Archive for April, 2012

Talk To Me in Five Years: The 2007 Gold Cup Roster

Less a post here more just dawned because of two conversations this morning:

Back on the....

• On Justin Mapp

Made a comment this morning that Mapp is playing very well for the Montreal Impact. Got a lot of feedback that he was highly inconsistent for the Philadelphia Union last year. Agreed, but…

Players change and when they feel comfortable in a role it changes their outlook from perhaps nanoseconds to make an impression to tens of minutes. Should Mapp stay healthy and look this good four more games from now (and mind you he’s playing on a team with little attacking aptitude and that is always on the defensive)….well then maybe a contender can sneak in and steal’em. Line-hugging left-side midfielders a difficult lot to come by. Ask Sporting KC, they took a shot on Bobby Convey.

• World Cup 2010 forwards, how we looking?

This morning Clint Dempsey sits on 19 goals in all competitions for the session. Jozy Altidore is on 15. The completely “vigorated” (he’s not invigorated because he’s been doing it for awhile) Herculez Gomez sits on 11 (in 2012 alone) with Robbie Findley pulling up the rear at three.

They are almost the leading American scorers abroad this season and therein lies the interesting rub. Who enters the group? Matt Taylor, 30 years old, SC Paderborn 07 of the Bundesliga 2 who ironically played for Bradley at Chivas USA. Interesting.

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Five years ago next month, the US Gold Cup roster would be announced. The historical is the team won the tourney (the last major tourney the USMNT won?) and here’s the squad that did it. Perhaps a bit dull to see most of these players would either retire or go on to be World Cup 2010 choices, but review nonetheless.

Below were some players on the periphery who were called in for friendlies immediately afterward:

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After the break, a few other odds and ends:

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Rechargeable “Manager Batteries,” Better Than Disposables?

Fates. Met.

By TSG’s coffee and Serie A expert, but not taco expert: Eric Giardini

This past month or so has seen the firings of two high profile managers from two high profile positions in the greater European soccer community.

André Villas-Boas fired on March 4th from Chelsea, one month shy of celebrating his one-year anniversary.

The firing was not a surprise as club owner Roman Abramovich has shown a lack of patience in keeping managers. For those counting at home, Abramovich and his mini-giraffe have now shown the door to nine during his nine-year tenure as owner (Ranieri, Mourinho, Grant, Scolari, Wilkins, Hiddink, Ancelotti, Villas-Boas, now Di Matteo). Former New York Yankee owner great George Steinbrenner would have identified nicely with Abramovich.

Not to be outdone in Serie A, Inter Milan cut the chord (and seemingly the parachute too) on its second manger of the season when it, pardon me, booted Claudio Ranieri.

This move–while also not a surprise given Inter’s struggles since the calendar turned to 2012–incredulously was expected for some time.

Andrea Stramaccioni, who the day before his appointment had led the Inter youth team to the inaugural NextGen tournament championship, replaced Ranieri.

While Villas-Boas’ firing caused great media stir around the soccer world, Ranieri’s did not. ‘

Why is this? Both team’s have similar Champion’s League stature for lack of a better qualifier and the press in both locales have field days every day?

The answer appears to lie deep and more subtlety within the heart of the cultures of England and Italy–specifically the way managers are viewed.

In Italy, results are paramount.

It isn’t important how results are achieved, just as long as they come.

If a club goes through a bad streak, someone is at fault. Since an owner cannot fire an entire team, unfortunately it is the manager who must pay the price. He gets the sack and it’s on to the next one. Fans and owners–on average and on the whole–are not overly concerned about long-term development and building for the future.

English managers, on the other hand, are given just a wee bit more security in this respect. Clubs are more willing to let a season play out instead of firing someone midseason.

For example, the 2011-2012 season shows a drastic disparity between the two leagues and numbers of managers fired midseason. Four managers have been fired in England while 14 already have faced the axe in Italy. Oddly enough, five clubs in Italy have made two firings this season. Inter, Palermo, Novara, Cagliari, and Cesena have all made changes twice – with Novara firing their manager January 30 and bringing him back on March 6.

The itchy trigger finger in Italy isn’t the only thing that separates the two nations in terms of their respective managerial cultures. The more interesting contrasts between the two involve coaching licenses, experience before landing a top-flight job, and the recycling of managers amongst the top clubs.

Even, the formal education of managers in the two nations is also drastically different.

While there is no formal “university” in England for managers to go to get their certification to become a manager, Italy has the famed Coverciano. Located in Florence, Coverciano is home to the FIGC (the Italian Football Association) as well the coaching school that all managers must pass to become a manger in either Serie A or B.

Coverciano

In Italy, it is accepted that managing a soccer team is a profession, and like any other profession, schooling is needed. Since opening its doors over 50 years ago, some of the world’s greatest managers have graduated from the coaching course and have had success all over the world. The curriculum at Coverciano covers a wide range of topics covering fitness, tactics, psychology, and even nutrition. An example of this is the current class at Coverciano, including the infamous Roberto Baggio, has been spending time at Roma learning tactics from Luis Enrique.

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Big Things Afoot: Pali Blues Appoint Goldman Brothers to Direct Club Operations

I’m sure you read that title and thought, “Who?” “What?”

Goldman & Zack (*sorry guys, couldn't help it)

Well, meet Max and Zack Goldman, brothers and the new Directors of Operations for The Pali Blues. For those unfamiliar, the Pali Blues are a top semi-pro women’s soccer team and the two-time defending Champions of the USL W-League. They also have perhaps the best supporter’s group unknown to many (that should be known), the Tony Danza Army.

Now, this may not seem like earth shattering news or the typical fair for TSG, but let me tell you why it is:

• The brothers are passionate about soccer

The aforementioned Tony Danza Army was their handiwork. They identified with soccer at the grassroots level and supported it, almost inordinately so, at that level.

• They’re in their 20’s

Max is 24 and Zach, 21…..and they’ve been chosen because of not only their passion, but their willingness to get involved and responsibility. That and…

• They’re smart. Like, real smart.

I’ve been fortunate enough, by luck, to sit next to Max on a plane and regularly converse (as much) with both via Twitter and email. I have rarely met–anywhere–sharper minds that combine a knowledge for the history of the game, the tactics and the intricacy of the business side.

Oh, you needed a big finish? You’re waiting for the punchline?

Readers of TSG, ladies and gentlemen, two, smart,  early 20’s professionals, passionate about soccer at the most basic (and the cheapest of levels) have signed on to guide the operations of a soccer club.

I believe you’re looking–here–at future soccer executives on a much, much grander scale and they’ve begun their apprenticeship. When they ascend the ranks, just remember they got their education at the right place and for the right reasons.

Flashbacks: DC United Lays Waste To FC Dallas

DCU founding father Matt Mathai takes to the lens again…for our enjoyment. This time? DC United with their March 30th 4-1 victory over FC Dallas.

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Should Glasgow Celtic Make The Prem Leap or Remain Relegated In Scotland?

Jim Brogan for Celtic in the Old Firm circa the John Travolta years...

Bv GeorgeCross

Glasgow Rangers are in the news again due to their financial situation; they were rumored to go into administration or even liquidation. Because of this, the old question about Celtic playing in the Premier League has resurfaced.

Background

The quality of Scottish football has been on a downward spiral for the last 25 years, both in terms of the domestic league and International football, predominantly because they have not been producing the class of players that they used to. During this time, the Old Firm has basically had a duopoly over Scottish honors. This might be good for the fans of the Old Firm, but the reality is that outside of Scotland, they really cannot compete consistently. Year after year, we see the Scottish Champions reach the Champions’ League Qualifying rounds, only to be knocked out and dumped into UEFA’s second tier competition, the Europa League. This has happened because the quality that the Old Firm face on a weekly basis is just not good enough, and the fact that they cannot attract the best talent or compete financially.

But now Rangers’ very existence is threatened, what does this mean for Celtic? The potential bounty and competition on offer in the Premier League would surely solve this issue. But is this prospect a possibility?

Legal, & Social Issues

A lot of people over the year always mention the Welsh teams playing in England [for example Cardiff City, Swansea City, Wrexham, Newport County], but the biggest difference [I believe] is that when these teams were established, there was no real Welsh League in existence and were able to join England’s, but had to start at the bottom of the pyramid and work themselves up via promotion.

This route, although it would take many seasons, has been mentioned for Celtic in an effort to please Football League chairmen. But let’s face it, the only reason they want to join is for economic reasons and nothing else.

Imposing...

With Celtic Park having a sell-out 60,000 seat capacity stadium, I can understand why this would be a more attractive proposition than Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion or erm, Crystal Palace to the Premier League’s moneymen.

However, there would predictable opposition from [smaller] English teams, such as Crystal Palace, and their fans.

Realistically, if Celtic were allowed to enter the English pyramid, it would only be a matter of time before they climbed the leagues and reached the Premier League. And, to be perfectly honest, they would probably be there to stay. This would mean they would be taking a lucrative spot from a potential promotion candidate – not to mention taking a Football League spot, whether it is in the Championship, League One or League Two. It is not hard to understand why 70+ chairmen would oppose this, because Celtic’s inclusion will reduce the places available.

As Celtic is not a member of the F.A. they cannot compete in the FA Cup. And UEFA rulings state that you cannot participate in two competitions in two different countries, i.e. the Premier League and the Scottish Cup, and then qualify for Europe – therefore ruling out UEFA’s competitions. So, while it may make more economic sense to play in the Premier League, they still would not be able to compete against England’s elite with their Champions’ League money.

Political

At the moment, Great Britain has three separate FIFA members [F.A., F.A.W. and S.F.A.], and each member of the Union values their independence fiercely. So, would Celtic playing in England put this in jeopardy? What is the SFA’s stance on this? Would FIFA put pressure on the three Associations to merge into one as GB? There is already pressure from the Scottish and Welsh Associations, for their players not to participate in this summer’s London Olympics for this very reason.

There is also another political reason, albeit potentially controversial, not to allow this. On the one hand, much of Catholic Scotland is Separatists who would like to break up the Union and have an Independent Scotland. But the same people [of Catholic Celtic] would like to play in the Premier League because of money. Many English people, me included, find this hypocrisy insulting; if Scotland wants Independence from Great Britain, that is fine, but do not pick and choose when you want to be part of the Union – you are either in or out – surely Scottish Independence is more important than your football team being wealthier?! Right? Right?

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More Weekend: Darlington Nagbe Brings The Cowbell, Nowacky, & A Birchall Name Check

Just seemed appropriate here for….

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Game Of The Weekend: Real Salt Lake out-experiences the Portland Timbers

…and that was Darlington Nagbe going crazy Will Ferrell on Saturday night along the Columbian. (4:25 and 5:00 marks below.)

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Nagbe’s Messi interpretation at the beginning of the second round in Portland on Saturday night was class.

Alas, Nagbe’s two fantastic moves and finishes were not backed up with the bite of his teammates and their failure to get stuck-in against Wile E Salt Lake.

Bringing the Cowbell!

Kyle Beckerman and crew stormed back to snatch victory from the chainsaw of defeat with a savvy veteran effort that saw them turn up the tempo, but not depart from their style of play. The Timbers lost focus and on a perfectly placed Kyle Beckerman 8-Ball, the men from Utah departed Jeld-Wen with three points on the strength of a 3-2 come-from-behind win.

Some other important notes from this instant classic:

• Jorge Perlaza–sniffle–needed to do better on chances. Thrice he was played in and thrice his effort was not good enough to best Nick Rimando. Don’t worry, we still have our monthly pass on the MEGABUS set to auto-renewal.

• The Timbers–beyond their inconsistent display–have another correction they need to make. Kris Boyd–despite some missed buckets–is a lot to handle for most MLS teams, but put him up against a strong centerback duo in Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers and he had real difficulty holding up the ball. Not every team obviously has an Olave-Borchers combo back there, but a word to Timbers’ competitors. Bang on the Scotsmen–it impacts his play.

• Eric Alexander is coming on….strong. What’s impressive about Alexander is his ability to combine linear attacks with strength on the ball. Most players use their strength on the ball to hold or they are deployed as such. Alexander consistently took bump-and-run coverage, but kept moving towards goal. TSG called Alexander their 2011 breakout player. Seems we were a tad hasty.

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Sing Jose-Wondo: The Quakes are rumbling

Good game.

A fantastic effort up in Seattle from the Quakes on Saturday night.

Credit must go to coach Frankie Yallop in this one, whose just about as inconsistent as they come in the gaffer department.

Yallop played San Jose’s traditional sit-and-spring game, inviting Seattle to attack, holding strong and bum-rushing the counter. It’s the way to beat Seattle, this year, last year, in the future until Sigi Schmid addresses his team’s appetite to get stretched and then have to defend miles of space on the counter.

The difference–a Wondo penalty conversion courtesy of a Matt Burch foul on Steven Lenhart in the box. It was a deserved if not often called fould and that was the difference.

And one more note. If you’ve been following along with TSG over the weekend, we’ve been begging for a suspension for the Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso who intentionally shin shivered San Jose’s Rafael Baca in the head. The image below does not do it justice.

Unacceptable...

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Review: Marquez, A Matador; Henry & McCarty Reduce Impact, 5-2

RIP Georgio Chinaglia

Mat-a-dor...

Some weekend match review coming. We lead with the game at Red Bull Arena.

Okay, I’m going to make a leap of faith here and suggest everyone reading can be in agreement on the next statement:

Groin injuries don’t heal–in fact they get worse–by playing.

Do you feel me?

Then Red Bulls fans–and I’m sorry to be singing a sullen song all season–you’ve got to be–uh….gain–perturbed at the boss man, but more probably one of your star players.

What is this all referring to?

The Red Bulls took the field Saturday against the “powerhouse” Montreal Impact. Rafa Marquez was among the eleven as was his lack of effort. Against the lowly Impact, the Red Bulls managed to get to halftime nursing a draw (2-2) on home soil.

Who was the culprit of the first half–relative–malaise?

That would be the despicable Rafa Marquez who was completely negligent in possession from both a turnover and stalling perspective and was completely negligent off the ball, whether checking to a player to provide an outlet or playing any sort of defense.

Marquez is a disgrace. A disgrace to his team, the fans, the league, the game of football.

Whoop-de-damn-do that he had an assist. Moments are for strikers, moxie is for midfielders.

To start the second half, Teemu Taino replaced the ineffective Marquez and Team No-More-Bulls*it promptly and effectively destroyed the Impact. Three goals in the second to none for the city that claims to have better bagels than NYC. (It actually may be a contest by the way.)

All Taino did was link a few passes here and there out to the flanks and basically stand around in central midfield, quietly cooing to his teammates, “If you need me, I’m over here, just give me a holler.”

Thierry Henry did his amazing, “I-Am-MVP”-thing as did Dax McCarty did his and RBNY rolled and rolled real easy.

McCarty: 42-of-52 as The Link Man...

Oh, if you’re a New York fan, send a little thank you note to McCarty on Twitter today. The whirling gingerish basically kept the team in a game they should have dominated from the start with first half hustle and his 42-of-52 passing line ain’t too shabby. (Guarantee four or five of those missed passes were ones where he thought, “If Marquez had only taking a half step forward after I played that ball”)

Now, there is a major disclaimer here.

Red Bulls New York manager Hans Backe as Marquez was apparently lifted due to “a groin injury”

There was no point during the match where Marquez went down, gripping below his abdomen.

There was no wave over to the bench.

And here’s another thing–back to our opener–if Marquez was experiencing even the slightest wince from a groin injury going in to the match, why play him, at home, against cellar-keeper Montreal?

Let’s make that a minor disclaimer. There’s a chance that this falls on Hans Backe.

More than likely, it’s just New York Marquez being New York Marquez again. I’d say grow up, but you’re supposed to be a veteran.

Alas, Red Bulls fans cheer on. You’re in 2nd place and you played 10-v-11 for the first 45 minutes on Saturday. Bully on you.

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