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The Mighty Power of… CONCACAF?!?

That’s right, CONCACAF. Again, just in case you are unclear (and I can understand why you would be), the often insulted and downplayed region of CONCACAF is currently 4-1-1 with +2 goal differential.

The nasty Group D containing the football powerhouses of England, Italy, Uruguay and the minnows that are Costa Rica, that group is currently led by Costa Rica, who has won both of their games. Think about that for a minute. Essentially it looks like this:


Yes, just like that. Except Costa Rica hasn’t been on a motor bike the last two games, they’ve been driving a freight train, running over both Uruguay and Italy. England is next. Mexico just drew with Brazil, who happens to be the host nation and a sliiiiigghhhtttt favorite according to basically everyone who has money lines. If  you were to look for a good price in the betting, you would probably have put your money on Brazil. Like Nate Silver and the FiveThirtyEight crew did. Or like every bookie in Vegas did. You probably wouldn’t have put your money on CONCACAF. Which means if you picked Italy or Uruguay, this happened to you.


Certainly you wouldn’t be alone. The thing is that when everyone talks about how easy it is to qualify out of CONCACAF, they ignore some pretty critical facts. CONCACAF qualifying is against a minimum of 3 other teams that qualified for the World Cup. Compare that to European qualifying where you might have one other team in your group that actually qualifies. It’s long, and travel is grueling, especially from Europe. The conditions are often extremely hot and humid. Do you know what this prepares you for quite well? A World Cup in a spread out country that often has some rough weather conditions, where you have to play good teams the entire time. Weird. Who knew?!

Sure, everyone loves bagging on CONCACAF, but compared to the Asian Football Confederation who is 0-3-3 so far at the World Cup, and the Confederation of African Football, who is 1-5-1 currently, it might be a good time to find a new whipping boy. Unless you really think trying to harass this guy is a good idea (spoiler alert: IT’S NOT!)

Demps bleeding

USA v. Portugal Primer: Klinsmannati

Think about it... maybe it's been sitting there in front of our eyes all along.

Think about it….

Occam’s Razor? Are US fans and media missing the obvious?

Maybe clues to the Klinsminati are sitting there right before out eyes.

The following is all in good fun…or is it?


USA-Ghana Line-Up:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Beckerman, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Dempsey, Altidore

USA-Nigeria Line-up:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Beckerman, Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Dempsey, Altidore

100% Match!

Teased: Nigeria obviously the comp for Ghana. The US sets its defense and lo and behold the same starting line-up appears. That game played in sweltering heat at about the same time.

Wait a second... who the f*ck is this guy?!

Wait a second… who the f*ck is this guy?!


USA-Turkey Line-Up:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Chandler; Jones, Davis, Bradley, Zusi, Dempsey, Altidore

USA-Portugal Line-Up?:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Chandler; Davis, Jones, Bradley, Zusi, Dempsey, *[Altidore]

Match: ?

Teased: The US plays on heavy legs a few days later.

Turkey is obviously the comp for Portugal. The US just got worked over on their left flank with DaMarcus Beasley doing the equivalent of shuttle runs with a dog on his *ss. Flip-flopping Chandler and Davis essentially for Jones and Beasley makes some sense. Davis would remain wide, thwarting Joao Pereira’s overlaps…he doesn’t come central from Portugal’s RB spot ever. Tim Chandler plays Nani’s incuts on his stronger leg.

Zusi used to cover over Fabian Johnson for what would’ve been Fabio Coentrao


USA-Azerbaijan Line-up:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Zusi, Wondo [Dempsey injured….or was he?!], Altidore

USA-Germany Line-Up?:

Howard; Johnson, Cameron, Besler, Beasley; Jones, Bradley, Bedoya, Zusi, Dempsey?, Altidore?

Match: ?

Teased: Azerbaijan’s Ring of Fire or whatever is somehow the comp for Germany. Well, Berti Vogts is their coach and all.

The US keeps the shielding shuttlers Zusi and Bedoya narrow on defense and then wide to go against Germany’s centerbacks!


Think about it.

Did Klinsmann perhaps know that Dempsey would get injured by Germany? Or did he know that the US might have the group sewn up and he could rest the captain?

Maybe we might win the whole f*cking thing after all!


USA vs. Ghana: World Cup Match Ratings, Appropriately

First, we start with celebrations.


Yep. I’m pretty sure Mr. John Anthony Brooks celebrated the same way we all were feeling after that goal. Basically DID THAT ACTUALLY HAPPEN OMG I’M IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION THIS IS UNREAL SOMEONE HOLD ME AND VERIFY THAT THIS IS ACTUALLY REAL LIFE AHHHHHHHHH essentially. Of course, there was always this too.


Earthquake? Might as well have been in SF. Beer showers for everyone!

On to those match ratings:

Tim Howard: 12

Clutch saves. Wrong footed once, can’t blame him for that goal. Dude’s a rock. Hey, remember that time we beat Ghana? Me too. He’s gonna be big in this tournament, trust me. We know he can stop the clones, pretty sure that means he can stop anything.

DaMarcus Beasley: 9



Pretty sure DaMarcus Beasley’s beard stopped Ghana personally on at least three different occasions. It also congratulated Clint on his goal, booked dinner reservations post game, and verbally harassed Gyan about his hairstyle choices. Well played beard. Look forward to seeing what you can do against Pirlo’s beard in the final. A battle for the ages.

Matt Besler: 10

By far the best player for Kansas on the field during the first half. Literally he had no match from any other Kansas-born players, and continued to dominate the Kansas category. Reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly hope he isn’t hurt bad. Rest that hammy bud, none of us have any interest in #HammyWatch2014.

Fabian Johnson: 9

Looked to be at fault on Ghana’s goal. Do you know what he wasn’t at fault on? Ghana’s second, third, or seventh goals. Because they didn’t exist! That’s huge. Giving up one goal is infinitely better than giving up seven. Especially when your team scores two goals and you beat Ghana.

Geoff Cameron: 10

cameron pocket

No moving.

Finally playing the center back role that TSG so desperately wanted to see him in, looked good. More importantly, had Gyan in his pocket all night long. No, literally. The TSG superawesomecamera captured this great photo of Cameron just hanging out, talking about who has better taste in hair products with Michael Bradley. Oh, what is that there? Is that the special pocket jersey made for Cameron? It does appear so! And why it appears he has stuffed Gyan right in there, terrible haircut and all. Well done sir.

Michael Bradley: 10

Bradley struggled, but America won, so yeah. Suck it. He also had the shiniest bald head on the field, totally embarrassing Andre Ayew. Step your bald dome reflection game up Ayew if you want to even step on the same field as Michael ‘We Can Reflect The Sun Off This And Generate Solar Power’ Bradley.

Kyle Beckerman: 14

Beckerman stepped up big time in the first game of the World Cup, and it showed he really belonged. He gets a 14 because I’m pretty confident his hair as at least that many dreads of doom. Do you know what you don’t do with dreads of doom? Give them a poor match rating, that’s what. Plus, there’s this. It’s rather sexy, please avert the eyes of small children as it might not be appropriate. That sound you hear is WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOP.

Joe Biden: 10

Joe looked good out there. He needs to work on his first touch a bit, but I think he really has a future with this team. Look for an appearance against Portugal with a similar outcome hopefully.

Jermaine Jones: >9000

Not only did Jones have a massive game, assisting Dempsey’s goal, crushing attacks from Ghana left and right, but he didn’t end Sulley Muntari’s life like we all expected him to do when he got in Jones’ face after a pretty rash challenge. Personally I think that was incredibly kind of Jones. Because I saw a very different outcome when that all went down. Thou shall not offend Jermaine or thou shall be smited -Jürgen 13:13. Remember that, it might save your life someday. Best game in a US kit for Jones, talk about stepping up to the pressure.

Alejandro Bedoya: Ambassador to Brazil

Ale looks good out there. He created some danger, took some decent looks on goal, and whipped in a nasty free kick. He also fulfilled the TSG prediction of him being the US Ambassador to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup by ambassadoring it up out there. He did it well. Hopefully his legs were just cramping toward the end of the of the day because the US is going to need him.

American Outlaws: About 20k.

That’s how many US fans were reported to be at the game in Natal. THAT MANY. Absurd? Yeah, honestly, probably. We’ve come a long way folks. This US support is immense, not to mention the support all over the nation.

Clint Dempsey: 1 Minute

That’s how long it took Clint to score. OH HELL YES. Essentially here’s what happened:

Yep, that.

Jozy Altidore: 17

Please be okay. Please please pleaseeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee please please. PLEASE. I’ll give you any number you want if we get to see 17 back on the field ASAP. My phone number, my credit card number, my social security number, really any number JOZY.

Swedish Referees: Not Koman Coulibaly

Yes, that’s a number. A number called we didn’t get CONCACAF’D or Koman’d in a ridiculous spot tonight. So it’s a number I love. You should love it too.

Aron Jóhannsson: 10

Tough spot for him to come in. Holding the ball up isn’t really his game. We were victorious, so a 10 for him.



John Anthony Brooks: 1,000,000

Scores a massive goal on his World Cup debut in a game that also cap ties him, that he had to come in at half time as a substitute in an incredibly pressure packed situation. The only real question is if 1 million is high enough?

Graham Zusi: 19!

Speaking of big plays, Zusi has them. And excels at them. Is there a way to say someone is getting more clutch? Because his clutchness is off the charts right now. The clutchness charts.

Mix Diskerud: A perfect 10

Gratuitous hair flip inbound. Why? Why not, that’s why. AMERICAAAAAAAA 3 POINTS LET’S DO THISSSS.

USA vs. Ghana: Live Commentary

Redemption time.

Redemption time.

Oh boy. Oh boy. Oh boy!

Starting line-ups … shortly.

If you missed the preview? Here.


Same Day Takes: USA vs. Ghana


Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 11.52.35 AM

A possible Ghana line-up per reports this morning.


The skinny: This is a massive departure from the standard 4-4-2 line-ups sent out there by Appiah during qualifying. Of course, those line-ups had Majeed Waris partnering Asomoah Gyan up top–the best is Waris was not passed fit.

The top of the attack will function a bit differently here. Asamoah Gyan will hold the ball with Atsu–less of a playmakes and more speedy that Waris–playing immediately off him.

Jordan Ayew and Andre Ayew are on the flanks likely looking to get in isolated situations versus the US fullbacks.

Michael Essien sits and the “speedier” Sulley Muntari likely manage the ball and puts it up the left flank to either Ayew dashing behind or Kwadmo Asamoah progressing from leftback.

In a surprise, Appiah names the better of Harrison Afful and Daniel Opare…Opare…back to rightback.

This is a faster team for Ghana likely taking advantage of wet conditions and sitting deep begging the to break them down.

The US been given to getting gapped before on defense and the challenge here will be even more so the cohesiveness of Besler-Cameron and whether Kyle Beckerman now sits in the middle.

Game on!

The US should be able to possess the ball deep against Ghana and you can imagine them attempting to breakdown Ghana like they did Panama hopefully in Seattle–by retaining possession very deep and challenging Ghana to come up the field.

Should be very interesting…..





Germany v. Portugal: Live Commentary

Carvahlo for Portugal.

Carvahlo for Portugal.

The appetizer … for US folks. The competition going forward.

William Carvahlo here for Portugal. Get used to seeing him around the UEFA Champion’s League.


The World Cup’s Underrated Stars

top image


Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, Aguero, Neymar, Messi, Suarez, Ronaldo, Neymar, Neymar. It’s all we’ve heard the last few weeks. Let’s face it; we all know what these guys can do. And let’s face it; we all expect them to do it. But that’s not the real beauty of the World Cup. The beauty is that it unearths huge talent who lift us off our seats, get us talking, and eventually go on to become household names.

We’re lucky this year in the sense that there are some incredible players on show this summer – so much so the likes of Robinho, Samir Nasri, and Landon Donovan haven’t even made their squads – and with this likely to be the greatest tournament of all time, they’ll certainly want to shift that tag of being underrated.

And these could be the men to do it…

Joao Moutinho (Portugal)

Can he handle all the freedom of America?

Can he handle all the freedom of America?

It’s all about one man in the Portugal side – apparently anyway. But aside from Ballon d’Or winning Cristiano Ronaldo, the Mediterranean nation doesn’t have a bad side, and Joao Moutinho is most certainly an integral part of it.

He’s been a star player in Ligue 1 this season for Monaco, challenging for the French title, and becoming a huge threat particularly thanks to his creativity. Which will be important in getting the most out of captain Ronaldo. He’ll be right at the heart of the team, and if he can put in some big performances against Germany, Ghana, and the USA, clubs in bigger European leagues could be on red alert.


Mateo Kovacic (Croatia)

The 20-year old will be thrown head on into his first major tournament this summer, but with a season in Serie A that has seen him turn the heads of Manchester United, Arsenal, and Liverpool. The Inter star joins a trio of class-acts in the centre of the park, alongside Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic, so it’s no wonder he’s the least talked about Croatian midfielder.3rd

But one man who does believe he’ll boost the Croatian World Cup odds is teammate Nikita Jelavic saying, “He is a great, great talent and has a big chance to show the world what he can do.

“He is very creative and can be an important player for Croatia at this World Cup and beyond.”


Josip Drmic (Switzerland)

Despite being in a side relegated from the Bundesliga, Josip Drmic still managed to score 17 for the season, capturing the attention of Bayer Leverkusen who promptly signed him at the end of the season. And that could be good timing. Expect him to score a few this World Cup in a side who could do remarkably well.

4thA good World Cup, not only could he become a household name, but he could be already one of the buys of the summer.


Blaise Matuidi (France)

Like some of the greats, Blaise Matuidi quietly goes about his business on the pitch, not setting the world alight, but doing his job. He was an ever-present in the PSG team that lifted Ligue 1 this season, and set an astounding record of 484 interceptions last season.

His defensive qualities will certainly be welcomed come June 15th, yet he seems to have added something else to his game – the ability to score goals. He’s already netted in the warm ups, and scored an unbelievable scissor kick against the Dutch in March. If France go far, expect this man to be in the team of the tournament.


Arturo Vidal (Chile)

He’s hardly underrated – he’s recently been named the 11th best footballer in the world – but has anyone heard the name Arturo Vidal in the build up to Brazil? Probably not.6th

The midfielder has been instrumental in both the Juventus and Chilean team over the past few seasons and scored five times in 11 games during the qualifying stages of the World Cup. His tackling is right up there with the best, and he’ll hold all the strings for Chile – who go into the tournament as underdogs for the trophy – particularly in the Group Stage when they go up against Spain and the Netherlands.




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