Archive for May, 2011

Michael Bradley: Trying To Reclaim MB90 Status

Bulletin July 2012: Michael Bradley to Roma.

MB90 with a Gatorade and “smile” circa a DCU Reserves vs. Metrostars match in October 2005.

May Update:

What’s changed since we did this piece below in March:

• The Resurgence of Stan Petrov at Aston Villa

The skinny: After coming back from injury, the captain increasingly found the pitch for Villa as they navigated away from relegation waters. Petrov’s calmness on the ball and “been through it before” resume certainly contributed to his name being on the first eleven team sheet more often than not through the first half of 2011.

Whereas it though Petrov might be encouraged to move on from Villa at year’s end, it now looks like a sure bet that he will finish out his contract, training his days at The Barn.

• Today, Nigel Reo Coker and Robert Pires were released by Villa.

The skinny: Pires was done-for well before today at Villa. He rarely contributed through the 2nd half of the campaign.

As for Reo-Coker, it appears that the demand for his services is paramount to what Villa was willing to ante up to procure his services. Very interesting indeed and it moves up Michael Bradley now to 3rd or 4th in the pecking order, depending on how one evaluates it.

The depth chart in the central midfield may look like this: 1) Jean Makoun 2) Stan Petrov 3) Fabian Delph (for more on Delph see below) 4) Michael Bradley

Delph, a star in the making for England, will certainly be given more chances in 2011.

• Ashely Young and Stuart Downing are both “plotting their escapes” from Villa.

The skinny: Ashley Young is rumored to sign for Manchester United (oh my) on Monday. While Stuart Downing this past week did an abrupt you turn and said that he would play out his current contract with the club.

Downing’s future is more of a mystery, while Reo Coker sees assured of moving to a stronger side, be it in the EPL or elsewhere.

The impact here? How will Villa uses the funds secured from moving Ashley Young. With Mark Albrighton in reserve, they may not opt for another winger and it’s well known that Houllier loves his central midfielders.

• Borussia Moenchengladbach escape relegation on Wednesday with a win over Bochum.

The skinny: Bradley of course went on loan from “Bo Munchen” in January to Villa. Many different reasons why the transfer ensued–American media reports say he put in for a transfer while German reports are mixed.

Either way Gladbach can stomach the return of Bradley from a roster cost perspective in 2011-2012, though (thanks to @amfid on Twitter for the next part where I originally erred), Gladbach Sports Director Max Eberl said in an interview that there is no way back for Bradley.

Additionally, Havard Nordtveit (20) and  Roman Neustädter (23) doing well in the dual holding roles and Gladback reportedly seeking a new player for this position in young Matthias Zimmermann (2009 U-17 euro champion with Germany) a talent from 2nd Bundesliga team KSC set to join Gladbach in the center.

From fans that have cascaded through TSG, the sentiment seems to be that they want Bradley to transfer and get a decent price for him.

Going into June:

Going into June, Michael Bradley will be a key figure for the US in their pursuit of Gold Cup victory. Incredulously, Bradley has played nearly as many international minutes thus far in 2011 as he has club minutes.

A strong showing in the Gold Cup would help Bradley, but most of the audience for the tourney is here in the States, not abroad.

Best bet for 23-year-old Bradley? Back to the Bundesliga or slotting in with a mid-to-bottom table side EPL side if Villa declines to make the move for him, perhaps a Wigan. Roberto Martinez obviously did the American World Cup coverage for ESPN and saw quite a bit of the Bob Bradley’s son.

Wild card? Let me toss out Everton, long with a storied connection to Americans as well as rumors of Jack Rodwell moving on. Bradley would be a fine complement there to the possession, less-defensive oriented hubs of Fellaini and Arteta.

Our bet right now? Villa makes a short term (2 years?) play for his services. With Reo-Coker out and Bradley already familiar with the system, Bradley would seem like a good bet in the midfield committee for the Villians. Villa has until May 31st to decide if they want to accept Gladbach’s transfer terms.

That said, it sure looks like Gerard Houllier is jettisoning Americans at the club with Brad Friedel rumored out to Liverpool and other realms, with Brad Guzan likely moving to a Championship side and with Eric Lichaj saying he wants to stay at Leeds.

Below from March 6th…

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Always determined: Michael Bradley (photo credit: Matt Mathai)

Much has been made in the American media about the growth, and recent plight, of US international Michael Bradley.

A polarizing figure to say the least.

2007 USMNT camp: Tough guys..

A wavy, but abundantly positive-trending, career has seen Bradley selected into MLS…by his father (present USMNT coach Bob Bradley, then NY-NJ MetroStars manager) as a precocious and brooding 16-year-old. Bradley soon after took to Europe and ended up scoring more goals in a season overseas than any American, 16 league goals for Eredivisie side SC Heerenveen in 2007-08 (of course, this record is currently threatened by Giuseppi Rossi in La Liga who notched his 15th for Villarreal in their stunning 3-1 loss to Atletico Madrid this past Saturday.)

Upon his Dutch success, a big move to Bundesliga side Borussia Moechengladbach (Bo’Munchen) was in the offing and Bradley became a fixture in their line-up during his time there (despite some clashes with the coaches).

Bradley’s fixture status even extends to the USMNT national team where he played all possible minutes for the US in South Africa. This after being one of three players through the 2010 World Cup qualifying to play 1300 minutes or more for the States (the others were Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra). Bradley and company played 12% more time than anyone else including stalwarts Oguchi Onyewu (injured in the final game of qualifying) and Tim Howard.

The case in point?

Michael Bradley is resilient, oft-not-injuried, critical component of any team he plays on and his pedigree shows an upward moving level to his play.

That notion makes Bradley’s next few months at his club Aston Villa all the more compelling.

Having been transferred to Gerard Houllier’s Aston Villa side in the January window–until this past Wednesday in the FA Cup–Bradley had not played more than 45 minutes or started for club or country in 2011, astounding for a player who seems more and more effective the faster and faster his pitch odometer revolves.

American media loves to use and re-use the statement that wherever he has went, Bradley has eventually earned starter’s minutes and made an impact.

Man, Barry Bannan is like Deco-tiny, huh? MB90 being a bad Citizen this past Wednesday.

However, while it appears Bradley will stick at Villa Park–his current playing time hiccup more a matter of game fitness than ability in this writer’s opinion–the battle for consistent and exclusive starter’s minutes may be less about how he plays and more about the dynamics outside of his control, specifically player contracts and manager tinkering.

The crowded Villa centerfield has no less than eight players that could theoretically play for the 1st team or have played for it.

Let’s take a look at each of these players, dissect their situation and round out with Junior Bradley’s playtime prognostication:

First, let’s dismiss two of these players outright:

The Non-Contenders

It’s a good thing Ireland isn’t there, or else with fellow dome waxer MB90 it could get awfully confusing on the inside….

Stephen Ireland: The highly talented Irishman arrived at Villa Park with a bunch of quid in a swap for James “I wish I never met Steve Cherundolo” Milner under the reign of previous manager Martin O’Neill. Once Houllier arrived, Ireland appeared to fall out of favor and both sides mutually agreed to part ways for the rest of the season as Ireland join the Tynesiders on loan through the end of the campaign. Said Houllier at the time, “Once a player wants to go, he goes.”

Ireland is out of contract this year and his chance of re-upping at Villa I would put at no higher than 0%.

Isiaih Osbourne: England youth international Isiaih Osbourne appears to be moving on as well as Summer 2011 dawns. The 23-year-old is currently on-loan at Sheffield Wednesday–where they’ve been pleased with his play–but the same can’t be said for the Mothership.

Osbourne–who was arrested, but not charged for suspicion to rob in 2009 further muddling his shot at Villa– has been loaned out four times by the senior side.

Despite being 6’2”, 23-years-old and clearly having some talent, Osbourne appears destined to move on in the Summer when his contract expires as well.

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That leaves six, for now. Let’s handicap the rest, starting with may appear the lesser of the threats:

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Gold Cup 2011: What’s Your Yankee Brew?

And it’s finally back!

These guys, um, yeah, they got it covered...

The Beer & Soccer Series. Bang!

Today, we offer just a morsel, a tidbit, a spec of the beer and footie pairings for your 2011 Gold Cup enjoyment. A primer, if you will.

And basically if you have a question–it’s the 2nd half and Panama is up 1-0 on the beloved States and about to take a corner kick. I need the perfect beer that’s going to knock that ball out of the box–it gets answered right here. Just drop it in the comments.

(Our first entry in the series. Our second here.)

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Now, Our Experts

Professor Free Beer Movement, educating on what responsibility really means when it comes to beer.

He’s the reigning winner of the Texas–that’s a BIG state–Social Media Award and he does it all with beer…and a computer.

Say hello to Dan from the Free Beer Movement He’s like the Xavi of soccer and beer. He’ll glady pass many around for free each game and watch his buddies celebrate.

Eric Giardini knows everything there is to know about Roma, Totti and Serie A. He hails from DC but he might as well be checking in from ‘da Boot. Giardini accurately predicted the Landon Donovan to Roma “news” when Thomas DiBenedetto became owner would be nothing but a rumor….4 months ago!

He’s just as omniscient about picking his–and your–fermentations as well.

Scott Riley is the head brewmaster at Die Hipster Brewing, the purveyor of such fine, smooth libations as Dax McCarthy Pale Ale and Kyle Beckerman Pale Ale. He’s also been paid to write about beer…by GQ nonetheless. You handsome devil, you, Scott.

This next participant was the classy digital media voice of Sporting Kansas City and is now doing damage as the “current strategist” for the new Sporting Club membership product.

He’s so connected in , so up on, tech that he knew about Foursquare when it was Threesquare. He goes by the name Kyle Rogers and he knows almost just as much about libation. However, he’ll gladly tell you the following is (was) his claim to fame.

Al Gore may have invented the Internet, but "Web 2.0" didn't arrive until Rogers says it did.

“Grew up playing sports against current SKC center back Matt Besler. He nutmegged me once pretty bad during a high school game, but it was totally an accident.”

Our next expert is John Nyen. A Liverpool fan, a Timbers fan, and from what we’ve heard, personally responsible for keeping Denver’s British Bulldog Footie Pub in business. His contributions are always valued around TSG as well.

World Football Daily is the only daily English language show exclusively, yet this next contributor goes by the name Rafa, but he’s a fan of historic Scottish team, Glasgow Rangers. Go figure. Nevertheless, Rafa Gonzalez, producer, World Football Daily.

…oh and our final panelist?

Well he doesn’t need any introduction.

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Video: The US’s 23-Man Gold Cup Roster

Jay Bell does the hard work, slogs long works and then pops this video out there–filled with contemporary clips–for a motion picture look at who’s in play to grab the Gold Cup trophy.

Thanks Jay.

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Do Jay a favor if you would. Let him know some suggestions below for a video compilation of those players that didn’t get the call. Thanks.

The Day After: The 2011 US Gold Cup Roster

Bob Bradley was in a chipper mood on Monday’s conference call with reporters, addressing questioners by name and asking some how they’ve been.

Here we string together some thoughts on the US Gold Cup roster:

Chandler, incredibly not named on the day...

• On Timothy Chandler: Clear from Bob Bradley ‘s pre-roster announcement sentiments that he expected to have Chandler with the team.

And Timmy Chandler is very much a Bob Bradley type of player; you could actually feel Bob Bradley’s giddiness when he talked about him (“a very exciting player” phrase was used a few times).

Seems to be “concern” that Timmy Chandler isn’t cap-tied and now won’t be this summer. We’re going to try and get our German correspondent on the story.

I would think Chandler’s non-inclusion is more a matter of negotiation between FC Nurnberg and Bob Bradley and USSF rather than a change of sentiment or inquiry from the German federation. Germany is stacked at outside back with Phil Lahm, Jerome Boateng and even Sedar Tasci.

Additionally, most of Germany’s players come up through the system; it’s important to their team ethos.

That said, the curious thing is that this seems a perfect opportunity for FC Nurnberg not to dispute a call-up. It’s offseason. Steve Cherundolo is clearly the number one, relegating Chandler–for now–to a back-up role at least in Game 1 and Game 2.

And you would also think that Bob Bradley would want to see Chandler against a team like Spain where the flanker with the herky-jerky stride would appear a perfect foil for Iniesta ahead of Cherundolo on the right flank. (Okay, maybe I just feel that way. Bob Bradley should.)

Time will tell here.

• A dynamic collection of attacking players for Bob Bradley with diverse skill sets.

Freddy Adu might be used when Bob Bradley unbalances to the right, leaving open space for Adu to exploit on the left.

Freddy Adu, of course, being the biggest surprise inclusion, but also Wondoloski and Robbie Rogers.

Bradley favors offensive action up front that that is typically unbalanced to the right flank and opens up space for Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan. The graphic to the left shows how Adu might be tried out in Bradley’s unbalanced formation and how his movement differs from, say, Clint Dempsey in the weakside attacker role.

Adu, as shown, would be a speedy, creative option off the opponent’s backline after it shifts and gets pinned back on the right.

Some other occasions when Bob Bradley has used this deployment include: (1) the 1st half against Turkey during 2010’s Send Off Series with Dempsey and Donovan swapped in the formation and Altidore pulling right and (2) DaMarcus Beasley in the role in the Send Off Series game against the Czech Republic with Edson Buddle and Eddie Johnson pulling right.

Continue reading

Silly Serie A: Sampdoria “Funeral”

Sampdoria loses Cassano and gets relegated this year…

…and archrivals Genoa decide to hold a funeral to mourn celebrate their relegation

Bob Bradley Names Freddy Adu & 22 Others To Compete In Gold Cup 2011

The Roster: Who Does Bob Bradley Have Coach Goggles For, Wondo off the ball, &  more….

On the US Gold Cup Roster…

Well, we nearly had the roster spot on. Um, not really.

Bob Bradley–needing a Gold Cup tournament win here in 2011 to assure passage to the Confederation’s Cup warm-up tournament in Brazil in 2013–went with veterans and just a sprinkling of youth.

I'm back!...

Household names like Donovan, Dempsey, Bocanegra and Howard lead the list while youngsters who could crack the starting line-up in the group stage, Ream and Agudelo all head to training camp this week.

The US’s Gold Cup 2011 roster:

G: Tim Howard, Marcus Hahnemann, Nick Rimando

DEF: Steve Cherundolo, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Tim Ream, Eric Lichaj

TWEENER: Jonathan Spector

MID: Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Freddy Adu, Robbie Rogers, Benny Feilhaber

FWD: Jozy Altidore, Juan Agudelo, Chris Wondolowski

The skinny:

Surprises in Robbie Rogers, Freddy Adu and Chris Wondolowski on board. And only three strikers. Plus no Teal Bunbury.

Bradley had quite a conundrum on the backline. Veterans are always favored. Experience, especially, at centerback trumps youth. However on thing I liked that Bob Bradley did against Paraguay was go to the 3-man backfield and really push his flankers players up the pitch. This is a wrinkle in the vain of David Luiz getting ahead for Chelsea and I like Bradley’s thinking there.

Still not sure why we’ve never seen Jonathan Spector in that role or tried more in central defense.

• On Adu: I like the call-up. I personally don’t rate Adu as a player, but the call-up by Bob Bradley is smart. See how much Adu has matured in a camp and tournament where he doesn’t really need to be relied on. See if you should develop him further. My guess is if Adu wows in this camp–and by that I mean he’s a team player, plays hard all the time, works on his fitness etc–he keeps going. If not, you won’t see him for awhile at the senior level.


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