Archive for the ‘Americans Abroad’ Category

Monday Quarterbacking

You still on that jellybean high? Fantastic weekend for soccer, if you could squeeze it in:

Target audience: Appropriate Herbalife sponsorship with Portland in town....

• The Los Angeles Galaxy went out of this world with their 3-0 thrashing of the visiting….”TIIIIMMMMBERs!”

While the Galaxy’s form will be hailed, I’m not sold on their squad just yet. Chad Barrett played above himself and P-Town’s midfield seemed to be sleeping on the job (in reality they were just, collectively, a step slow).

Press the Galaxy’s midfield. Give Beckham, Juninho and Donovan less time on the ball and to make passes. I’m curious then if there forwards will loose themselves and give their midfield counterparts streaking runs or interplay up top.

Not sold, but we shall see.

A few other nuggets in this one:

» AJ De La Garza filling in for the injured Leonardo looked dynamite. I shall call him Mini Cannavaro. For now. Hope he lives up to the junior nickname.

» Interesting post-game commentary from Landon Donovan where he lightly admonished, “Have people figured out I’m not a goal scorer [more a passer] anymore?” Was known for a while, but sure make Bruce Arena’s commentary that Donovan might be play as a second striker prior to the season a little hollow. That’s Arena for you though.

» Darlington Nagbe. Take solace Portland. Kid will be a player.

• MB90 minus 90: I’m afraid it’s time for all those that glommed on to the statement, “Michael Bradley has earned playing time everywhere he’s went” to throw an asterisk on that statement.

Villa skipper Gerard Houllier was admitted for emergency surgery earlier in his coaching career at Liverpool and now he’s back in the hospital as of last week. That likely means a “don’t rock the boat” squad with assistant manager Gary McAllister in charge.

Late to the "party" at Villa Park...

You may see Bradley sneak in the 18 one or two times and even the eleven once, but you can consider–for whatever reason–Bradley’s time at Villa to be a failure for his exposure.

Once again, Junior Bradley was nowhere to be seen as Aston Villa drew Stoke City 1-1 on Saturday. Manning the midfield hub was 31-year-0ld Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker. On the bench for the Houllier’s was Jean Makoun…and 37-year-old Robert Pires.

Has Bradley’s ability or career plateaued or is this just a speed bump. I still maintain that the Bradley to Sunderland nonsense (only heard here in the States) was just a story plant for buzz. Whither Bradley post-campaign? Back to Bo’Munchen, but will it be in Bundesliga II?

• Spec-ulating: Speaking of the Yanks’ midfield, a healthy performance from Jonathan Spector though West Ham got the knife from Chelsea. Spector’s midfield movement (on the account of him being a former striker I’d imagine) is excellent, but he’s still not a run with the ball or final pass sort of guy. With Bob Bradley seemingly now chock full of righbacks (Cherundolo, Chandler, Lichaj) will Spector be used in the midfield?

• Arsenal fan? Always turn your set of at 80 mins: Tough weekend for Arsenal fans as Tamir Cohen banged home a header to give Bolton a 2-1 victory over the would-be title seekers. At some point, if you’re not going to make the right purchases, you have to at least ask your manager how he’s going to solve those late game mental mistakes.

And Danny Sturridge for Bolton, once again proficient.

David Vaughan for Blackpool; Jermaine Jones thinks about the yellow for Blackburn...

• The Yellow Card Bowl: Who gets the first today as Jermaine Jones and Blackburn face off against Nigel DeJong and Manchester City.

• Get out of the kitchen! http://hastorresscoredforchelsea.com/

• The story for ‘Pool: Liverpool, creeping up the table. The story for Pool? Not Maxi Rodriguez’s three-spot, not that Joe Cole actually still exists. How about that John Flanagan kid at rightback? He’s 18!

• The other ‘Pool: After a stirring first half of the campaign, Blackpool find themselves in the thick of relegation fisticuffs. How about this? The player’s voted their player of the year this past week. Charlie Adam, of course, right? Nope. Seems threats and commentary about wanting to leave the club midseason didn’t sit well in their dressing room. The Tangerines Proper went with the other middie David Vaughan.

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MLS Player Of The Week: Lyle Yorks

Update: According to this MLSSoccer.com report, the Feilhaber move came about in 72 hours. Wow. And, combine that with today’s learnings that Feilhaber’s salary this year is a single digit percentage premium ($375,000 to $374,000)  to his Aarhus salary and just a small raise (and only one added year) to $450,000 next year tells me the following:

Aarhus–likely–wasn’t re-upping at the same or comparable rate next year and no suitor was coming forward in the summer with a better deal.

Again, sure Feilhaber maybe wanted to play Stateside–I’m not sure I believe that since the exposure to European clubs diminishes–it still looks like MLS was negotiating against itself.

Once again, well done Mr. Yorks.

——

Give it up for Lyle Yorks as Benny Feilhaber should be doing right now.

Player Of The Week

Here’s what we know of the recent Americans abroad.

That Benny Feilhaber was out of contract at the end of this year.

That his team AGF Aarhus tried–multiple GM reports–to move him during the initial part of this season.

Being a World Cup veteran does not guarantee you a spot in Europe. Jay DeMerit elected to play out his final year at Watford in hopes that he could parlay his World Cup appearance into another enviable contract somewhere in Europe. Didn’t happen.

Edson Buddle took his World Cup resume and is now a part-time starter in Germany….for a Bundesliga II outfit trying desperately to avoid relegation to the third division.

World Cup occasional starter Jonathan Bornstein, now an occasional starter with Tigres in the Primera, likewise for World Cup roster cut Sacha Kljestan in Belgium with Anderlecht though his playing time is spotty.

Jozy Altidore? Seeking playing time after a somewhat impressive World Cup has found himself with a lateral move at best to the Turkish Superliga.

Benny...is back!

So that leads us to Benny Feilhaber.

US nationals are infinitely more marketable on the home shore and with Feilhaber out of contract at the end of the season, his agent, Yorks, did a smart thing by proactively moving Benny to MLS. Maybe it was Benny’s decision, who knows. One thing I do know is the I’m sure Yorks witnessed the DeMerit situation and thought, “I’m not losing the leverage for my player in the summer.”

Smart move. Could an MLS club had Benny for less in a few months? That would seem possible.

Moving about Europe is still a chore for an American player and one who is represented by an American agent. Don’t get me wrong, as far as I know, Yorks is one of the best in the business, but remember “Americans Abroad” in Europe–in abundance–is somewhat new as are the agent ties to various teams. Yorks’ agency has been around for ten years. By comparison, controversial player agent Paul Stretford (agent to Wayne Rooney) has been brokering players since 1987.

They, Americans abroad, represent an opportunity for teams (American fan dollars and media exposure), but there are also the limitations of homegrown rules and passports and there is the back-scratching for Euro agents that control even bigger players; agents that are more entrenched.

Feilhaber will do well in MLS. He’s a US national, a talented offender and a good looking guy to have on a campaign poster to boot. And it’s in MLS where that first quality–being a US national–holds the most value.

MLS: Benny Feilhaber To Revs For Now

Feilhaber headed your way....

And the eagle has landed for now…

Or the Feilhaber rather.

US national and World Cup veteran Benny Feilhaber is headed to the New England Revolution for now. A good move by the Revs–and one that Chivas should have considered–in getting value. The Revs elected to gain an asset and perhaps bring some other assets in if Feilhaber’s not the fit.

According to Steve Davis, Feilhaber’s cap number will be an astounding $400K. Good work by the agent on that one considering that Feilhaber would have less suitors in the summer (and less leverage) out of contract.

A deal to Houston–who according to ESPN reporter Jeff Carlisle and this Houston Chronicle article was pushing both Chivas and New England for–may still materialize.

Timmy Chandler’s Weekend Dime

(Thanks for the note on this in the comment’s section)

Just a peek at Timothy Chandler’s assist on the weekend for Nurnberg as they dropped Kaiserslautern and remained 6th in the table.

We need a TSG nickname for Chandler.

Benny Feilhaber To MLS; Chivas Likely

From Hamburg to Aarhus...going back to Cali?

Feilhaber Update: TSG was out of pocket yesterday, but according to agent to the stars Lyle Yorks’ twitter, US national Benny Feilhaber is headed to MLS.

No word on which team yet, but Chivas has first allocation pick and Feilhaber is from near Irvine, CA. A second tweet by Yorks’ seemed to allude to it.

Interesting move for Feilhaber who is out of contract at the end of the campaign.

He certainly didn’t help his self-promotion by moving with Aarhus to the second division in Denmark upon their demotion. After a rumored move to Mexico’s Primera never materialized, little doubt–much like Jay DeMerit–that finding a deal out of contract to a better league would materialize it seems.

As for the Chivas match for Feilhaber? The Goats are lacking in the attack but Robin Fraser is a steadfast defensive organizer and Feilhaber is not quite Makelele. More to come for sure.

The Weekend: What Are You Watching?

Will Spector and West Ham be celebrating another deposit versus an American keeper (Brad Friedel) this weekend?

TSG is getting a head start on the weekend with a wedding down in Nawlins. (Thanks to those for the recommendations.)

So our new weekly series:

You’ve got three hours and change to kill. Which two games are you watching Saturday and Sunday. And my-oh-my is there quite a docket this weekend.

For what it’s worth (and TSG will be missing quite a bit of the footie this weekend). Our two picks…oh man…I would go with West Ham vs. Villa (because of the Americans involved and the periphery of the relegation battle) and probably United vs. City in the FA Cup.

Pick two.

On Michael Bradley & Aston Villa

Timothy Abraham

The Shin Guardian had the occasion to interact last week with Aston Villa beat reporter Timothy Abraham who writes for Birmingham’s Express & Star. Abraham gives us an unvarnished, untarnished by American lens view on the goings on inside Villa Park. TSG is thankful to have Abraham’s thoughts here as we respect he’s an on-staff writer for the Express & Star.

Follow Tim on Twitter here.

(Editor’s Note: This TSG piece on Michael Bradley–vetted by Abraham–is a requisite read beforehand.)

Will it soon be a walk in the Park or from it?

TSG: You mentioned Michael Bradley is struggling with game speed. Do you think this is due to lack of game time or is it something different?

Timothy Abraham: Some players do take time to adjust to the pace of English football and I think this is evident in Michael’s case. In his fleeting appearances for the first team he has been caught in possession too easily sometimes and his passing has been found wanting. It is in stark contrast with Jean Makoun – who joined Villa from Lyon in the January transfer window – and has looked at home in English football straight away.

TSG: You mentioned that Michael Bradley won’t likely be resigned by Villa next year. Is he still Premiership material?

Timothy Abraham: The jury is out at the moment. I don’t think Michael’s situation has been helped by Villa having struggled at the bottom of the Premier League for most of the season. With the exception of Jean Makoun Villa manager Gerard Houllier has gone for players who are tried and tested in English football. If Villa are able to pull clear of the relegation battle in the next few matches then Michael might get a run of games towards the end of the season and given a chance to stake his claim to remain at Villa.

TSG: Will Michael Bradley’s situation be impacted at all by Nigel Reo Coker’s? Will Reo Coker resign with Villa? If not, if Bradley an option?

Reo-Coker...

Timothy Abraham: Nigel Reo-Coker’s future is up in the air at the moment. His Villa career looked over when Martin O’Neill was in charge but he has been reinvigorated under Gerard Houllier. The problem for Reo-Coker is that he is probably not quite good enough for the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea etc so that leaves him with very few options. I think Villa is about his level but my inclination is to say that he is seeking a big contract and with under pressure to cut the wage bill he will not get the kind of deal he is after and will leave the club. I guess there is a chance Michael Bradley could be a replacement but with the kind of money that Borussia Monchengladbach want for him, and with a surplus of midfielders at Villa I think a deal is unlikely.

TSG:  About other Americans: Brad Friedel’s club standing? Will Eric Lichaj ever see the light of day at Villa? Or even Brad Guzan?

I want to work....there...

Timothy Abraham: I expect Brad Friedel will be offered a new deal although he may well have to accept that he will not be first choice next season as Villa look to sign a keeper for the future. Eric Lichaj has done well at Leeds and, with the exception of a couple of mistakes in a game against Manchester City on a day when no-one from Villa covered themselves in glory, when he came in he did well.

I’m not sure he’s quite in the class of on-loan Tottenham right-back Kyle Walker and with Lichaj being 22 I suspect he may move on sooner rather than later. The same probably applies to Brad Guzan.

TSG: What’s the general perception of Houllier’s reign thus far?

Timothy Abraham: The reviews on Gerard Houllier’s short tenure have been mixed. His development of young talent and commitment to play more aesthetically pleasing football than previous manager Martin O’Neill have been appluaded by a lot of fans.

However, there have been some PR gaffes which has alienated sections of the fanbase. Not least his comments after the defeat against Liverpool (although they were taken out of context) and in particular the decision to field a weakened side in the FA Cup against Manchester City which really angered supporters. Houllier has perhaps been guilty of trying to change too much at Villa at once when he should have waited until the summer to make sweeping changes.

 

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