Archive for January, 2011

Vintage: Cantona Named “Director of Soccer”

Update: Now confirmed via NY Cosmos press release…

Yes, it is–apparently–true.

Your newest made-public appointee in the New York Cosmos braintrust is Stu Holden’s favorite player growing up….Eric Cantona, given the oh-so-appropriate title of “Director of Soccer.”

Preview: USMNT In HDC, Just Chile-Axing?

If a US game is played at HDC in January, and no major US broadcaster carries it, does it exist?

Does Bunbury get a nod up top in this one?

Poor joke.

The USMNT takes on Chile this Saturday in Carson at 7pm PST and if you have the internet, a good connection and the right cable provider, you can watch it.

If you comprehend Spanish, you might want to check out the broadcast on Telefutura.

TSG didn’t get down to January camp this year unfortunately (we’ll be there for the game) so hard for us to do a proper TSG-in-depth preview.

In fact, with just 9,500 attending thus far–and you can bet a fair non US-favoring contingent–we’ll call this a “Preview Lite”

Last year in a World Cup year, Bob Bradley went with an extremely awkward line-up to start this one that included twin mighty mites, Robbie Findley and a blasé Jeff Cunningham running over each other up top.

They were backed by a midfield that saw Kyle Beckerman sitting in the holding role and Sacha Kljestan–at right outside mid for the affair–bumping into Benny Feilhaber twice on the interior as it appeared Coach Sweats mantra was to push Marvell Wynne up the right wing frequently. Conor Casey was clocked at a high speed of 2 miles per hour in the 2nd half.

On the other side of the ball, Jimmy Conrad earned an early red, Wynne was an adventure on the right and everyone’s favorite Jonathan Bornstein battened down the hatches after Conrad’s card, moving to central defense and captaining the backline.

This year? Who knows….

Here are some things TSG will look for…. followed by a potential line-up afterward that is sure to be off.

• Obviously, what’s the formation? Fresh off a trip to South Africa that saw the US play well in a 4-2-3-1 to start, the US then scored in their customary 4-4-2. Does Coach Sweats dare go 4-3-3 with a bunch of youngsters that have hardly played that?

Will Bob put this Mix Disk in heavy rotation?

• Perhaps the most watched player will be Mikkel Diskerud. The lengthy attack-minded mid played wide right in South Africa. Does he move centrally now in what I am about to call the, gulp, Eddie Gaven (lite) role?

• Will we see Bob Bradley stick with his strategy making one side his speedy attack side (think: Cherundolo-Landon-Findley) and the other side his tucked in off-ball side?

• Where does Chris Wondolowski play? If you watched Wondo light it up in the 2nd half for San Jose last year, he was best in a reserved forward role, wandering  and playing without a true defensive up-top responsibility. Will he play off a speedy guy? Agudelo. Or a post-up guy? Teal Bunbury.

• If we see that 4-2-3-1, what veterans get the start as the two holders? Dax and Larentowicz? Dax and Cronin? Cronin and Larentowitz? (You can bet on McCarty being there and playing the quarterback role Feilhaber did last year.)

• Do we get some speed on the right again and is that Wynne or Sean Franklin?

• Conversely on the left, does anyone rise up and make themselves effectively a contender for 1st or 2nd on the 2014 depth chart?

• Will Bob Bradley continue to “go big”…putting Shea, Diskerrud and Bedoya across a 3-man midfield gives Coach Sweats a six-footing middie attack line.

11 At the Whistle

G: Nick Rimando

DEF: Anthony Wallace, Tim Ream, Omar Gonzalez, Marvell Wynne

CDM: Sam Cronin, Dax McCarty

MID: Brek Shea, Mix Diskerud, Alejandro Bedoya

STR: Teal Bunbury

Silly Season Redress: Junior, Pienaar, More…

Lots missed in a Monday where TSG wasn’t at the internet terminal:

• Junior to cross Black Cats’ path?

Junior, moving with ball against Colombia...will he be moving without it soon?

A Fox Soccer reported suggested Michael Bradley could be the cat’s meow at Sunderland FC in the Barclays.

Been an interesting week for Michael Bradley’s name in the press. Last week, before an odd weekend benching (was a move near then or is it something else?), there was some second hand reporting with these comments, paraphrasing Bo Munchen manager Michael Frontzeck:

If he goes, we don’t have a chance to stay up’. He won’t even listen (to offers)

Next Bradley on the bench–with a slew of new faces coming in for Bo’Munchen.

And now yesterday reports of a Bradley move to Sunderland to play for track suit man Steve Bruce.

As we “predicted” a few weeks ago, a Bradley move is likely, especially if Bo’Munchen get relegated. They’ve got Bradley signed through 2012–making him a lame duck if they stay up next week or prohibitive if they go down.

Bradley has consistently stated his desire to play for a top club and, while the Bundesliga is a burgeoning league, Bradley will still get better exposure playing in the EPL.

As for Sunderland, I think it would be a good move for both. Sunderland’s lunch pail, direct football style caters to Bradley’s strengths. Had this exchange with Jonathan Wilson, the noted footie analyst and huge Sunderland fan, last evening on Twitter:

TSG: Thoughts on viability of a Bradley transfer? You’re the man to ask….

JW: In the pub on Sunday I was moaning about the middle of midfield and how SAFC needed a more complete player, esp when Catts (Lee Cattermole) is unavailable. Was struggling to come up with viable target, but Bradley seems ideal. If moving 4-5-1, though, maybe need creator.

TSG: Have not seen him play-is Henderson (Sunderland super prospect, CM Jordan Henderson) too green or headed elsewhere..MB (Michael Bradley) would fit, I think, with Cats current set-up, agreed on the 4-5-1 though.

JW: Henderson is v(ery) promising, but still young and maybe leaving. He and (Keiron) Richardson in the middle of 4-4-2 lacks bite/presence

TSG: Cats will need attack in middie if MB (Bradley) arrives, still horribly sprays the ball. Aggressive tackler, best on O when trailing play.

JW: Five in midfield would liberate Hendo, though, and/or allow one of the slow old men – Steed and Bolo – to create centrally.

So if you followed that conversation, there you have it. The short. Bradley fits in the current system. I don’t necessary seem him thriving if Sunderland go to a 4-5-1.

• Jermaine Jones’s move to Blackburn: “I’s” and “T’s” crossed

Good move here for Blackburn and Jones who was in the Schalke doghouse. Better still if Jones gets to pair with Steve N’Zonzi….the closest thing there is a to Michael Bradley clone.

• Stevie P on his way out, chooses Spurs

Bye…bye…

Word is that Steven Pienaar is joining Tottenham Hotspur despite having an offer from Chelsea. Interesting to say the least. I’ve never been of the opinion that “Steven Pienaar is top team quality.” While he can break down many, he holds the ball too much for my liking if he’s going to be the centerpiece of that offense.

At Spurs, not sure where Pienaar will play. It’s no secret that Spurs need depth if they are going to regularly compete for the championship, it’s just where does Pienaar fit in. He’s not going to play on the right flank, advancing with Rafael Van Der Vaart on that side. I think he’s too small to command the middle of the field. I could see the left and letting Gareth Bale overlap, but what does that formation look like?

Maybe Spurs are committed to losing Bale or Lennon this summer, so they are buying ahead of the loss. Seems plausible.

Continue reading

Video: First In Series: Yanks Abroading

The first in a series from Jay Bell


 

The Weekend: Your American Top Five

The TSG Sis is in from the middle of Nowheresville, Africa…so hiatus till Tuesday.

Your top 5 games for Americans to watch this weekend:

5. Saturday: Villarreal vs. Osasuna

The skinny: Yanks’ fans always tune in to see if Jozy Altidore will play for the Yellow submarine, however Jersey-born

Rossi, ahead of most Americans abroad....

Giuseppe Rossi is finally starting to realize the superstar potential that had Manchester United securing his services just a few years ago. Rossi has 17 goals in 25 club competitions on the year. That is, in short, astounding.

Ossasuna is hovercrafting over the relegation line, but they haven’t lost in their last four trips to El Madrigal. That said “the little red ones” as their known will be missing some firepower up top and sport an aging line-up….meaning you just might see Altidore in this one as well.

4. Sunday: Eintracht vs. Hannover

The skinny: Steve Cherundolo’s 96 crew are in 4th. Ricardo Clark’s Frankfurters 7th.

Frankfurt seemed to be putting it together before the Bundesliga’s winter break becoming the first team to down Borussia Dortmund, they’ll face a Hannover squad that is rolling and the surprise of the league.

Update: With injuries across the Franfurters’ backline, Ricardo Clark is set to start at centerback. Move over, Mo Edu.

3. Sunday: Sunderland vs. Newcastle

The skinny: If you’re a fan of watching intently when the US plays on the road in Guatemala and Mexico, this game’s for you. The vitriol in this derby, specifically, is unmatched across the Isle.

Newcastle come in without superfresh striker Andy Carroll who was so instrumental in a 5-1 submerging of Sunderland in the Tyneside last time. This time though the game is in Lee Cattermole’s Stadium of Light den.

2. Sunday: Liverpool vs. Everton

The skinny: The Reds are reeling and Toffee fans can feel it. What better way for Everton, high in the minds of Americans through the names of Tim Howard and Landon Donovan recently, to gouge the knife deeper than to walk into Anfield and walk out with a fan.

With Kenny Dalglish at the helm, Liverpool players will have a consistent visual reminder of what they’re playing for.

1. Sunday: Spurs vs. Man United

The skinny: With the undercurrent of a potential David Beckham sighting here….Manchester United goes on the road to defend their unbeaten streak against Tottenham who are playing the most offensive football in the Premiership.

While Gareth Bale’s name will be invoked frequently in this one, I expect Rafael Van Der Vaart to make a bigger impact nestled just aft of the Manchester United backline. If the Spurs strikers can actually step up in this one, United will be threatened.

And speaking of strikers, just a few months ago fans and media were lamenting the “Wayne Rooney and done” forward line of the Red Devils.

Now? Rooney sits in the background and through Berbatov and Chicharito (and Macheda, now on loan) the Fergusons have strength in numbers up top. If only United could find a spy youngster to marshal the ball up to them. Still waiting Anderson.

———

Honorable mention: Saturday: Birmingham v. Aston Villa and…..

Saturday: Napoli vs. Fiorentina

The skinny: While Villarreal have impressed on the attack this year, Napoli has been perhaps the most explosive offense when on.

Uruguyan Edson Cavani is the a top the goalscorer’s table in Serie A and he’ll need to be on with offensive ringleader Marek Hamsik sidelined by suspension.

For the visitors, check out 19-year-old, and one-time Manchester United target, Adem Ljajić. The Serbian national has shown flashes in his first season in Serie A, but you’ll be hearing his name a lot more in the 2nd half of the campaign.

Napoli is 2nd in the table, Fiorentina 10th…should be a good one.

No American player tie-in here, thus it makes only honorable mention.

—–

And always fun to revisit that guy who was brushing his teeth at the Chelsea game last year (not sure why I thought of this):

Video While It Lasts: Mo Edu Laseritis

Mo Edu’s left-footed rocket shot in the lower right corner pocket in the ‘Gers 4-0 win over Hamilton today.

Nifty!

Red Rover’d: Jermaine Jones Heads To Blackburn

Good move.

JJ flies the Schalke coop

With TSG fave Steve N’Zonzi shelved for most of the year and Blackburn under new management, the procurement has begun.

Yesterday it was Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz.

Today? Every American soccer fan’s favorite German, Jermaine Jones.

Sky Sports reporting that Jones to Elwood Park is happening with the terms being a loan with an option to buy.

Good fit for both the club and Jones.

Jones rids himself of a manager that he seemingly frustrated to no avail and gets himself to a system, at least under Sam Allardyce, that relies heavily on the midfields ability to attack.

Blackburn gets a solid starter, some steel in the midfield that’s been lacking since N’Zonzi, and nice physical player to pair with the offensive-minded duo of Morten Gamst Pederson and Chris Samba.

Now, let’s just make sure he doesn’t hang out with El-Hadji Diouf.

Catching-up:

• Robbie Findley gets his work permit approved. Look for big things in my opinion with Findley. He’s arrested and nobody in the Championship knows his game. I can see him netting four or five times through the end of the year.

• US Soccer confirms friendlies versus Argentina and Paraguay. The trend of playing quality sides continues under Bob Bradley. Kudos to that.

• The Gooch Watch: Score! Didn’t see him in action, but the big US centerback scores a goal in his first scrimmage. Encouraging after what must have been a very difficult 2010.

 

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