Happy Friday to all of you fine folks of the Magic City. I can tell… you have been pining all week for my three specific predictions for the upcoming Hammers match against the Knoxville Force. In fact, I have already received a couple of messages / emails asking when I was going to update the BBL. Well, I plan not to disappoint, so strap in and get ready for the weekend by reading my hot takes.
But before we get to my specific predictions, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to all of my regular readers. I love that you guys and gals come by the BBL on a regular basis. In my opinion, there is no better resource for consistent opinions or news related to your Birmingham Hammers. Tell your friends about us. Our BBL community is so much better when we have more of you all engaged. In saying that, I also want to hear from you. Tell me what you would like to see here on the site. Tell me how wrong (yeah right!) I am in my predictions. Tell me how fun it is to finally have a local soccer team that you can get behind. And most importantly, tell me what you plan to do to support local soccer in Birmingham. The BBL is a great forum for exchanging ideas. Let’s keep growing the soccer scene in our town.
Now onto those predictions I promised:
1. As I stated earlier this week on the BBL in my game preview, both the Hammers and the Force are winless in the NPSL Southeast conference this year. After two highly contentious games in 2015, the third-ever match between these two teams is setting up to be intense. Both teams will be scrapping for the victory as neither team wants to be sitting at the bottom of the table come this Saturday evening. So my first specific prediction is that there will be at least 3 yellow cards handed out to either team on Saturday night. In fact, I believe one of these teams will be seeing red before it’s all said and done. The team that maintains their composure will set itself up for victory. But understand this, the Boys in Red will be dealing with a team that is not afraid to kick them all game long.
2. Willie White has solidified the Birmingham Hammers backline. The Hammers shut down a dynamic Chattanooga FC team with the exception of a set piece. Yeh, I’m talking about the same CFC team that just knocked out professional side Reading United AC from the US Open Cup. Look for White and Alex Brown to control the defensive third and really stall a weaker offensive team in Knoxville. Yes, my second prediction is that the Hammers will get the clean sheet on Saturday night.
3. Gael Mabiala will have a breakout game for the Hammers and will finish in the top 3 of the NPSL Southeast Conference Star of the Week competition (if you guys would vote for him!). The French national was all over the pitch last Saturday against CFC. He did the work, he just couldn’t find the back of the net. His footwork is mesmerizing. He will probably be the fastest player on the field Saturday night. The Force’s tongues will be wagging by the 75th minute from exhaustion. Look for a brace from Mabiala.
Final Score Prediction
The Hammers have been winless since the opening season match against Sandy Springs FC. But that doesn’t mean they have been in poor form. While Coach Joel Person parked the bus during the first half against CFC before opening up the offensive strategy in the second half, I expect the throttle to be fully engaged against the Knoxville Force from the opening minute. Look for a quick, possession-based strategy on Saturday night. Players like Harrison Smith and Norris Howze will be called upon to win the ball in the midfield and maintain possession. I like these two players and I like our chances. I have been wrong the last two weeks with my predicted scores (yeh, thanks for letting me know that Chattahooligans!), but not this week damnit. The Boys in Red are going to show me some love by scoring early in the match. I like the Hammers 2-0 over the Knoxville Force. What do you think?
Great opportunity to pick up 3 points on the road
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I think 3 points in Knoxville will be just the booster that the Hammers need. They will follow that up with two matches next week playing in good form. Here is where the run starts.