Archive for August, 2012

Mind The Gap!: Klinsanity Makes History

History!

What a kickoff piece for Will Parchman; his first for TSG. Parchman is an up-and-coming US footie writer who you should pay attention to.

Check out Will’s work–and Greg Seltzer’s–over at No Short Corners.

“This is thunderdome.”

Thanks for getting us started off right, Alexi.

THE GAP. Holy God the gap. This thing has dwarfed its own significance and taken on a life of its own. It was fine at first, but after a full day of bombardment I’m done with it now. This is not a benchmark. There’s no way it has meaning anymore, if it ever did. I’m watching Alexi Lalas talk about it on pregame and I’m reading his #BridgeTheGap Twitter hashtag and it doesn’t matter. I’m going to start calling it the chasm. The big ass yawning chasm, and I’m going to start telling people it refers to the amount of reality that lies between how good Orozco Fiscal is and how good Klinsi thinks he is. THAT’S a gap. Mexico is good, won a bunch of tournaments and congrats to them. Whatevs.

So anyway. That’s out of my system. Can we focus on how we have half-hour pregames on national TV now? Am I the only one still impressed by this? The production value is superb. Holy crap there are a lot of empty seats. I know it’s a friendly on a Wednesday, but, wha? That’s positive, though even if it’s half full it’s still awful. Mexico’s lineup just posted:

Ochoa; Meza, Rodríguez, Moreno, Torres Nilo; Zavala, Viniegra, Guardado, Barrera; Reyna and Hernández

The mini pea starts. Get your big boy pantaloons on, Geoff and Mo. Only real surprise in there is Viniegra, but the US has had an advantage in midfield for years. Nothing should change there. Ochoa had to hate watching the Olympics knowing Corona has his job whenever he wants it. Just a matter of the defense holding strong, which… belch. That said, looks like the USMNT starting lineup just game across the wire:

Jones, another yellow card, but a leader on the early team sheet.

Howard (c); Johnson, Cameron, Edu, Castillo; Jones, Beckerman, Williams, Torres; Donovan, Gomez Nothing

4-3-1-2. Relatively strong B side. Defensive-minded as expected. Danny Williams and Kyle Beckerman sit deep on the shelf to give Jose Torres and Jermaine Jones some freedom to “be.” Jermaine on the loose in the Azteca, THERE WILL BE BLOOD. Fabian Johnson is the hinge point. He starts at right back and gets to deal with Guardado all night. My site partner at NSC Greg Seltzer hates Johnson on the back line instead of at left winger but I don’t mind it. I think he can be positive there and think he has been in the past. Herc starting up top is… well, not surprising at all. Mexican golden boot winner and all. 95 percent chance Wondo plays and scores in the last 10 minutes. Boom. Chalk it up gents.

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Live: US vs. Mexico from the Azteca

Will Orozo-Fiscal man the right flank and help protect Edu…or will he fall into line with his “one poor foul per game” history?

Where does Jose Torres play? Landon Donovan?

Does Herculez Gomez start up top by himself? Can Jermaine Jones avoid the pitch citations.

USA vs. Mexico about to get it on.

Edu’ing it, edu’ing it, edu’ing it well? (Photo courtesy Matt Mathai)

Decoding the MLS Playoff Push & That Tiebreaker Thing

Will Chivas shake off the Galaxy drubbing and muscle their way to the playoffs?

Steve Fenn with his second piece for The Shin Guardian

Sunday’s Superclasico between Chivas USA and LA Galaxy was one of the few matches we have left in this MLS season with major playoff implications. It was also a matchup between the two clubs most directly affected by MLS’ new playoff tiebreakers, announced last Wednesday. With the season over 70% gone for some clubs, it was announced that teams level on points will be ranked by:

1) Most total goals scored

2) Greatest goal differential

3) Fewest disciplinary points

4) Most road goals scored

5) Greatest road goal differential

6) Most home goals scored

7) Greatest home goal differential

8) Coin toss (for 2 teams) or drawing of lots (3 or more teams)

For those wondering what disciplinary points are, check this page which has both the current rankings and the calulation guidelines.

There are reasons to criticize this new standard, but Bruce Arena and others have covered those pretty well already. My main focus today is examining the standings, and the impact of this rule change on the already-underwhelming 2012 playoff race.

As we discussed a couple weeks ago, per game figures are much more telling than totals when clubs have played uneven numbers of matches. So, here’s the current league table with points, goals for, goal differential, and disciplinary points all broken down to per game figures:

Clearly, Chivas USA is the biggest loser in this new tiebreaker format (and did themselves no favors on Sunday). If they rally to tie LA on points, they would need to outscore them by 29 goals in the process. The Columbus Crew can’t be terribly pleased with the change either, but at least one of the teams they are trying to catch is the also-low-scoring Chicago Fire. If they do make up enough points to draw even with the Fire, it is at least possible that the Crew with 3 games in hand could outscore Chicago by 8 goals in the process.

The tough news for Chivas USA, the Crew, and all other playoff hopefuls is that one of top 5 in their conference would need to suffer a pronounced dip in form to give them a chance at the postseason.

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TSG’s Official USA vs. Mexico Preview: Have Fun Storming The Castle!

It’s a tired movie analogy, but it works oh so well here.

The movie–of course–the Princess Bride. The scene? Billy Crystal’s Mirace Max character has just returned the Dred Pirate Roberts (“Wesley”) to life.

Along with swordsman Inigo Montoya and behemoth Andre The Giant–rest his soul–the half-alive-Wesley and crew are expected to take on Prince Hupperdink’s army, liberate the princess and make a be-pajamaed Fred Savage happy that his Peter Falk grandfather came over to read stories. Mission accomplished though Miracle Max says it will take a….

The castle in this case?

None other than the nearly impenetrable Colossus of Saint Ursula or to known the fervent US fan merely as “the Azteca.” …. a rocking cauldron, more than 7,200 ft above sea level, of anti-”whoever” energy bombing down on the opponents just as quickly as beer and urine do on the unlucky enemy winger taking a corner kick.

Alan Gordon is your Giant and Herculez Gomez is perhaps your vindicated Montoya.

Moving on….

Alan Gordon or….

(Wait, can’t you just see Alan Gordon on a white horse in the 94th minute knocking in a ball off his thigh … it’s the stuff dreams are made of it’s the stuff that lives on trashy romance novel softcovers.

Okay, now, quick, quicker, to the preview!

Alan Gordon…whew…there, that’s better….

Alan Gordon? Nope.

Chris Pontius not on the travel roster? Nope.

Steven Beitashour? Sean Johnson? Brek Shea? Nope across the board.

The United States national team will travel for “what really shouldn’t be called a” friendly at the Azteca in Mexico City and the biggest surprise of what was an eventful selection process will be the absence of US national team captain Carlos Bocanegra.

This marks the first time–excluding the 2009 Gold Cup Final where Bob Bradley used a “B” team–that Carlos Bocanegra will not captain the United States against Mexico since June of 2007 and it will be the first time that Bocanegra doesn’t play against Mexico in any encounter–save the one mentioned above–since September of 2005. Even in that one, Bocanegra was on the bench.

(Note: The last time Bocanegra wasn’t selected for a Mexico match it was April 28th, 2004. Bruce Arena was coach, Josh Wolff started at forward. Oh and the last US captain (non- 2009 GC Final) not named Carlos Bocanegra? This guy!

Now what do we do!!!

Is it a changing of the guard? No, not really; one can expect Captain Carlos to be back on the field come qualifying time in September against Jamaica, sporting the armband and dishing out meaningful fouls–but it’s still a moment.

For whatever reason that the current Rangers player wasn’t selected (club situation up in air, beginning of the Fall Euro campaign), it still is a nod–like many other player selections–to a forward-looking roster for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The US has improved under Jurgen Klinsmann in defense, but they haven’t improved in central defense.

Whether it has been Oguchi Onyewu’s recent walkabouts in qualifying, Brazil’s forwards playing spin class with the US interior or Slovenia playing over-the-top-ball late last year in almost coming back on the Americans on their home turf, the US’s aging central defense has been an area of protection, not strength for the side.

This shouldn’t be a newsflash for anyone.

At Euro 2012, the average age of the starting centerbacks for what largely is a tournament with the highest percentage of elite teams, was 28-years-old. In their recent qualifying series, the average age of Clarence Goodson and Carlos Bocanegra was almost 32.

That’s acceptable, but only if the players have last names like Nesta, Stam or Desailly.

Now the US will brandish a younger, perhaps more athletic central defense when they play under a shroud of vitriol this Wednesday. It’s a rude education.

Without further Freddy Adu, we get to our customary TSG preview.

It follows:

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Jurgen Klinsmann With MLS Focus in Azteca Roster

Alan Gordon summoned….

[San Jose Earthquakes forward Alan Gordon has been added to the US roster.]

Zusi makes his bid for the depth char…

Klinsmann’s caravan to the great smog stadium in the sky on August 15th:

U.S. TRAVEL ROSTER BY POSITION

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GOALKEEPERS (3): Tim Howard (Everton), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

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DEFENDERS (6): Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steven Beithasour (San Jose Earthquakes), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Edgar Castillo (Club Tijuana), Michael Orozco Fiscal (San Luis), Fabian Johnson (Hoffenheim)

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MIDFIELDERS (9): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04), Jose Torres (Pachuca), Brek Shea (FC Dallas), Danny Williams (Hoffenheim), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

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FORWARDS (4): Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

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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