The first in a series from Jay Bell
The first in a series from Jay Bell
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
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):
Mo Edu’s left-footed rocket shot in the lower right corner pocket in the ‘Gers 4-0 win over Hamilton today.
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.
• 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.
Update: Kenny Coopah….Cooper officially signs with the Portland Timbers.
Some quick news to get you started on just a Suuuuper Draft sort of day.
• Just Super
MLS SuperDraft day today. Unfortunately, we’re not your best resource today….but I am hearing that “there is a lot of speculation as to the 1st pick.” (Ha, ha)
I’ve seen Will Bruin play a few times; like his game though.
Add your comments in and I’ll put them up in this post or another….
• Not USMNT
Lee Nguyen apparently applying for Vietnamese citizenship so he can join their national team. This is one courtesy our friends at Soccer Over There. Saw him play against China–briefly–in 2007 he had “junky” offensive game (that’s a positive), but just couldn’t or hasn’t put it all together yet.
• Icy Cool
Via German based reporter Dan Bu, Nürnberg´s Marek Mintal will travel to the USA this weekend to negotiate a deal with MLS club Philadelphia Union.
Video of the Slovakian slugger right here.
(Bu also comments that an update on Freddy Adu is expected soon.)
• Rover Over
Roque Santa Cruz is headed back to Blackburn, the scene of the last place he didn’t steal a salary. That was always the odds-on destination for him; his brother is in the Academy there.
• Double Dutch
Hide your Stu Holdens! … Sky Sports reports the Heckyll to Nigel De Jon’sJekyll, master black arts man Mark Van Bommel wants a Barclays move, already “linked” with Villa.
• From Prime to Choice
Apparently, the Yak (Yakubu) will be fed at Championship side Leicester City through the end of this campaign. The move expected to be made permanent in the summer.
Editor’s note: I’m pleased to kick off our Serie A coverage–I’ll use that word lightly for no–with a kick *ss piece from guest columnist Eric Giardini.
This week the great Roma star Francesco Totti came out with a simple three-word, but monumentally deflating, statement for every Roma fan after being introduced with but four minutes left in a 2-1 loss at Sampdoria.
“I am sad.”
Giardini explains the tragic weight behind those words:
NO TOTTI, NO PARTY?
The accolades speak for themselves: one Scudetto, two Coppa Italias, two Suppercoppa Italianas (think England’s Community Shield), one FIFA World Cup, as well as countless individual awards. He is Roma’s all-time leader in appearances and goals – 590 and 251, respectively (and counting). He has spurned offers from other clubs repeatedly to stay with the club he supported as a boy and made his debut for at the age of 16. This, as well as his jabs at Lazio – from famously celebrating a goal by revealing an undershirt reading “Vi ho purgato ancora” (“I’ve purged you guys again”) to his thumbs down gesture after defeating Lazio last season, signifying that Lazio will be relegated (which didn’t happen and now Lazio sits in 2nd at time of writing…karma) have endeared him to Romanisti worldwide. Very few players have meant more to a club and its supporters than he does. He is Francesco Totti and he IS Roma.
Totti has long been one of my favorite players.
His ability is without question (as countless YouTube videos with questionable music pairings can attest to). It is not just his class on the pitch that I enjoy watching, it is his brash style of play that accompanies it. Whether it is him chipping in a penalty or kicking a player in frustration, he plays with an honesty and emotion that is rare to see. While most consider his style “too flashy” or him being too much of “hothead”, Italians, and more specifically Romans, will tell you that it is part of being Roman. My grandfather from the outskirts of Rome can certainly attest to this (and my friends will also tell you that I exhibit this as well).
For years, my weekend routine has consisted of the following: setting my alarm at 8:45 every Sunday, putting on some coffee, putting one of my Roma jerseys on (with a new Totti one on the way), and watching Roma play while keeping my voice down to not wake my roommates. I tell you this because what I’m about to tell you shakes the very core of my beliefs as a Roma supporter. What I propose is Francesco Totti no longer be the first name in the Starting XI and that his minutes be reduced for the good of his career and the long-term good of Roma.
Under Claudio Ranieri, he is no longer an automatic presence in the Starting XI, nor should he be. Times have changed and this is no longer 2001, the year of Roma’s last Scudetto, and Totti, while remaining an integral part of the squad, should begin to see his minutes reduced. The days of Totti needing to play 90 minutes every match are behind Roma and behind him. Injuries are finally catching up to him and Roma now has the depth up top to allow the goalscoring load to be spread between a few players and not solely on Totti.
At the age of 34, Totti’s legs have seen many matches and don’t have the pace they once did. The footwork, back heels, and perfectly weighed through balls are not as successful as they once were. The body always goes before the mind, and while it seems Totti believes he can still play at the same level he was able to, it just isn’t happening this season. While a new contract at €9m per season is a lot to leave sitting on the bench (along with Adriano’s €5m but that’s another story), I think it would be in Roma’s best interest that he sees more time there.