Well, it just had to be him, didn’t it. Yes, while Premier League giants Liverpool went 2-1 down to the ... non-giants, I presume, of ... some English league that’s not the Prem in today’s third round FA Cup clash, fans could’ve maybe suspected it would be *frantically scans club’s roster on Wikipedia* Brad Smith—yes, of course, good ol’ Smitty the, uh, Aussie defender, I guess—who’d save the day. Smith led a collection of hot young upstarts who aren’t quite household names yet but certainly will be sooner than later. Or something like that.
Alright, that’s enough. Truthfully, I have no idea who approximately 92% of those dudes out there playing for Liverpool today were. The club’s Twitter page gave us a helpful reminder of the starting lineup before the match kicked off, though it was likely a complete introduction to most of the names on the list for all but the most dedicated Liverpool fans:
Benteke: duh; Brannagan: I’ve seen on the bench before; Enrique: I would’ve suspected he was getting paid to commentate on soccer, not still to play it; Ilori: I know from my tenure as Sporting CP manager in an old FIFA game; Bogdan: yes; the rest: I never knew even existed.
If you too were completely unable to recognize the players in the white shirts, it’s because of Liverpool’s debilitating injuries. The team was forced to put out such a collection of unknowns because they’re currently missing a whopping 13 players due to injury. All those festive period games coupled with Jürgen Klopp’s running-intensive playing style has caught up to them mighty quick.
It’s a little ironic, then, that Smith’s goal leveled the game, which finished 2-2, meaning the Reds will have to play a replay match later this month to determine who progresses to the next round. As much as the FA Cup matters and the club will be happy to have survived, a replay was probably the last thing the manager and players wanted as it tacks on yet another minimum 90 minutes onto what is already a congested fixture list the short-handed squad must navigate.
But, what are you going to do? At least next some of these guys who’ll probably never make it at the club long-term will always be able to say they once played for one of soccer’s most famous clubs in the world’s oldest competition. Not that anyone will believe it, of course, but it’ll be the truth.
Photo via Getty