Archive for August, 2009

Tim Howard Is Pretty Much Bulletproof

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My brother and I often disagree on quite a bit….and, when we were younger, the two of us had some interesting and let’s say, very physical (and sometimes bloody), ways of addressing these arguments.

Case in point, our summers were spent playing one-on-one basketball after dinner on a hoop tacked to a tree in our driveway. The game would be to 50 by ones and twos and I surmise we finished maybe 3 of these games in the history of the contest. The epic battles typically got rougher and rougher the closer someone got to the 40-point range plunging the game into an eat-my elbow, shoulder charge, take-it-to-the hole at all costs foul and hack affair.

So while my brother I disagreed, vehemently, on how this column should be written, we’ve finally put our differences aside in favor of the greater good and publishing this feature. (Aside: I favored calling out some writers and my brother favoring staying with the main theme.) We agree on one thing.

Some realize the legend in the making

Some realize the legend in the making

Tim Howard is a world class goaltender and any goal scored against his team with him in net should not be evaluated in isolation.

So, in writing this column, I am staying on point and I will not egregiously torch writers, message board contributors, and tv commentators or their “commentary” that suggests Tim Howard has something to prove against El Salvador. (You know we’ve all read their commentary and I’ve bookmarked their links.)

Okay! Done, caput. Focused, on-point.

Tim Howard has absolutely zero to prove. He should laugh at that at that notion. And frankly he might be chuckling from the bench on Saturday as it is actually a good game for him to take a well-needed break and have Brad Guzan (who faced the squad in March) deputize.

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Make Bill Simmons an Outlaw!

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‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾‾

[In the event Bill Simmons is actually reading this, please contact us at shinguardian@gmail.com]

An American Outlaw that is.

Recently, we wrote a review piece on the Bill Simmons – Alexi Lalas podcast. As the discussion progressed in the comments, I made the following statement:

Simmons covers sports from the (super) fans perspective which means interesting story lines, game experiences, drafts, etc. I think we need our friends at the Outlaws to invite him to sit with them at a WC qualifier in the states or bring him in their next march on Soccer House.

Don't make us get Tim Howard on your....

Don't make us get Tim Howard on your....

Reader “Garbogas” picked up on this and then issued a challenge:

Brothers TSG, can you make that happen? Seriously. Pull every string you can to get Simmons to go to Rio Tinto on Sep. 5 to watch the Salvador game…

(Thankfully, Garbogas then realized that the October 14th game in D.C. versus Costa Rica was more realistic.)

So today we start the campaign with our friends at the American Outlaws. We have 45 days to convince Simmons to be in the stands with the American Outlaws at RFK Stadium to watch the US avenge their earlier loss to Costa Rica in the World Cup Qualifiers.

Stage 1 of the campaign is email and Twitter (@sportsguy33). Please write a polite message to Mr. Simmons at ESPN.com or Twitter asking him to join in support of US Soccer, in person, on our soil with its most passionate supporters. In the subject line of the email or Tweet, write Hey Bill, support the USMNT at RFK and copy this link into the message: http://bit.ly/BStoRFK. Stages 2 – 25 (approximately) are under development, but rest assured we aren’t going to just leave it at electronic correspondence.

Continue reading for why we are doing this and more on the American Outlaws

Freddy Adu Finally Transfers

Adu: Headed just down the street

Adu: Headed just down the street

Last week, we wrote a piece imploring US midfielder and South African hopeful Freddy Adu to push for a new club so he could get some extremely vital playing time.

Today, just ahead of the transfer deadline, TSG has learned that Adu is finally off the pine and headed to historic club Belenenses, currently 7th in the standings in the same Portugese Liga. Both teams are based in Lisbon.

We hope Freddy dresses and gets some run in his first game on September 13th, because it’s against none other than the team that loaned him, Benfica.

Jermaine Jones, Video Kick

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Jones: Watch your legs...and teeth

Jones: Watch your legs...and teeth

TSG ran a feature last week proposing that one of our multitude of quality defensive central mids should take a stab at a wingback position.

With with wealth of talent at holding midfielder, it would be difficult–a player would have less than a 17% shot–of starting on the pitch there.

Obviously Jermaine Jones, he of the lore, but not the USMNT cap resume, factored into our discussion. There is probably no other player in terms of ability, place, and role who’s inclusion is as much a factor.

TSG reader Kevin made some good comments in our piece and also did one better by sending us  a video. Thanks Kevin for getting our piece started.

What follows are two videos of the German enigma.

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The Beautiful Game: Turning Disability into Ability

TSG’s “The Beautiful Game” series explores the ways soccer is making a difference around the world. For other stories in the series, please click on “The Beautiful Game” category in the right sidebar.

At its most fundamental level, soccer is two feet and a ball. Now, imagine if you didn’t have two feet. More specifically, imagine if one day you took a wrong step…onto a landmine and lost your leg. Soccer is out of the question, right? Wrong.

Still, and always, up for a game

Still, and always, up for a game

Thankfully in America we don’t have to deal with the remnants of recent wars such as landmines and cluster bombs, but in a large part of the world they do. One of those places is Lebanon, a country that has been ravaged by war over for the last quarter century. While Beirut used to be known as the “Paris of the Middle East” prior to the Lebanese Civil War, for most folks forty and younger it has an entirely different connotation.

A group of men in Lebanon know the perils of leftover ordinance all too well as they have been torn apart by landmines. As they struggle for some semblance of normalcy after the loss of a limb(s) they found solace in an old familiar friend, soccer. These men, the Landmine Soccer Team, come together weekly to not only play together, but to heal together. And in addition to soccer bringing these men together for fitness and friendship, it has united them in a quest to raise awareness of landmines and cluster bombs in former war zones.

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Final: Man U 2 – Arsenal 1 at the bell

Old Trafford: Quieted by Arshavin

Old Trafford: Quieted by Arshavin early....redeemed in the 2nd half

Final commentary:

Not really a tale of two halves as Manchester United rallies behind a questionable penalty call in the box and an Arsenal own goal to take the contest–not without a late scare on an Arsenal goal called back by a legitimate offsides call and then a comical sending off of Emirates skipper Arsene Wenger right before the whistle.

Really, though, not a well-played game by the Red Devils.

2nd half points:

- No change for Ferguson out of the gates at half time and throughout the 2nd half Man U continued it’s poor central midfield play.

- While Ryan Giggs was responsible for through ball that created the penalty kick, he looked a shadow of his former self. I counted only 3 passes all day that presented opportunities for the stikers or wingers ahead of him. Fletcher and Carrick for their part were not much better.

- The Trafford defense tightened up in the 2nd half enough to escape. Wes Brown came on a little stronger and Ben Foster, seeking redemption, made a left-footed save from down the barrel on Van Persie to preserve the 2nd half clean sheet.

- If there was any move by Ferguson issued that made sense, it was introduction of energizer bunny Ji Sung Park. Park can track all over the pitch and his pressure upfield helped hurry Arsenal into poor possessions and open up the pitch for his squad.

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