TSG Weekend Roundtable: England & You

TSG has been going full blast as we doctor up Operation schematics, cover the USMNT, prep our March Boarding Passes for the US Roster for South Africa, and get ready to unveil our Brian Ching Big Aloha shirt (coming soon).

Our 2nd Roundtable: All analysis, no oreo cookies...

In that vain, we asked some regular contributors to weigh in this week and help contribute to our weekend column. This roundtable’s theme: “England & You.”

First some introductions:

He’s a contributor to many a publication online, including EPL Talk and the San Diego Examiner, welcome SD resident Richard Farley.

Hailing from San Luis Obispo, the same school that brought you current Everton reserve starter Anton Peterlin, is Matt “Biggy” Biggerstaff. He writes–occasionally at ConstantlyOffsides.com–and sporadically is a good thing as he is gainfully employed by a friend of mine.

Our 3rd guest is Boston soccer man Patrick, a frequent column contributor who always keeps us in the know. Thanks Patrick. He also helped pen one of our most popular pieces: “What is American Brand Soccer?

From Die Hipster Brewing, the guys who brought you Eddie Gaven Pale Ale and will soon bring you a commemorative Jimmy Conrad brew, welcome Scott Riley. By the way, Dax II (Pale Ale) is out…email those guys if you are interested.

And bringing up the rear as always, I’ll contribute a few little bullets here and there.

Disclaimer: Most views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, The Shin Guardian….unless you think they’re really good.

Away we go:

Which one USMNT player would you like to see in the EPL specifically, playing to improve his abilities come World Cup 2010 who is not currently over there?

The new Maynor of Wigan?

Richard: Tossing out players who are too old and discarding players who would not see time in the EPL, Michael Bradley might be the choice, though he’s already in a major league.  There would be a whole new set of challenges if Bradley went to (say) Wigan, played for Roberto Martínez, and was coupled with Hendry Thomas.  I’m not sure there’s a logical choice amongst the other 50-or-so players in the set-up.

Biggy, CO: At this point, no one. As seen by Holden, unless a starting lineup spot is a lock, a move is a precarious move to make. Currently I’d much rather have everyone playing with their respective sides, with the emphasis on playing. Hypothetically speaking, Robbie Findley.

Riley, DHB: Does Danny Szetela exist?  Are we flush with medium size fast dudes?  If we are cultivating central defenders, Omar Gonzales from LA seems like he’s got the size and athleticism to compete.  We also need a pure striker but there is isn’t one that comes to mind that is appropriate for the EPL.  We can keep an eye on this Luis Gil guy for RSL as well. (Editor’s note: Hey Riles, you just stole two lines from our March Boarding Pass piece…thanks a lot.)

Matthew, TSG: Honestly, I’d love to see one King of Honduras Jonathan Bornstein man a flank at Emirates with a very offensive team around him. He’s in that Bacary Sagna/Ashley Cole mold in my mind and seems like a Wenger type.


(Saturday) This weekend, Chelsea v. Manchester City….does City have a shot in this one?

Patrick: Every time I look at City’s roster I shake my head — based on that talent they simply should be putting a better product on the pitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if they beat any team in the Premiership, but with Chelsea hungry to get back on track after their setback at Everton, I’d be surprised if this was the week City knocked off a Big Four team.

Tevez/Zabaleta: No joking matter this Saturday...

Richard: Yes, though tactically, it’s difficult to see a plan Mancini can employ to break down Chelsea’s defense.  The aerial threats of Lescott and Adebayor will test Chelsea’s set piece defending.  If Tévez returns, City has their magic man.  A Chelsea team missing Cole, Bosingwa, and Essien will be stretched by Wednesday’s trip to Italy.  I have trouble imagining Chelsea losing this match, but there are a lot of reasons to believe I lack imagination.

Biggy, CO: Yes, without a doubt. Chelsea has been quite inconsistent, and if Tevez is back, watch out. He has been a beast, and City seems to get up for the big ones, and not much else.

Riley, DHB: Not a chance.  Getting dumped by Stoke in the FA cup versus losing to Inter Milan in the CL are two very different things.  Chelsea’s rebound anger vs Citeh’s?  Advantage:  Chelsea.  Wild card:  Does Caveman Anthony Kiedis show up?  Does he want to eat our babies?

(Good thing we put that disclaimer in above because I have no idea what those last questions mean….oh wait…I think he means this..)


USMNT: Having not gotten on the pitch for the senior side (until Wednesday), did Stu Holden make the right move before the World Cup?

Iceman coming...

Riley, DHB: I’m writing this after it looks like he went 90 against Spurs (mixed feelings about him not scoring there :)).  According to Sky, he was the users’ highest-rated Bolton player.  With Bolton probably having to make serious changes to stay out of relegation, we may get more Stu.  Right move Europe? Yes.  Right move Bolton?  He’s in a great spot to let us know based on their situation and Bolton’s game moving away from pure physicality to a bit more attractive football.

Patrick: Holden isn’t Donovan, so expecting him to make an immediate impact at Bolton is overly optimistic. Coyles still believes in him, so let’s give him some time before getting concerned.  Personally, I think his development for the 2014 cycle is most important, and that moving to the EPL is the best possible move for a player with his style and skillset.

Richard: Yes.  Long run, this should make Holden and the USMNT better, though for 2010 it might set him back.  Hopefully, the plan for South Africa will not require significant contributions from Stu.

Coyle acquired Weiss and Wilshire.  With them, it’s difficult to see Holden getting meaningful playing time, particularly since each of Bolton’s remaining matches will be important.  In terms of his career, Stuart had no real choice.  Coyle has liked him for some time and was willing to pave his path into the Premiership.  I’m not sure that opportunity would have always been there, and with the issue surrounding MLS, this was the best option – short and long-term.

Matthew, TSG: My problem here is the glut of midfielders and whether or not Stu knew that was the case before signing. That being said, I think Stu has the talent and the moxie to succeed this year….and I think he’ll be playing a lot on the senior side even this year.

Biggy, CO: Yes. This move is about a lot more than just WC2010 for him. He needed to head abroad and it will pay off in the World Cup, it just might not be until 2014. As important as play time is, considering the MLS would just be ramping up in the next couple months and the possible (#*$%^ forbid) MLS strike, he isn’t missing a ton stateside. His destination might have worked out better but it happens.


(Sunday) Carling Cup Final: Does Aston Villa have a shot against Manchester United? Will they go with Brad Guzan who got them there or go back to first team keeper Brad Friedel for the final?

He should start....

Biggy: Villa has been my favorite team to watch this year outside of Arsenal and not only do they have a chance, but at the right price I would wager money on them to win. Their offense is very dynamic and United can be beaten by just about anyone. I see Friedel starting most likely just based on the fact that it is for some hardware, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it was Guzan.

Richard: Absolutely.  Villa’s taken four points from United and has the defense to neutralize Rooney.  It’s unclear United can find goals on Rooney’s off days (see, Saturday, Goodison).  Villa has the strength on the flanks to match United, potentially using Downing or Young to pin Valencia.

O’Neill switched to Friedel in the last round of the FA Cup.  I think O’Neill does the same here. Penalty kicks? Friedel versus whomever gets Ben Foster’s iPod.

No, he should start...

Patrick: I think the Villains have a lot of respect for Brad Guzan, respect he’s earned throughout the cup and even earlier this season in Italy where he led them to a great win in the Peace Cup.  Friedel has his plate full with Villa’s pursuit of fourth place, so look for Martin O’Neil to stick with Guzan.  As for the game’s result, is anyone willing to bet against Wayne Rooney given his recent run of form?

Riley, DHB: Aston Villa has a shot, even though I’m not as high on them as I was earlier in the season.  If O’Neill agrees with me, he might want to take the best shot at hardware versus banking on a 4th place EPL finish.  If that’s the case, he goes with Friedel and Guzan cries his way to the Newcastle starting 11.  Unless Brad learns the Ohio/British accent soon, he may not want to wait for Friedel to retire (guessing he’s already in the know on that issue).


What’s something else you’re looking for in the EPL this weekend?

Not going to make it through a column these days without a Lanverton mention....

Patrick: Tottenham/Everton.   The Premiership’s hottest team are taking on a club fighting tooth and nail to maintain a top four position in the table.   A win by either team could say a lot about how the table will shape up this year.

Richard: I suppose you have to look at the bottom of the table this weekend, no?  Bolton hosting Wolves and Portsmouth going to Burnley.  If the hosts don’t get three points in these matches, what hopes do they have for winning their relegation battles?

Those matches, plus Arsenal going to the Brittania.  It’s possible Chelsea only gets one from City.  If so, Arsenal can move to within four, provided they avoid replicating their FA Cup result.

Riley, DHB: Spurs/Everton!  Everton are on fire and Spurs figured out that benching Crouchy results in less long-ball and these things called ‘goals’ from a suddenly happy Pavlyuchenko.  My dream (and Fantasy Premier League) scenario: 4-3 Spurs.  Defoe and Modric each with two (assisting each other of course) and Donovan has a hat-trick.  Is that too much to ask?  Also, anyone think that the FSC programmer is a Spurs fan?  Can’t believe how many games they’ve shown this season.  Wife is less than stoked.

Biggy: Will Holden see the pitch is really the main focus along with Spurs v Everton, which has to be the game of the week. An offensive battle, to say the least, Tottenham doesn’t even usually pretend to play D. Should be a good one.


31 responses to this post.

  1. To be perfectly honest, giving Guzan the FA cup start makes me want to qualify my prediction. I’d probably put it as a 60% in favor of Friedel now.


  2. Posted by Skip on 2010/02/25 at 11:11 PM

    For Question #1, I’d love to see Robbie Rogers playing in the EPL. I’m not sure that this would really help him for S. Africa, but he’s at the perfect age to hone his skills in England. He’d fit in well too as he’s an exciting left footer (though solid with both feet) who can cross, take people on and finish from distance.


    • Posted by Antonio H. on 2010/02/25 at 11:29 PM

      I remember roasting on Robbie during the Gold Cup, especially for his performance against Panama. Getting knocked off the ball like Corningham. Appears he’s discovered the weight room. He looks wayyy bigger than 6 months or so agao. Good for him. I think he’d be perfect for the EPL. It’d give him a chance to refine his decision-making, which is always a problem for the youngsters(like me) :>


    • Posted by Jim from NC on 2010/02/26 at 7:40 AM

      I know every one say that Robbie Rogers is left footed, but they need to know the facts. He has a good left foot, but HE says he is right footed (http://www.ussoccer.com/Social/MNT-Blog.aspx?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&UID=1a697a53-a181-4302-aa61-f454d97c88fd&plckPostId=Blog%3A1a697a53-a181-4302-aa61-f454d97c88fdPost%3A3cdf055a-5630-4bc1-9780-f3cbd31dac68&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest).

      Not that I am anywhere near his level but I also am right footed and have worked my left foot to the point that I have fooled people into thinking I am left footed.


    • I think I’d rather see Rogers elsewhere, like Spain where he can work on the technical side of his game. His pace and willingness to bomb the wings are typical EPL style, but since he already has that why not add a different element to his game.

      To answer question #1 I would like to see the Big Aloha and Conor Casey move to England. These are the two hold up forwards we have and neither one is consistently good against top opposition or in clutch situations, Casey’s aberration in Honduras aside. Going to the EPL would refine Ching’s game as well introduce some consistency, but given his age this move wouldn’t benefit the USMNT much past this June & July. My only reason for Casey making the move to the EPL is to get some time in an environment where he has to work his ass off every day to get on the pitch on the weekends, because it appears as though he’s lost that drive to get out there and make things happen.


  3. Posted by Swa on 2010/02/26 at 1:19 AM

    If Charlie Davies could establish himself as a legitimate Premiership striker (at least double digit goals in 38 games), I would program my DeLorean this second for June 2014. The likes of Bent, Saha and Agbonlahor aren’t relied upon by their national sides, but if we had two strikers at that level we would be a force on the international stage.


  4. Posted by kaya on 2010/02/26 at 2:51 PM

    Matt, you know, I love you, I really do… but please add this small item to your grammar/vocabulary (that includes awesomeness like Van Damage.)
    Vain = overly emphasizes appearance or futile
    Vane = blows with the wind
    Vein = thing that blood flows through (and thus what you want to write “in that vein”)

    Part of me doesn’t want any americans to play in the EPL because of the bizarro post-cold war economics battles going on with the ownership a la oligarchs versus the roid-rage adam smiths. Citeh are the new Chelski… but when you hire folks like Adebayor and Tevez, don’t be disappointed to spend the first season in mercenary mode.
    The other part could agree with the Bradley idea.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/02/26 at 3:00 PM

      If you want me fix misspellings Kaya, your subscription is going to go up by $2 a month. :>


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 9:01 AM

      We don’t want the Yanks in the EPL – stay in the MLS!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 9:05 AM

        Too late George….you have the Yanks, the Scots, the Spaniards, the Italians, the Serbs, etc. etc.

        In fact, can I count on two hands the number of starters on the perennial top four squads that are are actually from England.


        Arsenal: 0
        Man United: Rooney, Carrick, Rio (3)
        Chelsea: Lampard, J. Cole, A. Cole, John Terry (4)
        ‘Pool: Glen Johnson, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard (3)

        Oh yes, I can….:>


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 9:27 AM

          I’d add Walcott – he’s generally got the nod when he’s been fit.

          BTW – how many Americans are there in the top four teams (and I will be kind – you can aggregate the players in all of the top / best global leagues)?!?!

          Remember, Howard couldn’t handle it at United and made multiple blunders and howlers in the Calamity James mold, then Spector couldn’t cut the mustard.

          I can count one, but I do not believe he has played a competitive match for them yet…


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 9:52 AM

          And I’ll like to add that I feel going forward it will be a ‘top three’^^, and then another three battling it for 4th – so you should add Tottenham, Villa and Man City for English players.

          I feel that even with City’s financial clout, they will discard Mancini at the end of the season and the new manager will have a clear out and have a rebuilding project and will be in ‘transition’ for 2 seasons, sack the manager, and start again. Unless they can get Mourinho, of course!


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 10:29 AM

          And Walcott is not a starter, Ferdinand shouldn’t be a starter anymore as Johnny Evans has surpassed him, Garragher is a fountain of yellow cards (again yesterday), Joe Cole is only a partial starter.

          So huge haircut on the 10 actually.


        • Posted by Bob on 2010/03/01 at 6:29 PM

          And how many of the top four teams would love to Howard now starting in goal? At least 3 I bet including Sir Alex.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 6:39 PM

          Bob, out of the top teams, Arsenal and Spurs need a reliable stopper. Not sure if Howard could handle the pressure of a top club – he shanked it big time at United 5 or 6 years ago. Perhaps he would handle it now after being in the EPL for a number of years and gaining international experience – who knows?

          Not sure if Howard would get past Van Der Sar, Cech, Reina or Given; they are having very good seasons this year. Freidel has looked a little shakey lately.


          • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 6:40 PM

            C’mon George — you’re kidding…Tim Howard had more clean sheets with a porous defense in front of him last year than any other EPL goaltender I believe with the exception Van Der Saar and Man United (Vidic, Evra).


            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 6:57 PM

              I personally think that Given is the best keeper in the EPL. Matthew, be honest, if you could have ANY keeper in the EPL, would you stick with Howard?

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 7:00 PM

              Right now given and myhill and maybe hart are playing at a higher level. But only right now.

              If I needed a keeper to win an epl game tomorrow I’d have to pick given.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 7:08 PM

              Given has been unbelievable for a number of years. I feel that he never got the recognition during his Newcastle days, and am surprised that he never got snapped up befrore. Hart will be the England keeper after this cycle – but I think it would be beneficial to move to a club where the expectation and pressure is higher (my point re. Howard and United) as playing for England is a massive step up. I would like to see him go to Arsenal.

            • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 8:46 PM

              I think Howard went through a learning experience at Man United.

              You have to remember, the guy went from the MetroStars (who?!) to Manchester United…that’s a bigger step up than Van Der Saar coming from Fulham or Cech coming from Rennes.

              I don’t Howard’s performance at the time was indicative of not being able to handle the pressure so much as not being prepared for the magnitude of it.

              And I can say that because the guy faced a firing squad against Spain and Brazil successively last summer and rose to the occassion…he didnt turn in an OK performance. Think about it if you’re a goalie and you are absolutely getting shelled….

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 9:11 PM

              I agree 98%. I feel pressure and magnitude go hand in hand.

              I think United made a mistake with Howard’s settling in period in the Prem. I feel he should have been loaned out in the first season just to get acclimatised, as like you said, the step up was too great to make immediately. And that’s not a knock on Howard because look at him now. Since Schmeichel, look at how many keepers SAF has tried and discarded? Hopefully when VDS retires, United will have similar trouble finding a keeper!

              I said it before, I hope Howard has a howler on 12th June!! I have visions of him flapping at crosses…

        • Posted by Bob on 2010/03/01 at 6:47 PM

          Don’t forget Chelsea. Cech is out and I am sure Howard could fit in there right now.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 6:52 PM

          Of course Howard is better than Hilario, but would he go to Stamford Bridge to be a No. 2? He’s a very good keeper and is too good not to be a No.1.


        • Posted by Bob on 2010/03/01 at 7:21 PM

          I guess that is my point. Right now (not at the beginning of the table but right now), how many of the top four teams could Howard start for? I would say 3 for sure, and I am not so sure that he could not start for Sir Alex either at the moment.

          The point I guess I am making is that just bc there are no American players with the top 4 clubs does not mean that our best players could not play for and start for the top 4 clubs right now. I bet Wegner is kicking himself for not signing LD to a short term loan. Raf as well.

          I remember just a little over ten years ago, Americans were pounding their chests at how great we were at basketball. “Just look at the Dream Team – no one can beat us ever!” I know we said it bc I used to say it. Then, all of sudden, the world caught up to us playing OUR sport. Just like Brazil, Argentina, France, Germany, and Spain (oops sorry no England) all have NBA players starting for some of the top NBA clubs, we will soon have our top soccer players starting for the top EPL clubs. It is only a matter of time and “Our time is coming!”


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 7:31 PM

          I am not saying Howard is not good enough, just saying he is not better than said keepers, so wouldn’t displace them. I think Dempsey is good enough to play for a team better than Fulham, but I guess it’s easy to hypothesise, right?. As for Donovan for Liverpool or Arsenal, I am not too sure on that one.

          Deng on Chicago Bulls is English.


        • Posted by Bob on 2010/03/01 at 7:50 PM

          Ok. So I guess we agree. Some U.S. players, including LD imo, could play for top 4 EPL teams if given the right opportunity, experience in the EPL (I mean Dempsey sat on the bench for 2 years), etc.

          I’ll give you Deng (forgot about him although the Bulls are not top 4 anymore). But, if the English press is going to keep referring to the “Aberdeen-born” Stuart Holden, then I want to say the “Sudan-born” Deng. Actually, I think it is silly so I won’t do that with Deng. I mean come on, if the press is going to keep that up, why don’t they refer to the “California-born” Myhill?

          Anyway George, I love your commentary and your debate. You are definitely one reason why iI read this site at least two to three times a day.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 8:47 PM

          Thanks Bob, much appreciated.

          I do wonder if Scotland were better, whether Holden would have chosen not to represent USA and done a Rossi. You forgot Canadian-born Hargreaves!


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2010/03/01 at 10:27 AM

        Oh come now…how many English are in the NBA…

        The better question and answer is this:

        % of Americans in the top soccer leagues, rising or falling? Rising
        % of Brits in the top soccer leagues, rising or falling? Falling…

        A more apt data point.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/03/01 at 11:01 AM

          Good point, but the only way is up for the USA! Let’s see what the numbers are like when football in the USA peaks. Plus I don’t particularly like the numbers argument and I agree with Wenger – he said something ages ago about the quality and not quantity when UEFA’ were talking about introducing the 6+5 rule – protectionism protects the weak. If you’re good enough, you’ll succeed. Look at the technical ability of England players today versus 15 years ago; a lot of that stems from playing with the best players at club level.

          What is a more apt data point is the quality of players.

          PS: I don’t care about the RoI, NI, Scots or Welsh!!


  5. I’ll semi fess up to my prediction of Citeh’s chances this weekend:

    “Riley, DHB: Not a chance. Getting dumped by Stoke in the FA cup versus losing to Inter Milan in the CL are two very different things. Chelsea’s rebound anger vs Citeh’s? Advantage: Chelsea. Wild card: Does Caveman Anthony Kiedis show up? Does he want to eat our babies?”

    I claimed that Tevez would be the difference maker (in case you somehow didn’t get that reference) and I’ll stand by his rabid contribution. At the same time, he wasn’t the complete difference maker. Chelsea looked adrift on many levels and the real reason Bridge didn’t shake JT’s hand was due to that freaking hair cut. That thing is unacceptable even in Spain.


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