Good afternoon all and welcome back to the latest update in the my quest to complete the Pentagon Challenge and win all 5 available continental Champions Leagues on FM15.
As you will know if you have read my previous post I am currently in North America with New York Red Bulls and also managing the England National Team where we are heading towards the World Cup in Qatar, but I will go through New York first where in the previous season we had won the MLS by quite a way, dominated the Eastern Conference, winning the Eastern Conference semi and final and then winning the MLS Cup to claim the title. The North American Champions League or NACL as I will call it through my update is also ongoing, in the 2021 season we had played the Group Stage where we had won 4 out of 4 games and qualified for the Quarter Finals which starts at the beginning of the 2022 MLS Season, we had been drawn against FC Dallas so I was confident of getting through.
So to pre-season and I really wanted to improve my squad. Some players wanted to leave and due to the nature of the offers coming in I decided to move a few players on. Papa Mendy who I signed last pre-season for £1.6m moved to Portland for £2.2m, GK Steven Lade moved to San Jose for £500k, Ronal Zubar retired, Alfredo Martin wouldn’t sign a new contract and moved to Genk on a free. I also lost a couple of others who left on frees.
Silly high offers still came in for players but I resisted until towards the end of the season where I sold Manfred Osei-Kwadwo to Fenerbache for £5.25m, he wasn’t playing and I had replaced him with some much better (and on a free) who I will reveal later on.
Now to my signings, I made quite a few to replace players lost and also to bolster the squad. I needed a new RB, CB, CM, 1 or 2 new Strikers and a new LW. In the end I made 4 transfers and 2 loan signings in pre-season and here they are:
Signing 1 – This guy was a bit of an impulse signing, I wanted a 3rd striker and I wanted him to be one for the future, I also wanted someone who wasn’t foreign, Seth Horner fitted the bill and as you will see later on he did very well! He cost me £2.5m from Orlando City
Signing 2 – Borrachinha, what a great name and this guy looks like a great Ball Playing CB, something I really need. He was signed for £25.5k from Atletico Mineiro
Signing 3 – I had Djeradi on loan last season and was really good when he was required to play. He cost me £575k from America (MEX)
Signing 4 – Llanes will provide good competition in Central Midfield, I found last year my Midfielders got injured a lot so he was signed to bolster the squad. Signed for £675k from Monterray
I also made 2 loan signings, they were:
These 2 will provide back-up to RB Curtis Obeng and LW Fernando Esquivel throughout the season.
So squad assembled and it definitely looks better, I just need to keep warding off these high transfer bids for my players. Every time offers start coming in players ask for new contracts so there will come a time where I start thinking I need to sell.
One final note before I go through how the season went. When I lost Osei-Kwadwo I decided to replace him with a marquee signings, a kind of signing to match Lampard, Gerrard or Pirlo. When the English season ended I decided to take a quick scan around who had been released from their clubs and one name stuck out from the crowd, I made an offer and he accepted, please welcome to New York Red Bulls
An absolute coup of a signing, he is 33 years old but still looks amazing and as I signed him just before the start of the 2022/23 NACL he can definitely help us in winning it.
Now to the regular season and firstly I’ll kick off with the bad news. We didn’t win the 2021/22 NACL. We played amazing, had a great run but in the end fell short. Here is how it went:
In the Quarter Finals we played FC Dallas, we scraped through by the skin of teeth. A fantastic 3-0 win the first leg looked we had it wrapped up but we somehow lost 4-2 in the away leg and it was only down to Maitland-Niles scoring right at the end that saved our blushes. We went through 5-4 on aggregate
We then played Cruz Azul in the Semi Final and got through a little more comfortably although it could’ve been a lot more comfortable, in the 1st leg we were 3-0 up in 25 mins and they had 10 men, we only managed to win the game 4-2. We went into the away leg knowing they had a good advantage with the 2 away goals but in the end it wasn’t enough for them and we drew 1-1 to go through to the final 5-3 on aggregate
Now to the final and we played terrible, losing both legs to America (MEX) and proving that although the MLS is turning into a country stroll the NACL is going to be a lot harder to win
This made me even more determined to win it, I knew when I get past this MLS season I have some seriously hard work to do to make the squad ready to challenge next time around but I’m confident, we played well, just not well enough!
So to the 2022 MLS and wow wow wow, if you have read my previous post you will know I have won the previous 2 MLS very comfortably, last season we won 28, drew 4, lost 2. This season we went even better! We absolutely dominated the league from start to finish and in the end won the Eastern Conference with an even bigger margin
30 wins from 34 games is a new MLS record and in turn a new MLS points record as well. It is beginning to get stupidly easy now to win the “Supporters Shield” which is the overall MLS table so I’m really hoping the NACL can be won this year and I can move on to pastures new!
So to the end of season play-offs and first up we played Columbus, it was a chaotic first leg that ended 7-7! YES 7-7!! We were ahead 5-1, they pulled it back 5-5 and then 4 goals in the last 6 minutes made it 7-7, the 2nd leg was a bit less manic and we won it 5-0 making it 12-7 on aggregate!
We then played Philadelphia in the Eastern Final, and we breezed into the MLS Final winning both legs and 5-1 on aggregate
Then to the MLS Cup Final against Portland and it was a little more difficult. After ending 1-1 at 90 minutes and then after extra time the game went to penalties, a long and stressful shootout ensued and in the end we won it 8-7 after 9 penalties each! We were MLS Champions once again making it 3 in a row!!!
Absolutely brilliant. We had done it once again, the league is now becoming a formality each season but I’m not sure I can top this, we dropped only 10 points all season so next year may be tougher, but its the NACL that matters!
As you will know the NACL splits over 2 MLS seasons, in the 1st season we only play the group stage, this is made up of 3 teams playing each other twice. This time around we were drawn against Marathon of Honduras and Alianza (SLV) of El Salvador. As expected we won all 4 games in the group to secure us another crack at the Quarters finals
At the end of the group stage we were given our Quarter Final opponents and we were drawn against fellow MLS side Portland Timbers. I’m pretty confident we can get past them, they are probably the 2nd best team in the MLS so its going to be tough.
So another season down and another successful one. Just a few end of season awards to go through. Earlier I mentioned my new signing Horner and that he had a very good 1st season. The 20 year old played a few more games than expected due to a long term injury to my main man Eduardo and he played fantastic, in the end he was awards with the MLS MVP award
A great achievement and proved that the high price paid of £2.5m was definitely worth it.
We also had a few players in the MLS Team of the Year
4 players, which included Defender of the Year award winner Danny Barbir. It was really pleasing to see that 2 of my new signings made it in.
Now to England and as mentioned before we had the World Cup 2022 in Qatar. I had a feeling this was going to be good and wow it exceeded everything I imagined! I mentioned in the previous article my group which seemed easy on paper, our group was Czech Republic, Uruguay and Japan
We breezed through the group thrashing all 3. Harry Kane had an amazing start scoring 5 in the first 2 games
Now to the Knockout rounds and in Round 2 we were given the task of World Number 1 team Argentina. It ended up a convincing win as we got past them 4-2
Next up in the Quarters a bit of an easier task in Croatia and it definitely was easier as we beat them 5-0. Another 4 for Kane!
We then drew our old enemies Germany in the semi final, but nothing could stop us as we beat them 2-1, Harry Kane scoring both, taking his tally to 11 goals and a new WC record!
Then to the final. England v Belgium, who is going to win? Who do you think!!!
A 3-2 AET win, Arsenals Midfielder Jordan Onomah scored in extra time to give England their first World Cup win since 1966!
What an achievement, what a season overall! Only one thing will top this and that actually winning the NACL next season! I hope to have another update up in the next few days so keep your eyes peeled and lets pray we can win the NACL!
Thanks for reading!