Archive for August, 2009

No B.S. – Simmons and Lalas Talk Soccer

UPDATE:  Support the petition to get Bill Simmons to the US qualifier against Costa Rica in RFK and sitting with the American Outlaws.

Simmons: This is the summer that I inexplicably fell for soccer. I can’t explain it. I don’t know why it happened now. I don’t know if it is like a mid-life crisis, but I have thrown myself into the US National Team and the English Premier League.

Lalas remains one of the most recognized faces in US soccer.

Lalas remains one of the most recognized faces in US soccer.

Lalas: You don’t have to explain it. It’s like…uh…love. You know, it just happens. You got to go with it.

And thus began a meandering, but interesting 58-minute conversation between ESPN’s Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) and Alexi Lalas early this week as part of Simmons’ B.S. Report podcast.

Say what you want about his motivation for covering the sport or knowledge of the game, but the increasing coverage of soccer by Bill Simmons (aka The Sports Guy) can only be a good thing. This isn’t Simmons first foray into the world’s #1 game. A couple of years ago he wrote a two part piece about picking his EPL team—Tottenham Spurs. But, ultimately, Simmons lost interest.

Continue Reading for Highlights of the Conversation

USMNT: Common Sense in Defense

Clark

Clark

Bradley

Bradley

Michael Bradley, Bundesliga, age 22, 34 US Caps

Jermaine Jones, highly touted, Bundesliga, age 27

Ricardo Clark, Serie A Livorno perhaps?, age 26, 33 caps

Sam Cronin, 2008 Herman Trophy Finalist, age 22, 2 caps

Kyle Beckerman, Real Salt Lake Captain, MLS Allstar, age 27, 9 caps

Maurice Edu, Scottish Premier League powerhouse Rangers, age 23, 4 caps

Edu

Edu

JJ

JJ

I’ve got some old news for you guys. You all play the same position.

The math: 6 viable options, 1, yes 1 (see Issue 1 below) starting nod. Chances of making the staring XI (all things being equal which they, of course, are not): 16.7%

Take that 16.7% and let’s consider some observations at TSG (and probably in many other locations and hopefully in Bob Bradleys office) on the US’s “Summer of Soccer” 2009:

Issue 1: The USMNT is extremely challenged by employing two defensive midfielders — hence this two defensive pairing in the middle needs to end. It can’t be Bradley and Clark. It has to be defensive holder and Benny, Dempsey, or even Freddy Adu.

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Cheers: Jozy Makes the Starting XI & Scores!

"Out of my way boys, need to begin the legacy"

"Out of my way boys, need to begin the legacy"

See the comments section for a recap of Jozy’s performance via the Hull City supporter site.

(Update: Hull up 1-0: Tom Cairney left footer from a Nick Barmby assist)

(Update 2: Altidore puts one in just before the interval.—– From the Live Game Commentary: Foul by Matt Heath(Southend) on Jozy Altidore(Hull). Direct free kick taken left-footed by Nick Barmby(Hull) from left channel, passed. Goal by Jozy Altidore(Hull) drilled right-footed (bottom-left of goal) from left channel (30 yards).Hull 2-0 Southend. Assist (pass) by Nick Barmby(Hull) from left channel.)

(Update 3: Ghilas, not Altidore, was subbed out at the 73-min. Well done, Jozy)

(Update 4: Hull City takes it, 3-1 with Altidore going the full 90+)

Boy, how they’ve taken to JZA over in Hull City.

He’s already earned Phil Brown’s trust as Southend will be facing Altidore up top to start their Carling Cup showdown today.

Maybe even more noteworthy, the Hull Tigers faithful are already hard at work coming up with different ways to praise America’s Drogba Jr.

Far be it from TSG to bogart someone else’s post or message board, so I’ll just direct you here where you can sing-a-long with JZA support jingles. One to “You Are My Sunshine” and another one to “The Fresh Prince of Bell Air” theme song.

Altidore’s first (of many) EPL goals:

More TSG Jozy Altidore coverage:

Exciting: Altidore Adds to Score Sheet in DebutThe Set-up Couldn’t Be Sweeter for Jozy

Liverpool vs. Villa: All my rowdy friends are here on Monday…day

Friedel: That bald dome is menacing

Friedel: That bald dome is menacing

ESPN stepping up and showing my boys Liverpool versus the midlands club Aston Villa. I’m going to go do my best to give you live commentary.

American and former Liverpool keeper Brad Friedel is in goal for the Villians. He usually has very good games against his former club, hopefully not tonight.

By the way, to all the naysayers who say football is for wimps, tell them this, that Curtis Davies for Villa is playing with a dislocated shoulder and Skrtel is playing with a broken jaw.

After the jump, skip to the bottom to read along with the game flow (spoiler alert!, if you focus on the top of the post)

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What Is Your Favorite American EPL Moment?

Wow, what a fun trip down memory lane.

I was just commenting on the Altidore story and trying to grasp the level of excitement that seems to have encapsulated the American soccer community with Jozy Altidore’s Hull debut Saturday.

The impact that JZA had on the game, the chants of “USA! USA!” by the crowd, the shear threat that an American striker could present in an Premiership game. Just fun to have as part of the weekend of soccer.

Howard, beginning his legacy

Howard, beginning his legacy

It got me thinking to the biggest moments that I can remember for Americans overseas, specifically in the EPL.

I would say JZA at Bolton is one of maybe four momentous events without giving forth to hyperbole that I can remember in terms of the media coverage and just shear “buzz,” for lack of a better word. I’m sure I’ll be embarrassed by ones I’ve missed–that you will add to the commentary here–and I’m a bit melancholy that I am not including at least one moment from Brian McBride.

Chronologically they are:

1990 – John Harkes Goal of the Year for Sheffield Wednesday against Derby County. I was in high school at the time and everyone thought John Harkes was the second coming of Ruud Gullit or something here in the States. I remember my parents buying me a Gullit Netherlands jersey actually–I wish I still had that.

2003 – Tim Howard’s Shield victory on penalties over Arsenal. I didn’t really comprehend the magnitude of Howard’s role at the time or this might have been more prominent a moment in EPL time for me.

2007 – Clint Dempsey’s goal for Fulham to avoid relegation.

2009 – Altidore’s debut against Bolton

Harkes’ goal by far is the most memorable moment in my mind, maybe the years have added to the legacy. Here’s the clip below; one that I have watched countless times before. You know it was such a vicious a strike because he had such a badass mullet.

What moments is TSG forgetting? Or what are yours more specifically?

Dempsey: Active Up Top Against Chelsea

Ruthless.

Up top at the expense of EJ?

Up top at the expense of EJ?

If you are watching the Fulham-Chelsea game as TSG is this morning, you are seeing an extremely active Clint Dempsey who is aggressively heading to the Chelsea net. Ruthless you might say. Dempsey is clearly looking for offense, though Fulham is currently on the wrong side of the scorecard after a Drogba first half strike.

So many storylines off Fulham’s line-up this morning.

Dempsey is playing up top today at RCF for the Cottagers with the addition of Damien Duff to the squad–somewhat telling that for some a major EPL game, Duff is in the squad at left wing just days after his acquisition.

Also, remember Fulham brought in even more midfield firepower with the addition of Jonathan Greening (primarily a holding midfielder, but he can play anywhere) this week. Might that spell more time up top for the Deuceman.

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