by TSG staff
Welcome to 2013! Ready for 2014?
We are a few whiskers over 500 days away from finding out whether US’s central defense is ship-shape, though we may never get there because this is one hellacious qualifying campaign. Yes, qualifying this year will be more volatile than Facebook’s post-IPO stock price during a Long Term Capital crisis.
Last week, TSG took to our Proof Labs to meticulously cull dumpsters full of data to come up with “January 2013: Jurgen Klinsmann’s Depth Chart,” a 5,000 word must-read missive designed to completely explore the possibilities of the US roster come World Cup Qualifying and beyond.
This week? No such luck.
We’re bringing back one of the most popular columns here: “World Cup 201x Boarding Passes.” It’s 2014 of course, at least Dan Flynn and Sunil Gulati are praying it will be.
There’s been massive change over in our personnel here since we last spoke in 2010.
We’ve swapped out Air Bradley One for Air Jurgen One and my how plush the interior of this flying hotel is. Landon Donovan is still around or so we think. Ricardo Clark is not.
Well, let’s get to boarding.
Here is our very first installment for 2014. We’re early this year…amazing.
Please note, all tickets are completely refundable and subject to restrictions. The standby list is currently looking pretty good too.
We’ll board The Crew and Gold Club Elite Members now, sitting in First Class. Please proceed down the jetway:
Jurgen Klinsmann: Well of course you knew Jurgen Klinsmann (COTUS) would get an extra 15 minutes on the airliner before anyone.
Four pieces of luggage already down below and now five carry-ons–one that appears to be … moving? — four hair dryers, three mobile phones, two passports, and SURPRISE one …Jose Torres? Yes indeed that bag was moving.
Torres escapes the duffle for a second as Klinsmann stuffs his head back in. Torres is no good at defense as we know.
Torres, muffled, “Agua.”
Klinsmann, welling up with … something, to the flight attendant, “I just … I just couldn’t bare for him to be left back.”
Wait just a second, Klinsy. Didn’t you once say, “Anybody can play leftback?”
Thank you. Thank you. We’re just getting started here.
Klinmann hefts the bag up into the overhead space as Torres continues to scratch at the zipper, saying over and over again, “Not de plane. Not de plane.”
Martin Vasquez: Vasquez takes his seat right next to COTUS. He’s got an Etch-a-Sketch, a copy of Inverting the Pyramid and the new app from Bleacher Report for his Windows smartphone. The USMNT Smithers feels he’s prepared.
Wait… no one’s told him yet?
Caleb Porter is joining for the trip in the same role he had for the U-23′s. No-so-innocent bystander. Ouch. Just remember Caleb, they’ve got chainsaws with freaking laser beams up in P-Town.
TSG has been impressed thus far with The Porter–can we make that his official nickname?–up in PDX–both beer and organizational moves.
(1) Tim Howard: Howard ambles onto the plane. Immediately three vivacious and bodacious “flight attendants” in bikinis come bounding and bouncing towards him with what look like glorified feather dusters.
Apparently there’s a plane scene in Pulling the Brazilian Keeper, Volume II!
Oh c’mon the f off it, you’re a USMNT fan. You’re acting like you’ve never seen Tim Howard Keeper Porn. Tim Howard is gosh damn darn near the Ron Jeremy of Goalkeeper Porn.
(BTW, in at least American lore, the Tim Howard “double head nod” is only slightly south of the Thierry Henry “shoulder shrug” and the Deuce “dumbfounded that foul wasn’t called stare” on the Official Soccer Gesture List.)
(2) Michael Bradley strides into first class, sits down, takes out his iPad and starts analyzing how to mark Ángelo Henríquez.
Bradley calls out to Klinsmann. He wants to know who he’s bunking with because last time in South Africa it was a 4am wake-up with Pops and two run throughs of P90x before
hitting the gym before Maurice Edu and Jozy Altidore got home from the club.
Michael Bradley recently got a back tattoo with all the thing he wants to improve in his game. He’s crossing them off one by one in ink, not having them removed.
Loddy Doddy, don’t pass to Totti…
(3) Clint Dempsey: Next up is Clint Dempsey looking a little bleary eyed from the birth of his fourth child. No matter, Deuce still has the flair. He plops down, puts up his Air Nagododos on the seat in front of him and reclines back to reveal a not-so-subtle t-shirt “I AM THE ARSENAL, FUCK THE EMIRATES!”
Clint carries a chip on his shoulder always. And don’t let Deuce’s stoic demeanor fool you, he cares.
This tale by Alecko Eskadarian on playing with Dempsey in a January camp is excellent.
Josh Gatt: In walks …. Josh Gatt and takes the first window seat in first class … to which Clint gets up and lets him know where his accommodations are. Gatt skillz? Yes and a Hardaway crossover to boot. Gatt respect? You’ve got to earn that at the big show, Speedy McMichigan.
(4) Hey, it’s Jozy Altidore!
Somewhere in Merseyside Jamie Carragher shits his pants as the guy next to him at the bar mutters without missing a beat “Just ‘Being Liverpool’ I guess.” Everyone laughs.
(5) Steve Cherundolo: Cherundolo’s up next. US Soccer called it in and did it up nice for Steve. He’s got a personalized seat pillow cushion with a gold-plated footrest that says “Wonderboy” on it. Cherundolo rests his right sneaker on it.
Kammarman has also gotten him a tote with a tub of metamucil and an EntertaintPak with plenty of $30 off his first hooker senior citizen discount for the ladies of Rio.
Dolo’s about to become The Mayor Below The Equator. Hey-O! Get some Steve!
(Quick add here, Steve Cherundolo is just about one of the nicest guys to interact with in the Mixed Zone after a game. He’s not going to give you much drama, but he always takes all the time in the world. Classy fella.)
(6) Geoff Cameron: Geoff Cameron trots on … singing some Stevie Wonder.
Okay we can dig it:
I’ve got something that I must tell
Last night we shutout the Red Devils.
And it was me and you, my Shawcross brother.
And when Van Persie was in the box
Jazzy Geoff stamped on his socks
It’s only dirty pool if you get caught,
Like you taught me…
My Shawcross brother.
Just like Aaron Ramsey. Oh yes…
My Shawcross brother.
Bum, bum nananana.
How many times did US fans wish they were Stevie Wonder watching the US central defense over the past 5 years. Cameron finally gives hope for …. Higher Ground.
[Note: I have no idea how this got into my head writing this ... just go with ... at least you're listening to Stevie today, right? Ok, good stuff.]
Oh and in case you didn’t know Geoff Cameron can do it on cold, wet and windy night in Stoke though, ladies, he prefers to entertain you at his pad in Manchester. Speaking of…
(7) Fabian Johnson: What’s not to love?!
Say it slowly.
“Fab”: …. [Pause] “Johnson” ….. ”Fab”: …. [Pause] “Johnson” ….. Either his parents are plain awesome or they’ve got a Zach Galifinakas-like wit.
“Fab”: …. [Pause] “Johnson” … That’s what she said!!
If you missed it, Fab Johnson’s jersey is top’o'the list on our prolific and popular USMNT Jersey Guide.
(8) Landon Donovan: Wait! Why it’s Landon Donovan wearing a … Panda headdress. Ah, the Speedman up top felt the Tugg of another World Cup run.
Look, what do you want us to say about Donovan? Yes, we’re happy you mailed in half the 2012 season. No, we’re not upset that it seems you have to find yourself once a year but you haven’t even left California yet. Yes, we know that happened earlier in your career too. Ok, Landon is the richman’s Tugg Speedman and you know what, because just like Tugg maybe it’s just one more rote trip to a huge overseas production–with 200lbs of shit-your-pants–that allows Tugg, I mean Landon, to find himself.
Think about it before you dismiss it.
Question. Would Don Garber give him up to Everton for a G-5?
“A G5 airplane?
Yes… and lots of money… playaaaa!”
Swinging from your knees!
(9) Carlos Bocanegra: Captain America is our excuse to show this kick-ass TSG Don’t Tread Video Winner … uhgain:
(10) And the last seat in first class boarding class belongs to Timmy Chandler. He’s somehow stuck in customs. Even though we’re still in the Miami-Dade Airport. Of course he is.
[Unaccounted for: (11) Jermaine Jones]
[Moved to business class: Josh Gatt]
(12) Danny Williams‘s head is down and he’s literally tripping over himself walking down the aisle. Howard grabs at him and Williams looks up his eyes puffy and purpley.
Howard, “Dude, what the heck happened to you.
Williams whispers quietly.
Apparently someone interspliced some Ghana footage of Ricardo Clark in with a bunch of dead animals and did a proper Clockwork Orange on Williams.
Don’t worry Danny, you may be available for an upgrade soon.
(13) Maurice Edu strolls on the plane next. None of the flight attendant’s can help him find his location. That’s alright, neither can Jurgen Klinsmann, Lyle Yorks or Tony Pulis.
(14) Eddie Johnson: Eddie Johnson’s been on the plane for 20 minutes without looking up once from his iPhone. After he broke Twitter in 2013, EJ moved to Pinterest and became some sort of re-pinning savant.
In just May of 2014, Eddie Johnson closed at number two in the EPL Golden Boot race for West Ham United. How good has EJ been over the last year?
So good that his nickname around London is now just…. “Ass Man!”
The EPL Golden Boot challenger has been hitting up the London clubs like when Andrey Arshavin and Lindsay Lohan took ecstassy and found themselves in possession of Chuck Blazer’s American Express Black. That probably happened.
Only Cosmo Kramer and EJ’s mom are taking issue with the new nickname. Eddie, well, you can shop at US Soccer for a jersey with “Ass Man” on it.
(15) TSG once claimed that Michael Parkhurst didn’t have the physique for the international game. Then we looked in the mirror and realized we really shouldn’t be commenting on the physique of anyone except Fat Ronaldo.
In other news, the Revolution still don’t have a new stadium but the US can stage a friendly game there with Spain to overdraw the place the day before a major Gold Cup tournament. I am as confused as you are.
(16) Josh Gatt is relocated and reclines. He’s recently left the Tippeligaen for the green pastures of Wigan if only so that I don’t have to keep writing Tippeligaen. He also still hasn’t been photographed with a shirt on. To his immediate right is (17) Mix Diskerud.
And yes, I think with an instagram of that we’ve got Kickette back in gear.
(18) Sure Herculez Gomez is playing for Chivas USA right now as a DP with Rafa Marquez as the coach and Shalrie Joseph as a #10, but Klinsmann still has the faith. Well done Herc.
(19) Omar Gonzalez - The Rajon Rondo of the Los Angeles Galaxy. Cue the cliche “The Wire” references. Can we stop pairing pop culture, must-see TV and slapstick comedy movies with soccer references please?
(20) Brad Guzan. We had enough of the Villa defense, TSG hired Patches O’Houlihan to coach Guzan in goal. You’re welcome, Brad. Now get the f*ck out of the way!
Given the firing squad, red-carpet treatment that Guzan is getting up in the Birm it’s no wonder he went as far away as possible for some R&R. A lot less dangerous there.
(21) Brek Shea: Through Brek Shea’s Twitter account this year we’ve learned that: he owns a toy helicopter, he got sick from his flu shot and he’s got bobcats outside his house. If that doesn’t scream “All Day I Dream About Sports” I don’t know what does. How’s that sponsorship working adidas?
You know the Cletus-Brek Shea references are spot on. We’ve got the drama and the subtle Europe hints already here early in the cycle. We’ve got the hair and we’ve got a player with quality with the ball at his foot. Thinking this is going to work out, but wouldn’t be surprised either if Bobby Convey makes another Sports Illustrated cover before The Rooster too. Could go either way.
(22) Sean Johnson: They don’t allow iPads on the benches at World Cup 2014, so P Diddy has 12 back issues of Car & Driver. He’s still stoked to go to World Cup 2014. Just like Hahnemann was.
Johnson is 10,000 to 1 underdog to leave World Cup 2014 with the Golden Tire given to the player who covers the most ground during the World Cup. Only one player has worse odds than him on that list … Dimitar Berbatov, who apparently completely cheated on his Bulgarian tax return and is now playing for the national team again in what seems like not-half-bad plea bargain.
By the way, the Golden Tire was one of the five (5) new awards that debuted at the Confederation Cup in 2013 as a test for 2014.
There was also the Golden Shower award given to the goalie who allows the most embarrassing own goal. Dollars to donuts that this one resides in the British Isles for 8 out of the next say 8 years or so….
There’s the Golden Crowbar, given to…
[(11) Jermaine Jones shows up with a thud, a little late of course as always, Jones to no one in particular, "Who wants to play cards?"]
Then, there’s the Golden Pacifier given to the player most like Arjen Robben and finally the Golden Tic-Tac, given out to the player who acts most elitist and claims to play the game the proper way despite never taking chances at passes upfield.
You only qualify for this award is you’re shorter than 5’8” and your name is highly indexed on Zonal Marking.
(23) Graham Zusi: Legit question here.
Have you ever seen Rachel Weisz, Graham Zusi and Roger Federer all in one place at one time.
Terrence Boyd. Amazing the most American player grew up in Germany. Blame it on Facebook. He’s #24, but he’ll find his way in.
Every time I see Alan Gordon on TV I just want to scream, “Fezzik, he’s getting away!” Seems Klinsmann actually made good on his threat and found himself another giant. Inconceivable.
Kyle Beckerman and Benny Feilhaber are making amends
In another Sacha Kljestan was probably Joseph Stalin. That’s all I’ve got for you.
Joe Gyau. In the time it took you to read this sentence, Joe Gyau just ran all the way to the airport food court and brought me back a hot dog. Thanks Joe, but you’re still standby for now.
Bill Hamid: Young Tim Howard….for now. Very young.
Clarence Goodson. ________________ <– Yup, that’s about right.
Speaking of Chris Pontius recently bailed out of a USMNT Janaury camp, citing a persistent and not-fully-healed groin issue….in the offseason. Chris Pontius? Having the time of his life?
John Anthony Brooks. John Wilkes Booth. Lee Harvey Oswald. All killers of leading men. I like where this is going.
Juan Agudelo whatever this reads for Juan Agudelo, he’s going to RT it. So we saved a spot.
Robbie Rogers: You decide based upon this recent highlight reel? Compelling?
Joe Corona is on a beach somewhere.