November Weekending: TSG and You

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.


Mark's favorite soccer globe #7

Away we go….

First a big thank you to all of you that nominated TSG for best soccer blog on, 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 6'4'' needs to take on bigger targetmen

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


Le Sulk will need to put on Le Show for the home team.

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

MLS Earthquakes Galaxy Soccer

Um, where do you want me now coach?

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.

9 responses to this post.

  1. As mouth-watering of a matchup Chelsea vs. United is, usually, I think I’ll take a pass this weekend. United could prove me wrong and pull a couple of rabbits out of hats, but they’ve looked rather meek in recent weeks; going down 3-1 to CSKA Moscow, scrapping points against mid-table Prem sides. I don’t see this one ending well for SAF at all. Instead of watching the Big Blue Machine wear down another lesser opponent, I’ll be taking my chances with the Hull City and Fulham games, hoping for either good performances by USMNT-ers or decent contests in general.


    • I forgot to finish my thought; while the middle of the pack is more exciting this year than most, I’m starting to tire of the dominance of the big four and the laissez-faire attitude that they take into some of these games.


  2. Posted by michaelneis on 2009/11/06 at 8:24 AM

    is it wrong to be rooting against the teams of guys i want to see play in the friendlies? i was definitely pulling for Salt Lake so we can see a marshall/boca pairing at CB. with jay and gooch out for a while still – those two need some time together


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/06 at 10:30 AM

      Not wrong at all.

      I actually think the best game of the EPL weekend will be Tottenham at home against Sunderland. If Sunderland could handle the bottom table they would be in the top 5 at this point. I can’t believe I just wrote that.


  3. Anelka deserves a lot of credit for Chelsea’s attacking verve this season. He’s playing as a false 9 off of Drogba, and occasionally leading the line while Drogba drops off deep/wide. Makes for a very fluid attack that’s difficult for defending teams to cope with unless they stay put and defend deep, keeping their shape no matter what. Joe Cole wasn’t brilliant in CL this week when he was effectively man-marked by a DM in an Atletico midfield set out in the same diamond shape. Look for him to find more space at the tip of the diamond against United’s midfield. I don’t think we’ll see anything but Carrick, Fletcher in central midfield for United while they try to play expansively from the wings.

    I reckon Sunderland are this year’s Fulham.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/06 at 2:24 PM

      Absolutely agreed on Anelka, he has finally come to terms with his role and plays off Drogba excellently. Drogba to his credit rewards Anelka’s spacing with crosses and lead passes even in instances where he can shoot.


  4. The weekend didn’t get off to a great start for the one-time savior of American Soccer. Freddy Adu’s club Belenenenennsessesses or whatever they’re called lost 3-0 to some other equally forgettable Portuguese side. The worst part of it all was that Adu’s team was really piss poor, I’ve seen better passing out of my U-13 boys team and I’m not some mastermind of a coach. Half of the passes that weren’t connected on are ones I would venture a guess Freddy would’ve made (at least the Freddy that got some PT in the last round of qualies before The Hex).

    So my question now is: Is Freddy Adu really this bad now, that he can’t even get minutes at a woeful, relegation fodder, Portuguese team? Has it gotten that bad for him? If so, he needs to go have a sit down with Giuseppe Rossi and Nevin Subotic and maybe some of his shambolic career will rub off on them, which in turn will cease all pondering about what the USMNT would look like with those two in it.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/06 at 4:28 PM

      I have absolutely no idea what is managers or advisors are telling him. To go from Benfica to Belenenses and still predominantly sit the bench — um, that’s really not going to improve your career any way you cut it.

      In my eyes, we’ve spent too much press on Adu until he at least gets in a starting line-up somewhere.


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