Archive for September, 2010

Quick Thoughts: DeMerit, Roque

Thanks and apologies.

Thanks to the stellar crew of writers that have helped keep the site streaming with good content while (apologies) I’ve been taking care of my newest product, a baby girl.

"Any of you Euro leagues have a kit for me?"

The other night I tweeted that I can’t see Jay DeMerit headed to the Vancouver Whitecaps (at least not yet by far) and I can’t see Roque Santa Cruz–as one wild rumor suggested–heading to DC United.

Thought I’d quickly follow-up:

DeMerit

I find the Jay DeMerit situation rather puzzling. Here’s a player (and his agent) who knew they were playing out their Watford contract last year and rolling the dice on a solid World Cup to pump his value.

In essence DeMerit’s agent could begin negotiating with teams–or at the very least–selling his agent’s wares to clubs way back in January 2010!

That DeMerit, a noted good teammate and battle-tested veteran, is still without home is mind-boggling and for him must be concerning.

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Jumble: American Werewolf in London

(Quick aside: “American Werewolf in London” was the predecessor to “American Werewolf in Paris”)

The question: Based on the early going, which American is going to have the best year?

Is Timmy rested enough to be the best?

GeorgeCross: Perhaps it might not be too much of a surprise, but I really find hard to look past Tim Howard, especially with Dempsey, Guzan, Lichaj not commanding a regular berth in the starting XI, and Spector just not being a great EPL-level player.  I think Holden will be solid in The Trotters’ midfield but it’s a big ask to outperform Howard over a course of a *whole* season.  What I will find surprising is if Howard is still with Everton next season.

Shaun: Deuce will continue to play well and will be very important to Fulham. EJ too will hopefully make an impact coming off the bench, but it will be Holden who will have the most impact on his team by an American. He’s playing the centralized midfield role and he’s doing it well. Currently at mid-table, Bolton are playing better football than last year and a lot has to do with their hard-working engine room.

Eric, AFR: Stu Holden. Bolton are playing a beautiful brand of football, and credit to Owen Coyle for constructing a perfect mix of youth and experience in his squad. Bob Bradley has told Stuart Holden that he should conserve his energy throughout the 90 minutes. Nope, that’s not the plan in the Premier League. Stu’s endurance is second to none, and his constant pressure provides a presence that has the tone for Bolton’s mentality. With hard work will come class…

Chamo, CO: This is tough, because quite frankly almost all of them have had some early struggles. Friedel wasn’t at fault for the 6-0 drubbing Villa got, but he only recently seemed to regain the form we are so used to seeing from him. Dempsey seems to be getting weened back into the Fulham squad, though with the injury to Zamora Deuce might be expected to fill the void. That said, I think Tim Howard will have the best year, even if Everton doesn’t. Everton would have 0 points instead of 2 if it wasn’t for Timmy.

Holden, bounding forward in the EPL...

Corey, CoS: He who gets more playing time, Stu Holden or Clint Dempsey. It’s a long season. Holden has to prove he’s ready to shine from autumn to spring. Dempsey, the pride of Nacogdoches and guardian of Craven Cottage, has to stay healthy. What Fulham lost in Roy Hodgson they retained in a cohesive, gritty squad. Advantage Dempsey.

Matthew, TSG: Stu Holden was our first requested and completed interview here at TSG. In short, we’re big fans. His speed is top 10% for midfielders in the EPL. He maintains possession, but can threaten himself.

Holden may not show up often in the stat sheet this year for Bolton as he plays a linking midfield role more than attacking, but in terms of importance to their team and quality year, Holden will just edge Howard.

Note, TSG is on record as saying that Stu Holden will be the next American to play in the semifinals of the Champions’ League (that of course, necessitates a club move). Let’s see if that one happens.

Surprise: Kicking Off An EPL Jumble!

…and we’re back with another of our Jumble Series.

Our EPL Roundtable crew matches wits with the best...

With the EPL revving up and even more coverage of the games on stateside networks, we go with our first Premiership Jumble of the season.

And now for our round table crew:

• The Martin Tyler of the Web and one of the editors of The Shin Guardian. The World Cup marathon man, Shaun Webb.

• Founder of the highly cerebral “A Football Report” and also a player on the Emory University team, Eric Beard.

• From soccer blog ConstantlyOffsides, your either with Scott Parker or against him. And he is Chamo.

• Thou shalt not call Dimitar Berbatov the anti-christ, the co-founder of The Church of Soccer, Corey Bennett.

• And never bringing up the rear, your favorite TSG England fanatic, GeorgeCross.

We start of with…this year’s surprises:

Who’s your surprise team of the year thus far? (Positively or negatively)

Corey, CoS: Everton. The Toffees will turn the season around, but taking two points from five matches makes qualifying for Europe slightly more likely than Mikel Arteta playing for England. One month into the season, a mid-table finish is the best possible outcome.

Malouda and Chelsea are cookin'!

Eric, AFR: The easy answer here is Blackpool, who have been tremendous under Ian Holloway and deserve to be sitting in 4th. But I have to go with Chelsea. After a preseason that included losses to Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Ajax, and of course Manchester United, I expected troubles in the Ancelotti camp, not back-to-back 6-nil victories. Didier Drogba is the form of his life, but the efficiency of the attack as a whole is FIFA 10-esque. Even Carlo Ancelotti said managing his team was like playing PlayStation…

Chamo, CO:The obvious choice here would be Blackpool bursting out of the gates, but I’m more surprised by Everton’s inability to win. Losing away to Blackburn and Villa is somewhat understandable, but they haven’t shown up to play against the “must-win” teams like Wolves, even when they are at Goodison Park. The incredible comeback against Man United was commendable, but so far its the only bright spot in Everton’s season, since they should be challenging for European places and currently find themselves in the relegation zone.

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What’s the deal with Jurgen?

Is he really a good coach?

So if Jurgen can stir up a hornets nest, so can I. I’m curious to know what the big deal with Klinsy really is. A lot of USMNT fans really really want him as head coach and I want to know why. I’m English, so first and foremost I support England, but having lived here for 20 years, I REALLY want to see the USMNT national team get to the next level in International Soccer. I just don’t see how Jurgen can take them there.

He’s had two managerial spells. One with the German National team and one with Bayern Munich.

With Bayern, he coached for less than a season (08-09) and was fired in April 09, with Bayern knocked out of the German domestic cup in the quarters, Champions league in the quarters and in third position of the Bundesliga, endangering their next years Champions League qualification.

He was given a squad that had won their domestic league the previous year and set them a few steps backward.

Germany's 2006 success had more to do with their fans, the players and hosting the Cup then their coach.

Klinsmann was more successful with the national team, at least on first glance. He took a young German team to third place at the 2006 World Cup and did do a good job of shunting out the older generation of players who had failed so miserably in the 2004 Euros, revamping Germany’s national footballing program on the way.

BUT, lets look at his results. Klinsmann’s first two years in charge did little to impress the footballing world, as they did poorly in friendlies building up to the 2006 World Cup (which Germany was hosting, so no need to qualify).

At the big dance, they won their group, but had less than challenging opponents in Costa Rica, Poland and Ecuador. They then beat Sweden (a solid team, but no world beaters) in the first knock stage and then an average Argentinian team on penalties in the quarters. They lost 2-0 to Italy in the semis.

Keeping in mind that every game they played, they were spurned on by their home fans, and that they had a relatively easy route to the semi finals. I would venture to say that the players got them as far as they did and not him as a coach. When they needed him to do something different and come up with a tactical magical moment, he failed and Italy won late in extra time.

After the World Cup, with the German press and pubic in full support, Klinsmann decided to resign, saying he didn’t have the drive anymore and wanted to spend time with his family. Joachim Löw took over and has taken an even younger Germany to the next level, and they are one of the favorites at Euro 2012 and Brazil 2014.

Did Klinsmann realize that he didn’t really have what it took to take Germany further and intelligently decide to step down on top? The cynic in me says yes.

A fantastic striker and amateur diver, Klinsmann and the word defense aren't very synonymous

I’m not saying he’s a bad coach, but I really don’t think he’s what the USMNT wants. I wouldn’t go as far as to say Klinsmann would be a step backward from Bob Bradley, but I don’t think he offers anything special.

Klinsmann was a fantastic striker in his playing days and his coaching style is reflective of that. I don’t believe the word defense is in his lexicon. This is not what the USMNT wants. The US’s counter attacking style and speed is one of their strengths, but they do not possess the skill to just outscore their opponents. They need discipline at the back and Klinsmann cannot provide that.

Who would be perfect for the job. Honestly I don’t know. What perplexes me though, is why so many people think “California Klinsy” would be the savior of the USMNT.

Your thoughts!

Whose Parade Is Bob Reigning On?

This is a guest post by Jay Bell

The Sequel: Who's recast, who's cut?

The re-hiring of Bob Bradley means he is starting his job over again. We will see the same strategy in regards to the player pool that we saw in 2007. We are going to see a lot of young guys given chances at the US’s most shallow positions. Bob is still looking for a consistent left back and a striker who puts the ball in the net. In 2007, he concentrated on central midfield. Feilhaber, Clark, Edu, and Bradley were rotated in during the year. This time he’s likely to concentrate on centerback with plenty of young MLSers ready to compete for a spot.

So which guys are going to benefit from Bob’s new reign? Who gets snubbed?

POSITIVE EFFECT

From Salt Lake semi-pro to....Brazil 2014?

Justin Braun. Bradley gave plenty of minutes to Ching and Casey in the last cycle, much to the chagrin of US supporters. They still played a valuable role. With an athletic forward playing off of them, they were more successful. This position should open up as Ching’s knees crumble beneath him and Casey slows down even more. Other than Jozy Altidore it does not look like anyone else is looking to claim this spot.

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Klinsmann Stirs Hornet’s Nest

Hi there...again...

Update: Here is the story in full.

Perennial US Soccer “savior” Jurgen Klinsmann sat down with Sasha Victorine on the KC Wizards pre-game before their 2-0 win over Chivas.

The meat of the conversation: Klinsmann was again the apple of Gulati’s eye. This time the German made more concessions, but an inability to have full control of his technical staff led to negotiations breaking off. So says Klinsmann at least.

Awaiting video here. I’ve grabbed some of the Twitter feed of the KC Wizards after the break.

Begs the questions what Bob Bradley’s contract is and, again, what was Gulati’s goals and his current expectations after South Africa.

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