Alright Boys and Girls. I’ll attempt to come clean today. I have been making predictions for each of the Hammers first three NPSL games. What kind of credit do I deserve? Have you been keeping up with how I am doing? I know some of you are. I got an email the other day saying my ‘predictions are a little off the wall.’ Really? Is that so? Let’s just see how the ol’ BBL is doing through a quarter of the season. Because I take my predictions very seriously, I will put my prognostications up against any of yours. So I will offer a fun challenge for all of you readers of the BBL. It requires participation, so read to the very end. 

First leg of the I-20 Cup: Georgia Revolution vs. The Boys in Red from 5/7/2016

Prediction #1: The Hammers would play an attacking style with a 4-4-2 Diamond or a 4-2-3-1. The personnel that started this game certainly looks like a 4-4-2 was the formation. I confess I didn’t get to watch the game, but by all accounts, the Hammers were attempting to attack the Revolution and were not sitting back on the ball. I will take credit for this one. CORRECT

Prediction #2: David Valverde or James Ngoe would display a little bit of magic in the attacking third leading to a scoring chance. It’s hard to say that I got this one right or wrong since I was not able to watch the entire game. But, Valverde did not play and Ngoe did make the Starting XI. Given that the Hammer’s had very few scoring chances in this match, I will go ahead and say this prediction was wrong. INCORRECT

Prediction #3: Stephen Kosmala will either score on a header or he will clear the ball using his head. Not enough evidence to support giving myself credit for this one. While Kosmala may have cleared the ball using his head, he certainly did not score a goal. INCORRECT

Final Score Prediction: BBL: 2-1 in favor of the Boys in Red. Actual score: 2-0 in favor of the team from the Sprawl Capitol of the US, Georgia Revolution FC. INCORRECT


NPSL Southeastern Conference Opener: Hammers vs. Chattanooga FC from 5/14/2016

Prediction #1: Hammers would go conservative and sit behind the ball in order to slow down CFC’s attack. Yes… I am taking credit for this one. Coach Person called for the bus to park deep in the defensive half. It was evident from the opening whistle. The Hammers forwards were reluctant to pass the midfield line. This tactic evolved a little bit as the game wore on. Down a goal, the Hammers had to press a little to get the equalizer that never came. Nonetheless, I called this one. Absolutely CORRECT

Prediction #2: Norris Howze would win Man of the Match honors after setting the pace in his defensive holding midfielder role. Unfortunately, Howze did not make the Starting XI for this match. Injury? Schedule conflict? Just not fit for the match? I am not sure. But I cannot take credit for this one. INCORRECT

Prediction #3: Led by the Magic City Brigade and the Chattahooligans, this match would provide a great soccer atmosphere in Birmingham. Yes, Yes, and more Yes. I don’t really have to say much about this one. If you were at the match, you know what I am talking about. It was an awesome sight to see. CORRECT

Final Score Prediction: BBL: 2-1 in favor of the good guys. Actual score: 1-0 in favor of bridesmaids of the NPSL. INCORRECT


NPSL Road Match: the Knoxville Force vs. The Birmingham Hammers from 5/21/2016

Prediction #1: There would be an excess of cards handed out to either team due to two highly contentious matches from last year (2015). Indeed, I was on to something here. While I was unable to watch this match, my hope was that the Force would be drawn into making some mental errors. However, it seems the Hammers were the ones who lost a little bit of composure on the road. In the 75th minute, Julio Noel (always wearing his passion on his sleeves) was sent off for back to back yellow cards and arguing with the referee. Unfortunately, CORRECT

Prediction #2: The solidified Hammers backline, along with strong goalkeeping would earn the clean sheet. This prediction went wrong very early on in the 14th minute, as the Force scored the first goal of the game. Knoxville went on to score 2 more goals. No where close to a  clean sheet for the Boys in Red. Not good! INCORRECT

Prediction #3: Gael Mabiala would have a breakout game for the Hammers and would finish in the top 3 for the NPSL Star of the Week award after scoring two goals. By all accounts Mabiala had a wonderful game. He was pacey up and down the field. But unfortunately, like the match against CFC, Mabiala along with the rest of the attacking side for the Hammers failed to do anything magical in the final third. INCORRECT

Final Score Prediction: BBL: 2-0 for the Hammers. Actual Score: 3-1 in favor of farmersonly.com-ers. INCORRECT


The Specific Prediction Challenge

Ok – so there you have it. I officially have a a 33% success rate in my predictions thus far this season. Not where I want it to be. But certainly not awful for how specific I am getting with these predictions.

Here is where the specific prediction challenge and you come in. Each week, I will have a specific prediction article for the upcoming Hammers game. I want you guys to tell me your specific predictions as well. To make it fair, you have to provide 3 specific forecasts and give me a final score prediction too. Use my above predictions as the type of specificity I am looking for. Don’t give me general nonsense that anyone could get right. You can either email me at bhambackline@gmail.com, make your predictions in the comment section below, or comment on my specific predictions thread at the BBL Facebook page. Pretty simple. The challenge is that I will finish with a better success rate than all of you BBL followers combined. If I lose to you guys, then I will let the Magic City Brigade dump a cooler of ice cold water on me at the last Hammers home match of the season on June 25th, 2016 vs. the New Orleans Jesters. Fat chance of this happening though. 

Any person that nails a prediction, I will highlight on the BBL the following week. So come now you soccer loving people of the Magic City – let’s get this challenge started. Coming up this week, I will have specific predictions for the away match in Memphis on Thursday night (5/26/2016) and the second leg of the I-20 Cup on Saturday evening (5/28/2016). Go ahead and send me your predictions below or by email. Time to put up or shut up!