Archive for November, 2009

The True MLS MVP (Most Valuable Pale)

Note from TSG: Late last week, Mark and I got into a little tiff on beers…and thus our Beer & Soccer Review Series was born.

TSG is kicking off the series with a kick*ss piece from Die Hipster Brewing Co.

Die Hipster is a San Francisco miniature-brew founded by my Black Sox soccer teammate Chris Hanson and Scott Riley. I’ve had their beer and all I can say is, “Tasty!” and “Arrange transportation beforehand.”

Who is the real MLS MVP?

So without further adu, Die Hipster Brewing and their take on MLS MVP.

—-

In deference to the upcoming MLS Cup,  Die Hipster Brewing is proud to introduce and announce the results of the 1st Annual MLS MVP (Most Valuable Pale).  We at Die Hipster have been brewing for years and have attempted many styles – from  the dull catenaccio of a partial mash ale to the Totaalvoetbal of an imperial bourbon porter.  In the process, we’ve all but completely overlooked pale ales, much like most of the globe has overlooked MLS.  To remedy this, we spent the summer producing three MLS-themed pale ales in the lead-up to an eventual group judging event to determine an MVP.

Our candidates were chosen based on their sheer “MLSness” (not to mention their paleness).

Riles & Hanson: Dropping science

These three beers are named for three of the hardest working MLS semi-stars whose play has earned them a few appearances for the USMNT but scant European interest and only, it seems, from the Scandinavian part of the continent, which will work doubly in their favor when the Minnesota Thunder finally get their MLS franchise.  In the meantime, their current MLS squads are happy to have them.

In creating recipes, we kept within pale ale style guidelines, but went for three different grain mixtures.  We used the same yeast (similar to Sierra Nevada’s) for all three.  The goal was nothing too crazy or involved, just serviceable pale ales that will do the job without wanting to make real money (read: euros) or get identified on the streets of America.

The Eddie Gaven

The first selection, we went with Eddie Gaven. To get ourselves in Eddie’s mindset, we channeled our inner Eddie Gaven and in a specific nod to Gaven’s highly respected and publicized devote and pious nature, we asked ourselves not “WWJD?”, but, with the holidays approaching, “What Would Jesus….Brew?!”

As a result, Gaven’s beer was a fairly basic but a little heavier on the hop schedule – Gaven’s game, after all, is nothing if not bitter – along with some dry-hopping to finish it off.  The result was a pretty robust pale that could be mistaken for an IPA in some circles. Not bad for the player who was the youngest to score for the, uh, MetroStars and sports that stubbly beard. Is that perma-stubble-plus?

The Kyle Beckerman

The second selection went to Kyle Beckerman.  Beckerman’s beer had a healthy dose of malt, owning the appropriate moniker ‘Special B’.

Unfortunately, an eighth-inch log of his hair proved difficult to procure in Sandy, UT.  This one was also dry-hopped and the ‘Special B’ livened up the overall flavor profile – almost like marking said shorter dude who hasn’t washed his hair in 15 years.

The Dax McCarty

The last selection was Mr. Dax McCarty.  In our best deadpan, Dax’s beer had to stand out from the pack.  To accomplish this, we replaced specialty grains with malted grains and flaked wheat.  The result was a much lighter and drinkable pale that we hope will make an appearance in the 72nd minute in a Friendly possibly against Slovakia.  And….wait, yes that just happened.  Pretty sure Slovakia’s Martin Skrtel is the only Slovakian player who has ever faced a red head on the field (Scholes) before Dax danced his way on.  Sadly the Dax pale was neither made with nor tasted like Ginger.

The Victor

So who won?  The same player that could also be the MLS Cup MVP:  Kyle Beckerman by the length of one of his dreads (read: in a malodorous landslide).  There were only a small percentage of votes cast for Eddie and Dax.  While we also voted for Beckerman, Dax has grown on us quite a bit and is a session pale we were really looking for.

Since our brewery is not a democracy, next summer, Dax will be made again. Perhaps just in time for his cameo in South Africa?

We’ll need nominations for two new challengers to get called up to participate in the 2nd annual MLS Most Valuable Pale. Please nominate below in the poll or the comments.

For more information on Die Hipster Brewing and the MLS Most Valuable Pale recipes.

From TSG: A sincere thanks to Chris and Scott for the good read. If anyone has any questions, about such things as oh “beer” and/or “procurement,” please email shinguardian@gmail.com and we’ll bundle up the emails, float the pigeon and get you a response.

Continue reading

Next Stop: All Whites & Hobbitville

Cruisin' the Zealand

A quick note to the TSG community, that yours truly will be–sniffle, sniffle–on sabbatical for a few weeks recharging the batteries and spending time with the significant other.

Come Thursday evening, I’ll be New Zealand bound with my lady and camper-vanning aroud the South Island  for two weeks taking in some sights, surfing, and…..soccer! Actually, we’re going to try and get to a soccer bar for the World Cup draw.

Our TSG production schedule will be just a tad lighter, but we’ve tee’d up some guest contributors and I have some columns that we just took out of the freezer and are thawing. Don’t worry, they’re still fresh.

Have a happy, healthy and filling Thanksgiving.

Matthew

P.S. Watch out for a killer piece coming this evening by our first guest contributors followed up by a cool announcement from the TSG mothership tomorrow. It’s going to be a great end of the week.

Thierry Henry Doing Whatever It Takes

FRIDAY UPDATE: Said Thierry Henry today, “Of course the fairest solution would be to replay the game but it is not in my control.”

Not surprisingly, the soccer world sits transfixed this morning on Thierry Henry’s helping hand rather than the USMNT’s poor showing in Aarhus.


The play that propelled France to a World Cup finals over Ireland is being almost universally seen as a deliberate handball. In fact, Henry himself even admitted he used his left paw to bat the ball down towards his feet and left his fate at the mercy of the referee.

The game shouldn’t and won’t be replayed, but what about Henry’s confession? Is this one time we wish a player wasn’t honest? Would the injustice be a little more palatable if Henry had said, “The ball bounced up towards me and I did my best to control and pass to William.” Perhaps.

What Henry did on the pitch was wrong, but no matter which way he went with his comments after the game, he wasn’t going to be right. You might as well have asked Henry whether he wanted to be known as a “cheater” or “admitted cheater” at that point.

Not a classy move for someone who is reprenting a pretty good World Cup cause nonetheless off the pitch.

Grant Wahl wondered aloud last night (via Twitter) whether “fair play still mattered” in reference to Henry suggesting it was the official, not he that was at fault. Calls for “fair play” with the inference that Henry should somehow have red-carded himself for the infraction are easy when the fate of a proud footballing nation isn’t resting on your shoulders and you haven’t been taught to do everything it takes to win. And when was the last time the scoring team approached the referee asking him to disallow the goal?

Those who support Ireland as well as those who wanted to see France lose are justifiably outraged at the official, Henry and to an extent FIFA,  but let’s not forget that Ireland had 180 other minutes to ensure that one moment of shenanigans wouldn’t derail their World Cup bid.

Boom Goes The Dynamite: DEN 3, USA 1

Jeff Cunningham flew into the line-up and produced the USMNT's lone goal.

A quick note on the title…”boom goes the dynamite” is a reference to one of the all-time best YouTube clips. The classic line comes at the 2:29 mark.

No “W” for the USMNT and not even a “D” as a listless second half saw a 1-0 US lead go by the wayside in the span of about 7 minutes for a 3-1 win by the Danish Dynamite.

Since it is a friendly and everyone knows about the USMNT absences due to injury, MLS playoffs and other things (Cherundolo / Dempsey), there is not much to glean at a team level other than the fact that the USMNT doesn’t look all that deep.

Perhaps one observation of note is that the US seemed to struggle in the one area where they fielded the most regulars, the mid-field. This shouldn’t be that surprising since the Junior-Rico combo out there today has struggled for some time.

Overall, it was a forgettable performance that saw the US on its heels most of the game with short stretches of possession that rarely crossed into the offensive-third of the pitch.

(Note: In the unlikely event you want to watch a replay, it is available on ESPN360.)

Awards

Best Play of the Game — Jeff Cunningham’s goal: Sure it was gift pass from the Danish keeper that set-up the chance, but Cunningham kept his composure and buried it with his left foot! (He’s a righty.) Given that the 33-year-old’s strike was the only goal in 180+ minutes of play on this European vacation, he’s deserves some recognition.

Most Unheralded Play Jonathan Bornstein getting a boot on the ball to stop the Danish counter in the first half: After a turnover in the mid-field the Danes tried to feed an outlet pass to their right winger. Bornstein managed to get his left boot on the ball and control. If the outlet pass had gotten through, the Dynamite winger had acres of real estate in front of him to set-up a great chance on goal.

The Golden Shin Guard Benny Feilhaber: Played inspired ball in-front of his hometown fans. Benny made smart passes (including a beautifully slotted ball to Cunningham), drew fouls, took a few shots and limited the turnovers as he went the full 90.

Preview Follow-up

Edgar Castillo.

Frankie's last hurrah?

As expected, Señor Castillo collected his first cap for his country of origin. Castillo entered in the 61st minute at left-mid (with Feilhaber shifting inside). The lack of any semblance of possession or rhythm down the stretch severely limited his touches, although he did have one nice feed into Altidore that set-up a shot for Rogers at the top of the area.

As a projected left fullback by most (except TSG Matthew) it was certainly interesting to see Castillo play in the mid-field in his debut. Only time will tell if that is Bob-O’s long-term plan for Castillo.

Okay, what’s going on now with the RB situation? Or should we call it the Specs situation?

TSG assumed Spector would man the right side, however he stayed in central defense with Frankie Hedjuk getting the starting nod. While Hedjuk is a fan favorite in part for his frenetic style, today’s start may have been his swan song for the national team as he looked over-matched all day and was borderline reckless at times. If Hedjuk’s 85th cap is his last, consider the captain’s arm band given to him when Boca subbed-off kind of like the gold watch at his retirement party.

While there is no additional clarity at the top of the RB depth chart with Cherundolo and Spector sitting 1-2 in some order, it should be noted that Heath Pearce didn’t even make it on the bench for either friendly.

Will a woeful attack see a new strategy…..

Bob-O did switch up the strategy today which was both a product of the personnel he deployed and the 4-3-3 Danish formation. Bradley and Rico formed a holding tandem in the mid-field and the US generally attempted to push the ball wide to take advantage of playmakers Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber on the wings.  You also saw the central backs spread a little wider and work to get more involved in the attack to take advantage of Spector’s service abilities.

….or a new entrant?

Looks like the preview piece should have read “and / or” as both the strategy was changed and a new striker was deployed. The aforementioned Jeff Cunningham was awarded the start while Conor Casey didn’t even make the bench. Aside from the goal and brilliant hold-and-cross, Cunningham’s day was rather uninspiring although the lack of a cohesive attack plagued his chances.

Continue reading

Starting XI: USMNT vs. Denmark

Ladies, Gentlemen and Other, please welcome your newish starting striker for the USMNT, Jeff Cunningham!

Pretty interesting line-up all-around with Hedjuk getting the nod, Spector staying central and Benny! presumably playing outside. The attack may not be better than Saturday, but it sure will be different.

Here’s the squad that will take the pitch shortly at NRGi:

GK: Guzan

DEF: Spector, Bornstein, Bocanegra, Hedjuk

MID: Clark, Bradley, Holden, Feilhaber!

ST: Cunningham, Altidore

BEN: Conrad, Goodson, Castillo, McCarty, Johnson, Hahnemann, Rogers

Orange Wedges: Who’s House?…Aarhus!

Orange Wedges is TSG’s game day post that kicks-off within 24-hours of game time
and is updated until kick-off.

The game may be meaningless, but TSG really wants one of these to end the year.

The USMNT takes on Denmark today in its 24th and final match of 2009. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:30pm EST / 11:30am PST.

For those not in the City of Smiles, television coverage begins at 2:25 EST / 11:25 PST on ESPNClassic. Upon the conclusion of the 2nd leg of the Ukraine / Greece WCQ which is being shown on ESPN2, the USMNT match will be simulcast on both ESPNClassic and ESPN2.

The match can also be viewed on what has become the best part of ESPN online empire, ESPN360.

(Aside: The USMNT is on two channels for a November friendly versus Denmark, but couldn’t even get one channel for its World Cup clinching match versus Honduras…that makes sense.)

  • Well, no Sacha Kljestan in the eighteen, so that solves that issue. In more significant news, no Conor Casey either. TSG will post the starting XI when it is released about an hour before kick-off.
  • With the two new midfielders called in you have to wonder whether Bradley was guarding against a potentially nervous Mr. Victoria’s Secret as the Final 2 will be announced in his girlfriend’s “competition” today. (Please note sarcasm.)
  • Looks like the US will close out the 2009 campaign in cold, windy and potentially rainy Aarhus.
  • After Steve Cherundolo lost a disputed team shooting competition to Jozy Altidore prior to the Slovakia friendly, word out of US Soccer is that Carlos Bocanegra prevailed in today’s finishing competition. Have US Soccer and TSG been searching in the wrong place for the stand-in for CD9?
  • The game will take place at NRGi Park in Aarhus, the home stadium for Danish Superliga team AGF Aarhus and UMSNT’s own Benny Feilhaber

The New USMNT Kit For The World Cup?!

UPDATE II: The message board thread linked to below that included the screen capture has been deleted.

UPDATE: While we did receive a reply from our contact at Nike, there is no official response from the Swoosh.

As you may have seen already, there are some mock-ups of a new Nike USMNT kit for the World Cup floating around the internet and soccer message boards.

Today TSG has viewed what looks to be a vendor video for the kits which matches those mock-ups. (Here is a screen grab that is available on the internet because we like what we do here at TSG and want to keep doing it.)

TSG can neither confirm nor deny that these are, in fact, the new designs or if the video is authentic right now…but we’re working on it.

We already have a note in to Nike Soccer to confirm the kit design.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 252 other followers