Wrap It: Giggs, Adebayor & More…

Weekend wrapping by TSG:

– Fuzzy math tells me that almost 80% of USMNT’ers that returned to their club did not dress or feature this weekend. One player note however. Michael Bradley who remained in the doghouse and on the bench for Borussia Moenchengladbach — can I get a nickname for that club from someone?

– Our weekend preview suggested that no one was living in Goochville, Milan. Now we can’t even find the neighborhood on the map just like Milan can’t find the victor sheet. Oneywu didn’t dress for Milan on Saturday and Milan only mustered a draw versus average joe Livorno. That being said, as our piece suggested a few weeks ago, look for Gooch to play–probably subbing–this Sunday against Bologna at home. Fox Soccer Channel has the game (man, they rock this year). If you don’t see the American CD’er, it may be awhile.

Van Persie: Not a fan of Adebayor's tap dance number

Van Persie: Not a fan of Adebayor's tap dance number

– Arsenal fans should be irate if Emmanuel Adebayor doesn’t get a heavy suspension for his purposeful cleat to the face of Robin Van Persie. If Eduardo gets an unsportsmanlike call and pending suspension for diving, you better believe that Adebayor should be roped to the bench for multiple games. His play was disgusting.

– Speaking of Adebayor and Manchester City, don’t look now but guess who’s been scored on the least in the EPL. That’s right, the Citizens of Manchester City. The team that was deemed all offense and no defense by pundits and fellow managers has two goals against in four league games. Perhaps Man City have the starting pitching to go all the way.

– I sure hope you got our Liverpool-Burnley warning on Friday and slept in on the West Coast. You knew 15 minutes in the outcome of this game. You were sure of it on a Dirk Kuyt strike at 41 minutes where Burnley players look bewildered.

– It figured with four goalies from the US of A attached to teams, that one of them might lead the EPL in clean sheets at this point. Most–scratch that all–would have bet on Tim Howard. While Howard has been fed to the lions by Everton’s defense, Brad Friedel is one goal short of keeping perfect the four games he’s featured. Friedel’s game was outright squeaky against only 3 shots on this Sunday even though Villa subbed in three of his back four.

Giggs: All class

Giggs: All class

– On a weekend where Michael Jordan got inducted into the Hall of Fame and Derek Jeter immortalized himself further as the New York Yankee hit leader, it was only fitting the Ryan Giggs evened the score against Tottenham. Just youtube “Ryan Giggs” and you’ll see an extensive video collection of the legend’s highlights.

– He’s still the Renewed Freddy Adu even though he didn’t see the pine this weekend. TSG is backing Freddy Adu pretty hard with his new team as Adu–even upon calls for us to be the opposite–has been a gentleman in the face of a frustrating past few months. Cheers to you, Freddy.

– Hey Alexi Lalas, how’s your argument that size trumps speed and ability holding up? That’s 5’6” Jermaine Defoe co-leading the top scorer perch in the EPL, arguably the globe’s most physical league. Number five came on this sweet Lance Armstrong move below. Atop the boards with him, Wayne Rooney, who’s got two from PKs….and stands only 5’9”.

– Update: I just saw a replay of the Damien Duff goal for Fulham against Everton– horrific defending. Duff is cutting to the middle on the Fulham right flank. How do you not expect him to cut to his stronger foot? Get up on that! For those not keen on Damien Duff, Duff is to left foot, what Donovan is to right foot. It’s just known.

One more note from this game. With the return of Andrew Johnson (you think Everton misses him right now) to the top of the attack paired with Bobby Zamora, Clint “The Enigma” Dempsey returned to the midfield. It appears that move up top was just temporary by Cottager’s manager Roy Hodgson.

12 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark T on 2009/09/13 at 5:03 PM

    Here’s the Drogba goal I mentioned in the comments to the EPL preview yesterday.

    Shield – Turn – Rocket

    We need Jozy to get off one of those for the USMNT.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/13 at 5:06 PM

      Thankfully, even if it is my brother–someone else is seeing these Drogba – JZA parallels.

      Check this play out–you know what is the most telling for me in terms of Drogba’s physicality and dominance. He turns on the Stoke defender, but the Stoke defender is scared to stand him up (he doesn’t want to get muscled.)

      Look how far the Stoke player is from being right up on him (:28 mark).


  2. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/09/13 at 5:12 PM

    Borussia Moenchengladbach’s nickname is Die Fohlen(the Foals) courtesy of wiki. but i’d rather refer to them as M’glad.


  3. Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/13 at 5:17 PM

    M’Glad it is — I’ll drink a Spaten Optimator to that.



  4. Posted by kaya on 2009/09/13 at 5:52 PM

    hmm, I say Bo’ Munchin’ myself. Not that anyone has any idea what I’m talking about…


  5. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/09/13 at 7:39 PM

    @kaya of course we do. “bo be muchin”

    or. . .”M’glad MB is suffering for his reckless tackles”

    pun intended of course


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/13 at 10:25 PM

      It’s settled — we’re using both — thanks for the participation. Check out our nicknames section.


  6. The Clint Dempsey saga continues. Did you see big Clint running like mad and defending for Fulham this week-end? I wonder what changes when he suits up for the US. Maybe a manager that has the respect of the players and actually gives them clear tactical instructions or is it that the other Fulham players movement off the ball is that much better? We saw some more profligate finishing but he was definitely one of the best players on the pitch for the full 90 minutes.

    The asymmetric system Fulham played was interesting. Duff switched to the right wing to try and exploit space left from Baines’ runs forward and make him defend on his weaker side when he cut inside (Baines is similarly one-sided). Pantsil stayed at home a little more than he often does. Dempsey played deeper and came inside from the left with Konchesky on the overlap for width with Dempsey trying to get into the far post to try to get on crosses. Those are effective tactics from Hodgson that used his players strengths to exploit his opponents weaknesses. Looks to me like Dempsey can be very effective playing deeper in midfield and tracks back very effectively if his manager asks him to.

    Also Man Utd put on a clinic on how to shut down a speedy winger, even down to 10 men. They had Evra out against Lennon on the wing with a midfielder dropping back in between the fullback and the centrebacks in support so Lennon always had to beat two players to get into the box. The midfielders rotated over to cover the space in from of the center backs, leaving space on the opposite wing. Assou-Ekkoto exploited this space on the switch without creating in any real danger. Danger from Lennon on the right wing was snuffed out and it didn’t happen for Tottenham.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/14 at 10:23 AM

      i like tuesday – very astute commentary.

      On Clint, I would say it’s just bizarre. If you looked at the Fulham midfield yesterday, you could argue that it mirrored the USMNT a bit.

      Good call on Duff above and good strategy by Hogsdon, but you could say that mirrors how Donovan plays on the left quite a bit. Both Donovan and Dempsey cut inside often–maybe that’s why Bradley prefers defensive mids.

      On the inside for Fulham, Danny Murphy was off his game and Etuhu wasn’t offensive. Dempsey was probably the best ball carrier in the midfield.

      Whether it’s tactical direction or not the midfield play for Fulham beyond Dempsey was decidedly average at best–and looked similar to what Clint encounters on the US team.

      So to me, save game dynamics, different Clint; bizarre.

      Didn’t watch most of the Man U game, but with a healthy Evra and not to mention Fletcher doubling down, any winger is going to find that to be a problem. I actually was curious why Park didn’t start there. I remember Park last year flat our neutralizing Chelsea’s Bosingwa when Bosingwa was at the top of his game.


      • Fulham’s tactics were much more clearly articulated than the USMNT where its often hard to say what they were. I think Dempsey’s actually a bit more dangerous in the spot he played on the left given when he can cut inside to find a runner in the channel, shoot from distance or arrive late at the far post – he never gets up the wing to cross the ball anyway. On that performance, is there any doubt that Dempsey can play at a high level more centrally in midfield either?

        When stationed out on the left Donovan also has the sort of reverse ball (such as he played to Davies at Azteca) that Frank Lampard played for Drogba’s goal this week-end. So Donovan and Dempsey are both more dangerous on the left. Sometimes I’d like to see more direct attacking from Donovan – he usually stops around the 18 and starts playing quarterback instead of getting around the fullback and putting the cross in more often but I guess that’s just not his game while Dempsey needs more similarly skilled players around him for support.

        Given that they’re both better on the left, it would be interesting to sacrifice one of Davies or Altidore for Holden as a pure winger on the right, giving Dempsey and Donovan freedom to interchange between left midfield and a deeper attacking behind the lone striker. Holden would be asked to track back to help Spector while Donovan and Dempsey could share defensive responsibility with whoever was in better position to track back when the ball was lost. With a wing-back like Castillo now in the mix, he could overlap on the left, making for a 4-5-1 (4-2-3-1) that quickly becomes a very attacking 3-4-3 (3-2-2-3) in attack which is still better able to defend once possession is lost.

        This allows our two most gifted players to play off one another instead of being stationed on opposite sides of the pitch. This should mean we’re more coherent in possession despite playing with two destroyers in central midfield. Clark and Bradley (or Edu but it seems like J.Jones is getting more doubtful by the day) must play as conservative holding players with one ready to cover the fullback’s space on the left when Castillo advances and the other protecting in front of the back four when possession is lost. In possession they should provide the easy option in support of Donovan or Dempsey to switch the ball quickly to the right for Holden to get beyond the fullback and put in crosses.

        Attacking with 5 players is plenty given attacking with 6 creates the defensive problems we have when possession is lost, when we’re often leaving the back four completely exposed. It’s much easier to defend against the counterattack with 3 defenders and 2 midfielders rather than just a single defensive line that our central midfielders leave unprotected. That’s why almost everyone gives the fullbacks license to attack while the defensive midfielders stay in position to be able to defend in the center when the ball is lost. That’s why it doesn’t matter so much how well Castillo can defend, as whether Bradley figures out that his central midfielders need to be leashed rather than getting into the box.

        Funny that Cahill scored for Everton because I think he and Dempsey are similar players. As for Lennon, he didn’t get a lot of service to begin with and when he did, he took a look at Evra with a midfielder sacrificed for cover behind him, and he mostly just cycled the ball back into the center of midfield to get over to the left wing-back.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/09/14 at 3:44 PM

          Again — good commentary here.

          First, as an Everton fan, Tim Cahill has been great for the club. I would say it’s a decent comparison to Clint, however even with Dempsey’s headers I would give Cahill the nod in the air and on d. Dempsey has a broader offensive game.

          I know I’m a huge fan, but the Spurs missed Modric’s ability to put pressure on the center of the pitch immensely–his absence allowed the strategy on Lennon because all you had was Palacios and Huddlestone as your creators in midfield and Modric is head and shoulders.

          I like your strategy on the US however two challenges (which you sort of account for), but first there is an excellent point in there and that is stranding Dempsey on the other side of the pitch when he’s got a teammate who he’s played with for years on the pitch in the same midfield. EXCELLENT POINT (wish that occurred to me).

          On to the questions with the strategy for fun and debate.

          Second challenge: We don’t need defenders on the corner to defend. However none of our defenders are immensely strong going forward. I just rewatched the Honduras game and Spector got forward quite a bit, but he’ll never be confused for Maicon or Ashley Cole.

          You might have the answer on one side with Edgar Castillo but remember he comes from an entirely different system from the U.S. — he’s going to take quite a bit of time to integrate (at least in my mind, since I’ve never seen him).

          First challenge: (A note here, I think Donovan directly attacks all the time and nearly always eschews the build-ups) Demspey and Donovan are not possession guys really–they’re attackers who need to be moving forward or in their case circling back quite often. If we give them free reign in the middle we more challenges, imo, of possessing the ball on offense.


    • Posted by Matthew N on 2009/09/14 at 4:56 PM

      I was about to post something along the same lines. Dempsey was a man on fire during the Everton/Fulham match. He is one of their most valuable players and he could have easily put two or three balls in the back of the net. What the goshdangdarnit Deuce?

      Editor’s note: I (Matt from TSG) have secretly replaced f@#k in Matthew N’s comments above with another word. Can you tell which one? Just in case there are 4th graders who are reading the blog as well–we like to keep it clean. Bill Cosby, not Robin Williams :>


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