Archive for October, 2009

Jozy Out Today for Arriving Late

You can imagine our surprise at not seeing Jozy Altidore even on the line-up sheet when Hull City announced their line-up selection.

Uh...hold on...I'm coming..

Uh...hold on...I'm coming..

Per the BBC Live Stream media player and Hull City message boards, JZA arrived late and after line-up cards were submitted. (You cannot be listed in the line-up card if you are not present.)

Hopefully, this is just an odd circumstance and JZA is not heavily disciplined…and we all see him back on the pitch soon.

…and hopefully it wasn’t because he was playing FIFA ’10 again.

(Update: Apparently, here is Twitter post from Jozy which he has since taken town (via Hull City message board): “Apologize to the all of you. I showed up late. Made a big mistake I’m very very sorry.”)

Two pieces of commentary here quickly from TSG.

» First, despite this instance, nothing that we’ve seen out of Alitdore suggests he’s anything less than a model citizen and teammate. We’re consistently impressed with his statements in the media.

» The Hull City folk (I’ve been following their message boards all season), for the most part love JZA and want him to start. That’s a good thing.

Positive spin if you can try it on this morning’s incident. C’mon JZA, you need pitch time.


Hull City Message Boards

USMNTing Into the Weekend

• A friendly coming against Slovakia. You bet. Coinciding with the USMNT’s November 18th Denmark date is an uncomfirmed November 14th match against World Cup qualifier Slovakia.

It's possible...

It's possible...

The match most likely will be played at the national stadium in Bratislava. Will we perhaps see an invite for Johann Smith who is all of 5 hours down the road playing for Croatian side HNK Rijeka?

Slovakia boast a very stout defense led by Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel. In the attacking third, Slovakia is led by Stanislav Sestak–who tallied 6 goals in qualifying–and Serie A and rumored Manchester United target Marek Hamsik. The 22-year-old Napoli first teamer has 5 goals and 1 assist in the Italian campaign to date and is garnering quite a bit of press.

Another good test for the States.

• Going back in time, if you missed the US Cup clincher in Honduras, you can now watch it online…for about $5. Just go to

• And Charlie Davies is making more progress, sitting up in bed, getting out of bed, taking some steps and starting some physical therapy. Count us in the minority group of those not counting Charlie out for next year–if only to root him on further. CD9 in 2010: “Yes We Can.”

Globe Trotting: Reds vs. Red Devils and more

….and we’re back on track with our weekend preview pieces. Unfortunately, our Gooch Watch has been suspended indefinitely….and actually now longer than we thought, putting his World Cup campaign in jeopardy.

Look! A bright idea!

Look! A bright idea!

While TSG has conceded that we have some depth here (Marshall, Goodson, even Parkhurst and Spector in a pinch though not Califf please), losing Gooch is like losing the 3rd guy in a pitching rotation that eats up innings. You know he’ll be mostly solid with an off day here and there, but you’ve got that place in the rotation covered and you can worry about other things.

A speedy recovery to Onyewu who was the defense in our Cup trip-clinching game in Honduras.

Before we start, a quick interjection here. After my brother criticized my photo selection last week saying, “This is soccer, not NASA, old man,” I’ve decided to feature the most wonderous (or cheesy if you prefer) “soccer globe” picture in this column each week. Feel free to send me suggestions and I’ll post them on Mark’s Facebook wall.

English Premier League

We start of course in the EPL, where the very top of the table is starting to look a lot like last season. Liverpool challenged to compete early on, Chelsea hitting a speed bump on their flying start and Manchester United starting to round into form just a little earlier than last year.

• In terms of Chelsea, where last year opponents started solved their offensive scheme of throwing Bosingwa and Cole up the pitch and shut the Blues down, this year teams are learning that if you focus on shutting down the strike tandem, their offense is stymied. And this is where Carlo Ancelotti has proven himself more than the equal of Phil Scholari. To create some more offense up the pitch last Saturday, Ancelotti deployed Deco immediately behind Anelka-Drogba to solid results–look for more of that this week and a big victory as Chelsea host Blackburn Saturday at Stamford Bridge.

Oh and a footnote on Scolari. Seems the Brazilian manager is set to get canned again this year. Something tells me it’s the players from Brazil, not the coaches who make the magic beautiful game happen.

• Lest we forget, it’s Villa again on the S-Pen. ESPN after a barn burner last week between Chelsea and Villa have the Villians on the early schedule again. Only this time it’s against lowly Wolverhampton. No need to get to bed early for that one.

We predict a Brad Friedel start and a Friedel shut down. To put Friedel’s dominance in perspective, the elder US statesman has helped lead Martin O’Neill’s club to their best EPL start ever and the best defensive start of this year’s EPL campaign with just seven goals conceded. That’s all the more amazing considering the Villians have already faced Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.

C’mon Brad at least consider coming out of retirement for a Natties player-coach role? We’ll give you a voodoo Kasey Keller doll.

• Looking for a start for Jozy? Well you may actually get your wish Saturday as Hull, fresh off their Fulham loss, invite Portsmouth to

JZA: "Great match, but listen I just took Sweden to the World Cup in FIFA '10 with the offsides on! Zlatan had like 57 goals."

JZA: "Great match, but listen I just took Sweden to the World Cup final in FIFA '10 with the offsides on! Zlatan had like 57 goals."

their cage. Hull couldn’t get anything done against Fulham’s tight defense on Monday, but JZA did have some chances later in the game. Enough to earn a start? We’d actually say yes.

If not, JZA will be doing most of his play and goal celebrations online.

• As we’ve been saying in a few columns, you’re going to want to watch Stoke City a few times before November 18th. Stoke keeper Thomas Sorenson is, in our opinion, one of the best and also likely to be starting for Denmark when the USMNT takes the pitch in November. This week Stoke battles top four squad Tottenham who even without the red-carded Jermaine Defoe, (I mean, if England isn’t seriously considering Defoe in their starting squad, they should) pack quite an offensive punch in Keane, Crouch and Lennon.

Let’s go out on a limb and predict the following offensive line for Tottenham against Sorenson: 13 shots, 7 on goal, 1 (max 2) score(s) and 3 phenomenal saves from Sorenson.

• If it has to rain this weekend, well then pick Sunday, because that day hosts your two “premiere” English games: Manchester City vs. Fulham and the big one: Liverpool hosting Manchester United.

• We’ll start with the undercard, the Citizens vs. the Dempseys, also the Small Bar sleeper match.

»Manchester City have put themselves in quite a position this year to make that hyperbolic run at the top-4. With 2 victories, 2 draws and only one defeat (at the last minute (of afterward) against Manchester United), Man City is really doing the hard work to challenge for a Champion’s Cup berth. That’s quite a bit of consistency for a team that was assembled over the summer.

» Despite a horrible travel record, Fulham aren’t fretting. Fresh off a near historic win over Roma in the Europa Cup, Texan Brede Hangeland was certain in his commentary that “no one, no team gives him sleepless nights” as the Cottagers travel to offensive juggernaut City. Will that bulletin board fodder charge up the Citizens or will Hangeland back up his words?

In fact, look at that specific match-up to be the fulcrum of the game. How do Fulham’s back four of Hangeland, Hughes, Konchesky and Pantsil deal with the continual onslaught and forechecking of Tevez, Adebayor and Bellamy. Focus on that.

Both teams are in form, so at this point, no prediction for me. Last time I predicted a Fulham win they barely sniffed the goal at home against Arsenal.

» Fulham, who were absent fellow Texan Clint Dempsey against Roma, should see the Deuce return for this one. The USMNTer is on record previously stating that he and Fulham are fully focused on the EPL campaign not the Europa Cup. (Note, I wish I could find the quote, I know it happened. Trust me.)

• In the title bout and Small Bar feature match, the Reds takes on the Red Devils and and a whole host of storylines here.

» Foremostly, the Reds will be without injured skipper Steven Gerrard, who seems to always pick up knocks in the beginning of the campaign so he’s fresh towards the end. Only this year, the ‘Pools are a little lower in the table than they’d like to be. The Devils are likely without Wayne Rooney, who have come of age as the focal point role of Fergie’s attack. While both players will be missed, and despite the headlines to the contrary especially on the Reds side, both teams have the depth to still stand toe-to-toe with each other.

» Watch Fernando Torres. Torres, who got swallowed up a few weeks ago by the Chelsea defense, is going to hear from a few folks (including

Torres & Vidic: Entangled again come Sunday

Torres & Vidic: Entangled again come Sunday

yours truly) if he doesn’t factor in the middle in this one against Vidic and company. In fairness, the Spaniard is coming back from an injury. That being said, it’s games like this where superstars step up.

» For our part, I’d like to see Torres bookended by the underrated Dirk Kuyt on one side and David Ngog on the other to open up the middle. While many would probably favor the more talented but uneven play from Ryan Babel, I just don’t trust the Dutch forward to be game for the task when introduced early on. Ngog may not be the right answer, but there is your depth question for Liverpool.

»The difference makers in this one beyond Vidic-Torres match-up? I’d like to see Benayoun and Riera on the wings in the second line with Benayoun slashing inside and Riera taking it up the wings. On Man U’s side, I think in Rooney’s absence, you really need to see Berbatov start earning his payday and also let’s go with Patrice Evra at leftback. Can Evra contain Glen Johnson who should be fit and providing fits of overlapping up the wing and can he, in turn, counterattack effectively against GJ’s runs and make Liverpool pay.

Disclaimer — I’m not sure Riera starts for the Reds.

» Oh, and there is also the little matter of prodigal son Michael Owen’s return in the hated AIG jersey. Might we see a replication of the Man City winner from the oft-injured striker?

Serie A

Sadly, my first Rosseneri preview comes after Gooch is out of the 18. Any coincidence on Wednesday that Milan knocked in three and won away at Real Madrid with Felipe Inzaghi off the pitch? I don’t think so. With Inzaghi on the pitch, the opposite team is usually forced to lay back just a little bit for Inzaghi’s tempt-the-offsides-official runs. In his absense, Milan can counter more strategically rather than Pippo just running down balls against big defenders–I think that’s how you saw Pato sneak in for his 88th min goal. Seedorf playing well didn’t hurt either.

Milan take on mid-table Chievo Verona on Sunday — let’s see if they continue their dominant play and put together a run of victories.

As we talked about some weeks back, this is the year that Pato joins the talk of world’s best footballers, apologies, soccer players.


I don’t usually do too much commentary on the MLS, but I must admit hearing the fans here on their MLS teams has gotten me into it in

A new apple of the eye for the USMNT?

A new apple of the eye for the USMNT?

advance of their playoffs. I won’t do any game breakdowns, because I don’t feel I’m well versed yet, but I’m going to be watching the LA Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes game. I’ve actually seen the Galaxy play the Quakes a number of times up here in the Bay Area and they always play them tough at home.

Sadly I will be watching to see for these three reasons:

To see what David “Dennis Rodman” Beckham does next. Is this guy with his beards and aggressive yellow cards not just crying out for attention?

To see if my 2007 campaign to get Edson Buddle a look at the national team level has completely fallen by the wayside. Cue the laughter and insults coming my way.

And finally to spend a little bit more time looking at Omar Gonzalez, or at least enough to give up my sorrows over Brede Hangeland. Plus, we need someone who we can nickname “Gonzo” on the USMNT.

A community note: Andrew Laing from the Bay Area will be in attendance at the San Jose-LA game.  Why is this important? Laing emailed us to let us know…well we’ll let him tell you:

“I’m trying to start up a San Francisco/Bay Area chapter of the American Outlaws, and was wondering if you could slip it into your site somewhere (in a post, comment, what not) since I’ve noticed that there are quite a few readers from the area. If you can, tell them to email for more info, I’m just collecting names right now and only started today but we’re up to almost 20, and I’d like to submit our application for chapter-dom by the end of next week.”

You got it Andrew. Enjoy the game.

Other random notes

Can we get a new name for the CONCACAF Champion’s League. There is only one Champion’s League, right?

More notes to follow….

Part II: Who Strikes? What’s the Formation?

Just an unbelievable dialogue on our “Charlie Davies in Repair, Who Strikes?” piece. Honestly, it is/was one of the best community dialogues I’ve seen on the USMNT online; astute, creative, and non-emotional comments. If you haven’t read the fan commentary section, it’s worth a read before this piece.

Keys position players, no matter the formation

Keys position players, no matter the formation

Thank you to our readers, whose additions forced many considerations that TSG had not thought of.

So in the spirit of debate, let’s call this “Who Strikes? Part II — What’s the Formation?” and focus on and maintain the lively debate around the USMNT alternating their formation instead of their personnel in the absence of the CD9 dynamic on the pitch.

The prevailing sentiment from many in that piece?

That Coach USA should experiment with formations in advance of World Cup 2010 given CD9’s injuries, our dearth of World Cup quality strikers, and the current talent pool at the coach’s disposal.

TSG, or rather I, was in the minority in being categorically against a formation change. I wrote about this in August actually here and my arguments I believe still carry quite a bit of merit (though admittedly reader comments here have softened my stance).

The points in the summer were:

• With so few games left (and as of November 1, 2009) only, maybe…what…12 friendlies on the docket until Cup time, it would be ludicrous to suggest the US players could master a new system in a short time and for it prove effective.

• Concurrently, as I pointed out in that article, none of the US starters against Brazil in the Confederation’s Cup final currently play in anything other than a 4-4-2 formation. In other words, cane we legitimately expect them to gain real-time experience, even in a different environment in advance of South Africa.

I’m going to add a few more pieces of commentary presenting for the most part the “cons” of entering into a new alignment. I’ll let the commentary after the piece refute these and present the “pros” and then TSG will sum up everything in a third and final piece.

Okay, go!

The 3-5-2: Antiquated

Referencing a suggested 3-5-2 formation, let’s just throw this one out. The US possesses neither the possession maintenance or speed at outside fullback to even consider this one.While the Ticos employed this at RFK, this formation is currently somewhat difficult to master in short order for a team that relies on the counter attack and long ball rather than precision passing.

The 4-5-1: Too conservative to sustain victory on the world stage and not the right personnel

• The US record in the Confederation’s Cup when deploying a 4-5-1 alignment? 0-2, 5 goals against, 1 goal for (penalty) kick. In both the Italy and Brazil games during group play, Coach B game out with a 4-5-1 with Jozy up top and 5 middies behind him. The result: virtually no offense and tons of pressure on the States’ defense.

Fast forward to the knockout rounds with a 4-4-2 (and Charlie Davies over Landon Donovan) and we all know the result. Positive.

McB: Left to shoulder the entire burden under Arena

McB: Left to shoulder the entire burden under Arena

• Maybe not as strong an argument, but what about 2006. Sure everything was different. The coach, team selection, strategy. But the formation then 4-5-1, the result 1 goal scored offensively (the Italy goal was an own goal) in 3 games. 10 total shots on goal, with 5 of them coming in the wide open final game to Ghana. Yuck!

I believe this points, if weakly, for the ability of good teams to take advantage of the USMNT’s 4-5-1.

• In a 4-5-1 in 2010, who is your lone striker? The only player capable of playing this is a precocious 19-year-old who is currently subbing for about 10 minutes a game on a relegation-bound EPL team. That’s right, the USMNT would be betting their formation and Cup experience on Jozy Altidore. Not a terrible bet, but also not a necessary bet when you have seasoned vets like Landon and Clint. Maybe in 2014.

In moving Jozy up top by his lonesome (where he started in the Confed cup mind you), not only do you force him to receive and maintain possession (not his strength), but you shackle him to that responsibility and put him further from the goal. Beyond Donovan and maybe Dempsey, who else do we really want attacking and shooting?

• Beyond TSG’s two favorites (Stu and Benny!) and one Jose Francisco Torres, only one of whom has been starting lately, the players in the middle of the pitch that Bob Bradley typically starts, do not possess the ability to link passes up the field and move the offense up. Can you really see the likes of Mike Bradley and Rico moving the ball out of the back. In watching those two against Trinidad and Tobago most recently, I do not have that confidence.

The 4-3-2-1: I’m starting to come around, but…

• A lot of good comments in the Davies piece specifically from “Tuesday” and Antonio (hopefully I’ve captured them accurately). Both of these readers have been promoting the formation for awhile.

Rationale: The formation frees up Dempsey and Donovan to be attackers and not have to double back as far on defense. Secondly, by employing a floating 3 halfback concoction, the US encourages the switch field cross and, in effect, can only, in theory, be beaten in defense on a more difficult offensive play.

More on the the 4-3-2-1 by Tuesday on his blog.

These comments have merit and I’m sure the comments section below will add to this pro. For my part…..

• The negative. In the 4-3-2-1, you really leave the center open to quick linking strike (akin to what you would see from an Italy or a Brazil). Unless the USMNT has a disciplined and effective destroyer back likes Jermaine Jones, the team is susceptible to an attack up the middle with one less defender. Sure the outsides in the formation can collapse, but that’s relying on them to do that quickly and effectively. With the current USMNT personnel, I’m not sure the US can employ this. Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley are just too undisciplined and stray too far from the midfield to hack this formation. (See Mike Bradley, 2nd goal against, Costa Rica, RFK)

In my opinion it’s Jermaine Jones or at worst a fit Maurice Edu or bust in the 4-3-2-1 — can the US get the formation ready in time given neither of these players are healthy? If Bob Bradley actually willing to sit his son (who played the 3rd most minutes for the US during qualifying) or play his son out on a wing?

• Next, crosses and corners. Both have been a big part of the US attack. Whether it’s been Altidore from a standstill (El Salvador), Boca risking his skull (Honduras, home) or Donovan deftly coralling and controlling an errant long ball…you know a quick note here, on Bradley’s goal against the Ticos not nearly enough has been made of Donovan’s composure and patience on the ball in putting a worthy shot back on frame. That comes from experience and confidence; a world class play.

Apologies, back to our commentary. The cross in is a large part of the US game. With a 4-3-2-1, can the US get wide enough to maintain this? If Stu, for example, is on the wing in the mid 3, will he be able to make that run up the pitch?

• Finally, I think there is a consideration here that only arose over the past 48 hours. That is that Carlos Bocanegra, hardly as agile in defense

Will any Boca pairing be ready with two covering?

Will any Boca pairing be ready with two covering?

as he once was, is our lone experienced central defender at this moment. For November 18th in the least, he’s going to be coupled with either Danny Califf, Chad Marshall, or Clarence Goodson. While TSG is a huge fan of both Marshall and Goodson, we also remember the damage done on the counter against their interior defense in the Gold Cup, a 5-0 result. TSG is categorically not a fan of Califf as we believe we have better younger options and he’s not disciplined enough in the role.

Why am I telling you this? Because it impacts the 4-3-2-1. Should the US play a narrow 4-3-2-1 the middle help defenders (the center mid and one or more of the wings) can help out on the inexperienced central defense. However, this leaves our outside fullbacks vulnerable to 1-on-1 attacks (think: Vela, Robinho, Torres & Ashley Young to name a few). If the US goes wide in support, we leave our inexperienced central pairing at risk. A surmountable task, yes, but if we had say Gooch and DeMerit in the middle, having a one less defender specifically assigned to the middle would not matter as much.


So in closing, temporarily, TSG’s initial comments on the formation, I’d like to thank our readers for forcing us to reconsider and draft this piece. I have no doubt that we’ll continue the stirring debate that marked the first piece.

Mind you, I’m not against a new formation. My sentiment is such that the US cannot master new positioning in time to prove effective at the World Cup 2010.

Stood Up By The Sports Guy

Update From Mark: The title and notion that we were “stood up” was written firmly tongue-in-cheek. Seems like it didn’t come across that way to some readers based on the comments. However, we certainly appreciate the impassioned discourse. For 45 days a note sat in the sidebar about the Campaign. This post was to wrap it up, say we failed and thank people for making the effort.


Assuming you can be stood up by someone who never actually said “yes,” the USMNT faithful were stood up by faux USMNT fan Bill Simmons of last week when the Yanks took on Costa Rica at an emotional RFK stadium. And thus we came to the unsuccessful conclusion of the Bill Simmons Campaign.

Based on the emails we received and various message boards around virtual America, I know everyone put forth a great effort to reach out to Simmons via email and twitter imploring him to attend the final World Cup qualifier. (Matthew and I explored other avenues to make direct contact, but were ultimately unsuccessful as well.)

To all who did what they could, THANK YOU.

To be honest, I knew the campaign was in some trouble when Simmons opened a recent “Mailbag” with an ode to October as the best month for sports and didn’t even make a casual reference to World Cup qualification matches.

The Sports Guy was not in the stands (as far as we know and with his second half tweets as evidence) for the dramatic draw, but it sounds like he wishes he was there. (Don’t we all!)

Here’s an excerpt from his Friday NFL column:

RFK STADIUM (-3) over Any Other Soccer Venue
Did you see Wednesday’s incredible USA-Costa Rica game? Phenomenal crowd, upper decks hanging over the field, entire sections swaying, tons of history … the whole thing was Estadio Azteca-esque, only without the fluid-throwing. I was lucky enough to stand on that field once with the Hogs for a 2002 column. It’s an incredible place. Every seat feels like it’s right on top of you. So can’t we just make it official? Every big American soccer game should be played in RFK. We need the home-field advantage. Done and done.

Most interesting to me was that Simmons made no mention of Charlie Davies or The Salute in his note; especially considering the human side of sport and fan experience is what this guy’s career was been built on.

Let me let the statement resonate with you.

A guy who makes his living speaking from the fan perspective didn’t even note the tribute to  Charlie D, the player who scored the only goal that the “Sports Guy” ever saw in person.

(I’ll leave the debate about RFK as the national stadium to you guys and Jason Davis over at Match Fit who recently addressed the subject. Is Simmons qualified to offer an opinion on a national stadium for the USMNT…umm, no.)

In reality, the inclusion of the above snippet in his weekly NFL column seemed like Bill Simmons was tossing a bone to the soccer fans among his faithful readers. Kind of like a “See guys, I still follow soccer.”

For all the reasons we stated in the original piece kicking off the Campaign it was worth giving it a try as there is no denying the coverage by Simmons would have been a boon to Soccer in America. However, at the end of the day, soccer was simply a convenient August distraction and fodder for Simmons’ columns when needed.

Hey Bill, can we at least get a response the next time your soccer crush kicks in?

No caption needed

Honestly, "Sports Guy," how could you miss this? (Awesome photo by Matt Mathai.)

Well, Now I’m Psyched: Fifa 10 Review?

We’re in between a few posts here at TSG. Anyone know where we can get a (hot) intern who can do research, fact checking, and maybe wash some jerseys and shorts? Just asking.

Just hold "Up," then press A twice and B thrice

Just hold "Up," then press A twice and B thrice

TSG commentor Chris in San Francisco (the same guy who tried to befriend Messi in Fog City) just sent us this video commercial of Fifa 10 below. I don’t know if I am more excited for the World Cup or to check out this video game now.

If you’ve got the game, please weigh in with some commentary. My biggest issue always?

As a child of Pitfall on Atari and two or three-button “paddles” (controllers that my brother “claimed” were always broken….I can hear him know, “My “B” button isn’t working, it’s stuck….we have to start over.”) and graphics that would have kids these days asking, “What’s wrong with your TV, man?,” I always feel they over-engineer these games a bit. What’s the use in having a double scissors move with Ronaldo if I have to press some combination of A, hold B, C, then “start twice” all in realtime just to make it work?

Anyway, if you’ve got the game, weigh in with the pros, cons and whose player ratings are off. A few notes on those player ratings:

• If they give Messi or Ronaldo “Jeremy Roenick” (and please tell me some of you know what I’m talking about) powers, then that’s lame.

• If Dimitar Berbatov’s shooting ability (or Brian Ching’s for that matter) is anything above a 55 on a 100-point system, then, yes, that’s lame too.

• And if Michael Owen doesn’t have a “durability” or “strength” rating of a 4 (again out of 100), well then that’s super, don’t buy the game lame. I would play England or Man U in ’10 just to be dribbling with Owen up the field and without contact here a crack followed by a John Madden-esque, “Oh no! There’s a man down.”

Back to the USMNT on TSG shortly, but first this word from folks we’re not sponsored by.


Upon reading the post, my brother and I had this exchange:

Mark: i can’ t believe you didn’t write about the fact that you went out and bought xbox just for fifa when i was visiting

Matt: nah
Mark: then i kicked you ass all weekend and you even donned a headset so i could kick your ass online
Matt: That categorically is not what happened
12:50 PM Mark: But then since i was kicking your ass so much you started “losing connection to the host”
Matt: And I do remember whupping your ass up in Colorado and you not talking to me
Mark: That may have happened.

You Called It, Donovan Is Player Of The Year

Player of the Year Fan PollAccording to Landon Donovan just won the Honda Player of the Year award given to the best performer on the US Men’s National Team.

An ESPNsoccernet article confirms that it was a “Landoslide” with Donovan receiving 424 points/votes, Howard coming in second with 275 and Jozy checking in third with 175. With the 2009 POY award, Donovan was also named Player of the Decade.

Congratulations, Landon. Well deserved. You elevated your game and kept your foot on the gas throughout a terrific 2009 campaign for the USMNT.

In TSG’s initial commentary on the award, we were in favor of handing the trophy over to Tim Howard while noting that Donovan was just as deserving.

However, following Donovan’s heroics in the Honduras match TSG requested a mulligan in our Unconvetional Hardware piece to allow us to vote for the now six-time winner. That being said, TSG’s readers pegged it right; Howard may have had an early lead, but he was soon overtaken by Donovan in the voting.

For those wondering, Charlie Davies came in 4th place in TSG’s Fan Poll and there was even a vote for Dilly Duka! (the voter actually included the exclamation mark). Also of note, Clint Dempsey, the Bronze Ball winner at the Confederations Cup, received just one vote. For the full list player receiving votes, see Fan Stats.


And in minor, but hopeful news, Jermaine Jones’ paperwork making him eligible to be called up to the USMNT was finally approved by FIFA. With Jones’ fitness setbacks and the terrible injury cloud that is currently enveloping the national team these days, I’ll consider him on the team the first time he steps on the pitch in a US jersey.


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