Tuesday Jumble: Stuie, Maicon, King, More…

A short jumble for you this morning:

Making a name on the club side now...

• Sorry, more Stuie for you. Praise just being lavished on the former Houston Dynamo. Comments here from Owen Coyles.

And yet another quote–along with about 50 other positive ones–from the Bolton boards, this one goes like this, “Holden looks a quality player, he is going to be our David Beckham, our dead ball specialist.”

Thanks to the TSG contributors who pointed these out.

Well done, Iceman.

• A little USMNT humor here. Heath Pearce ribbing on DaMarcus Beasley. Too funny not to put up here. I thought they were supposed to be on lockdown training over there.

Gervinho and Drogba, perhaps the best strike combination heading to South Africa...

• Official announcement coming Tuesday:  Guus Hiddink to coach the Ivory Coast in the World Cup. About the only thing holding the Ivory Coast back was securing a head coach who coaxed the egos on the team (Toure, Drobga, etc) to play together in the spirit of one goal. Quite a coup here….no pun intended.

• Tuesday kicks off “Friendly Week” here at TSG and across the globe. A name bantered around in our community, Shay Given, takes the pitch for Ireland today as they welcome the Brazilians to Croke Park in Dublin. Given better bundle up as Ireland are without first-choice back liners Richard Dunne and John O’Shea.

Other gems from this game:

» Did you see Maicon’s goal against Udinese this past week? No? Well check it out below. The video may not have the most clarity, but we can confirm that the man you see there is in fact a fullback.

» With Luis Fabiano shelved, Nilmar of Villareal should get the call. Keep an eye on the striker who’s rippled the net eight times in 19 games this season for the La Liga side.

»Robbie Keane is back in for the home side after having been sidelined with a knee injury.

King: Better than Rio, better than Terry...

• Minus one, plus one. News that Tottenham tyke winger Aaron Lennon faces six more weeks in hopes of healing his injured groin. Meanwhile, Fabio Capello getting desperate? Oft-injured Ledley King–perhaps the finest center back when he’s not carrying a red cross–set to join the national team?

• How about a forgotten American abroad, 24-year-old Jemal Johnson who was loaned to League One side Stockport County from MK Dons in the January window.

Johnson has been rounding into form with more playing time, banging in a 25 yard strike over the weekend.

Stockport travels to Bristol to roll the Rovers Tuesday.

• Oh, and did you miss Lionel Messi’s late goal against Malaga on Sunday? We almost did…but now you won’t. As Martin says in the comments below, a model of teamwork: Xavi-to-Alves-to-Messi.

2:45 mark.

• Reprint: We called Eljero Elia out on Sunday in a piece. Frankly, the Dutch winger is not getting enough press beyond our publication before tomorrow, so we’re going with a redux here.

Ankle-breaker Eljero Elia, who may start up top for the Dutchmen.

22 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Gino on 2010/03/02 at 1:48 AM

    Nice to see Stu finally getting on the pitch at Bolton and impressing to boot. Wonder if Coach Bradley might consider him in an advanced center mid role as opposed to out on the right flank. Have to think that Stu’s versatility makes him a lock for the final 23 if not the starting 11. Just hope that Holden’s increased importance to the Nats doesn’t jeopardize Torres’ place on the squad. There’s definitely room on the team for both of their talents.


  2. Posted by Martin on 2010/03/02 at 4:37 AM


    just to point out that that Messi goal is from last year.
    Barça did indeed play Malaga on Sunday but only won 2-1. Jerseys from last year, Dani Alves with #20 and not #2 give it away. I do recommend you see Barça’s 2nd goal… A model of teamwork and precision passing.

    As a Lyon supporter, I’m sad that Nilmar was unable to fully fulfill his potential at Lyon ; we would have needed him


  3. Posted by patrickhattrick on 2010/03/02 at 6:22 AM

    I like to think of best-case and worst-case scenarios for when a player gets praise at a time like this.
    Best-case for Holden: he scores two goals and has an assist tomorrow vs. Holland.
    Worst-case: He pulls a Jermaine Jones and goes Medic!


  4. That Messi goal was superb. The pass from Xavi is what gave most of us nightmares before the confed Cup semi. And the unselfishness displayed by Alves is what trule makes this game fun to watch; your typical striker would’ve had a go from there and 35-50% of the time would score (Alves probably has the same strike rate in that position), but Alves elects to pass to a teammate who’s in a much better position. Wow doesn’t do it justice, but wow. Someone should pass this along to Arsene Wenger; this is what the end result of good passing in and around the 18 yard box should be. Not more passing, or limp efforts on goal.


  5. The chances of Bob going with Stuey in the middle with Junior against the Netherlands are quite good – probably 50-50. I don’t know whether I’d ever want to see him to play too far forward (like at the top of a midfield diamond like a true CAM) because incisive longer passes and inviting crosses are his best weapons. I can see him drifting out to the wing to support the wide midfielder and whipping in crosses from deeper that will cause problems.

    Once we get everyone healthy, I think a midfield of Dempsey, Bradley, Holden, Donovan is pretty formidable, adding more attacking prowess without sacrificing as much defensively as you would with a Feilhaber or Torres in the middle. You can always add in a true DM in Clark or Edu to change the system and shift Holden wide and Dempsey into the Cahill role. I’ve been thinking about how Dempsey plays for Fulham – he’s at his best defensively when he’s pressing high and wins the ball a lot in this area – and I think the advanced midfield role might get the best out of him.

    As for Côte d’Ivoire, I don’t know how much pan-African feeling will be present in South Africa this summer so I don’t know that it’s a “home” cup for African teams in general. Still I think Hiddink as manager makes them a far more serious contender with the talent they have at their disposal. They were something to watch in the group stage of the last World Cup but were missing the team organization that Hiddink brings. Hiddink excels at getting the best out of the parts he has available, so the short time-scale suits him better than the longer-term project of rebuilding the Russian program.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/02 at 9:22 AM

      I have to agree Tuesday…as you and I did when I hinted at it in the El Sal preview….

      If Stuie can man the middle…and is going to get reps there at Bolton.

      You’re sort of making JFT redundant and you get to look at DaMarcus and Bedoya on the wings.

      If Edu doesn’t start in the middle (and he’s been out of the picture for quite awhile). I think you’ll see Stuie start there, maybe with DMB on an end?


      • After the news on Jones, I talked myself right back into Edu getting the start in the middle tomorrow. I think it’s a pretty clear signal that Jones will get his shot in the warm-up friendlies if he’s fit. That means 3 players are in the mix for 2 roster slots and Edu needs the start to show where he stands.


  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/02 at 9:47 AM

    FYI – the Ireland game is being played in London (Arsenal).

    I know it’s probably too late in the day to start experimenting the USA, but considering there is a question mark over who partners Altidore (if Davies doesn’t make it), I am surprised Bradley didn’t consider playing 4-2-3-1


    Dempsey – Bradley-Donovan



  7. George: 4-2-3-1seems to make sense given the players available. However, in the attacking phase a 4-2-3-1 is a system more suited to maintaining possession in midfield and patiently probing to find space to break down an opponent. This isn’t something the US has shown any aptitude for. We just seem to do better in a system derived from 4-4-2. I see Everton’s system as a hybrid between 4-2-3-1 in the defensive phase and 4-4-1-1 in the attacking phase and perhaps the US could have success doing something similar.

    I see a 4-3-2-1 as a better base for counterattacking, but I don’t see Bradley having the confidence or ability to successfully deploy those systems. He’s a guy that fills boxes, sticks with what he knows and what has worked before. I get the impression that it’s really the players he puts on the pitch who are left to determine what system we’re playing, rather than specific tactical instruction from the manager. His “things aren’t going well but I don’t have any idea what to do look” is priceless.

    Matthew: As for Eljero Elia, looks like I neglected him in the preview piece. I don’t see him as the first choice on the left over Robben, but he could very well start if he’s fighting for a spot or if Robben is being preserved. Regardless, looks like quite a player to have to bring off the bench should Robben have one of his occasional indifferent performances.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/02 at 10:34 AM

      On the 4-3-2-1…I concur that Bob Bradley’s sticking with the system.
      I can’t really blame him though.

      @Tuesday — On Elia — I believe the Dutch started him up top last time. You think he has a shot at starting ahead of Huntelaar (who hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire?)

      With Van Persie out in the 4-3-3, I’m wondering if Elia perhaps starts in the middle there since he’s a decent receiver of the ball….thoughts?


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/02 at 10:54 AM

      Tuesday: I agree with what you said but I think you’re forgetting that the USA are favourites** to progress from Group C. As such, don’t you think that the USA will have a lot of the ball, *especially* against Algeria and Slovenia.

      Did you get your formations mixed up in the last sentence of the first paragraph? The logic seems inverted to me (or maybe I am slow today!).

      **Aren’t the USA the favourites to win most of their games in the CONECAF? Don’t they have a lot of possession? Don’t opponents put 10 men in their own third? Isn’t it up to you to break them down?


      • Matthew: I played the percentages… He looks a winger to my eyes, but they may give it a try. As I mentioned in the comments of the preview piece, with all their talent, the dutch haven’t exactly been knocking in the goals. I think you need a true striker in the middle in a 4-3-3 or it can easily become a 4-6-0.

        George Question 1: Nope, but that’s why all the formation talk is ultimately a futile exercise. We’re both looking at the same thing but you see a 4-4-1-1 in defensive phase and a 4-2-3-1 in attack. I guess I don’t think of Everton as a team that defends in 2 banks of four. Rather in the defensive phase, I see Cahill dropping back to pressure the holding midfielder, the wingers are higher up the pitch to make life difficult for the opponents fullbacks, with the 2 CMs protecting the back four and providing defensive support from deeper positions. The further towards their own penalty area they go, the more it looks like a 4-5-1. This way of defending works better against the better teams that use a holding player to liberate the more attacking CM than against mid-table and lower teams that tend to play flatter in midfield. I think the results bear this out. When Pienaar is playing in Cahill’s spot, it seems more like a 4-2-3-1 than when Cahill is much more the focal point in the attack which is why I see it as a 4-4-1-1.

        George Question 2: Guilty on all counts. Believe me, I would’ve loved to see Bob experiment with a 4-2-3-1 in qualifying or the earlier friendlies. Instead of forging a new approach that would help us dominate CONCACAF with less effort, we ground out results in unimpressive fashion with Bob trying to shoe-horn players into his take on Arena’s system. Then Bob accidentally stumbled upon a very successful 4-2-2-2 at the Confederations Cup and is now busying himself with shoe-horning available players into that system to try and replicate its success. Brazil exposed the weakness of that system – defending in wide areas, and more specifically coping with attacking fullbacks when the wide players are cheating a bit to stay higher up the pitch.

        I’m not enamored with Bob as manager but I accept that he will guide us through the WC. He’s not particularly imaginative or tactically astute. If it didn’t happen then, I can’t imagine it will happen now. I think it’s my frustration that we haven’t made as much progress under Bradley as perhaps we should have that’s coming through rather than any problem with the system. We keep pointing to the Confederations Cup but we won exactly two matches – against the African and European champions yes, but only two matches. It’s just not within the realm of the possible right now, but I think in the 2014 we’re ready for a more sophisticated tactical approach.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/02 at 1:38 PM

          Tuesday: Point taken regarding formations, especially as most teams play with split forwards these days.

          I kind of think (agree?) that your win over Spain has papered over the cracks – but those cracks are still there – and people seem to talk about the Spain game and forget the first two group games. Statistically, I would like to see the numbers of losing 2 games and still progressing.

          I guess it was the changing of the guard in 2006, but it would have been nice to see the US solidify their 2002 efforts in Germany, rather than go home after the round robin. 2010 should be good as you have a core of players with WC experience.


        • George – It wasn’t just the changing of the guards, and the younger generation not being able to step up and lead, it was also the coaching staff. Arena was not the man to lead that team. He was stuck on certain players and most damaging a formation that didn’t play to the team’s strengths. We all cringe when thinking about that WC because of the missed opportunity. Sure we may not have advanced out of the group, but had we shown better in the group stages, Bobbo would’ve had more momentum to build on.


        • Agree… We were very, very lucky to advance. If we’d lost to Egypt we just might have been in the market for a new manager. Instead we got a miracle and accidental tactical genius in both those games. We weren’t that bad against Italy or Brazil and I think we learned something important about the types of tackles that earn red cards at international level in those matches. I really really want two solid wins at the group stage this time round. Is that too much to ask?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/02 at 2:29 PM

          Tuesday: no it is not too much to ask – as long as those two wins are over Algeria and Slovenia!!


  8. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2010/mar/02/the-question-egypt-england-three-defence

    Interesting piece from Jonathan Wilson on England vs. Egypt, especially in light of our success against Egypt at the Confederations Cup. We were ostensibly playing with two attackers, as Jonathan writes, the very system Egypt’s 3-5-2 is designed to counter.

    I would put it down to the fact that Charlie loves to pull out into wide positions, leaving Jozy on his own more centrally. With Altidore central and Davies taking up wide positions on the left, then Dempsey cuts inside from the left of midfield to get in the box and Donovan playing as a winger wide right it starts to look a lot like the 4-2-3-1 George suggests. I think there’s something to be said for Bob’s approach of letting player’s own tendencies dictate the system compared to the tactical straight-jacket that a player wears under a manager like Mourinho.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/02 at 2:25 PM

      Talking of Wilson, have you read / heard of his book “Inverting the Pyramid”?


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