Naimo and the Blues are three wins from a third straight championship.
In his last post with us, Charlie Naimo spoke about the amazingly unlucky season that the Pali Blues Soccer Club was enduring. After two consecutive seasons of going unbeaten and winning the USL W-League championship, Naimo and the Blues found themselves in the improbable situation of missing the playoffs. After how bad the team's luck had been all year, it seemed Pali would not get the chance to defend its title. Then the luck all started to change. Some things fell into place, and the Blues went into last Saturday's regular season finale with its fate pretty simple - win and you're in. What did the Blues do? Played to a convincing 4-0 victory and into the postseason.
Now that Charlie and the Pali side have reached the playoffs, they are headed north of the border to play the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday for the Western Conference championship and a berth to the W-League Final Four. Always on the move, Charlie was boarding an airplane when he checked in for a little bit of insight on the Pali roller coaster ride of emotions.
The last time I wrote, I was in the airport, mourning my Blues and now... let's just say I have gone from speechless to.... Speechless?? That's not a typo.
It started by me and my staff scratching our heads, wondering why such a talented team could not buy a break and wondering if this was the unluckiest team on the planet, to becoming maybe the luckiest group I have seen. If there were 10 results that needed to happen to give us a second life, they all happened. To give you an example of this - we needed a tie in the Santa Clarita/Rush game, and at 1-1 in the 87th minute, Santa Clarita missed a PK.. Seriously??
Anyway, all luck aside, this is a very good team. It was designed to get through the regular season with a playoff spot and be clicking. We knew we had challenges with some of our top players’ schedules, but never imagined we wouldn't get it done with what we had. If you want to know my theories, just refer to my other posts.
That said, minus a few injuries, we are the veteran, together and motivated group we envisioned now and at the right time. Our team not only feels confident in its abilities, we also feel we have some fate on our side. So do our coaches. We will be extremely aggressive with our tactics from here on out. The goal is to finish 6-4-3… You know what that means.
I believe our conference prepared us for battle by offering a WPS table. Special props to the two expansion teams, Rush and Blue Heat. Rush were in it until the last day, and Heat were 2-1-2 at home. They will learn how to travel next year (hopefully we will too ;-)
We are pumped.
I also want to point out that the luck came back after Omid, Marcia and I decided I would add assistant coaching of the Red Stars to my technical advisor role for remainder of season. Being on the bench for the Sky Blue FC game and communicating with pros again sent me through the roof.
CRS and Pali have me over the moon right now. I hope it can stay that way.
Over and out - time to board.