Archive for February, 2010

Speculation: Who’s Van Goghing To The ‘Dam?

A TSG commentor asked us today who’s going to Amsterdam to face the Netherlands on March 3rd. We always try to oblige the community with their requests.

Old Skool Dutchland....any Galaxy fans out there?

With the USMNT roster selection occurring the end of this week, we might as well take a stab at the participants in “March Camp” and then do it all over again when the roster goes official. Mind you, this is TSG playing Bob Bradley….without the sweatpants….not necessarily who we want.

If you didn’t see our piece on the provisional roster already selected for Dutchland, just click here.

Likely GK: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Marcus Hahnemann

The skinny: Pretty ho-hum here….the one asterisk is that Guzan is set to play in (interesting whether he starts or is a backup) in the Carling Cup final this coming Sunday so maybe he gets announced a little later. That’s the only “drama.”

Should anyone come down with a nick, then Troy “MLS” Perkins is your fill-in.

Getting pretty set, if not set already, at goalkeeper.

Possible DEF: Jonathan Spector, Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Clarence Goodson, Chad Marshall, Heath Pearce

On The Fence: Winner of Feb Camp RB (Cameron vs. Wynne?), Eric Lichaj, Frank Simek

The skinny: Looking a little thin on the “certain” status….Other fundamental problems with the above possibilities? Too many wannabee centerbacks and potentially three leftbacks (Boca, Johnny B, and Pearce) and no rightback back-up.

Like the ‘keep position above, with the exception of the likely battle between Marshall and Goodson, most of WC 2010 roster is now likely set.

Without ‘Dolo, we’d like to see Lichaj get his shot at that rightback reserve role. The wing fullback played at lower level Lincoln City over the past six months, but is now awaiting reassignment. Hey Coach USA, he’s available and just a skip away.

Simek: Welcome back?

However if Bob Bradley is true to form, he’ll go with someone he’s gotten looks at before. That suggests Frank Simek. The Sheffield Wednesday defender, who was so promising to end 2007, has consistently battled injuries and not been recalled by Sr. Sweatpants in quite a while either.

Or with Bob’s history he might just leave Heath Pearce in there (who started  against England on the left in the 2008 Wembley friendly) as the back-up  or it may be the starter against El Salvador, likely Geoff Cameron or Marvell Wynne if they play well. Gulp!

Our odds: Just Pearce as back-up, 2 to 1.

Feb Camp Winner, 3 to 1. Simek, 4 to 1. Lichaj, 10 to 1.

Note: Remember Robbie Rogers can be that righty back-up in a big pinch as well.

Possible MID: Landon Donovan, Stu Holden, Mikey Bradley, Maurice Edu, Sacha Kljestan, Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Robbie Rogers, Jose Francisco Torres, Edgar….

On The Fence: ….Castillo, Freddy Adu, DaMarcus Beasley, Dax McCarthy

The skinny: Fun to hypothesize, tough to predict and a boatload of fringers.

Again, Edgar Castillo is a midfielder on the national scene in our mind.

Does Freddy Adu get a shot? TSG says not likely* in the midfield role because he’s not a true winger and he’s certainly not a defender in the middle. Can you imagine Adu being asked to provide cover over Boca on Gerrard on June 12th? Ha!

Can you bring Maurice Edu, but not DaMarcus Beasley? We think so. Beasley has only played reserve ball for the last 6 weeks as is rounding back into shape.

Oh please, oh please, oh please....

Bedoya?! Look, we like him over here at TSG. He’s match fit (as far as we know) and he’s an attacker on the wing. (And check out some recent video of Bedoya knocking in goals in the snow….thanks to TSG contributor Greg for the link.)

Dax McCarthy. I really like Dax. He’s a great interview and seems positive at all times on the field. He’s on the fence for me for this camp as I don’t thing he’s seasoned enough (he’s mature enough) to play with the Dutch.

Stu Holden finally gets some reps. Do Kyle Beckerman and Sacha Kljestan get invited to their make-or-break game?

Our final nine (point five) is kind of heavy here…but looks about, sort-of right. I could see Castillo getting dropped from this group…and maybe another?

Possible STR: The Jozy Altidore, Conor Casey, Brian Ching, Robbie Findley, Jeff Cunningham, Eddie Johnson, (Freddy Adu)

On The Fence: Chris Rolfe

The skinny: Even more fun debating here. Especially because at max the US will use four strikers in this friendly and you’ve got as many as two who may go, but who won’t grace the pitch.

Eddie Johnson just barely makes it for me. First, I had him on the fence but with his physique and now that he’s playing consistently, he at least merits being in the daily camp scrimmages beforehand.

Chris Rolfe? He’s just getting situated up north in the Denmark league, but isn’t he worth at least one more look….if only for camp? Tough call here.

That asterisk above: I was thinking last night that I might like to see Freddy Adu, maybe for one last time, in an advanced striker or forward role. He’s not really the guy you want up there per se, but watching him swoop in against Aris suggests he might complement Landon Donovan (complementing Donovan is high on my priority list) and watching the interplay of Pienaar and Donovan, you can’t help but make that comparison. He doesn’t have the strength, but…I know, crazy and I’m going to regret writing this last paragraph–especially because I can’t stand flash-in-the-pan invitations.

This whole skinny section just lets you know how desperate the situation is across from Altidore and over Donovan….

—–

Your thoughts? Wednesday’s performance will have some bearing as well.

Tampa Play: Thirteen Still In Contention?

Nearing decision time....

Good morning….welcome to our El Salvador – USA preview

We’re less than 110 days to World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

I had this exchange with Soccer Mom on Sunday.

Matthew: “Mom, you watching the US play this week?”

Mom: “When are they playing? I have to make sure it doesn’t interrupt my Olympics.”

Matthew: “Wednesday, 7pm your time.”

Mom: “Ok. Who are they playing? Are they any good? Is that Landon playing?”

Any of you guys want an all expenses paid trip to South Africa?

Matthew: “El Salvador…they’re ok, not great…not going to the World Cup….and the US is bringing a “B” team so to speak.”

Mom: “Well, why would I watch it? Should I still watch it Matthew?”

Well, Mom, everyone…here’s why:

There are no fewer than 8 players in this February 24th squad that are in consideration for the roster for WC 2010 and possibly as many as thirteen in the discussion.

The short list: Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Robbie Rogers, Brian Ching, Conor Casey, Jeff Cunningham, Robbie Findley

The long list includes: Sacha Kljestan, Kyle Beckerman, Troy Perkins, and stretching it here, Heath Pearce and Chris Pontius.

This is a big game…for them all.

Omar Gonzalez and Michael Orozco are out of that discussion already as they’re not traveling.

Without further adu, we jump into our preview with all eyes on the World Cup baker’s dozen.

As always, we’ll follow the following format:

TSG’s “What We’re Looking For”
11 at the Whistle
*Disclaimers

Continue reading

What We’re Learning About Landon….

A few months ago I did my worst piece ever…it was on Landon Donovan.

I’m back to make amends now….hopefully.

I’m not delving into whether or not Landon Donovan is best served or likely to overstay his loan with Everton. My position has remained firm that the MLS contract is a bargaining chip to getting more value from Donovan more than anything else.

No, this piece is about what we’re learning about LD10 as he comes up some of the best club competition in the world, fresh of Donny helping the Toffees to a 3-1 home victory today.

Kaka-esque?

Here’s some quick thoughts on Landon’s play at Everton:

• Donovan is starting to look a little to me like Kaka, in terms of his impact on the game as well as his style.

Update: Skip in the comments section suggests Ryan Giggs…that might be more a more apt comparison.

I know that is a heady compliment, but I’m starting to see his game that way.

One of the things that I appreciate about players is their ability to make the simple pass and make it perfectly placed and accurate. This is why I enjoy Kaka’s game so much. Whether it’s just a quick square pass or a pass that threads the line on an attack it is often, with Kaka, perfect.

I’m starting to see that in Landon’s game. When people talk about Landon’s impact on Everton–and I’ve been an Everton fan for about 3 years–what I see is how his passing and team game play is contagious. He distributes with ease and his teammates are starting to emulate this, most specifically Steven Pienaar, who is a classic overdribbler.

On the unselfish side the interplay between Louis Saha, a noted keeper of the ball, and Donovan has been excellent as well. I think I counted about 5 times in the game when Donovan had the ball in the offensive third and he made the right play, which was a simple lay off to Saha.

The tactical difference between Kaka and Landon…Kaka is a much more vertical player (I think this makes him a little more dangerous) while Landon needs to attack more laterally to be effective.

• Where is Landon’s legendary fitness?

This is a more global observation than just Landon, but where is Donovan’s notorious fitness of being able to run all day?

I think what you’re seeing is Donovan struggling–in a good way–to adapt to the rigors of European and  EPL competition that’s coming at him in spades.

So far what we’ve learned is that Donovan is about a 70min participant against the highest quality competition in the world.

That’s not a bad thing, just an observation. He’ll get better. Right now Donovan’s picking his spots, but he’ll get to that “always-on” mode.

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More: Jeezy, Specs, & The Wolves Keeper

Will we be celebrating another JOLAZO! today?

Update: Big Jeezy starts on the bench in favor of Zaki; Specs starts with Ilunga not in the 18.

Update: Rangers came against St. Johnstone called off due to frozen pitch.

For our full weekend preview, just go here.

The rest of Saturday….

• Jeezy hoping to go Jolazo on Specs and the Hammers

• Hahnemann facing Chelsea’s firing line

• …and someone let us know if one or both of DMB and Maurice Edu are in the line-up for the Rangers.

Lando & Timmy Take on Ferguson United

Welcome to Howard's Den

3-1 EVERTON – TWEET: Goodison all a-song as the game closes

• Donovan fades down the stretch….missed in the box…but as ESPN said (and so does TSG), “It was not an easy chance”

• Moyes outmanages Sir Alex. Ferguson introduces Scholes and Obertan and Everton counters by going with youth…and more importantly speed…proves to be the difference down the stretch.

• Wayne Rooney played a “contained” game…some poor service to him…the only thing consistent today offensively after the 1st half was Gary Neville’s service.

• While Howard’s corner defenders were average to below average, Heitinga and Distin manned capably in the middle…Distin looking younger than his 30 years.

91st min: David Moyes has sent an assistant to look for Landon…oops he’s still on the pitch…Van Dar Saar joins the outfield as Everton were about to break…convincing day for the Toffees.

90th min: It’s youngsters day! Jack Rodwell GOAL. The first EPL goal for the 18-year-old Rodwell as his pace takes him right passed Johnny Evans on an Arteta service, 3-1 …put it in the books.

89th min: Everton proving up to the challenge as the fouls start to rack up.

87th min: This is where Howard makes his money…Rooney attempting a free kick from above the 18 and directly in the center….England vs. US and Rooney fires wide …Howard was beaten…(I know didn’t want to write that but it’s true)…Howard saved by Rooney’s poor placement…another U-2o player (Jack Rodwell) introduced for Pienaar.

86th min: Rooney draws a foul; Leon Osman is bestowed a yellow on the play.

85th min: Distin clears for the 324th time as Dan Gosling breaks for Everton and knocks into the left corner where Saha pulls up the attack…Everton goes around the horn with it as they waste time….

Continue reading

Team USA Jerseys By Phil Knight & Nike

(If you want to send/Twitter around, here’s a little url: http://bit.ly/usmntjersey)

Straight from Nike.com, the new USMNT jerseys. Not all that bad….

Very choreographed

“Hey Landon, you need to fill-up that sash with some merit badges, Mr. Boy Scout.”

Should we dub the jersey “The Semi-Finaler” or “The Redemption Jersey?”

Thanks to TSG commenter Joe for passing along….

Dutchspotting: Those Called To Face The Yanks

Heitinga, van der Wiel, van Bronckhorst, Mathijsen .....the Dutch backline.....

We haven’t even launched our El Sal preview and already we’ve got some info on the Nether players called in for the Yanks’ March 3rd Test.

This is the provisional roster (I don’t know what that means) with the final squad being called February 26th.

Way to early, but here’s the likely starters if this were the extent of the squad…with the rest of the roster below them.

G: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax)

DEF: Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburg )

MID: Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid)

STR: Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Eljero Elia (Hamburg), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

Beyond: Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht),  Piet Velthuizen (Vitesse Arnhem);  and Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord),  Edson Braafheid (Celtic), , Andre Ooijer (PSV), Otman Bakkal, Orlando Engelaar and Ibrahim Afellay (all PSV),  Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Wout Brama (Twente), Stijn Schaars (AZ Alkmaar), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Ryan Babel  (Liverpool), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan)

Disclaimers:

» Wesley Sneijder is in form and may sneak into de Jong’s spot.

» Pic above: Mathijsen is going to need to dye his hair and van der Wiel for Ewen McGregor is a little bit of a stretch.

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