Archive for June, 2010

Round of 16 – Spain versus Portugal

Can the divine soul patch add to his goal tally

PEEEEEP PEEEP PEEP. Game over. Spain versus paraguay in the last quarter

89:00 - Red card for Costa for an apparent elbow. That was unbelievable acting by Capdevilla. If that isn’t a call for post match cards for diving then I don’t know what is.

87:00 - Llorente beats the offside trap and heads just wide.

85:00 – Spain maintaining insane amounts of ball possession. Ronaldo has been marked out of this game and has been largely ineffective.

77:00 – Villa now has the self belief that he is god and tries an audacious shot from pretty far out. He comes close but Eduardo easily punches clear.

70:00 – Sergio Ramos is released by Xavi and hammers a shot goal bound but Eduardo does well to save. He’s defender everyone!

63:00 – GOOOOAAAALLLL. Villa on his second effort, sends it in the back of the net. A lovely backheel from Xavi releases Villa whose first shot is saved but he gets the rebound and buries it. Spain 1 – Portugal 0

61:00 - Villa then tries his luck from distance but his curling shot is inches wide.

61:00 - Llorente makes an immediate impact by diving for a cross with his head. It’s well saved by Eduardo.

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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?


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