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Trofeo TIM 2013: Monster’s Ball


I rarely get my hopes up for these kinds of matches, and the question of whether or not they even matter is barely even debatable. But this tournament sucked me in, gave me hope, then anxiety, and then some serious anger issues. A roller coaster ride of a preseason tournament when I should have probably barely even paid attention to my stream. But I’m glad I watched. To get a peek at some of the new players on our team as well as the other teams, and to see, sadly, that some things never change. In that sense, it truly was a Monster’s Ball.

And these guys weren't even the real monsters... (where was Our Sully, BTW?) 

Our first 45 minute friendly was against an old foe. We were missing six of our Internationals, they were missing seven of theirs. However, with their two new expensive striker signings up front, I didn’t have much hope. Of course, our boys proved me wrong. Despite being down two defenders in the form of Bonera and Antonini, Mexes was able to cover both center back positions while shoving Juve players left and right, and Constant simply owned the left side. De Jong was unmistakably back, and Nocerino played pretty well, too. But it was Traoré who surprised me the most, he definitely played to stay at Milan.

Highlights included Llorente’s Robinhoed™ shot over the bar on basically an open goal in the 25th. Lowlights include when Boateng was clearly taken down by Lichsteiner in the box and Milan were awarded a penalty, only for Robinho to take it and have Storari save the easy shot. Sadly, in the 33rd minute, Llorente and Antonini collided heads, causing a bloody mess where Antonini was stretchered off and Llorente was subbed shortly thereafter. But if you thought that was bad, you missed the most monstrous of moments in this match, when Boateng took a wild, high shot from distance in the 23rd, and the very pro-Juve crowd booed and whistled and screamed at him. The camera even cut to a bunch of Juve fans making obscene gestures at him. Wow. But I’m sure the league will not impose UEFA’s new sanctions on Juve for that, because this wasn’t an official game.

BEAST.

The penalties sucked me in, though. Finishing on 7-6, only Nocerino missed his penalty for Milan, whereas Abbiati saved two and guessed the right way on three of the other five. Amazing keeping. And defeating Juve, even if it was on penalties in a preseason friendly, with both teams missing key players, felt kinda good. Even better that De Jong was awarded the best player of the tournament for his 45 minutes against Juve.

De Jong would be awarded the best player of the tournament

Spunky newly promoted Sassuolo really tested Juve, and it was only with the luck of penalties that Juve took 2 points from their match. So then it was our turn to be tested by the newly promoted side. A test we looked well poised to pass when Petagna capitalized on the mistake of the Sassuolo defender and dribbled the keeper to put Milan up 1-0 in the third minute.

Then it was Zaccardo’s turn to shine, as he put in a nice cross in the 5th minute, and later had at least one save, and a goal, too.... in the right net... that was offside. Wonders will never cease. Not so wonderful were Gabriel, Bonera, Cristante, Urby, and Robinho. Poli seemed pretty decent, and Petagna impressed, but I don’t remember being overly impressed with any of the young subs who came on: Niang, Strasser, Piccinocchi, Kingsley Boateng, or Oduamadi.

Masucci's brace buried our trophy hopes

Cristante earned some notoriety, as it was Gabriel’s poor ball completely mishandled by Cristante in the 12th that saw Masucci equalize. He also earned the first (and second yellow cards) of the tournament in the 31st and the other one in the 39th that saw him sent off and Milan down to 10 men. He was sloppy and careless, as can often happen with younger, inexperienced players, but don’t let 39 minutes form your opinion of him. He definitely has potential. Plus, he wasn’t the only one to get carded, Kingsley Boateng earned a card for diving in the 42nd.

Masucci’s second goal in the 44th sealed our fate, it was 2-1 Sassuolo with no time left to change anything. But what really changed the game was around the 32nd minute, Constant reacted to some fans alleged racial abused, and kicked the ball into the stands, not unlike another Milan player called Kevin did in January. But this wasn’t some friendly against an amateur side, it was a sold out tournament in front of thousands of fans. And Constant didn’t do the moonwalk or isn’t dating a high profile swimsuit model, so of course, the ref claimed that he didn’t hear anything.

Don't pretend you didn't hear it, people.

When Constant kicked the ball and subsequently walked off the pitch, the ref did stop the game, and they did make an announcement over the loudspeakers. So something happened, something was heard. But in the end, it wasn’t the score on the pitch that mattered, it was the score off of the pitch: Racists 1, Constant 0. Monsters.

The game played on, Constant was subbed off for Piccinocchi, and Sassuolo won the trophy. A heartfelt congratulations to them, they worked hard, and they deserved it. The shame of the racists’ behaviors dampened even their joy, it is horrifying to me that these things are still allowed to happen. It also showed the monstrous side of football and even Milan. When push came to shove, in a match that still didn’t mean anything, they didn’t show solidarity with their teammate. But then again, maybe that’s because they kicked our captain to the curb, he is the one who ushered everyone off the pitch in Busta Arsizio. Bonera may be a nice guy, but he didn't stand up for his teammate the way the now Fiorentina midfielder did.

Sassuolo didn't deserve to have their deserved win marred by racism, either.

I don’t even care about the stupid trophy or the score of the match, I am so tired of our boys enduring abuse just because of the way they look. And so I went from hopeful to anxious to angry in a match that shouldn’t have even raised an eyebrow. I believe more now in some of our players, even if one should never judge a 45 minute preseason performance. But I believe less in humanity, in the league, and even in our team’s actual solidarity in a real match. Mostly, though, I want to do awful things to the idiots who racially abuse players. The difference is, I’m no monster. So I will only use my words and whatever influence I can to aim toward solving the problem of racism. And I will stand proudly with Constant or anyone on our team who suffers abuse, and fight back in every way I know how that is still productive. We need to take back the beautiful game, it has sadly become a Monster’s Ball.


This post inspired by the music of The Sex Pistols

Our next match is the
International Champions Cup
Valencia vs. Milan
Saturday, July 27 • 20:00 CEST (2pm EDT)