Archive for January, 2012

Maura Gladys Deconstructs The USWNT & Hurricanes “Alex,” “Sydney” & “Carli”

by Maura Gladys

Five games, nine days and 39 goals. That’s what it took for the U.S. women’s national team to win the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying

One of the few negatives....

Tournament and book their ticket to this summer’s London Olympic Games. The U.S. steamrolled the opposition, beating Dominican Republic 14-0, Guatemala 13-0, Mexico 4-0, Costa Rica 3-0 and Canada 4-0. No question, the U.S. flat out dominated. But there was a weird tone to the whole affair. From a devastating injury to a key player, to the discussion stemming from two double-digit blowouts, there really wasn’t that unabashed joy and celebration that we saw at last summer’s World Cup. A few key takeaways from the tournament:

Krieger’s injury

Just 40 minutes into the tournament, right back Ali Krieger fell victim to an unnecessary tackle from Dominican Republic that completely tore her right ACL and partially tore her right MCL, sidelining her for the foreseeable future and throwing an appearance at the Olympic Games into question.

The injury is a crushing blow to the USWNT. Krieger is the best right back in the world, and her absence, no matter who fills that slot, will be felt. One of the most dependable players on the field, Krieger paired with Heather O’Reilly can consistently dominate the right side.

Sundhage was able to cover up Krieger’s absence on the fly with a variety of players including Heather Mitts, Rachel Buehler and Kelley O’Hara. But moving forward, Sundhage will have to do some serious searching to find Krieger’s replacement. Mitts had a solid tournament but the 33-year-old’s best days are behind her. O’Hara showed promise, but will need more time to acclimate to the position. Becky Sauerbrunn is another potential candidate. A natural center back, Sauerbrunn has the ability to make the switch, and also brings a calming, even-keeled demeanor similar to Krieger’s.

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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.

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