Fugly: Valhalla 2 O’Brien’s 2 (7-13-09)

It’s taking some time for Valhalla to come out of the fog of the Cup Championship it seems. 3 draws and a loss to start LAPL XV and plenty of bad play to go around.  Truthfully though, there’s been planty of good play as well. O’Brien’s was clearly outmatched but unlocking new ideas in the offensive zone seemed tough for Valhalla without the likes of Simone Totti and Mike Cowan.

With the super grudge match against Celtic coming up on Saturday, one can only hope the hard driving, raping and pillaging Vikings make an appearance. A solid win against the shamrocks could really jump start the season.

Payback!: Valhalla 2 Dinamo 3 (7-9-09)

With injuries and absenteeism mounting, game 3 of LAPL XV was another disappointing affair for the Vikings. This time it was Dinamo (truly a team of plumbers) who were gifted 3 tallies by shoddy defensive play and skipped off like they’d won the World Cup. Unfortunately, losing was what Valhalla deserved for missing so many opportunities and making so many errors. But what they didn’t deserve was the unbelievably poor sportsmanship of their opponents and the lackluster officiating courtesy of a ref that really belongs overseeing AYSO.

The LAPL is a great league: organized, private and sporting with a higher level of play than any other like league in the country but it rests on a balance. The balance is struck, whether one likes it or not, on the generally fair and consistent officiating of Alex Gorin.

As a caveat, Alex was recently asked by the NCAA to ref a private friendly between NCAA All stars and Inter Milan. Anyone that thinks he is not one of the best referees in the country should think on that. Of course, laziness may be another issue, but let’s face it, he knows the game.

Now if Valhalla could just get back to playing it at the level they’ve enjoyed recently…

Good Enough: Valhalla 2 Hollywood United 2 (6-21-09)

As it was 3 days ago against Avanti, Valhalla was severally hindered by injuries to their so called first XI. On the growing injured reserve list were Bove (ribs), Snell (ankle), Weaver (thigh), Jones (foot), Bartlett (acl) and O’Donnell (neck). In addition, Pearce, Kelly and Totti were not available for the game leaving Valhalla dependent on loyals Hom, Huss, Funke , Espinosa, Ongert and Wilborn as well as new recruits Ian Preikschat and John Cole.

Once again, the team the Vikings fielded gelled quickly, particularly the defense. Odin’s Boys opened the scoring with yet another great piece of work from Golden Boot hopeful Cowan. Hollywood equalized on a rare defensive breakdown but Ongert deftly one timed a strike past fading Hollywood star LaPaglia shortly afterward. Unfortunately, another scramble in Valhalla’s box (not that box Russo) brought the score even and there it stayed until the final whistle.

The Vikes spent many minutes on the back foot but in the end, it was a gutsy performance by a bunch of guys that just refused to quit. This group even had the mental fortitude to believe it was worthy of the win, putting their opponents under serious pressure in the final minutes.

Two games against last years #1 and #2 seeds to start the season and 2 satisfactory draws. Heads should be held high moving forward,Valhalla has emerged as a side with a depth not before seen but now clearly battle tested and ready for whatever challenges lie ahead.

Georgian Court Man of the Match: George Russo

Honorable Mention: Johnny Huss, Jason Wilborn