Archive for June, 2012

Excerpt: On Ronaldo & Group B

Zack Goldman succinctly and eloquently on Ronaldo & Euro 2012.

This morsel of golden writing might’ve got lost in the shuffle last week. We excise it from TSG-Page Two. The whole preview is excellent, but this piece–per some acknowledgement on Twitter–deserves its own promotion.

Kobe

Portugal: Ronaldo (Duh.)

For the second tournament in a row, the Portuguese are in the group of death. In this case, Ronaldo does have a reason to whine.

I’m really sorry.  I wish I could offer you something more creative or tactically interesting than just talking about Ronaldo.  The reality, though, is that Ronaldo is the key to Portugal’s fate in this tournament—and, intriguingly enough, this tournament is in some ways the key to Ronaldo’s own fate as a legend of the game.

European glory this summer would go a long way for the Madrid star’s legacy, starting with aBalon d’Or and an acknowledgement that he was able to bring the international triumph that the likes of Eusebio and Figo could not.  Of course, we could talk about any one of the other big names in the lineup, from Pepe to Nani, but Ronaldo is clearly the x-factor.  He must show up for Portugal to have any chance of getting through this group.  If he ‘goes Ronaldo’ on everyone, who knows what success might follow

(Author’s note: ‘Going Ronaldo on everyone’ refers to the soccer version of the Kobe Bryant underbite—the ‘I’m rolling up my shorts and pointing to my Iberico ham haunch of a thigh’ mindset that Ronaldo gets into.  It refers to that moment where you meditatively concede to yourself that this man, as much as you may dislike him, might just be right—that this is his world and we just live in it.  Messi has made my jaw drop hundreds of times with his goals, but when Ronaldo ‘goes Ronaldo’ on everyone, it is an entirely different brand of “Oh my God”).

Euro 2012 Group C Day: The Day We Learn About the Azzurri

Oh how we’ll miss Gennaro Gattuso.

The biggest wildcard in these Euros? Has to be the Italians, no?

They come in having lost their two friendlies this year, to the States (1-0) and Russia (just last week, 3-0) respectively. The Blues have two attackers that could be described as “combustible,” but more appropriately. Mario Balotelli needs no introduction and neither does Cassano–a TSG fave and 360-degree player.

The midfield see DeRossi of course and surprisingly Pirlo who will be Italy what Beckham is to England. Wait, scratch that.

The defensive spine is all Juventus with Buffon backing Bonucci and Chiellini–who can’t decide just how good he wants to be, but despite Juventus decorated with the Scudetto this year this year at the international level the backline is decidedly ho-hum….meaning coach Cesare Prandelli may actually look to push up the field and show more attacking verve.

What’s go on here? For more on Italy, their opponent Spain, Ireland and the Table Clothes, here’s your preview.

Group C goes live today!

The Weekend: Live Commentary

A chance for Ozil to gain international ground on Ronaldo….

The World Cup Jr.–the 2012 Euros–continue.

The Group of rDeath today….they used to be friends.

Undercard: Netherlands v. Denmark

Main: Ozilville vs. Ronaldoland

For preview click here

Selected Images: USA 3, Antigua & Barbuda 1

Matt Mathai dazzles us against with his f-stop

TSG’s game review here



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USA 3 – Antigua & Barbuda 1: Winning Ugly

A painful victory…

It shouldn’t have been in doubt.

And hopefully this review and the game this evening is an anomaly or just poor writing.

In the ultimate warm-up game that was the first stop in World Cup qualifying on the road to Brazil, the US stumbled forward, but forward nonetheless beating Antigua & Barbuda 3-1 on soggy home turf in Tampa.

There are a few different ways to treat a game like this for a regional power like the United States.

The game can be used to build confidence with the favored side teeing off mercilessly on an inferior opponent and exerting their supremacy. Final scorelines in those are typically “my goodness” to “no chance.” USA-Barbadoes, HDC, four years ago to the day is an example.

Another option is to use the game to get players ready who may be counted on to play critical roles down the road or might need to step in in case of an emergency.

A third option is to work on specific of the game that need work and realize that the goals will come, but the team will better for forcing a game plan that will help them practice something they will use down the road. The US did this quite well in Jurgen Klinsmann’s first game, showing new possession chops against Mexico to earn a draw in Philadelphia.

And finally a fourth is to use the game to cap-tie players whose dual nationality may call their allegiance in doubt.

Klinsmann had the menu in front of him and he oddly choose option four.

TSG usually tries to rationale the decision making of the players or coaches during a match. Often–though a goal may not have results or one conceded for the opponent–the strategy had rationale a purpose. TSG also play up our typical axiom that most are probably sick of now “you can’t look at observations in isolation, you have to look at the entire body of work.”

There are two lone positive the US can take from this game. First, the US got a victory–three points–in World Cup qualifying. That’s something that should nearly never be taken for granted.

Second, the US cap-tied Terrence Boyd, a burly striker who has spent nearly his entire life within the borders of Germany but bleeds US.

After those two checkmarks, finding positives on the evening are difficult. You make consider the last two games–a draw against Canada and this 3-1 “victory”–the most challenging consecutive two-game stretch since the US eked its way past Panama and then got rope-a-doped by Mexico in the final two matches of the 2011 Gold Cup.

Let’s run down the list in no particular order. And let’s say this.

This one isn’t on the players in our book.

• The US’s attack was ill-conceived and its rate of play was unsatisfactory.

Dempsey’s opportunities had high degree of difficulty relative to the competition….

Faced with an Antigua & Barbuda defense that leaked goals against such CONCACAF stalwarts as Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago, the US failed to exert its will.

Sure Antigua & Barbuda bunkered in–but the US just has too much talent to only score from the run of play through two rebound goals and a shot from the spot. It is somewhat amazing to consider in fact that the Benna Boys had the lone goal put together through a passing combination.

The US dawdled on the ball. They were reactionary.

When a teammate got the ball, US were typically stagnant and–aside from Herculez Gomez and an occasional Landon Donovan jaunt–remained that way until their defender adjusted to the play.

The US movement could have been simple. The Benna Boys typically went with a 5-man, and sometimes 6-man, backline, but it was flat. Some simple vertical movement–the so-called piston effect–would have opened up space for the Yanks.

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Live Commentary: USA vs. Antigua and Barbuda

Who’s on the ball as qualifying starts?

Everything that you want to know about the Antigua & Barbuda side here in our preview.

Also–we had two corrections–but interesting comparisons of the average age of Euro 2012 starters to USMNT current projected starters here. Check it out.

Starting line-ups shortly.

» Will Geoff Cameron–adept  at turning to his outside shoulder and in possession–be the cover on the left?

» Does Klinsmann use these games to cap-tie Terrence Boyd, Danny Williams and Joe Corona; do any of those players start?

» Does the rain have any impact?

» Does Klinsmann use this game to prepare for Guatemala and will we see a change in formation?

Enjoy the match…

Euro 2012 Kicks Off!: Poland vs. Greece

Will Robert Lewandowski have his White Russians–oh wait that’s next match–and drink them too? The big Dortmund striker is a candidate for “Robin Van Persie 2013?”

Poland’s on the Euro plan soon or later, but it’s player are paid in Euros…they a tad bit peeved at the Greeks. Should be a good celebration game.

Euro 2012…getting it on.

It’s the Big Lewandowski vs….

-

….the currency crushers…

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