Archive for January, 2012

The Dizzying Decision Tree of Carlos Tevez

The bench-bound scoring "siren"....

John Nyen on the enigma that is Sir Carlos Tevez

The man on the keyboards pounds out the rhythms to the beat as the two brothers swap verses.

Of the two front men, one is a skinnier kid, while the other is dressed in a soccer kit. The man in the jersey looks a bit uncomfortable on the stage but the band Piola Vago has had some success over the years. They even managed to hit the charts in Argentina with their song “Lose Your Control”.

This situation is truly the oddness of Carlos Tevez. Soccer player, singer, father, and one of the best players alive, he hasn’t played professional soccer since September 2011.

In the years since the decline of Fernando Torres, the wavering form of Wayne Rooney and the aging of Didier Drogba; Carlos Tevez was among, if not, THE leading goal scorer in the Barclay’s Premier League. A devastating combination of skill, power and determination, Tevez is also gifted with the ability to play exceptionally well and still be hated by his current team.

Truly a unique characteristic.

This is a player that scored 52 goals in two years and 86 goals in four. He was Manchester City’s player of the year in 2009-10, the fans player of the year in 2009-10 and the joint top scorer in the premier league in 2010-11.

This is also a player that, through shady business deals and management, had a hand in seriously damaging West Ham United (20 million pound settlement paid to Sheffield United over 5 years and a 5.5 million pound fine) and relegating Sheffield United.

Tevez on his short London sojourn...

Yet when he returned to West Ham–playing for Manchester United–he was saluted by the Hammers fans in song and crossed his arms in front of the United kit much like the Hammers cross on the West Ham crest.

Odd.

Tevez’s contract was partially owned by the now infamous Kia Joorabchian’s Media Sports Investments and the STILL infamous Kia Joorabchian’s Just Sports Inc.

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Today Only: Dempsey vs. Donovan (& Howard)

Fulham departs the Cottage and heads northwest to Goodison to face David Moyes bunch of not so merry men.

The so-called #LDvsCD battle. Donovan vs. Dempsey.

TSG is not buying the hype, but nice to watch one game in England instead of two to see the US’s top field players….and leading striker Tim Howard.

Discuss.

US trifecta...

Observations: USA 1, Panama 0

Some good things; some bad things...

The United States went south to Panama Wednesday night and came away with a win against a CONCACAF up-and-comer and little else.

The small margin of victory came early in the contest as Zach Loyd lofted a ball into the box. Chris Wondolowski challenged his defender for it as it skipped (or grazed) past their heads.

The marble caromed of the unsuspecting heal of Teal Bunbury into the waiting path of Bunbury’s Sporting KC teammate Graham Zusi (“Encino Man”) who slotted it past Luis Meija for the difference in the match. Zusi was open as the result of a defensive gaffe by Panama, one of their few stumbles of the evening for the opponent defensively. Their attack was another story.

There was little else to cheer Wednesday as the States’ struggled to generate attacking opportunity with probably the incorrect formation to break down Julio Dely Valdes’s team.

The US came out in a 4-4-2, with CAM Benny Feilhaber sacrificed from the Saturday Venezuela line-up for Wondolowski, but the States struggled to link successfully up to the two forwards as Panama came out and elected to challenge Jurgen Klinsmann’s men in the midfield instead of playing pack-and-counter. The gambit left the States weak–personnel-wise and numbers-wise–and the imbalance only excaserbated as the US’s lone psuedo-creative midfielder Jermaine Jones tired from his second game on short rest after what has been a long club hiatus from him.

Encino Man FTW early on...

[Zusi’s goal]

In fact, that’s a good point to lead off our observations:

• The Ghosts of Clubs Past

A common criticism of US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann was an alleged complete lack of tactical nous. Today’s display would support that argument.

Klinsmann–as did TSG–expected Panama to bunker a bit and play on the counter. Panama had shown this hand during the Gold Gup in two matches against the States–playing counter ball in the game one group stage match and playing outright bunker ball in the elimination game.

Panama, however, came prepared and pushed a higher defensive line while compressing their forward and midfield bands.

This had two negating effects that choked the US attack.

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Image: Tim Howard’s Apparent Transfer Value

Winning, US-style.

The British press compares the value of “strikers” Fernando Torres, Andy Carroll & Tim Howard. (Thank you Jesse for the find)

Live Commentary: USA vs. Panama

Loyd in for Pearce. Clark in for Feilhaber. Away we go.

Back in action?

TSG’s Official USA vs. Panama Preview: Will The Third Time Be Charming?

Will Jones sport the armband again? Will he have a better first touch? (Photo credit: Joshua Pearson)

When we last met our protagonist–the USMNT–it was doing battle north of the border, putting out a tiny skirmish, so to speak, that was attempting to be kindled by Venezuela.

The States controlled “the battle” and at the death put the South American foe to the proverbial sword, 1-0 after a dominating display–especially in midfield–against an overmatched opponent. Good shifts were also put in in central defense where Michael Parkhurst and Geoff Cameron cleaned up all comers, like two parents guarding the home pennant in Capture The Flag against bumbling kids.

Wednesday, the States draws it’s revolver against a familiar foe in Panama, a team that gave the US their tightest two matches at the Gold Cup with the series being split 1-1. The first game being the so-called, but inaccurately-labeled “Tim Ream” match, and the second being the more aptly named “Freddy Adu Revival” game.

Panama is a rejuvenated side in no small part to TSG fave Julio Dely Valdes and the US’s success or failure against this foe will provide the best litmus test to date about the level of US possession-oriented attacking soccer and the teaching of one Jurgen Klinsmann.

Why is that?

Under Dely Valdes Panama has become a highly disciplined side, adept at the counter attack. Panama’s tactics will probably be similar to Venezuela’s on Saturday–only they’ll be better in all facets.

The US’s foe knows what’s coming and is good at preparing. Barometer time for Klinsmann’s campers.

Will more late-match theatrics be needed from Ricardo & Co.?

TSG What We’re Looking For

• Does The Attacking Swashbuckling Continue?

As mentioned Panama presents a stronger squad to navigate than Venezuela. The US got both a ton of space on the ball and a lot of room to manuveur against their Saturday opponent.

The contrarian TSG was less than impressed that night though with the efforts of Benny Feilhaber and Jermaine Jones on Saturday. Panama will show just a little bit more if they are both fit for senior side trials or both pretenders more comfortable at the junior level going forward.

No Felipe Baloy–the Panamanian captain–for the home side, but the defensive integrity should still be tougher to break down.

• Cameron (+ Beckerman) vs. Ream vs. Perez?

While the comparisons would be unfair–two different systems, different competition level, different showcasing needs (Panamanian forward Blas Perez has since landed a contract with FC Dallas)–they’ll happen.

New FC Dallas man Blas Perez is a handful to bring down...

Geoff Cameron will play LCB, the position that Tim Ream did in Gold Cup when he was scapegoated for the game-winning foul on Perez and subsequent penalty for a 2-1 Panama win in the group stage. It was the USMNT’s first loss in the group stage in Gold Cup history.

Perez was crafty that day–always is–but Ream also was not shielded–because of an overtasked central midfield–from the most challenging situation for a CB: where to hold the line and how far to come up.

Ream’s mistake was one of probability, less of ability. Put a novice CB in one-on-one situations–as Ream was frequently tasked–and they’ll make a rookie mistake.

On Wednesday, expect El Germanisimo (Klinsmann?) to play a higher line with Cameron and Parkhurst and for Beckerman to shield that backline preventing fewer back-to-the-basket-and-turn chances. Perez, less than Luis Renteriea, provides less speed at getting behind a backline.

Cameron–and Parkhurst–should profit. Fans should review those few times that Cameron is tasked one-on-one for defending ability to get a good sense of where Cameron is on the senior side depth chart.

• Miscellaneous

» Does Nick Rimando get a start in goal on the road?

» Does Zack Loyd get a runout at either left or rightback–his play on Saturday would seem to merit it.

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The Chicago Fire Turn It Up in 2012

Thanks for the media kit guys. A classy re-introduction of the franchise.

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