Archive for November, 2009

Barca-Inter With A Lyon-Fiorentina Finish

Does it get better than these two?

And thats it Liverpool playing in the second tier Euro competition. Liverpool had their chances. Last minute shoddy defending in their last game against Lyon sealed their fate…Their defense has been atrocious all season…i said it in August and unfortunately i was right…Oh well…Now they can concentrate on the league…oh wait they have been…UGH

90: Lisandro with a great shot and Frey with another fantastic save…

3 Minutes of extra time…ALLEZ LYON

89: Liverpool have won their game…All eyes and ears at Anfield on this game. Gilardino offside…phew

88: Another close one for Lyon…one of these has to go in…please…please…PLEASE

86: All the play still in the Fiorentina half..Lyon have a corner…WOW…Frey makes a incredible reaction save…UGH

Meanwhile Liverpool still up 1-0…god they are playing terribly…what is possession if you can’t score!

83: Lyon really attacking here…Fiorentina just content to play defense…hopefully they will rue that decision…I WANT SOME RUEING!

82: Great cross by Lyon and Di Silvestri the Fiorentina defender wastes time…sigh…Liverpool have only themselves to blame if it remains this way

81: Lyon gets a freekick that ricochets off for a corner…nothing comes with it and Fiorentina launch a counter attack

OK…Barca are going to win this game so am switching to the Lyon/Fiorentina game…ugh regular definition…CMON LYON

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US Soccer Best Of ’09 (TSG Nominated! Thanks!)

Well, TSG made the cut. Thanks to you guys, TSG is one of ten nominated for Best Soccer Blog of 2009 on USSoccer.com. Matthew and I sincerely appreciate your continued support and are honored to be in the great company of those nominated for the award.

It is worth spending time over at USSoccer.com going through all the award nominees in the twelve different categories. US Soccer has done a fine job of including descriptions, pictures and videos were possible to help USMNT fans re-live the great moments from the past year. And let me just say, the voting is not as easy as you think…just see Best Clutch Performance, for example.

Here are the categories:

Best Goal
Best Assist
Best Performance: Player
Best Performance: Team
Best Video
Best Soccer Bar
Best Soccer Blog
Best Fan Photo
Best Photo
Best Clutch Moment
Best Academy Story
Best Soccer Specialty Store

Voting ends on December 13 and fans are allowed vote once per day.

FIFA Calls “Extraordinary Meeting” Prior To Draw

Although it remains a near impossibility that FIFA would order a replay of IRE-FRA, let the speculation begin…

Announced on FIFA.com today:

Due to recent events in the world of football, namely incidents at the play-offs for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, match control (refereeing) and irregularities in the football betting market, the FIFA President has called an extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee.

The extraordinary meeting of the Executive Committee will take place in Cape Town on 2 December 2009, starting at 15.00.

Of course this “extraordinary meeting” could be nothing more than a dog-and-pony show to give the appearance that FIFA takes the Henry affair seriously and that soccer is on the proverbial “up-and-up.” Should no action of any kind result from Sepp Blatter’s pow-wow it will be hard to perceive it any differently.

ESPN Soccernet chimes in on the “crisis meeting” speculating about the use of an goal line assistants, condemnation of Henry’s helper and an explanation of seeding.

Any chance FIFA will stream that meeting live on its website?

Guus For Thanksgiving?

TSG Note: Catching up on comments this morning, a few of you were wondering why we hadn’t mentioned Guus Hiddink. So…here you go.

Plain sweatpants (Bradley) or Monogrammed sweatpants (Hiddink)?

With Russia getting bounced from World Cup contention last week it has been widely speculated that super-coach Guus Hiddink could be back on the market. Furthermore, it has been suggested by some American soccer “pundits” and fans alike, that Mr. Gulati should have Hiddink on speed-dial should that happen with an offer handing over the keys to the USMNT kingdom.

Let’s put aside the facts that

a) Hiddink’s ties to Chelsea owner and Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich may not be severed anytime soon,

b) Sunil Gulati has categorically stated that Bob Bradley will coach the USMNT through the World Cup, and

c) Hiddink said in an interview in the past few days that he would make a decision on his next move (Argentina? Chelsea?) within the next few months.

Let’s also assume that Hiddink actually rang up Soccer House and offered his services, but only through the 2010 World Cup.

What should US Soccer do? More specifically, what is best for the US squad seven months away from kick-off at the World Cup? And since we haven’t asked this question directly on TSG, why bounce Bob Bradley?

The Phone Call

Say “thanks, but no thanks” to Comrade Hiddink, even if the coach suggests a technical director position. The US isn’t Argentina with a head coach that is clearly in way over his head, a Bradley-Hiddink combo is doubtful to work.

What is best for the US squad?

With the USMNT struggling to field a team of eleven international-quality players who are fit, adding a new head coach to the mix at this late juncture would be, to quote commenter Kaya, “ridiculous.”

Consider that in Guus’ two most recent World Cup finals stops (South Korea and Australia) he had at least a year to work with the squad. Also, subtract two months from the available time-frame as Hiddink wouldn’t get to work with the team until January leaving less than six months to put together the USMNT squad.

Bringing on a new coach at this juncture would be risky at best and have implications beyond South Africa ’10.

Right man for the job?

Why bounce Bob Bradley?

From what I can tell by cruising around the ‘net, one is either on the Fire Bob Bradley bandwagon or labeled a Bradley Apologist. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between. Not sure why that is, but perhaps I will put myself in a country of one.

Bob Bradley has his struggles (specifically, in-game management), but he has also done some good things with the talent available and turned a collection of individuals into a team.

Bradley’s familiarity with entire player pool and the bonds developed through triumph (Spain / Honduras) and tragedy (Charlie Davies) are important heading into the World Cup with a most uncertain squad. He has performed admirably enough to carry the USMNT, his team, through the World Cup.

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The stark reality of firing a coach is that you have to hire another one that is only guaranteed of “looking good on paper.” Every coach could be better, especially one of an inconsistent team, but there is no reason to blow-up a to-date successful program seven months out of a World Cup…even if Hiddink was available.

MLS Cup: 120+ Minutes, PKs & Mr. Findley

It may not have been the best display of soccer over the course of 120+ minutes, but it had its moments. The counter-attack that put the Galaxy on top 1-0 was pure class as Beckham slotted a great ball to a streaking Donovan who lifted a perfect cross to the back post and an on-rushing Mike Magee.

In the end, Real Salt Lake, the better and more fit team, took home the MLS Cup in a dramatic penalty shoot-out (5-4) after overtime concluded with score still knotted at 1-1. Again, it was RSL keeper Nick Rimando coming up big in another penalty shootout in a performance that earned him the MLS Cup MVP.

Rimando cemented his legend as some sort of PK-saving savant in the Cup.

Almost as surprising as Real Salt Lake winning the MLS Cup was the penalty kick that Landon Donovan sailed over the cross-bar in the shoot-out. Ultimately, Lando’s miss wasn’t the difference as Galaxy (back-up) GK Josh Saunders’ brilliant stop on the try by RSL’s Andy Williams pushed the shootout into sudden death. Two rounds later, Robbie Russell banged home the winner after Cup MVP Rimando stopped Edson Buddle’s attempt and the RSL championship dog-pile commenced on the penalty spot.

For all the “new” ESPN technology the best innovation (at least I haven’t noticed it before) was the microphone placed in the goal that picked up the sweet sound of the ball hitting the netting during the PKs.

Major storylines coming out of the game will be the big injuries — Ricketts, Gonzalez, Morales, Johnson — the (fake) turf that was noticeably slick and the war of attrition down the stretch in extra time.  Also, TSG expects that sometime tomorrow morning MLS and ESPN will finally stop talking about the Seattle soccer faithful and the success of the Sounders, although 46,011 fans in attendance was impressive.

Up next for a tryout at striker for the USMNT?

TSG was most interested in tracking RSL and USMNT-hopeful striker Robbie Findley…and he did not disappoint. Findley’s patience, speed and play-making ability were all on display. Perhaps most impressive were his recognition and ability to hold the ball to maximize the opportunity and his sustained effort whistle-to-whistle.

Though it would have been nice to see more of his chances put on-frame, Findley was johnny-on-the-spot to bury home the equalizer in the 64th minute and generally wrecked havoc all over the Galaxy backline.

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That Kyle Beckerman…He’s So Hot Right Now!

TSG Travel Note: While Matthew is making like Frodo down in New Zealand, I spent a tidy 15.5 hours driving from San Diego to Breckenridge, CO yesterday. We are now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Player Heat Maps...probably not as insightful for the goalkeeper.

Here’s hoping that JP Dellacamera doesn’t paraphrase Mugatu from Zoolander during tonight’s telecast as ESPN goes…well…all ESPNy on the MLS Cup Final broadcast.

The Worldwide Leader will be experimenting with optical tracking technology during tonight’s game which will attempt to quantify the game and player performances with speed and distance stats as well as a “heat map” of player locations.

In addition to the tacking technology, the broadcast will feature 19 cameras including two super slo-mo cameras, ESPN Axis which rotates camera angles on replays and an EASports FIFA video game like Offside line.

It should be interesting to see how the new stats and graphics contribute to the understanding of the match. ESPN, however, has their work cut out for them as soccer is a game with few breaks and the last thing you want is for the fancy broadcast toys to intrude on the play and viewers.

Moving to a more American-style broadcast may offend some of the purists, but progress always upsets the hard-core traditionalist. Taking a different perspective, broadcasting innovations are just another attempt to engage fans in the sport, so a fist-bump to ESPN for trying in that regard.

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