Microscoping The Weekend: Clint Dempsey, Stu Holden, Friberg, More

Let’s start off Monday with TSG’s favorite, beaten-to-death reminder before we launch into our commentary here.

“You can’t look at solitary observations in isolation. You need to review the entire body of work.”

Nothing this weekend in MLS really means anything. For nearly all teams it will be their first game under their belt and whether it be playing on the road (or home), getting their true sea legs under them or merely going up against real competition and hits for the 1st time, it’s unfair to suggest that anything this weekend is 100% indicative of the coming season.

With the USMNT though that’s not the case. We’ll get to our MLS observations in a minute:

• #23 plays like a #9, but hits #10.

#10 for #23

If there ever was an unorthodox player like Clint Dempsey who just “makes things happen.” He’s not a winger, not a true forward, and not a true striker.

Is there a comp for him? You bet there is. How about Dennis Bergkamp. Everytime I see Deuce play it reminds me of how the Ajax-Arsenal great would just pop up in places where he could get the ball in the dangerous situation. And then he’d either finish or play someone in.

Deuce is doing that now. Neil Blackmon over at The Yanks Are Coming, pointed out this morning that the Deuce of two years ago doesn’t score the goal he did this weekend, down two, on the road and right after the half (where Dempsey’s focus always seemed to wane in the past–actually it’s statistically proven.)

Oh, and that goal? The most for American, 10, in a Premiership campaign.

Astounding more so in that it’s coming in a season for Fulham where their 2nd best weapon to Deuce is Damien Duff. Not Damien Duff circa 2004, 32-year-old Damien Duff.

• No Disco for Stu Holden

Photo courtesy The Offsides Rules blog....

Unlucky.

Poorly timed injuries seem to be wreaking havoc on Stu Holden’s career. And the injuries always seem to come at key inflection points. There was Stu’s trial at Sunderland which was unceremoniously cut short by a fractured eye socket courtesy of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just this past year, there was a “Hi-how-are-you” from Nigel DeJong on Stu’s shin. World Cup squad still made; impact, minimized.

Not just as Stu looked like we would complete one of the best campaigns every by an American midfielder in the Premiership, Jonny Evans got negligent with the studs and Stu will have knee surgery today for an as-yet unclassified knee injury.

For Stu’s sake, let’s hope it’s cartilage, a decidedly more forgiving injury for knee agility than a ligament.

Note: On the tackle, it was reckless, but not malicious.

• How’s That Midfield Go Now? And against Argentina?

Will be very interesting now for Coach Sweats how his midfield morphs?

We’ll do this again later this week, but let’s get it started now anyway.

Here’s your problem with Game 1 against Argentina. In Batista’s men, you have a squad that employs a 4-3-3, but it really plays more like a 4-2-4.

Messi pulls the strings (if Messi is absent the role will likely fall to Pastore) with two “strikers” in front of him. As part of the second band of three, Angel Di Maria is often found wandering foward on the wing–so he joins with Messi and said strikers.

The second band is make up of Javier Mascherano and Esteban Cambiasso stay home as holders. Elder, but still fleet, right fullback Javier Zanetti ocassionally will venture forward on the flank providing a fifth player in the attacking third for Argentina.

So the formation looks like this.

Kickstarting Saturday...

To counter it the US will easily keep a band of two holders. Using the striker selection as my lone datapoint, I assume the Yanks will go 4-2-3-1 (I can’t see Buddle and Altidore playing together or Agudelo starting yet, but stranger things have happened.)

Assuming that’s the case, here’s how the US defense could be set up. I go with the defensive formation as this has proven to be Bradley’s mindset of “protect-and-defend-before-offend.”

While I think the actors on the diagram will likely be in different roles; the basic set-up ppt’ed should remaind the same.

You’ll have Landon on the right looking to get behind DiMaria (with unfortunately no Cherundolo galloping forward). You’ll have one of two different midfielders on the left in Benny or Jermaine Jones. They will be designed to stop the service to Messi, help out centrally and come centrally on a turnover to provide linking through the midfield.

We’ll stop there for the day and get the thoughts going on Saturday.

On to MLS….

MLS:

• Erik Friberg. That’s a lot responsibility straight away?

Friberg-er, serving 'em up....

Sounders coach Sigi Schmidt has been talking ad nauseum about this year being a critical year for the Sounders who by many estimations underwhelmed the past two seasons.

First, let’s make this claim. The Sounders attack is broken. It’s not an institutional offense. As Fredy Montero–and to a much lesser extent Steve Zakuani–go, so go the Sounders. Speed guys like Mike Fucito, post-up guys like Obrian White and the now-Seattle-departed Blaise Nkufo (who was killing that team’s offense mind you) can’t seem to integrate.

Zakuani can’t do much when he’s not 1-vs-1 in space and Montero shows an amazingly lack of drive if he’s asked to do hold-up work. Drive isn’t the word; ambivalence is.

That’ll make distribution from the midfield, vital to Seattle’s forwards getting chances. And that role has falled to Friberg.

Friberg didn’t look overmatched in Seattle’s First Kick loss to the Galaxy but he also didn’t look sharp.

“He’s a simple but effective player,” Schmid said over his Swedish midfielder. “There’s not a lot of complications to his game, which is good because we have guys that take a little more time on the ball like (Steve) Zakuani and (Fredy) Montero. He can keep the ball moving. He has good vision for the forward pass. “

The Sounders are now 0-2. Like we said, just two observations here, but something to keep observing.

• Juninho….Jumanji!

Will the gas tank remain on "FULL" this campaign?

Juninho, two goals, two games. Again, two observations.

Let’s remind Los Angeles Galaxy fans that they saw this same thing last year with Michael Stephens. I did a little search of the TSG commentary and the name “Stephens” and “USMNT call-in” wafted through multiple times.

Why this year may be different is that the weapons of David Beckham and Landon Donovan force the other team to pay attention externally, opening up the middle of the field a little more here in 2011. And now Juninho is taking advantage.

Can he–unlike a very green Michael Stephens–keep it going for the bulk of the games and until teams adjust? (At which point, Bruce Arena will be tasked to have a better answer than last year.)

• CD United

A gallant return for Charlie Davies with two goals in his game back in action. Heard a little “Cap him” undercurrent dribbling through the Twitter wires and other places this year.

That’s not going to happen and shouldn’t…yet.

If you’re Charlie Davies, you have two things you need to prove to Bob Bradley in your on-field resume. One, you have game-breaking speed. That is team’s either play off you or they are consistently burned by you.

And second–going hand-in-hand with the first–does your game make an impact? Whether it’s running with the ball or off the ball, does Charlie force other teams to adjust and account for him.

If you’re a DC United fan watch the defense against Davies next time he takes the field. To they respect him or are they willing to challenge what he’ll do.

Until such time that those criteria are met, and met in repetition (which could come before the Gold Cup squad is decided, after it, or never) then it’s unlikely you’ll see Davies–yet–in the Nike Grey, White & Blue.

And…says TSG friend Chris Riedy on DC United: “I’m just about ready to anoint Ben Olsen the next USMNT coach. He’s got the Mourinho-style trenchcoat down to go with the pacing up and down the sideline and first game, a good performance plus the result.”

More coming…

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51 responses to this post.

  1. “X-rays confirmed he had avoided a break, but the club an MRI scan has confirmed ligament damage.”

    This coming from Premier League website. http://www.premierleague.com/page/Headlines/0,,12306~2320999,00.html

    I’m assuming there is a typo or missing word before the MRI scan in the above quote as that reads kind of weird. Hopefully he is able to get back sooner than the six months they are projecting so he can get well fit for the next campaign.

    Reply

    • Posted by BW on 2011/03/21 at 10:59 AM

      6 months!!!!!! holy hell. that means missing the start of next season never mind summer tournaments.

      Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/21 at 3:56 PM

      Still can’t believe that happened to him again. I’m sure he’d be thrilled with a break as that was only 3 months recovery last year. Just crushed for this kid who just seemed ready to take that CDM role and propel the squad forward. Crushing.

      Reply

      • Posted by Cameron on 2011/03/21 at 7:40 PM

        Agree with everything, except that Stu was going to have more of a CAM role with the NT.

        Reply

  2. Matt,

    On the USMNT diagram I think you have 1 too many midfielders (unless we are playing 3 along the back.)

    Think you meant to put JJ where you have Benny! and remove the current X for JJ

    Like the anaylsis on all accounts by the way

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/21 at 10:41 AM

      Thanks my bad on that. Was tinkering will fix.

      Reply

    • Posted by Jake on 2011/03/21 at 10:56 AM

      I am not seeing any diagrams right now. Or links to them.

      Reply

      • Matt took the diagram down to fix it he will repost it.

        I’d give Matt a break as he probably had a whole lineup piece written with Holden at CM that he had to re-write from scratch.

        Reply

        • Posted by Jake on 2011/03/21 at 1:22 PM

          I was only commenting to ensure they knew it was down. No criticism or unrealistic criticism from me.

          He’s not the only one that Holden’s injury threw for a loop!!

          Reply

  3. Posted by Crow on 2011/03/21 at 10:59 AM

    I love the Ben Olsen quote. Middletown, PA represent! Wouldn’t mind Ben being the coach someday… maybe after Mourinho’s reign from 2018-2022!!!

    And yes Deuce has taken it to another level this year. Prairie Rose just finished an awesome banner for Deuce (that I requested) that will be hanging this weekend at The Meadowlands. Look for it! Don’t Mess With….. Deuce.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/21 at 4:16 PM

      Kind of an interesting task to ponder homegrown managers. Kreis and Caleb Porter have to be the ones I like most, though guys like Hyndman and Kinnear are quite effective.

      Bruce Arena has lost a few MPHs on his fastball.

      Reply

  4. Posted by Dougs on 2011/03/21 at 12:19 PM

    Montero’s “ambivalence” label no longer applies. He has taken his leadership role seriously and works harder than any other sounder on both sides of the ball. He still needs other potent offensive weapons on the field to take defensive pressure off him and open up space, but to suggest he is suffering from a lack of work ethic is just wrong.

    Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/21 at 12:27 PM

      Not sure about that Doug. I’ve watched two preseason games and not two MLS season games. Perhaps I missed a few observations myself.

      But on thing that Montero does not do well is hold up the ball and whether that is the coaching staff in correctly tasking or his inability may be another thing.

      That said, I’ve seen numerous times in 2011 Montero fail to check back hard enough to a ball, whether he is mistaken about his defenders speed or just blase about it I’m not sure. I do feel it’s the latter.

      Perhaps he works harder than any other Sounder–I don’t see that. I’ve seen him only go for it when there’s a chance he’ll get a goal. Happy to be proved wrong by him in 2011 or through review of the games thus far….just haven’t seen it.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Rob on 2011/03/21 at 12:26 PM

    One important aspect of Friberg’s evaluation in the first week that I keep seeing overlooked: it was his weak, telegraphed pass that was jumped by the Galaxy RB into the counter attack for Juninho’s lone goal. So far his net distribution for Seattle stands at 1 goal for the opposition.

    Reply

    • Posted by Rob on 2011/03/21 at 12:27 PM

      I meant to type LB, but you get my point…

      Reply

    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/21 at 12:27 PM

      Great point here Rob. I saw him be a little bit skittish with the ball, but I also didn’t see his fellow forwards helping him out all that much.

      Reply

  6. Posted by John on 2011/03/21 at 12:30 PM

    I just did some random checking and I have to say that while I always thought the coverage of the Rapids in the Denver sports media was terrible…. I think the coverage of FC Dallas in the media there is downright criminal.

    The main banner links on the Star Telegram are…

    Cowboys
    Blogs
    Rangers
    Mavericks
    Stars
    Colleges
    TCU
    Columnists
    Cats
    High Schools
    Motorsports/TMS
    Brahmas

    Now you might be saying, well that is the Fort Worth Star Telegram, what about the Dallas Morning News?

    Cowboys
    Mavericks
    Stars
    Rangers
    Colleges
    High Schools
    Super Bowl

    Ok, you say, well what if they just wrote an article about FC Dallas under a different header?

    Nope.

    You can find all about the Cowboys, Mavericks, Rangers and Stars. Under More Sports at the bottom of the page there is one link for

    FC Dallas rallies for 1-1 tie vs. Fire in season opener

    That’s their coverage.

    Considering that FC Dallas pulled 20,145 fans on opening day, that kind of coverage is absolutely abysmal.

    Reply

  7. Posted by John on 2011/03/21 at 3:01 PM

    Oh and just for comparison.

    Opening day attendance from 2010 and 2011 for teams that opened at home this year and last.

    2010 – 2011

    Seattle: 36,241 – 36,433
    Dallas: 8,016 – 20,145
    Galaxy: 21,376 – 27,000
    San Jose: 10,589 – 10,525

    Reply

  8. Posted by dth on 2011/03/21 at 4:18 PM

    I quite like Freiberg as a player. He was effective against the Whitecaps for the Cascadia Summit, for example. I think he needs some time to settle in and could benefit from withdrawing Montero a bit to create a destroyer-linker-creator dynamic.

    Reply

    • Posted by dth on 2011/03/21 at 4:20 PM

      Also: re: the USMNT. Not a fan of the Jones-Edu-Bradley thing you’ve got going on. I’d be very surprised if Edu were to be effective against Argentina, assuming Bradley doesn’t go for the all-out bunker. Putting the 4-2-3-1 out there is probably Bradley’s best use of resources.

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/21 at 4:30 PM

        Wanted to get the dialogue going because I was unsure actually. So thanks for the input.

        That said, I have to believe that Bob Bradley remembers Edu tracking down Arjen Robben and others up in Amsterdam.

        @DTH I know you are not a big Edu fan, but at the very least he’s a fleet defender, not Ricardo Clark fast, but still accetable.

        Here’s the challenge. You’re playing an Argentinian team where players like Banega, Lavezzi (especially) and Messi or Pastore all are in shape and come from very offensive systems.

        You have two players in Edu and Jones that are match fit. One in MB90 that is likely still close to it and one in Feilhaber who’s had a long hiatus now that Stu is out.

        I could actually see a 4-4-2 with Jones-Bradley and Agudelo-Altidore up top just so the US can have the threat of the counter now that Cherundolo’s out.

        We know the backline for the most part will stay rooted.

        You may see a formation that plays out more unblanced like this:

        Jones Donovan Bradley Feilhaber Deuce Altidore

        It’s possible.

        Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/21 at 4:41 PM

          To be sure, Argentina offers a formidable offensive threat, no matter how you line them up. I think one threat you’re underrating with this formation, however, is the threat down the wings: di Maria and Messi (say) are very convincing threats down the wings, and the prospect of a Bornstein-Lichaj (or, oh gods no–Bornstein-Spector) fullback combo to confront them isn’t very comforting. One underrated aspect of Dempsey’s and Donovan’s game is their willingness and ability to track back and defend while still getting involved with the counter. With Dempsey and Donovan relatively central in your formation, I think it will leave the fullbacks exposed.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/21 at 4:50 PM

            Correct…I probably placed Donovan and Dempsey too far up the pitch in the slide.

            As Coach Sweats, I’d be a lot more worried about Di Maria on Spector than Messi on Bornstein. Did I just say that!

            The reason is his speed on Spector (I believe it was Turin who torched Spector in Philly for Turkey, correct?).

            On Messi two things. If he’s taking the outside lane, the US will do an admirable job on the cross in the air and an okay job on the cross on the ground.

            Messi doesn’t like to take it wide all that much and Bornstein, despite his gaffes, usually stays with a player **IF** he isn’t already out of position. (That’s the worry there.)

            I think Coach Bradley as well would prefer to get beat on the flanks. Looking back on the World Cup, the flank defenders actually did a great job. One goal allowed if you want to count Gerrard (which was really more Gooch.)–everything else was through the middle.

            So I’m not underestimating the flanks, but I’m more fearful of the middle if I’m BB.

            Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/21 at 5:05 PM

          I understand you re: Spector. At fullback, Spector frightens me throughout the game, continuously. I’m still frightened by the roasting he got from Neymar and Robinho. Anytime someone tells me the U.S.’s problem is an excess of athleticism relative to skill, I make them watch Spector vs. Brazil.*

          * Not literally, of course.

          Reply

      • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/03/22 at 4:38 AM

        I would much rather lose 3-1 and get stock of what we have and who can play at this level rather than bunker for a 0-0 tie.

        Now if we go up 1-0 then bunkering to hold on is fine with me. That is a skill we need to develop as well. I have little confidence in our ability to close a good team out. I wouldn’t feel comfortable being up 1 on a team like Argentina (or Mexico more importantly).

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/22 at 6:54 AM

          And I thought 2-0 was the most dangerous lead…

          Reply

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/22 at 11:02 AM

          We don’t have the great defenses (relative term) we have had in the past where I felt comfortable when we were up 1-0 that we could kill the game.

          Lately we seem to be engaging in 3-2, 2-1, battles which is good from an offensive prospective but a far cry of the defense and fitness to win position of old.

          I think this is particularly important with the new guys that are being integrated into the D.

          Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/22 at 11:52 AM

          I agree that when playing in a friendly the final score should not be the only take-away from the game. But aren’t these two games the final ones before this summer’s Gold Cup?

          Personally, I cannot see Bradley going for an attacking game plan – not against a team like Argentina who will more than likely have 55-60% possession on Saturday. The important thing is where that possession takes place, where do you concede space, and how are you pressing them? Not wanting to sound negative, but you need to be smart about this. The way I look at it is – only a fool would stand toe to toe with Mike Tyson, and expect to out-punch him.

          And when you do have the ball, do you have an outlet who will have options and be quickly supported? Or will the two wide men be pinned back into defensive duties? This is my biggest concern – you concede possession too cheaply because the forward is too isolated.

          Reply

  9. Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/21 at 4:18 PM

    I am scared that the formation that Matt diagramed is too defensive. It seems to put Jones in the middle of the 3… almost a Christmas tree. We can’t let Argentina have 60% of the posession and hope to bunker for 90 minutes.

    Would like to see MB90 and JJ switch on the diagram as I can see MB90 moving into attack when the US has the ball. Whereas I see Jones sitting back like he does for Blackburn. Although Jones might be the better passer.

    Reply

  10. Posted by Nelson on 2011/03/21 at 6:28 PM

    Isn’t Gooch playing left back at his club? Not sure he can keep up with that speed. Just a curiousity.

    Reply

  11. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/21 at 10:02 PM

    maybe it is time to use the holden injuries as an example of what not to do. aside from getting injured on both plays, there are other similarities. holden was going in against two tough players. this injury, is a great time for players to look and see when to pick and choose their battles. holden was over extended on the dejong tackle and it lead to a broken leg. holden went into the evans tackle at a point when he should have never left his feet and he ended up getting the short end of the stick, which ends up being a 6 month ban. its just not worth it, smarter play is required in both of these cases.

    holden is a good player and he plays with a ton of heart, but what he really really needs, is a little more savy.

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/22 at 7:33 AM

      DKrank,
      I think you’re spot on and believe it or not we completely agree on something. Stu’s challenge was just as reckless as Evans and he didn’t do enough to protect himself. Here’s hoping that these injuries don’t derail his career physically (ie Jimmy Bullard) and he can learn that sometimes its better to lose the battle…

      Nice job on the commentary policing over the weekend as well. That’s what keeps this a worthwhile site.

      Reply

  12. […] Is Clint Dempsey similar to Dennis Bergkamp? The Shin Guardian thinks so. […]

    Reply

    • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/22 at 7:42 AM

      Careful now, let’s not get too crazy. I am a huge DD fan but they invented the term “wonder goal” just for Bergkamp. Forgive the Queen soundtrack below but an excellent reminder of what he brought to the table. Magical touch, chess players mentality and a gift for the huge moment (Argentina? wow.)

      Reply

      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/22 at 7:46 AM

        Apt comparison in style of play. Prove it wrong.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/22 at 9:21 AM

          I must admit, I did raise my eyebrow when I read that too, but didn’t want to be the first person to comment as I too often get accused of being a USMNT-hater.

          When comparing most players to a legend such as Bergkamp, a player who [along with Totti, Zola and Cantona], pretty much pioneered the ‘False 9′ role, I think the onus is not for us to prove it wrong, but for you to prove the comparison apt and worthy.

          Dempsey is definitely one member of the US squad who can produce that unpredictable little bit of magic, but it’s too few and far between to be compared with a certain Mr. Dennis Bergkamp.

          Reply

        • Posted by Berniebernier on 2011/03/22 at 9:28 AM

          Is the question: Does Dempsey play as a “false 9″ like Bergkamp or is Dempsey as good as Bergkamp?

          I am one of the biggest Dempsey fans there are. Followed Dempsey on the Revs, now follow Fulham, he’s my favorite MNT player… but I wouldn’t say he is as good as Bergkamp.

          He plays that style and that position… he has the potential to be that good if he continues to improve… but until he does it with a bigger club (or leads the US deep in 2014) I can’t say that he is as good as Bergkamp.

          Maybe I am off but I think of Bergkamp as one of the best of his generation. Dempsey is one of the best US players of his generation but that is a BIG difference.

          Reply

          • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/03/22 at 9:45 AM

            Just a clarification, I wrote that he “reminds me of Bergkamp” No real position. Sometimes devastating as striker, always creative, etc.

            As good as…no, not really. But good comparison.

            Reply

        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/22 at 2:52 PM

          Ummmm…no he isn’t? ))
          My “proof” would be Bergkamps massive impact on the game and his team vs Deuce’s emerging, but inconsistent, ability to do the same at 29 yrs old. I don’t see how you compare a guy who’s a middle of the road offensive player who occasionally does something special to a guy who made something special happen consistently in big moments for club and country. I love Deuce but wince at comparing a “once in a generation” player to a decently talented and imaginative player with his first 10 goals season.

          Reply

        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/22 at 2:59 PM

          I think a better comparison from the EPL past would be…Paul Gascoigne.
          Scores some goals, has some flair to his game with some attitude to go with it.
          Apart from the unending rehab stints and unfulfilled potential that would seem to be a closer fit.

          Reply

  13. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/23 at 6:14 AM

    id have to put deuce up their with bergkamp. dennis scored 87 goals in 316 apps. deuce has 31 in 140. thats just goal production and does not included dishes. but maybe a point could be made that bergkamp did a lot of his wonderful stuff after the age of 29, so maybe deuce has time to improve even more, which is what he seems to be doing.

    then there has to be something to the fact that the dutch master played on some of the best teams in europe, and deuce has had like ten coaches in the past four years, on a team that struggles to stay in the league almost every year.

    Reply

    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/23 at 6:37 AM

      Thank you for your creative accounting.

      Bergkamp’s record is 235 goals in 553 [club] appearances and 37 goal in 79 Dutch caps.

      [So far] Dempsey scored 56 goals in 221 [club] appearances and 19 in 68 for the US.

      But I outscored both of them during my high school, college and Uni career, so according to your ‘school of thought’, I must be better than both of them…

      Reply

      • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/03/23 at 7:26 AM

        George,

        I’ve always seen you as more of a thoughtful, iconic Teddy Shearingham-type.

        Reply

        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/23 at 7:53 AM

          I am/was a keeper, but am pretty useful at CB and DM [easier to be a destroyer than a creator…]

          I just said that because [I respectfully believe] these comparisons are ridiculous. The subtle but important point I made above was “unpredictable little bit of magic”, and I feel that it’s these ‘soft factors’ or intangibles that are almost impossible to quantify that are difference makers. Statistics are important, I am not going to deny that, but in a game of football that is free flowing, or a continuum rather than a series or single events, not everything can be measured, nor should it be.

          Sometimes, I feel Americans are obsessed with stats and metrics, especially since Moneyball was written. But how do you measure something as simple as first touch or important as movement or pressing?

          As for Teddy Shearingham – nah, not at all – he’s Millwall scum!

          Reply

        • Posted by dth on 2011/03/23 at 9:29 AM

          The difficulty with soccer statistics isn’t the free-flowing part. It’s the network effects: i.e. how much is the stat in question a consequence of your own performance and how much is someone else’s? Does Xavi complete so many passes because he’s Xavi or because his teammates are so skilled at being open? etc. Similar problems exist in football and basketball, but soccer is more complex than each of them from a statistical perspective (if you’re interested in statistics-as-performance rather than statistics-as-description, as OPTA does.)

          Reply

      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/03/23 at 4:36 PM

        the numbers i produced are valid, they are from epl games, it seems like a fair gauge. dempsey has many great intangables, the kinds of things that dont show up in the stats. more magic to come from dempsey, because it seems pretty obvious to everyone that dempsey is getting better and better.

        Reply

  14. Posted by chazcar2 on 2011/03/23 at 7:59 AM

    I would like to see Bradley move out of the middle. His skill set is in running people down and getting forward.
    In a 4-2-3-1 I would see something like this
    ——————–Altidore(Buddle)——————-
    —-MB90(Kljestan)—Dempsey(Mix)—Donavon(Agudelo)—-
    ————-Jones(Benny)—Edu(Spector)—————-
    Bornstien(Chandler)–Onyewu(Ream)–Boca(DeMerit)–Lichaj
    ————————–Howard———————–

    Reply

  15. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/03/23 at 9:27 AM

    I just saw the Steve Bruce post-match interview. He was bleating about Liverpool’s penalty [which to be fair, shouldn’t have been given] but he wasn’t to fussed last season when they scored against off a random beach ball. I know two wrongs don’t make a right, but you have to smirk about that…

    Reply

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