TSG Travel Day: Mini Spanning The Globe

This soccer globe goes to #11....

It’s a TSG travel day….so you’ll have to bear with us here. Oh, and just phenomenal community commentary on England-States, Algeria and US friendlies yesterday…..TSG will get a write-up going on some of that commentary shortly.

For those new to the Spanning the Globe program, we introduce a cheesy or goofy soccer globe in each of these columns. We hope it gets you scrolling faster to the good stuff below. Oh, and feel free to send us one to post in the next column.


Ligue 1

• Valenciennes v. Sochaux (Sunday)

We Salute You!: Our Charlie Davies Watch, Week 1. Wow!

It’s January 2010. Our Charlie Davies Watch is in hyper drive. T-minus 100 days or less….Awe-inspiring.

• Stades Rennes v. Grenoble

Rennes and Captain Boca host bottom table dweller Grenoble this weekend. Our guess, Boca in the 18, not in the 11.


• Hull City v. Wolverhampton

Marcus Hahnemann is a near lock for South Africa at this point. Jozy Altidore’s candidacy was never really in question.

First, we hope for progress in JZA’s native Haiti and that the volume of supplies arrive and distribute at a faster pace. If you haven’t donated yet, check out the cause over on the left. It takes but a minute.

Perhaps we’re USMNT fans, but we’d like to see Big Jeezy pair Amr Zaki up front, especially if Jimmy Bullard is not fit to conduct the play through the middle.

Zaki is a strong frontman but we’d like to see him ahead of Jozy in the Craig Fagan role.

Tough call here against Wolverhampton, but you’ll likely see Jozy in the 18, but on the bench to start we imagine with his time off. Richard Garcia and Craig Fagan start with the Egyptian, and not the American, likely first off the bench.’

The Jozy Altidore Goal Watch stands at 146 days….

• Birmingham v. Tottenaham


Are you loving Birmingham in 8th place in their first year? I am.

Despite a 3-0 beatdown at the feet of Ancelotti’s bullies this past Wednesday, I love everthing that Birmingham does, not least of which is play one of the best team games I’ve seen at the Premier level in at least the past two years.

I even like Birmingham’s front office move. What day is today? January 29th. Two days left in the January transfer market and they make a below market big for a striker from their opponent this weekend, Roman Pavlyuchencko. RP, as we’ll call him, has gotten into all of 4 games for ‘Arry Rednapp this year. With Rednapp bringing in Barcelona castoff, Eidur Gudjohonsson (a good move in our mind) he needs to or at the very least would like to rid himself of RP.

So Birmingham makes a below market move, offering a life line for the Russian striker. Should RP make it St. Andrew’s Stadium and with a bit of a label of a malcontent, the talented frontman will need to be on his best behavior to push for a move at the end of the year. If it doesn’t work, Birmingham City could just cite “known issues” with RP and dismiss him dully at the end of the campaign. Great work, City.

3 more weeks for the EPL's shortest player...

Flipping over to the Tottenham side, the subject du hier was Young Player bridesmaid Aaron Lennon. (Lennon has been beaten out the past three years for the Young Player of the Year award by Rooney, Ronaldo and Ashley Young).

News out that, despite this game being on FSC, you won’t be able to see Lennon as the speedy wingman is still battling a groin injury. Given the June 12th clash that has TSG abuzz, we’ll inventory this injury in our “Medic!” report.

TSG will still be watching this one to see Luka Modric’s progression back from injury and if and how he unlocks Birmingham’s defense.

• Wigan v. Lanverton


I know, I know. Joe Max-Moore, Timmy Howard and we’re calling it Lanverton? Let’s just call it a marketing thing for now. If this game was at home for the Bluenosers, I could see Everton going off to the tune of 3 or 4 goals in their current form. On the road, probably a draw at worse, two-goal victory at best.

TSG will be watching later in the day….

• Liverpool Reds v. Bolton Holdens

Gosh, I’m going to love that moniker. And once TSG gets a little more standing in the Bolton community and on their message boards, we’re going to suggest a logo improvement for the team. (See our piece yesterday on Bolton’s branding).

We love the Bolton fans already and we posed them a question about who the preferred starting midfield is right now? Stu Holden didn’t nary a mention. Check out their comments here, and if you take part in the discussion be cordial as these guys are great.

Wilshere: Why are you smiling?...Because I know something you don't know...And what is that?...I... am not right-footed

Oh, and if you didn’t see it Jack Wilshere is joining the foray in the middle as well. Here’s manager Owen Coyle on his now crowded midfield.

Our TSG assessment, Stu better gear up for play in the middle because with Wilshere potentially on the left and Chung Yong Lee firing on the right (and with Vladamir Weiss able to play either side), Holden’s got a real hard challenge of making it on the outside now.

The Iceman and the rest of the Wanderers head to Anfield to take on 2010 underarchievers Liverpool, who really need to get out from under their coach.

I’m wondering if Hicks and company at Liverpool just don’t want to spend the money on a coaching change.

On the positive side, Maxi Rodriguez looks like he’s going to be a contributor.

• Burnley v. Chelsea on FSC at 9:30 PST….zzzz….zzzz…zzzz

• Fulham v. Villa Friedels

Interested to see how Fulham attack in the absence of Clint Dempsey….and I flubbed the rest of this preview–see commentary below if interested.


Bo Munchen v. Werder Bremann

Can’t find this game on the dial, but I would love to see Michael Bradley go up against Mesut Ozil. Bradley seems to be gaining form and TSG labeled Ozil one of our “1o Offenders to Watch in World Cup 2010.

Eintracht v. FC Cologne

Rambo’s first game? Get’em Rico.


Rangers v. Falkirk

USMNT roster hopefuls DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu take on bottom of the table Falkirk. Not sure of Beasley’s availability yet.

One note here in that Rangers look set to transfer Pedro Mendes to Sporting Lisbon. With Rothen’s move out of Ibrox, there is a little more room in the line-up for the Yanks.

TSG will have our February look at the USMNT roster early next week, but consider this when it comes out:

The SPL is a tough as nails league, the Mexican league is easily a “softer” and less physical league. Who do you think has a leg-up on roster spots for South Africa 2010? Edu and Beasley or Edgar Castillo and Jose Francisco Torres.


Serie A (Sunday)

AC Milan v. Livorno

We’ll finish up today with a question from the community:

“A comment on Onyewu. He is injured and is likely to be back in March. Do you think he’ll get enough playing time at Milan to be match fit because from the handful of Milan games I have seen, Nesta and Silva are playing well and I am not sure Onyewu will dislodge them in the starting XI.”

The answer is categorically, “No, I don’t see Gooch getting nearly enough playing time.”

It is clear that the Milan defense (as shown by their up-one-man, 2-0 loss in the derby to Inter last weekend) is in disarray without Nesta on the field. Silva for his part have been just a bull on defense for Milan.

Gooch….if fit, he’s insurance at a low cost for Milan right now. We’ll see what the next few months bring.


We’ll probably break a column out for the Man U-Arsenal clash.

28 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark T on 2010/01/29 at 7:37 AM

    For any UK-based readers…

    SkySports is showing Sunday’s Manchester United – Arsenal match in 3D in select pubs.


    Unfortunately, it is only a handful of pubs and the locations will not be published to due fears of overcrowding.

    If you happen to be at one of those pubs, please email us and let us know what it was like.


  2. Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 8:16 AM

    Jozy needs to go somewhere else. He isn’t getting any service from the midfield at Hull, and he isn’t the kind of player to create opportunities for himself from a deep-lying position.

    Other than the training benefits, and being exposed to English-style defending, this Hull adventure has been less than useful.

    BTW #1, my listings here on the East coast have the Wigan-Everton match as being on at 7:00 PM ET on FSC.

    BTW #2, has anyone heard when the new shiny FSC HD offerings are coming?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 8:35 AM


      I’m not sure Jozy’s stock is high enough right now to warrant a move to a good enough side.

      Thanks for the correct on the Everton timing.


      • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 8:52 AM

        I don’t think he needs to go to a higher-profile English side. I agree his stock in England isn’t high, and it certainly isn’t getting any higher while he languishes on the bench. (and doesn’t score when he DOES get in)

        I just think he needs to go to a team that plays a style that will allow him to shine. His game isn’t really defined for Route 1 football. To limit him in that way neutralizes many of his strengths.

        I’d rather see him getting PT in the Netherlands or even in a smaller Spanish club.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 8:43 PM

          I’m not sure what the right league is for Jozy. I actually would have thought the EPL because of his size…the EPL favors the long ball.

          I think the EPL is the right league…he’s just on a team with superior challenges of service and midfield play.


    • Posted by Mark T on 2010/01/29 at 8:57 AM

      March 1 on the FSC HD


      • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 9:08 AM

        Cool. Thanks.

        I’m pathetic enough that I’ll watch a bad match just because it’s in HD and am less inclined to watch a decent match if the video quality is poor.

        “Matt is occasionally trainable, and is fascinated by round shiny objects…”


        • Matt, you’re a kindred spirit. However, I’m fascinated by large black shiny rectangular objects, preferably measuring 60″ diagonally and weighing in at 119 pounds. Sometimes the pain of watching overly compressed FSC is just too much to bear. (Can’t wait to pull that baby back out of storage next week-end after 6 lonely weeks, just in time for the Winter Olympics.)

          Anyways, I’m sure that FSC HD will be offered to the carriers March 1, the question is how many carriers are going to use the bandwidth required for an HD channel for a full-time soccer channel anytime soon. I still haven’t seen BBC America HD though it supposedly launched several months ago and is distributed by Discovery communications. Maybe Fox has more clout with the carriers than Discovery but I doubt we’re going to see FSC in glorious HD terribly soon on cable, though maybe on some satellite services.

          If you’re interested in ever seeing this channel, make sure you go to http://foxsoccer.channelfinder.net/start-v2.asp to record your interest and also get in touch with your cable/satellite provider to let them know you want it as well.


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 10:05 AM

          Tuesday, couldn’t respond to your post, so I’ll respond to mine.

          I’ve been shopping for a 65″ display for my basement. I think I’m going to wait a bit to see if 3-D is just a passing fad before I pull the trigger. Still have to fit in the purchase of a new, hugely expensive, camera body too.

          I have FIOS, and bandwidth is not really an issue for them, but I have no clue what they’ll carry. Guess I’ll find out soon enough.


        • Ironically, we just acquired a Canon 5dII to take some holiday snapshots on our recent trip. Further evidence I suppose. My display is the Pio Kuro which I highly recommend if you can still find one. That TV is like dating a supermodel – it doesn’t talk much but in terms of looks, nothing else is going to measure up. New generation Panny’s plasmas are supposed to be good, otherwise wait a couple years for a large OLEDs.


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 11:26 AM

          Good display and cameras.

          I have a 55″ DLP set that has a gorgeous picture. Way better than any LCD I’ve seen and rivaling all but the most expensive plasmas. And on this I have to watch that compressed crap from FSC?? It might be a while before OLED gets to ‘real’ sizes and realistic costs. Haven’t seen the picture yet, but I’ve heard great things about the technology.

          I’m drooling over the Nikon D3S body. All the better to take snazzy soccer images with.


        • Posted by Siege on 2010/01/29 at 1:50 PM

          Ya I got a 46″ Sony DLP about 2 years ago that has been a dream to me. For 1500$ I couldn’t complain, that included a 1st bulb burnout warranty too! Aside from not being able to wall-mount it, it’s light and reliable.

          On the 3d stuff, from what I’m hearing 3d is the future… just a matter of time as supply/demand drive down the costs for the middle class users.


  3. Posted by brian on 2010/01/29 at 9:16 AM

    why is chelsea always on fsc and espn

    thank god that the mersyside derby is on espn next week


  4. RE: Mexican League vs. SPL.

    I think you would have to take either Edu or Beasley over complete unknown quantity like Castillo. Friendlies could potentially change that picture. If he’s regained full fitness, I think Edu is probably WC bound. I really like Torres and think he’s the type of player who has the vision, range of passing and ability to change the point of attack to help us “unlock” a team that’s content to sit back and defend, negating our preferred counterattacking style.

    Beasley’s lapses in concentration worry me (it wasn’t as if the Confederation’s Cup was the first time he’s lost consciousness on the pitch, he’s done it a few times over the years) but he is a true wide player with experience at the highest levels – CL semifinalist who’s scored multiple goals in the competition. But that was way back in 2005, since then Beasley has lost a step and no longer has the devastating speed that was his best weapon. He hasn’t seemed to develop the technique or tactical awareness to be able to make the same impact. He can still be effective against Dundee United or Motherwell but against World Class defenders? I have my doubts.

    I know it seems like we’re tragically short of wide players but after Donovan, Dempsey, Holden, Bradley, Clark & Feilhaber there are only 2 or 3 more spots available in midfield. Four of the players first group are capable of playing wide but only Donovan and perhaps Holden are natural wide players, though in different molds, while Dempsey thrives in a freer role starting from wide to cut inside or get in the box. Feilhaber can play wide but tends to drift inside to find the game making the midfield narrower. Bradley will definitely be taking some defensive midfield cover and at least one true wide player so I’d say Edu, Rogers and Torres in that order. I’d say Beasley, Davis, Bedoya, Klejstan, Beckerman, McCarty and probably Castillo are in the next group. Am I missing any players?

    As we consider our defenders: Onyewu, Demerit, Bocanegra, Spector, Cherundolo, Bornstein are locked in. 2 of those guys are true center backs, 2 are fullbacks and 2 can play either position. Our depth is a problem here, with the defensive options beyond these 6 players having failed to impress or just plain FAILED. I think Edu could play CB or FB in a pinch, as does TSJ i think. So who does Bob choose for the final spot?

    As a left-sided player Castillo could come along as cover for the outside back who can also play as a wide midfielder. He would probably be third choice to start at left back after Bornstein and Bocanegra, but he could be an impact substitute in a game we were chasing. Castillo for Bocanegra is the type of positive tactical substitution that could change a game. Having a flying player like Castillo at left back could also make a wide player (say, Aaron Lennon) worry a bit more about his defending. This is a great way to render the flying winger less effective through tactics rather than relying on your fullback to match-up. The defender needs to get beyond the winger frequently enough to worry him though, and the DM must be drilled to cover the space on the flank.

    However, we haven’t had a Castillo sighting yet, so we don’t know exactly what he can offer. I would put down money that he simply has to be a step up on a Marvell Wynne, going forward and defending. I think Bornstein has made a successful case for the LB slot, but beyond him there’s just nobody out there besides Castillo. So, my conclusion, I would take 3 of those players with Beasley being the odd man out unless he goes at the expense of Rogers or because of injuries were someone like Dempsey not to recover in time.


    • I realize that I completely talked myself out of my initial point.


    • Looking at my project 23-man roster laid out above, with attackers and goalkeepers added. In my book, the players before the ellipses are a lock, after are arguable.

      Goalkeepers – Howard, Guzan… Hahneman
      Defenders: Onyewu, Demerit, Bocanegra, Spector, Cherundolo, Bornstein… Castillo
      Midfield: Donovan, Dempsey, Holden, Bradley, Clark, Feilhaber… Edu, Rogers and Torres
      Attackers – Altidore, Davies!?!, Casey… Findley

      BTW, if Davies can’t go, I reckon Bob takes only 3 attackers 9 midfielders and 8 defenders. In all likelihood Bradley will be conservative and take 8 defenders. If he goes with the traditional 4-8-8 roster, that leaves one of the midfielders named above out in the cold, probably Torres and the last defensive slot going to just about anybody, who bloody knows. Regardless of the positional flexibility, the problem with our defensive core of 6 players is what if 1 of those guys get injured and another sees red? I suspect Bob will have trouble sleeping without another CB on the roster for cover.

      Only 4 players on my projected roster are currently in MLS. However, 2 are on loan from MLS (Donovan & Holden – also a loan deal, right?) and 2 who transferred abroad from MLS in the 2009-10 season (Altidore, Clark). Conversely, 7 players on my roster have never played in MLS – DeMerit, Cherundolo, Spector, Castillo, Feilhaber, Torres and Davies.

      Having 12 MLS alumni on the world cup roster who now play league football abroad should be seen as a sign of the league’s success in player development and the strength of the league’s contribution to the national team. I don’t think Bradley will get pressure from US Soccer to select more MLS players, in my view, with 6 being in MLS or slated to go back after the WC. I would argue that the composition of our side looks a lot more like that of the best sides from countries that aren’t home to one of the top leagues (Spain, Italy, Germany, England, Brazil, Argentina) or other traditional powers. We have a mix of players from the top leagues and the leagues in the next couple tiers (France, Portugal, Holland, Denmark, Mexico? etc) reinforced by a handful of domestic players.

      Oh, and sorry to hijack the comment thread – it’s Bank Failure Friday and I’ve been feeling work-shy this week.


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 8:49 PM

        I think if Bob takes Davies, he definitely takes another speed guy or so I believe.

        We’re so far off from telling on Davies, but you need that guy that can pressure the defense late in the game when the d is not ready for the speed.

        Unfortunately Jeff Cunningham just doesn’t have it at his age and having feasted on MLS defenses for years…it’s a real shame because he’s got the brains.

        I know you don’t think so, but Bedoya is a rusher with the ball…he’s completely on the fringe…but he’s got just the right mix of size, speed and naivete to not be awed by the situation.


      • Posted by Gino on 2010/01/29 at 11:42 PM

        I like Tuesday’s midfield to a man. I’ve been thinking Bob should take 9 mids and only 3 forwards due to positional depth. I count Dempsey as a middie who should start up top when we are in a 4-4-2. I like Jozy, Cooper (hoping he regains his starting role and scoring touch at 1860 Munich) and either Davies or Findley. Again, forward is our most shallow position.

        I’ve been championing Spector at LB since last summer and see him as our most viable option there, with Boca option #2 and Bornstein the last option. Castillo seems to be a reach as he has zero minutes at LB for the Nats. Cherundolo should start at RB with Spector backing him up if needed. Not sure who else can defend on the right but it definitely isn’t Wynne. Gooch, Boca and Demerit appear to be locks at CB but Marshall could be losing his grip on that fourth spot, although I still think it’s his to lose. I don’t see the point in taking an aging Hahnemann over Perkins as the 3rd keeper. Not unless Howard and/or Guzan aren’t 100% heading to S. Africa.

        Now this is the part where I maybe lose everyone. I think Bob should deploy a 4-2-3-1 against England. I’m not advocating a 4-5-1 mind you. I just think that the only way we can hope to neutralize Gerrard and Lampard is to place two D-mids in front of them and then put Benny at CAM to keep them pressuring too far upfield. This would also create a natural triangle in the midfield with Landon and Clint streaking down the flanks on counters. If this tactic works and the US makes it out of group play, then we could try it again in the second round.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 8:47 PM

      Taking me awhile to catch up today.

      I love Castillo…but I love him as a midfielder…he will get eaten alive by any sort of size out wide for the US.

      I think Bob knows that too. The Mexican league certainly doesn’t put a premium on defense.

      We’ll have our February column up shortly on the roster…but I don’t you’re far off up here….I just don’t see Castillo as a defender though.

      Also I think that is why you take Edu…he’s pretty much the only who can play the Rico role is Clark gets injured. Beckerman doesn’t have the motor and no one else has the tackling ability.

      With Bob-o covering the flanks with the inside middies, you’re going to need a “d” backup.


  5. Posted by Marc on 2010/01/29 at 12:34 PM

    Wouldn’t be able to see Paintsil even if Ghana had not advanced, he is injured. I don’t think he even made the trip to Angola in the first place.


  6. Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 2:05 PM

    Had no idea that TV selection was so critical…Mark and I will put something up for it shortly.

    Good discussions here….


    • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 2:12 PM

      Take it from a home theater geek – the selection of a display is critical. Now, with the widespread adoption of HD, soccer is even more glorious than before. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money, but a little care can get you years of (relatively) inexpensive soccer viewing.

      True story – I started shopping for my house the day my wife said that our townhouse wasn’t big enough for the subwoofer I wanted to buy.


      • Matt, for your sake, I hope it was one of these babies: http://home.jlaudio.com/products_subs.php?prod_id=370. My wife insisted on upgrading to the 60 inch after a couple months with the 50″ and the wife is always right.

        TSG should throw together a “I Can’t Make it to SA so SA is coming to me: How to Watch the World Cup” type column.


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/01/29 at 2:30 PM

          We’re on it…but I need help from the Geek Squad over here. :>


        • Posted by Matt Mathai on 2010/01/29 at 2:52 PM

          Nope. $20K is a bit rich for my blood for a single speaker. I have a Velodyne F1500R. It’ll do 105 dB at 18Hz, enough to wave the hair on your arm.

          Imagine FEELING the crunch as Onyewu flattens Rooney on a run through the middle!


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