Posts Tagged ‘Fernando Torres’

Oh Look! I’ve Found a Free Superstar

It’s like having the Get Out of Jail Free Card in Monopoly.

Nay, it’s stronger than that. It’s like having the 1st pick in the NBA or NFL draft. Nope, that player is not a given.

Ah, I got it. It’s like Peyton Manning or a vintage Kurt Warner went on waivers right before your Fantasy Football playoffs and there is no cost to picking them up.

Benny! Essien! On the same team?! The tears are streaming down my face...

What if the USMNT could add one player….any player from the international scene right before the World Cup. Who would they add? Who would you add if you were playing Bob Bradley?

TSG took a look. Here’s are five of our suggestions:

1. Fernando Torres

The skinny: How could we not name a striker here for the USMNT? In Fernando Torres, the USMNT would arguably have the best pure striker in the game today. The selection of Torres as our first superstar we would pick up on waivers doesn’t end on that statement.

The luxury of Torres is not only that he can get goals any number of ways, it’s that he can play in any formation up top. He can come up the pitch to receive the ball to drive to the whole. He can go balls-out and slam home a header or <salivating> he can run off Donovan…wow!

Torres needs less service than probably any other striker. I just heard the collective USMNT fan base exhale, “Hooray!”

In short, he can fit in with less than 150 days to World Cup glory in anyway Bob Bradley needs him. He fits the style of the USMNT team or he can help create the new one.

Fit rating: 100 out of 100 (um, what team can’t fit Torres in)

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2. The big bad “Bison” – Mr. Michael Essien

The skinny: Those of you that read TSG religiously (“We’re watching you.”) know that Chelsea’s Makelele Plus, Michael Essien, is this writer’s favorite player. We tried oh-so-hard to put Essien number one on this list, but we could not ignore the El Nino effect.

The USMNT got a taste of Essien as Ghana shut down the States to advance in World Cup 2006. This time, he’s on the Yanks’ side.

With Essien in the middle, it hardly matters who he is paired with. Imagine Benny freelancing off Essien’s cover. Pairing Mike Bradley would work as well as MB could show his offensive wares up the pitch..

With Essien as destroyer, locking down on errant wingers and strikers and then turning the table to manage possession, the USMNT could afford to take more offensive chances, in turn putting more pressure on their group stage opponents.

Fit rating: 98 (Essien’s counterpart would need to learn real quickly how to be more offensive on the pitch without cluttering another offender’s space. Wait a second…what if the USMNT get Jermaine Jones as well. Two d-backs, still Benny up top, Donovan and Demps to the wings…and Jozy up top….problems solved.)

This clip doesn’t even represent his main skill set!

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Continue reading

WC 2010: 5 More Offenders To Watch (Part II)

If you missed Part I….you can either click here or scroll with your new infrared computer mouse that you weren’t supposed to get until tomorrow.

Atta'boy JZA! Merry XMas!

05. Jozy Altidore

Nearly everyone reading this column is–quite obviously–familiar with Big Jeezy. Altidore pummeled the MLS with Red Bulls before moving–with great expectation–to Villarreal in 2008.

Villarreal couldn’t find a spot for the youngster–now 20–and shipped him to Hull City on a one-year loan where his first year has been uneven.

Beyond Didier Drogba, Altidore is on the of few players that has fantastic dribbling ability to go along with massive size.

He is also one of the few offenders who can post up and turn on his guy in the center of the pitch or drive down the wing after facing up.

Can he–will he–put it together in World Cup 2010?

04. Mesut Özil

A favorite of TSG contributor Antonio, Özil is pushing for first team consideration on Germany 2010.

The 21-year-old rooster-haired Özil has 6 goals for Werder in the campaign thus far on 13 appearances. Better, for Germany, Özil has started to factor for the homeland.

Özil will sit in midfield and with talented players like Schweinsteiger and Podolski already in the fold, Özil’s skills might sneak up on opponents…but should also be announced to the world.

03. Fernando Torres

Torres needs no introduction.

So we’ll be brief and let Tim Howard tell you about Torres, “I think he’s been one of the top in the world. He’s got speed, and he’s got a great sense for the goal, which all great strikers have. The craziest thing about Torres is that as silky smooth as he is, he’s a scrapper as well.”

I’ll now quote myself and say, “If you were going to build the perfect striker, you build Fernando Torres…period.”

With Spain one of the favorites hoist the cup, with David Villa to play off, and with service from Cesc and Iniesta. Watch out!

02. Luis Fabiano

Brazil's unequaled numeral nine

USMNT fans will remember Fabiana’s gorgeous pirouette and shot through Jay DeMerit’s legs and past Timmy Howard that then righted Brazil all the way to the Confed Cup win.

Fabiano’s got everything and then some. Think of him as, say, Carmelo Anthony. He’s tall. He’s got a post up game; he can put back rebounds. He can even face you up and take you 1-on-1 or launch the 3. All he needs his service.

Brazil is coming in with a more defensive game plan to World Cup 2010–that doesn’t mean you won’t see Maicon launching crosses and Kaka shoveling passes….all in the direction of Fabiano who will be playing at the top of the offensive triangle.

(Not a highlight video, put this guy just screams striker.)

01. Didier Drogba

Drogba’s name and resume precedes himself.

This is the moment for Drogba to extoll his greatness. So often teammates (Lampard, Terry) and managers (Grant, Mourinho) call him the greatest; yet to the populace he’s more just a great striker. Not a great.

With the Ivory Coast having their strongest team in years and Drogba arguably in his last World Cup as a difference maker, it’s time for the Chelsea man to go off and claim 2010 as the Year of Drogba.

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Honorable mentions:

One person you should’ve been able to watch is Alexandre Pato. It looks like Pato (The “Duck”) is being outright ignored by his national team. Right now he’s one of the best 20 players in the world, in TSG’s opinion. Can someone smudge his passport so it looks he was born in Miami? Ditto for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who has basically told the Sweden team to kiss off, turning down an invitation to the Italian friendly in November, perturbed at Sweden’s inability to qualify.

Just missing this list as well were Englishmen Wayne Rooney–a phenomenal forward but not top 10 player in our book–and wingman Aaron Lennon. It was Lennon in 2006 who showed the only penchant for one-on-one dazzlement for the Three Lions and he’s looking in better form this time around.

With their best team in years, we considered putting Robin Van Persie on this list. However the Dutch have a habit of folding in top international play and Van Persie is struggling with injuries right now.

No love from TSG for the USMNT’s own Landon Donovan. The world knows about Donovan and the USMNT will need that striker ahead of him. If the States go far, Jozy will need to make hay.

Franck Ribery might showcase his chops for France, but France doesn’t have the complete game or the coach to take it to the max this time around.

Is this Samuel E’to’s swan song as well? The Cameroonian still has the chops and his national team might surprise, however service to the now-Milan striker is variable at best, so no joy from The Shin Guardian.

Weekend Redux: Reds Fire, Rapids Expire

A wonderful weekend of soccer just concluded. I happen to have the time to catch the marquee match-up at Anfield, Rapids-RSL and some of the West Ham vs. Arsenal.

Let’s jump right in.

• Liverpool knocks over Manchester United, 2-0

» You can’t start commentary here without talking about the play of Fernando Torres. He consistently threatened the Man U’s backline all day long, testing the offsides barriers and commanding possession. He gave Nemanja Vidic fits, so much so that Vidic “earned” his third straight red against Benitez’s side.

Torres to Ferdinand: Take a seat and I'll beat up Johnny Evans

Torres to Ferdinand: If you're done being embarrassed, take a seat and I'll start busting up Johnny Evans

But that’s not it, Torres went toe-to-toe with Vidic–at 25 mins of the first half winning corner that had Vidic just flabbergasted–and won on strength and then literally danced around Man U’s left center and left flank (more on that later). The Spaniard also tracked back on defense and with a little more than 20 minutes left parried a dangerous free kick that would have challenged Reina.

I’m not old enough to make this claim, but for his shear combination of strength, finesse and precision, Torres is, in my book, one of the greatest to play the game.

» What in the world has happened to the left side of Manchester United’s defense which was leaking like a sieve all day long. Rio Ferdinand is just a slim shadow of the player he used to be and Patrice Evra so disinterested that he thinks it’s a privilege that Sir Alex is allowed to play him. TSG never makes these statements in isolation and today again both Evra and Ferdinand looked marginal to average at best.

Case in point, about 55 mins in a horrible play by Evra gifts the ball to Benayoun who rumbles to goal. Evra is seen just jogging back into the play; somewhat incredulous.

As for Ferdinand, Fernando Torres abusive run against him on the game winner about 60 mins in was indicative of how the oft-injured Ferdinand has lost a step and lost strength. You know how you know when a player is slowly losing it? He starts to complain to the ref incessantly. Ferdinand used to be average at best in his ref discussions, now it looks like he is looking for some sort of courtesy from the zebras. Your time has gone Ferdinand.

» Speaking of losing it, the Paul Scholes is very quickly heading to the over-35 req league — fast. Scholes often trailed the play and was a non-factor today. Going forward Scholes will be dubbed at TSG, “The fading Paul Scholes”

» In other news, Dimitar Berbatov has earned the nickname “The very average Dimitar Berbatov”

» Wrapping these points up, without Gerrard the Anfielders had the depth to take it to the Traffords. The game, in my opinion, was really won with Benitez’s line-up selection.  Aurelio, Benayoun, Torres and Kuyt capably backed by a resurgent Lucas and industrious Macherano. Fergie’s backline played high and was at risk from the through ball and counter all day. The central midfield of Giggs, Scholes and Carrick couldn’t link anything and the last 20 minutes of the game saw long ball after long ball USMNT style in an attempt to get some offense going.

Real Salt Lake defeats the Colorado Rapids

(Note: tried to watch Galaxy – Earthquakes, but it didn’t make the tele — if someone has a report, would love to hear it.)

» The best USMNT striker on the field Saturday night was clearly Robbie Findley over Conor Casey. Casey had a sloppy game and didn’t seem in sync with his club. Meanwhile, Robbie Findley netted a brace and showed excellent offensive runs and command of the ball. After a 15th  minute header, Findley had a highlight real goal just before the half as we gathered in a long lead pass in time to juggle it over the Rapid’s goalie and then slot it into the bottom right.

Coming off that brace, Findley moved the ball excellently in the 2nd. We still lacks some strength, but he’ll see another call-up from Coach B.

See Findley’s highlight goal at the 2:15 mark.

» Did Colorado already quit on their coach? I found their lack of effort and execution appalling. It was clear that the Rapids were eager for the oft-season.

» Former USMNT hopeful Drew Moor looked slow as his hips were turned twice on the 3rd RSL goal.

West Ham battled back against Arsenal for a 2-2 draw

» Yank’s Johnny Spector was in the right full position and was matched up alternately against the likes of Arshavin and Van Persie and did a very admirable job. Good job in Specs getting the start and making use of it. Specs had other player responsibilities for the two Emirates goals.

• Other bullets:

Amr Zaki who?

Amr Zaki who?

» Fulham battled back to tie Man City, 2-2. Remarkable given that Fulham find the back of the net less than DaMarcus Beasley. Clint had his typical seeing-eye header that bounced and then dodged the valiant effort by Shay Given.

P.S. If you want to see the lamest goal celebration ever, check out Lescott’s score where Adebayor tried to get the credit. Beyond lame.

We changed our minds, it’s better than an Amr Zaki start. Twice this year, we’ve commented to look out for Hugo Rodallega. The Colombian national, fresh of a transfer from Necaxa of the Mexican league, is making DW Stadium forget all about Zaki who came out roaring last year for the home side, but then fizzled after a bout with I’m-too-good-itis. Rodallega netted a brace against Burnley on Saturday. Look for the 26-year-old to put his national team back on the map in the coming years–he’s that good.

» If the Slovakia friendly November 10th does happen for the US, you may see star Marek Hamsik (who we discussed Friday) come in as a future member of Chelsea. Rumor has it he is the guy for the Blues come the January transfer window.

» Just another piece of evidence that superstar Lionel Messi is not too fond of Diego Maradona skippering his national side.

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