Weekend Round-A-Bout: 90 Mins for Brown, Spooky Defense

Our usual Monday morning bullets coming out of the weekend:

• Hull City manager Phil Brown has the support of new Hull Chairman Adam Pearson…for one game that is. Pearson commented that Brown will be skippering the Stoke City game…and that’s the only definite.


"Psst...shh...I hear Brown's not making it to Christmas time."

• That’s, count’em, 5 losses out of 6 games in October for Rafa Benitez’s Reds–the lone victory a 2-0 defeat over Manchester United last Sunday. With Liverpool heading to Lyon on Wednesday, I’m going to make another contrarian point of view here that: Yes Liverpool are missing a number of players including Steven Gerrard, however the talent compiled at Liverpool and their ability to beat Manchester United with many of those injuries already in place tell me it’s not just a depth thing.

Trailing by a home game already in the Champion’s League, Liverpool typically come up big with their backs against the way; but this might be the ultimate test for them.

• Speaking of Liverpool, you can see the Deuce’s goal that sealed the deal against the Reds here. An independent observation on quality ‘Pool defender Jamie Carragher who pushes the limit on his tackles. Jamie, you’re going to get deserved cards here and there for the style of your play combined with your declining athleticism. Take them like a man.

Cesc: Impressive any way he slices the defense

• Just a gorgeous goal as we mentioned Saturday for Cesc Fabregas. You can view it here. While I think the announcer used a bit of hyperbole calling it one of the greatest goals in EPL history (the circumstance certainly wasn’t there), you can’t deny the talent of Fabregas who so often plays the role of Chris Paul, but could easily be a Kobe Bryant.

• Shout out to the USA U-17 team, who play an aggressive, offensive brand of soccer not normally seen out of States’ national teams. That being said, it is the US defense that pitched another shutout Saturday in a 1-0 win over UAE. By the way, we made a Agbonlahor McInerney reference after 60 or so minutes of the Spain loss, right now, with his tap in Saturday, Jack McI is looking a little closer to Pippo Inzaghi (minus the annoying complaints to offsides officials) by picking up scraps instead of really creating chances.

Who have you been most impressed with on the U-17 squad? Well, TSG will choose a lame answer first of being impressed with the coaching and tactics of Wilmer Cabrera. On the field, we like the left side of the US sqaud with Polak and Shinsky. Though Shinsky has been spotty in possession, we’re a fan of the youngster’s creativity.

Now that the US are through to the sweet sixteen, we’ll have at least one more observation of the up-and-comers.

• Uh-oh: Our Eric Lichaj Watch got off to an inauspicious start this weekend as the American suited up for loanee side Lincoln City. Seven minutes from time, according to this article, Lichaj received a straight red card. That’s all we can comment because TSG obviously did not see the play. Not the first tally we were looking for in our Lichaj Report.

• Spooky defense? That Chivas-Los Angeles game. Ugh…yuck. Observations: (remember TSG is an MLS “novi”, plural for novice(s), we’ll call ourselves “novi”)

Cuesta for Chivas USA should be brought out to the far barn and put out to pasture. As TSG is wont to say, we’re fine with mistakes of execution from time-to-time (that is trying to make the right play and your physical talent not allowing it), but boneheaded plays? in the playoffs? Not fine with this. If you look at Cuesta’s clearance attempt, he was attempting an overhead pass up the field in the box on a tough ball. Just…clear…the…ball. See Bornstein, El Salvador. Never works.

We’re not faulting Omar Gonzales by his lonesome…as much as the entire Galaxy defense for spooky play. The first goal by Santos, with OG defending (those are tough initials for a defender) was just picture perfect. Gonzales rightfully played Santos to take away his left foot, yet the Chivas man just launched a beauty of a bending grass-cutter for the first goal. That’s the shot you want the striker to attempt and is parried harmlessly 19 times out of 20.

Sacha Kljestan looked like a field general for this game, mostly though because no one was pressuring him. Is this the playoffs? With time on his feet, Kljestan was in January 2008 form for Chivas. Keep climbing Kljestan and stay focused on your game; you’ll get another shot.

All in all though a sloppy game with highly disorganized defense; not what I expected at all.

We’ve mentioned it before, but we wouldn’t be responsible to our USMNT fans, if we didn’t mention it again. In Group 5 of our Davies’

robbie findley

Making his case...

replacement piece, is/was Robbie Findley. Yet another big goal for the RSL striker. While it may have been a token call-up before for Findley–El Sal was in RF’s home stadium, and T&T is where Findley’s roots are–now his next call-up would be undeniably meritorious. Big 1-0 winning goal for the RSL striker as Columbus sat back like Costa Rica in RFK in trying to earn the draw away against Salt Lake.

Let it be noted that Findley’s goal was a header as well; one of CD9’s areas of deficiency.

Out of our Group 5 strikers, the pecking order has to be Findley, Rolfe………………………………………………..Adu. Findley on an impressive goal scoring streak, Rolfe netting what was a tougher rebound goal in Chicago’s loss yesterday, and the Subdued Freddy Adu only able to find the net on PlayStation (since he hasn’t been on the pitch for Belenenses).

• And a final note for those curious or pushing DaMarcus Beasley to reclaim a USMNT roster spot. Beasley is barely a spot player for Rangers these days–dressing this weekend, but not playing in the abbreviated game against Dundee United and it seems like his head is elsewhere. Beasley tweets regularly about his new business venture. Not sure he’s in the offing for the USMNT, nor should be.

More later today from TSG. For those new to the column, for some reason we love putting up pictures of the Hull City tiger…I think Mark started it.

23 responses to this post.

  1. I agree that Jack McI plays a lot like Super Pippo cleaning up the garbage, but he can also combine well with others instead of just hanging off the last defender, specifically the double 1-2 with Shinsky that led to his toe poke being just wide. I don’t think Jack McI has shown an ability to create his own chances, but he creates some space for himself when others have the ball and has shown a penchant for putting the ball near frame every time his teammates get it to him, which isn’t as often as you’d like, but hey, the kids are only U-17s.

    I think the best comparison would be Super Pippo’s knack for being in the right place and needing service from others sprinkled with a little Arshavin combination play and deceptive speed. Hopefully the young Tom Cruise look-alike (put him on the Dynamo and we have a ready made Top Gun knock-off for promos with Stewie “Iceman” Holden…I’m just sayin’) heads to Arsenal (rumors have him signing with the academy) and gets to learn from someone who plays the game completely different that we usually do in the states.

    What’s impressed me the most is how the defense seems to find a teammate on 90% of their clearances. This is possibly due to great coaching and great teamwork, or due to the lack of talent of the opponent. Either way, the senior national side could learn something from these kids.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/02 at 9:53 AM


      You had my complete agreement, especially your comment on “hangind off the last defender” (that is the perfect prose I was looking for) until Arshavin. :>

      Not sure McInerney’s skill is exactly what Arsenal look for. They like either laserfooted ball strikers or dynamic creativity up top (Van Persie, Eduardo, etc.) and very athletic players (Diaby, etc.) in the mid and back. Hadn’t heard the Arsenal news, but I think a team that could use his “type” right now would be someone like a Fulham actually, you have a strong defense and decent midfield and need to play the ball over the top a bit.

      Agree on the teamwork of U-17 — that’s why I’m backing Cabrera for MVP. Remember, the US U-17 is missing three of their best players.


      • I think he shows some traces of Arshavin, definitely not the complete package. As for the Arsenal vs. Fulham choices, I’m torn. On the one hand Arsenal boasts loads of talent and a great system that he could learn from and blossom in the next few years. On the other hand Fulham would put him to use sooner rather than later and match fitness is a key component to developing. The question is whether Fulham’s reliance on Zamora and Andy Johnson, when he’s healthy might mean limited minutes for quite some time, as Eddie Johnson is finding out. And, Fulham isn’t known for developing phenomenal young talent, like Arsenal.

        So, while I think he’d stand a better chance of breaking into Fulham’s first team sooner, I think he’d develop into a better player with Arsenal.


  2. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/11/02 at 9:35 AM

    The USMNT has called up Castillo. When are we going to have some pride and play the best Americans and not let all these foreigners who aren’t good enough to play for their own countries come over and knock hardworking American men off the WC squad? This is BS.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/02 at 9:49 AM

      @MatthewN — we had that in our first piece late last night/early this morning.

      While my brother mentions his growth — I do feel some similar pains as you. That being said, it happens all over the world and always had and the US has lost many players this way including Subotic and Rossi — so I’m fine with getting as much talent in and letting the pieces fall where they may.


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/11/02 at 8:12 PM

      Matt N, would you be saying the same thing if Castillo was half-Brazilian?


      • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/11/03 at 6:55 AM

        Well if he had played for Brazil then yes. I have no problem with American immigrants or anything like that. I’m not some racist (I assume that is what you’re implying). Jermaine Jones has tried to play for the Germans but they don’t want him, so now he wants to play for America. Castillo HAS PLAYED for Mexico at the national level, and now wants to play for the US. Some people have said that he has had a change of heart and that he wants to play for his home country (he lives in the US I guess). Others say it may be more a shrewd career move. The US team is very high profile and has high expectations, so a solid performance at the World Cup could lead to a big contract. Maybe if Mr. Castillo wanted to play for the United States, he should have done that first, instead of playing for Mexico.

        The US is a nation of immigrants so it is natural that we have so many people with dual nationalities. I just think that people shouldn’t play for us because they can’t make it for the team they really want to play for. We should stick with those people who have been committed to us the whole time. I would rather have my team lose than have them win with mercenaries from other countries. I don’t think this is a crazy idea… I thought most people would agree that players should choose their national team and stick with it.. no flip flopping like JJ and EC (and numerous others).


        • Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/11/03 at 6:28 PM

          i wasn’t implying you were rascist at all. Nor that you had a problem with immigrants. Just more along the lines of you either not wanting talent from our archrivals near the pecking order for one of our roster spots orjust not wanting Mexican talent period. I implied that if Castillo had played for the youth squads of historically the best international sides in the world, it would be no problem at all.


  3. Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/02 at 9:42 AM


    Castillo was born and raised in New Mexico which, last time I checked, was part of the Union.


    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/11/02 at 12:02 PM

      Castillo has caps for Mexico, which last time I checked, was not the United States.


  4. To me Castillo seems like he had a last minute change of heart and serendipitously lost his passport on the eve of getting capped for Mexico in a WC Qualifier. Nothing wrong with choosing to represent the country you were born in.


  5. Posted by Matthew N on 2009/11/02 at 12:04 PM

    I just wanted to say I’m not some super nationalist or something, I just think people who want to play for the US should be playing for the US. We are no one’s second choice.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/02 at 12:10 PM

      I agree Matthew N in that to me there is a line at “being capped by a foreign squad.”

      Mark’s working on a piece already here I know so I’ll save further comments for them.


  6. No one puts Baby in a corner!!!!!!!


  7. Posted by Shane on 2009/11/02 at 1:00 PM

    I agree that we are should not be second choice, however, if FIFA let Juan Riquelme join the US on grounds that he was pushed out by his home country, I would make an exception :) ( There is little truth that this might have came to pass too) :)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/02 at 2:19 PM

      Funny you should mention Riquelme — because a) great fit for the US and b) we talked about him a little bit in our Clint Dempsey piece — the guy looks absolutely despondent playing for his national team.



      • I am starting my annual letter to Santa Claus. This year, I’m asking for Fulham Clint to show up for the World Cup, a miraculous recovery in time to be on the World Cup Roster for Chuck Davies, the back four learning how to defend and a Champion’s League Trophy parade through SW6.

        So my excitement about Lichaj panned out really well. Fantasy football always works the same way for me, just when I’m finally fed up with Frank Lampard’s new non-scoring ways and transfer him out of your side for Fabregas, he scores thrice in two matches. Not that Fabregas is a bad guy to have in your fantasy side. I’ve just got to get both him and Lampard in there, I guess. Frank, you do it to me every year, you fat bastard.


  8. Posted by kaya on 2009/11/02 at 6:04 PM

    I’m going to say it was the turf… but the U-17 game was hard for me to watch. I think McInerney is more cooridnated than your average 17 year old. Gawd, I had a hard time seeing “the future” in that match. Anyway, a couple guys named either Mohammed or Ahmed on the UAE team had better possession skills.
    As far as Castillo goes, I have the impression he’s far more “american” than Jermaine Jones is (who doesn’t even want to give an interview in english.) I agree with the idea that we don’t want to just sign players up to the national team because they have the right papers, but I think there have been and will be more egregious cases of flying the flag of convenience than Castillo.


  9. Posted by Timmy on 2009/11/03 at 7:56 AM

    Question: Does anyone know if the U17 game against Italy on Nov 4 is being televised? It would be a shame if it was not. I agree with TSG about Wilmer Cabrera. I am impressed with his coaching, and I like his start as U17 coach.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/03 at 8:08 AM

      It is on ESPN.360 at 7am Pacific tomorrow morning.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/03 at 9:35 AM

      Timmy, thanks for the back-up on Cabrera — I loved this quote that was featured on Fifa:

      “We have been getting better in every match,” said the boss, who saw his side blow a 1-0 lead and a one-man advantage in their opener with Spain. “We can’t change our style and we can’t do different things depending on who we play against on the day. We just need to put the ball on the ground and play, that’s the key. And when we don’t have the ball, we have to be organized and fight to get it back as quickly as possible.”



      • That quote sounds a bit like Brian Clough; who was not one to worry about what the other team’s lineup and formation were. He knew he had put together the best squad he could and they would play their way and either they would get the result or they wouldn’t. It’s about time we begin to see some of this attitude; “we know we’re good and can win when we play our game” permeate US Soccer. Though, I don’t believe we can completely disregard the other teams’ lineup and formations, I do think we need to start coming into contests with that uniquely American/Cloughie swagger.


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