Posts Tagged ‘Everton’

Everton Rolls City, Donovan Holds His Own

Though only two games in, might LD regret signing a long-term deal with Galaxy?

Behind the strength of Marouane Fellaini and Steven Pienaar, Everton had one of its best showings of the season in a 2-0 win over Manchester City.

Landon Donovan, deployed as a right midfielder, had another positive performance in his home debut for the Toffees. Though Everton seemed to be forcing the attack down the left flank, Donovan did some good work during the run of play and on set pieces. His one area of noticeable weakness, before being subbed in stoppage time of the second half, was going one-on-one against isolated defenders. Donovan was dispossessed a handful of times in these types of situations.

But perhaps the best indication of the Donovan’s play were the the chants of U-S-A, U-S-A from the home crowd late in the game for the midfielder.

A couple more observations:

  • The tide turned for Everton this season (4-1-5 in its last ten contests) after manger David Moyes switched the roles of Tim Cahill and a full-strength Fellaini on the pitch. With Fellaini rooted deeper on the pitch, Cahill has more freedom to press forward or help cover.
  • Manchester City fullback Micah Richards fell apart tugging on the shirt of Saha outside and then inside the area leading to a penalty kick that put Everton ahead 2-0.
  • Steven Pienaar’s scored a set piece goal that Shay Given could only get a fingernail on before curling inside the near post. Pienaar’s celebration? A hug for a security guard that led to this exchange between Matthew and Miss ShinGuardian watching at a part in New York City.

Miss ShinGuardian: Why did Pienaar hug the security guy?

TSG Matthew: No idea.

Miss Shinguardian. Aren’t you supposed to know that?

Lando, Timmy Howard and Everton next take on Birmingham in the FA Cup next Saturday followed by a return to EPL action versus Sunderland who got blasted 7-2 by Chelsea earlier this morning.

Shh…I’m bogarting the end of Mark’s piece here so I can contribute one of my favorite YouTube soccer clips (which ironically appears under our tsg glossary section as well.)


Landon Donovan Sets One Up In Debut

• Click here for assist video. Donovan on the BBC about his debut.

Donovan in Toffee Blue: More natural than Roy Hobbs....

Just 12 minutes into his first start for Everton, a Landon Donovan corner kick found the head of Leon Osman who deposited it in the back of the net versus Arsenal.

Donovan started and played 69 strong minutes for the Toffees leaving with the game knotted at 1 goal apiece. He certainly seemed like he belonged out there with pace down the wing, one nifty foray into the box and his customary tracking back on defense. Like any game there were some miscues (poor clearance attempt, airmailed cross attempt), but Manager David Moyes has to be happy with the American’s play especially when you consider Donovan hasn’t played a meaningful game in six weeks and just joined his new squad a week ago.

Tim Howard Is Pretty Much Bulletproof

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My brother and I often disagree on quite a bit….and, when we were younger, the two of us had some interesting and let’s say, very physical (and sometimes bloody), ways of addressing these arguments.

Case in point, our summers were spent playing one-on-one basketball after dinner on a hoop tacked to a tree in our driveway. The game would be to 50 by ones and twos and I surmise we finished maybe 3 of these games in the history of the contest. The epic battles typically got rougher and rougher the closer someone got to the 40-point range plunging the game into an eat-my elbow, shoulder charge, take-it-to-the hole at all costs foul and hack affair.

So while my brother I disagreed, vehemently, on how this column should be written, we’ve finally put our differences aside in favor of the greater good and publishing this feature. (Aside: I favored calling out some writers and my brother favoring staying with the main theme.) We agree on one thing.

Some realize the legend in the making

Some realize the legend in the making

Tim Howard is a world class goaltender and any goal scored against his team with him in net should not be evaluated in isolation.

So, in writing this column, I am staying on point and I will not egregiously torch writers, message board contributors, and tv commentators or their “commentary” that suggests Tim Howard has something to prove against El Salvador. (You know we’ve all read their commentary and I’ve bookmarked their links.)

Okay! Done, caput. Focused, on-point.

Tim Howard has absolutely zero to prove. He should laugh at that at that notion. And frankly he might be chuckling from the bench on Saturday as it is actually a good game for him to take a well-needed break and have Brad Guzan (who faced the squad in March) deputize.

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Follow-up: Everton Soccer & Football Fans too

A top "team"

A top "team"

If you did not have a chance to read our post and commentary on Cody Arnoux, the title of this post–or specifically the humor of it–may be lost on you.

First, a big thank you for the compliments to our post and a bigger thank you for contributing all the commentary. The unequaled most rewarding phenomena of writing this publication it being able to gain reaction from a diverse and learned crowd.

For that piece, we heard from Bluenosers from the source city, Liverpool and from a Wake Forest grad who gave us more input on one of the top collegiate coaches. Thank you, your commentary makes this site better for everyone.

I thought I would tease apart the various comments on the piece and see if there was a way to weave them back into a compelling follow-up piece. I can promise the former, not the latter, but will certainly try.

Theme 1: Appreciation of the knowledge of Everton football

It was great to be complimented on TSG’s knowledge of Everton football. That being said, that a fanbase would reach out and offer such plaudits digs at something deeper. What I have come to find, and I am definitely not the first or last to find this, is the real local pride and respect for the heritage of a team specifically in EPL, but generally in soccer leagues around the world.

As a parallel to just how deep soccer’s passion runs, I grew up rooting for the “dreaded” New York Yankees in baseball. I can still rattle of Mike “Pags” Pagliarulo’s homeruns by season (32 in 1987…great year) and the starting 5 pitchers annually–I don’t fondly remember 1990.

However, as baseball has become more and more commercial and less grassroots, the attachments to players and history in baseball has waned. This is because the frequency of player movement is dictated less by passion to a team and more do to player and agent salary pissing contests.

(As a manner of this piece, I’m going to leave out referencing the history that is described in “How Soccer Explains the World” and “Among the Thugs.”)

This is not the same in the EPL which despite an emerging global following and global player base has maintained a maniacal sense of sense of pride and teams still resemble their locality.

Not a chance in hell!

Not a chance in hell!

We didn't sign him, did we?!

We didn't sign him, did we?!

Whereas a player like Michael Owen would never ever have been considered at Everton this year due to past allegiances, the New York Yankees opened up their checkbook a few years ago for, gulp, Red Sox outfield Johnny Damon. Did this pull even a little bit at the local fabric of New York Yankee pride? You bet it did.

Theme 2:  Labeling the world’s most played game as “soccer” and/or “football”

My brother who writes with me here (Hey Mark, when we getting a pic on the About Us page) is a staunch advocate of using the word “soccer” in writing as oppose to “football.”  His arguments if you haven’t read them are compelling.

I am going to defer mostly to his commentary here, but add a little bit of my own thoughts.

First, that an argument over the nomenclature of the name of the game itself is so hotly contested shows again just how passionate the fan base over the sport. You don’t hear folks who follow “the American helmeted version” aghast at the notion that the game is called pigskin even though that material hasn’t been used in years.

Second, akin to my brother’s piece, I will more harshly admonish sportscasters in general, and ESPN specifically, for doing a disservice to the game. Note: I am hoping this changes as ESPN has picked up the EPL here for a number of games this season.

ESPN specifically tries to get “too cute” with it’s references to the sport–apparently poking fun at the lack of a following in the U.S. One problem, I don’t think they are doing their homework. I would be willing to wager that in terms of “serious” soccer fans running the gamut of Latin Americans, American-bred soccer fanatics, and emigrants, that those number are not so minuscule as the relative nature of the uneducated coverage is.

Continually, this a network that took the time to develop the “sport” of “poker” (I have nothing against the card game poker) and throw their promotion machine behind it. That’s a bit hypocritical in my sports book.

Theme 3: How I came to root for the right side of the Meyerside Derby

This was my favorite part of the post to write. Fan Jane was quite foreboding of my forthcoming words. She’s said, “Everton are the supreme team in English Football. They play consistently and their team is all based on the players working together with the disadvantage (or advantage) of having no money (i say advantage because with Everton you see football and not flashy shows of spend spend spend power that has taken over the ‘top four’ of English football.”

Well said Jane.

I came to root for the Toffees both explicitly and implicitly.

Explicitly, I wanted to root for a team that won through player development, not player purchase.

Another NY Yankees analogy here: Having grown up a Yanks fan due to proximity and then the love of the team. I always appreciate the players that came through the Yankees “farm system.” Players like Mariano Rivera, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, etc. It was the years when those players were at their utmost peaks that I enjoyed watching the team compete.

Ah, the mistakes of youth

Ah, the mistakes of youth

Per my comments before, a little bit is “lost” each time you sign an outside player–signing even more of them and your identity is confusing to say the least. To use a cruel analogy, it is tough for me to root for Wayne Rooney not only because he rose through the ranks with Everton, but also because his style to me really is more Everton-like than ManU-like.

To use a more present day example, I am sure that just as Manchester City fans really want a winner, there are some out there who feel the bottomless pocket approach is cheapening their path to fame. Maybe I’m wrong, but this is how I feel about team creation.

Everton is a team that grows from within and shrewdly evaluates affordable talent. I wanted those dispositions in the team I put my support behind.

Implicitly, I came to root for Everton by being drawn to their specific style of play through hours and hours of watching EPL games. The best part of beginning to follow and root in the EPL was that I did not have a preconfigured geography to skew who I wanted to root for. Sure, having Tim Howard minding the net helped along the decision, but when I began watching more and more Everton games I was drawn to their team mentality (I credit this to David Moyes as well as the players).

The best way to explain this is through Everton’s recently concluded season. I had thought at the time that the loss of Mikel Arteta would really spell quick a lot of difficulty for the Toffees. But what transpired, and how it transpired, says a lot about the team. After Arteta went down, players had to pick up the offensive slack, but the players who stepped up were probably not who you thought would step up, chiefly Leon Osman and Leighton Baines (Jo did as well, but he came midseason).

Team player

Team player

In a more shocking twist, due to the new contributions from Osman and Baines, the introduction of Jo and the emergence of Fellaini, Tim Cahill, who you thought would be the first person to have more scoring opportunities, ended up contributing by playing a deeper supporting role. Cahill literally evolved into the position the team needed him in; compromising his ego and scoring chances for the betterment of the team.

Cahill understood and understands the team concepts. One of my measures of team success is the clean sheet. Not only does the defensive line need to play collectively well together and in communication with the goalie, but the offense has to do there part as well, increasing offensive pressure (to play from the lead) and maintaining possession (to reduce the opponents scoring opportunities).

After Man U’s record breaking midseason run (and Fullham’s mini-run), guess who was the team with most kept clean sheets: Everton. They ended the season with a nearly iron back line. And this was after their main offensive cog went down.

That’s team play; that’s Everton and that’s why I root for them.

Oh and there’s a good example of college team that plays that way, that team is Wake Forest.

In conclusion, I’m not sure I really wove together a storyline from all these comments, but maybe that’s more of the point. It’s unique and individual commentary from our fans that make this blog better and starts up new threads of debate.

I’ll have a follow-up on Cody Arnoux and how I think he’ll do shortly.

Thanks for supporting us at The Shin Guardian, keep the comments coming, and let us know what else you want us to write about.

Thanks.

Everton adds another: Cody Arnoux joins the fight

Cody Arnoux

Cody Arnoux

Update: Read more TSG coverage of Everton here.

My support for Everton football just got a bit stronger — American Cody Arnoux is foregoing his senior season at powerhouse Wake Forest and joining Everton FC.

That makes this the second American signed by Everton just this year–little known Cal Poly alum Anton Peterlin was the first–to go with vet Timmy Howard between the wickets.

Everton has now clearly established itself as the EPL’s America FC wrestling the title from Fullham who set the tone (and consequently had many Americans in their corner) over the past few years. While the Fullham side still boasts Clint Dempsey and a renewed Eddie Johnson (plus alums Brian McBride and Carlos Bocanegro), Everton has, count ‘em, three American born-and-bred players. Certainly another great step for American soccer.

While I personally enjoy watching some of the sensational international flavor that Everton has to offer: Aussie Tim Cahill is stellar in the air, Moroccan-born Belgium international Maroune Fellaini has the flair (and the hair) for the dramatic, and pint-sized South African Steven Pienaar can slalom through defenders with the best of them, the real story here has to be the program that Wake Forest has built. If you haven’t had a chance to watch any NCAA tournament soccer over the past few years, I encourage you to try and take a moment and watch the Demon Deacons come together for 90 minutes–the fighting spirit that 2007 and 2008 Coach of the Year Jay Vidovich has instilled is second to none.

wake-m-soccer-logo

Among just a sampling of the former and current players that Wake Forest counts among their locker room alum are:

Sam Cronin — featured in the U.S.-Haiti Gold Cup game last week

Michael Parkhurst – USMNT defender who will probably get the nod at CB today against Honduras

Cody Arnoux – bringing his 32 goals and 16 assists from last season with him to Everton FC

Marcus Tracy – Forward and now starter for the top Danish squad AaB

Ike Opara – 2008 ACC Defensive Player of the Year who runs with the U.S. U-20 squad

Pat Phelan – MLS New England Revolution starter

and a personal favorite….

Julian Valentin

Valentin is an alum of Wake Forest and the Los Angeles Galaxy, however he is probably best known for a vicious hit he received in the 2007 NCAA Championship game (one of the best college or pro games I have watched). Valentin went head first to defend a loose ball near the Wake Forest 18 and received a cleat in the face that is one of the worst if not the worst cosmetic injuries I’ve seen in soccer.

Kudos to a great Wake Forest program and to Cody Arnoux. Take a peek at that 2007 Championship game between Wake Forest and Ohio State here, along with the facial to Julian Valentin at the 1-minute mark of the clip. Apologies as the clip is grainy.

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