Archive for November, 2010

MLS: 11 At The Final Whistle Announced

Earning the "Best of...."

Don Garber announces the MLS Best XI: (3-5-2)

G: Ricketts

DEF: Olave, Borchers, Gonzalez

MID: Ferreira, DeRosario, LeToux, Morales, Donovan

STR: Buddle, Wondolowski

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TSG’s Best XI:

A play on our preview columns.

Here’s our selections for the best of the best in MLS this year.

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Soccer Clichés..Mine Ears Are Bleeding

Came back around to this post I’ve been meaning to riff with the TSG community for a while when I was going through our “Glossary” today.

I don't think I make it through a chapter of this one...

That section of TSG could truly use an update.

Anyway, threw out a few on Twitter and lo and behold a pretty big audience had some of their own ear bleeders that came back our way. The next list is in no particular order and I’ll note now that some entries below are just poor jargon, less clichés. (If I missed your name for attribution, send us a note.)

• “Plies their trade”

My all time favorite cliche when talking about soccer players and carpenters. It’s almost like it’s mandatory to use this term specifically for American players (cough) playing in European leagues.

I think I used this expression in the 1st post ever on TSG and then one and only after it. I still cry when I look back.

• “Burst onto the scene”

This is not soccer-specific, but again here it appears mandatory that if someone–usually it’s describing Charlie Davies trajectory or something–is bursting, just about the only place they burst is “onto the scene.” Um, okay.

How come the only other way I’ve ever heard of a player getting to the scene is by “arriving.” You either “burst” to get there or “arrive” apparently.

Heskey...yes, he can be considered a beast. Lionel Messi? Not so much...

• Blankety blank blank is a “beast”

Really? When I think of the imagery of a “beast” I think of a enormous figure who’s wrecking everything in their path with little regard for where it lands or who gets hurt.

You know what? Most soccer players don’t play that way or most likely they’d get a foul called on them or worse get a yellow.

Emile Heskey, he plays like a beast. Jozy Altidore? Sometimes. John Terry, sure, I think…not even positive there.

Juan Agudelo, nope. Jermaine Defoe? Never. Get my drift.

Peter Crouch, Jeff Cunningham, Fernando Torres, David Villa …none of these players ever make their mark on the game in a “beast-like” way

• “The two goal lead is the most dangerous lead” in soccer

First from TSG photog Matt Mathai:

Finally (for now) stop repeating the canard that a two-goal lead is the “most dangerous lead in soccer.” Bullshit. The only team that wouldn’t wish for a two-goal lead is the one that already has a three-goal lead. This is another bit of ‘punditry’ that makes you sound foolish. Enough, already

Couldn’t agree more Matt. Let’s see if you gave me a choice of A) “having a two goal lead and being worried about it” or B) “being down two goals but somehow being content, nay, excited that the other team thought were dangerous,” I’d go with A….every time.

"You have chosen your wording...poorly..."

• “Poisoned chalice”

First, unless you’re British, you have no right being even near this cliche. And frankly, name a time other than watching Indiana Jones you specifically considered those two words, “poisoned” and “chalice” next to one another.

…Waiting…

…Still waiting….

• “Transfer War Chest”

A good one from @Brookhattan on Twitter. Love it.

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Preview: Bafana, Bafana vs The Kids, The Kids

Nice to see some fresh faces for the USA in the Blue, White and NikeGrey huh?

They're....baaaaaaack!

In two days in Cape Town, the United States takes on South Africa in perhaps the least anticipated match in South Africa in 2010. The coverage begins at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN2 and Galavision.

Actually, over 36,00 tickets already sold for the affair at Green Point Stadium. That’s like, what, 49 times what showed up for the last US friendly outside of Philadelphia?

We’ll do a little lighter treatment at TSG on this friendly. Don’t worry, we’ve got the preview here, Orange Slices forthcoming on game day, and a review. Just maybe a little bit lighter weight. Sugar-free TSG perhaps.

To the preview for this friendly that sees Coach Sweats call up the kids.

As usual, our customary preview goes: TSG What We’re Looking At, 11 At The Whistle, & Disclaimers.

TSG: What We’re Looking At

Bornstein's back! And he's likely the captain....

• There’s speed…maybe…speed on ‘dem flanks.

I’d like to see Jonathan Bornstein on the left flank. I’d like to see Eric Lichaj on the right flank.

I’d like to see the Yanks actively use a defender not named Cherundolo to put some pressure on the opponent offensively.

• My what an interesting midfield you have.

TSG’s Jason Price and I had this exchange in the comments upon the roster announcement:

Jason: Very little muscle in that midfield, no?

Matthew: Actually, I think quite a bit of physicality and muscle when you consider that Bedoya, Rogers, Diskerud all go 6’0′ or bigger with Pause as the CDM.

Linking and technical acumen…I think you have a case there.

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L.A.: Galaxy Efforts Hardly Out Of This World

A superlative effort from FC Dallas Sunday night rendered the Galaxy season closed for renovations, Supporter’s Shield in hand, MLS trophy further from grasp than last year.

Buddle was outplayed by another MVP candidate, but wasn't all his fault.

An extremely telling game for Bruce Arena’s men last night as some tactics were exposed and players as well. Some thoughts:

• Edson Buddle

A lot of folks hating on the MVP candidate this morning. Don’t. Be a little upset, but don’t go beyond there.

As we’ve written before Buddle played a yoeman’s amount of game this year and Bruce Arena rarely–in something we labeled here as an act of lunacy–rested him down the stretch. I remember a particular game late season against the Union where Buddle just kept getting hammered and hammered.

Devoid of a strike partner that could effectively play off him (sorry Mike Magee, Jovan Kirovski), Buddle–after his blistering start–always drew the defense’s top man in coverage and was frequently in coverage.

What Buddle can be faulted for last night is the ability to get knocked off his game by physical after-the-whistle plays. No need to get involved in an on-field skirmish when your team is down 1-0 and you’re the only striker option. You should now be more mature Mr. Westchester.

• A Non-Existent Central Midfield

I expected Bruce Arena to clog the middle with David Beckham falling back and providing an option in the central midfield.

Ironically, if you look back to last year’s conference final against the Dynamo (the Power Outage Game) it was Arena’s movement of Beckham from the wing to central midfield that engined the Galaxy to the win in that one.

Beckham started out extremely wide in this one and did occasionally drift centrally as the game wore on. His play was uneven at best, but the Galaxy needed options.

Juninho shied away from contact and the ball all match long. We'll talk about Dax in a bit...

Why?

The tandem of Juninho and Dema Kovalenka might have been better off not taking the pitch at all…at least you could say that on offense. While Kovelenko is never the attacking stalwart, Juninho’s play and movment–sans one scintillating pick pocket, dribble and shot in the 1st half–was flat-out disgusting.

With acres of space at times in front of him Juninho seemed unnerved by the physical Dallas midfield and rarely if ever showed for the ball. When he was in position, he frequently mismanaged the possession by tentatively squaring a weak pass or forcing a lead pass into traffic.

In fact, if you get a second, head on over to ESPN3 and watch the last 10 minutes of the 1st half.

If you’re a Galaxy fan, you will find yourself screaming at Juninho who is either standing still or moving away from a simple and necessary linking opportunity–with yardage in front on him to work in the center of the field if he received it.

While it’s true that Dallas defended well, it’s up to your hub midfielder to set the tone and dissect the defense. Perhaps the youngster was too green on the evening? Either way it’s his job and he didn’t get it done.

• An Unruly Backline

Say what you will of the absence of Gregg Berhalter and perhaps Omar Gonzalez’s lack of communication, but affix your eyes squarely on Donovan Ricketts here.

What happens when your backline and keeper don't communicate...

Ricketts is the veteran out there–Eddie Lewis had his own problems focusing on containing his flank–and he’s been failing to marshall his backline all season (see Wondo, confusion, the Buck in August, 1-0 Earthquakes).

TSG has been beating the anti-Ricketts drum all season and he was not only slow to react to shots, but negligently tardy in calling out defensive assignments or calling out players after an assignment was missed.

Three different times in the game Omar Gonzalez elected to punch a ball out-of-bounds when it wasn’t clear to him if Ricketts was coming up to meet it or wanted a back pass.

That Ricketts won the goalkeeper of the year…we will come back to that….

To the backline…

As I pointed out multiple times on Twitter before Dallas started getting loose on a regular basis, the L.A. back four often looked jaggedas oppose to ruler straight. Omar Gonzalez–who one has to now be concerned about his slow footwork (courtesy TSG’s Mr. Tuesday on this observation)–continually was pulled both out of position and perhaps worse sank the offsides line deeper as Altiba Harris’s speed seemed to scare him.

A.J. De La Garza, who didn’t have a howler, was the victim of a sagging backline and poor midfield play in front of him. De La Garza became a casualty of the “Should I attack or sit back?” conundrum.

Eddie Lewis, in his last MLS game, was acutely attuned to his mark and less the back four partnership and Sean Franklin….dear TSG fave Sean Franklin…did not have one of his better games and seems to play skittishly once Dallas started posing continual threats.

A nightmare evening L.A.’s backline.

• Bruce Arena’s Strategy & Tactics

As much as Arena was to be applauded against Seattle and some of that earned…

Actually, let’s talk about Seattle.

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MLS Cup: Ok, So Who Do You Got?

Deco with some bite...

A spellbinding 3-0 win by Dallas away at the Galaxy on Sunday–as midfield maestro David Ferreira pulled the strings–has the MLS Cup match-up set.

FC Dallas vs. Colorado Rapids for the right to rub it in Real Salt Lake’s face. (I’m sorry, it must be said that RSL was squawking quite loud before Dallas dismissed them on their way to dismantling Los Angeles.)

While it may not be the marquee match-up that MLS execs wanted and it may not have been the match-up that many predicted, it certainly is a match-up of two teams that are firing right now.

The most intriguing part of this match-up to me is quite obviously the midfield.

How does the in-form duo of Jeff Larentowicz and Pablo Mastroeni counter the playmaking abilities of David Ferreira with Dax McCarty playing the Robin to his Batman?

Larentowicz: Steely...

As the two conference finals match-ups witnessed battles won in the center of the pitch, those four players digging in will be nothing short of fascinating to watch.

So….

The Robin to Messi’s Batman…

….or the Batman to Messi’s Robin…hmm….

Update: Javier Pastore with the first hat trick of the Serie A season as Palermo downed Catania Sunday 3-1.

Bold prediction here. Very bold by TSG standards….

“Javier Pastore will be in the running for Ballon D’or winner in 2014 AND win the best player of World Cup 2014.”

Take your bets now.

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From October 3rd, 2010:

A little lighter fare for a Sunday.

I play soccer Sunday mornings with a few guys from both Argentina and Uruguay.

This morning we chatted a little bit about Maradona, Messi and Tevez, but the name that came up most was Javy Pastore.

The sentiment among all the Argentinians there–for what it’s worth one of them used to play lower level club ball in Argentina–is that the 21-year-old attacking midfielder/winger who currently plays for Serie A Palermo from Argentina is about to explode for club and country. According to one friend, “In 2014, everyone at home thinks the team will be led by Messi and Pastore.”

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Your Sunday Commentary Here

Well, got that one wrong and the one after it.

San Jose was outplayed by a Colorado with a marvelous job done up the middle by the Rapids, from the midfield through the central defense of Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne. Ryan Johnson should have had a goal, but a good night otherwise for the home side. As I wrote on Twitter, highly disappointed in the efforts of Giovanni who has that look of “It’s freezing and I really don’t want to be here.”

And that announced attendance? 17,000 not sure I’m buying it but we weren’t talking Pizza Hut Park either. Not every spectator had two seats to sprawl on.

On to Sunday:

The Empire Strikes...Twice...

MLS:

• Los Angeles v. Dallas

Still feeling the Galaxy in this one, 2-0. Sticking with my prediction of 2-0. Watch David Ferreira have something else to say.

Actually, as written previously, I think you’re going to see David Beckham tuck himself in on the right and clog that middle for Ferreira and force Dallas to beat them down the flanks. Your time to shine Brek Shea.

———-

EPL:

• Toffees vs. Emirates

Despite a shutout on the road midweek, Arsenal’s defense is having a real hard time lately with its soft underbelly centrally. The combo of Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci (with Thomas Vermaelen ailing) have not protected whoever the notoriously negligent goalkeeper on the day is.

That’ll leave it to the Blues’ Yakubu and Jermaine Beckford who finally showed up last week to create some havoc up front. Look for Moyes to keep John Heitinga as a deep-lying central defensive mid and for Mikel Arteta to try to find Beckford, Yak and/or both over the top.

With Fellaini out, Luis Saha blase and little wing play, expect an ugly game from the Blues in hopes of taking down the visitors.

What looked like perhaps a few too many ducats for Sunderland's record signing in August is looking like a $14.5M euro bargain now.

• Chelsea vs. Sunderland

Unfortunately, injuries will likely wreck what would have been a match-up of the best forwards in the Premiership. Oh, it’s not Didier Drogba, who, despite a bout of malaria, expects to play. Darren Bent is shelved for the Black Cats or the doubles match-up of Anelka-Drogba and Gyan-Bent would have been a good one.

Worse for the men at the Bridge, is Michael Essien out. How valuable is Essien? Despite missing Frank Lampard for a stretch already Chelsea maintained their unbeaten streak all the way up until last week at Anfield where the Ancelotti’s crew was dismantled…by the same team that got a Stoke City beatdown this Saturday.

If our good friend Lee Cattermole can see fit not to earn yellow…or red, this one should be a good one with Essien watching in street clothes.

More coming….

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