Archive for December, 2011

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?

Champion’s League Live: What Will The Papers Say in Manchester Tomorrow?

Manchester City versus Bayern Munich. Basel with an exposition at Old Trafford against United.

Can Basel be hero’s today?

(New content coming today; apologies for the delays)

Which team emphatically stands tallest tomorrow?

US U-17s Send Twelve Foot Walls Of Water & Wash Out Brazil 3-1

The U-17ers moved as one on Sunday...

A surfing nod in that title.

As you become older, wiser and more experienced in surfing, you learn that Mother Ocean always wins. So when sets of 12-foot waves are hurdling towards you, you wait until the set of waves subsides and make your play or you sort-of stick-and-move your way out to the line-up, prodding for the little channel that hopefully exists.

When you’re young, you paddle out in the middle of that barreling set. You rely on your strength to get you out there–and most of the time you make it–and you’re only not exhausted by the time you reach the line-up because you’re, well, young.

The US U-17s sent waves upon waves of big surf at their Brazilian counterparts on Sunday and Brazil’s U-17 squad made like the youngsters they are attempting to take on what probably was–for them–a surprising onslaught, head-on.

One problem. Both sides of the ball were young and Brazil’s attempts to play their usually dominating game against the United States left them on the short side of the scoreline, 3-1.

TSG often tries to temper enthusiasm around a single game. We call it a single observation and–broken record time–you need multiple observations to really start drawing a conclusion–the, yes, whole body of work.

Therefore, with that annotation in hand, we’ll still calmly call Sunday’s display by the Yankee Mini-Me’s, impressive.

Impressive across the ball.

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Euro 2012 Draw: Reflections Of The Forthcoming Madness

Poor corporate oversight here. Meant to get this up on Saturday.

TSG’s celebrated peanut gallery: Waldorf, Statler, and…I don’t know Beauregard got together via email on Friday to toss out one-liners and multi-liners from the balcony on the Euro 2012 draw. It was TSG’s Serie A expert–and Italian national team–expert Eric Giardini, joined by Ronan Quinn writing from Newcastle on Ireland. They both welcomed John Nyen who writes on Liverpool, the Premiership, and the Portland Timbers, lives in Denver and has national ties to I’m not quite sure.

Anywho, here was the discussion that ensued:

Eric, Italy:  What are your initial thoughts on the draw? Being an Italy supporter I can’t say I’m entirely thrilled with the draw. Thoughts on who got off easy? Toughest group? Surprise pick to make it out of a group?

Chief Tableclother Luka Modric...

John, Potpourri: My favorite thing about the draw was Low’s face upon the announcement of Germany in Group B. I am firmly hoisting my flag under my 50% countrymen Sweden (since Norway can’t make it into a tournament these days).

Thoughts on who got off easy? Poland. Their group is passable for the youngish team.
Toughest group? The answer here for most everyone is going to be group B, but I think “C” is underrated.
Other than Spain (who haven’t been dominant in their friendlies recently) the other three teams are going to be difficult to predict. Without Cassano and Rossi for Italy, with the good-bad luck of Ireland, and Croatia (who are coming into this tournament a bit like the USA in 2006 with a high ranking, some good players but not quite sure how good they are going to be).

Surprise pick to make it out of a group? Croatia. I think Modric has a chance to be very influential.

Ronan, Ireland: Let me start if I may from Ireland’s point of view. Certainly on the face of it, it appears a bit of an uphill task for the boys in green. I agree to an extent with you John that Croatia are always a dangerous team with some really creative players like Modric, Kranjcar and Rakitic to name a few, with a seemingly never ending list of forwards who can score (Olic, Eduardo, Petric etc.). It is exactly the type of team Ireland have struggled with in the recent past (like a Russia).

With respect to Eric and Italy, it is the game I fear the least. Ireland have matched up well with Italy recently and haven’t been beaten by them since 1990 (please no YouTube videos of Schillaci). Trappatoni has a bit of inside knowledge as well and Ireland tend not to get beat by the big teams under his guidance.

Will Ireland get undone again?

HANDBALLS ASIDE!

Spain is a very different proposition, although Ireland are the type of team they have struggled against. In the same mould as the USMNT in the Confederation Cup 2009, and Switzerland in last years World Cup, Ireland deploy a very resistant, counter attacking 4-4-2, which frankly the Spanish don’t like.

Perhaps I’m overly optimistic….

As for the rest of the draw I think Group A is fantastic. Every team in that group will be confident of going through and hopefully that will produce amazing cup football.

Group B really is a tough one, this is the best Denmark side in years in my opinion and their edge over Portugal for the last four years makes that group the hardest. Germany versus Holland will be….epic.

If France were to beat England in the opener in Group D, John’s Sweden might sense blood. And Sweden have historaclly stumped England for 40 years–barring last month’s game at Wembley.

But host nations are always difficult.

Surprise package: I’ll go with Poland. You’re playing against a decent team with them, but a vociferous crowd. Momentum, everything.

John, Potpourri: I am, as well, hoping for good things from Group A with the caveat that we have Greece in there. Granted they played well in qualifying and did beat Croatia 2-0, but their group wasn’t exactly a dangerous one with the likes of Latvia, Georgia, and Malta. I still tend to think that their style, while dulling and pragmatic, might work well enough for them to get through provided their defense is water tight.

I tend to feel that I am on the outs with Portugal right now as well. Given the fact that the Dutch and Germany are going to come directly at you, we might see quite a bit of counter from Portugal. Also I do wonder which Ronaldo we are going to see… the one who scored one goal in the World Cup or the one at Real Madrid surround by enormous amounts of talent. Plus….Portugal just lost to Denmark 2-1 in October. Not exactly inspiring for them. This is actually why, even though I think group B is a group of death, it might end up being slightly dull. I’m not sure I see anyone getting through except the Dutch and Germany.

Saturday Live Commentary: Get Some..

Back in full effect next week.

In fact a piece on the Euro 2012 draw out later today.

Best game to watch today? Newcastle vs. Chelsea? Close. Barca vs. top-table wannabee Levante? Not quite.

Inter vs. Udinese? Not bad, but…

The correct answer? Stateside…UCLA battle Lousville for the right to move on to the semis of the College Cup. The storylines can be found here.

Louisville's Nick DeLeon, rows instead of dreds, spanks home a UCLA folly earlier this year...

The AVB Doomsday Syndrome

So much promise....

At some point you just have to feel sorry for a coach…. regardless of team affiliation. The execution time is quickly approaching with bated breath and grim reaper fingerprints. This is the time where Roman Abramovich gets itchy on the trigger finger, picks up a cell phone from Moscow and calls the front office of Chelsea Football Club to let them know that Chelsea will no longer be requiring the service of Andre Villas-Boas. In the five years since Jose Mourinho left there have been six different coaches of Chelsea. Now two of these were interim head coaches, one coaching for only one game since there was no one else (Ray Wilkins). However, the mantra still remains in Chelsea.

“Win all the trophies you want, but your job isn’t secure unless you win the Champions League”

These aren’t all coaches that have failed. To be sure you had the dour Avram Grant and the slightly incapable Luiz Felipe Scolari, but you also have the intriguing reign of Carlo Ancelotti, in which he won the League and the FA cup and was still fired.

This information actually compares rightly to another club, Real Madrid, who fired their coach (Manuel Pelligrini) when he was performing a pretty decent job of coaching the assets in front of him. People tend to forget this but the 2009-2010 Real Madrid team actually had the second highest point total in the history of La Liga. Second to that year’s Barcelona team. They only lost 4 times in league, and had a ridiculous goal differential of +67. They were first in La Liga as late as the 30th week in the season (season only lasts 38). Of course they went out early in the Copa del Rey and were knocked out in the round of 16 in the Champions League. Despite the success on the field and despite the fact that the 2009/2010 Barcelona team ranks as one of the best teams in the history of soccer, Manuel Pelligrini was fired and his replacement was the indefatigable Jose Mourinho.

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