Once again, it’s all about me.
The weekend was spent even further northwest than the bit of the northwestern corner of the continental United States in which I live. I went to a weekend-long music festival with the family and some friends, spent a lot of time and energy making food, setting up and striking camp, and keeping the boys getting into too much trouble. At the same time, I was completely out of touch with any and all things not happening in the area immediate to our campsite, including opening weekend of the Bundesliga and, of course, the next in a series of chances to finally get that first victory of the season that would get the ball rolling toward the season-ending promotion that seemed so obviously the end result of this year’s efforts.
Shortly after Bayern München and Borussia Mönchengladbach exchanged penalty kicks of varying degrees of success, my mobile device was used for a bit of navigation before being shut down for the weekend.
An unexpected and complete draining of the battery, assured I would not be one of those people staring at their phone while being surrounded by things more worthy of attention, as well as my not learning, yet again, the result of the match before I could get to a proper position from which to view it via FC-TV.
On top of all of this is the fact that, admittedly, I was very confident of a victory. Despite it being a road game, I simply thought that the inevitability of 1. FC Köln becoming a second-league power and the early struggles of Paderborn would combine in a bit of a perfect storm. I think part of the reason I was able to relax all weekend and not want to check the score was because I felt so good about what I assumed the result would be.
So how do you think I felt watching that?!
It was bad enough that the game was boring. I was incredibly tired, not only from all the work that goes into camping with children, but also from a long drive home with a visit to the in-laws wedged into it. Late nights drinking beer and enjoying music certainly are my own fault, but I could have done without a 4 a.m. drunken rendition of “St. James Infirmary” by some gravelly voiced dude wandering the campsite our first night out. Top it all off with unloading vehicles, laundry, dish washing, and what I needed was something more like the goal-rich Schalke:HSV match, not a frustrating drudgery with few real chances and an early goal for the opposition delivering a sense of unease to accompany all the “Please do SOMETHING.”
All that being said, the payoff for sitting through all of that at the end of a long weekend full of anticipation was being launched out of my seat to pump my fist in celebration of the goal finally sneaking past the goal line when Kacper Przybylko redirected Maurice Exslager’s ball for the equalizer. Of course, the goal was followed by an intense sequence of events, making me think maybe it all really was going to pay off in a huge way.
Unfortunately, Kruse was ruled to have been in control of the ball when Daniel Halfar kicked it from between his hands and scoring what would have been a game winner. Also unfortunately, the handling of a ball seen by Exslager and Anthony Ujah was not seen by referee Peter Gagelmann, removing the possibility of three points coming from the penalty spot.
Another 1:1. Another uninspired performance. Another match that seems to have left more questions for coach Peter Stöger than he seemed to have had upon entering the day. Another week of “maybe THIS will be the weekend we celebrate a win.” Another table placement keeping us all shaking our heads.
Considering how many decent opportunities SC Paderborn had throughout the match, I feel I should be happy for the point, even though the fifteen minutes of effort the Effzeh delivered at the end of the match was nearly enough to still grab the three points.
But I’m not happy. I’m not happy with that point, nor with the three points in three matches. It is, unquestionably, better than how last season began, but far from the lofty expectations I have for this year’s club.
I originally had planned on talking about some of the individual efforts from Saturday, but while some were clearly poorer than others, I can’t think of a single player who should be able to honestly think of their performance that they gave a top effort. Sadly, I was disappointed with the performances of personal favorites Adam Matuschyk and Marcel Risse. I was also deflated by the efforts of Maxi Thiel and Halfar in their Effzeh debuts as starters in league competition.
I did enjoy the play of Pritsche, not only for his goal, but his fairly cool demeanor from the moment he took the pitch. Despite the deficit and the waning amount of time in which to right it, the young striker showed patience in times when more-experienced players mistakenly try to force plays that have no chance of succeeding. Rather than launching risky shots or unlikely crosses, I saw Przybylko making smart passes to let the pressure continue to mount. He showed smart play in a match that was dying for some.
Exslager wasn’t in the game for too long, but he definitely maximized his time, making a great impression on me. Of course, he benefited from the situation, with all resources being flung forward in a desperate effort to equalize, but he took advantage.
Otherwise, I’m not impressed.
From the sounds of it, neither is Stöger, but I guess we’ll see about that.
Clearly, it’s too early to worry about how things will look come spring, but if Stöger is already concerned, three games into the season, about the lackluster effort on the field, I’m definitely at least on alert.