Archive for June, 2010

Sepp Blatter On Technology & Apologies

Sepp Blatter finally issued a statement on World Cup refereeing. He also issued apologies…..but incredulously only to England and Mexico. Say what?!

Blatter lets out the hot air...

Here’s a sampling from Sepp:

“I deplore the obvious refereeing mistakes we have seen. I understand the teams concerned are unhappy. I have personally said ‘I apologise for what happened’ to both England and Mexico….it’s not the end of the competition, it’s not the end of football. With the denial of the use of technology, we have to accept mistakes.”

and

In October-November we will present a new model on how to improve high-level refereeing.

Read all the rest here.

TSG Writers Chat Bob Bradley

TSG will be doing quite a bit of “Bob Bradley review” in the coming days and weeks. As a publication, we’re not quite ready to issue our “New York Times editorial” on what the verdict on Bob Bradley’s current tenure is or who should be coaching the Yanks in a few months.

We kick off our Bob Bradley review coverage with a TSG chat among our frequent writers: Shaun, Tuesday and Brian.

I’ll play moderator and this is just the beginning of sussing out expectations and evaluation of Coach Sweatpants. Drop your comments below and we’ll issue more as we continue to review the past four years of “The Life of Bob.”

Bob Bradley (2006-?): Victorious? (photo courtesy of Matt Mathai)

Matthew: Okay — for those reading on TSG, the writers of TSG wanted to appropriately discuss the “Bob Bradley situation.”

How did he do? Did the team meet expectations? What does the future hold?

Matthew: First question, did Bob Bradley do a good job? Explain and offer data points.

Brian: When you look at Bob Bradley’s performance over the course of this cycle, the man did a good job. The results speak for themselves: when using the full USMNT, the team won the 2007 Gold Cup, beat Spain and narrowly lost the 2009 Confederations Cup, won CONCACAF World Cup qualification, and won their group in the World Cup.

Bob Bradley embraces Ricardo Clark after "The Substitution."

Mister Tuesday: By Saturday, Bob Bradley almost had me convinced. Then he did what was obviously total madness in all eyes but his. After two very solid Edu performances that seemed to earn him a starting spot, he went back to Clark.

Shaun: I thought he did a good job. I think he got the most out of a squad and made them a team. The exact opposite of what Capello did. Individually, England’s players could be rated better but they couldn’t play together as a team, where as the US masked their faults to a degree with good team work and unity.

The positives….

• He picked the right 23

• He installed a flexible system so that the USMNT could change shape and formation pretty effortlessly without exposing themselves.

• He recognized when he made mistakes and changed them as quickly as possible. So many mangers keep trying when they fail and end up making things worse.

The negatives….

• Poor tactical choices cost him important sub options late in game from having to rectify mistakes.

• Not tough enough. I don’t much about him but he seems to play favorites, hence Clark starting etc…

Brian: Bradley had to do a lot of revamping of the squad he inherited in 2006. The entire spine of the team, forwards, center midfielders, center halves, and goalie all needed to be replaced. Bradley wasn’t afraid to go with more risky players: a nepotism-inducing pick of his son, using an 18-year old Jozy Altidore and unheralded Charlie Davies. The U.S. did not get an influx of talent these last four years, they became a better organized and grittier team.

Matthew: Brian, Sweats nearly had to be talked into Altidore. He admonished him after his first camp.

Mister Tuesday: If this was a “one-time mistake” sort of situation that would be one thing, however it was yet another of his impenetrable decisions. Bob has gotten very good at finding solutions within games, but he struggles to see how things will play out beforehand.

Shaun: 100% agree Tuesday.

Mister Tuesday: That said, he was a win away from being widely seen as the most successful USMNT manager ever.

Landon moving to left wing set the tone (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Matthew: Did Bob Bradley do a good job? Yes. He did. A few data points stick out in my head. First, keeping a team together after the first two losses and reaching a Confederation Cup final. Following that up with a title run in Gold Cup 2009 with “B” or “C” level players again. Solid. Beyond this Bradley–like a true American ethos coach–had the team buy in. Landon Donovan moving to left wing set the tone. If you get the leaders to buy-in and make sacrifices, the rest of the team follows.

That said Bradley showed a “limited” technical ability and made the same mistakes multiple times. You don’t see that with Jose Mourinho, for example.

And the big “However.” The Yanks were done in this World Cup by not finishing their chances up top less the tactical decisions from limited quality.

Shaun: (to Tuesday)…but a couple of minutes away from being seen as a failure. It’s a brutal job and thankless.

Mister Tuesday: Let’s just look at Bob’s accomplishments: 2007 Gold Cup Champions to qualify for the Confederation’s Cup. Blooded a new group of players in going 3 and out at that year’s Copa America (and evoked the ire of CONMEBOL). 2009 Confederation’s Cup and Gold Cup finalists with 2 completely different player pools.

Bradley did well with the players he had at his disposal but he also made some mistakes in handling things. A lot of time that could’ve been used to give potential first-team combinations potential time together was devoted to selecting players at the fringes that played little to no role in South Africa.

_______________

Gulati: Backing BB still?

Matthew: Sunil Gulati stated that the Yanks failed to meet expectations. He made a veiled comment that Bradley would be reviewed without a vote of confidence while saying that the players were not off the highest caliber. Who bears the brunt of the failure to advance in the World Cup? The coach or the players?

Shaun: I think it depends on the situation. It’s never 100% players or coach. In this case I would have to say its a 65% BB and the rest the players. They made mistakes on the field that they should have done better with. It’s not the coach’s fault that a lot of them have poor ball control. But it is up to him set up the team so those errors are few and far between. Edu is more confident, more experienced and more comfortable on the ball. Clark should never have been involved.

Brian: I put about 70% of the blame on the players. There was a clinical lack of finishing from the entire team and some fundamental errors in marking from the center-halves. Bradley did make a couple of line-up mistakes, but you could also say he reacted better to fix a team mid-game than any other manager this World Cup.

Matthew: Tough one here. I have to put more of the blame on Bradley. It was Bradley’s choice to get Onyewu ready through the friendlies and not develop chemistry between DeMerit and Boca or DeMerit and whomever. That was a miscalculation.

It was Bradley’s choice to rotate central midfielders which is always a challenge to developing chemistry and continuity.

And it was Bradley’s choice to bring Buddle at forward and not play the hottest net-finding striker, especially when the Yanks couldn’t finish. That decision is still mind-boggling to me.

On the field, Bradley beat an Algerian side that should have been beaten. He drew a Slovenia side that should have been beaten and in retrospect a draw was probably fair against England. I have through an asterisk because with some correct calls Bradley likely beats Slovenia and has an easier time with Algeria–so noted.

And….if the US has strikers that can finish a shot. We’re discussing Uruguay right now, not Bob Bradley–so maybe I’m off on the blame game. But I did mention that Buddle seems to know how to finish.

Shaun: Bradley was not responsible for the US missing the goals (though his choices did help create them by utilizing Dempsey and Donovan wide etc…) but his tactics, player selection etc… were partly responsible for all the goals that were given up.

Buddle, a missed opportunity of itself? (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

Mister Tuesday: The USA were one of the brighter attacking teams at the World Cup, but were also one of the worst defensive teams. Across the back four Bob Bradley was limited by the players he had at his disposal. We could second guess his inclusion of Beasley over a young player like Bedoya, but the reality our central defensive pairing consisted of a defender plays for a mid-table Championship side.

Our best striker played last season for a relegated Premiership side and managed 1 league goal. Altidore wasn’t any more threatening for the national team.

Mister Tuesday: Findley, Buddle and Gomez all had their own opportunities. I think Bob made a mistake replacing Altidore with Gomez rather than Buddle, but Ghana’s winning goal came so quickly that it hardly mattered.

Brian: The only thing I can criticize Bradley for roster-wise is not giving more of a shot to America’s young defenders. You have to think that Omar Gonzalez and Eric Lichaj might have made an impact for team so thin at the back.

Shaun: The USA are a counter attacking team as they don’t have the skill to hold the ball up and pass it amongst each other back and forth waiting for an opportunity.

When they counter and it is successful it is always the same 3-4 players who are involved versus 7-8 who can starts, orchestrate or finish those moves.

Bradley deserves credit for setting up the USMNT to work that counter.

Continue reading

Round of 16 – Chile versus Brazil

Suazo...can he silence Brazil?

PEEEEEEEP PEEEEEP PEEP. Brazil are comfortable 3-0 winners. Chile’s dream is over (as are all my dark horses). Next up for the Selecao…the freaky deaky Dutch

92:00 - Bastos goes on a lovely mazy run but his shot is poor. Brazil are now in 4th gear as they’re on their way to meet the Dutch!

88:00 - Credit to Chile who are still trying 3 goals down!

76:00 - Robinho goes close to adding a second but Bravo dives low and saves well.

66:00 – Chile keep pressing. If any team can score three in 25 minutes its this team. Problem is they are leaving themselves susceptible to the counter.

60:00 – GOOOOOOOAAAAAL. Robinho. And pounce they do. All Ramires has he gets the ball at the half way line and runs at the Chilean defense. He goes through two or three and lays off to Robinho who curls it in. Lovely bit of finishing. Brazil 3 – Chile 0

57:00 - Nothing too much going on. Brazil closing down the gates and waiting to pounce.

Second half under way

PEEEEEEEP PEEEEP PEEP. Halftime. Chile held out for 30 minutes but Brazil changed gears and were rampant for the rest of the half. Can Chile regroup?

Continue reading

Gulati: Emphatic Words, Wrong Tone?

TSG is usually not one to comment secondarily on reporting.

In this case, we’ll make an exception.

Gulati on missed opportunities...

Multiple news outlets this morning attributed the following quotes to Sunil Gulati in a press conference earlier today.

The first, on the Yanks missed chance to advance versus Ghana and what it means for the great good of “US Soccer:”

“It is also a missed opportunity to stay in the American public’s eyes for another four, five six days, maybe 10 days, when interest is at an all-time high. I have no doubt there will be people still watching at bars at strange times, the TV ratings will still be good, but what the ratings might have been for a quarterfinal game or dreaming beyond that. We clearly caught something in the last few weeks that we haven’t seen before. The job is to try to hold on to some part of that.”

The second paraphrased:

The USA has no plans to participate in the 2011 Copa America in Argentina.

The third:

“I think it ultimately comes down to players,” he said. “The expectations have to be realistic. The players that are representing the U.S. are not players at Arsenal and Inter and Real Madrid and Barcelona and Chelsea and Manchester United and so on. The players we were playing against in some of these situations are.”

To this writer, these three statements should be reviewed.

Let’s address the first two together.

On the surface, “marketing” is very simple. It’s about three things: Positivity of “signal” (“Landon Donovan scores the game winner against Algeria”), Strength of “signal” (The US were robbed versus Slovenia–more newspapers cried injustice than ever before) and Frequency  of “signal” (The more games played at the World Cup level the better.)

While I sympathize with Gulati’s statement about the greater–and casual–public watching another Yanks’ match in the quarters–the positivity and strength of the signal would have been there–I think Gulati is certainly taking the wrong tone here in that commentary.

It’s quite an illusion to think that one mere additional game of the World Cup will almost in and of itself spur soccer on and send a message of pity thereafter.

To follow, the best way to reinforce the mostly positive signal that came out of South Africa is to play more high value tournaments within a short period of the World Cup’s close. That’s “frequency.”

Mexico and Japan join host Argentina at the 2011 Copa America. If I’m managing the United States–and rumors are the Yanks weren’t invited because they sent more of a “B” or even “C” squad back in 2007–I’m finding a way into that tournament that runs from during the same timing at the Gold Cup to face the same quality brand competition that enticed US fans during the World Cup.

Think about, what if Argentina wins the World Cup?

Continue reading

Moving On: USA vs. Brazil, August 10th

TSG will be back this week with a boatload of debrief on the USA’s second round run in World Cup 2010.

Agbossoumonde &.....

In the meantime, moving forward, who should take part in the USA vs. Brazil exhibition August 10th in New Jersey.

We’ll take another look beyond this one. Don’t worry.

Here’s a very early stab at selecting some of the 23 right now:

G: Brad Guzan, Nick Rimando

The skinny: Will Guzan get out for this one? He certainly needs some exposure, especially if he’s planning on competing with Tim Howard who will be 36-years-old for World Cup 2014, Brazil.

I’d like to see Bill Hamid make the drive up the road from D.C., but I think that’s a bit too early.

...Lichaj...future defensive bookends?

DEF: Jonathan Bornstein, Chad Marshall, Clarence Goodson, Eric Lichaj, Omar Gonzalez, Kevin Alston, Gale Agbossoumonde, Tim Ream, Sean Franklin, Jonathan Spector

The skinny: Hard not to include hometown man Ream. Not a huge fan of Ike Opara, but he perhaps warrant a look or spot. Both Agbossoumonde and Lichaj deserve to be in next year’s Gold Cup squad if not on the pitch August 10th.

Omar Gonzalez is….a no-brainer.

MID: Landon Donovan, Alejandro Bedoya, Stu Holden, Maurice Edu, Robbie Rogers, Benny Feilhaber, Jose Torres, Mix Diskerud

The skinny: I think you have to run Donovan out there. He’s local with the Galaxy and he just screams USA Soccer enough with relative fresh faces likely to be in the picture.

Stu Holden should start. Period. End of question. I don’t even care if he’s not there. A travesty at Holden’s lack of playing time this June.

Will Diskerud be in the "mix"?

Will Mikkel Diskerud make the jump? How about player on the periphery Jeffrey who will be starting up a Bundesliga campaign?

STR: Charlie Davies, Robbie Findley, Jozy Altidore, Tristan Bowen

The skinny: Would be a great moment for the fans to Charlie Davies get a run out. Mike Grella who spent a lot of pine time at Leeds might merit consideration.

Freddy Adu, should not. He’s had his chances and though he’s from nearby Maryland. It’s time for a fresh face to represent the States up top.

Others to consider: Herculez Gomez (F), Sam Cronin (M), Kenny Cooper (F), Brad Evans (D), Sacha Kljestan (M), Jared Jeffrey(M), Gabriel Ferrari (F), Sal Zizzo (F), Ike Opara (D), Luis Gil (M), Mike Grella (F) and Jimmy Conrad (D – as a veteran presence and MLS representative).

Who do you think?


Homeward Bound: Ghana Sends States Packing

A little late, but “quick reaction” on the United States 2-1 loss to Ghana today:

The States with promise...

• The Yanks Tempt Fate One Too Many Times with Fatal First Frame Error

While a lot “went wrong” for the States on the first goal, the root of the goal comes down to a failure to protect the ball in the midfield by starter Ricardo Clark.

As soon as Clark made the giveaway and before the result, my mind immediately harkened back to Clint Dempsey’s June 6, 2009 turnover against Honduras in the qualifier last June in Chicago. On that play, Deuce tried to make a move in midfield, got dispossessed by Carlos Costly and the counter was on for Honduras….and successful.

In a game dominated by a tug-of-war in midfield, the Clark’s error proved costly as Kevin Prince Boateng blew through the States’ “defense,” worked a slow Jay DeMerit and shot near-side post beyond Tim Howard who, out-of-position, looked like he was expecting a pass.

It’s the type of play that the Yanks had seemed to eradicate from their play. It’s the type of play that the Yanks defense always has difficulty contending with, but there it was again today wreaking havoc on the Yanks’ World Cup continuation plan.

• No Space Down the Flanks, The Yanks Lack of Forward Movement & Finishing Stifled the Attack

Only flashes today...

TSG posed the question in our preview, “Can the Yanks Get Loose Down the Flanks?”

The answer, a unequivicable “No.”

Whether by design or not, the Yanks’ starting forwards, Robbie Findley and Jozy Altidore, could not gain space or, perhaps more importantly, clear and open space for Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey to attack Ghana’s defense.

In fact, it appeared that both Findley and Altidore were too narrowly focused in attack, lacked sophistication in their movement, and therefore compromised opportunities from the get-go.

With John Paintsil pinching in centrally, the Yanks desperately needed to work the outside flanks with their strikers–not the interior–to push Ghana back and create chances. Didn’t happen.

Altidore, as well, appeared to be running, or not running, on half a tank from the start.

Same troubles...

Findley lack of final ball creativity and execution once again did him in.

This–and a poor time to cite this–was the game that Charlie Davies was missed sorely.

• Bob Bradley Got This One Wrong

If you credit Coach Sweats with the comeback against Slovenia and the line-up that enabled the win against Algeria, then he must be condemned for some of his selections today.

Obviously, Bradley realized his Clark error–about 20 minutes or so too late–when pulling the former Dynamo player from the pitch in a rare 1st half substitution. The claim may be made that Clark was pulled because he had earned a yellow card, however it’s in Clark’s DNA to make poor tackles after making errors. The first mistake was having Clark in the starting eleven in a match that absolutely demanded that midfielders be able to play both ways.

Bradley also erred, in my opinion, in keeping a spent Jozy Altidore on the field. While Altidore thrilled and earned chances, too often his stagnation in the front of the pitch clogged the middle and helped Ghana shutdown U.S. possession.

Finally, the Herculez Gomez selection was poor in my opinion, against a physical and disciplined defense, Gomez does not possess the 1-on-1 game to create chances for himself against superior competition. There is no doubt in my mind that Edson Buddle should have been tried.

Almost...

Bradley can be commended upon his insertion of Benny Feilhaber who–despite missing an outside-footed chip chance–played a phenomenal and calm game in possession. One can continue then with Feilhaber’s impact on the game in the midfield, that Stu Holden, able to play the middle or the outside, could have helped as well.

In fact, this game demanded Holden, however Bradley was out of substitutions.

Bob Bradley’s World Cup will be judged ad nauseum over the next few weeks, this game won’t be the highest rated.

Classy....

• Clint Dempsey Shined

The Deuce from London had a stellar game from the States today. Needing carriage in the middle of the field, needing chances and not possessing world class speed with the ball, Dempsey was a revelation for the Yanks when they were out of ideas.

His efforts kept the Yanks in the game.

Michael Bradley also continued his world beater status. Steve Cherundolo came back down to earth on his wing, but Jonathan Bornstein was solid on his.

• The Yanks Got Bossed In Central Defense

Ghana has not scored from the run-of-play in World Cup 2010 coming into the game, the Black Stars ran right up the middle of the Yanks’ defense today, once on a fatal error and another time on beautiful piece of skill by Asamoah Gyan to account for their scores.

Beyond this the Yanks’ defense was surviving, but two errors were too much on the day.

• A Lost Opportunity, But Solid Effort

The World Cup. Every four years. The States had a beatable opponent today and they let a game slip. That said–and this may be the fan in me–the Yanks controlled the game for stretches and did their country proud.

Round of 16 – Argentina versus Mexico

Higuain - Can he increase his goal tally? or were his goals just a fluke?

PEEEEEP PEEEP PEEP – Argentina look very good (minus the horrendous theatrics) and book a place in the quarters against Germany.

92:00 - Messi is just a pleasure to watch as the ball is glued to his feet. He moves across the box and sends a great shot that Perez does well to save.

89:00 – Time running out for Mexico.

80:00 – Mexico are looking dangerous as Heinze makes a great defensive header to steer it away from goal. Mexico will feel hard done by the poor refereeing in the first half.

73:00 – Sorry had to take people to the airport but have heard there have been great goals.

45:00 – After the controversial goal, Mexico’s verve has been greatly reduced and they lack the bite from earlier on in the game.

43:00 - Higuain gets a chance to make it 3-0 but his header goes wide. That was beautifully sent in from out wide. It just occurred to me that Higuain is this generations Pippo Inzaghi. Higuain doesn’t dive or play act but his strength is getting in at the right positions for easy taps ins and goals and making very intelligent runs…but his skills are not as good as his peers around him.

Continue reading

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 252 other followers