Monday, May 10, 2010

Dayton Dutch Lions – Cincinnati Kings (07-05-2010)

This season various new teams joined the Premier Development League (PDL), but one has attracted my attention from the start: the Dayton Dutch Lions. The team is co-owned by Erik Tammer, a former Dutch professional football player who never lived up to his huge potential, and supported by FC Twente, the new Dutch football champions. It is absolutely unclear to me why they chose Dayton, Ohio, to start their American adventure. It seems that the Dutch Lions are at least as much a youth academy, and hence business, as a professional football team. They played their first game ever against Global United FC, a collection of international former stars (including Thomas Dooley, Marco Etchevery, Fredi Bobic and Paul Bosvelt), in front of 3.000 people.

Tonight the Dayton Dutch Lions played their local rivals, the Cincinnati Kings, at the Miami Valley South Stadium, also home to the Miami Valley Warriors, a semi-professional American football team, in Bellbrook, Ohio, a Dayton suburb. The stadium of the local high school underwent a $3.000.000 renovation and can now seat 4.000 people on the two large and one small bleachers.

M. and I paid $10 for a general admission ticket and entered the stadium almost an hour before kick-off, keeping ourselves happy with checking out the merchandise (quite a decent offer) and the concessions (not too bad, though terribly slow service). Unfortunately, the weather gods were against us: what should have been a nice summer evening, was in fact a very cold, windy and even rainy evening (ca. 46F/8C). This might explain the much lower attendance: at best 600 people, although the website speaks of “a little over 1000 spectators” (a clear exaggeration); I guestimate some 25-50 from nearby Cincinnati.

Although the Dayton Dutch Lions get most of their attention and interest, including from me, because of their Dutch connection and players, the slight majority of the squad is actually American. In fact, it is an odd mix of young American former college players (various with Dutch-sounding last names, like Hertsenberg or Vandersluijs), older Dutch former professionals (Geert Den Ouden, Oscar Moens, Hans van de Haar and Ivar van Dinteren), and young Dutch players who must be out of contract (such as Bas Ent, Johan Wigger and Julius Wille). The coach is the most famous of all: Sonny Silooy, former defender of ajax Amsterdam and 25-time Dutch international).

The Lions started with 5 Dutch players, who were also loudest on the pitch and the ones constantly criticizing the referee. From the beginning they were the better team; far superior technique, but tactically a bit weak (probably need more time together) and with a too slow pace. The first good chance was for the Kings, however, a half-volley straight at goalie Moens. However, in the 14th minute the Lions score, after a smart pass and an easy tip-in: 1-0. Time for the 10 ultras of the Orange Legion to go crazy. ;-)

The Lions remain dominant, but do not really pressure much. The first half looks like it is going to end 1-0, until the Lions get a free kick at about 20 meters and Wille curls it into the goal: 2-0. While the free kick was well taken, any half-decent goalie would have stopped it. Again a sign that PDL level is not very high and the Lions are clearly a cut above average… in talent.

After the usual half time entertainment, as American audiences have to be kept occupied the whole time they are in the stadium, the second half starts weak for the guests. The pace is even lower and several players seem to have lost interest. Both teams get some half chances, before the Lions blow a huge chance from roughly 2 meters. At least we have some extra entertainment, as Den Ouden is sitting a meter away from us, coaching his team mates loudly. It doesn’t help much though, as in the 72nd minute the Kings score 2-1 after a huge defensive mistaken of the Lions. However, this soon looks like only a temporary set back, as in the 75th minute Ent passes and McCarthy only has to tip it in from 3 meter: 3-1, game over.

However, the Lions are not just from Dayton, they are also… exactly, Dutch! And what do Dutch excel at? Screwing up easy victories! After the 3-1 they seem even less concentrate and keen – Ent in particular was terrible, unable to pass virtually any defender. After a long pass by the Kings, and the inevitable defensive blunder by the Lions, the visitors score again: 3-2 in the 79th minute.

This seems to have awakened the Lions, who create a string of real and semi-chances in the following five minutes; including a hammer on the crossbar from 25 meters. However, it is the Kings who score again, after a good free kick, and indecisive non-action by Moens: 3-3 and only 4 minutes left in regular time. To be fair, the Kings deserve it, as they have never given up, despite being clearly outclassed. While the Kings keep pressing for the winner, the Lions get the biggest chance: in the dying seconds Ent misses the goal from 3 meter!

There is no doubt that the Dayton Dutch Lions are a Dutch team. Despite the fact that more than half of its players are American, they combine superior skills with inferior mentality, the typical Dutch disease. That said, with a couple players being cleared in the near future (notably Van de Haar, who was a prolific scorer in the top two Dutch leagues), and some more practice together, the Lions could make quite a name for themselves in the PDL. I, for one, will try to see some more of their (away) games!


pst. said...

I often wondered what happened to Sonny Silooy. Now I know. Thanks, Grondhopper.

Teddy said...

The reason Dayton was chosen was simply because market research and all pointed at that area as the one in the USA in which success was most likely.