Weekend: Friendlyville, Playoffs, & Beckermania


Mark's Soccer Globe #8

So much soccer this weekend, that…yup…just checked my Swatch, we passed noon on hump day. We’re going with our weekend preview a day early to get everyone amped up and get the good comments flowing.

Our global piece is dominated by American soccer this weekend and by that wonderful “soccer globe” to our left.

Look at it sparkle. We’re going global….

….but we start in the Land of the Free and Home of the Whopper: For you USMNT hounds who missed it, here’s the TSG Slovakia preview. I hope you, Dax, and Frankie all enjoy watching the game.

Let’s stay stateside or rather States-wise with (the) MLS:

» Friday night brings us Houston vs. Los Angeles from the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles.

Wait, maybe I should just send you to ESPN’s piece right now that states that the key for Houston is to shut down David Beckham and Landon


ESPN: Psst...Houston...to win you are going to need to stop Beckham and Donovan. TSG: No sh*t

Donovan. Let me guess ESPN, 11 guys a side to start the match also? Thank you, recess is over ESPN, please proceed to 4th period reporting where today we’ll learn how not to just state the obvious.

Are you kidding me? TSG has nary a few weeks of MLS under our belt….we can do better than that. My fingers are actually crossed right now. Go:

  • How about the Brian Ching going up for head dingers against rookie Omar Gonzales, who has pretty much played down to his age during these playoffs. Ching has the experience and the nastiness, Gonzales the strength and the youth.
  • Is Ricardo Clark fully fit in the midfield and able to injure David Beckham? For the little MLS, I’ve watched, I always see extremely “borderline” tackles by the Houston USMNTer on the English pretty boy. Don’t get me wrong, Beckham is some times too Roy Keane on his tackles, but my observations usually point to Beckham being the worse for wear after the affair.
  • Does Stu Holden involve himself in the game? First, let’s commend Holden, who TSG is a fan of, in that he plays to one set of his strengths for the USMNT (flying down the wing, big crosses, tracking back on defense) yet his club demands different qualities (linking play in the middle of the field, finding space). Quite dynamic for the Dynamo captain. We offered some criticism of the Iceman in the Seattle series for not more aggressively finding the ball.
Galaxy: You have the Iceman's attention

Galaxy: You have the Iceman's attention

Best way to neutralize Donovan and Beckham, Stu and company? Maintain possession. That’s right, Iceman, be dangerous…with the ball.

  • While many are worried about Becks and Donovan, what about Edson Buddle? The Galaxy striker while not extremely proficient around the net recently makes the defense work hard. You’ve got a big pitch, you’ve got a re-jiggered Dynamo defense with the suspension of Mike Chabala and now you’ve got the aggressive runs of Buddle coming at you. Watch Buddle vs. Houston Back 4–that’s a good match-up.
  • Turning tables, the Galaxy better watch out for Houston’s Buddle, Mr. Dominic Oduro. TSG has only seen Oduro twice, but, if I were a betting man, I might take the Oduro-Berhalter match-up over the Buddle match-up just mentioned. For all his experience, Berhalter was exposed against a Chivas attack that really wasn’t very technical adept in the strike zone. Oduro, playing off Ching and with Stu and Brad Davis (does he ever have a shot at a nattie team call-up?) trailing after Becks and Donovan are racing to catch up after a counter.That might present some problems.

» Saturday evening’s affair brings us the Cinderella Salt Lakers vs. the Chicago Blancos. TSG has less observations of these teams, so we’ll keep our comments brief.

  • Fresh off the US friendly in the morning, you can imagine all glassy-eyed USMNT fans will try to focus their peepers on the strikers: Chris Rolfe

Has Findley captured a little Charlie-In-A-Bottle?

and striker-du-jour Robbie Findley. While Rolfe has had his shot, Findley only got a sniff. Both will likely be in contention for the right to be the last guy picked for the RSA playground. Findley’s been playing to fine form and, with the MLS going into hibernation, one more big impression, in the hometown of US Soccer no less, couldn’t hurt.

  • Having watched a few RSL games, I really like the play of Kyle Beckerman lately. The veteran in the middle has–in the games I’ve seen–been pretty much anywhere he’s needed. He has a unique ability to read where the RSL defense is going to break down and make himself available in support or to take on the offender. I’m going to call it Beckermania….props to you rasta man.

I dare say Blanco is just as agile as this fellow and definitely more visionary

  • Here is a question I’d like to ask Chad Marshall, Jay Heaps, Omar Gonzales, Bobby Boswell or pretty much anyone on an MLS backline. Why, really why, is it so freaking difficult to get the ball away from a 36-year-old with a history of injuries who looks like Tummi Gummi? Actually, nothing but respect from TSG for Cuauhtemoc Blanco as he signs off from the MLS. Guarantee if that man had played at, say, Inter or Valencia he would have had a lot more global fans.
  • Our brief read of a few rags on this match, many are talking about the prowess of Javier Morales being the key to Real unlocking the scoring, the player who has caught our eye the most on the offensive end for RSL is Russian Yura Movsisyan. We just checked the stats on Movsisyan and we’re astonished to find that he started 19 of the 26 games he played in this year. The biggest impact we’ve seen from the 22-year-old is when he’s come off the bench and completely changed the offensive complexion for RSL.

I would term RSL’s offensive pre-Yura insertion as “assiduous” while I would term RSL offense post-Yura insertion as “zippy.”

Does TSG not have enough observations to make that claim?


Beckermania, coming to a pitch near you!

  • Yup, that all TSG is qualified to offer on this piece. You, the fans, that read our publication have many more observations. Have at it in the comments.

We now cross the pond to World Cup playoffs.

WCQ Playoffs

» Well, now it’s not just the French calling out their coach, it’s the other team. Ireland matches up with France and Richard Dunne has a comment or two for Raymond Domenech, who called the Irish team, “England’s B Squad.”

»Portugal look to qualify without Ronaldo against Bosnia Herze….I think you know, that I know how to spell the rest. Russia takes on Slovakia’s brother, Slovenia (he’s an inch shorter) and USMNT favorite Costa Rica battles with Diego Forlan at Uruguay. I hope Forlan lights them up. Sorry, the fan in me just came out.

All aboard, next stop:

Friendlyville (Population: Not Beckham)

» It feels like media’s sweeps week or something as there are just a ton of fun games on the docket.

» The Beckham-less Capellos take their messy chompers and a trio of lions to Qatar (of all places) to face the hosts of World Cup 2014, Brazil. The World Cup in Brazil? That could get dicey (or profitable). Hoards of men descending on a foreign nation where prostitution is legal and the exchange rate favorable. Oh boy….or is it a girl?

  • Better grab your Grape Nuts and another green tea, because this game is on Fox Soccer Channel too, right after the US-Slovakia match.
  • You could actually make an argument right now that the England backline is more ambulance-bound than their American counterparts. Ashley Cole, out. Glen Johnson, out. Luke Young, out and apparently retired. Starting at wingback for the Queen, the oft-injured Wes Brown on the right and Burnley whipping boy Wayne Bridge on the left. Yikes, we’ll take Specs and Bornstein.
  • Conversely, Brazil counter with a fit Robinho, Luis Fabiano, Hulk, and Nilmar (6 goals in 8 appearances for the nattie side…better known to Yanks’ fans as the guy that took away JZA’s playing time at Villareal.) That should be quite a challenge for England’s makeshift defense.
  • Let’s stick with Robinho for just one more second here. Why would a team that has Messi and Zlatan up top be possibly pining for the

No! No! No! I don't want Robinho

petulent, immature Robinho? Thankfully, at this point, Barca has passed on the going rate for Robinho. Sure, why not fork over the cash so that the little baby can earn frequent flyer miles to Sao Paulo? Vicky, Christina, Barcelona, you’re too class…and too talented…. do what Robinho doesn’t do enough of…pass!

» Also on Saturday, the Diego Maradona Turf Sliders are hosted by La Furia Roja! of Spain. I’m really hoping that Argentina put together a good game despite their coach.

  • Hard not to include The Maxi Rodriguez Goal clip when the boy is on the squad and playing in front of his club fans. Can’t watch this one enough.
  • Fernando Torres’ groin has been pulled from the game (thank you, thank you). Ho-hum. A 10-0 record, 28 goals for and 5 against in qualifying. Spain’s still, obviously, the best.

Arjen: Shades of Landon?

» And finally, in what could be the most competitive and even match, the Azurri of Italy host USMNT future opponent, the Netherlands.

  • USMNT evildoer Daniele De Rossi was just ruled out for this one. Patrick Viera pulled a Daniele De Rossi on De Rossi and now the Italian has a broken cheekbone.
  • The other day I was asking myself the following question: “What soccer player does Landon Donovan most resemble?” The best answer I could come up with is Arjen Robben. Donovan clearly has a better free kick and plays more defense, but for shear look on the field, I’d have to go with Robben. Robben will form the strike trio up top this Saturday with Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt. Solid.

Enjoy the games; enjoy the weekend.

26 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by michaelneis on 2009/11/11 at 3:07 PM

    Great soccer weekend…already can’t wait. Does TSG have any predictions on Costa Rica/Uruguay home and away? Part of me wants CONCACAF to show well, but I wouldn’t mind being able to say Bornstein officially knocked CR out


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 3:15 PM

      On talent alone, Uruguay wins hands down although they didn’t look all that sharp to close it out against Argentina.

      I think if Uruguay can manage to get the ball to their strikers with enough room to operate against the 5-man Tico midfield, Uruguay can draw or win away.

      If Uruguay draw or win away, there is absolutely no shot for Costa Rica.

      What scares me about this game the most is if CR get an early 1 or 2 goal lead. Although the strategy backfired against the U.S. If Costa go up a goal or two, they might just back it in the back for both games.

      I’m not a big fan of the way the Mexican fans and Costa Rican fans treat the US players…..so in that vane I would like Uruguay to win…plus I would like to see Forlan (whose game I really like) and Saurez at the WC over witnessing any player for CR.


      • Posted by michaelneis on 2009/11/11 at 8:59 PM

        seriously….that might have been the best part about knocking Costa Rica out – the fans in Honduras are about 100 times classier


    • Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/11 at 3:26 PM

      Don’t forget that the Costa Rica coach is sitting the first game out for his tirade at the end of the RFK game.


  2. I’ll be giving away some free beer this weekend at the Sweetwater Tavern in St. Paul, MN for the USMNT friendly. If anyone is in the area, com’on out. And, maybe the Brazil-England game if I have too many during the US game.

    Nice Tummi Gummi reference for Blanco, spot on.


    • Posted by michaelneis on 2009/11/11 at 3:42 PM

      ahhh, free beer AND US Soccer!!?? Too perfect, I was actually looking for a good place to watch the friendly. Is the Sweetwater right on Saint Anthony Ave??


      • It is on Saint Anthony Ave. I’ll see you there, the Free Beer Movement is about incorporating new soccer fans with free beer, so bring a soccer newbie friend and I’ll buy both of you beers. And if there aren’t any newbies, we can just take turns buying the rounds.


        • Posted by michaelneis on 2009/11/11 at 3:57 PM

          sounds great….love the concept – see you Saturday


        • MichaelNEIS and anyone else who reads this brilliant blog (if i blow sunshine up your backsides can I get away with a shameless plug?) in the St. Paul area, bring out some soccer newbies with promises of an entertaining morning and some free beer. I’ll be wearing the 2006 McBride jersey, stop by, say hi, and support the Free Beer Movement.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 4:24 PM

      Working Tummi Gummi into a post is going to get me an ESPY…I think.


      • Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/11 at 4:46 PM

        I am fairly sure your weekly haranguing of ESPN’s soccer coverage / content will preclude your triumph at the ESPYs.

        Well, that and your general point of view towards everybody.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 4:49 PM

          I’m starting the The Shinnies….

          We’re going to have the Benny F! redemption award, the Charlie-In-A-Bottle award, and the Frankie Hey-Juk Try Your Best award.

          You’re not invited.


        • Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/11 at 4:52 PM

          Good to see your creativity is in high gear today. “The Shinnies”?…really…spend five more minutes and at least try to come up with something just a bit less lame…please.

          Don’t worry, I won’t go to that one either.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 5:05 PM

            I bet you have a problem with the soccer globe as well.


            • Posted by kaya on 2009/11/11 at 8:26 PM

              The soccer globe is pretty good. But if you could make it spin… more globe-ish, you know. That would be cool.

        • At this hypothetical award show, would people have to wear sweatpants to receive an award? If so, I’m in.


      • Posted by kaya on 2009/11/12 at 2:27 AM

        You’ve got my vote.
        Wait… I don’t think I get an ESPY vote. Sorry.
        Anyway, the Tummi Gummi ref was sweet.


  3. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/11/11 at 6:40 PM

    Turns out I’ll be missing the game(live at least, thank you Tivo) because my high school soccer team has a scrimmage at 8 in the morning. Nice job coach.

    And has anyone noticed the similarities between Cameroon’s, Italy’s and Uraguay’s kits?

    And is R


  4. Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/11/11 at 6:47 PM

    Turns out I’ll be missing the game(live at least, thank you Tivo) because my high school soccer team has a scrimmage at 8 in the morning. Nice job coach.

    And has anyone noticed the similarities between Cameroon’s, Italy’s and Uraguay’s kits?

    And not only do Barca have Lio & Ibrea, but they have Pedro, the kid is 22 and has 8 goals leading the team.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 7:07 PM

      We should do a piece on that — my high school soccer coach used to schedule 7am practices on Saturday to see who really wanted it. One kid a Saturday practice throwing up from imbibing the night before.

      Ledesma is good, but let’s be honest. With Messi and Ibra there, of course I’m letting Pedro beat me. Akin to the Jets playing the Pats and “taking away” Moss and Welker and letting Edelman beat them. I’d take that gambit.

      That being said — he’s going to be real good in a few years.


      • Posted by Mark T on 2009/11/11 at 7:14 PM

        Welker didn’t play in Week 2 when Edelmen had 8 catches and the Jets beat the Patriots. Then Edelman broke his arm in the 59-0 win over Tennessee and hasn’t played since.

        All that being said, I get the crux of your analogy, but perhaps a better one would be the Cardinals. Take away Fitzgerald and Boldin and let Breaston beat you. Or the Giants…take away Smith and Nicks and let Manningham beat you. Or the Cowboys…take away Witten and Austin and let Roy E. Williams beat you. Or the Steelers…take away Holmes and Ward and let Wallace beat you.


    • Posted by kaya on 2009/11/12 at 2:23 AM

      Wait… it’s your team and you can’t change the scrimmage? Or are you saying you’re in high school?
      Aren’t the jerseys you’re talking about all Puma? Would make sense…
      For the record, I’ve always liked the rather tight-fitting jerseys puma makes. Makes nice eye candy -which is usually as good as it gets since FIFA added the yellow card for shirt-removal.
      One of the biggest tragedies to happen to soccer….


      • Posted by Antonio H. on 2009/11/12 at 5:16 PM

        yea I’m in high school, but I wish i was the coach so i could schedule scrimmages sunday mornings on not saturday mornings.

        Yes the kits are all made by puma but they look exactly the same, at least regarding the player names in the back and the numbers as well. We actually have some tight fitting jerseys(made by puma, well what do you know) with collars though. Probably the best kits in the western league*smug look*


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2009/11/11 at 7:17 PM

      Thanks for posting that — if Sorensen withdraws we might as well bring the U-17.

      Scratch that, the Poulsen boys are still playing.


  5. […] our recent weekend preview piece, we concluded with a musing that Arjen Robben was probably the most similar global player to Landon […]


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