Archive for February, 2010

Ching Shines, Kljestan Strikes: US 2, SLV 1

Brian Ching collected his 43rd cap, 1 goal and 1 assist to lead the USMNT to the win.

The USMNT, featuring nearly all MLS players, notched its first win since early October with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over El Salvador in Tampa Bay.

Following a familiar script against lesser foes, the US controlled most of the game, struggled in the offensive third, conceded a goal against the run of play and then came to life.

When the US last faced El Salvador in Rio Tinto Stadium in September it was a Jonathan Bornstein miscue that led to a goal by Los Cuscatlecos with the US dominating. Tonight it was Brad Evan’s defensive gaffe that produced the lone Salvadoran goal in one of the few forays into the box for the visiting team.

Though this match could be better called an audition for a few remaining World Cup spots, it was nice to see the US finally finish strong behind second half substitute Brian Ching. The Big Aloha’s head produced the equalizer off a Heath Pearce cross while his feet provided a one-touch assist to Sacha Kljestan who put home the game winner in stoppage time.

The win will play well on Sportcenter (hopefully) and is a good thing for a program coming off three lackluster performances. However, it should be noted that the Salvadorans play made one wonder if they stayed out late last night at the infamous Tampa Ballet. Well that, or maybe they just didn’t care.

Some players added to their resume for selection while others did not.

The more significant story for the USMNT is whose performance got them one step closer to packing their US Soccer duffel for South Africa. Of the 13 World Cup hopefuls Matthew mentioned in the preview

5 boosted their stock…Brian Ching, Robbie Findley, Sacha Kljestan, Clarence Goodson and Heath Pearce

2 held their spot…new Captain Jonathan Bornstein and versatile Robbie Rogers

2 didn’t help or hurt their chances…Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Cunningham

1 took (another) step backwards…Conor Casey

3 never saw the pitch (which probably isn’t a good thing)…Chad Marshall, Troy Perkins and Chris Pontius.

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s worth remembering the level of competition in this match and reading Bob Bradley’s post-match comments about Ching-Casey, the Netherlands roster selection and the World Cup roster.


» Best Play of the Game: The  Sacha Kljestan game-winner. El Sal’s Gonzalez mental mistake combined with Kljestan’s effort led to an odd-man rush by the USMNT. Mr. Victoria’s Secret then laid off a pass to Ching who dropped a nice one-touch back to Klestan for the finish.

One question: Was it me or did Montes (SLV’s keeper) look like he got shot in the back? He started to challenge SK, then dropped to his knees prematurely and fell down. Either way…it was a great give-and-go.

» Most Unheralded Play: Conor Casey struggled on offense playing the first 45 minutes, but his defensive effort kept El Salvador off the scoreboard midway through the first half. The visitors sent a free kick deep into the box that look destined to allude the defense in favor of an on-rushing Custcatleco. Just before the ball dropped at the far post, Casey rose up and used his noggin to get the US out of danger.

» Golden Shinguard: A number of candidates, but TSG is going with The Big Aloha. Ching scored and assisted on the two US goals and was a consistent target for the attack in the second half. Granted he could have been marked better, but that’s not his fault.

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Orange Wedges: Coach Bob, Pick Me! Pick Me!

Orange Wedges is TSG’s gameday post that  is updated until kick-off.

Though it won't repeat itself tomorrow, this happened the last time the US faced El Salvador.

With top division club soccer in the US nearing the nuclear option, soccer fans may witness that last meaningful match on American soil for some time when the USMNT takes on El Salvador in friendly tomorrow evening.

The game kicks-off from Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium — complete with giant fake pirate ship — at 4pm Pacific on ESPN Classic and Galavision.

Though the game is more of a tryout for end of the bench selections for the Yanks World Cup roster, fans can still hope that the team wakes up from its post-qualifying funk to show some semblance of quality and notch its first win since October.


  • Tonight will be the last match for the USMNT in their white and horizontal pinstripe jersey. Nike “unveils” the new kits tomorrow from what we understand.
  • At last count, TSG readers would overwhelmingly like to see Clarence Goodson start over Chad Marshall in defense and a Ching / Findley pairing up-top.
  • If the recent Honduras friendly brought back great memories for Jonathan Bornstein, then tomorrow’s match may bring the opposite as the last time JB faced El Salvador (9/5) it was his shank-a-roni on a clearance attempt that led to El Salvador taking a 1-0 lead. (Kyle Beckerman showed poorly in his limited time in that match as well.)
  • El Salvador travels to Tampa with an interim coach, José Luis Rugamas, performing double duty guiding his country’s U-21 team as well. Rugamas replaced new Chicago Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos who managed the Salvdorans through World Cup qualifying.
  • Somewhat ironically, the US will take the pitch against the Los Cuscatlecos with 20 MLS players and 1 Tippeligaen player (IK Start’s Clarence Goodson).
  • The appetizer to tomorrow’s main course will feature the men’s U-17 squad taking on Mexico at1:15pm Pacific. FYI for those heading to US-ES, your ticket is good for both games.
  • For TSG’s full preview see: Tampa Play: Thirteen Still In Contention

Champ’s: Brazil’s Hitman & The Shackled One

The Shackled One

Big soccer day. You’ve got the Champ’s League with Sevilla and Luis Fabiano (love this clip…it’s what a striker should be all about…okay here’s a top goals clip too…) go up against CSKA Moscow.

You’ve got Chelsea, Drogba, Terry and company head to Ye Old San Siro (opened 1926) to face-off against Mr. Handcuffs Jose Mourinho and Inter.

(Plus, you’ve also got Stu Holden going London Bridge to White Hart Lane to take down Harry and the Huddlestones)

Drop all your commentary here.

Mark, will be along shortly with our customary “Orange Wedges” USMNT game day post. You know that’s our real main feature, sort of.

Who’s Got More “Damage?” USA or England

TSG came up with our Match Fit Index a few weeks ago. Now we go one level deeper with our Operation Schematic.

In light of all the injuries (Benny…oh, no!) and non-injuries (Bocanegra is just fine…physically), we thought we’d pose the question, which team, England or the United States, is dealing with the most “damage” right now?

We put together the little helper chart below. You be the judge.

Get the horse placenta!



Rico Clark (calf) (USA): Returned to training (02/22)

Not pictured:

Stu Holden (thigh) (USA): Expected to start Wednesday (02/23) for Bolton in the FA Cup.

Glen Johnson (knee) (ENG): Glen J is expected back next week (03/01) by Liverpool.

Champ’s League: Messi, Barca, Big Russian


Video of Lionel Messi’s hat trick on March14th for Barca against Valencia.

It’s Messi, it’s Xavi…and they are already playing some seriously clinical soccer.

For Stuttgart, they counter with 7’8” 370lbs (6’2”, 200lbs)  Pavel Pogrebnyak up top also known as “the big Russian.”

It’s already live–throw your comments below–and we’re late so we’ll go to the archives one more time below…


From August 7th….

As you may know TSG’s northern headquarters are in SF. This is from a fan, a true fan, at TSG North:'re the man!'re the man!

From Chris in San Francisco.

“I just tried to crash the Barca press conference at the Intercontinental in SF to hang with Henry, Messi et all.  Once I made it in the hotel and into the elevator I found my way to the floor hosting the press conference only to be ushered back into the elevator by hotel security. It was a good try, not great, but good. For what it is worth and those of you in SF, practice tomorrow at Kezar either at 9am or 10am.”

Nice work Chris. Do you know where they are partying tonight?

This also gives me the opportunity/excuse to insert one of my favorite “soccer” scenes of this past year.

Lionel Messi dressed up as Papa Smurf being completely hammered at Barcelona’s Champion’s League celebration.

Stu Holden Finally Revving Up The Engine?

Hey Stu, we need an action shot in that jersey....

Rumors–well they can’t really be called rumors when they emanate from the official site, can they–abound that relegation-threatened Bolton are going to trot out the pride of the Houston Dynamo, Stu Holden in tomorrow’s FA Cup clash with Tottenham. Owen Coyle suggesting he’s focused exclusively on the Premiership (not a bad idea.)

Here’s some thoughts from the Bolton faithful on their boards.

Looking forward to the Iceman getting some run before taking DeJong, Kuyt and company.

And what’s with Stu not having a picture up on his Bolton profile or a position labeled…..Wilshere and Weiss have one. (Clark, you have to get on that…)

And one from the archives:

02/02 – TSG’s commentator KL’s take on the “State of the Bolton midfield..“…keep pushing Stuie.


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