Posts Tagged ‘Frankie Hedjuk’

Boom Goes The Dynamite: DEN 3, USA 1

Jeff Cunningham flew into the line-up and produced the USMNT's lone goal.

A quick note on the title…”boom goes the dynamite” is a reference to one of the all-time best YouTube clips. The classic line comes at the 2:29 mark.

No “W” for the USMNT and not even a “D” as a listless second half saw a 1-0 US lead go by the wayside in the span of about 7 minutes for a 3-1 win by the Danish Dynamite.

Since it is a friendly and everyone knows about the USMNT absences due to injury, MLS playoffs and other things (Cherundolo / Dempsey), there is not much to glean at a team level other than the fact that the USMNT doesn’t look all that deep.

Perhaps one observation of note is that the US seemed to struggle in the one area where they fielded the most regulars, the mid-field. This shouldn’t be that surprising since the Junior-Rico combo out there today has struggled for some time.

Overall, it was a forgettable performance that saw the US on its heels most of the game with short stretches of possession that rarely crossed into the offensive-third of the pitch.

(Note: In the unlikely event you want to watch a replay, it is available on ESPN360.)

Awards

Best Play of the Game — Jeff Cunningham’s goal: Sure it was gift pass from the Danish keeper that set-up the chance, but Cunningham kept his composure and buried it with his left foot! (He’s a righty.) Given that the 33-year-old’s strike was the only goal in 180+ minutes of play on this European vacation, he’s deserves some recognition.

Most Unheralded Play Jonathan Bornstein getting a boot on the ball to stop the Danish counter in the first half: After a turnover in the mid-field the Danes tried to feed an outlet pass to their right winger. Bornstein managed to get his left boot on the ball and control. If the outlet pass had gotten through, the Dynamite winger had acres of real estate in front of him to set-up a great chance on goal.

The Golden Shin Guard Benny Feilhaber: Played inspired ball in-front of his hometown fans. Benny made smart passes (including a beautifully slotted ball to Cunningham), drew fouls, took a few shots and limited the turnovers as he went the full 90.

Preview Follow-up

Edgar Castillo.

Frankie's last hurrah?

As expected, Señor Castillo collected his first cap for his country of origin. Castillo entered in the 61st minute at left-mid (with Feilhaber shifting inside). The lack of any semblance of possession or rhythm down the stretch severely limited his touches, although he did have one nice feed into Altidore that set-up a shot for Rogers at the top of the area.

As a projected left fullback by most (except TSG Matthew) it was certainly interesting to see Castillo play in the mid-field in his debut. Only time will tell if that is Bob-O’s long-term plan for Castillo.

Okay, what’s going on now with the RB situation? Or should we call it the Specs situation?

TSG assumed Spector would man the right side, however he stayed in central defense with Frankie Hedjuk getting the starting nod. While Hedjuk is a fan favorite in part for his frenetic style, today’s start may have been his swan song for the national team as he looked over-matched all day and was borderline reckless at times. If Hedjuk’s 85th cap is his last, consider the captain’s arm band given to him when Boca subbed-off kind of like the gold watch at his retirement party.

While there is no additional clarity at the top of the RB depth chart with Cherundolo and Spector sitting 1-2 in some order, it should be noted that Heath Pearce didn’t even make it on the bench for either friendly.

Will a woeful attack see a new strategy…..

Bob-O did switch up the strategy today which was both a product of the personnel he deployed and the 4-3-3 Danish formation. Bradley and Rico formed a holding tandem in the mid-field and the US generally attempted to push the ball wide to take advantage of playmakers Stu Holden and Benny Feilhaber on the wings.  You also saw the central backs spread a little wider and work to get more involved in the attack to take advantage of Spector’s service abilities.

….or a new entrant?

Looks like the preview piece should have read “and / or” as both the strategy was changed and a new striker was deployed. The aforementioned Jeff Cunningham was awarded the start while Conor Casey didn’t even make the bench. Aside from the goal and brilliant hold-and-cross, Cunningham’s day was rather uninspiring although the lack of a cohesive attack plagued his chances.

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November Weekending: TSG and You

I’m ran out of creative titles for our weekend piece a long time ago. What I have not run out of is cheesy “soccer globe” pictures at my brothers request.

soccer_globe

Mark's favorite soccer globe #7

Away we go….

First a big thank you to all of you that nominated TSG for best soccer blog on USSoccer.com, especially whoever left the fantastic comment. Like we said earlier this week, we’re going to bring this one home like’s it’s a Champion’s Cup for the fans….FOR THE FANS DAMNIT!

Second, a happy birthday to one Josmer Volmy Altidore. Next time we chuck some flack at JZA, let’s remember that he’s, still, not legally allowed to consume alcohol in the States. Happy 20th to the USMNT big man, let’s hope he unwraps a start this weekend.

• Can’t start off the weekend without commenting on the Columbus Crew having time to hit the links before the frost appears in November.  I wonder what the odds were in Vegas (if they run them) that the Crew, with their typically brick wall backline, would give up three unanswered to Real Salt Lake. Applause to RSL as they finally played a tough game on the road in Abercrombie country. More notes:

» Poor fan favorite Frankie Haircut did not help the cause for the home side Thursday evening and I place the blame squarely here. Kidding.

» Taylor Twellman has his own candid assessment of why Columbus exited.

» The piece I wanted to write comprehensively today was on a Chad Marshall. The Stanford grad earned his second straight MLS defender of

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The 6'4'' needs to take on bigger targetmen

the year award this week which begs the obvious question, “Whither Europe, Chad?” Beyond Marshall’s stoic on-ball defense, TSG has been consistently and pleasantly surprised by Marshall’s deceptive speed and ball distribution (a trait sorely lacking on the USMNT) from the central defense. A move to Europe–Marshall trialed in Germany last year–would be as good a measurement for Marshall as for the MLS. Can the best MLS defender rise to a top squad in Europe? We’re betting on you Chad.

Oh and slight positive for the USMNT here. Big Chad’s schedule (as well as Robbie Rogers’s) is now wide open for Slovakia and Denmark.

• Forget if Saturday or Sunday is the better soccer day this weekend, you just don’t want to miss the EPL showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United.

» The first question in this one is undoubtedly going to be: “Can the Red Devils much maligned defense handle the attack of Drogba and Anelka?” It’s very possible that both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will watch this one from the sidelines. That would leave a somewhat capable, but less experienced duo of Wes Brown and Johnny Evans deputizing in the middle.

I’m more worried about the pace of Anelka in this one as I think Brown and O’Shea can, at least somewhat, contain Drogba on United’s right side.

» I’ve been very impressed with Michael Essien (as always) this year, but also Branislav Ivanovic who is filled in more than capably for the

nicolas-anelka-1

Le Sulk will need to put on Le Show for the home team.

injured Jose Bosingwa at right back for the Blues. Not sure he gets up the pitch this Sunday as he does against weaker sides, but still look out for him.

» I’m beating the same drum again, but again I think the midfield is the difference in this one. TSG has consistently criticized the center of the pitch of Sir Alex, be it the lack of younger talent or just Fergie’s combinations. Against a very formidable midpitch of Lampard, Essien, Ballack and likely Joe Cole, Man U will have to work very hard to link passes up the field and get the ball to Wayne Rooney. I expect Ferguson to start Scholes and Carrick in the midfield, but I’d really like to see Darren Fletcher and Anderson, especially, in there to start. Although Scholes has the vision to unlock a game like this, I don’t think he has the consistency anymore and I’m not sure his he can handle the physical play of Lampard and Essien. Additionally, I think Man U’s best shot at ball movement is the wings with Nani and Antonio Valencia.

» Don’t forget to pop over here if you’re in SF for the match and some FIFA.

• Sunday should also give USMNT fans yet another reason to tune in with Hull City (JZA) playing at Stoke City, West Ham (Spector) playing at Everton (Howard) and Fulham (Demps/EJ) traveling to Wigan. Would love to see Jozy taking some shots on Thomas Sorensen.

• And if the EPL is not enough, (the) MLS brings us the second leg of Dynamo-Sounders and Galaxy-Chivas. The Houston home game should have

MLS Earthquakes Galaxy Soccer

Um, where do you want me now coach?

some fireworks given the chippy play throughout the opener. Houston will definitely be looking to come in and show a lot more consistency than they did up in Emerald City. As for Chivas-Galaxy let’s just hope for a better defensive affair…well and actually better coaching from Bruce Arena.

Arena kept moving Beckham all over the pitch last Sunday, trying to free up the Spice Man for some service. Alas, I think all it did was throw the offense out of whack for the Galaxy. Any thoughts here?

• Back to Saturday, tune into Tottenham vs. Sunderland. While Man U-Chelsea is certainly the marquee match-up, Tottenhan will be looking to rebound against a suprisingly strong side from Steve Bruce. If Sunderland can right itself against inferior opponents, they’re strong enough to get a shot at qualifying for the Europa Cup come campaigns’ end.

Alas the Black Cats enter the game without striker Kenwyne Jones, who was just a moron in not containing himself last weekend as West Ham defender Herita Ilunga did his best fish-out-of-water routine, and Lee Cattermole who sustained an injury as is probably a bigger loss.

Oh and someone needs to clue in Harry Rednapp that his talent needs are in goal and defense, categorically not on the offensive end. Van Nistelroy? Pass.

Probably would have been good to hold on to Darren Bent though. Let’s predict Bent’s twitter message: “Just a draw man. But Harry knows he screw’d up. Nice to stick one home back at White Hart. Fools….”

• In the last game Saturday, Wolverhampton entertain Arsenal. After Wenger’s squad shellacked Hotspur last week, look for Arsenal to hang a 3 or 4 spot going away. Let’s just hope it’s not against USMNTer Marcus Hahnemann.

We’ll update this piece more as the day goes on….

Oh, two weeks to playoffs and in the Bundestinysanfrancisco League, the San Francisco Black Sox have new unis and merch and a commanding lead in the standings, positive 28 goal difference in 6 games. Keep it up Sox. If you like the logo, go right ahead and sport it–we don’t make a nickel.

Fan Stats: Jones, Hedjuk…and Nguyen?

We’re rolling up our two polls today at the close of the halfway mark of round four of World Cup qualifying. The poll questions seem apropos.

Nguyen in action

Nguyen in action

What better intro than Lee Nguyen. Tucked into the “other” category for our first poll, “What absent USMNT player are you most interested in seeing on the pitch?” was a single write-in vote for Lee Nguyen–I think that’s the first time I heard his name since I saw him sub in for the US of A at Spartan Stadium in 2007.

Nguyen is a US U-23 rostered player who just missed the cut for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He is currently playing in Vietnam after a cup of coffee at PSV Eindhoven (DaMarcus Beasley is an alum of the club). Nguyen is having a more than solid year with 12 and 16 through 24 games. More on Nguyen at Goal.com.

Nguyen plays like a mishmash of Shaun Wright Phillips, Jose Francisco Torres and Ji-Sung Park. Very staccato like moves, can keep attack in possession, and an indefatigable motor. Wow, I think someone just gave TSG our darkhorse Aaron Lennon-Jermaine Defoe-Theo Walcott X factor…though not in time for 2010. We’ll follow-up more on Nguyen at another point.

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Not speculating: You choose Spector (63%)

"I rule the right flank"

"I rule the right flank"

With 135 out of a possible 212 votes, you vote for John Spector to be your starting right back for the USMNT right now.

TSG thought the victory would be a bit of landslide for Spector after his strong showing in the Confederation’s Cup, including his cross to Clint Dempsey that got the U.S. started against Brazil and on the way to winning the 1st half at least.

However, we didn’t expect second choice Frankie Hedjuk to command nearly 27% of the vote with 58 votes for the RB nod.

Fan Larry says, “Frankie until Kevin Alston is ready and available”

Fan Mark says, “Frankie gets the nod due to his tremendous work rate and his leadership qualities.”

And Fan B.T. goes so far as to add, “Frankie is an emotional leader. Hiw will to win is unmatched. Any team that has the chance to play him and does not, will have regrets.”

Bringing up the rear was Steve Cherundolo with 18 votes and 8% of the vote.  Others receiving votes were: Heath Pearce, Danny Califf, hyped youngster Kevin Alston and Dallas standout Drew Moor.

Finally, there was a lone vote for “Your Mama.” We’ve never seen her play, but let’s trot her out there is you think she can hang.

See all the commentary here.

USA – Mexico: It’s up to the A team to respond

My brother will be along later with the traditional TSG review to today’s game.

If you read the 1st half notes posted less than 1 hour ago, well tear them up or just reverse them completely.

Here at TSG we support the USMNT, but we don’t pull any punches. If there is a player or coach to call out, we do it–in the spirit of providing good commentary to our readers and fans.

Take this away from today’s 5-0 drubbing by Mexico, it was a positive moment for U.S. soccer.

Today’s story, and don’t let ESPN commentary or Fox Soccer Channel (Fox announced: “this will taint the U.S.’s progress in the Gold Cup”) announcers tell you differently, is how a young, inexperienced team hung with the A team of Mexico for one half in front of an overwhelmingly pro-Mexican crowd at Giants Stadium.

For a team of youngsters to come together and play so confidently in the 1st half is THE story. Remember, this is a team that needed a late strike from Stu Holden just to beat Haiti a few weeks ago.

In the 2nd half, Mexico came at the U.S. with experience, momentum and national pride on the line and though our game Gold Cup squad couldn’t diffuse the onslaught, chalk that up to lack of experience and only lack of experience.

Though it was late in the game you know what was great? Brian Ching, arguably the best U.S. player on the day, rallying the squad. And you know what else I liked, 3 yellow cards (and subsequently a red for Jay Heaps) to Ching, Kenny Cooper and Heaps to end the game. While that may not be the best sportsmanship, it smacks of pride. Pride for their team and embarrassment of being demolished; it shows fight.

As a fan, I thought that U.S. soccer had fallen to the ultimate low when Tim Howard’s head was stepped on last August in Guatemala and no one came to his defense for the U.S. team. That was a team, and game, where you questioned the heart of everyone but Frankie Hedjuk. Or remember just a few weeks ago on the opposite side of the equator when the US team had to be nearly shamed into a solid performance against Egypt.

I didn’t see that today — I saw fight and a good future for U.S. soccer. I saw pride in the jersey the entire tournament.

Tough game team; great tournament. The fans appreciate it Team USA.

And kudos to Mexico, you played exceedingly well tactically and skillfully in the 2nd half. You deserved the win.

Rogers, Hedjuk and Crew to meet the First Fan

Obama goes up against Deco

Obama goes up against Deco

Fresh off the tie with Haiti and a perfect group stage, Columbus Crew U.S. natties Robbie Rogers and Chad Marshall (and Gold Cup absentee Frankie Haircut) head to Washington for an audience with the U.S. Senior Captain.

Quite a few weeks for the national identity of soccer and the Pres. As you’ll recall Obama emphatically said he was heading due south for the Cape of Good Hope and World Cup 2010 just a few weeks ago.

That is, if it’s still being held there.

Here’s our top 5 soccer-related items for Robbie and Hedjuk to, uh, broach with the Chief Striker:

- How are the vuvuzela lessons coming?

- What does the USMNT get in return for Obama’s little promise? A year off taxes….Air Force One to RSA in 2010?

- Can we suit up Dick Cheney in goal for a few more  Halliburton contracts and in return Rogers, Donovan, Dempsey, et all can pummel him with shots?

- How did it feel to nutmeg Bush? (oops…hey now)

and…

- Can we have Guiseppe Rossi strip searched on each trip back to NJ?

Soccer in the White House…break some windows…

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