Posts Tagged ‘landon donovan’

One Landon Donovan’s Career In The Balance…

Tipping the scales:

How much does Bruce Arena and MLS "weigh?" Lando's years of service and league exposure?

Landon Donovan asks Los Angeles Galaxy to let him to continue have fun with Tim Howard at Goodison.

Meanwhile, Bruce Arena invokes Dumb & Dumber’s now soccer-cliched quote that the chances are likely near one in a million. (Wish we had that one before the odds piece.)

TSG Archives:

Here’s what TSG had to say about the move back on February 11th. We’ll weigh in again when we compose research and full thoughts. It seems signing the contract might have played directly into MLS hands?

• More on Lanverton. Fox Soccer has an opinion that it was a gamble by Landon to sign a deal to secure a loan to Everton this year. I fail to see the logic behind this being a huge gamble for LD10.

Both MLS and Landon stand to benefit from a loan stint overseas. The contract that Donovan signed will only seek to enhance a potential transfer fee. Odd logic, but maybe I’m missing something here. In two years, Donovan will effectively be 30 so his marketability was now….not in two years.

Landon’s Goal: Big T’s Celebration

The video, not words, speaks volumes...

My apologies. For some reason Tim Howard’s curt celebration of Landon Donovan’s goal has just been etched in my mind as the defining moment of Sunday’s Hull City-Everton match.

A huge TSG thank you to community member Jennifer for locating the video.

The quality may be grainy, but the authenticity comes through crystal clear. Check out the lead up to Donovan’s goal and the crowd chanting “U-S-A.” at 36 mins and then head to 37:10 for Howard’s exaltation.

What We’re Learning About Landon….

A few months ago I did my worst piece ever…it was on Landon Donovan.

I’m back to make amends now….hopefully.

I’m not delving into whether or not Landon Donovan is best served or likely to overstay his loan with Everton. My position has remained firm that the MLS contract is a bargaining chip to getting more value from Donovan more than anything else.

No, this piece is about what we’re learning about LD10 as he comes up some of the best club competition in the world, fresh of Donny helping the Toffees to a 3-1 home victory today.

Kaka-esque?

Here’s some quick thoughts on Landon’s play at Everton:

• Donovan is starting to look a little to me like Kaka, in terms of his impact on the game as well as his style.

Update: Skip in the comments section suggests Ryan Giggs…that might be more a more apt comparison.

I know that is a heady compliment, but I’m starting to see his game that way.

One of the things that I appreciate about players is their ability to make the simple pass and make it perfectly placed and accurate. This is why I enjoy Kaka’s game so much. Whether it’s just a quick square pass or a pass that threads the line on an attack it is often, with Kaka, perfect.

I’m starting to see that in Landon’s game. When people talk about Landon’s impact on Everton–and I’ve been an Everton fan for about 3 years–what I see is how his passing and team game play is contagious. He distributes with ease and his teammates are starting to emulate this, most specifically Steven Pienaar, who is a classic overdribbler.

On the unselfish side the interplay between Louis Saha, a noted keeper of the ball, and Donovan has been excellent as well. I think I counted about 5 times in the game when Donovan had the ball in the offensive third and he made the right play, which was a simple lay off to Saha.

The tactical difference between Kaka and Landon…Kaka is a much more vertical player (I think this makes him a little more dangerous) while Landon needs to attack more laterally to be effective.

• Where is Landon’s legendary fitness?

This is a more global observation than just Landon, but where is Donovan’s notorious fitness of being able to run all day?

I think what you’re seeing is Donovan struggling–in a good way–to adapt to the rigors of European and  EPL competition that’s coming at him in spades.

So far what we’ve learned is that Donovan is about a 70min participant against the highest quality competition in the world.

That’s not a bad thing, just an observation. He’ll get better. Right now Donovan’s picking his spots, but he’ll get to that “always-on” mode.

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Lando & Timmy Take on Ferguson United

Welcome to Howard's Den

3-1 EVERTON – TWEET: Goodison all a-song as the game closes

• Donovan fades down the stretch….missed in the box…but as ESPN said (and so does TSG), “It was not an easy chance”

• Moyes outmanages Sir Alex. Ferguson introduces Scholes and Obertan and Everton counters by going with youth…and more importantly speed…proves to be the difference down the stretch.

• Wayne Rooney played a “contained” game…some poor service to him…the only thing consistent today offensively after the 1st half was Gary Neville’s service.

• While Howard’s corner defenders were average to below average, Heitinga and Distin manned capably in the middle…Distin looking younger than his 30 years.

91st min: David Moyes has sent an assistant to look for Landon…oops he’s still on the pitch…Van Dar Saar joins the outfield as Everton were about to break…convincing day for the Toffees.

90th min: It’s youngsters day! Jack Rodwell GOAL. The first EPL goal for the 18-year-old Rodwell as his pace takes him right passed Johnny Evans on an Arteta service, 3-1 …put it in the books.

89th min: Everton proving up to the challenge as the fouls start to rack up.

87th min: This is where Howard makes his money…Rooney attempting a free kick from above the 18 and directly in the center….England vs. US and Rooney fires wide …Howard was beaten…(I know didn’t want to write that but it’s true)…Howard saved by Rooney’s poor placement…another U-2o player (Jack Rodwell) introduced for Pienaar.

86th min: Rooney draws a foul; Leon Osman is bestowed a yellow on the play.

85th min: Distin clears for the 324th time as Dan Gosling breaks for Everton and knocks into the left corner where Saha pulls up the attack…Everton goes around the horn with it as they waste time….

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Clashing: Lando v. Ashley Take One, Big Jeezy, +

Who's gonna get Round 1 bragging rights?

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. This is what we wanted when Lando’s loan was announced.

Fresh of a Super Jozy weekend, comes a midweek doozy, Stateside at least, to get you through the week.

Goodison Park welcomes Chelsea, John Terry, and bad boy Ashley Cole to their pitch on Wednesday.

Bad news that Everton service man supreme Marouane Fellaini is likely out with that ankle knock from that gnarly derby Saturday morning. Further bad news for the Toffees that Pint-Sized Pienaar won’t play either.

That being said look for Everton to try and attack a little more frequently up the right flank in Pienaar’s absence, into Landon’s galloping grounds and squarely into Ashley Cole’s kitchen.

Beyond his personal life, Cole is class and he’ll be making his own runs up the left flank in abundance to threaten Big T and stymie that attack for the Blue Nosers.

Can LD10 (#9 on Everton) shake free for a counterattack? Can Landon beat Cole mano-a-mano on Chelsea’s left side? Once beaten, how does Donovan contend with John Terry?

If I had control of a camera, I would just focus it on that side of the pitch all day long.

Unfortunately, you’re going to need Setanta for this by the way.

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Big Jeezy Goes Kiwi

In the other “American in EPL” game, Jozy Altidore and the Tiger ambush head to Blackburn.

Jozy will be rumbling all over the back line there, taking on journeyman Gael Givet at left back….poor Givet and then coming up against New Zealand strong man Ryan Nelson. That will be a good battle and test for Altidore as Nelson may not be the most agile central defender, but he definitely plays stout.

Looking for a good follow-up here from Big Jeezy who has struggled in back-to-back games this season. Admittedly the confidence must have risen for the Haitian youngster as certainly the fitness has.

For a better appreciation Altidore’s progression check out this video…

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The Jumble: Roundtable, Ref Respect & More

Just seemed like a good image for this one...

TSG is back with the Jumble!

…and this time we brought friends…

We’re going to do a little roundtable with some TSG commentators and some folks that write around the Internet and we’re going to separate it into three parts, one today and two tomorrow. Wow!

Beautiful. Let’s get going.

• Hoping the prognosis is “Africa” for Charlie Davies elbow surgery yesterday.

• A solid performance against Chelsea for Big Jeezy.

Donovan: Building a bigger name in Toffeetown

Lanverton earning his keep at Goodison.

Beyond USMNTers getting valuable minutes in the highest possible league.

Beyond learning about the opposition in first person.

Consider this….

Make your name in the EPL this season Mr. Altidore and Mr. Donovan and push your name further Mr. Dempsey and when you waltz on to the international stage on the south side later this year, you’ll have a much better standing, not quite a LeBron James treatment, but a better standing….with the refs.

Don’t thing stature and “brand equity” make a difference? Maybe ask the Ireland national team, or England after Ronaldo complained in 2006, or Diego “Come hug me, or the referee isn’t going to allow it” Maradona.

• Player affairs and DaMarcus Beasley’s car getting bombed? Soap Opera Week for the Yanks. TSG will follow-up on the racial overtones this year for Rangers…hopefully it’s not linked to the Beasley car incident.

And no without further ado I give you our commentator card game:

He’s a Newhouse student from Syracuse (my alma mater rock’on!…and the alma mater of Mike Tirico, Ian Eagle, Dick Stockton and others) and is kick-starting a blog on the Philadelphia Union. He may be a senior or a freshman, but  either ways he’s welcome. Howdy, Kevin Morris of C. Horridus, a blog on the Philadelphia Union.

He’s been a frequent contributor since the beginning and favors obscure reference to Brazilian blogs focused exclusively on the 3-5-2 formation. He coined the nickname Mr. Clean for Conor Casey and please don’t call Clint Dempsey a striker in front of him. We’ve been trying to get him to write outside of the comment section for a very, very, very long time, from our nation’s capital, “Tuesday.”

He writes the “The Yanks Are Coming” blog, but is headed to Teach for America in the land of James Booker, Irvin Mayfield Jr, and Bourbon St. He’s also a grad student in journalism at the University of Florida. Daniel Seco…..and posse…setting the screens and driving and dishing to Seco is the rest of the team at TYAC (…can I call them that?), Jon Levy a radio professional from South Florida and Doug Beard, a musical composer from Boca Raton. Love it…we sent a simple email and we got a team effort. Thanks boys.

The aforementioned triumvirate will now be referenced in this article as Team Seco.

…and then there is a little bit of Mark and I….let’s get going:

1. (USMNT) Beyond Jozy Altidore, the USMNT is likely going to need a knockaround guy up top for the post-up game. It’s likely Conor Casey. But should Brian Ching get the nod? Should we forget about both of those options and go with something else….if so, who or what?

The New Mr. Clean

Tuesday: It’s Mr. Clean himself, Conor Casey.

Otherwise we’re quite thin in attack and there’s a serious gap between Altidore and Davies and the rest.

Despite Casey’s lacklustre Confederations Cup performances at least you know he’s on the pitch, rumbling around like a cement mixer.

Brian Ching finally played himself off the team in Mexico City after a slow, painful decline at the international level. Along with Cunningham and Findley, other options that could possibly re-enter the mix include Kenny “Argyle” Cooper and Eddie “The Greek” Johnson, who would really have to start knocking them in to get Bob’s attention at this point.

Kevin: I like Brian Ching but I just think he’s in over his head at the international level.

Same goes for Conor Casey. To be honest, if Eddie Johnson keeps scoring goals I wouldn’t mind seeing him get called up. I know he’s inconsistent and can be very frustrating to watch, but if he can enter into a patch of confidence for  the World Cup he could be very effective–he does still have that world class speed, after all. He might not be so useful against a team like England, but against Algeria or Slovenia he could provide that extra little spark that we miss without Davies.

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Defense Through Offense Is The New Black

I’ve meant to write this column for a while now and, while not a perfect lead-in, Everton’s strategy and performance versus Manchester City yesterday presents a timely and opportune parallel.

TSG's Running Commentary Man Shaun is a beach disc champ

First, let me start with a parallel to the game of  ultimate frisbee. (Those reading TSG since inception know I’ve traveled for international frisbee tournaments in a previous life.)

Ultimate frisbee, though complex in field movement, is a simple game when it comes to winning. Obviously the team with the most points at the end of the game wins–but concurrently, since a possession ends in either and only a score or a turnover–the team with the least turnovers is always the winner as well.

This would seem to make it imperative to both not turnover the disc on offense and create turnovers on defense. Typically the former, not turning it over on offense, is more difficult. Whether it’s game conditions (wind, rain), mental or physical errors, or the largest factor–balancing aggressiveness to score versus the timidity to maintain possession–turnovers can be limited, but typically never abolished from the offensive game.

However, that’s exactly what the championship teams do. They maintain possession and score on nearly all of them…and by doing this they can afford to gamble on defense. The number of combined turnovers of both teams in the last ultimate frisbee national final I watched? Three, on over 30 possessions.

A team that knows they are going to score every single time on offense, by all accounts can, nay should, take as many risks on defense.

Since turnovers equal possession and the offense always score, it makes sense to go for the turnover which you may get 50% at the price of the other team scoring. If you’re opponent only scores 50% of the time, and your offense does at a higher rate, the game is won.

(There is a flaw in this statement in that the defensive team is the offensive team once they create a turnover–there is no substituion…but let’s overlook that for now.)

Similarly, you are starting to see more and more of this philosophy and strategy dominate team construction across sports because of some of the farther reaching applications of the strategy.

Xavi: Positively offensively defensive

Let’s take Barcelona…the top team in the world in football. They are labeled as having a world class front 6, with only an above average back four, specifically whoever pairs with Puyol. But their “defense” is not who their back three, four, or five are.

Their defense is the dominance of the possession on offense in the central midfield with Xavi, Ineista, Messi and company. Cheekily, I would wager it is harder to score without the ball then with the ball against, say, Terry Carvahlo, Cole Essien and company. Continually, why spend budget for central defenders when the midfield ahead of them is going to assure they are hardly challenged.

The further reaching ramifications of this are, beyond for the management a more exciting game, but more importantly, with a high-octane, high-performance, machine-like, pick-your-cliche offense a team is more comfortable, schooled, suited to score when it needs to.

Many USMNT fans, are shaking their heads in unison, with a concerned “yes,” realizing the trouble the team will have if they go down 1-0, 2-0 in the opener against England. Is the know-how there for the US to score? Well, not really.

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