Closing the Super Bowl & Super Jozy Weekend

Making the grade...and the name...

• On a Jozy Altidore weekend, it’s worth revisiting a comment that TSG made earlier last week. Beyond the valuable game experience. Beyond learning firsthand opponent a group stage opponent. Beyond playing in the best league in the world… of the most important things that Altidore and fellow Americans up the pitch can do overseas is make a name for themselves–some star luster–in the eyes of international referees.

Here’s what we said on Wednesday:

Don’t think stature and “brand equity” make a difference? Maybe ask the Ireland national team, or England after Ronaldo complained in 2006, or Diego “Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it” Maradona.

A big step in that direction for Big Jeezy this weekend. Check out all of our Altidore coverage below….

On and another big winner Saturday? Villareal…what to do…what to do with Jozy if he keeps this growth spurt up? Back to La Liga? Sold to an EPL team that can afford him up top and slot him in perfectly….maybe, gulp, Liverpool?

Hull’s chances of keeping him another year on loan, since they likely can’t afford him? Straight 50/50, no better. Much better odds that we get, oh, a Daily Mirror report in the next day or so with some Big Jeezy rumor.

• On Dirk Kuyt’s goal and Tim Howard’s role in it….

Phil Neville! What the h*ll are you doing?!

A lot of discussion on whether Tim Howard or how much Tim Howard was at fault on the Dirk Kuyt’s derby goal. Some suggesting that Howard will receive scrutiny over letting in a soft one.

Was Tim Howard fully to blame for the goal? No. However, he could have played it better? Yes.

What happened? If you watch the replay of the game, Howard and Neville are jawing with the referee on Kuyt’s position. But they are getting no love from the zebra.

Those that play soccer know it is 100% the defender’s job to mix it up with Kuyt and get the offender they are responsible for out of their goalie’s face. The worse than can happen–as the ref is not paying attention or ill-inclined too–is a tweet of that ref’s whistle and a reset….maybe warning.

The goalie is focused on the organization in front of him and watching and playing the corner ball; the goalie should not be focused on moving the player in front of him, that is again, absolutely the defenders’ job.

Howard let in a weak one…yes. Bulk of the blame? Squarely on Phil Neville’s shoulders.

• Speaking of keepers….Big Bird on Fire: Brad Friedel looked positively spry in shutting out all the attacking options of Tottenham. Is it a stretch to suggest that Friedel is one of the keepers of the past decade in the EPL? Up there with Cech, Lehmann and James?

• Wow, got that Arsenal game completely wrong this weekend. C’mon Emirates, show some pride. Terrible answer to last week’s loss at home against Manchester United.

On a side note, that Nasri kid looks like the dude that used to be in that Party of Five show…

• With Carlos Bocanegra starting for Rennes for the more than 60% of the games in 2010, TSG is going to gain some more observations on the form of Captain Carlos before writing the follow-up to our Elephant piece.. A review this weekend–yes we are soccer nerds over at TSG–of the Spain and Brazil games gave us a hint of US strategy if the ex-Fulham man is on the pitch at the whistle come World Cup 2010 (which looks likely right now).

We’ll share shortly.

Not often enough...

• With Theo Walcott’s “stunning performance” this weekend for Arsenal can we consider him the Conor Casey of the Three Lions (Honduras)….or is it too early for the youngster?

• A solid debate can occur around the question posed by Tuesday after Drogba wrecked the Wengers yesterday, “How can you consider Drogba better than Torres?”

My answer: “Because Torres brings it no matter the game situation or game.” Weigh in…

• The positive for England from John Terry shenanigans? The guy is playing inspired football…on the offenseive end. Now two header plays made (one goal, one assist) since the scandal. We might need to revise our Beat England schematic…yuck.

• ….and finally the scientific proof for the poor foul call on Gooch against Ghana in 2006.

Have a good Monday.

39 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rhodie on 2010/02/07 at 10:49 PM

    While you guys are reviewing the US stratagy in the back you may want to think about up top as well. Jozy played arguably his best game in the EPL this week and, as far as I can tell, the only thing that was changed was that Jozy was not playing post up forward. Do we need a Casey for Jozy to play well? That changes a lot of the thinking around who our forwards need to be.

    On a side note, the mersyside derby was hard for me as Liverpool fan first but Americans on the toffees, it worked, i’m just supprised no one was carried out missing half a leg, real scared it was going to be landy, the end of this season is going to be hell, hoping against injuries.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/07 at 11:02 PM

      This is Matthew — I wouldn’t put Jozy and Casey up top for the United States unless Jozy and Landon have developed some chemistry.

      They only had one game together at RFK and that didn’t look great — one observation there.

      Until Casey proves that he can do the things he’s supposed to do well: receive the over-the-top ball, put away sitters, I think that the other striker position should be up in the air….

      Oh and I stick by comments in the third Davies piece that the US needs to strikers not just Jozy up top.


  2. Posted by dude on 2010/02/08 at 7:47 AM

    I’m starting to hat Phil Neville. Of course, he’d have to keel over and die before ever being replaced.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 7:51 AM

      As an Everton fan…I’ve never been a huge fan of Phil Neville though occasionally he’ll have a big game…my disdain for him is furthered by the fact that his brother is an annoying immature cheerleader….

      Thanks to the injury to other Phil and the “impressive defense” of Tony Hibbert….Toffees are stuck.


  3. Posted by Mark T on 2010/02/08 at 8:25 AM

    On th e Kuyt goal, Howard’s futile attempt complete with flailing arms makes him look worse than he actually was.

    If Neville’s poor positioning is a given, where are people coming out on Howard not owning the 6-yard box and aggressively going after the ball?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 8:40 AM

      The height of the ball stripped away a lot of the goalkeeper’s usual advantage. But not to even attempt to punch the ball as pathetic – and the chances are, after the inevitable contact, the ref would have blown un for a foul on the keeper, ‘unnecessary roughness on’… sorry, wrong sport.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 9:04 AM

        Both Mark and George are accurate in my opinion.

        On Howard coming out — absolutely should own that ball. That being said, if you look at the replay he got a stiff arm from Kuyt (a good and competitive move by the Dutchman)….and Howard was on his heels.

        Howard should fight through that…and again not a great display by Howard by any means…but that stiff arm NEVER happens if Neville does his job.

        In general–and maybe I’m getting too philosophical here–I’m ok with a player makes a mistake of execution–bad kick, poor tackle. But something that is fundamentally learned in 4th grade defenders class? C’mon….


        • I agree Howard should bully through the Kuyt stiff-arm. Unless the keeper downright maims the offensive player, the 6-yard box is usually his turf to defend through sheer force if necessary; he should’ve bowled over both Nevile and Sloth to get to that thing. Chances are the ref wouldn’t have called anything.

          It also brings to light something disturbing that’s creeping into the game of some prominent Americans, looking for the call when contact is made. Whether or not a call is warranted, they should play through until the foul is actually called, who knows how many goal scoring opportunities could be created if players didn’t go down at the slightest whisper. The most disconcerting part of this occurring in more and more Yanks’ overall games is that oftentimes on the international stage we’re not going to get some calls (Germany ’02 and Ghana ’06 iommediately jump to mind) and we have to be better than the other team and the refs. If we go looking for calls that we’re not always going to get even if we deserve them, we’re going to lose more often than not.


  4. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 8:30 AM

    Great strike for Jozy. You could see the joy (and relief) on his face. In fairness to him, that goal was coming. He’d had a series of nice games. He abused the Man City defenders. Good or him. The best thing about this is that he’ll lose any shyness he might have had about facing English defenders in SA.

    Sad to say, that Liverpool goal was a weak effort by Timmy. Yes, Neville did piss-poor job of blocking out his man, but Howard needed to be much more decisive going for that ball. He should have plowed over the defender AND the attacker on his way to the ball. Instead he flapped at it weakly.

    Friedel has been playing like one of the EPL’s top keepers for a long time. He’s definitely in the same league as Cech. I think he’s better than Lehmann. Calamity James isn’t in the same conversation.

    I love watching Torres play the game, but damn, there’s something about Drogba’s power and almost unbelievable precision that’s amazing. If I had to choose one guy up to for me, it’d be Drogba. He’s more useful in more situations, and isn’t as fragile.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 8:45 AM

      I think that is a VERY fair comment about Freidel – he is easily up there. I think Van Der Sar and pre-head-injury Cech have been the best keepers since Rudolf.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 9:02 AM

        And don’t even go there with David James. He just makes too many personal and avoidable errors in pressure games, to be included with Freidel et al.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 9:10 AM

          I was trying to be kind to the keeper that kept England afloat between the flagpoles all those years…it’s amazing that the Three Lions do not have a better option by now…simply amazing….

          As for Van Der Saar…only reason I didn’t put him in there is he didn’t is I’m not sure how dominant he was at Fulham….comments?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 12:35 PM

          I guess EvdS at Fulham is a little like LD at Galaxy – his talent deserves a bigger and better stage (although EvdS proved himself at Ajax, Juventus). IMO, EvdS is a top top keeper, and should have been playing for a CL football club. He has won 3 EPL titles on the spin , as well as back-to-back CL finals – and is such a calming presence for a ever changing United defence.

          I also think that Mark Schwarzer is a very good keeper, but he has never proved himself in the couldron of a big club. Look at Howard – United bought him from NY/NJ and they should have loaned him out for season or two because the step up to the EPL is massive and then there’s an even bigger step at United – look at how many keepers between Schmeichel and EvdS have come and gone? They’re pretty much favourites to win each game. And it was a really high profile error (last minute against Porto) that led to SAF axing him. But now he’s at Everton, he’s got his confidence back and has had a few great seasons for them.

          As for England’s keeper’s, it is a mystery. After the greats like Banks, Shilton, Clemence, Corrigan, Bonnetti, Parkes, Seaman we have nothing.

          I think Joe Hart and Scott Loach are two for the future, and Robinson and Green have had a confidence crisis. Kirkland was supposed to be the next hope, but he’s too injury prone. And Foster isn’t playing at United.


      • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 9:09 AM

        Hard to disagree with those two


  5. Posted by Pino on 2010/02/08 at 11:57 AM

    First comment here try not to be too harsh.

    being a former keeper i have a hard time blaming Howard on the goal. Of course he should have attacked the ball and knocked Kuyt and his defender out of the way, but the reality was that not only was he stiff armed and fouled, but Kuyt also took a nice handful of jersey along the way. Maybe refs dont protect keepers that way they used to but for me it was another blown call by the ref on the day.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 12:11 PM

      Pino, welcome.

      As noted above I generally agree with you.

      The next step is the defender taking the onus upon himself to remove the culprit so to speak before the ball is put in play, so there is no foul in the box.

      Phil Neville failed miserably here.

      The funny thing here, if you watch the replay, is that it looks like Neville is content with his position behind Kuyt thinking he can move him maybe before the corner…Neville never even reacted….


      • Posted by Pino on 2010/02/08 at 12:39 PM

        Im telling you Neville is sabotaging the yanks on everton!! but seriously sometimes it seems like he is just straight up ignoring landycakes over there on the wing.


    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 12:11 PM

      I think you could definitely make that case. It’s just my preference that a goalkeeper dictate the action in his box a little more. I really like Timmy as a GK, but that time I think he wasn’t aggressive enough.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 12:43 PM

      Pino, I belong to the same keeper’s union.
      I don’t think people are blaming Howard per se, but saying that he was not faultless. And as he’s the keeper, he needs to take more responsibility than he actually did.


  6. Posted by Dylan on 2010/02/08 at 12:18 PM

    Does anybody have any information on whether or not Gooch is about ready to start training with Milan yet? Rumor was that he would get back in Feb. Sooner he’s back the better I’ll feel about our back line.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 12:37 PM

      I can see Gattuso going in for a crunching takle in training with him!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 12:50 PM

        Ha — poor Gattuso — absolutely love his game and his physique is failing him now…what a great team player…

        Over the years he’s played nearly every position for Milan…just last year when he was injured he offered to give him salary back.

        What a heart on that guy….


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 1:14 PM

          He played for Glasgow Rangers back in the day… I think he’s shacked up with a Scottish lass.


  7. Posted by Siege on 2010/02/08 at 12:52 PM

    I concur on the taller guys get the call science… I play hockey and I’m roughly 6’3″…should a small guy lean on me, hack me, nudge me, bump me, check me, it won’t draw a call unless it’s flagrant but, if I so much as lean “down” on him? Instant 2 minutes. That’s with a recreational league but I’ve seen it in all sports. I believe humans naturally have a sympathy for David against Goliath and whenever the big man reciprocates the aggression, it is always called.


  8. I would play Altidore with Donovan. I think Jozy’s game can only improve by laying in the best league in the world. To Be fair to Donovan he has really proved himself.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 1:47 PM

      @darbs — I’ve written it a few times here…Donovan is astronomically more productive and dangerous in a winger role.

      Everton has the personnel to run the 4-3-3 (which is what Bradley tried when he can on the scene) so Donovan can slot out wide further up the pitch.

      LD needs the threat of the pass to be a star…hard to get that from the striker position…imho


      • Posted by Jim from NC on 2010/02/08 at 4:38 PM

        @ Matthew
        I echo your repetitive statement, ” Donovan is astronomically more productive and dangerous in a winger role.” I think he needs the space to run at defenders instead of running into spaces and working off of the ball. He creates his opportunities by using his pace to make defenders unsettled and for whatever reason (maybe the lack of a passing threat) he is not effective running into space as a front runner. Maybe as a front runner his space is too restricted while as a winger/midfielder he has extra room to use his speed (ala his pass one side of the defender and run around the other side as in Saturdays game).


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 7:57 PM

          Everton play Chelsea on Wednesday. It will be an interesting match up between Donovan and Cole. I wonder if Capello and Baldini will be in attendance.


  9. Posted by Bob on 2010/02/08 at 3:23 PM

    Check out the comments for the Hull City fans. It looks like they want to lock Jozy up b4 his price increases after the WC. Very interesting!


  10. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 3:48 PM

    I liked the match report inThe Independent.

    “But Hull’s jewel was Altidore, who ran the City defence ragged.”


  11. Posted by Dylan on 2010/02/08 at 3:51 PM

    I don’t get the ‘Come hug me’ Maradonna refrence above, was is that eluding to?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/08 at 3:57 PM


      When Maradona made the Hand of God goal against England in the 1986 World Cup, he instructed his teammates to hurry over and hug and celebrate with him so that the refs would not consider disallowing his goal on the grounds they should have.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 4:30 PM

        @Dylan, Matthew clearly means “Hand of a Rascal”…

        How a man who is 5’6″ can outtjump a keeper with an outstretched arm is beyond me (I am still bitter about it 24 years later!!).


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 4:45 PM

          White men (Shilton in particular) can’t jump.

          I know that goal was a huge sore point for all England supporters. That game had both the worst and best goals of the tournament in it, both scored by the same man.

          That second goal is still the greatest goal I’ve ever seen.

          Sorry for the bad memories, George.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 4:52 PM

          Yes, second one was pure genius.

          Before my time but Carlos Alberto’s goal in the 1970 final was pretty sweet.

          Have you not seen John Barnes’ goal vs Brazil, 1984 at the Maracana? I understand that one was in the QF of the WC and one was a friendly, but…

          MatthewSF: perhaps we could have a post of favourite WC goal to wet the appetite for this summer?!?


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/02/08 at 5:07 PM

          I haven’t seen the Barnes goal, but I count WC goals more because of the weight of the occasion.

          A recent favorite is Maxi Rodriguez’s goal vs. Mexico in ’06. Just spectacular.


  12. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/02/08 at 8:54 PM

    Off point.

    Here is an interesting article on Americans abroad:


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