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Clash with Rio Grande Valley All About Future for Bolts

February 9, 2013 - Professional Arena Soccer League (PASL) Anaheim Bolts

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Despite recently having their PASL playoff hopes ended by a 10-6 defeat to defending champions San Diego Sockers, the Anaheim Bolts players and coaches held their heads high in training this week. With two games left in the 2012-13 campaign, the future looks bright for Head Coach Jeff Tackett's side, which has featured numerous exciting prospects over the past few months who were at one point widely regarded as capable of winning the league crown.

In the end, the young players' lack of experience hurt the team in its quest, as the Bolts at times failed to live up to expectations following an early November road win over mighty Las Vegas that sent shock waves thought the nation. With nearly a complete season under their belt, the Anaheim rookies are already anxious for the 2013-14 campaign and eager to prove themselves in Saturday's home clash with a strong Rio Grande Valley side that is desperate for a win in their battle for a Central Division playoff berth.

The Bolts will have at their disposal two more promising young attackers in new signings Ryosuke Tarui and Yudai Yamaguchi, both from Japan .

In their meeting with San Diego a week ago, the Anaheim players battled their I-5 rivals to an even affair that was decided by a run of five unanswered Sockers goals in the third quarter. Three tallies and an assist by midfielder Christian Ramirez were not enough for the hosts, as the Sockers' Kraig Chiles had a standout performance of his own, recording four strikes and an assist.

Anaheim Head Coach Tackett offered a positive analysis of the fiercely contested clash.

"The guys played very well," he said. "We had a plan and for the most part it was working. We only had a few lapses in discipline, and unfortunately a three-time champion will punish you for those nine times out of ten.

"It also didn't help that we had several key absences and then some additional bad luck with injuries and penalties in the third quarter. There was a five-minute period in there during which we were unable to make any substitutions, and that resulted in some very tired legs. To San Diego 's credit, they took full advantage by scoring five goals in a row."

The man in charge of the Bolts was particularly pleased with key areas of his side's performance that he had identified as needing improvement.

"I thought we did a better job of finding attacking openings," Tackett assessed. "That balanced out some of our giveaways and sloppy passes in midfield. Overall, we were calmer than in previous games and showed much better patience on the ball. If there wasn't a viable option, the guys did a good job of recognizing that and restarting the entire play.

"I was also very happy with the way we responded to the personnel situation and the tactical changes we had to make as a result of it. When we switched to a 3-1-1 system, our defenders were able to successfully join the attack, which was great to see. It's something that could be very useful against Rio Grande Valley ."

The meeting with the Flash will present Tackett's men with another stern challenge, as the visitors from Hidalgo, Texas, boast an 8-4 record that has them sitting in third place in the Central Division. Head Coach Mariano Bollella's squad has three games in hand on the Chicago Mustangs and will have to win all of them in order to catch up with their direct rivals for the remaining postseason spot.

The Flash features a well-balanced attack spearheaded by top points man Edgar Flores (20), main assists threat Armando Teran (13), and leading goal-scorers Juan Jalomo and Damian Garcia (13 each), who anchors the backline alongside veteran Jose Malacara.

"I've been able to analyze several of their games," Bolts Head Coach Tackett offered. "They're a very good possession team with a style that's completely different from the instant pressure and high-tempo attacks we faced against San Diego . Rio Grande Valley 's approach is slower and simpler, and they like to keep guys back and then counter-attack from there.

"For us, that likely means allowing them to enter our midfield a bit more and starting to pressure when they get closer to our goal. That should allow us to keep numbers behind the ball and hit on breakaways once we win possession. We actually showed some of that against San Diego, but unfortunately their keeper had an amazing night and saved them on several occasions. If we can improve on our finishing against, I'm confident that we can give our fans something to be proud of."

The Bolts battle Rio Grande Valley on Saturday, February 9. Tickets for the 7 p.m. PT contest start at $12 and may be purchased through Ticketmaster or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena box office. Parking is free. For more information, please call the Bolts front office at 714-321-9898 or the Anaheim Convention Center Arena at 714-765-8980.

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