Cobra Kai are the 2016/17 TCL Champions after outlasting the Spartans in a memorable final. The game started late as Ronalduy was held up by fans demanding his autograph. His security detail had to pull him away to get him to the game. Cobra Kai had a full squad while the Spartans were without Nico, Hossein, Dylan and Alex, all suffering from the Cobra flu. In particular it was the absence of Nico Ress that bolstered Cobra Kai’s confidence. Nico has been the Marshall of the Spartan defense and without him there, Cobra Kai knew that even if they didn’t leave with the championship, they’d leave with all their teeth in tact.
The Spartans started the game well and put early pressure on Cobra Kai, who had Murat minding the net. Chances were hard to come by though, which has been the story in these playoffs. Ted Guo has been a stalwart in the Cobra defense and made life hard for the Spartans. About 10 minutes into the half, Cobra Kai started finding their own rhythm and began knocking the ball around. It was shortly thereafter that the first goal game. After a corner kick, Metinho got the ball back right at the touch line and sent a low cross towards the middle of the penalty area. It was Sam Shareski who stretched to get a foot on it at the near post to redirect it past Kevin Bonner. It was quick thinking by Shareski as Bonner expected the ball to go to the middle and was caught flat footed by Sam’s touch.
The second half was a classic 1-0 battle. Spartans were obviously trying to even the match but Cobra Kai knew that they couldn’t sit back. They were pushing just as hard to make it 2-0 so they could get some breathing room. That’s exactly what happened 5 minutes in a shot came in that was blocked by Bonner, but the rebound was put home by Metinho. What a warrior this man is and has been all season. He took a hard knock in the semi-final and was not in shape to play, but he did anyway. He couldn’t let his team down nor could he could let himself down after battling all season long only to miss the final.
It was beginning to look like the Spartans were a defeated team. They weren’t able to get back into a rhythm for 10 minutes. Then it all changed when they remembered how talented they were. They started hitting some impressive passing combinations that Cobra Kai had no answer for. Without about 10 minutes left it was JJ who beat 2 Cobra Kai players and found YiNan to the right of the keeper who finished like a pro. YiNan has established himself as a top striker in the league, with nerves of steel in front of goal. At 2-1 it meant the final 10 minutes would be intense. The Spartans kept up their pressure and Arsalan had a couple of great chances that just narrowly missed. Cobra Kai had to work even harder and nobody stopped running at any point. All that running and effort paid off as they prevented the Spartans from scoring to even the match. For the first time in 3 season, the final was won in regulation time.
Congratulations to Cobra Kai on becoming the 2016/17 TCL Champions! Kudos to the Spartans as well. They played a great match and were graceful in defeat.
For this writer, the 2016/17 season was the best one yet. The new venue made the games more open, the new players brought up the quality and every single player and team made this a memorable season. See you in 2017/18!