Archive for December, 2012

USMNT: Michael Parkhurst to Augsburg

Parkhurst gets his shot?

Parkhurst gets his shot?

Rumored to be on the move as soon as the transfer window cracked, USMNT senior squad defender Michael Parkhurst is headed from the top of the Danish league to the bottom of the Bundesliga, moving from FC Nordsjælland to FC Augsburg, who are currently going straight fisticuffs in a relegation battle.

Big boy move. Pressure’s on.

Your USMNT Jersey Holiday Shopping Guide

What's costing you your wallet?

What’s costing you your wallet?

Nick Sindt begs your expertise on USMNT jersey purchasing

Your prequel must-read

Last time TSG put out this piece at the perfect time; the jersey had just been launched and the World Cup was immediately on the horizon. The current kit has been out for some time, and it’s likely that most reading this site will have already made their choices, but what about those of us who wait until that defining moment or for that great deal or sale?

The impetus for this piece was selfish in nature, I just grabbed an authentic 2012/13 home jersey off eBay for half the retail price and now I need to send it on to US Soccer to get it printed; however as I put fingertips to keyboard it struck me that this kind of a post strikes a deeper chord as we prepare to flip the calendar.

2013 is going to be a huge year for the USMNT with the Gold Cup, the Hex, and our centenary on the horizon and you’ll want to ensure that the name on your back (if you’ve waited as long as I or are getting a gift for a loved one) is a solid one, but whom to choose? Other than MB90 or Clint Dempsey has there been a stand out player or defining moment that justifies spending the extra $30 to customize your shirt? To help you in making your selections here are some categories to help break down your options and what they may say about your fandom.

The Overall/EveryFan picks

1) Michael Bradley – Is there any US International more on-fire right now? It seems that playing for someone other than Papa Sweats has allowed him to reach his potential, and then some. OR, he’s finally just hit that purple patch of his career.

Either way he’s playing well for a big club and country, and getting his name and number on your shirt tells your friends that a) you like gorgeous volleys more than anything on earth, b) you’re going for timeless since it’s plain to see Bradley’s steely resolve, vision, and box-to-box runs ensure he will be a central figure for years to come, or c) all of the above.

Note: he only barely edges out Deuce on age and future impact alone.

2) Clint Dempsey – He scores goals against England, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Juventus. He openly mocks opponents on the pitch with the ‘Deuce Face.’ And, lastly he’s got that je-ne-sais-quoi about him that makes him the most exciting player to watch right now – you never know what trick he’s going to pull out next. If you’re going to strut down the street in a Dempsey kit, do it up right with a couple of arm tats and some 4-day stubble.

3) Tim Howard – As odd as ‘Howard #1’ might look on the outfield kit, he’s one of the top keepers in the world and he constantly saves the ass of the USMNT by standing on his head. Isn’t it time we honored him appropriately?

4) Landon Donovan – He’s been the face of US Soccer for 16 years now, scored more goals than anyone in a US Shirt, collected more assists, and played in the second-most games; you can’t really go wrong with his name adorning your shirt. However, being the poster-boy for the program means that everyone will know him and thus likely be the first choice of the casual fan, and he hasn’t really shown well in the current shirt due to injuries and general burn out. If you were going to get a Donovan shirt, the 2008/9 or 2010/11 Home shirts would’ve been better choices.

The Timeless Picks

I realize the US doesn’t have luminaries like Zidane, Pele, Maradona, or Cruyff that are respected the world over, yet, but most of us can agree on the following being our current list of timeless choices that give you instant street cred with knowledgeable US Fans

Tab, the original Coke of the USMNT

Tab, the original Coke of the USMNT

1) Tab Ramos #10 – The original US #10. One of the first to play the US game with South American flair. And to date, the last.

2) Thomas Dooley #5 – One of the first Germericans (in the Post-1990 history that most of us grew up with) to pull on the Stars & Stripes, he was definitely a classy and calming influence on our midfield and back-line during his tenure.

3) Earnie Stewart #8 – Arguably he’s Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan before Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan.

Classy on the field, classy in the front office, and just all around class. Class, class, class.

4) Paul Caligiuri #20 – Without his shot heard ‘round the world, not too many of us are fans of the USMNT in the same capacity today….and there isn’t a lot of tape of mostly white guys jumping around in too short shorts with USA on them outside of the Olympics.

5) Claudio Reyna #10 – Another South American-American who wore the #10 shirt, but Reyna played the game much differently than the traditional #10. His passing, vision, and tempo-setting skills are something we could definitely use in the Klinsmann era.

6) Ricky Davis — Don’t know him? Read this 1985 Sports Illustrated article, put down some ducats and gain some street cred.

7) Tony MeolaIf only…

The ‘If we don’t see you in 2013/2014, Thank you dearly for your service, this is my salute to you’ Picks

1) Steve Cherundolo – You been part of three World Cup squads, maybe a 4th…, and dutifully called the right-back spot your home for as long as most of us can remember. You’re a name not many immediately think of since you carry out your role with a quiet grace and aplomb.

Picking a Cherundolo shirt tells the world you know your shit and you appreciate solid if unspectacular play from your fullbacks.

Let us all bow our heads in praise for a moment at The Great Dolo … The Mayor of Hannover. He just may never die. Awesome.

2) Carlos Bocanegra – Third most caps for defenders, tied for most goals by a defender, and captain of the national side. He’s never been called world-class by outsiders but we don’t know where we’d be without your timely, nerve-calming equalizing headers and the leadership that you’ve provided over the years.

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Spurs 1 – Swansea 0: Dempsey Jazz Hands & A Ballerina Down

 Swans keeper Michel Vorm is on the shelf today with a groin injury. Doesn’t Swansea know that CLINT DEMPSEY STALKS HERE?? Unless Vorm’s groin was stolen by a crotch gnome, you tape it up. Or you lose. No bigs.

Image

And we join Rob Stone and Wynalda’s glasses before we go to North London with visions of — wait, this pregame video montage is horrible. WHERE 90 MINUTES OF SOCCER, PASSION AND DRAMA MEANS FAR MORE THAN THREE POINTS. No, I’m pretty sure all it means is three points. Actually, I’m really sure about that. That’s the mathematical equation that our sport is built on, not overwrought voiceovers telling me that SPURS ARE FIGHTING A SOCCER WAR FOR THE SOULS OF ALL SPURSKIND. What, you couldn’t wake Warren Barton from his stupor this morning and get him to spit some Geordie slang at us? For shame.

Looks like Dempsey is deployed on the left today while Gareth Bale fights off a hamstring injury. Spurs have dropped 10 points in the last 10 minutes of games this year. If games lasted 80 minutes, they’d be four points clear of United atop the table through 16 games. Oh to be a Spurs fan. Do something about this, Demps. If you get nothing else from today, let it be that it is never — NEVER — too early for the DeuceFace. Clint Dempsey’s glaring mug is my coffee. Game time. Leggo.

’1 – British announcers sound like they’re continually apologizing for intruding upon your personal time. Jon Champion does this constantly. “Oh dear I believe that was a goal but I DIDN’T WAKE YOU, DID I????”

’3 – Sandro lopes into Dempsey’s space on the left while Demps sprints into the hole underneath Jermaine Defoe. This is what I’m most interested to watch. As USMNT fans, the most important thing for Dempsey is that Tottenham stokes his creative passion and adds to his oeuvre of forward moves. Dig in, it’s going to be an interesting afternoon

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Wisdom? Revs Run Feilhaber Out To Sporting KC

"I'll tumble for ya....I'll tumble for ya!"

INCOMING…….!

The move was always going to happen this offseason.

Benny Feilhaber–overpaid by the league upon his entrance many would say–hightails it westbound to Sporting KC where coach Peter Vermes will see if he can coax the best out of player who is as feathery on the forward pass as they come but whose form ebbs based upon interest level and personal priority in the attack. Eastbound is some allocation money, Sporting KC’s natural first round pick in the MLS 2014 SuperDraft–likely to be near the end of the round if SKC’s quality of play remain the same and a second round pick in 2015.

Sporting Kansas City acquired midfielder Benny Feilhaber from the New England Revolution on Tuesday in exchange for allocation money, Sporting KC’s natural first round pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, and natural second round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.

It may–or may not–speak volumes that Feilhaber couldn’t squeeze himself into a Revs team that was desperate for someone of his services in the middle of the park. Many will laud a very dirty stat, that of “chances created” with Feilhaber as one of the league leaders (46) in the category, to cite Feilhaber’s value and perhaps misuse by Revs’ head man Jay Heaps, however the easy counter is that the Revs performance and record were noticeably improved when Feilhaber wasn’t getting minutes. Did Feilhaber not buy into Heaps system? Likely. Was Heaps system not playing to Feilhaber’s strengths? Also likely.

2005: Benny ... The Early Years

2005: Benny … The Early Years

At least the Revs–who lucked into diminutive midfielder in the allocation draft in August 2011–got and created some value in holding onto Feilhaber for this long.

For Sporting KC, any way you slice the Feilhaber acquisition–barring a contract that isn’t exhorbitant and shouldn’t be more than two-years long–it’s a win. When Graham Zusi went national-teaming last year or Roger Espinoza was an Olympian, the Sporting KC attack shuddered to a halt, not that the attack was exceptionally prodigious when Zusi and Espinoza were on the pitch together by-the-by.

Sporting KC may have sorely lacked finished, but they also lacked anyone who could create in 2012 when teams battened down the hatches on them and forced the dissect them from within SKC attacking third. Vermes team would often find itself resorting to hopeful crosses to Kei Kamara or relying on Chance Myers and Seth Sinovic to go one-v-one to create chances in those scenarios. Myers and Sinovic are solid MLS overlapping fullbacks, but neither is who you want to entrust your primary attack to when the opponent is conceding possession.

For Vermes, Feilhaber gives him the knight on the chessboard.

At one point, TSG openly campaigned outside the belly of the beast for more playing time for Mr. Feilhaber...

At one point, TSG openly campaigned outside the belly of the beast for more playing time for Mr. Feilhaber…

Feilhaber might check in at the top of the midfield 4-3-3 with Zusi being more of  a right midfield/wing maestro. In this role Feilhaber would be available on the outlet or be that incising central midfielder that could spearhead the attack when that opponent bottles it up. Or Vermes could use Feilhaber out to one side. The Californian often found himself pushed out to the right hashmark under coach Bob Bradley when he was in national team form.

Few forget that it was Feilhaber’s insertion just behind Clint Dempsey that ignited the US in their final World Cup game against Ghana in 2010.

Alas, this is now technically Zusi’s role–so Feilhaber out wide right seems occasional at best. Another option is putting the rightfooter into the role Bobby Convey was supposed to own, tucked-in high left. This seems less applicable as well in that Chance Myers is the primary overlapping fullback at Livestrong not Seth Sinovic who prefers to cut in on his right–that, of course, would be cutting into the precise space that Feilhaber would be occupying.

And, finally, an unlikely option is putting Feilhaber in the deep-lying Andrea Pirlo role of non-traditional central defensive midfield. As sure as this writer should be castigated for invoking the name of Feilhaber in concert with Pirlo is as sure as this is unlikely. The CDM role will likely be inhabited by point-and-shoot, search-and-destroy options like Peterson Joseph and ex-Barca man (and impressive upcoming MLS sophomore in this guy’s eyes) Oriol Rosell.

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