Archive for October, 2009

With Davies in Repair, Who Strikes?

Now that the harsh, though thankful, realities of Charlie Davies’ injuries are known, it’s time for Bob Bradley and the braintrust to start contemplating the front line going into World Cup 2010.

Davies: Speed and strength

Davies: Speed and strength

Taking a step back, TSG would promote that Charlie Davies was the 3rd least replaceable player on the States’ roster. That’s quite a statement for a player who only factored regularly starting in July 2009 and has less than 20 caps to his name.

Think about it.

There is Landon — irreplaceable on offense, on the left wing and defense. And there is Tim Howard. While Brad Guzan would deputize capably, USMNT fans have come to expect and probably demand Howard’s one to two saves a game and on field direction that change the score.

Next up? Mike Bradley? Nope, you’ve got Benny and Rico, not to mention Paco and maybe Jones or Edu. Dempsey, no again, in fact Stu Holden might be more than his equal on the right wing. Gooch or Boca? I guess we’ll find out here with Gooch’s knee tear but it’s not not incredibly hard to envision Chad Marshall , JayDeMerit, or even a Jimmy Conrad or a Clarence Goodson filling in admirably for either of them.

Altidore? A player who remains the single biggest wildcard for 2010’s Cup theatrics oddly wasn’t on the pitch to start for the States’ two most important qualifier matches, away at Honduras and away at Mexico and remains on the bench at his club team. Ruminate on that.

Davies? Well there is….

In fact there is no one for an abundance of reasons. Charlie Davies, the 3rd least replaceable player on the US national team, and now likely gone through the World Cup.

In July that wouldn’t have seemed like much. In October, it means the entire team dynamics.

Take a look at what Coach Bradley was developing on the left side: Bornstein, Rico, Davies and Donovan–perhaps the four fastest players at their position.

With the Davies-Donovan combination on the left, the U.S. was first using it’s offensive prowess to cover for what deficiencies the team may have at left back (depending who you speak with).

Is it coincidence that both Mexico and most recently Honduras started their attacks down the right side? Nope, they knew that throwing numbers up the U.S. right flank was much less dangerous. Had they tested the U.S. left flank, either opponent would have had to deal with the explosive, yes that is the right word, counter potential the Yanks deployed. (See Confed Cup, Brazil, Rico to Donovan to Davies to Donovan.)

In fact the Davies-Donovan offensive pairing, more than covering for defense, was perhaps the U.S.’s best 1-2 strike combination ever. Yes, I said that–with apologies to Joe Max-Moore and begrudgingly Eric Wynalda. This combo wasn’t lofting a cross onto McBride’s head or Reyna slotting a run for Clint Mathis–this was much more. This was World Cup-grade striking teams avoiding the U.S. left flank.

"Who's this ball going to?"

"Who's this ball going to?"

This was Donovan being able to have a player that matched his speed in possession who knew how to create space for the offender behind him. As we talked about in our Costa Rica review piece (see the LD section in player ratings), Donovan clearly suffered from Altidore, though strong on his own, and Casey not clearing or positioning fast enough for his midfield runs against the Ticos. Charlie knew exactly where to go and got there…fast.

Additionally, Davies speed in and of itself with the ball would open that filling position for Donovan to trail the play and execute. Opponents had to respect Davies’s ability to get up the pitch and round the defense. Altidore, sure he will turn the corner on the defender, but whereas Davies “happens,” Altidore “unfurls.”

Get my drift.

And even smaller subtle things were developing. Davies penchant to go extremely wide and throw a cross on frame as opposed to just breaking down his man (see El Salvador). With Casey and Altidore lining up on the other side that was a very healthy and high probability-type attack.

Yes, CD9 you will be missed on the pitch.

The riddle now is two-part: Who replaces Davies? and Does Bob Bradley change his entire attacking scheme or does he try to slot in a player with some of Davies attributes (speed, one-on-one ability) in front of Donovan?

Come to think of it maybe it’s just one question: Who allows the USMNT’s best player, Landon Donovan, to have the biggest impact on the game?

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Mr. Castillo, Please Report to the Backline

EC: Lost in space?

EC: Lost in space?

A little email exchange between the TSG brothers earlier today.

Matthew: I watched the Toluca-Tigres game at the gym on Saturday.  Castillo was on the pitch. Got up the pitch a bunch probably due to the fact that he was playing in the midfield instead of the backline.

He is categorically not a defender.

Mark: I don’t want to hear that. I am going to pretend you never said that.

Matthew: He made some good runs. Very good on possession and possibly more of a wing or holding midfielder–not nearly strong enough on defense. He’ll be stay in front of guys for sure….but aerials, forget about it….and a Jozy type offender, he’s screwed.

Mark: Ever since he admitted he needed to work on his defense, I’ve stopped considering him an option at LB anytime soon.

Matthew here, sure, it was just one observation. I saw an extremely competent player who was strong on the ball, that’s for sure. Looked to me though slated more for a left holding mid. Maybe my comments are biased since he had a thin frame (heck, Ashley Cole has a thin frame), that being said, looked like a mid-pitchman to me.

If you’ve seen him, please do weigh in. He certainly should be able to help the USMNT in some capacity.

(By the way, Telemundo, you do a great job with camera production and game coverage.)

Running Game Commentary: Hull versus Fulham

Best shirt ever?

Best shirt ever?

Disappointing game all around but Fulham get the three points. Dempsey after a good start was quite but played decently. Altidore brought in a sub was well marked but made good use of the limited supply he got. Hopefully he will get a start soon. See you all soon.

94: Hull with a free kick…last action of the game no doubt

89: Altidore is being well marked by the giant Fulham defender Hangeland. He is setup though and uses his power to charge at the Fulham goal and sends a shot which is saved just over the bar.  Nothing comes of off the corner but a nice display of what Altidore can do. The commentators seem to be fans as well.

84: More subs for both teams…sadly JVofH is off. Game is dwindling. Jozy you need to take contro lof the very little forward progress that Hull is making as you need to cement yourself as a starter. The experience you will get will be of IMMENSE help to USMNT and yourself this coming summer.

80: Dempsey with a free header off a corner…Nice try but should have done better….Wow apparently Dempsey hasn’t scored in last 14 premiership games…wonder how many he has been responsible for?

77: Cross sent into the box for Altidore but it was poor. Altidore does well to give Schwarzer some problems but Fulham clear easily.

75: Hill City with a freekick about 10 yards outside the box…Taken by Bullard and its straight into the wall. Ball eventually gets to Altidore who gets dispossessed. Fulhma attack with Dempsey but Zamora sends an easy shot well wide.

72: Fulham is attacking at will and it ends with a weak scuffed shot by Dempsey directly in the hands of Myhill. Altidore and JVofH need some service cause they ain;t getting anything right now.

69: SUB YES…Altidore in for Hunt. C’mon Jozy…lets see what you can do.

68: YES…DOUBLE DIGITS on the comments!

65: Dempsey is apparently playing just behind the strikers and almost makes it 3-0 but his shot is inches wide. Game is sringing to life but only from a Fulham perspective. Hull are hopeless and that is spearheaded by their manager.

64: GOAL 2-0 Fullham. Breakdown in Hull’s offside trap and Zamora threads a cross to Kamara who taps it in.

61: Hull really need to inject some pace or maybe even a bit of life into their attacking game…no one more perfect than Jozy…COME ON PHIL BROWN!

60: SUB...Danny Murphy off, Jonathan Greening on…Murphy has picked up a knock and limps off.

56: Looks like Jimmy Bullard might be coming on soon for Fulham. Hull playing better now and putting more pressure on the Fulham goal with two successive corners…a third coming up

53: Lamentably the second half is not much different than the first. My sandwich though is amazing!

48: Would could really help this game out and Hull especially is the introduction of Jozy…

SECOND HALF is under way. Hopefully both managers will stress attacking football to their players

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Martin Tyler + ESPN + World Cup + USMNT = ???

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As has been reported around the online soccer world, ESPN has secured the services of announcer Martin Tyler (of EPL and of EA Sports FIFA video game series fame) to call the World Cup for the Worldwide Leader. (No official word as to whether he will be joined by Andy Gray.)

Tyler has called every Word Cup since 1974.

Tyler has called every Word Cup since 1974.

Two things about the move that are somewhat interesting when considered in tandem…

  1. Tyler won’t be changing his style to be more “American,” which isn’t that surprising.  Said Tyler, “I think I’ve been acquired for what I am and not what I might become … I think maybe those who have made the decision about me would like to get, if you like, a more global feel to what is a global game.”
  2. ESPN is considering having Tyler assigned to all USMNT games.

The hiring is a boon to purists and die-hards, but it will be interesting to see how it will play to those not well-versed in soccer (or to Tyler, “football”) who will tune into games out of some combination of global spectacle, curiosity and patriotism, among other things. Regardless of what a “Tyler call” adds to the game for those who follow soccer, it will make the game less accessible to those who don’t.

From a “soccer in America” perspective, it would be a risk for ESPN to assign Tyler to all USMNT games as an English voice and “global feel” could be a turn-off to the general American public and could ultimately dampen the boost that soccer gets in America every four years via the World Cup. (This is by no means a certainty, but not out of the realm of possibility either.)

On the other hand, as ESPN has staked its claim to English soccer (over American soccer) they may want to use the World Cup to breed more familiarity with an English / European call of the game in an attempt to enhance the profile and likelihood of success for the WWL’s future broadcasts. For as ESPN has shown, soccer coverage, or lack thereof, is purely a business decision.

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Davies Out of ICU, Support Abundant

CD9: Treating us to an exit from ICU

CD9: Treating us to an exit from ICU

News from US Soccer today that less than one week after a horrific car accident USMNT striker Charlie Davies continues to improve:

News remains positive on the condition of Charlie Davies, who continues to improve and has been moved out of the Intensive Care Unit at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C. Davies has been able to receive and speak with visitors. He will have surgery early next week to repair a broken left elbow, and may require operations to deal with facial fractures.

Even with the Yanks broken up until November 18th and back on club duty, the minds and thoughts of the USMNT remain on Charlie:

  • Meanwhile, Roger and Sacha Kljestan have decided to wear CD9 on their wrists in their forthcoming games.
  • Up in Foxboro yesterday during the Revs-Fire draw, another tribute 9th min tribute orchestrated by a man named James on Twitter and the American Outlaws Boston. (10/17)
  • Chivas USA supporters threw up the 9s as well over the weekend during their match with the San Jose Quakes. (10/18)
  • Charlie’s club team, Sochaux, hopefully gave CD9 a boost when they bested previously unbeaten Lyon in their first game after the break. Before the match, players donned shirts that read “Get Well Charlie” and fans paid tribute in the stands throughout. (Here is the match report from the Soxchaux website. Scroll down to the bottom and click through the pictures to see the shirts and banners.)

USMNT fans and players, something special.

Here’s a great video tribute to CD9:

WCQ US-complete: We Go Global Again

An abbreviated column this week (TSG needs to recharge the old 9-volt) on Americans abroad and things you should be watching instead of some non-ranked college football game or Phillies vs. Dodgers. You can always watch….the Yanks! Thank you. Thank you.

My brother Mark wanted to make sure this image connoted soccer instead of "NASA." Here you go Mark. The El De Barge of soccer globe pictures. The David Caruso of soccer globe pics. The Color Me Badd of soccer globe pics. Happy?

My brother Mark wanted me to make sure this image connoted "soccer' instead of "NASA." Here you go Mark. The El De Barge of soccer globe pictures. The David Caruso of soccer globe pics. The Color Me Badd of soccer globe pics. Happy?

Here we go with some bullets:

• We start with Tottenham – Porstmouth. No, no North Americans involved. However the conspicuous absence of USMNT opponent Wilson Palacios (the key player for Honduras home and away). Palacios was told by Honduras to stay home following their world cup qualification….and party.  Johnny Bornstein, you’re in for a treat on your visit there.

• Wow, well done ESPN. No not for your coverage of the USMNT this past week which was extremely tardy and erroneous. You’ve got a legitimate game! Aston-Villa vs. Chelsea early Saturday morning. Timer, coffee pot, set.

• On Monday, Fulham welcome Hull City to the pitch at Craven Cottage. Dempsey, well it will be interesting if the Deuce starts on the pitch. Hull City bring Jozy Altidore and former UK flavor of the year, and Fulham man, Jiimmy Bullard with them. Should be a good match.

ESPN, yup, they’ve got that one too. So does TSG, with live commentary from very funny man Shaun (from the Lower Haight? Shaun, we need a moniker for you). Please bear with the typos.

• Liverpool vs. Sunderland on Saturday. A very good test for the Reds. They’ve got Stevie Gerrard and Fernando Torres surrounded in ice packs. Can they pull off a win against a surging Sunderland side without their two best?

• Everton takes on Wolverhampton on Saturday at home. We’ll hopefully see one US keeper and it should be Marcus Hahnemann for the away side. Howard, you read a rest. In fact, you know he needs a rest if you can’t remember the back-up’s name (I think they got him from Wigan?) and you’re a fan. (Update: Got the Wigan part, Carlo Nash is the other…..he’s not that bad.)

• Well, we called it and we called it. We’re awarding Robinho our 2nd Flip Throw to the Face (Eric Wynalda earned the other one) in the history of TSG. Oh, don’t worry, more are coming shortly.

With Tiger Woods wannabee Craig Bellamy enjoying a resugence, SWP contributing for club and country, and

"It's so cold here...and the league is so physical...and I can't practice, but they won't play me....I miss paella...I just want to relax on a good team"

"It's so cold here...and the league is so physical...and I can't practice, but they won't play me....I miss paella...I just want to relax on a good team."

Roque Santa Cruz actually making an appearance, Brazilian tyke Robinho has been sure to start the buzz that he wants to go back to Spain, specifically world champs Barcelona. Quoting the deft forward, “I’ve only been able to play them on PlayStation.

• Stoke – West Ham United. TSG is hoping that Jonathan Spector sits the bench for this one. Really? No, but if he’s not there, he should make sure the US has a scribe for Thomas Sorenson’s tendencies. The solid Stoke goalie is Denish–I mean Danish and a likely squad starter to faceoff against the States on November 18th.

• And we bring it back home finally. TSG led some commentary that suggested in July that Stu Holden was shaping up to be an excellent torch bearer for the USMNT when Donovan’s time has passed. The face-off to close the weekend Sunday at 3pm EST. I might actually catch that one.

See you on Monday.

CentroamericaTV USA-HON Replay

Still not easy viewing, but we got a replay.

Still not easy viewing, but we have a replay.

If they didn’t make it to the few scattered viewing locations across the continent last Saturday, USMNT supporters will finally be able to watch the USA’s World Cup clinching victory over Honduras in their own home…

…in Spanish

…on Sunday (10/18) at 2:00pm Pacific

…if they subscribe to DirectTV and have CentroamericaTV (CATV, channel 428)

Boy, wouldn’t it be great if someone recorded this and then sent a copy over to TSG?

(Much thanks to Greg Seltzer for getting the word out.)

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