Archive for April, 2011

Juggling….For The Beautiful Game…

The Beautiful Game Series at TSG examines how soccer

has a positive social impact on the world around us.

It’s not too late.

Every 45 seconds a child dies from Malaria. You can help!

You can help by participating in the OSA World Juggle-a-thon to benefit Nothing Buts on World Malaria Day which is today, April 25th!

Soccer players, fans and coaches everywhere are juggling to get better, juggling to save lives at 6pm their standard time anywhere in the world they have a soccer ball. The OSA World Juggle-a-thon is put on by OnlineSoccerAcademy.com for Nothing But Nets. Nothing But Nets is an MLS partner charity and for every $10 raised they provide a life saving bed net to a person in need in Africa.

How do I participate?

1. Download a pledge sheet on the “OSA World Juggle-a-thon” page of OnlineSoccerAcademy.com

2. College pledges or flat donations prior to juggling. The minimum suggested amount to raise is $30. Do that, you save 3 lives and you get a shirt!

3. Juggle for your juggling record by yourself or with friends at 6pm your time! After follow directions on pledge sheet and mail in your funds raise

Monday Quarterbacking

You still on that jellybean high? Fantastic weekend for soccer, if you could squeeze it in:

Target audience: Appropriate Herbalife sponsorship with Portland in town....

• The Los Angeles Galaxy went out of this world with their 3-0 thrashing of the visiting….”TIIIIMMMMBERs!”

While the Galaxy’s form will be hailed, I’m not sold on their squad just yet. Chad Barrett played above himself and P-Town’s midfield seemed to be sleeping on the job (in reality they were just, collectively, a step slow).

Press the Galaxy’s midfield. Give Beckham, Juninho and Donovan less time on the ball and to make passes. I’m curious then if there forwards will loose themselves and give their midfield counterparts streaking runs or interplay up top.

Not sold, but we shall see.

A few other nuggets in this one:

» AJ De La Garza filling in for the injured Leonardo looked dynamite. I shall call him Mini Cannavaro. For now. Hope he lives up to the junior nickname.

» Interesting post-game commentary from Landon Donovan where he lightly admonished, “Have people figured out I’m not a goal scorer [more a passer] anymore?” Was known for a while, but sure make Bruce Arena’s commentary that Donovan might be play as a second striker prior to the season a little hollow. That’s Arena for you though.

» Darlington Nagbe. Take solace Portland. Kid will be a player.

• MB90 minus 90: I’m afraid it’s time for all those that glommed on to the statement, “Michael Bradley has earned playing time everywhere he’s went” to throw an asterisk on that statement.

Villa skipper Gerard Houllier was admitted for emergency surgery earlier in his coaching career at Liverpool and now he’s back in the hospital as of last week. That likely means a “don’t rock the boat” squad with assistant manager Gary McAllister in charge.

Late to the "party" at Villa Park...

You may see Bradley sneak in the 18 one or two times and even the eleven once, but you can consider–for whatever reason–Bradley’s time at Villa to be a failure for his exposure.

Once again, Junior Bradley was nowhere to be seen as Aston Villa drew Stoke City 1-1 on Saturday. Manning the midfield hub was 31-year-0ld Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker. On the bench for the Houllier’s was Jean Makoun…and 37-year-old Robert Pires.

Has Bradley’s ability or career plateaued or is this just a speed bump. I still maintain that the Bradley to Sunderland nonsense (only heard here in the States) was just a story plant for buzz. Whither Bradley post-campaign? Back to Bo’Munchen, but will it be in Bundesliga II?

• Spec-ulating: Speaking of the Yanks’ midfield, a healthy performance from Jonathan Spector though West Ham got the knife from Chelsea. Spector’s midfield movement (on the account of him being a former striker I’d imagine) is excellent, but he’s still not a run with the ball or final pass sort of guy. With Bob Bradley seemingly now chock full of righbacks (Cherundolo, Chandler, Lichaj) will Spector be used in the midfield?

• Arsenal fan? Always turn your set of at 80 mins: Tough weekend for Arsenal fans as Tamir Cohen banged home a header to give Bolton a 2-1 victory over the would-be title seekers. At some point, if you’re not going to make the right purchases, you have to at least ask your manager how he’s going to solve those late game mental mistakes.

And Danny Sturridge for Bolton, once again proficient.

David Vaughan for Blackpool; Jermaine Jones thinks about the yellow for Blackburn...

• The Yellow Card Bowl: Who gets the first today as Jermaine Jones and Blackburn face off against Nigel DeJong and Manchester City.

• Get out of the kitchen! http://hastorresscoredforchelsea.com/

• The story for ‘Pool: Liverpool, creeping up the table. The story for Pool? Not Maxi Rodriguez’s three-spot, not that Joe Cole actually still exists. How about that John Flanagan kid at rightback? He’s 18!

• The other ‘Pool: After a stirring first half of the campaign, Blackpool find themselves in the thick of relegation fisticuffs. How about this? The player’s voted their player of the year this past week. Charlie Adam, of course, right? Nope. Seems threats and commentary about wanting to leave the club midseason didn’t sit well in their dressing room. The Tangerines Proper went with the other middie David Vaughan.

Continue reading

Your Saturday Commentary Goes Here

Relegation battles including West Ham United at the Bridge in desperate straits.

Have you seen this man?

MLS action, including the 2002-06 World Cup team playing Portland. Will the Timbers burn it down again or will Landon Donovan and friends be the stars?

La Liga biggies go at it, but this time it’s not Madrid vs. Barca, but versus Valencia who’s creeped up under the table right behind them–though still far off the pace.

And Napoli vs. Palermo. That’s just going to be a good one.

Or maybe I just want to be my buddy Pastore.

Have at it in the commentary.

A New Sheriff In Nottingham

Ten minutes for Robbie Findley on Friday for Nottingham Forest after a return from a leg injury.

And a big thank you from TSG reader Justin King for passing along this “light reading” about Findley on a Nottingham Forest board. It’s not exactly knee-slapping, but…

Groundskeeper! Throw another coat on those endlines if you would!

Sounders Win Away, But Story Is Zakuani

I’d like to take the Brian Mullan tackle on Steve Zakuani in an unpopular direction.

Zakuani downed....

Friday night in Colorado, the Sounders made a 1-0 win stand-up in the face of what was some heartfelt agony at losing their teammate Steve Zakuani on an unfortunate tackle in the early minutes.

A confluence of circumstances, and some may say a frustration tackle by veteran Brian Mullan, led to Steve Zakuani’s career being put in peril. Breaks to both the tibia and fibia. Mullan slid in aggressively as Zakuani planted on his right foot. All that could heard as the pop of breaking bones.

You have to feel for Zakuani, like Aaron Ramsey and Eduardo before him, a finesse and pace-based player whose career may be forever changed by the tackle (let’s hope not.)

On Mullan’s side, a moment of lack of judgement–there is no defending the reckless challenge–will now forever stain a professional career that has earned him five MLS Cups. His mark–no pun intended–on the game will be forever tarnished by the tackle. A crude badge of dishonor.

I said I was going to take the commentary on the tackle in another direction. I had a friend growing up, Keith Ball, who he and I battled unmercilessly on the baseball diamond. On the field, Keith was an enormous talent who played hard and played to win. Off the field, perhaps the nicest guy in the room. On field, pardon, but a dickhead, win at all costs sort of fellow.

But he’s that player, like a Brian Mullan, who added that toughness necessary–in any league by any team–as an integral ingredient to a side.

I don’t condone what Brian Mullan did–and debate will see-saw on his character and “the dirtiness” of the play for the next few days–but I do know it’s the game and that moment, “the moment” is consuming, leading players to both great exaltation and other times, like tonight, sheer anguish.

That same power that willed a Landon Donovan shot into the back of the net against Algeria worked in reverse this evening.

It’s the nature of the game. It’s unavoidable. It’s how it goes.

Unfortunately, Steve Zakuani was on the receiving end. Hopefully, he will make a speedy recovery and exhibit the same speed, and more, that made him a dangerous player with the ball and tonight’s horror moment will be but a bottoming footnote in a highlight reel career.

Gotham Bulls Over United: Henry Drops Brace…

…and Juan Agudelo does his “not Eddie Johnson” routine with a solid technical goal.

United ran into a buzz saw this evening and a team that is starting to play the type of ball that Hans Backe envisioned. That said, it’s a radically different feel for the team and Thierry Henry is active and interested.

String together a few games and the “next Beckham” moniker will drop from the Frenchman’s trading card.

As for United, outed a little bit with inexperience, DCU couldn’t protect the backline by clogging the midfield. Tough one.

Better Iberian Celebration: Messi Or Ramos?

You….make the call.

Lionel Messi with one too many calimochos after Barca won the Champion’s League two years ago…..

or…..

……or Sergio Ramos dropping the Copa Del Rey and the celebration bus doing a drive-over.

And…

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