Archive for December, 2011

Confirmed: Hérculez Gomez Headed To Santos Laguna

If only Bob Bradley knew…


With Estudiantes Tecos about to wrap up there season and facing a budget-balancing puzzle, the US’s prodigal poacher south of the border is headed north out of town.

TSG has confirmed that the 2010 World Cup vet will join Club Santos Laguna (where former US coach Bob Bradley was said to be in talks about their head role before taking the Egypt job) after the conclusion of Mexican Apertura playoff final series Sunday.

Santos lost 1-0 in the first leg of that one. Terms of the deal have not been released.

This will be fourth team Mexican team that Gomez will play for since he signed on at Puebla at the turn of 2010. The Las Vegas native netted eight times for Estudiantes Tecos in the Apertura 2011 tournament.

Disclaimer: As is well known TSG is partial to Gomez for his sterling focus on “team” and his positive spirit, we wish Herc will in his new endeavor.

The Weekend: What Are You Watching?

Just about every league–except MLS–in full swing this weekend. Some match-ups to watch. What will you be hdtv’ing?

• The Ray Hudson Bowl

El Clasico.

Main dwarf...

Real Madrid and Barcelona. Lately this match has become more like a Catholic elementary school game of tag at recess than a soccer match.

Packs of little people running around in close bunches and getting excited, sobbing and running to tattle if they accidentally get knocked to the ground.

And it looks like it could be that way again.

Barca’s starting dwarfs probably deploy as follows: GK: Mourinho’s Best Friend, DEF: Slippy, Pique, Great Mane,  MID: Fakie, Crybaby, Complainer, Pingy; FW: Messi, Stumbly, & Freebie.

Meanwhile on the other side of ball, Xavi Alonso’s second cousin was caught sneaking a shank into the Bernebeu and burying it in near the 18-yard box. Turns out it was just a pancake spatula, but given its El Clasico it would have been just as dangerous out there for the waif-like Barca midfield.

Jokes aside, Real have a very good chance in this one. Certainly their best on the Jose’s watch.

Mourinho’s men are playing great team.

however,  I can’t help, but think that they are just deficient in the single category that the match-up hinges on. Quickness in tight corners.

They’ve got Benzema (or Higuain), Ozil, DiMaria and Ronaldo and only DiMaria out of the group possesses near-world class speed. Don’t get me wrong. That’s a lot of ammunition for Madridistas to have but against Barca’s keep-away ball?

El Clasico rolls Saturday afternoon. Ray Hudson is already on his third scotch of the day in preparation. Uh-oh.

• The forthcoming Old Trafford Massacre

Mick McCarthy...

Whoa is you Wolverhampton.

And quite a conundrum here for Mick McCarthy. A little less than two years ago, the Sam The Eagle look-a-like coach of Wolves brought a “B” team to a midweek affair at Old Trafford knowing that his side had little chance of escaping with a draw at the Manchester powerhouse.

This time around? Sir Alex Ferguson will chum the water and expect his Nemanja Vidic-less minions to grind the opponent into the crowd early, then often.

While the United squad is receiving just vitriol for dropping out of the Champion’s League courtesy of a Swiss team, there was a glaring hole in Fergie’s team this week: no linking, come-get-the-ball and switch-it player in the midfield.

Youch! But not the biggest concern...

FC Baselona allowed their flanks to get beat to a pulp but they stayed narrow and rigid on defense and United simply didn’t switch the ball fast enough to exploit and extend open space.

It’s a big concern for United…and it reminds TSG of Chelsea’s glaring hole with the #10 role last year (they, or course answered that in the offseason with Juan “Yerba” Mata).

Stay vigilant on the midfield point with United here in the next few months.

With Chris Smalling, Johnny “Not-on-the-spot” Evans and even Phil Jones, the Red Devils should be able to contend fairly well with the loss of Vidic, but it’s the midfield with Anderson out until February, Michael Carrick doing his annual now-you-see-me, now-you-don’t routine and Paul Scholes on the speaking circuit indefinitely that appears to be the whole in the site. The lack of a ball rotation specialist may hurt United in their pursuit of finishing as the Premiership tablecloth.

Brek Shea, Indicted! The Day Soccer Made It In America….

This is the first piece for TSG by Miriti Murungi’s Nutmeg Radio; oops, Nutmeg Radio’s Miriti Murungi. Murungi also hosts a rather, make that The Confidential podcast, here. In his spare time, he tutors budding archery proteges in his sleep.

Clean cut no more. MLS & Brek Shea, 2018?, '19?

I turned on the TV early this morning as I was getting ready to go to work.

The TV oddly revved up on MSNBC, not necessarily a sign of my political leanings, but more a suggestion that I may have been watching Lockup: Somewhere at some ungodly hour last night, learning how to make a rather delectable lobster bisque in a prison toilet.

I mean, really, who are we kidding; it’s a culinary skill that may be required at some point if we want to be a top level soccer nation.

I’ve always said it will take a level of ingenuity unknown to the average man for soccer to truly make it in America.

I’ve always said it will take a level of ingenuity unknown to the average man for soccer to truly make it in America.

I don’t stutter. That was two times for effect and reinforcement.

Back to reality, then the news came: BREAKING … Brek Shea to be indicted for …

“What? I don’t know where the iron is. Probably in the refrigerator where it always is.”

The missus doesn’t handle mornings well. Good thing I purposely muttered that to avoid detection. Instead I replied, “It’s in the oven.” Much better. Obviously, the iron isn’t in the oven. Comedic genius, I am.

Ugh. I missed it. Indicted for what? I switched to CNN, hoping Sanjay Gupta or Anderson Cooper might be willing to provide an explanation on their new morning show, America Today: Brought To You By China.

Perhaps even a word from John Harkes, the new CNN correspondent for World Soccer Affairs, Cricket & Snooker and award-winning author of “How The #37 Player Changed the Game of Football American, I Think.” (There are very subtle differences, I think, from Harkes last work on the #36 player.)

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Caleb Porter With 28 Names For December Training

While the USMNT has their January “Camp Cupcake” coming up, the US U-23s will head to Florida under the direction of new coach Caleb Porter on December 15th, to participate in their own camp (“Camp Junior Mint?”) in advance of next year’s Olympic tournament.

The Dynamo's Danny Cruz, an unheralded name in the mix....

Porter doled out invitations this week and US Soccer made the announcement today with few surprises. The squad is…..

GOALKEEPERS (4): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Zac MacMath (Philadelphia Union)

DEFENDERS (8): Gale Agbossoumonde (Eintracht Frankfurt), Royal-Dominique Fennell (Stuttgarter Kickers), Sebastien Ibeagha (Duke), Kofi Sarkodie (Houston Dynamo), Zarek Valentin (Montreal Impact), Jorge Villafana (Chivas USA), Andrew Wenger (Duke), Sheanon Williams (Philadelphia Union)

MIDFIELDERS (10): Freddy Adu (Philadelphia Union), Bryan Arguez (Montreal Impact), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo), Mikkel Diskerud (Stabæk), Dilly Duka (Columbus Crew), Jared Jeffrey (Mainz), Sebastian Lletget (West Ham United), Amobi Okugo (Philadelphia Union), Michael Stephens (LA Galaxy)

FORWARDS (6): Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Teal Bunbury (Sporting KC), Jann George (Nürnberg), Joe Gyau (Hoffenheim), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Wooten (Kaiserslautern)

The skinny:

> Chivas USA fans must be kicking themselves again today that Montreal swiped Zarek Valentin from them in the expansion draft. Could he be starting in the Olympics next year?

> Andrew “Wooten Clan” makes the roster. We just like saying that.

> The Earthquakes actually get a player on the squad…and it’s a goalie! Amazing and a sullen asterisk on Ike Opara who would have thought might have one time been a captain on this team.

> Jared Jeffrey again getting a call-in from Mainz.

> No Juan Agudelo…likely to the senior side for January camp? CJ Sapong is too old to compete without at the Olympics without taking one of the over-23 spots.



Clint, His Haul, & The American Now Caretaking At The Cottage

Heartbreaker, Record-breaker...

Once again Monday, it was Liverpool.

And given that Liverpool in some ways now represents the “English” hope as the home country Premiership super club, perhaps it was again appropriate.

And again, the conductor was Clint Dempsey with the symphonic high note on a little flick of his be-cleated baton. This time though, the performance and the standing ovation afterward was much more about the individual than the team.

Clint Dempsey, game winner. Fulham wins, Liverpool laments.

On the 5th day of another month–this one May of 2007–Dempsey poked home a similar goal to Monday’s winner to keep his newly-found Cottager team afloat in the Premiership for another year. (They’ve of course haven’t slipped to those dire straits since.)

December 5th, 2011–more than four years later–saw the American soccer’s favorite Texan swipe the American EPL career goal record (now 37) from his revered former Prem teammate Brian McBride. (Interestingly, it took Dempsey 14 more games to match McBride’s 26)

For a man that continues to score in cinematic ways: comedies, dramas, thrillers, suspenseful endings, it doesn’t quite seem that Dempsey has garnered the respect that taking home an Oscar from The Academy earns an actor in Tinseltown.

"*They still can't see me" (p.s. no way the "n" word was going in this caption)

It’s hard to see Dempsey one day getting a bar at Craven Cottage with his last-name emblazoned on it like McBride. More immediately, as the January transfer window’s latch begins to unfasten, the lack of Oscar-like respect will probably see Dempsey once again at the heart of rumors–not home mover–convergence.

In fact, if the title-type wasn’t overused by ESPN sister sites too much, the proper headline for for this Dempsey tale may be “That Curious Case of Drew Dempsey.” (The middle name makes the alliteration obviously work better.)

Two years ago, a TSG penned a piece with a decidedly different theme and title (“What’s Going On Clint?“)

Through the prose of Marvin Gaye, there was a stark perplexity to how the squirrely attacker could pop-up like a whack-a-mole for a critical pass or goal, but go absent for long stretches of games.

Indeed for his club team Fulham, through 2009, over 80% of Dempsey’s goals in league play were either scored in the first 20 minutes of the match or the last 20. He wasn’t listening to Michael Jackson and sipping tea in between, but he wasn’t forcing the issue either.

For the US national team–with Landon Donovan firmly installed as first knight–the inconsistency was even more pronounced.

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The Last Laugh On Manchester?

Wow, Kia Joorabchian sure works fast.

Too soon?


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