Archive for the ‘World Cup Qualifying’ Category

We’re Getting Excited: USMNT One Week Notice

Wow, we are about one week away from more USMNT action. No doubt as we get closer to the Slovakia and Denmark friendlies, the questions of

alti

A look back...

rosters (which I believe we should learn shortly on the US side, maybe Monday after (the) MLS playoff round closes?), line-ups and tactics will abound.

For now, goto US Soccer and take a look at the behind the scenes view of the October 14 RFK game. Once again, we have to give a pat on the back to USSF for making video available to the fans.

Cost of a camera to shoot the video: @$8,000

Cost of the camera man to shoot the piece and the editing: @$5,000

Total cost: $13K or so…(and remember that’s a one-time camera purchase)

Which begs the question? ESPN, what are you doing with your production coverage? TSG alerted you to the 9th minute salute and we got all of 5 seconds of it memorialized on the telecast.

I would look at the video first, but here are some TSG comments on it:

• Some very candid shots of Jozy Altidore clearly externally exhibiting his inner monologue going on about CD9.

• Some great camera work on the focused expression of Stu Holden in the locker room and during the line-up picture

• An absolutely splendid job in capturing the feeling, especially with audio, of the CD9 salute. Bravo.

• Again great work in showing Landon Donovan’s patience under fire in the box to trap the ball and create a shot rather than just throw it back on frame.

• Perhaps in the best, though heartbreaking, image of all: Oguchi Onyewu’s look of shear anguish as he goes down in the box. In one moment, you saw his pain and then his immediate realization of what it meant for his season and his challenges in making it back for World Cup 2010.

• And to balance that last image out, Jozy Altidore egging on the crowd after the final goal by Jonathan Bornstein, lifting his jersey and screaming in jubilation, “That’s my boy” while chest thumping his “Davies 9″ undershirt. Cherishable.

TSG is going to send a note to USSF today commending them on the piece. If you add comments below, we’ll send these along as well.

In other USMNT news:

gale

Portugal-bound?

• U-20 defender Gale Agbossoumonde who hails from Syracuse, NY (Cuse!) is rumored headed to Portugese top league side Sporting Braga. Here’s hoping that deal gets done (as Agbossoumonde is a little in limbo at a USL player) and Braga gets to suit up for the first team Arsenalists (another great nickname) shortly. Gale will find himself going up against a host of Brazilian defenders for minutes (nearly the entire defense for Braga is Brazilian born) and on the same pitch as Manchester United prospect Rodrigo Possebon, on loan from the home squad.

• And, we almost goofed, our Eric Lichaj Report: The young defender was unfortunately issued a 3-game ban for his red card last week in Lincoln City’s 3-1 loss to Morecambe. There’s a bright side here though, Lichaj will go back to Villa to train during his ban. Read these sterling comments on Lichaj from his Lincoln City manager Chris Sutton.

• And a piece of housekeeping for reader Antonio. I finally got a chance to watch the Italy-USA U-17 match. Yes, I know the US lost, but when was the last time you saw the U.S. play a truly even game with runs up and down the pitch. Still greatly impressed with Cabrera. I liked that he brought the backline up a little more in this game, in effect saying to Italy, “We respect your possession and we want to clutter in the midfield so we’ll take our chances with you playing it over the top.” Absolutely loved the almost reckless abandon the US attacked at the end. Tough loss, but well-played.

Guinness vs. Sam Adams for South Africa

beamish

The Beamish & Crawford original brewery in Cork shut its doors late last year...TSG had the pleasure of having a beer there prior.

First, for the record, Cork brewer Beamish (R.I.P.) is the Irish stout of choice for The Shin Guardian (though we’ll drink Guinness and Murphys’ in a heartbeat.) Oh, and we couldn’t use Budweiser in the title because that’s now technically from Belgium.

The recent 25-man roster selected by Ireland for their Cup qualifier playoff with France got TSG thinking: What if it were the United States who had to play the Emerald Isle for the right to get mugged in South Africa?

Pound for pound, who’s stronger?

For obvious reasons, I choose not to subject the USMNT to this evaluation vs. France. Jeremy Toulalan, Karim Benzema and even Patrice Evra on a bad day? Pass. On paper, it’s challenging.

Although I will tell you one area where the USMNT would have a “Major Advantage” over France. At the helm. While Bob Bradley may be castigated by the fans and press, the players love him (A friend who played for Bob at Princeton said he would do anything for the guy.)  Would Thierry Henry do the same for French skipper Raymond Domenech? Uh, not so much….(Domenech isn’t endearing himself to the Irish squad either.)

IrishTeamLogo_1

One game for all the marbles....what's with TSG and pictures of shields lately?

Back to the battle at hand.

So let’s call it a single qualifier playoff. We’ll make it at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales and the winner gets a set of Callaways from Craig Bellamy (don’t worry — I know the joke is getting old — last time I use it – promise) and a trip to Jo’burg, Durban and the prize, Capetown.

Here’s the 25-man roster that was just named for Ireland’s death match with Home of the Crepe:

Goal:  Shay Given (Manchester City), Keiren Westwood (Coventry City), Joe Murphy (Scunthorpe United)

Defense: John O’Shea (Manchester United), Richard Dunne (Aston Villa), Stephen Kelly (Fulham), Kevin Kilbane (Hull City), Eddie Nolan (Preston North End), Sean St Ledger (Middlesbrough), Paul McShane (Hull City), Darren O’Dea (Reading),

Midfield: Aiden McGeady (Celtic), Damien Duff (Fulham), Darron Gibson (Manchester United), Glenn Whelan (Stoke City), Keith Andrews (Blackburn Rovers), Liam Miller (Hibernian), Stephen Hunt (Hull City), Andy Keogh (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Liam Lawrence (Stoke City)

Striker: Kevin Doyle (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Robbie Keane (Tottenham Hotspur), Shane Long (Reading), Leon Best (Coventry City), Anthony Stokes (Hibernian)

Hypothetical USMNT roster: (Don’t read too much into our selections as being “TSG approved” for the World Cup….we’re going to wait a bit before that column and we’re just having fun here)

Goal:  Tim Howard (Everton), Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Brad Friedel (Aston Villa)

Defense: Johnny Spector (West Ham), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Oguchi Onyewu (A.C. Milan), Chad Marshall (Columbus), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover ’96), Eric Lichaj (Aston Villa), Jay DeMerit (Watford)

Midfield: Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Stuart Holden (Houston), Michael Bradley (Bo’…MUNCHEN!), Benny Feilhaber (ARF Arhaus), Ricardo Clark (Houston), Jose Francisco Torres (Pachuco), Robbie Rogers (Columbus), Edgar Castillo (Toluca), Jermaine Jones (Schalke ’04)

Striker: Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Conor Casey (Colorado), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Charlie Davies (Sochaux)

(Look, this is my column so I’m putting Chuck Deezy on the squad.)

Here’s how we’ll break down. We’ll choose a starting eleven side from both teams and then weigh the bench (including those that don’t dress in its entirety.)

One note, we’ll do our best to evaluate overall “lines” as the USMNT typically play a 4-4-2 and Ireland plays a 3-5-2.

Goalie: Tim Howard v. Shay Given

The Manchester City goalie is in one word, exceptional. The 6’3” 33-year-old has played every critical game for his national team since 1996.

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Given in his Tyneside days

Indeed Given is 2nd all-time in caps for the Republic of Ireland, sitting on an even 100. On the club stage, Given made his living and his name at recently relegated Newcastle. With a transfer to Manchester City, some are suggesting it is Given, not a supremely talent strike line or a refashioned defense that is the main reason behind the Citizens success this year. Indeed Manchester City is second in clean sheets this year and 3rd in Goals Conceded. Impressive.

On the other end of the pitch stands, Big T for the USMNT. A starter in 2007 and beyond for the national team, Big T got his EPL club start at Manchester United. After failing to wrestle with some jitters, he got shipped southward to Everton where Toffeville has been absolutely thrilled by the pick-up. Dubbed by Davie Moyes and others as a world class keeper, Howard showed his mettle most recently in the Confederations’ Cup in RSA facing the consecutive firing lines of Spain and Brazil.

Verdict: While the stats suggest Given is a given (you knew we’d work that in), we believe Big T’s would be similar or better (see EPL 2008-09) if he had the likes of Lescott (still), Toure and Bridge in front of him instead of the MASH kit defense he has now at the Toffees.

TSG gives the nod to Howard by a bluenose over Given.

Advantage: USA, slight edge

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CentroamericaTV USA-HON Replay

Still not easy viewing, but we got a replay.

Still not easy viewing, but we have a replay.

If they didn’t make it to the few scattered viewing locations across the continent last Saturday, USMNT supporters will finally be able to watch the USA’s World Cup clinching victory over Honduras in their own home…

…in Spanish

…on Sunday (10/18) at 2:00pm Pacific

…if they subscribe to DirectTV and have CentroamericaTV (CATV, channel 428)

Boy, wouldn’t it be great if someone recorded this and then sent a copy over to TSG?

(Much thanks to Greg Seltzer for getting the word out.)

US vs. Costa Rica: Charlie Davies Strong

Nice touch. A drained USMNT thanks it supporters...and Tim Howard in cowboy hat!)

Nice touch. A drained USMNT, with Big T in a cowboy hat, thanks it supporters

“Adversity is the first path to truth.” – Lord Byron

The above quote was considered when TSG was writing an email to Charlie Davies (charliedavies9@yahoo.com) yesterday. Ultimately, CD9 received a different quote about “seizing fate by the throat”, but Lord Byron’s words proved to be excellent shorthand or even prophetic for last night’s match between the USMNT and Costa Rica.

These truths were revealed to USMNT fans last night:

Heart and courage are not in short supply for the USMNT

In a game that seemed to mean everything and nothing at the same time the USMNT exemplified what it will take for their injured mate to make his way back to the game he loves.

You want heart? A 95th minute equalizer with the US playing a man down by an oft-maligned left back…there you go.

The US was staring adversity straight in the face going into the game last night. No one would have blamed the US for whatever type of game they played given the events of the past 48 hours, especially  after putting themselves in a two-goal hole midway through the first half. But the Yanks fight to the whistle no matter how many goals they are down nor how many men they have on the field.

Jeers turned to cheers for Jonny with one knock of the noggin

Jeers turned to cheers for JB versus CR

The USMNT and Coach Bob Bradley play to win

Need proof? Bradley sent a clear message with his starting line-up. Eight of eleven starters, including iron man Tim Howard, carried over from Honduras. Only absent were Davies, Spector and Clark. The RB was most likely replaced by Cherundolo for performance while Feilhaber for Clark was an effort to control more possession at home.

More proof? After picking up an early yellow Jozy Altidore never left the pitch. Picking up a second would have led to a disqualification for the first WC match, but Bradley chose to remind Jozy of that (including telling him not to lift his shirt in celebration to reveal his “Davies” jersey) instead of replacing him. Bradley was rewarded for his choice as the youngster played a tremendous game.

Still not convinced? I’ll give you two final pieces of evidence. 1) Coach Bradley’s subs – offense, offense, offense. and 2) Late game hero Johnny Bornstein in his own words, “I don’t normally go up for corner kicks. Usually I stay back,but for that one, I was like, `I’m getting in there. This is a last-shot effort.’”

I think Bradley went convincingly for a win as a result being committed to win the region, out of respect for CONCACAF (and Honduras) and, if only a small motivation, Charlie Davies.

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Incredible 9th Minute Salute – Thank You

Thank you to everyone who spread the word the past 24 hours and participated at RFK, in bars, their home and online. The fans (and team) represented well for Charlie and we hope it lifted his spirits.

Baltimore Brigade was right on with the #9s for CD, even coming equipped with 700 to pass out at RFK. The American Outlaws helped a bunch getting the word out and on the ground in DC. And a group of us were even standing and holding them up at a bar in San Diego as well.

Here’s an AP article talking about The 9th Minutes Salute. And check out No Short Corners for a great (desktop size) image.

(The post that helped get it going is here. And you can find TSG’s match review here.)

The 9th Minute Salute for Charlie Davies

The 9th Minute Salute for Charlie Davies

________________________________________________________________

Here’s a video from Matthew Lee.

Orange Wedges: USA – Costa Rica

Orange Wedges is TSG’s game day post that will be updated until the start of the match.

Hopefully, well see a lot of this tonight for Charlie in a USMNT win.

Hopefully we'll see Jozy and the boys do a lot of this in Charlie's honor tonight.

TSG kicks off a somber Orange Wedges this morning with the latest from Grant Wahl of SI.com on US striker Charlie Davies. Anyone going to the game (as well as those at home or in bars), please support The 9th Minute Salute.

It’s hard to write about the game when the team’s 23-year-old spark-plug is lying in a hospital bed following a horrific accident and after I just met Charlie’s proud father this past Saturday while watching the Honduras match.

Matthew adds:

Through the technology of Twitter, a decidedly smaller but quite zealous fanbase, and a landmark victory on Saturday where he pronounced the US fit beforehand to raise the World Cup, the world of Charlie Davies feels and is tangibly close to US fans.

Some might suggest that USMNT fans don’t really know Charlie, but we certainly know a lot more about him than most athletes of his stature because that’s the way he wants it. His connection to, and the support of US fans is strong and hopefully that will provide some encouragement during his recovery.

Wednesday afternoon updates on Davies:

Stephen Goff of the Washington Post via Twitter: Greetings from RFK. Davies condition unchanged. Bradley visited him this morning. USSF says he was in back seat with seatbelt.

Grant Wahl of SI.com via Twitter: At RFK for US-CR. Davies update: Described as being “responsive” (handsqueezes), still serious but stable cond. Wore seatbelt, in back seat.

Shout out to Freedom High School (Orlando, FL) student Bree McDonald, who’s making her own way back from a serious car accident. Inspirational.

On to the game, I guess…

(most recent updates are posted at the top)

  • Stu Holden is ready to go and represent for CD: Game time folks, getting pumped. Look out for the stanky leg 4 Charlie D! USA USA (via Twitter)
  • Break-out the slicker and galoshes (again), weather.com is forecasting a 70% chance of rain at the start. (As others have mentioned, bring those #9s in a plastic sleeve.) From Matt: Soggy turf favors the home side Yanks in this one. Our prospective forwards and central d’s are stronger in the box on the up and over balls. On the wings, this will make quick staccato runs from the Costa Ricans just a little bit harder.
  • The US has managed to dodge any yellow card accumulation trouble in the last three matches. As Grant Wahl reported earlier this week via Twitter, yellow card accumulation doesn’t matter anymore. Only a sending off tonight (via a straight red or two yellows) would lead to a suspension at next summer’s World Cup for the offending player.
  • As for the starting pair up-top, we are sticking with our original forecast of Altidore and Casey with Cooper subbing in the second half.
  • A win by the US will clinch first place in the region. With Mexico only a point behind and playing Trinidad & Tobago it will be unlikely for the US to remain in first without the three points. Honduras which sits in 4th place, two points behind Costa Rica, visits El Salvador this evening and will be rooting hard for the team that knocked them off this past Saturday.
  • Kick-off is 5:05pm Pacific and the game can be seen on ESPN2 and ESPN360 (amazing, I know)
  • From this outsider’s perspective, the USMNT team seems to be a close bunch. I am guessing that Charlie Davies’ accident will be more of a galvanizing event than one that leaves the team flat and rudderless tonight.
  • The full TSG preview can be read here. Please keep in mind that it was written before yesterday’s event.
  • While the USMNT has a battle to win the group on their hands this evening, perennial powerhouse Argentina has a dogfight for their Cup lives against Uruguay in what is the biggest game on the global stage. Here’s the take from the Buenos Aires Herald which is shall we say hardly sharp on Argentine coach Diego Maradona.
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