I’m ran out of creative titles for our weekend piece a long time ago. What I have not run out of is cheesy “soccer globe” pictures at my brothers request.
Away we go….
First a big thank you to all of you that nominated TSG for best soccer blog on USSoccer.com, especially whoever left the fantastic comment. Like we said earlier this week, we’re going to bring this one home like’s it’s a Champion’s Cup for the fans….FOR THE FANS DAMNIT!
Second, a happy birthday to one Josmer Volmy Altidore. Next time we chuck some flack at JZA, let’s remember that he’s, still, not legally allowed to consume alcohol in the States. Happy 20th to the USMNT big man, let’s hope he unwraps a start this weekend.
• Can’t start off the weekend without commenting on the Columbus Crew having time to hit the links before the frost appears in November. I wonder what the odds were in Vegas (if they run them) that the Crew, with their typically brick wall backline, would give up three unanswered to Real Salt Lake. Applause to RSL as they finally played a tough game on the road in Abercrombie country. More notes:
» Poor fan favorite Frankie Haircut did not help the cause for the home side Thursday evening and I place the blame squarely here. Kidding.
» Taylor Twellman has his own candid assessment of why Columbus exited.
» The piece I wanted to write comprehensively today was on a Chad Marshall. The Stanford grad earned his second straight MLS defender of
the year award this week which begs the obvious question, “Whither Europe, Chad?” Beyond Marshall’s stoic on-ball defense, TSG has been consistently and pleasantly surprised by Marshall’s deceptive speed and ball distribution (a trait sorely lacking on the USMNT) from the central defense. A move to Europe–Marshall trialed in Germany last year–would be as good a measurement for Marshall as for the MLS. Can the best MLS defender rise to a top squad in Europe? We’re betting on you Chad.
Oh and slight positive for the USMNT here. Big Chad’s schedule (as well as Robbie Rogers’s) is now wide open for Slovakia and Denmark.
• Forget if Saturday or Sunday is the better soccer day this weekend, you just don’t want to miss the EPL showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United.
» The first question in this one is undoubtedly going to be: “Can the Red Devils much maligned defense handle the attack of Drogba and Anelka?” It’s very possible that both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will watch this one from the sidelines. That would leave a somewhat capable, but less experienced duo of Wes Brown and Johnny Evans deputizing in the middle.
I’m more worried about the pace of Anelka in this one as I think Brown and O’Shea can, at least somewhat, contain Drogba on United’s right side.
» I’ve been very impressed with Michael Essien (as always) this year, but also Branislav Ivanovic who is filled in more than capably for the
injured Jose Bosingwa at right back for the Blues. Not sure he gets up the pitch this Sunday as he does against weaker sides, but still look out for him.
» I’m beating the same drum again, but again I think the midfield is the difference in this one. TSG has consistently criticized the center of the pitch of Sir Alex, be it the lack of younger talent or just Fergie’s combinations. Against a very formidable midpitch of Lampard, Essien, Ballack and likely Joe Cole, Man U will have to work very hard to link passes up the field and get the ball to Wayne Rooney. I expect Ferguson to start Scholes and Carrick in the midfield, but I’d really like to see Darren Fletcher and Anderson, especially, in there to start. Although Scholes has the vision to unlock a game like this, I don’t think he has the consistency anymore and I’m not sure his he can handle the physical play of Lampard and Essien. Additionally, I think Man U’s best shot at ball movement is the wings with Nani and Antonio Valencia.
» Don’t forget to pop over here if you’re in SF for the match and some FIFA.
• Sunday should also give USMNT fans yet another reason to tune in with Hull City (JZA) playing at Stoke City, West Ham (Spector) playing at Everton (Howard) and Fulham (Demps/EJ) traveling to Wigan. Would love to see Jozy taking some shots on Thomas Sorensen.
• And if the EPL is not enough, (the) MLS brings us the second leg of Dynamo-Sounders and Galaxy-Chivas. The Houston home game should have
some fireworks given the chippy play throughout the opener. Houston will definitely be looking to come in and show a lot more consistency than they did up in Emerald City. As for Chivas-Galaxy let’s just hope for a better defensive affair…well and actually better coaching from Bruce Arena.
Arena kept moving Beckham all over the pitch last Sunday, trying to free up the Spice Man for some service. Alas, I think all it did was throw the offense out of whack for the Galaxy. Any thoughts here?
• Back to Saturday, tune into Tottenham vs. Sunderland. While Man U-Chelsea is certainly the marquee match-up, Tottenhan will be looking to rebound against a suprisingly strong side from Steve Bruce. If Sunderland can right itself against inferior opponents, they’re strong enough to get a shot at qualifying for the Europa Cup come campaigns’ end.
Alas the Black Cats enter the game without striker Kenwyne Jones, who was just a moron in not containing himself last weekend as West Ham defender Herita Ilunga did his best fish-out-of-water routine, and Lee Cattermole who sustained an injury as is probably a bigger loss.
Oh and someone needs to clue in Harry Rednapp that his talent needs are in goal and defense, categorically not on the offensive end. Van Nistelroy? Pass.
Probably would have been good to hold on to Darren Bent though. Let’s predict Bent’s twitter message: “Just a draw man. But Harry knows he screw’d up. Nice to stick one home back at White Hart. Fools….”
• In the last game Saturday, Wolverhampton entertain Arsenal. After Wenger’s squad shellacked Hotspur last week, look for Arsenal to hang a 3 or 4 spot going away. Let’s just hope it’s not against USMNTer Marcus Hahnemann.
We’ll update this piece more as the day goes on….
Oh, two weeks to playoffs and in the Bundestinysanfrancisco League, the San Francisco Black Sox have new unis and merch and a commanding lead in the standings, positive 28 goal difference in 6 games. Keep it up Sox. If you like the logo, go right ahead and sport it–we don’t make a nickel.