Archive for October, 2008

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Midweek Action: Bradley Starts for BMG

October 28, 2008

Michael Bradley started today for Moenchengladbach against Wolfsburg and he did not perform well.  He saw little of the ball, and when he did have a chance to score he provided a poor finish.  To make matters worse, in the 54th minute Bradley’s lazy marking on a set piece led to Wolfsburg’s second goal as his man rose above him to head home.

Tough stuff for Bradley Jr, especially as this has been his chance to impress the new manager.  I’m not sure he’s done so, and I’m not sure that we’ll see much more of Michael in the BMG starting lineup.  In fact, the whole BMG squad looks quite poor in possession and attack and they have little composure (throughout the match they committed poor fouls and earned a few stupid cards by talking back too much).  While it is still very early in the season, I have a feeling they’re going to be steeped in the relegation battle for the coming months.

Though I may sound overdramatic, I have to ask: What was Michael Bradley thinking when he decided to join this club? And maybe it’s also appropriate to ask, what was his agent thinking when advising him??  Borussia Moenchengladbach is a mess.

Ah well, a little further west on the European continent, Maurice Edu started for Rangers today in the Co-operative Insurance cup.  Beasley isn’t in the squad but I’m glad that Maurice is getting minutes.  It’s nearly halftime there now, and Rangers are up 1-0.  Maurice hasn’t been mentioned much in the gamecast but hopefully he can regain some confidence and start to compete for a place in the side.

More games tomorrow and a potential chance for Dempsey to start for Fulham.  Keep tabs!

–psc

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Landon Donovan Is Ready

October 27, 2008

As the MLS season closes, Landon Donovan is wasting no time clarifying his desire to try his hand at European soccer. ESPN has a piece today about Landon’s potential future abroad, and here’s the important stuff:

”Competitively I have that itch and I want to go and I will make that very clear to people.”

Donovan said he would approach MLS officials this week to request a move and added that he had told Galaxy head coach Bruce Arena of his wish to join a European club.

”I think the League is aware of my situation and I’ve had brief talks with Bruce about it and let him know, but it’s still early.

”There can be a lot of fluctuation between now and January 1. Teams that are in trouble might be playing great by then and vice versa. Injuries happen and we’ll see where we’re at.”

My Thoughts: Kudos to Donovan for finally sacking up taking on the big leagues.  Hopefully he can land at a strong club and doesn’t end up at West Brom, or Newcastle (yuck).  Even worse, I hope Fulham doesn’t try and buy him.  Our American stars need to diversify their European destinations.  I would be intrigued to see Donovan in La Liga as I think his game is well suited to Spain, but I also wouldn’t be upset if he did indeed end up at Bayern Munich.  We’ll see if Klinsmann is still high on Landon in a month or two.

In all, any move to a more competitive league will only help our USMNT as well.  This is a chance for Landon to truly take his game to the next level.  Whether you love him or hate him, the truth is that Donovan is the best USMNT player of the last 8 years.  If he can elevate his game even more, then he could become an even better threat at the National level.  Granted, I’m going to remain cynical, because there’s also a strong chance that Landon just ends up as a bench player in a Euro league, and we already have plenty of those.  I’d rather be pessmistic and then pleasantly surprised, as opposed to expect the world and then be disappointed.

Where do you think he’ll end up? Germany? England? Spain?

–psc

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Clint Dempsey: “I’m Back”

October 27, 2008

Clinton Dempsey scored the leveling goal today in a 1-1 draw with Portsmouth.  He came on in the 77th minute and found the back of the net 9 minutes later off of a Nevland cross.  Fuck Yea. It’s about time Clint is seeing the fruit of his hardwork pay off, and you could definitely sense relief after he scored.  He ran to the fans and was clearly saying “I’m Back!” repeatedly as he celebrated.

I hope he is back, and I hope that Hodgson sees that Dempsey can bring some valuable skill to the squad. Clint’s goal capped off an otherwise dissappointing weekend among American’s in Europe and beyond.  Adu didn’t get in the game for Monaco, and the French team failed to win yet again.  Jozy didn’t make the bench for Villarreal, but with the Copa del Rey about to start, I’m hoping he gets a strong chance at those matches.   Edu sadly didn’t make the bench for Rangers, but Beasley did go 73 minutes and had some really strong effort in attack; he kicked off the buildup that led to the ‘Ger’s second goal.

This is a double gameweek for England, so we’ll have another chance to check in on Dempsey on Wednesday.  And since AJ went 90 minutes today, who knows, Clint might even get the start.

–psc

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Neven Subotic: Red, White, and Blue After All?

October 24, 2008

So if you’ve been paying attention this past week, it turns out Germany is unable to pursue Subotic for their national team. The World Cup Blog breaks it down like this:

“According to German site Sueddeutsche (one of the country’s largest newspapers), the German Football Association has given up on Subotic since it’s become clear that because he didn’t have dual citizenship when he played for the US youth national teams (and that they won’t be able to grant him retroactive citizenship), he will not be able to play for Germany even if he does become a citizen now. In other words, they can’t get around FIFA’s pesky rules, so they said screw it.”

So now, Subotic has two choices, Serbia or the USA.  Neven has repeatedly said that he’s in no hurry to make his decision, and might even wait until the end of the European season before announcing his allegiance.  I would be very surprised if he were to pick Serbia over the USA, especially with Vidic and Ivanovic locking down the CB spots for the Serbs.  But who knows, since Subotic does seem to have some negative feelings for the US program since being dropped from the US U-20 squad and criticized by Rongen… What do you all think?

I for one, salivate over the notion of a Gooch, Subotic pairing. COULD IT HAPPEN?

–psc

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Saturday: Bye Bye Luhukay, Helloooo Mikey B

October 18, 2008

Bundesliga

BOCHUM 2 BMG 2

Michael Bradley went 90 minutes in today’s 2-2 draw between BMG and Bochum and he looked alright!  He was guilty of some suspect marking in the 50th minute on Bochum’s first goal, as you can see below:

Cmon little Mike!

C'mon little Mike!

In any case, thank god he’s getting some minutes, and hopefully this is a sign of his new role at BMG.  Interestingly enough, he played pretty high up the pitch in today’s game, almost immediately behind the striker Rob Friend.  For a player who calls himself “most comfortable with a defensive midfield role” I wonder what Bradley thinks about his position today.

Serie B

BRESCIA 3 TRIESTINA 2

Danny Szetela came on in the second half and scored the gamewinner for Brescia in the 88th minute.  I’m foraging for highlights and as soon as I can find them I’ll post.  But great news for Danny as he continues to make his place in the squad at Brescia.

Premier League

FULHAM 0 SUNDERLAND 0

Dempsey came on in the 73rd minute as Fulham were held to a scoreless draw against Sunderland.  Clint was involved in some nice passing sequences after coming on, but Fulham never truly threatened the goal.  Sunderland will be most dissapointed with the draw after having a goal disallowed in the second half.

check back later on today and see if Jozy makes the bench for Villarreal and if Adu can get in the game against Nice for Monaco.

For all your International Yank highlights, head to watchsocceronline.blogspot.com

–psc

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TnT 2 USA 1, The Kids Aren’t Ready?

October 16, 2008
"Can I have a taste of beer, dad?"

"Can I have a taste of beer, dad?"

Somewhere out there Bob Bradley is smiling, thinking of all the US fans who clamored for Jozy and Freddy to be instant starters and he’s saying, “I told you so.”  After all, Jozy and Freddy couldn’t lead the US attack versus TnT, right?  Us slobbering fans better just chill the eff out, right?  Maybe, but I think the actuality is that last night we witnessed what happens when our US players don’t get playing time for their clubs: They don’t play very well.

DEFENDERS

Let’s start with Guzan.  He just looked rusty.  He made a few nice saves, but I kept feeling that he seemed a bit jittery.  In any case, I wouldn’t fault him for any of the goal but I DO hate how he always seems to take SO MUCH TIME with the ball at his feet.  Just pass the ball already Brad! Okay, moving on. Franke Hejduk, he is the worker bee of the USMNT.  He did a nice job getting forward throughout the first half but he could not deliver a quality cross to save his life, and when you can’t do that, it pretty much voids all your offensive work.  He was fine on the defensive end up until his intercepted pass led to the first TnT goal.  In all, I think we are seeing the last days of Hejduk and hopefuly Wynne will start to see some minutes. In the centre, Califf and Orozco were a mess, most notably on set piece defending.  Califf was also left out to dry on the goal, no where near Latapy.  Neither of them did any favors for their further inclusion in the USMNT pool and they just seemed to lack a general sense of orientation and organization.  I think Orozco comes out looking better than Califf after this game, but he’s still just a fringe bench player.  Pearce was quiet in the first half, but after the interval he started to get forward much more and beat his man on the flank a number of times.  Scotland gave him fits on the left side, but Pearce was able to neutralize the threat pretty effectively.

MIDFIELDERS

Yikes, I’m not sure there are many positives to take away from our midfield play last night.  Kljestan was nightmarish compared to how he has been playing in earlier WCQ’s and Maurice Edu’s first touch was horrible for the majority of the game. Torres didn’t have a HORRIBLE game, but he did disappear for stretches and seemed a bit lost out there.  It felt like the midfield roles weren’t clear enough, like there were too many cooks in the kitchen.  They tried to put together small passes in the midfield but their efforts never amounted to anything.  I also don’t think that Kljestan is effective on the wing.  He doesn’t have the pace to beat players down the flank and he has a tendency to pinch inside, crowding Edu and Torres.  I can’t remember one instance where Kljestan actually delivered a cross from the wing.  We need that width, and he didn’t provide it.  As for Beasley, he just seemed frustrated the whole match.  He couldn’t get anything going and I think it goes to show that he is a player who needs quality around him to excel.  He can’t stand alone.  He delivered a few nice set pieces, but never really got into a rhythm.

FORWARDS

Freddy Adu, where are’t thou?  Freddy had some nice moments in keeping possession but on the whole he couldn’t make anything happen.  Freddy is at his best when he’s running at the defense, and we didn’t see that tonight.  Most times he’d drop deep for the ball, show some nice skill to keep possession and then lay off to a midfielder.  He had trouble turning his marker, and often just played long balls over the top for Jozy which weren’t effective.  Also, where was Adu in the second half?  His involvement disappeared.  As for Altidore, he looked dead tired after about 35 minutes.  Someone needs to get this kid into shape. He never really seemed sharp on the ball, and spent most of the first half chasing down impossible long balls. He did play a nice through ball for Beasley and he deserves credit on creating the goal, but that’s about it.  I think that Jozy needs to play with another striker alongside him to truly succeed, I don’t think he excels in a 4-5-1.

SUBS

Which brings us to the Charlie Davies.  Davies insertion breathed instant life into the side, and you know why? Because he played as an actual second striker.  He didn’t drop deep to grab the ball and leave Jozy alone, but instead made penetrating runs toward the goal, drawing defenders and freeing up space for Altidore in the middle.  He finished cleanly on Jozy’s assist and that should make Freddy Adu nervous because Davies actually looked threatening for those final 20 minutes.

I was glad to see Szetela come on, but I think he should’ve come about 30 minutes earlier.  He’s been getting regular playing time for Brescia and I think he could have brought a good spark to our midfield if brought in for Edu.  In any case, I hope he gets more looks because until Edu establishes himself at Rangers, he shouldn’t be starting for the USMNT.

I will not comment on Chris Rolfe.

My Thoughts: I’m not upset that we lost.  I’m glad that our young guys got a full game to give it a go, and I think that’s exactly what they needed.  That said, if these boys want to continue to develop at a good rate, they NEED to start getting matches at their clubs.  If Freddy Adu keeps up his role as an 80th minute sub at Monaco, he will not grow into an effective Int’l player.  In that vein, I’m also not convinced that Adu fits into the USMNT as a deep-lying striker.  I think he needs to play wide so he can have space to run at defenders and cut inside.  But who does he replace? Dempsey or Beasley? He isn’t ready for that.  Bob Bradley has some tough decisions ahead of him.

So what needs to happen? Edu needs to fight into the Rangers mix, Jozy needs to excel in Copa del Rey and maybe head out on loan, and Adu needs to take advantage of every chance he can to prove his worth in France. Easy, right? Sigh.

OH.

Before I forget.  Kenny Cooper, what have you done? After missing this game, Kenny has just fallen further down the depth chart because Davies took advantage of his chance.  Cooper would have probably started this game for the USMNT but instead he chose to stay home.  At the international level, you can’t take these opportunities for granted because you can never be sure when the team will call your number again.  Kenny’s gonna need to keep scoring blistering goals for FC Dallas if he wants to get back in the US mix and next time, he’s gonna be sitting on the bench.

What did you guys think of the match? Any insights? Think I’m way off base?

–psc

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Live Blogging USA vs TnT: Young’uns Lead the Charge

October 15, 2008

TnT 2 USA 1

There you have it.  Check back tomorrow for a little recap action.

91st minute – FULL TIME. TnT beat the USA. Hmmmm.

90th minute – I wish Szetela had come on sooner (even though as I’m typing this he plays a disastrous long ball).

87th minute – Rolfe on for Pearce.  I think we’re losing this one.

86th minute – Looks like Rolfe is coming on.  Time to kill myself. Will it be for a defender or for Jozy?

85th minute – Lazy play from Hejduk. US just looks tired at this point.  Edu has had a very poor game.

83rd minute – Yikes, near miss for US on a Beasley set piece.  Altidore should’ve done better there. Now Torres off, Szetela on.

82nd minute – Szetela is coming on for the last 8 minutes… Why?

TnT 2 USA 1

79th minute – GOAL TnT. Trinidad pull one back through a calm penalty from Dwight Yorke.  Do the young US players have anything else left?

79th minute – PENALTY to TnT. Jozy concedes a penalty, yanking on Hislops jersey on a TnT corner kick. Lame. That play shows us Jozy’s fatigue.

75th minute – The goal was great work from Altidore, but it was ONE touch away from being bad play from Altidore. You know what I mean? Jozy almost took too long on the ball, but it squirted out in his favor.

TnT 1 USA 1

74th minute – GOAL USA. Charlie Davies puts it in just like he does at Hammarby, by making sure his positioning is spot on.

68h minute – Davies in and right away he frees up some space with a nice run off the ball.  Too bad Jozy falls over before the ball gets to him.

67th minute – Davies gets ready to come on, and it seems it’ll be for Adu.  Looks like we’ll see a little more of a 4-4-2 from here out.

TnT 1 USA 0

60th minute – TnT GOAL. That’ll mix things up. Latapy volleys in off the post.  He is 40 years old.

58th minute – Pearce getting involved on the flank in this half, and he looks much better on offense than Hejduk.  US is still lacking that final quality though.

55th minute – Altidore looks tired.  When does Davies come on?

47th minute – Ball movement already looks better, but still too soon to tell.

HALFTIME – A rough half for the USMNT with not alot of positives to take away.  Hopefully a little coaching from BB in the locker room will get the boys back on track, because we aren’t lacking talent and skill.  Rather, we just need some direction.  If there WERE to be any changes at this point, I would expect Szetela to come into midfield for Edu or Torres (I’d pull Edu if it were my decision).  I don’t think Edu is getting it done. What do you guys think at this point?

42nd minute – A little bit of crowding between Adu and Altidore.  They don’t seem to be on the same page so far tonight.  We’ve fallen into the trap of “hit it forward and let Jozy run,” but Jozy is so much more than that.  We don’t need to play as if Jozy is EJ.

40th minute – Hard work from Hejduk up and down the right flank, but his crossing is not up to par.  That’s the same story we all know.

35th minute – Still lacking some direction and focus in attack.  We’ve started to possess a bit more, which is good, but we still can’t figure out how to create effective chances.

28th minute – Maurice Edu is definitely one of the leading offenders when it’s coming to “poor touches.” He’s given it away a number of times when he really should’ve done better.

25th minute – Maybe its the field, maybe it’s the heat, maybe its just the lack of all our starters, but we just don’t look that great.  Alot of poor first touches in the midfield, and it seems that we aren’t quite sure how we want to orchestrate our attack.

17th minute – Still some suspect defending from the US, especially on corner kicks.  We narrowly escape going down after a Soca Warrior whiffs a finish at the top of the 6.

13th minute – There we go, some strong passing from Torres and a nice dummy run from Adu opens up some space and Hejduk wins a corner.

11th minute – Adu draws a foul in the offensive third and Kljestan takes the freekick poorly.

8th minute – Trinidad is getting forward strongly here.  The US looks a little jittery, trying to force too much too early. I think we’re surprised at TnT’s start and are on our heels a bit.

4th minute – snap save from Guzan and cleared off the line by Torres. Yikes guys, lets get under control.

5:05 pm – Anthems and team formalities…  Let’s get to it! Any predictions before we start? I’m gonna be a cynic and say we only win by 1 or 2 goals… but buried deep in my heart I have dreams of a Jozy hat trick.

4:15pm – We’ve got a starting lineup!  I wasn’t too far off in my earlier predictions, here is how we’ll start off tonight:

Guzan

Hejduk Orozco Califf Pearce

Beasley Torres Edu Kljestan

Adu

Altidore

Oh boy, this is gonna be a fun one!!