An American Tale – Season #1 Review – Beauty Behind the Madness

Here we go then, tier 10 of a custom American football pyramid and the man in charge Tim Howard returns back to his birthplace of New Jersey, to takeover Hoboken FC 1912. If you’re new to this brilliant network save between some awesome FM content creators, check out the introduction to align yourselves with the ins and outs of how this will work.

In this instalment, season one will be covered in it’s entirety with the league, all three domestic cups, the ever evolving squad and everything else that comes with it. Also there will be some important club news towards the end of this run through which may effect the next season of this chaotic setup!

The Save Rules & Goals

Player Rules

Each player on their respective season must follow the below rules, this is to keep the save exciting for the next person to take over.

  • No major updates to be given outside of the chosen way of broadcast (blog, youtube etc).
  • When you’re in control, you are free to do as you wish with the players, staff and so on. If you’re not a fan of a prior signing for example, you can move them on as you please!
  • Follow the save rules in terms of moving clubs at all times, this ensures as much natural progression as possible.

Three simple rules to ensure things are not made complicated for us all!

Save Rules

Now the save rules mainly revolve around how we all progress up the ranks and to ensure large chunks of the tiers aren’t missed out.

  • When promoted via league title, runners up or play offs, the tier you are promoted to you can move to another club in that tier. For example if promotion is won to tier 9 then the manager can go to another tier 9 club.
  • If a domestic trophy is won, this gives the licence to progress up one tier without the need of a promotion. There is plenty of cup competitions so this could be a fast track in a sense to progress, although there is usually tons of rounds to get through!
  • If the team that the manager is in charge of is not promoted, they can either stay with this team or move to another team in the same tier. Without promotion no step up in team can be made and must be at the same level.
  • If sacked at any point, a team in the same tier or tiers below must be joined. Let’s be honest, a sacking doesn’t deserve a step up so we’ll graft and go again!
  • The manager’s coaching badges can only be developed after promotion to naturally progress in this area as well. A domestic cup win does not qualify for the next course, this is based solely on league performance.

These rules give everyone freedom but also little bits of pressure when it comes down to the promotion or sack race.

The Signings, Squad & Tactics

New Signings

As Tim Howard’s arrival at Hoboken FC was late into pre-season there was no time to play multiple friendlies and so on. Instead it was a mad scramble to get the squad ready for the season. The transfer window shut on 24th February which is around a month into the season and one rule was, even for free signings no new players can be registered for the squad outside of the transfer windows (Summer window is 27th May-27th July).

As the standard of scouts is poor at amateur level, Tim got players through in dribs and drabs via the reports. The projected star ratings were often mis-leading and some players would come in rated 5 star but over the season would decline to their actual ability rating. Nonetheless 8 new players joined the club, all on amateur non-contracts due to the level of tier 10.

Matthew Atencio is a 45 year old central midfielder, who still has a bit about him at his grand playing age and will be partnered by Diego Gonzalez who is on the other end of the spectrum at 21 years old! Another older player shall we say was found in left winger Emilio Lopez (34), who was followed by much needed quality up front in Samuel London.

Defence was the next port of call with centre back Larry Cornish getting involved, before a strike partner for Samuel London was found in Frissell Hunter. Two right wingers were signed out of panic in Jon Whiteman from Pocono Snow and the loan signing of Ben Sanchez from Western Mass Pioneers…there are some sensational club names in America by the way!

A mix in ability for sure but the squad viewing will show you how difficult it has been since Tim’s arrival!

The Squad

A real mix in ability and the new signings stand out for sure. A lack of defenders especially in the full back areas, the goalkeeping situation is a major worry but no players of these positions with a bit of quality wanted to join. There are some seemingly good youngsters that you’ll see in the squad but rules state that players under 18 cannot be registered for league football.

The Tactics

Tim Howard had one idea, stack the attack and score more than the opposition. Why? the defensive & GK unit had a combined star rating of 6 stars out of a max 25….enough said. As there is no out and out left back, left winger Fils Eto’o fills that role because he’s a left sided player, very much Sunday league vibes at this low level.

Tactically it is very simple instructions wise, the team are not good enough to play quick passing football and Tim recognised that so it’s a little direct and with the aim of getting the ball in the box. Hopefully set pieces will become key for the team with a few good headers of the ball and bit of height about the squad.

The League Season 2021 (Summer Transfer Window Included)

First half of games (11 matches)

It was a very solid start for Mr. Howard, the idea behind the tactic seemed to work wonders for a team that were written off before the season had even started. Although the majority of goals conceded was due to the inadequate defensive unit and it really showed against early league rivals FC Delco in a 3-1 loss. However, the return against the same side saw the attacking prowess pay off with a 4-0 victory.

The goals were flowing throughout as the team did not fire any blanks across the ten games. The strike force of Frissell Hunter & Samuel London was turning into a thing of beauty as they combined time and time again. On loan winger Ben Sanchez was scoring frequently too with the young and old midfield partnership of Diego Gonzalez & Matthew Atencio coming off to the effect that Tim Howard had envisioned.

The great start has brought good things as a 4 point gap opens over PA Classics & FC Delco. Getting two victories over PA Classics (3-1 & 2-1) seems to have gone a long way and 3 points against FC Delco has secured an advantage over them.

Summer Transfer Window

Tim had been working on compiling a scouting team for this level, with a chief scout and two scouts below to try and get more players in the door and better coverage. As mentioned before, new players cannot be registered outside of the window so some signings were made prior to the window but could only play in cup competitions until the 27th May.

The overhaul well and truly happened as 12 new players joined Hoboken FC! On the most part it was better quality but it was good for the team to have better depth.

You will see a small raid of club AC Connecticut and its started with Ahn-Jung Hwan, a South Korean centre back who isn’t great by any stretch but again it was for depth purposes. This was followed by Montserrat goalkeeper Micah Hilton who was a small improvement in between the sticks. Centre back Roy Gerritsen could be seen as a coup for the club as he is way too good for this level and then another signing from AC Connecticut in striker Francisco Javier Lopez.

A third centre back was signed in Flavio Perez, before right winger Elliott Misic joined, who again looks to be the part. Central midfielder Irving Perez came in who can play multiple roles in the middle before left winger Eduardo Lucero was nabbed from AC Connecticut.

Veteran defensive midfielder Jose Ruben Lopez joined the party before a double Mendoza deal landed on the same (no relation), Jonatan a young goalkeeper who looks very good for his age and Daniel brings more competition to centre back. Would you believe a fifth centre back in Yoo Won-Bin was signed from AC Connecticut – a lot of CB’s I know but it’s all about to make sense!

New Squad & Tactics

A lot of changes by Tim in that window and with the new players it meant that some had to be released to make space. The harsh reality of amateur football!

As you will see, some ratings from the first squad viewing further up have changed but now there is a proper scouting team in place, the abilities shown look to better judged therefore, the squad can be gauged properly.

New Tactic

It may have been noticed that there is a lack of full backs in the squad, Tim realised this and went for something a bit audacious!

Not the strongest starting XI shown

A positive 3-3-4 system which is all about attacking and winning the ball higher up the pitch. Now there is players that can be trusted at the back, it gives some confidence in allowing the attack to flow. It’s still direct but at a lower tempo as the squad doesn’t have the required know-how for quick football, but the counter press should go hand in hand with the higher line of engagement.

Second Half of Games (11 matches)

Back to the league now and it’s about to get exciting as Tim Howard aims for a title charge with his new look squad.

3-3-4 formation was used against PA Classics but the schedule didn’t reflect this…glitch?

Fantastic form all in all, the 6-2 victory against Bethesda-Olney was frighteningly good going forward. Beating PA Classics & FC Delco again really put Tim Howard’s men in control but the media still wanted to play up a title race…

It was all in Hoboken’s hands and they had a better run in as well. PA Classics would need something really adverse to happen to catch up that’s for sure.

Wait, there was four games remaining right? Well, PA Classics must’ve been feeling the pressure as they didn’t match the Hoboken FC result…


Tim Howard gets his managerial career off to a blinder as he secured his first trophy in his first season! Fantastic work from former the former US international and unreal scenes for the club. Promotion to tier 9 is on the horizon next season.

To end the final three fixtures, it was two draws and a win but it didn’t matter at this point. A jubilant time for the club and everyone associated to it.

Final League Table

There you have it, a 12 point gap to second and it was just a quality performance from the team overall. The amount of changes in the squad could have been risky but Tim’s tactical acumen definitely paid off!

Domestic Cups

U.S Open Cup

The U.S Open cup is the equivalent of the various FA Cups around the world, although in tier 10 you have to go through the qualifying rounds before experiencing the Open Cup proper.

It only went as far as the third qualifying round for Tim Howard’s side after overcoming fellow tier 10 sides Savannah Clovers (4-1) & Nashville Knights FC (3-2) but a poor performance against Central Florida SC saw a 2-1 loss in a match Hoboken were favourites in.

Independence Cup

This cup looks to be a regional cup for the Atlantic/Eastern side of America, this includes tiers 1-10 so the cup draw was always a bit nerve racking.

The first round was kind enough to give fellow league opponents NoVa FC which presented a 3-1 win. Although a tough draw came in the second round facing tier 5 Bethlehem Steel FC. An onslaught was expected but Hoboken done what they could to keep the score down with a respectable 3-0 loss.

Amateur Cup

The Amateur Cup involved tiers 9 & 10 from what was seen but again qualifying rounds were needed.

Artic Rush (2-1) & Rose City FC (2-0) were seen off who are at the same level as Hoboken FC, just in different regional leagues. However, the first round unkindly drew Bay Cities who actually went on to dominate the league above. Another spirited effort from the team but it was a 4-2 loss on the day.

Club News

Now sometimes promotions can bring great things and it was no different here as Tim Howard could begin to think about moving clubs, the Chairman may have made that decision slightly difficult.

The club are turning semi-pro meaning part time contracts for players will come into play and further to that a transfer budget potentially. It is unclear what these funds will look like but it’s a massive step forward for the club.

Also a new stadium is being built which will have a very good capacity for this level of football meaning more income for the club. These are the kind of developments any manager would be happy with.

End of Season Review 2021

The success of the season is fantastic and so is the developments the club have put in place but what does it mean financially?

Financially the balance may look good however, $198,866 in the bank and with the bank loans already starting, that expenditure may prove costly to the club. There is no guarantee what the semi-pro status will do for the club but the benefits may not be seen until the new stadium is finished. With that though, a good cup run and a good league season the earnings may counter that…tough decisions for the next player!

What’s Next?

That’s DP-FM’s stint over for now but it really has been enjoyable on my part and I love breaking away from the main save now and then for these kind of challenges, it is always great fun going into the unknown on Football Manager!

Up next you will see good friend of DP-FM – SadPanda333 take the reins of the save, a man who was very active within our joint efforts on the Far East Express on FM21. Make sure you keep your eye on Panda’s twitter page for season two coverage and drop him a follow whilst you’re at it!

As always, I hope this was an enjoyable read for you all and I appreciate all your support with whatever the site puts out. Thank you and take care of yourselves.

DP-FM’s Scott

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