Archive for June, 2011

Exodus?: TSG’s Official USA vs. Jamaica Preview

Tim Howard's organization skills will be called on again Sunday against the speed Jamaicans...

The tables are turned as the United States heads into its first knockout match of the 2011 Gold Cup.

Their opponent, Jamaica arrives in DC with an industrious upstart moniker similar to the one affixed to the Yanks at World Cup 2010.

Jamaica has buzzed through its CONCACAF tourney competition thus far and, under the guidance of manager and former player Theo “Tappa” Whitmore, shed some of its stereotypical image as great athletes with little more. The Jamaican team is retooled with a stronger–though not faultless–backline, a resolve to maintain poise and possession that comes directly from Whitmore and, devoid of some of it’s biggest global starts, a stronger team ethos on the field than typically accompanies the Reggae Boyz.

Meanwhile, the United States rolls, nay, totters into Sunday with a somewhat “English” hue shall we say.

A group stage that was supposed to be a dress rehearsal for the Yanks instead exposed flaws in the main production. A sloppy win against Canada preceded a listless loss to Panama which preceded a “just-enough” effort against “powerhouse” Guadeloupe to see the Yanks pull themselves into the knockouts with all the grace of a 2nd-grader attempting his first pull-up.

Beyond the clunky display on the field, a late week announcement that the the Yanks two main offensive stars, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, would be foregoing practice to participate in their respective sibling’s wedding put the air of lack of focus and dedication around the group–warranted or not–at a time when it looks like the US could use all the stick-together that they can muster.

Tappa Whitmore, an Essien-type, during his playing days..

The US should be sweating Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz when they head into RFK on Sunday as the outlook from this vantage point has upset plastered all over it.

Let’s get to our customer TSG preview. As usual, it goes:

About the opponent: Jamaica

TSG What Are We Looking For

11 At The Whistle

Disclaimers

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About the opponent: Jamaica

The Reggae-Boyz, rolling in 2011.

Jamaica has been bullying teams like Buffalo Soldiers at Gold Cup 2011.

Seven goals, none conceded, and a quite a bit of conviction behind their style of play. Long known for having speed, uh, speed and athleticism abundance with little discipline, the Reggae Boyz have put it together this summer showing a build-up and possession game that has never been identified with their style of play, until now.

The Boyz opened the tourney by hanging a four spot on overmatched Grenada, followed up it up with a 2-0 victory over Guatemala and concluded the group stage with a convincing 1-0 war of attrition and substitution over Honduras.

The Reggae Boyz have deployed predominantly in a 3-4-3 at the Gold Cup, but against Honduras shifted to a 4-4-2 resting many of their key starters.

The difference in their Honduran schematic was the positioning of MLS striker-forward Ryan Johnson who shifted into a split forward deployment with Dane Richards. In the center, however, is Johnson’s key position this tourney. He has assumed the “big striker role” of injured Ricardo Fuller ; he’s in form and delivering the goods in Gold Cup 2011 with two goals and solid play.

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USWNT: Positioning More Core To US Backline Success Than Experience

Editors’s Note:  The US Women are on the ground in Germany, but how will their back four fare on the pitch?

TSG guest columnist Maura Gladys takes a look. Offer her some feedback.

Christie Rampone, has nearly all the "Been there, done that" of the back four.

A quick scan down the U.S. Women’s World Cup roster and it looks like the U.S. boasts a veteran back line. With Christie Rampone 35, the only holdover from the 1999 World Cup, Amy LePeilbet, 29, Heather Mitts, 32, Ali Krieger, 26, and Rachel Buehler,

Mitts, for all her experience, will likely be doing here high-5'ing on the sideline this summer...

Stephanie Cox and Becky Sauerbrunn, all 25, the average age is a seasoned 28.75. However, the experience of the group is a far different story. Take away Mitts, who will not likely see many minutes this tournament, and LePeilbet, Krieger, Buehler, Cox and Sauerbrunn collectively total 197 caps, 37 less than Rampone has amassed in her career.

More numbers?

Total number of world cup appearance? Six. Four for Rampone, two for Cox.

Olympic appearances? Three for Rampone, two for Mitts and one for Buehler and Cox.

But numbers only show so much. The more significant issue is whether this perceived lack of experience will negatively affect the play of the U.S.’s defense.

Short answer? No.

Slightly longer answer?

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Re-Post: The Moment: Genesis Of A Salute

I’ve eschewed writing this post for some time–mostly because it it could come across in a misrepresented way–but with the absolutely terrific Steve Zakuani tribute on Saturday and positing the question to the audience, well, I’d say it’s about time.

And let me comment, that I hope “on-the-minute” soccer tributes live-on, regardless of nation or team or any qualifier.
9
October 2009

For some odd reason, I remember the two day burst of the Charlie Davies accident and Salute quite vividly. I have a fairly typical photographic memory–if I’ve driven to someplace in my life once I can get back there without direction.

That said the morning of Tuesday, October 13th stands out quite vividly.

It actually started at about 2am PST with a cryptic tweet from Maurice Edu. Twitter has long since deleted the tweet–and if that memory serves me correctly so did Maurice Edu–but Edu’s twitter spun out a somewhat haunting and foreboding message, “Oh it’s terrible. It’s terrible.”

As fans new to twitter and with fewer athletes on at the time, Edu received a deluge of returning tweets with, “What is it Mo?” or “Everything, ok?”

No response. I went to sleep. But Maurice Edu would be a key figure, and the content would frame a difficult day for US soccer fans.

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Night-and-Day: Snap Judgements, USA vs. Guadeloupe

Difference maker...read on.

The United States eeked out a 1-0 win over Guadeloupe Tuesday at Livestrong Park to move on to the Gold Cup knockout rounds and face Jamaica in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.

Tuesday’s game was a tale of a fatigued squad–two fatigued squads–with the States having more talent than their opponent, enough to subsist for the win.

Some quick snap judgements:

• Cause-and-effect: When the Yanks move off the ball they’re universes better than when they don’t. (Thank you John Harkes.)

Not sure how to highlight this point further. But it’s starkly black-and-white.

When the United States made runs off the ball in the match, they created chances. Good chances.

When they didn’t, those chances were hard to come by and passes were forced.

It’s really that simple.

Countless times a Yank had the ball in the possession and a circumference of players around him were stagnant, the lot maybe drained from the wear-and-tear of the match and looking for the simple “rest” pass.

(You know the position where you make yourself available for the safe, possession-keeping outlet pass, but it does nothing to improve the attack.)

There is a certain measure of fatigue that played into the game, but a good team would acknowledge that by players making runs in spurts–as Alejandro Bedoya did when he entered.

For example: “Okay, Dempsey’s tired, I’ll makes some runs.”

It was really quite a terrible display at many times and if the States do that in the second round…that is stagnate…they’ll be given their walking papers early.

• Jozy Altidore should cancel his membership to the Lebron James School of Development

Jozy Altidore’s first half strike was a “Whoa, where did that come from moment.”

US fans have seen Altidore uncork some shots either on the run or facing up outside the box before, rounding Jamie Carragher at World Cup 2010 and a near miss from the left hash extended in a friendly against the Netherlands come to mind.

Tonight, Jozy Altidore showcase the wide range of his talents, but just not enough.

The offense was at its best when Altidore was moving off the ball. Only he did this on just three out of 10 possessions.

Altidore bodied up a few players–a moment in the 47th minute when he earned a foul on a drag run was satisfying, but too often he didn’t initiate contact.

And there was the aforementioned Altidore strike. Fans will be pleading for Altidore to wind up more often.

Consistency game in and game out has proven too difficult for Altidore to achieve over his 37 caps, but Altidore needs to improve his fitness and desire in more frequents spurts during the duration of the game.

He’s that integral right now to the US attack and should be.

• The old guard and new guard owned the corners

Steve Cherundolo quietly goes about his business, shutting down would-be attackers on his flank and being useful and dangerous on the attack.

Tonight, Cherundolo–on his third game in eight days–owned his domain.

Acquitted well...

Likewise, Eric Lichaj, wrong-footed on the left flank, was just as effective if not more so because the Yanks have not seen their leftback get forward in this tournament. In fact, the 43rd minute of Game 3 was the first time the Yanks switched field to an advanced leftback in the tournament to date!

Lichaj was dangerous in the attack, having the discipline to challenge wide on his worse foot rather than continually cutback on this strong one. That takes mental discipline and desire to adhere to the game plan.

In defense, Lichaj held his line well and used his low center of body to ride his attacker off the ball.

And, a huge credit to Lichaj–and something Cherundolo does well–for continuing to pursue a play before an offsides call was about to be made. That’s fundamentals and those efforts do not go unnoticed by a coaching staff.

• A troubling lack of getting stuck-in from the States.

As good as Lichaj was at using his frame and being physical–at one point absorbing a foul and playing on while everyone else on the pitch stood still–the rest of the US team sorely lacked in this operational category.

Jones...better...

Beyond Lichaj, Cherundolo and Jermaine Jones, the US showed an amazing lack of challenging for possession and making hard tackles.

Again, perhaps they were tired. Perhaps they were worried about fouls.

Or perhaps Bob Bradley drilled maintaining shape and containment into their persons so much that going for the tackle wasn’t worth it.

Whatever the reason, the US lost most of the physical battles this evening and that’s troubling considering Jamaica–a team made of nails–and perhaps a Panama rematch may be on the docket next.

Quick hits:

• Michael Bradley exhibited thorough soccer best practices on the evenings, at one point continuing a run into the box that most would have broken off. He earned a bonus possession when the ball fell to him. However, Bradley, still should not be the main distributor for the Yanks.

• I’ve never seen Landon Donovan walk so much during a match. He didn’t take on players after a few early spurts and his service was again erratic. I’ve got to believe something’s up.

Captain America, well done.

• Carlos Bocanegra should be commended on his backline management and positioning this evening. It was excellent.

• Alejandro Bedoya played his second impassioned, aggressive game of the tournament….while Robbie Rogers watched from somewhere in the stands. Stain on Bradley here. Bedoya is and was not redundant to a Benny Feilhaber and should have been on the roster from the beginning. He’s precisely the spark off the corner the team needs.

• And yes, finishing, was atrocious, but I do chalk that one up to fatigue unless we see that pathetic of an effort again.

USA vs. Guadeloupe: Live Commentary

Update:

Wow US line-up: Howard, Bocanegra, Goodson, Lichaj, Cherundolo, Dempsey, Jones, Bradley, Donovan, Wondolowski, Altidore

Starting line-ups are less than 3 hours away. Need to publish this post a bit earlier today, plus lots to chat about.

Dolo, ball control, game control, key.

Steve Cherundolo Saturday night in the Mixed Zone after the US fell 2-1 to Panama on what the US needs to do against Guadeloupe.

“To go out and play the soccer that we want to play, that we can play, and obviously to win. Nothing less than a win works for us, so we have to win the last game and go from there. It’s going to be the hard route to the final now but we’re ready for it, and we have to get this loss behind us and focus on the next game.” 

TSG’s much belabored point is secondary tonight. First, of course for the Yanks is a win, by any means necessary. However, if you want to see that Bob Bradley’s squad took it’s lesson to heart, they must dictate the game and tempo to Guadeloupe.

The United States Men’s National once again finds themselves in control of their destiny and needing a good showing in the final group stage game of tournament.

Today it’s Livestrong Park, the opponent is Guadeloupe and the States have something to prove.

Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT.

English TV Broadcast: Fox Soccer (Kyle Martino with analysis) —  Spanish TV Broadcast: Telefutura, Web: Concacaf.com or Univsion.com

Live Commentary starts…..now!

US likely deployment vs. Guadeloupe

From US Soccer: Bob Bradley & Landon Donovan On Facing Guadeloupe

US Coach Bob Bradley and #10 Landon Donovan sit down and preview US vs. Guadeloupe at Livestrong Park, in Kansas City, KS.

The game is tonight. Starting line-ups in three hours.

Orange Slices: US vs. Guadeloupe

Orange Slices is our game day, catch-all post that we update during the day before the match. Don’t accept substitutes, imitators or copycats! Ask for fresh, wholesome Orange Slices by name.

Orange Slices! USA vs. Guadeloupe

Hello and welcome to game day!

The United States Men’s National once again finds themselves in control of their destiny and needing a good showing in the final group stage game of tournament.

Today it’s Livestrong Park, the opponent is Guadeloupe and the States have something to prove.

Broadcast:

Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. CT.

English TV Broadcast: Fox Soccer (Kyle Martino with analysis) —  Spanish TV Broadcast: Telefutura, Web: Concacaf.com or Univsion.com

Live Commentary: Right here at TSG!

Livestrong Or Die: TSG’s Official USA vs. Guadeloupe Preview

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Supporting Material:

• Flashback: A little more than a year ago, the US kicked off it’s World Cup 2010 campaign. A tactical breakdown by our friends at Zonal Marking.

• Jon Arnold, USA10Kit on moving past Panama.

• The Sporting News’ Brian Straus authors 3 Things The US Must Fix.

•  John Levy, The Yanks Are Coming is paging Landon Donovan in his preview.

Viewing?:

American Outlaws members gather here.

Weather forecast:

Hot? Yes. Wet? Not likely.

Parking update:

We have a parking update? Yes, yes we do. That and more at one of the best local soccer blogs, The Full 90.

AO KC (cough) Does Not Stop (AOkcdoesnotstop) adds: Good news! Lot opens at 2:30! Come get some food and beer!

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BEER!
Did someone say beer?

Sporting KC digital strategist Kyle Rogers participated–along with the Free Beer Movement, Alexi Lalas and others–in TSG’s now infamous: What’s Your Yankee Brew series.

Sporting KC's Kyle Rogers will be drinking...this.

His suggestion for drinking in KC this evening.

Kyle, Sporting KC: Not Tonight Honey Porter – Describes the attitude of both USA and Kansas City fans going into the game. USA fans will feel it’s not the night Guadeloupe gets a big Gold Cup upset, while KC fans will be telling Stephane Auvray that they can’t root for him, tonight.

Read more here.

Surf forecast:

NEXT! This ain’t Kansas. Well actually it is. (Actually just learned last evening that Livestrong Park is in Kansas City, Kansas, not Missouri. First US game in Kansas ever.)

If you really need to get your water sliding on, here’s your location.

BBQ forecast:

KC

Doesn't Tim Howard deserve a good meal?

It’s Kansas City, no surf…you need a BBQ forecast. Here’s our realtime on-demand suggestions:

Tim Hadachek on Twitter: Oklahoma Joe’s. There is also an Arthur Bryant’s location directly across the street from the stadium, if that is relevant.

Adam Brown on Twitter: Arthur Bryants, Gates, Oklahoma Joe’s

Thew on TwitterOklahoma Joe’s for the win, but there’s an Arthur Bryant’s very close to LIVESTRONG

Charles Gooch, fantastic soccer blogger at the The Full 90Oklahoma Joe’s. Thinking of making a stop out there this afternoon.

Chad Reynolds, Twitter: Really can’t go wrong with any of the big places. Gates and Bryants are legendary. Jack Stack’s
is fantastic. Oklahoma Joe’s also

Lea Bales, Twitter: My top 3 in order: Oklahoma Joe’s, Jack Stack’s, Arthur Bryant’s.

Jack Connor, Twitter: Oldschool: Gates/Bryants, New: Okie Joes, Best Food: @jackstackbbq

 

Justin Klemsz, Twitter: Oklahoma Joe’s in a gas station in KC, KS.

More coming..

More on the opponent Guadeloupe:

Les Gwada Boys...

GUADELOUPE
Ligue Guadeloupéenne de Football
Founded: 1961 (Joined CONCACAF in 1964)
Head Coach: Roger Salnot
Best World Cup Finish: Not affiliated with FIFA
Best CONCACAF Gold Cup Finish: Fourth Place (2007)
Key Players: Stephane Auvray, David Fleurival, Brice Jovial, Therry Racon

The TSG Don’t Tread Video Challenge….TODAY IS THE LAST DAY:

Here’s one of your leaders. Please vote now.

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Miscellaneous:

  • The U.S. is facing Guadeloupe for the first time. Guadeloupe participated in its first CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2007 and made it to the semifinals that year. They advanced to the quarterfinals in 2009.
  • The U.S. will be making its first appearance in Kansas on Tuesday night.
  • The U.S. has played once in Kansas City, Mo.: a FIFA World Cup qualifying win against Costa Rica on April 25, 2001, when Josh Wolff scored the lone goal before a crowd of 37,319 fans.
  • The U.S. lost for the first time in group play when they fell to Panama and now has a 24-1-2 record in group play.
  • The U.S. has won its group in each of the 10 previous tournaments. The closest the U.S. has come to finishing second was in 2005 when the U.S. and Costa Rica were tied with seven points, with the U.S. collecting a better goal differential to clinch first place.
  • The U.S. is 3-0-2 in the third game of group play. From 1996-2003, the Gold Cup was played with groups of three teams, so the group stage only included two games per team.
  • The U.S. is seeking its fifth Gold Cup title, with prior championships coming in 1991, 2002, 2005 and 2007.
  • Winning the 2011 version of the confederation championship has a massive bonus attached to it – the right to play in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil just one year prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
  • With his start against Panama, Landon Donovan played in his CONCACAF record-setting 24th career match in the Gold Cup.
  • The U.S. has a 4-1-0 record under Bob Bradley when coming off a loss to a CONCACAF opponent.
  • Eight U.S. players have made their Gold Cup debut in 2011. Juan Agudelo, Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Tim Ream and Chris Wondolowski debuted against Canada. Alejandro Bedoya debuted against Panama.
  • Eric Lichaj is the one player with the U.S. team in Kansas City yet to make a career Gold Cup appearance.
  • Agudelo is the first U.S. player to appear in a CONCACAF Gold Cup match prior to his 19th birthday, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Agudelo (18 years, 196 days) broke the mark held by DaMarcus Beasley in 2002 (19 years, 240 days).
  • Saturday’s match in Tampa was the 51st for the U.S. in the Gold Cup, a CONCACAF record. The U.S. also has the CONCACAF record for wins, holding a 39-6-6 record.
  • Agudelo is the only player to appear in all six games in 2011.
  • Ream leads the team with 450 minutes played.
  • Ream and Altidore are the only players to have started five games in 2011.

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