Archive for April, 2011

Champion’s League Live: Man United vs. Schalke

Champion's League: Manchester United vs. Schalke 04

Update: Floodgates open, 2-0 Manchester United and Schalke has been broken at home. What a wild Champion’s League year as Schalke themselves are coming off destroying the champs, Inter Milan at home in the last stage.

Halftime: 0-0. Gave up the commentary, but basically it’s just Manuel Neuer and a firing squad of Man United players teeing off. 11 shots, seven of them on goal.

Neuer has been nothing short of fabulous, but–and maybe it’s a German stereotype–best of all he’s been unflinching and thus keeping his defenders in it (for what they’re worth).

6:25: Fabulous tactical battle here as both teams poking and prodding, but making sure there read end doesn’t get hung out.

6:25: Best series there from Schalke as Edu finds Farfan, but skids it wide. Patience a virtue.

2:50: The weight of Giggs’ passes is unparalleled. Continually marvelous. Great ball to Hernandez there, though nothing comes of it.

2:50: Schalke giving entirely too much space in their defensive third. United will punish them if that continues.

Update: Under way shortly here. Can Schalke switch the attack fast enough to open the flanks. Will Raul be dangerous enough to make the midfield collapse and aid in that effort?

I wonder what brats they serve at Veltins-Arena.

Update: Valencia over Nani, Fabio over O’Shea. MUFC: Van der Sar; Fabio Ferdinand Vidic Evra; Valencia Carrick Giggs Park; Rooney; Hernandez.

Fabio over O’Shea is surprising (or is really Rafael in disguise).

Update: The vet Sarpei over Escudero. Schalke: Neuer, Sarpei, Raul, Edu Buamjohann, Papadopolous, Farfan, Jurado, Metzelder, Uchida, Matip


It’s go time again in Europe.

The undercard today to the premier Spanish match-up tomorrow.

Astuto for Schalke....

I don’t expect many surprises today out of either United or Schalke.

For United, Sir Alex will employ Ji Sung Park on one side effectively nullifying Schalke’s advancement through wing and overlapping defender player on that flank. I think that’ll be United left flank where Park and Evra will patrol and attempt to quash Schalke’s attack through the creative Jefferson Farfan and the speedy backer (who is getting a lot of pub today) Atsuto Uchida. On the right flank, the Red Devils will attempt to advance more with either Valencia (likely) or Nani continually busting into the corner backed up by Michael Carrick who can swing a pass and the industrious John O’Shea.

Elsewhere I think you’ll see Rooney in the roving false nine role with Chicharito making strategic runs ahead of him. Nothing new there.

For Schalke (and I’ve only seen a handful of their games this year. They’ll try to get both Astuto open on the right playing off Farfan and on the left through Sergio Escudero whose youth United will try and take advantage of.

But amazingly, it’s Raul again for the Germans as his ability to find the ball, hold it and pick out passes in the midfield will be vital to United’s defense collapsing inward and giving those flankers space.

On to the game….

Tuesday: Champion’s League, Dale Murphy, More…

We’ll be back to regularly scheduled programming here shortly at TSG.

Dale Murphy...

• Kyle Beckerman, out for Wednesday Concacaf Champion’s League.

According to RSL GM Garth Laerway, “In the 37-game unbeaten streak at home we’ve played 10 times without Kyle Beckerman. We’re 7-0-3. So 10 out of 10 times when we’ve been in this position, needing the result we need we’ve succeeded.”

Take a step back. Yes, that’s a tribute to a few things. First, Jason Kreis and his system. Second, the outstanding centerback pairing behind him.

But consider this. Kyle Beckerman–the Dale Murphy of MLS–arguably not quite good enough for Bob Bradley’s USMNT A team. Beckerman, the lone holding midfielder for RSL.

The stat speaks to the power of playing with possession. Limiting chances for the other team when a key central piece of cover is missing.

By the way, loved that Real Salt Lake wore their Club America unis in Monterrey. That was too funny.

• Rumors abound that Jersey kid Giuseppi Rossi is wanted at the Camp Nou. Got to be honest. That’s be a near perfect pick-up for Barca with Rossi able to play up top on the inside or or outside. Yes, I’d like to see it happen.

Next level soon....

• A wonderful piece penned by Tim Ream in the New York Times blog. Ream talks about his mentoring by Mexican international and Barca alum Rafa Marquez. Take this season for it Ream and then apply it as you go to Europe to challenge. Same with you Juan Agudelo. Take the year and then go challenge yourself.

Yesterday, in the commentary, discussion on Liverpool’s up-and-coming backline bookends in Jim Flanagan and Jackie Robinson. They’re 18- and 19-years-old respectfully.

• Mentioned on Twitter yesterday. A “good” goal (1:48) by US national Chris Rolfe over the weekend up in Danishland, but why does the US soccer media feel the need to fawn over each time a US striker scores a goal abroad. Shouldn’t the US players be good enough to do that.

The disposition to “See Striker A score” and “anoint the return of said Striker A” to the national team needs to be curbed. Consistency is what should matter on the value meter. Ironically, or not, Rolfe’s goal game against the 2nd worst Danish league defense against a keeper that FC Nordsjælland was trying to replace at the beginning of the year. Yes, the curmudgeon in us is back.

• Business of soccer:

Last year we gave our MLS Player of the Week award to Lyle Yorks for his ability to hypnotize MLS into lining Benny Feilhaber’s pockets with no other suitors in sight.

This week, we will bestow the award early to Sporting KC’s Kyle Rogers who kicked of a Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo twitter follower-52-card-pick-up contest.

In case you didn’t know Kyle’s Sporting KC team plays at New York this weekend. So another case of a smaller team using bigger team’s marketing dollars to get their name out. Nice job Kyle.

• Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandesequipes! The champions!

From Japan...with speed...

And then there were four…..UEFA Champion’s League back in action today with Manchester United taking on Schalke 04.

Key match-up in this one? Schalke’s right flank versus United’ left. Jefferson Farfan with an overlapping Atsuto Uchida (the first Japanese footballer to play for a team that reached the semi-finals of the Champion’s League) versus Nani and Patrice Evra.

Other than that, look out for two of the best false nines in the business, Wayne Rooney and Raul trying to wreak havoc on the other team’s defense.

(Oh, and we love reposting just how Javier Hernandez got smuggled into the EPL. Good read if you haven’t read it on TSG before.

• Stoke City versus Wolverhampton in the Barclays on Tuesday. Or two teams that love the foul the crap out of others.


More coming…

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 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

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!

• 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!


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