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Milan 3, Bologna 0: New Kit Smell



We’ve seen this before, when wearing a great-looking new kit gave us a win. Looking good just gives you confidence. And what an opportune time to come up with a win. But add to it Montella’s 100th win as a coach, Honda being given a token of faith and coming up big, as well as a much anticipated debut for the young Cutrone, and it turned out to be something worth watching. Oh, and there’s that little Europa League qualification spot, too, if you’re into that sort of thing. But this win definitely had that new kit smell.

For better or for worse, we achieved our goal

The entire first half was awful. Lapadula started off on his run of 2 offside goals and probably most of our 23 shots (six on target) in the whole game. I guess the new kit was just too much for him. Poor Di Francesco was injured and had to be subbed off in the 15th minute. That’s kind of all that happened. Well there was the bizarre repeat of the 3-5-2 and questions about lineups again, but whatever.

The second half saw Montella bring on Mati Fernandez for Bertolacci at the start. Which was a great decision. Even better when he made a second early sub, bringing on Honda for Bacca in the 58th minute. The irony of bringing on the always professional and ever patient Honda for a very angry and serial tantrum-throwing Bacca was not lost on me. More importantly, Honda was the catalyst that changed the game. Or was it the kits? Hard to know. But Honda showed that he was worthy of the classic design for sure.

When your keeper doubles as a jazz singer...

This was contrasted when in the 65th Honda took a nice shot that Harry Connick Jr. (Mirante) had to save, then two minutes later Lapadula found the back of the net again, but was called back again for being so offside a blind man could have called it. But that catalyst and Honda’s focused determination after having sat on the bench most of the season led to Deulofeu’s goal in he 69th, 1-0 Milan. No one even cared about him being carded for his celebration, even if it was a crime to take off such an amazing new shirt.

The highlight of the match for me was when Honda took an exquisite free kick in the 73rd and scored to make it 2-0 Milan. Ungrateful Milan fans have long disparaged him on social media, but today Honda showed us the quality we’ve long been missing. It was a thing of beauty. Even more beautiful than the new kit, and that is very beautiful.

Respect and admiration for someone who patiently waited for his chance to shine again

As if I wasn’t more than satisfied with the two goals and a classy Honda appearance, Montella put the young Cutrone on in the 85th for Deulofeu. Unfortunately for the kid, all he got was a saved shot and a yellow card for his debut, but I was still excited to see him get five minutes. Even better to have waited to do it in this shirt. And of course, if at first you don’t succeed, take 99 more shots… Lapadula finally legally scored in the 91st to make it 3-0 Milan and cement our place in European qualifying.

You can't say he didn't try

More irony for me was that to return to Europe, where Milan is known to belong, we had to take out a team coached by a former Milan great in Donadoni. That had to have pulled on his heartstrings, I know it did mine. But I’m really not certain about Europa League right now anyway. We are a team that is trying to rebuild. Even with a few good reinforcements, we have no depth, and we saw what a few key injuries did to us playing in only two competitions. That could very much impact whether we get to Europe the following year, when we would have three Chinese money (if there is any) transfer markets to really reinforce a team. What a shame that would be to finally have a decent team and no Europe. Certainly, I’d have preferred to wait just one more year. But here we are, and it’s Karmalicious to have mathematically kept Inter out of Europe at least. Well they did that themselves, actually, but it’s nice to finish on top.

"Great. Now we gotta tell the boss we might not be coming to China"

The lasting memory of this one singular achievement after so long that we’ve been sliding backwards will be remembered over and over with our new kits. Kits are usually in the design process for 1-2 years ahead of time, but these couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time. After a little slump following the sale of the club, to finally win one when it counted will not be forgotten anytime soon. This game will be a reference point long after the new kit smell is gone.


This post inspired by the music of Hans Zimmer’s “The Last Samurai Soundtrack”


Our next match is
Cagliari vs. Milan
Sunday, May 28 • 15:00 CST (9am EDT)