Archive for January, 2012

Orange Slices: USA vs. Venezuela Preview

January is treating TSG like Gio Dos Santos doing the US at the 2011 Gold Cup. Unmercifully. Ouch.

Parkhurst gets his shot?

Thanks for baring with us.

On to what you came here for.

The US attempts to break down Venezuela at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Saturday night 6pm PT.

For the US, this match will represent the first time that Jurgen Klinsmann has had more than two weeks to prepare his team for a match.

While the player selection will be devoid of the creme-de-la-creme not in camp, a certain degree of homogeneity should have been spawned from a training period where the players have gotten comfortable with one another in Carson, CA.

That means that a US defense should be more cohesive than a typical camp while there should be better interplay up the pitch when attacking.

The US will play a Venezuela team that is a on an upswing. Los Llaneros are steaming forward on a trajectory that began with the changing of guard to youthful Coach Cesar Farias.

Farias took over in 2007 and his resume should make him a diety already back in the homeland: Venezuela’s first win over Brazil, a near-miss in qualifying for World Cup 2010, a semifinal birth for the first time in the 2011 Copa America with wins over Chile and Argentina.

The Venezuelan side might be lacking their Euro stars like the States, but they’ll come in a well drilled team and, if they deploy as expected in a 4-4-2, then the US will attempt to win the press-up-the-pitch battle that they’ve been trying to practice since Klinsmann’s first match.

TSG What We’re Looking For

• Centerback selection and competition

This Venezuela match marks the first time that US fans will get to see alternate options at arguably the US’s weakest position, centerback. Mind you, the States are not short on possibilities, but no one–new–has stepped up to own the role.

The options that were thought to be be first choices coming in to camp, Omar Gonzalez and George John, are now no longer–the latter loaned to West Ham and the former now recovering from season-curbing knee surgery.

The injury and moved created a chance for Geoff Cameron to get the feature look that many analysts and fans were rightfully pining for. (Though unproductive in the wake of a MLS Cup game injury, it’s curious to wonder if Klinsmann would have faciliated a loan for the Dynamo man in the off-season.)

In an interesting move–and on that is likely telling–Cameron has been playing left centerback in camp. With the experienced Heath Pearce out on the left flank and Brek Shea the arguably the States’ strongest attacker on Sunday, don’t be surprised if Jurgen Klinsmann sends the ball more frequently into Venezuela’s rear right side kitchen with the US experience and firepower on that side.

Tactically-sound bet Michael Parkhurst will probably get the start at RCB.

Old guard or new guard

Currently an international man of mystery...Zusi...

Take a look at this in threes. In the “old guard” you have Benny Feilhaber, Jermaine Jones and Ricardo Clark. The new guard? Perhaps Graham Zusi and an elevated Jeff Larentowicz.

Is Jurgen looking to be competitive and then the “vets” out or did he merely bring the likes of Jones and Clark in camp to provide competition.

Venezuela’s B+ B- team here represents a sizable challenge for MLS players who haven’t seen game action. Watch who Klinsmann entrusts with which role. It say more about the status of Feilhaber and Jones particularly if they don’t get the early run out.

Miscellaneous

» Will Chris Wondolowski be left on an island in second January camp game like last year?

» Will Geoff Cameron make foraging runs forward to add to the attack, not something that Klinsmann has employed with the senior squad?

» Will Bill Hamid get his first look in goal? Can Bill Hamid marshall a new defense against a difficult first-time opponent? Has Sean Johnson possibly usurped Hamid’s spot in the pecking order? Or will it be vet Nick Rimando who will steady the first-time backline?

Possible USMNT deployment versus Venezuela

continuing to Orange Slices—

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US Women Warm Up Qualifying Engine

Qualifying starts. Maura Gladys has you covered.

Morgan looking to excel--in a new role?--as winter closes...

The last time the U.S. Women’s National Team competed in a CONCACAF qualifying tournament, they almost missed the cut for the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Only a two-legged playoff series with Italy, which was essentially won by then-newcomer Alex Morgan, saved the USWNT from missing their first major international tournament in history.

Entering the CONCACAF Olympic qualifying tournament, which kicks off tonight, the U.S. Women’s National Team will be looking to erase those memories and secure their spot in this summer’s Olympic Games. While that is an extremely realistic and achievable goal, it’s not as much of a sure-thing as it’s been in the past, and the tournament will by no means be a cake walk.

The top two teams in the eight-team tournament book their tickets to London, meaning that the two semifinal matches are much more crucial than the championship match.

In order to make their passage easier, the U.S. will have to take care of business earlier rather than later. They start off group play with matches against the Dominican Republic tonight and Guatemala on Sunday, what should be two victories. (Although who doesn’t remember the USMNT’s loss to Panama in last summer’s Gold Cup.) In their final group play match, the U.S. takes on Mexico. A win here is crucial as it should allow them to avoid playing Canada in the all-important semifinal. (This is assuming that Canada does its part and wins Group B as well.) If the U.S. can get past Mexico, they should miss playing a very good Canadian team at home and instead face a much more manageable squad (such as Costa Rica.)

Sundhage’s roster feels more and more static, featuring the same 20 or so names for the past year. This version features only one addition, recent number one WPS Draft pick Sydney Leroux. While Leroux, a Vancouver native, is probably a bit of a sentimental pick, she could see some time during the U.S.’ earlier games.

But the player that may make the difference, or at least add the most change to the lineup is Kelley O’Hara. O’Hara was a striker throughout all of college, and featured on the left wing during her brief appearance in last summer’s Women’s World Cup.

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El Clasico: Real vs. Barca

And here they go again….

Umpteenth

Report & Analysis: Sebastien Le Toux Goes To Bolton

Osi for the Giants...

When the New York Giants take on the the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday, it will be a battle of the defensive ends that is a key to determining the outcome, positively or negatively, for both teams.

For the Giants, a return of a healthy Osi Umenyori to support Jason Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul on the outside means that the Giants can consistently collapse the pocket from the flank, contain lateral runs, and basically wreak havoc….or at the very least the 49ers will have to try very hard to stop this.

Rushing, with speed, of the edge is critical to the Giants defense and as it opens up holes for further (and more dangerous) penetration internally.

The same can be said of the impact that a speedy winger has on the game. In the Premiership, the first names that come to mind with “speed” and “flank” are Aaron Lennon and Theo Walcott. Notice, neither is a great crosser of the ball and both offer little on some days that merely challenging the fullback.

Their role, however, is vital in both cases to opening up the inside play and scoring opportunities for a trailing Rafael Van Der Vaart in Lennon’s case or the stealthy Robin Van Persie in Walcott’s case.

LeToux: Bolton

Fox Soccer and Ives Galarcep reporting this morning that the Philadelphia Union’s Sebastien Le Toux is headed to Bolton in the January transfer window. For LeToux it’s obviously a step up and a bigger payday.

Bolton has suffered tremendously this year from two things.

First, the lack of protector and attack diverter in Stu Holden playing ahead of the central defense–Bolton has leaked goals this year like Pat Onstad defending the near post. Ouch.

Second, when a team comes under such heavy fire and doesn’t have the ability to ping the ball through possession up the field, they desperately need to keep the backline of the opponent honest. If there is no speed option up top or off the corner the opponent can play a defensive highline and like a boa constrictor slowly and methodically work the ball into an advantageous situation until it’s curtains for the opposing goalkeeper.

For Bolton last year, it was the midseason loan of Daniel Sturridge–playing off the corner and up top–challenging the backline that both catapulted Bolton higher in the standings and showcased Sturridge’s ability. If you notice, Sturridge is playing that same speedy, off-center role at Chelsea that he did last year at Bolton.

Wanderers’ manager Owen Coyle didn’t have that option this year. Ivan Klasnic–all 31 spry years of him–is the leading scorer up top and Chris Eagles is probably the closest thing to any speed.

Bolton lost their only speed and flash guy in Lee Chung-yong to a broken leg in pre-season and thus lost that ability to draw a defense out of its compact cocoon and create scoring changes.

The Union’s LeToux in this case is an excellent pick-up at the Reebok. Le Toux is versatile enough to play out wide or up top or move seemlessly along the frontline of the attack. The to-be former Union forward has great straight ahead speed and is adept at moving off the ball. Le Toux is also a solid finisher.

For the Union–where Le Toux sometimes appeared to jostle with coach Piotr Nowak about his best position–the loss will most certainly be felt. While young striker Jack McInerny seems to be coming of age–at least on international duty with the US U-23’s–the loss of LeToux, Justin Mapp and at least the idea or potential of class with Freddy Adu will completely change the complexion of how the attack ended 2011. The departure also thrusts the somewhat egnimatic Danny Mwanga into the spotlight at the focal point of that attack, a role he may not be quite ready for. Will Mwanga pick up the slack? And if not, who will?

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Related:

Can the Prem’s George Clooney Keep Bolton from Being The Descendents? January 9th, 2012

If Tim Ream Goes Bolton… December 28th, 2011

Are Bolton Playing Attractive Football Under Owen Coyle This Season? May 24th, 2011

SOPA? Shortly to be NOPA

Not the NY Cosmos MLS bid here...

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Imagine a world where Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner’s shady dealings weren’t illuminated…to all?

Or better? That Lionel Messi’s brilliance wasn’t on display for the world prostrate.

(Our two cents: SOPA was never going to come to be both politically and technically. Politically, difficult for a government representative to get behind an act that curbs public freedoms especially at a time where the economy is still wreaking havoc on the “not 1%.” Technically, for every limiter on the web there has always been and always will be a work around.)

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On Buddle, Rosey On Neymar & Yes To Pastries

….

•More for Moyes

A budding Prem player?

Edson Buddle set for a trial with Everton. Good move all around.

Buddle was going nowhere with Ingolstadt and neither was Ingolstadt. In fact, he was a liability in the compensation department.

The former Galaxy man didn’t get secured at West ham and now moves on to Everton looking to go for a ride (either on the pine or the pitch) until the end of the campaign.

Good moves. One may question why a player not picked up by a Championship side can be helpful a league up but Buddle’s skillset is precisely what the Toffees need and can afford–someone to take a beating up top and allow players like Landon, Tim Cahill, and Royston Drenthe to play off of him. Liverpool’s other team has sorely lacked that all season, diminishing the impact that the seemingly evergreen Cahill can have by moving up top where he gets banged by on by 175-200lbs centerbacks. Ouch.

Buddle–even if his goal scoring prowess doesn’t translate to the Prem–can take a beating. Just two seasons ago, Bruce Arena nearly ran the striker into the ground because he had no capable back-up. how did Buddle respond in a season where he was often called on to hold the ball by his lonesome and with some World Cup mileage? By scoring the first goal against Seattle in the playoffs that year and generally looking up to the task despite some wear-and-tear.

Again, good move if it goes through.

•Neymar’s Rose Ceremony

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Yes the Bachelor was on at TSG headquarters last night. Ghastly!

here’s a solid idea for an award-winning footie reality show. have a little fun with it. Start with say 10 suitors (front office men) all dolled up and pining for the services of a Neymar or Mario Goetze. Each week, one or two get expunged because they don’t secure that dastardly rose–maybe it a jock strap, that would just be funny.

The GMs so to speak talk shit about one another, get in cat-or-dog fights, and have one-on-one dates with said youth sensation all attempting to win the heart of The Sensation (okay, that’s what we’re calling.) The teams even get to bring in player for challenges. Really want that Sensation, maybe Rooney has to shave his new rug or Frank Lampard has to go on a cleanse. Love it.

Okay, just told you that the Bachelor was emanating from TSG’s TV last night. Moving on….

• Say “Yes” To Pastries

First of all, ain’t nothing wrong with cupcakes. Ask Kyle Martino.

Our friend Steve Davis with a rant against the moniker “Camp Cupcake” for the USMNT’s January Camp.

C’mon Steve–that is more upsetting to you then say Sepp Blatter still in charge or violence at the African Cup of Nations? Just giving you a hard time Steve, but the players are comfortable and openly refer to Camp Cupcake as such and really soccer in the US of A needs more spice–and sweetness–rather than less.

• Good On This: Active, Not Reactive from Jurgy K

El Capitan...

Jurgen Klinsmann in an interview with FIFA and his first piece of commentary was….symphonic.

Klinsmann with a “We are moving away from a reactive style of play to a proactive style.”

If you remember, this was TSG’s biggest point of (negative) contention with previous regime. While the excuse was often made that bringing players together quickly for a camp was the reasons that play was uneven, the reality is–with the exception of Mexico–the US has too much talent against other CONCACAF foes not to dismantle and dictate play to the weaker ones.

In fact, if you recall, TSG made it one of Bob Bradley’s key questions to answer at Gold Cup 2012. Bob didn’t fare well. And it was a hallmark of Jurgen Klinsann’s opening moments.

An interesting interview with the Kaiser, though I disagree with Klinsmann’s second statement that the US is training harder. Really? Prove it.

• Miscellaneous

Eric Lichaj–remember him–back for the Aston Villa reserves.

Robbie Rogers gets his first action for Leeds.

MLS supplemental draft today.

 

 

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