The Weekend: Live Commentary

Will Shalrie Joseph bring revolution to the Goats season? A poor man’s Michael Essien in tempo management and distribution? Yay? Nay?

Grenadian Goat (photo courtesy MLSSoccer.com)

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49 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/11 at 7:03 AM

    Great start for Mexico with a goal from a terrible giveaway by Brazil.

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  2. Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 8:52 AM

    Congrats to Mexico for the win. Reinforces that not merely incremental but quantum improvements are necessary for the USMNT to keep pace.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 8:53 AM

      Kind of striking, though, that the US not merely beat Mexico but did it rather handily this winter.

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      • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/11 at 9:04 AM

        Similar teams, too: nine of the fourteen players Mexico played against Brazil were on the field that day. (But there were major upgrades at GK and forward.)

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    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/11 at 9:40 AM

      Absolutely. We are falling further behind every day. It won’t show up in the results for the full team for a few years but once our current core ages out there will be quite a few beatings until Reyna is able to change the development process.

      Watching the Mexican defense today was especially depressing. They handled the Brazilians in a way that our full national team couldn’t a couple of months ago. They are miles ahead of the US U-23 defense after watching the Olympic qualifying.

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      • Posted by KickinNames.. on 2012/08/11 at 10:05 AM

        They played unlike any Mexico squad I’ve seen as far as in-game composure and defensive solidity. Again, Enriques looks like a player we’ll be having nightmares about for a number of years. Very solid multi-tool midfielder who seems to be head above the players around him with the ball.
        And I know the Marquez comments are a bit tongue in cheek but they really are much easier to watch (and…dare I say..root for) without the needlessly reckless and dirty tactics.

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      • Good thing the US U-23 defense won’t be facing Mexico in the WC qualifying rounds then.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 3:41 AM

          They won’t be facing them this cycle but what about the next? Boca, Dolo, Goodson, Gooch (not that I think he’s good enough now) will all be gone and who is stepping into their shoes? Eventually, the huge gap in talent will catch up to us unless guys like Ream, Cameron and Gonzalez are able to bridge the gap until a guy like Brooks (unless he goes with Germany) are able to fill the gap left by this year’s U-23 defense.

          Reply

      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/12 at 7:51 AM

        I was reading that most of their players came from their domestic league, right? What can MLS learn from Liga MX? And that Tena has had these players since U17 level and basically played this team in the Copa America and got criticized by many after their exit – is that right? How far do you think Mexico will go in Brazil 2014?

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        • Donovan was quoted as saying the top teams in the Mexican league spend a lot more money on players than MLS does. And because this is Mexico that money is spent on Mexican kids, not so much on DPs. I am by no means an expert on the Mexican leagues but what seems obvious is:

          If you are a Mexican kid who dreams of being a pro soccer star, there are stars to relate to and a clear career path for you to follow. And the primary competing sport is baseball.

          In America, that career path is also very clear to kids who want to play in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and the NHL. For MLS it is a little less clear since no one wants to aim at a career that will eventually allow you to sleep on your buddy’s couch, lease a Saturn, and work at Home Depot in the off season once you actually become a pro. And a sport where your biggest idols are in England, Italy and Germany. I get that that is where the best play but don’t underestimate the impact of a local guy you can relate to. That is why college sports remain so big.

          In other words, it might be better for the US long term if the Geoff Camerons of the world stuck around. But that would add time to the ascent of soccer in the US and USMNT fans can barely remember past the last game so one cannot expect patience from such fans.

          The Mexican team mostly plays in Mexico. Notice how the other two semifinalists, Korea and Japan are similar in that their national teams are based on players coming from strong domestic leagues. And they have built their national teams on that strong, unified base. The difference between them and Mexico is that the Asian countries send more players to the European leagues. Of course Mexico has been doing this for longer than them but without sending as many players abroad
          .
          By comparison the USMNT is a much motlier crew, which is what you would expect from a more heterogeneous country than those other three.
          There is more than one way to skin a cat.

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          • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 9:07 AM

            Wasn’t the period where the US won most of the games against Mexico a period where the Mexican league was full of South Americans? I remember that there seemed to be quite a few South Americans (especially Brazilians who were basically journeymen in Brazil and some that were nationalized to play for the Mexican team) due to the higher wages that Mexico was paying at that point due to sponsorship deals. It has since changed with most Brazilians staying at home due to the explosion of wages in Brazil. Ironically, this period of homegrown players being the stars on many of these teams has seen the decline of Chivas Guadalajara which has always been Mexican only.

            It really does come down to money. The Mexican league is one of the richest in the Americas (at this point probably only behind Brazil) and is included in the South American tournaments specifically for the TV audience in Mexico (per Tim Vickery). They can easily match what all but the top European clubs can pay while providing solid competition domestically and internationally. MLS can’t come close to matching what even the mid to low level European leagues can pay. So we lose the lower tier of the national team to Norway while at the same time not having a good youth structure set up to replace these players with young players (as well as MLS coaches being reluctant to use young players over journeymen MLS players, I’ll let dth talk about that as he seems to have a better idea of which young players are being held back by the journeymen).

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            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 4:18 PM

              The Mexican league is still full of national players from other countries, as Klinsmann’s latest roster shows. It’s not necessarily having the players from other players that’s a problem, it’s what caliber of players are coming in and whether coaches are letting them block more capable players.

              It’s one thing if you’re Barcelona and bringing in Alexis Sanchez; it’s another if you’re FC Dallas and brining in Scott Sealy.

              In Mexico’s case, I think a fair number while we were beating them were the latter, but after the FMF mandates a certain number of minutes for young players, teams discovered that their young players weren’t so bad. In MLS terms, it would be like teams discovering, “Why would we keep Chad Barrett around for $250k when we can get similar results from Jose Villarreal for $50k–with more upside?” (To take a recent not-at-all shocking discovery.)

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/12 at 3:20 PM

            How does youth football in Mexico differ to America? How are they producing the talent?

            Reply

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 3:28 PM

              They have actual youth teams attached to the clubs.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 4:13 PM

              US has actual youth teams attached to the clubs, too. So that’s not the answer. It’s probably a combination of familiarity with the game and coaching.

            • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 4:39 PM

              Haven’t the MLS clubs farmed out the youth teams for the most part to affiliate clubs? I was referring more to say the Chivas academy where they actually produce talent that moves up to the full team or is sold off to Europe. Also, aren’t the existence of youth teams attached to MLS only a few years old?

            • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 5:29 PM

              No, they haven’t. The only MLS club with a model you describe is Philadelphia’s. Many MLS clubs partner with affiliate clubs, with an eye towards “calling up” high-level talent to the main club, but only Philadelphia uses a farming-out strategy.

              The existence of youth teams attached to MLS is indeed only a few years old. This is part of the reason, of course, that they have not been terribly productive yet. Still, I do wonder whether this is more excuse-making than anything.

          • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 4:19 PM

            Would be interested to hear someone talk about the Japanese structure. A lot of people like to blame college, but several really good players have come from the Japanese college structure. Nagatomo from Inter is one such player, and he’d be one of the better USMNT players.

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        • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 8:55 AM

          I think Mexico go out in the quarters depending on their draw they might make the semis. The Olympics were a great tournament for them in terms of the teams that they played to get where they did (I’m not trying to take anything away from them as they fully deserved the Gold). They were able to avoid any teams that you would consider a powerhouse in both the Group Stage and the knockout stages until they faced Brazil.

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  3. Posted by mbw on 2012/08/11 at 8:53 AM

    Serious question: When did Mexico’s defense get so good?

    Sardonic question: When do we discuss the “talent gap” between Mexico and Brazil??

    Reply

    • Posted by Jared on 2012/08/11 at 9:40 AM

      When Rafa Marquez stopped being included?

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    • Posted by schmutzdeck on 2012/08/12 at 8:39 AM

      They were good but I counted two or three instances, the last being Oscar with 20 seconds to go, where Brazilians had the goal at their mercy and simply failed to convert.

      It really helps to have a deadly Peralta getting you ahead early and then extending your lead. I would not get too carried away; Mexico deserved every bit of their win but Brazil have no one to blame but themselves or more accurately Rafael.

      The Mexicans were more efficient and that is one way to beat a more talented team.

      Reply

      • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/12 at 10:15 AM

        No doubt. The initial remark was ironical, meant to suggest that something other than individual technical ability is the primary factor in Mexico’s rise.

        Reply

        • One other thing I’m not hearing mentioned is that Brazil beats a lot of teams before they ever walk on the field. Mexico had Honduras’ game to draw off of plus the fact that Mexico play them a fair amount and just beat them recently in Dallas. So El Tri certainly aren’t afriad of them and did not give them “too much respect” as many other teams might. .

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  4. Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 5:24 PM

    RSL’s defense…oh gosh, not good.

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  5. Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 5:58 PM

    Graham Zusi’s the Steven Gerrard of MLS, isn’t he? (For all the good and…too much bad.)

    Reply

  6. Posted by mbw on 2012/08/11 at 7:34 PM

    That, ladies and gents, is what a De Ro-less United looks like.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/11 at 7:46 PM

      Don’t think it was DeRo as much as the team philosophy: they only know one speed to play at–FAST and FORWARD. DeRo isn’t quite as one-gear as DC, but that’s his basic philosophy too. Anyway, they sometimes need to just keep the ball. Only Boskovic is able to do that consistently, which sometimes isolates him.

      They probably need to think about overhauling that backline. The fullbacks don’t give the team enough on either end–Zusi was burning their space all night. Brandon MacDonald is an aggressive defender but may be the worst passer in the league.

      Reply

      • Posted by John Mosby on 2012/08/11 at 8:15 PM

        Ahh, dero is the reigning league MVP. Missing that player hurts any team. Not to mention no Santos or Salihi. Big must win home games coming for dc united though.

        Reply

      • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/11 at 9:17 PM

        Can we split the difference and say that their vertical approach doesn’t work nearly as well without De Rosario? The general point, looking toward the playoffs, was that the other contenders in the East are better equipped to weather injuries to their key players.

        Re: fullbacks, I was surprised they didn’t follow up on the Najar experiment — thought he did well there.

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  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/12 at 7:53 AM

    Great acceleration and finish by Sterling.

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  8. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/08/12 at 9:24 AM

    Nice to see Josmer get off to a hot start.

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    • Posted by justin on 2012/08/12 at 9:37 AM

      I hope we see him in the holding role on Wednesday. He played really well once AZ started feeding him the ball in the 2nd half

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    • Posted by mbw on 2012/08/12 at 10:23 AM

      So begins another phase in the Jozy Cycle.

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  9. Posted by Jared on 2012/08/12 at 1:12 PM

    We are going to get stomped at the Azteca with the squad that Klinsmann called in.

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  10. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/08/12 at 1:24 PM

    Michael Freaking Orozco-Fiscal?!?!?!?

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    • Posted by Crow on 2012/08/12 at 1:25 PM

      This cycle’s Bornstein has been found.

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      • Disagree Crow.

        Don’t think you can read too much into the selections for this game other than it obviously looks like Jurgen went with a lot of guys who already play in Mexico and the US, minimizing the impacts for European based players in the process who have just begun their seasons.

        More important for those guys to get into their domestic line-ups (training and actual games) than to travel for a friendly.

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        • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 4:20 PM

          I also disagree with Crow.

          The clear Bornstein of this cycle is Jose Francisco Torres.

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          • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 4:23 PM

            Actually, JFT is worse than Bornstein in terms of the decision to bring him in. Bornstein, for all his faults, was either the best or close enough to make his inclusion a reasonable if frustrating decision. Torres’ level is such where I wouldn’t include him on the roster at all, let alone start him (as I suspect Klinsmann will do).

            Meanwhile, Kljestan says “Hi!” It’s a good thing for Klinsmann that people don’t like Kljestan for whatever strange whim–otherwise there’d be serious questions asked.

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  11. dth,

    Agree with you there about Torres vs Kljestan. Klinsmann said there are too many guys in front Kljestan at his natural CM position, but then goes ahead and keeps hauling in Torres who is certainly not a winger despite Jurgen’s best attempts.

    I would like to see Kljestan get a call, despite the fact that I’m not sure where he fits best and whether or not he would actually get any run.

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    • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 5:30 PM

      I see him as a (relatively) more offensive-minded #8 to Bradley’s (relatively) more defensively-minded #8. So I’d like to see a three-man midfield of #6/Bradley/Kljestan.

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      • Interesting that you say that. I was thinking along the same lines. Who would you forwards be—Dempsey, Donovan, Altidore? Just doesn’t seem like you would have a lot of width, unless Jozy loosely spears the top and interchanges with Donovan and Dempsey cutting inside.

        The issue for me is finding the best position for Dempsey. Does he sit slightly behind and more centrally or ostensibly have him as an outside mid/forward.

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        • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 8:25 PM

          Yeah, that’s who I put in at the forward spots. Width comes from bombing fullbacks, we’ll say Johnson and Lichaj.

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          • Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 8:26 PM

            Although could also put Gomez in. That central forward spot is one of the odder question marks. Tons of guys scoring, but look oddly less potent for USMNT. Probably has something to do with Klinsmann’s midfield setup.

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  12. Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 5:31 PM

    Michael Farfan is just an intriguing player when he plays the #10 for Philly. Not great yet–probably not ever. But he does some cool things.

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  13. Posted by dth on 2012/08/12 at 8:28 PM

    Omar Gonzalez has matured into a player capable of playing dynamic passes (at least at MLS level). Really surprising to see.

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  14. I think we’ll see Omar getting a call soon. His IQ is improving, and the physical assets are undeniable. His game to me reminds me somewhat of Bruno Alves—that classical intimidating CB who can swallow up players.

    dth, also, I agree that the midfield setup has been difficult to figure out. Thinking about it a little more, I think we would be best in a 4-2-3-1, which would allow you to put someone like Kljestan in the center of the 3 with Donovan and Dempsey wide and Altidore or Gomez up top. Or you could slip Dempsey central for someone with more pace wide but not sure we have that player right now (I think we would with Fabian if Chandler and Lichaj were our fullbacks, but that’s not the case for the time being).

    I would like to see Bradley and Williams (or Jones, but I think he has less in the tank moving forward) as the two DM, with Bradley given the freedom to push higher when necessary in a Xabi Alonso like fashion.

    Reply

  15. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/08/14 at 11:11 AM

    I see that Flushing Meadows is being seriously considered as a new $300M, 25,000 seat stadium for a NYC MLS team.

    That would be fantastic to watch two local teams live.

    Reply

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