Archive for April, 2011

Dempsey Grabs Record With Supporting Brace

How appropriate is it that Clint Dempsey grabbed the Fulham scoring record today by netting twice.

The deuce now owns two new records on the season, that off top American scorer in a single EPL season and today with, two more, to become the  club’s all-time leading goal scorer in the Premiership with 33.

Fulham takes down a Stu Holden-less Bolton (no joy recently for the Wanderers), 3-0 today in the only Premiership action.

Champion’s League Live: Barca vs. Real Madrid

Will Jose handcuffs his troops at home or will he press like he did in the Copa Del Rey?

Update:

Barca: Víctor Valdés; Daniel Alves, Mascherano, Piqué, Puyol -Busquets, Xavi, Keita – Pedro, Messi, David Villa

Ronaldo starts-up top; Pepe again in the holding role. Albiol called on for Carvahlo.

Madrid line-up: Casillas – Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raul Albiol, Marcelo – Diarra, Xabi Alonso, Pepe – Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo, di Maria

The Bernbeau will bare witness today to a revitalized Real Madrid side that is seething with confidence off a Copa Dely Rey win (trophy be damned) and weekend lambasting of Valencia.

Barcelona has continued their strong pace as well, only stumbling thus far in the trophy hunt to Madrid in the Copa.

All eyes today on Jose Mourinho despite Pep Guardiola’s theatrics. Sounds cliche, but Barca will play their game. They try to dictate the game tempo and play to every team they play. They believe they are the best.

Mourinho realized this strength and decided to park the bus so to speak in the first major showdown of his tenure. Bad idea. He put five across the back betting the Barca couldn’t find their way through on the floor and they’d have to come over the top. Didn’t work. Not only didn’t work, completely didn’t work. 5-0 Barca need I remind Real Madrid fans.

Will Pepe be called on to boss the midfield again?

Fast forward to April and the Copa Del Rey and Mourinho’s got a new strategy and dare I say it’s quite similar to the one that Bob Bradley deployed to thwart Argentina. Mourinho took his defender Pepe and put him in the midfield and elected to press the passing lanes, slowing Barca’s attack before it got to Messi and friendly.

With Ricardo Carvalho and Sami Khedira (expected to be replaced by Lassana Diara) out, can Mourinho afford to push Pepe up the pitch?

What will we see tomorrow with Barca seeking at least one crucial away goal? If you remember last year, Mourinho got offensive against a Barca team that had bused it’s way to the San Siro with the soot of a volcano still thick in the air. Result 3-1.

This year? About an hour or so flight from Barcelona to Madrid. No volcano.

What to look at today? Just how offensive is Jose Mourinho at home.

Rimando & Alvarez: Your Real Salt Lake CCL Primer

TSG’s Jay Bell gets on the horn with RSL’s key men

Last weekend I got a chance to speak with a couple of Real Salt Lake players about their CONCACAF Champions League final against Monterrey. I was able to speak with Arturo Alvarez (AA) for the second time in just over a month and I was also able to chat with RSL’s head man between the pipes, Nick Rimando (NR).

Time dictated that I was not able to present the interviews in their entirety, but what you see here is the bulk of their answers from my conversations with them. Both guys opened up about the first leg, the substitutions, the atmosphere, the second leg, Jason Kreis and having the support of MLS clubs, players and fans behind them:

Arturo Alvarez...First leg match in Mexico

AA: “I think we approached that match just like any other match.”

“We went in there with the mentality to get the win, get a result and I think we’re really happy with it at 2-2.”

Familiarity with the underdog role

NR: “We seem to do well when he have that underdog role. I think if we keep doing well in these competitions and in the league, we’re not going to have that role anymore. We’re okay with having it. We’re okay with going into games with not so much pressure on us and just going out there and showing these other teams and the rest of the world that we can play with the best teams and we can get results when we need to.”

AA: “I think Monterrey probably came into this series as the favorite to win this tournament or at least win these championship games. We’ll take the underdog title and we’ll make the most of it. We know the kind of team that we are. We never gave up.”

On Monterrey’s early substitutions

AA: “I was surprised that the moves were made really early. It happenedjust right after they scored. We didn’t really know what to think about it. We did learn I guess, that they were injured though.”

NR:
“At first, I really didn’t know what to think.”

DeNigris, golazo!

AA: “Those two players for them are key players for their team. De Nigris scored the goal, but I think whenever you’re in the final, this Monterrey team will have an important player brought in.”

NR: “You could take it as a disrepect sort of thing or they think that they had it in the bag. But reading the paper later, they were both injured and are going to be out for several weeks. You can’t really blame the coach unless that’s not the truth.

Whenever you sub early like that, two of their offensive players. I also thought it kind of took away from their game a little bit. They score a goal, you kind of get a rhythm going and you get a fire going in you. I think that is kind of the opposite that happened there. You get a hold of the game, you have some opportunities, but again, its the coach’s decision.

If someone is hurt on our team and he needs to come out, I’m sure Jason will do the same thing.”

Inevitable rationalization that the substitutions saved RSL

AA: “I don’t think the two early substitutions affected the game in any way. I think they kept possession. At that moment we just worried about ourselves and just made sure that we were playing our game.”

NR: “For me, I look at it as an opportunity to capitalize on taking out two players and for them not to get into a rhythm. And that is how we took it as a team. We really didn’t stop think about ‘they’re taking them out, this is disrespectful.’ We just carried on playing and that’s what we did. We played our game and fortunately for us it came at the right time. They took those players out and we started to keep the ball a little bit, play the ball around, got our opportunities and ended up scoring.

If it helps us, sure, I hope they do it again so it helps us. Any way we can get some help and any way that we can get some goals and to take the rhythm away from the opposing team, I’m okay with that.”

Line of reasoning that RSL is lucky to face a Monterrey squad without key players in the second leg.

Rimando, triumphant...

NR: “We’ve proven that we can play without players who are out with red cards or injuries. We’re going to see who’s, I guess, deeper. We’re playing without Beckerman. We’re playing without two players as well. We’re going to have some players that are going to come in and show how deep we are. If you are a good club and you want to go to that next level, you’re not just going to do it with 11 players. We know that. Monterrey is still a good team without those two players.

They’ve proven to be a good team. We’re not taking them lightly and I am sure that they’re not going to take us lightly.”

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Michael Bradley To Be Re-Upped At Villa? No So Fast…

A report out today by Tim Abraham in Birmingham, link forthcoming, saying that US international Michael Bradley might still factor in Gerard Houllier’s Aston Villa plans for next year despite the lack his lack of playing time to date.

That kit may still be worn yet in 2011!

Villa assistant boss Gary McAllister, presiding over the team in as Houllier recovers from a heart condition, with the following quote, ““Michael has done enough on the training ground to suggest there might be something come the end of the season because he has an honest, hard-working guy as well as a good player,” said McAllister.

“It’s true that it has been hard to play him at a time when we have had senior experienced players available in the situation we have been in.”

“And that is purely all that has held him back, nothing else, because his attitude has been top draw.”

“He is a fantastic professional for such a young guy – he is captain of his country don’t forget and he is a top player.”

Now, before you run about or tweet about, there is a conflict here.

If Bradley was as an excellent a player as is being stated here, then why isn’t he playing. Surely if Villa were to need Bradley’s services it would be now–as he was procured for–in the middle of a relegation battle.

That conflict, as we spoke about it our previous Bradley pieces (here and here) is Nigel Reo Coker. What’s the easiest way to rattle an agent who is playing chicken with his player’s forthcoming work postal code in 2011-2012? Why that would be floating a story that his understudy is about to be signed off loan from Germany for the next year’s campaign.

Stay tuned.

Will Real Salt Lake Enlarge Its Club Profile Tonight?

7-0-3 without Kyle Beckerman

37 straight games undefeated at home.

Can RSL pull off the big one this evening.

Video: US Soccer Updates On Stu Holden

Oh man, CPM machine, that brings me back.

The US Soccer video crew needs to drop the background drama-music though.

Still would like specifics on the injury.

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