 6th minute.

It's our only highlight of the day.

We have an incredibly bad defensive game, with Universidad carving us up for four goals and missing on a handful of additional chances. It's our worst game in months, and I give the guys a break in my post-game talk, but we drop to 7th position and need to get three points in our next game.

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Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (1-1-1, 4 pts., 7th) vs. Audax Italiano (2-1-0, 7 pts., 4th)

We lose our other starting central defender, Mario Parra, to yellow card accumulation for this match, so we're without our starting central defense against one of the better offensive teams in the league.

We really need these defenders back. Audax scores a goal in the first 10 minutes, then adds another right before the first half whistle and we're down 0-2 at the break, at home. I rip the team at the half and tell them to get their act together. They don't. Audax add two more in the final 10 minutes, and in our three matches after our opening win over Everton we have just one point.

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Prior to our next match the draw for the second round of the Copa Libertadores takes place. We draw Juan Aurich of the Peruvian First Division. They came into the tourney in the first qualifying round and easily dispatched a team from Venezuela. A quick look at their roster doesn't yield too much intel, as most of their guys are "greyed out" since I don't have Peru as a playable nation. The guys they do list don't appear to be anything great.

With just a week to go in the transfer window, we make an offer for a veteran defender, 33-year-old Rodrigo Brito, who can play anywhere in the back and would give us some depth. Our $14K bid is accepted, and he accepts a $37K/year contract through June 2018. We're not going to do anything crazy transfer-wise until the offseason, although I'd like to bring in a right winger if we can since Farfan is with us on loan and appears to be too expensive to hold on to permanently.

Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Deportes Iquique (0-1-3, 1 pts., 14th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (1-1-2, 4 pts., 11th)

The last time Iquique saw us we were lifting the Chile Cup after beating them in the final on penalties. Like us, they've struggled since their cup run, giving up nine goals in their four matches and managing just one point. Something has to give here.

I do something I never do, which is come out with an attacking mentality in the first half. It works as we dominate play, with Charquero finally breaking through in the 25th to give us a 1-0 lead. Terans scores a beauty in the opening minutes of the second half and we're cruising. We add a third in the second half, Castellon gets his first clean sheet of the closing stage, and we play our best game in a month.

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Edited by trman73

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The day after our win against Iquique, I bag my National B Coaching License. I immediately ask the board to continue on with my development and go for a National A, and they refuse, telling me that they're afraid another team may poach me. Reluctantly, I tell them that I will agree to sign a new contract if they let me pursue my National A license, and they change their minds. The next message I get is a contract renewal. They offer me a $15,000 raise to $80,000 through the end of next season. I negotiate it up to $85,000 and agree to be the head coach of Santiago Wanderers for an additional year. Honestly I'm going to probably gauge the market for my services in the offseason anyway, even though I've enjoyed coaching in Chile more than I thought.

The same day this all takes place, our acquisition of defender Rodrigo Brito is finalized.

Copa Libertadores, Second Qualifying Round: Juan Aurich vs. Santiago Wanderers (First Leg)

Coming off our best win of the second half of our season, we have a midweek match in the first round of the South American Champions League. We're the underdogs for this match but I feel good about getting a result. I wish we had Cuadra back from international duty, but the Chile Under 20s advanced to the final round of the South America Under 20 Championship, and the experience he's gaining as a starter on this team is a good thing.

The game is a pretty tentative affair, with each team generating just a couple legitimate chances. It ends in a 0-0 draw. I'm pretty happy with the team's effort, and we'll head home for the second leg next week.

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Edited by trman73

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Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (2-1-2, 7 pts., 8th) vs. Universidad de Concepcion (2-1-2, 7 pts., 10th)

We're the favorites in this match, and as we approach the halfway point of the second stage of our league season a win would put us in pretty solid position. I start my usual team even with the midweek Libertadores match coming up.

After a scoreless first half, David Terans scores on a brilliant free kick (our set pieces have been terrible all year) to give us a 1-0 lead. But Concepcion pulls back even less than 10 minutes later and dominates play for the next 15 minutes. Then a beautiful passing sequence ends with Charquero settling up Parraguez for a really pretty goal in the 72nd, and we're back up. We lock down defensively in the final 20 minutes, Parraguez scores his second in stoppage time, and we grab a crucial 3-1 win.

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Copa Libertadores, Second Qualifying Round: Santiago Wanderers vs. Juan Aurich (Second Leg; 0-0)

We're home for the second leg, and we are in control for the entire first half but aren't taking advantage of our chances. Finally, in the 41st, Terans sets up Jimmy Cisterna for a wicked strike from 20 years out, and we head to the locker room up 1-0.

Aurich ties it in the 59th on a cross we really should have handled, and we're down on away goals. But in the 72nd Cisterna gets fouled in the box and we have a chance to retake the lead. Charquero nails the penalty and we've got to hang on for the final 20 minutes to reach the next round. We do just that, and we win 2-1 and are just two games away from group stage of Copa Libertadores.

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The day after our match is the draw for the third qualifying round. We draw Brazilian club Cruzeiro, which destroyed its Bolivian opponent 9-0 in the second round and finished fifth in the Brazilian First Division last year. We're going to be a huge underdog against them, but our guys are playing well. The first leg will be at home next week.

Edited by trman73

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Chilean First Division Closing Stage: San Luis (2-2-2, 8 pts., 9th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (3-1-2, 10 pts., 6th)

We get Adrian Cuadra back from the Chile Under 20s (who finished third in the continental championship, their best finish since 1995), but he's exhausted and is going to be on the bench for this one. He started seven of the Under 20s' nine games and finished with a 7.06 rating. Even better, Augustin Parra is cleared to play in this one as well. We'll start him on the bench too but hope to give him some run in this match to get his legs back.

San Luis scores on a corner midway through the first half, but we get it back on a goal by Terans, who's been our best player in the second half of the season. The second half is a boring affair, and we settle for the 1-1 draw. We have seven points in four road matches in the second stage after being the worst road team in the league in the first half.

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Edited by trman73

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Copa Libertadores, Third Qualifying Round: Santiago Wanderers vs. Cruzeiro Esportes Clube (First Leg)

Cruzeiro has a rich history, and won back-to-back Brazilian National First Division titles in 2013 and 2014. They finished fifth in the continent's best league in 2016, which is why they are in the qualifying rounds. All this is to say, we've got a huge challenge ahead of us here.

There are four third qualifying round matchups. Even if we don't beat these guys, we still have a chance to extend our participation in continental competition. Of the four teams that lose in this round, the two that have the best showing (which I assume to mean goal differential) will advance to the Round of 32 of the Copa Sudamericana, the South American equivalent of the Europa League. So there's definitely a lot of incentive for us to play well, particularly in this first match at home.

We get Augustin Parra back in the starting lineup, and I also insert Adrian Cuadra back in at center midfield, even though he needs extended rest. I just can't afford that right now, and I need him to give me 45 good minutes.

It's clear from the opening whistle that Cruzeiro is the superior team. We hang on for a bit thanks to a couple great saves from Castellon, but CEC breaks through in the 27th, then we are called for a really questionable penalty on Augustin Parra in the 35th and we're down 2-0. But then... life. Charqeuro makes a great individual run to the middle of the box, and scores on a wicked strike that bounces off a CEC defender and we close it to 2-1 at the half.

I pull both Cuadra and Parra and take my chances. In the second half we control play throughout, and our defense plays brilliantly. No one scores, and we lose 1-2. I'm really proud of the team's effort in this match, and I tell them so.

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trman73   

Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (3-2-2, 11 pts., 8th) vs. O'Higgins (5-1-1, 16 pts., 3rd)

Things don't get any easier for us in league play this week, as we face the Opening Stage winners O'Higgins. This team is 15-3-4 overall in the league this year and tore us to pieces 5-1 when we played them in the first half of the season. Given that we're tired from the cup match, this one has all the makings of a disaster.

We give up two goals on corners in the first half, get a goal from Charquero on a PK, and are down 1-2 at the half. In the second half, Charquero, Farfan and Terans all miss on point-blank chances, we concede on a breakaway with 10 minutes to go, and lose to O'Higgins, 3-1. We remain in 8th, but we're five points back of a playoff spot with half the stage gone.

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trman73   

Copa Libertadores, Third Qualifying Round: Cruzeiro Esportes Clube vs. Santiago Wanderers (Second Leg; CEC leads 2-1)

The first of the second legs of this round is played the day before ours, with Brazil's Santos collecting a 5-2 aggregate win. With River at home with a 3-0 lead in its matchup, if we can lose by just a goal we should be okay for the Copa Sudamericana. Of course we'd love to pull of an upset here and advance to group stage in the Libertadores.

It's not to be.

A third of the way through the match we're down 3-0 and our chances of upsetting these guys are over. Parraguez does get one back for us and we're down at the half, 3-1, and trailing 5-2 on aggregate. I have to decide whether to lay back and try to maintain our two-goal deficit or go all out to try to make something happen. I can't in good conscience not give these guys the opportunity to fight for a spot in the group stage, so we go on the attack. It doesn't yield any goals, though, and we lose 3-1 and 5-2 on aggregate and we'll have to wait and see if we advance to the Copa Sudamericana.

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I'm not sure if I advance to the Copa Sudamericana or not. We have the exact same results as Independiente of Ecuador in our fixtures: 3-1 road losses and 2-1 home losses. I guess I'll wait and see. Regardless, we're a team that was predicted to finish 14th in our league this year, and we came close to the group stage of the continental cup competition, so there's a lot to build on here.

Edited by trman73

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trman73   

Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (3-2-3, 11 pts., 8th) vs. Universidad Catolica (7-1-0, 22 pts., 1st)

With our cup competition over, we turn our attention to our final seven games of league play. After playing the first-half winners O'Higgins our last time out, we now face the current league leaders, Catolica. With fourth-place Palestino next up, this is a brutal run of games and we need results from these two matches if we want any chance of reaching the Closing Stage playoffs.

We're sluggish in the early going, and it looks like our schedule is catching up to us. But in the 37th Parraguez gets a gimme on a great pass from Charquero to put us up. Five minutes later, Augustin Parra sends a great pass from our end over the defense to a streaking Parraguez, who has nothing but green in front of him and easily beats the keeper for a 2-0 lead! That's the score at the half. We add a third in the 55th to effectively put this one away, and win 3-1, handing Catolica their first loss of the Closing Stage.

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Edited by trman73

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trman73   

Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Palestino (5-3-1, 18 pts., 6th) vs. Santiago Wanderers (4-2-3, 14 pts., 8th)

We really need something our of this match, as we remain four points out of playoff position. We've got to switch things around in the back line as both our left and right defenders are suspended for this match for yellow card accumulation. Right before the end of the first half, Brito makes his presence felt in his first game for us, scoring on a set piece delivered by Terans, and we're up 1-0 at the break.

In the 54th minute Mario Parra picks up his second yellow card and is sent off, and just over a minute later Palestino scores to tie it. I'm hoping to hang on for a draw, but in the 79th Parraguez gets taken down and we get a free kick from about 25 yards out, and Terans puts it in the top right corner for a brilliant goal. Despite being a man down for the final 40 minutes, we collect a much-needed win, 2-1.

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Chilean First Division Closing Stage: Santiago Wanderers (5-2-3, 17 pts., 8th) vs. Union Espanola (7-3-0, 24 pts., 4th)

For the fourth straight game we play one of the top teams in the league. Espanola is the last remaining undefeated team in the Closing Stage, but we've knocked off some good teams on our two-game winning streak. Despite going 4-1-1 in our last six league games, we remain in eighth place. That will change if we win this match, as with all other matches finished this week we know that if we win we're in a tie for fifth.

Instead, we play our most frustrating game of the year. We trade goals with Espanola in the first 30 minutes, then get a huge break when they have a man sent off with a straight red card. In the opening minutes of the second half, David Terans gives us the lead. But then Espanola scores to tie it, then takes the lead on a corner in the 71st. We can't get out of our own way in the final 20 minutes, and fall 2-3 despite have a man advantage for 50 minutes. Yuck. We remain in 8th for the sixth straight week, but blow a huge opportunity. Ugh.

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