Archive for October, 2010

Stadiums, National Teams & Playoffs With Bobby Convey

Bobby Convey and the Earthquakes head into battle Saturday against Thierry Henry Inc.

The New York Red Bulls take on the San Jose Earthquakes Saturday in a playoff match-up that may not be as one-sided as some people might think.

The Right Coasters may have galloped their way to first place in the East, but questions persist about their midfield and prized recruit Thierry Henry hasn’t been an automatic on the team sheet for the better part of a month.

They’ll head to the Left Coast to play a San Jose Earthquakes team that’s got the look of a spoiler.

The Earthquakes beat their chests with a veteran keeper in Jon Busch, a scalding hot shark of a striker in Chris Wondolowski who’s driving home freaking laser beams, an underrated pairing of former MLS cast-offs in Khari Stephenson and Sam Cronin manning the middle, and a U.S. World Cup veteran at leftback who started for the Yanks in arguably one of their most impressive performances ever, Italy 2006.

That defender’s name is Bobby Convey and he joined us last week to discuss playing in San Jose and his incredulousness at continuing to be left off the U.S. Men’s National Team.

TSG: Heading into the playoffs–you guys have two games left–looks like you’re going to face the New York Red Bulls. What’s going to be the difference in a potential series with Henry, Inc.?

Bobby Convey: Any team we play against in the playoffs is going to be a strong team.

The main thing for us is to get a good result in Game 1 since we’ll play the first one at home, and then to try and win it on the road.

TSG: Is there any more animosity in facing the Red Bulls? In the first game this year, you received a hard foul which resulted in a red card and ten men for New York. You guys won that one, I believe it was 3-0. In the second game–role reversal–you got a questionable yellow and New York ran away with it.

More animosity in facing them?

Wondo, streaking for San Jose...but everyone is a contributor, says Convey...

Convey: No. They’ve obviously added a bunch of players since we beat them. The first game we played well, the second game they played well and came out on top.

I don’t think it’s more of a rivalry. I think for me, it was an awful call by the referees–you can watch the replays.

Going into the playoffs though, the games are harder, there’s more tackling, there’s more physical play and hopefully the referees can get it right this time.

TSG: Okay…how far can you guys go in the playoffs?

Convey: Well anything can happen. And then it’s about who’s on form.

Injuries come into play and who’s on form. It really depends who’s up for it on the day.

TSG: Who’s the MVP of the Earthquakes this year: you’ve got Busch who’s been a difference maker, Wondo who is on fire, and you’ve covered at leftback and still provided assists. Who’s the most integral?

Convey:  For myself, I’m just happy that I played well all season and really contributed.

For me, I just try to look at myself and my objective for me is to create as many chances for others as possible. As a wide player that’s what you look to do.

It was frustrating to move to leftback…I can’t really create too much from there. It’s more defending obviously. For me, I’m just happy how the season’s gone.

And as a team I’m happy we’ve all done well. As you said, Wondo has scored some goals as of late and you know that definitely helps, but I don’t think we’re a one-man show.

Everyone has to play well for us to do well.

TSG: How do you rate your game now? As you’ve said, you moved to leftback; it’s been frustrating and doesn’t sound like it’s a role you relish. Where is your game and career at?

Convey: I feel good. I was able to workout in the offseason. It was the first offseason I really had in five years  since I was in England where you don’t really get an offseason.

I was able to hang out with my family for the first time for the holiday season in a long time and really just get away and rest.

And then workout at home with my trainer a couple of times a day for a month or so, and I feel came  into the seasons feeling really well.

MLS is one of those leagues where one season you can do really well and one season you maybe don’t do as well.

TSG: So talk more about the league–MLS–where do you rate the league right now quality-wise versus the Championship and Premiership in England from your experience playing in both?

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MLS Playoffs, Precisely

Playoffs time! (…and Interview Week here at The Shin Guardian…a note on that in a bit).

The more I think about it, the more I like the uniqueness of playoffs to MLS. Maybe not the ridiculously confusing and backwards format, but at least having playoffs…very Uhmerican.

We’ll be along shortly with a playoff preview, but for now a quick look-see at some of the match-ups:

Will Fredy and friends be fast enough?

Left Coast:

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Seattle Sounders

One-liner: The Galaxy easily captured the season series with a +5 goal differential. Seattle has some momentum and their zippy forwards give the Galaxy fits, but…

Opening match: Seattle: Sunday, 5pm PDT

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Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas

One-liner: How do two do of the top teams play each other in the first round again? Huh?…Dallas fixed their defense and added David Ferreira to the first eleven this year (but scored less goals). Is that enough for Pizza Hut’s men against a battle-tested midfield, the reigning champs and a bowl full of dreadlocks?

Opening match: Dallas: Saturday, 2pm PDT.

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A clever man on the year...

Right Coast:

New York Red Bulls vs. San Jose Earthquakes

One-liner: Looking for the upset series, this may be it. The Buck in Santa Clara will prove a more difficult labyrinth than at first blush for the Red Bulls and San Jose’s got a player each game that, if they muster it, can be a game changer: Convey, Ryan Johnson, Glen (ok, not Cornell Glen).

Earthquake honcho Frankie Yallop has been understated and a masterful puppeteer moving around pieces and coaxing out wins. Is Dane Richards faster than Mr. Wondoful is accurate? Oh…tasty!

Opening match: Santa Clara: Saturday, 7pm PDT

Columbus Crew vs. Colorado Rapids

One liner: Does a Thursday opener by the MLS Front Office suggest this series is easily on the undercard? The Crew have the experience while the Rapids have a two-pronged attack and the very underrated Jeff Larentowicz.

Opening match: Denver: Thursday, Denver, 6pm PDT.

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More coming…

McPride Bids Adieu

McEffort, McHustle, McClass, McGoal….McBride.

Home Depot Center in Carson, CA has the privelege of being graced br Brian McBride in his final professional game. McBride treated the pitch to something vintage with a back heel goal in the first half.

Well-played McBreezy, well-played.

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From 09/03:

McEffort, McGentleman, McTeam Player, McPride.....McBride!

One-of-a-kind Brian McBride announces his retirement.

McBride was a pioneer for American players overseas–reaching the pinnacle as the captain of a top Premiership side in Fulham–and is still looked at as the model of what an American striker should be.

While Clint Mathis added the swagger to American soccer, Brian McBride can be considered the fabric.

An unflashy player who got the job done in a flashy position, McBride is so revered by all that consideration–as we joked about on Thursday–will always go out for him to be included on the national team.

A bar at Fulham’s Craven Cottage is named for him.

Member of TSG’s All-Decade Team.

♦ Returned the same season from a dislocated knee to spark Fulham who skirted relegation in 2008. His play in a key match against Reading was, in one word, inspirational.

♦ And by far, the best header of the ball to grace the Stars & Stripes.

Brian McBride, always classy for American soccer.

USMNT career:

The ingrained singular image, World Cup 2006:


Over 150 appearances, a captaincy, 40 goals for Fulham and respect from the English.

“What a finish…! Brian McBride a goal made in the U.S.A……”

If interested the TSG t-shirt: McBride: Unbreakable.

The Final Whistle: Jaime Moreno

Thanks for the pics Matt.

One goal and uncountable thank yous send of Jaime Moreno in his final match for DC United.

Weekend Channel Hopping…Go!

The weekend goes…like this:

EPL

Cahill: Still fighting the good fight at Goodison...

• Toffees Hope To Kick The Spurs Out of Town.

One little Merseyside radio spot, and it’s all “Landon, Landon, Landon going to Goodison, Goodison, Goodison.”

Not so fast. If you haven’t seen it, check out our notes here.

Everton finally found the netting last week at the Derby, but affix an asterisk in that it was still the work of aging Tim Cahill and recently-re-signed Mikel Arteta that provided nearly 95% of the offense.

Some good movement did occur above them through Yakubu, or the Nigerian Altidore, who did the Jozy thing by going on a few missed a few chances despite making a few stellar runs.

Beyond Yakubu up top, summer import Jermaine Beckford needs to redeem himself fast. The Leeds alumnus has lost the Goodison faithful already and he’s nearly close to losing the coach.

For Tottenham Hotspur, a rough go of it in Champion’s League action at the San Siro still saw the pride of Wales Gareth Bale gather a hat trick.

Spurs clearly missed the play-making of cup-tied suspended Rafael Van Der Vaart, but it’s nice to know the late transfer season acquisition is making an impact.

The Spurs midfield is looking in fine form now that Bale’s been making hay from the left mid spot. Van Der Vaart slots out right and forward and Modric carries the ball while big Tom Huddlestone bangs around the middle making his presence felt and trailing behind looking to snap a cracker.

Everton is stout at home and loops two together here to begin a streak.

• Fulham leave the Cottage and hope to bag a point at West Bromwich.

Who would have thought West Brom vs. Fulham would have been one of the marque match-ups in the EPL at this stage?

While Fulham continue to try to find their footing without Bobby Zamora, West Brom have been the Arsenal Jr. of the Premiership, owning possession and creating changes against all clubs big and small.

Last week, a Van Der Saar gap helped them earn a point at Old Trafford, but West Brom….West Brom! is the surprise of the season thus far.

• Lord Birmingham drops the drawbridge at St. Andrews for the Tangerine seasiders from Blackpool

…or you may say Blackpool is….the surprise squad that is.

Interesting game, this.

Birmingham has been nails at home and Blackpool is the strongest team on the road in the Barclays.

This game is going to come down to one thing…how it’s called. If Birmingham are allowed to impose their physical-nasty style on Blackpool and limit the Tangerines’ free flowing game, it should be a stroll in the park. If the zebras go whistle-happy, Blackpool’s got their shot.

Play Holden on your fantasy team this weekend...I think...

• Derby Time: Wigan vs. Bolton

First, its derby” not “darby”…I don’t know how anyone even makes that mistake…..

Yikes, rain in the forecast for Friday and Saturday in Manchester.

That means sloshball at DW Stadium, notoriously the worst pitch in Great Britain not named Wembley.

Puddles favors over-the-top ball which again favors Wigan…only they don’t play all that well at home.

Here’s a prediction: Bank on an assist or, yes, the first premiership goal from Stu Holden after Honduran Hednry Thomas or “Virgin Nigel De Jong” fells him 30 yards out.

Team Aston Villameria takes to the Stadium of Light and prepares to go Kim Jong Il on Sunderland.

Albrighton: Watch this kid...I smell a call-up...

Who is Marc Albrighton and why am I not paying attention?! Why didn’t the TSG faithful alert me to this kid?!

Under Gerard Houllier, the Villa Park inhabitants have to love the offense flow and Albrighton is a big part of that with three starts under Houllier.

Expect better things from Villa.

Oh, and American Eric Lichaj might get some run in this one as outside back Luke Young is shelved for a pay period.

For Sunderland, yeah, Darren Bent scores, Lee Cattermole gets a yellow card and it’s another lost opportunity. Actually, not really. Incredulously, the Black Cats haven’t beat the Villians at home since George Bush’s first term. Yes, really.

• The Manchester City Rooneys-In-Waiting roll out a different carpet for the Cannons from Emirates

(Preview via Shaun)
There are many games in the EPL this weekend, but the biggest (other than Liverpool versus Blackburn…who would have ever thought) is at the City of Manchester Stadium, which host the Gunners. Second versus third, things got a little ugly last year, when Emanuel Adebayor scored and ran the entire length of the pitch to celebrate in front of the Arsenal fans (he also stamped on Robin Van Persie face earlier in the match).

Arsenal fans acted pretty poorly knocking over a steward in the process. A year removed and everything should be calm….should be. Adebayor hasn’t been all that impressive in the EPL (he scored a hat trick this week in Europe) and David Silva scored a fantastic goal after replacing him against Blackpool. Look for the Spaniard to get the nod and partner with Tevez this Sunday.

Arsenal are fresh from a 5-1 route of Shakhtar Donetsk and will look to bring the same lineup against The Blues. Hopefully Chamkah can continue his rich vein of form and find the back of net up north.

We here at TSG predict a high scoring draw. Hopefully a 3-3 one. That said the major difference in the teams is their keeping with Joe Hart excellent in goal and Fabianski…not quite so.

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SPL:

• The Maurice Edu Classic: The Old Firm Game.

As we tweeted on Thursday: Beyond Donovan and Dempsey–who both have the “attack” gene–if you had to have one American to convert a clutch goal with a game on the line, aren’t you betting on Maurice Edu?

Edu notched the game winner the last time these squads met in February. He should have had the game winner against Slovenia for the national team and just this past Wednesday, had he not tried to play a little defense and even his plus-minus, he would have had another big-game winner.

Maurice Edu, you’re third string US central midfielder. Man the Yanks are stacked.

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All About the Dollars? Rooney Staying

Just out this morning at about 4:30 AM PDT.

Just the money?

Wayne Rooney says at Manchester United after signing a five-year deal.

Hell of a way–for the player–to get what he asked for, no?

Raise your hand if you’re a Manchester United fan and you’re, well, embarrassed.

How do the Glazers come out smelling in this one?

Does this just let the air out of the balloon of the Manchester United Supporter for Change group who wanted the Glazers out? Can’t really heckle that they’re not splashing the cash now, can they?

A little less green-and-gold next week at Old Trafford?

More from the reputable Guardian (no relation) in the U.K.:

Rooney has become the best-paid player in the history of the club by agreeing a deal thought to be worth as much as £180,000 a week in a move that will inevitably invite allegations that he and his agent, Paul Stretford, have been guilty of cynical greed to get the best deal possible.

And one more nugget, Rio Ferdinand cracks me up on Twitter

His most recent tweet? “Told you it was going to be a beautiful day” and then Rio eggs on the Sky Sports broadcasters (who’ve been reading his tweets apparently in a monotone”) to read this one with a little more feeling.

Also looking for how some folks will handle their follow-up commentary today. (1, 2)

Off Topic: In The Rotation

Your requested follow-up: Music picks…

Don’t worry this post is buried under a soccer one.

Can’t really do a top ten list or anything here and I’ll try to stay away from those already popular. Some of those likes include David Gray, Mos Def, Jurassic 5, Eddie Vedder, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Jeff Buckley, Jose Gonzalez to name a few.

Let’s just throw out some more on the mellow or muffled pop front to get us going here for a Friday mini-feature.

Jesus Navas Class: Silky smooth moves coming off the wing or up top. Hooks and lines at you like step-overs.

Includes: MC’s, Instrumental, more

• People Under The Stairs

The pride of Los Angeles, most people think they’re from the Bay Area. Great hooks, like to maintain their underground status. Almost a little too much.

Fans of: Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Blackalicious

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