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.
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:
» 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.