Archive for July, 2010

Friday Selections: USA vs. Brazil, August 10th

Bob Bradley will be in command.

Coach Sweats himself will announce the U.S. roster for the August 10th friendly against Brazil at the Meadowlands on either Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Here’s our guess (after our “let’s look to the future guess“) of players representing the United States. All rumors and reports are suggesting a veteran squad to be selected by Double-B.

Will Tim be in NJ or dead focused for the Everton battle with Mucha?

G: Tim Howard, Brad Guzan, Troy Perkins

Other guesses: Marcus Hahnemann, Chris Seitz, Nick Rimando

The skinny: Howard is gearing up for a battle with Jan Mucha for the starting spot at Everton; the veteran and challenger are currently getting ready to throwdown at Everton’s Finch Farm training pitch.

This may be a prelude to a move for Howard or might just be a Ben Foster-son-in-waiting move. Howard is also from New Jersey so there is that side of the coin.

Will Guzan be called in? Not sure about that. This is the season that the heir apparent needs to step it up in the Premiership to get considered contender. We say Hahnemann likely stays Brit side instead of Guzan.

Trusty Bob Bradley camper Troy Perkins rounds out the keepers–though you might see a nod for Chris Seitz hailing from the Union nearby.

Bradley will have another "word" (the last?) in person with DeMerit August 10th

DEF: Jay DeMerit, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Jonathan Spector, Chad Marshall, Heath Pearce, Omar Gonzalez, Kevin Alston

Other guesses: Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Sean Franklin, Eric Lichaj

The skinny: TSG has that sneaking suspicion that Jay DeMerit is coming back stateside, despite the Chicago Fire move today. He’ll be there either way.

How can Captain Carlos–new club or not–not get a curtain call against Brazil. The warrior soldiers for one more.

Of the two TSG sentimental favorites, Eric Lichaj might get a sniff. Does Sean Franklin? Boy, we hope so.

The Holden Era begins...hopefully (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

MID: Landon Donovan, Stu Holden, Jose Torres, Maurice Edu, Alejandro Bedoya, Robbie Rogers, Dax McCarthy

Other guesses: Clint Dempsey, DaMarcus Beasley, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Ricardo Clark

The skinny: We all know Clint Dempsey needs some rest so he stays across the pond.

Also conspicuous by his absence is Benny Feilhaber. With AGF Aarhus looking to sell the midfielder, not a good time to pick up a ding. That said, will DaMarcus Beasley be there? We’re betting “no” as well.

Despite meriting a call-up, we think Bob Bradley leaves the progress of Sacha Kljestan at Anderlecht unimpeded eschewing an excursion back to the States for the SoCal midfielder.

Similarly, Jermaine Jones, who uberfans are pining to see, probably should right his club career first before getting called in.

Ricardo Clark doesn’t want to pull a hamstring from too much time on the sideline; he stays in the land of Dunkel. Also, because well, chance he gets booed? (Not a real reason, but something to think about).

Dear Bob Bradley, I can score and play striker, From Edson Buddle... (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

STR: Robbie Findley, Edson Buddle, Herculez Gomez, Brian Ching

Other guesses: Jozy Altidore, Charlie Davies

The skinny: Like Feilhaber, the last thing that Altidore needs is an injury. Very important that the hope of America at striker settles his club situation.

That said, the youngster hails from New Jersey and played for Red Bull. So could go either way on this one.

Charlie Davies, like Onyewu, was hurt on international duty. Politics do matter and I think Charlie Davies–if healthy–is making it to the Poland friendly, maybe not this one.

—-

Other notes:

Freddie Ljundberg, taking his game, his ref squabbling and his assortment of fashionable scarves with him to the Chicago Fire. Not sure about that move for the Fire. Anyone?

• Freddy Adu didn’t hang on in the Alps after a trial at Swiss club Sion. Yikes! Back to Benfica, but then where for Adu?

• Friend of TSG Kyle Martino made his switch from ESPN to Fox Soccer permanent. He’ll host a show that we’ll hear the details about shortly.

• Congrats to the USA Milk Cup squad for getting it done.

Our New Copyeditor (One Word?) Has Street Cred

Yes, yes….yes!

We’re getting the part-time help of a good-as-gold copy editor over here.

Her name is Allison Pasciuto and she’s already kind of a big deal having hopped down to the MLS All-Star game, taken the pictures below and jet-setted at the after party with Bob Bradley’s “favorite” Big Red.

Welcome!

Not every fan was pining to see the Red Devils...

Giggs & Macheda about to do damage...

Lando...getting down?

Allison on the right; ESPN's "expert" commentary man in the middle...

Poor Performance By MLS All-Stars No Reflection On Players

141-139.

That was the final score of the 2010 NBA All-Star game this year.

Ryan Giggs vs. Shalrie Joseph...

Did the result, the play or the final score of that game mirror a playoff–or even regular season–game in the NBA?

Of course not.

The same can be said for the MLS All-Star game Wednesday night when a motivated Manchester United “B” team went up against essentially the MLS All-Star “A-” Team–it sort of has to be considered an “A-” team when the league’s best player (Landon Donovan), the league’s top scorer (Edson Buddle) don’t start and when arguably the league’s best coach (Bruce Arena) has less than a day to prepare?

That Manchester United came off a 2-1 loss to a ho-hum Kansas City Wizards squad only served to further stack the deck against the MLS All-Stars, some of who could never participate (any player on Seattle) and some of who showed up and could only take a quick snooze to prepare (the Los Angeles Galaxy’s Edson Buddle, Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez, Donovan Ricketts and even Bruce Arena).

Did anyone else witness the baseball debacle that occurred last week when the Giants turned the table on the Dodgers after a managerial snafu forced a less-than-warm George Sherrill into the game who promptly game up the game to the Giants?

Well this situation was similar as the MLS All-Stars, including players like Kyle Beckerman and Shalrie Joseph, who have missed time recently or missed a good chunk of the season, were forced to take on one of the top squads in the world–showcasing some of their best young players like Macheda, Obertan (who left due to injury) and Cleverly–without proper warm-up and repetitions as a team and further during the middle of the week!

What the fans got was a scorefest and what MLS got was a record crowd of 70,000 people (more than 3x the amount for a quality NBA game) and that’s the only number that probably matter to MLS execs.

Yes, the success was probably based upon a huge Mexican contingent, many of them ready to bear witness to the forthcoming reign of Chicharito at Old Trafford and probably based upon Man United fans themselves. (By the way, how about ESPN inaccurately continually calling United “Man U” all evening and following on Sportscenter…yikes!)

But if crowd numbers and the dollars associated with it weren’t the goal of MLS execs then they–and certainly not the players–should be berated.

Steve Goff, and I’m not picking on him, called the debacle, “an embarrassment for MLS.”

If that’s accepted to be the case, then today, Thursday, Don Garber and MLS officials should be posed the question of precisely what their expectations were for this exhibition game and whether they deem it a success.

In fact, with the game–poorly timely, poorly managed in season to begin with–being a lopsided affair, the league might owe it to the players to come out and take ownership of the set-up and express satisfaction with the efforts of the players who participated.

That said, over 70,000 fans got treated to seven goals (one from from home town man Brian Ching), most of the big stars and, from what we hear, a great evening at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Manchester United vs. MLS All-Stars Commentary

Living legend Ryan Giggs will be on display this evening, sans the Kramer cut....

Drop your commentary here if you like.

We’ve got a soccer game, but Shaun or I will try and contribute as well.

The oddsmakers have the over-under on goals at 2.5 (take the over) for what they’re calling easily the “best feature soccer match on the planet” today.

And Ladbrokes has the action at a 1.57 return on investment for Manchester United, a 3 for a draw and–a very enticing–5 for the MLS All-Stars.

Sean Franklin, Quietly On Patrol

It’s MLS All-Star week and Los Angeles Galaxy fullback Sean Franklin isn’t in the line-up in Houston.

…and that’s a shame.

Sean Franklin: Silky...

On a team chalk full of almost too much talent, Franklin’s contribution to the stoutest defense in the league is unrecognized this week as fellow backliner Omar Gonzalez and goalie Donovan Ricketts represent the Galaxy defense.

Franklin, though, should get more than his due shortly.

Just two short years ago, the wiry fullback who patrols the right flank for the Galaxy, was MLS’s 2008 Rookie Of The Year and earned an invitation to United States’ Men’s National team practice on the training grounds right outside his home pitch. The offer by Bob Bradley was Franklin’s second to the national team.

But, a series of injuries, including serious groin and hamstring maladies, forced Franklin into a continued battle with fitness instead of a focus on improvement.

Franklin missed most of the Galaxy’s 2009 season, but is now back in 2010 owning his righback spot and displaying the silky–with Franklin the word “silky” is acutely accurate–smooth moves that made him a standout during his rookie campaign.

Franklin was the 4th pick in the 2008 MLS draft and beat out Geoff Cameron and others for rookie honors...

TSG was able to chat briefly with Franklin following last Thursday’s Galaxy-Earthquakes match where Franklin’s intelligent play was again on display to those paying close attention.

For some Franklin’s loping style can be mistaken as being out-of-position or not aggressive, but if you watch #28 long enough, you find a player who has economy of motion and plays well within Bruce Arena’s zonal defensive system.

Franklin also made some subtle, but savvy plays that would go unnoticed unless you were focused on him.

For example, late in the 1st half, a square ball was played to space for Franklin with room on the corner of the 18′ box.

Instead of cutting in and receiving the ball with little room to do anything, Franklin faked at the ball, freezing the defender in their position and then retreated to receive, creating space for Landon Donovan who saw the open space and dragged across it creating an opportunity on goal.

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Lichaj: Floating Up The Villa Pecking Order

Some pub for the pride of Downers Grove, Illinois

Don’t look now, but the American who has an outside shot–possibly–at starting for a top five Premiershp team ….may be an American who wasn’t given a sniff during qualifying.

Eric Lichaj, discussing role models and impressing bosses.

After Tuesday’s Comments on Jozy, A Turkish Report

Still not in Ireland training with Villarreal, hmmm....

Update 07/28:

A Turkish report out Wednesday reinforces Beşiktaş is in the market for Jozy Altidore, claiming the club president is negotiating for Altidore’s service with a suggested transfer fee of $3M. That number would represent a significant discount from Altidore’s $10M tranfer price when he headed to Villarreal just two year ago.

Update 07/27: Ronald Blum of the Associated Press has the story:

“A lot of the top clubs around Europe have been in touch, and we’re just looking at what’s the best for Jozy’s career at this point,” his agent, Lyle Yorks, said Tuesday in a telephone interview. “It’s important to find a home for himself where he’s going to get games, continue to develop and really show his abilities.”

Yorks said he had had discussions with two Premier League clubs he wouldn’t identify. Fulham also has held discussions about Altidore, pending a decision on hiring a manager to replace Roy Hodgson, who left the Cottagers to become Liverpool’s manager.

TSG: Cautionary note, might be a little media dissemination here to put some pressure on Beşiktaş to up the ante on a transfer. Curious timing of the agent quote where Yorks has been mostly silent until now.

———-

As TSG reported on July 17th, Turkey and the Black Eagles of Beşiktaş was a rumored destination for American and Villarreal striker Jozy Altidore.

Other rumors have and had Altidore headed to Ajax, but even with the Martin Jol-to-Fulham situation behind them Ajax remaine well endowed at striker with captain Luis Suarez still on the team. If he transfers, that’s another thing.

Lending credence to the reports on Altidore to Turkey, Soccer by Ives is reporting that Besiktas is the front runner and NTV Sports in Turkey is reporting that “serious discussions” are ongoing to secure Altidore’s services.

Video: Jozy Altidore on playing in the World Cup.

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