Archive for May, 2012

Klinsmann’s WCQ Keepers: The Depth Charts

•(Editor’s note: The dearth of content lately is temporary–a little burnt out and we’ve lost some writers recently. A quick recharge before we dive full board into qualifying and more. Thanks for the understanding.)

Welcome back Championship Tim?

Tuesday should bring about the first wave of Jurgen Klinsmann’s World Cup qualifying roster. Klinsmann has stated that he’ll call as many as 29 before cutting weight to the necessary qualifying levels.

An abbreviated depth chart here from what to expect as the Kaiser rolls into qualifying.

First some notes:

• You may–but you probably won’t–see the absolute best players

Early in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying presents the opportunity to build some chemistry and look at some young players perhaps. Not everyone can play in the qualifiers and, like a club team, role players are needed. Players who understand that they may or may not get a call into the game.

A player like Michael Parkhurst–Central American reps, team player–is valuable during qualifying. A player like CJ Sapong who hasn’t set foot on the pitch in CONCACAF but once just north of the Panama Canal probably can gain more from MLS reps if he is not going to play a armful of minutes.

• You won’t see many surprises

Klinsmann is a believer in the system…in the depth charts. Players sit in a hierarchy on a per position basis. A player like Andrew Wooten or a Joe Corona stands less of a shot if they haven’t seen the inside of the senior side locker room.

• ….but there are some exceptions to every rule

Some put Corona in that bucket. In my pail is Alfredo Morales who looked pristine in covering the midfield for the U-23′s early this year. Does Freddy Adu get rewarded–per chance–for captaining the U-23′s?

The picks:

G: Tim Howard, Nick Rimando, Brad Guzan

The skinny: Hard not to consider Rimando the second in command, especially when you consider his success during CONCACAF club ball and his strength in both coming of his line and playing the ball out of the back. With Bill Hamid not up to the senior level task, a rusty Brad Guzan makes it.

Salivating at Fabian running through the unfriendly confines of Central America?

DEF: Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Clarence Goodson, Tim Ream, Michael Parkhurst, Steve Cherundolo, Tim Chandler, Fabian Johnson, Eric Lichaj, Geoff Cameron

The skinny: Onyewu is back in form and Klinsmann raves about his athleticism. Geoff Cameron has been poor to start the year–but to this eye he looks more unchallenged than anything else. Which Tim Real will show up?

MID: Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley, Jose Torres, Maurice Edu, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones, Brek Shea, Landon Donovan, Alfredo Morales

The skinny: The only surprise here is Morales who can also fill in in tHe back. Morales has more upside than Jonathan Spector and presents the same versatility.

FWD: Jozy Altidore, Chris Wondolowski, Terrence Boyd, Herculez Gomez

The skinny: Will Klinsmann only opt for a one of Wondolowksi and Gomez? Probably not with the expansive batch of invites being sent out. Boyd proved he belonged by operating as the lone forward for the U-23′s and still finding the net.

Part of the roster due Tuesday.

The Weekend: Citizens Or Devils?

Last day in the EPL….perhaps for Bolton as well?

Who goes out on top?

 

Week Whatever MLS Predictions

John Nyen finally has dial-up, just like T-Mobile subscribers

Oregon croissants at Ken’s in Portland…oh mama!

A comfort, a bit of peace, a place where you can be yourself and relax…. that is home. Finally, I have one of those places as I write amongst the sunny confines of the new Shin Guardian Semi- Corporate Portland Office and Chicken Tikka Masala center while Dynamo v Red Bull plays on the tv. Let us not underestimate the advantage of feeling comfortable, and the advantage of having a home. More specifically let us call attention to the idea of home cooking.

It seems that some of the teams in MLS have lost that loving taste for their home cooking. Teams like Chivas USA, LA Galaxy, Portland Timbers, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew, and the Philadelphia Union all have poor records at home this year. Certainly wins and ties on the road should be key for any playoff team but let us not forget the all important, “win your games at home”. More specifically it asks the question… “Do you deserve to be a playoff team if you can’t win your games at home?” To the point, the Montreal Impact are quickly forging a name for themselves at home. Oh sure, they might not be the sexiest team out there or the best team in the business; however they are unbeaten at home and now have carried their momentum into a road win. On the opposite coast and spectrum, Chivas USA would be a playoff contender if not for their 0-5-0 record at home.

So let us pay attention to those teams who set up to win at home and do so.

Now, onto the business at hand.

#1 This weekly column is back, is bad, and is better than ever.

#2 Go to a US Open cup game next week. I mean it. Go. They are cheap. You have no excuse. Seriously.

THE RECORD!

When we last left our intrepid observer I sunk below the maginot line into the delerium of sub .500 picktitude. This leaves my current record at 24 – 28 with 4 exactas.

As always, all times are East Coast, all spandex is not necessary as a bike outfit choice, and this particular column is brought to you by Dapper Dan Pomade and Hamm’s. Hamm’s… it’s not Pabst!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

4:00PM – Montreal v Los Angeles – Olympic Stadium – Television: TSN RDS

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of Montreal, The Team (not the Band, which was named after a failed relationship with a woman of Montreal) is strong. For an expansion team this is a tight unit that plays well through the midfield and attempts to beat you with effort, determination and ugliness.

Many people have criticized the drafting and the makeup of Montreal, but defensive intensity combined with a slug it out midfield, plays very well in MLS. They absolutely dominated Portland in every way on the bad turf at Olympic Stadium and then took their winning ways on the home beating Kansas City at Livestrong. They play compact through the midfield, attempting to set up long diagonal balls to switch the field.

A picture worth a thousand…goals…

Meanwhile the Los Angeles train has started to break down. Without the ability to completely rely on their defense anymore, LA has lost the gameplan of “solid defense, counter attack” that has served Bruce Arena through the years. I still think that this season fits the Bruce gameplan to a T as it fits his stereotype as a coach that tends to run his course with teams. The Galaxy are pretty awful on the road this year and are losers of two games straight. Now they have to go play in Montreal on stitched together field, and it remains to be seen which version of LA is going to show up. Given that we are talking about an away game across the country on turf, my guess is that there will be a week of waffling on whether Beckham is there or not.

With Beckham, LA will probably resort to trying to get the ball at his feet followed by him sending a ball into the box. Plan B has yet to be explored.

My Prediction: LA travelling cross country and playing on turf? Montreal playing two games in four days? Erp… Draw 1-1

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4:30PM – Houston v D.C. United – BBVA Compass Stadium – Television: NBCSN

Now, that is not a new designated player too….

Home resonates through this entire column and this preview is no different. Here we have Houston finally ending their (for whatever reason) NOT much ballyhooed road trip beginning to the season. Houston has played seven straight games on the road and managed to come away with a few wins and draws. If they can manage to have a run of good home form, they will find their current standing in the league skyrocket.

DC meanwhile still maintain the ultimate “Don’t gamble on these guys in Vegas” status, as you aren’t 100% sure exactly how they are going to come out and play during the season. Their current form is trending in the positive as Ben Olsen’s men are sitting pretty in the top three of the East.

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The Weekend: NY vs. LA, Still A Headline?

[TSG will be publishing on an abbreviated scheduled for the next week. We on holiday!]

At least these two guys will be there.

2 of the known 22….

 

Kamani Hill: Well-Rounding Into Place

Kamani Hill: Footing regained…. (credit: MLSSoccer.com)

Long before Jurgen Klinsmann was lassoing German leaguers into the US national team, there was Kamani Hill.

The relaxed Bay Area native ripped up youth competition and found himself venturing over to Europe and the Bundesliga at the precocious soccer age of 20.

Europe “training”

Hill impressed enough at Wolfsburg to earn himself eight starts at the German division first side.

Contemplate that for a second.

Jozy Altidore was 18 when he signed with La Liga’s Villarreal and was loaned out from the 1st team to lower division Xerex. Clint Dempsey was 22 before he splashed down in London.

Hill was in the ripe age where his development to date had reached high enough of a level for him to learn and progress at the top stage. It’s how players with arching ceilings develop.

However, following Hill’s European peak at Wolfsburg, a steady stream of revolving coaches and curt emails put him back in the States–the victim of player churn and a reminder that being an American and attempting to integrate into the the European soccer business rat race is almost always impersonal and very often cruel.

And so the beginning of 2012 left Kamani Hill on a worn out turf field in Portreo Hill in San Francisco playing against none other than yours truly.

That’s just out of whack. Out of place.

Our team the SF Black Sox had heard we were up against a US national and had—like rec teams do—keyed on one figure—hill of course—to stop.

Only Kamani was using this for exercise….and he didn’t try….and he pretty much killed our team as much his his right foot as with his kindness and sportsmanship. With four goals to his credit that evening, the endearing memory of the match was more Hill continuously murmuring to both his team and ours, “That’s a really nice pass.” or  “Oh that’s a well-played combination.”

That brief commentary by Hill is indicative of a personality of a grounded person with a quiet confidence. No need to showoff and plenty humbleness to take the game in stride despite the glaring chasm of talent between his and everyone else’s.

A player who knows he’s got the chips to make a big play, a career; not one with the chip on his shoulder.

Hard not to root for player, a person, like that.

Kamani Hill.

Matthew, TSG: I don’t know if Tony [Tony Alejandre, Kamani's agent] told you, but we actually played against each other a few months ago.

Kamani: Nah he didn’t. Where?

TSG: San Francisco. Makes sense you didn’t know. You know, not a remarkable event your life.

But I want to talk about it for a second, what I, and the guys on the team were impressed wit more than anything was not how, well, fluid and graceful you were in possession, but that you consistently played within a team concept even though you could have scored probably about 15 with your cleats untied.

Kamani: Ha! I had my reality checked for a few months.

I was trying to incorporate the team. It was good fun and I was just trying to staying as fit as possible. I was going to Berkeley on Monday to play and then out there to San Francisco on Tuesday. Anything just to play and stay in shape.

TSG: Well, if you want I’ll let you apologize to our goalie for bending a ball over the wall and making him look like a moron on a set piece that looked like it was just second nature to you.

Alright, let’s get to the interview and the more interesting stuff.

Just let stuff fly. Be bitter. Be happy. Be you.

Kamani: I always try to be a little diplomatic, but I’ll be honest and straight.

TSG: First thing, how in the hell did you end up with the Rapids?

Kamani: I was—let’s see—I would have to go back a little ways to give you the whole picture of the story.

TSG: Okay, let’s go.

Vitória Sport Club

Kamani: I was playing in Portugal for Vitória de Guimarães

I was having trouble breaking through to the first team in the 2010-2011 season. But I was there the whole, I was playing a lot with the reserve team.

That season I doing pretty well, had some good moments. I scored the game winning goal in the reserves final.

I was a regular contributor at the senior team practice and I had another year on my contract.

I thought the next year I had a real good chance to breakthrough to the senior side. I had one more year left on my contract

Right before the next season though the team sent me an email and said they didn’t need me to come in.

TSG: Woah, they sent you an email? That’s it?

Kamani: Yeah, that’s just how they do business.

TSG: In English or Portuguese?

Kamani: Portuguese.

TSG: So they just sent you a message in Portuguese saying that your services wouldn’t be needed. That was it?

Kamani: Yeah they sent me a couple of sentences saying you know, don’t come in for the preseason.

TSG: Did you use Google Translate or something?

Kamani: Nah, I understand it now and I read Portuguese.

Basically, they sent me that email and I knew my options were either to see if the club wanted to loan me out or whatever.

At that moment–after being there for two years and not getting a real opportunity–I was like, ‘I’m done with this and I’m ready to move on.’

So we negotiated a buyout and that was in early August 2011.

By the time that happened, I came back. I wanted to get into MLS but it was close to the end of the window and that didn’t have enough time to really happen.

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Roy Hodgson Crowned New Manager of England

Euro a grand ol’ chum.

Official announcement in a few hours today.

And away we go......!

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