So much soccer this weekend, that…yup…just checked my Swatch, we passed noon on hump day. We’re going with our weekend preview a day early to get everyone amped up and get the good comments flowing.
Our global piece is dominated by American soccer this weekend and by that wonderful “soccer globe” to our left.
Look at it sparkle. We’re going global….
….but we start in the Land of the Free and Home of the Whopper: For you USMNT hounds who missed it, here’s the TSG Slovakia preview. I hope you, Dax, and Frankie all enjoy watching the game.
Let’s stay stateside or rather States-wise with (the) MLS:
» Friday night brings us Houston vs. Los Angeles from the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.
Wait, maybe I should just send you to ESPN’s piece right now that states that the key for Houston is to shut down David Beckham and Landon
Donovan. Let me guess ESPN, 11 guys a side to start the match also? Thank you, recess is over ESPN, please proceed to 4th period reporting where today we’ll learn how not to just state the obvious.
Are you kidding me? TSG has nary a few weeks of MLS under our belt….we can do better than that. My fingers are actually crossed right now. Go:
- How about the Brian Ching going up for head dingers against rookie Omar Gonzales, who has pretty much played down to his age during these playoffs. Ching has the experience and the nastiness, Gonzales the strength and the youth.
- Is Ricardo Clark fully fit in the midfield and able to injure David Beckham? For the little MLS, I’ve watched, I always see extremely “borderline” tackles by the Houston USMNTer on the English pretty boy. Don’t get me wrong, Beckham is some times too Roy Keane on his tackles, but my observations usually point to Beckham being the worse for wear after the affair.
- Does Stu Holden involve himself in the game? First, let’s commend Holden, who TSG is a fan of, in that he plays to one set of his strengths for the USMNT (flying down the wing, big crosses, tracking back on defense) yet his club demands different qualities (linking play in the middle of the field, finding space). Quite dynamic for the Dynamo captain. We offered some criticism of the Iceman in the Seattle series for not more aggressively finding the ball.
Best way to neutralize Donovan and Beckham, Stu and company? Maintain possession. That’s right, Iceman, be dangerous…with the ball.
- While many are worried about Becks and Donovan, what about Edson Buddle? The Galaxy striker while not extremely proficient around the net recently makes the defense work hard. You’ve got a big pitch, you’ve got a re-jiggered Dynamo defense with the suspension of Mike Chabala and now you’ve got the aggressive runs of Buddle coming at you. Watch Buddle vs. Houston Back 4–that’s a good match-up.
- Turning tables, the Galaxy better watch out for Houston’s Buddle, Mr. Dominic Oduro. TSG has only seen Oduro twice, but, if I were a betting man, I might take the Oduro-Berhalter match-up over the Buddle match-up just mentioned. For all his experience, Berhalter was exposed against a Chivas attack that really wasn’t very technical adept in the strike zone. Oduro, playing off Ching and with Stu and Brad Davis (does he ever have a shot at a nattie team call-up?) trailing after Becks and Donovan are racing to catch up after a counter.That might present some problems.
» Saturday evening’s affair brings us the Cinderella Salt Lakers vs. the Chicago Blancos. TSG has less observations of these teams, so we’ll keep our comments brief.
- Fresh off the US friendly in the morning, you can imagine all glassy-eyed USMNT fans will try to focus their peepers on the strikers: Chris Rolfe
and striker-du-jour Robbie Findley. While Rolfe has had his shot, Findley only got a sniff. Both will likely be in contention for the right to be the last guy picked for the RSA playground. Findley’s been playing to fine form and, with the MLS going into hibernation, one more big impression, in the hometown of US Soccer no less, couldn’t hurt.
- Having watched a few RSL games, I really like the play of Kyle Beckerman lately. The veteran in the middle has–in the games I’ve seen–been pretty much anywhere he’s needed. He has a unique ability to read where the RSL defense is going to break down and make himself available in support or to take on the offender. I’m going to call it Beckermania….props to you rasta man.
- Here is a question I’d like to ask Chad Marshall, Jay Heaps, Omar Gonzales, Bobby Boswell or pretty much anyone on an MLS backline. Why, really why, is it so freaking difficult to get the ball away from a 36-year-old with a history of injuries who looks like Tummi Gummi? Actually, nothing but respect from TSG for Cuauhtemoc Blanco as he signs off from the MLS. Guarantee if that man had played at, say, Inter or Valencia he would have had a lot more global fans.
- Our brief read of a few rags on this match, many are talking about the prowess of Javier Morales being the key to Real unlocking the scoring, the player who has caught our eye the most on the offensive end for RSL is Russian Yura Movsisyan. We just checked the stats on Movsisyan and we’re astonished to find that he started 19 of the 26 games he played in this year. The biggest impact we’ve seen from the 22-year-old is when he’s come off the bench and completely changed the offensive complexion for RSL.
I would term RSL’s offensive pre-Yura insertion as “assiduous” while I would term RSL offense post-Yura insertion as “zippy.”
Does TSG not have enough observations to make that claim?
- Yup, that all TSG is qualified to offer on this piece. You, the fans, that read our publication have many more observations. Have at it in the comments.
We now cross the pond to World Cup playoffs.
» Well, now it’s not just the French calling out their coach, it’s the other team. Ireland matches up with France and Richard Dunne has a comment or two for Raymond Domenech, who called the Irish team, “England’s B Squad.”
»Portugal look to qualify without Ronaldo against Bosnia Herze….I think you know, that I know how to spell the rest. Russia takes on Slovakia’s brother, Slovenia (he’s an inch shorter) and USMNT favorite Costa Rica battles with Diego Forlan at Uruguay. I hope Forlan lights them up. Sorry, the fan in me just came out.
All aboard, next stop:
Friendlyville (Population: Not Beckham)
» It feels like media’s sweeps week or something as there are just a ton of fun games on the docket.
» The Beckham-less Capellos take their messy chompers and a trio of lions to Qatar (of all places) to face the hosts of World Cup 2014, Brazil. The World Cup in Brazil? That could get dicey (or profitable). Hoards of men descending on a foreign nation where prostitution is legal and the exchange rate favorable. Oh boy….or is it a girl?
- Better grab your Grape Nuts and another green tea, because this game is on Fox Soccer Channel too, right after the US-Slovakia match.
- You could actually make an argument right now that the England backline is more ambulance-bound than their American counterparts. Ashley Cole, out. Glen Johnson, out. Luke Young, out and apparently retired. Starting at wingback for the Queen, the oft-injured Wes Brown on the right and Burnley whipping boy Wayne Bridge on the left. Yikes, we’ll take Specs and Bornstein.
- Conversely, Brazil counter with a fit Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Hulk, and Nilmar (6 goals in 8 appearances for the nattie side…better known to Yanks’ fans as the guy that took away JZA’s playing time at Villareal.) That should be quite a challenge for England’s makeshift defense.
- Let’s stick with Robinho for just one more second here. Why would a team that has Messi and Zlatan up top be possibly pining for the
petulent, immature Robinho? Thankfully, at this point, Barca has passed on the going rate for Robinho. Sure, why not fork over the cash so that the little baby can earn frequent flyer miles to Sao Paulo? Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, you’re too class…and too talented…. do what Robinho doesn’t do enough of…pass!
» Also on Saturday, the Diego Maradona Turf Sliders are hosted by La Furia Roja! of Spain. I’m really hoping that Argentina put together a good game despite their coach.
- Hard not to include The Maxi Rodriguez Goal clip when the boy is on the squad and playing in front of his club fans. Can’t watch this one enough.
- Fernando Torres’ groin has been pulled from the game (thank you, thank you). Ho-hum. A 10-0 record, 28 goals for and 5 against in qualifying. Spain’s still, obviously, the best.
» And finally, in what could be the most competitive and even match, the Azurri of Italy host USMNT future opponent, the Netherlands.
- USMNT evildoer Daniele De Rossi was just ruled out for this one. Patrick Viera pulled a Daniele De Rossi on De Rossi and now the Italian has a broken cheekbone.
- The other day I was asking myself the following question: “What soccer player does Landon Donovan most resemble?” The best answer I could come up with is Arjen Robben. Donovan clearly has a better free kick and plays more defense, but for shear look on the field, I’d have to go with Robben. Robben will form the strike trio up top this Saturday with Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt. Solid.
Enjoy the games; enjoy the weekend.