Random Musings: ‘Pool, Davies, More…

Moving day here at TSG. Just going to link you up with a few pieces and observations.

Let’s just get back in the swing of things with some random musings on a Monday.

Destined for the top of the 3-6-1

• Liverpool Back To the Vanguard

That’s two games and two wins for Liverpool in their 3-6-1. Faced with having few wingers and few outside backs, Kenny Daglish–nearly a decade removed from his last gig–has stirred the pot in Anfield.

It’s a bold move, one that draws attention to and creates excitement around a team that is only shortly removed from being a year-in, year-out Champion’s League contender.

Wait until Andy Carroll gets employed at the one and can bring the ball down for Saurez, Kuyt and Gerrard.

• Two thoughts for Team USA

Two things that I might consider if I were Coach USA.

(1) All subs sit upstairs until they’re called upon

Yes, I get it. Keeping a sub down on the field level keeps their head in the game, keeps them rooting for their fellow countrymen in this case, and has them immediately close if or when they are to be called on.

But, first, there are only three subs a game in most matches, so that means four players won’t get in and one will likely be the keeper (we’ll get back to that.)

Put them up near the press box in one endzone so they can see tactically see the game better.

First, they’ll get a better understanding of what the coach’s strategy is and whether their compatriots are executing it.

Secondly, they’ll learn what precisely they’re supposed, how they’re supposed to do whatever if they go in.

Beyond the match day, they’ll be able to share things with their teammates in practice that they’ve learned–specifically the keeper–and it will be an overall educational experience.

If you’re like us at TSG, looking at X’s and O’s on a graphic or looking at Tuesday’s photos from Turkey, tell a much better story of what’s occurring.

(2) Bring veterans into camp

Good addition?

One of things I loved about Peter Nowak’s Olympic team in 2008 was his calling in of Brian McBride. You don’t conjure up that type of leadership or calmness that Bake brings, especially with a group of youngsters.

One thing I never understand is why a veteran–ideally one who has tens of caps, competed on the world’s biggest stage and has just grown a smidgen to old for international duty–isn’t called in to camp to show the younger players the way, educate them on the game and provide an example.

Sticking the McBride metaphor, wouldn’t Teal Bunbury, Juan Agudelo or Robbie Findley have benefited if he were to take the trip with them to South Africa. More specifically to Bunbury or Agudelo, are they really going to learn more in camp from a veteran in Robbie or one in Brian McBride.

Of course, there are the argument of merit  and of seeing as many players in possible.

What about Frankie Hedjuk or Eddie Lewis teaching the leftbacks, Gregg Berhalter, the centerbacks or Pablo Mastroeni educating Jeff Larentowicz (okay that doesn’t work.)

You can’t replace experience, but you can learn from it.

• Ben Folds (In) Nine

Pretty certain that any time an MLS team can get take a qualified risk on a player who has achieved in one of Europe’s top leagues, it’s a good situation.

In the flesh in RFK?

Charlie Davies–with a goal today in a scrimmage–is a no-lose proposition for DC United….and Sochaux. For Davies, almost as much so.

First, I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I got over ten emails from DC United fans last week who received calls about their season tickets, or potentially purchasing season tickets, when the Davies trial was announced.

Valuable PR obviously.

On the pitch, Davies needs to be fit and able to contribute. If he’s fit, then he’s only going to get better as the season wears on. Davies’ contribution is one that should be weighed at the end of the season, not the end of the first month.

As for Sochaux, they come out smelling good in the short term as well. They put Davies away from Europe, he gets valuable playing time and he’s out of there for a while.

As for CD9…first, let’s assume that he’s fit and that’s known already by DC United–because if Charlie Davies weren’t to be signed on for the full reasons by DCU that would be a major tomato on Davies’ agent Lyle Yorks.

As long as Davies is as far along as he tweets he is, it should be a win for him as well.

• #ArsenalFail

Thank you Emirates, for proving that the four-goal lead in football is really the most dangerous. Lots of heart by the Tynesiders especially with their leading scorer now gone.

• EPL USMNT midfield Battle Royale

I’ve been watching the various comments on Michael Bradley, Stu Holden, Jermaine Jones and Jonathan Spector–and even Maurice Edu unfold under a few columns here at TSG.

All I’m saying is that Stu Holden has more tackles and more fouls suffered then the entire lot on the season. Will be very interesting in the 2nd stanza here in the EPL with the Americans.

• MLS on schedule: It’s not about the uber-fans…

…and that’s a good a thing.

No doubt the TV contract is holding up–or held up rather–the MLS schedule.

Lot of chatter coming into TSG about the season being less than two months away and still no schedule. Also, lots of folks talking about how they can’t factor in travel plans.

However, MLS knows that the uber-fans will still find a way to get to away games–and won’t go away from MLS because of a delay in the schedule.

Their focus–and rightfully so in my mind–should be on winning new fans with the TV contract and the scheduling. Hopefully, this will be reflected in the announcement out this Thursday.

That said, for the second year in a row, MLS has allowed a negotiation to go down to the wire and missed the opportunity to build positive marketing buzz going into the season. A minor blemish, in TSG’s opinion, for a well-marketed league.

• One American likely in action today…

On a day with a very light schedule, US U-20 squad member Bobby Wood likely to be in the 18 for 1860 Munich.

• Galaxy & Revs: Still Striker Searching

Some buzz a few weeks ago when John Carew’s name came up with a rumored MLS move. In this article, Carew said he, in fact, had an offer from the Galaxy.

Landon Donovan may think the Galaxy have something special going this year, but with Edson Buddle now one goal and one assist into his European holiday the Galaxy are still looking awfully light up top.

And…courtesy MLSSoccer.com where I found this, the Revolution are apparently interested in South African striker Benni McCarthy.


take…. This is the same Benni McCarthy who ate himself out of the EPL and, with the World Cup in his home country forfeited his spot on the national team when he was found sneaking women into his hotel against team rules.

Ask San Jose how an unmotivated, aging striker (Geovanni) works out in MLS. Take a pass Revs.

53 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 12:09 PM

    Has Mr Capello finally lost the plot? How can he call up Kyle Walker after one EPL outing? I know the right-back position is a bit of a problem, but seriously, that’s ridiculous. Even Liverpool’s Martin Kelly or City’s Micah Richards [don’t laugh] would have been a better choice IMHO.

    Also would have liked to see Wilshere – Rodwell playing at the base of midfield. But I guess he has to prepare for the ECQs…


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 12:17 PM

      I feel like Kyle Walker is England’s Jonathan Bornstein. Apt comparison?


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 12:43 PM

        I have only saw extented highlights of the Villa game and a couple of QPR games, so cannot comment – he’s definitely good, but needs to work on his positioning a little and final ball when over-lapping. My gripe is that I think this step up is far too soon for him. He should be in the U21s. One good game for Villa and you’re in the England squad? Do me a favour. If he was that good, Spurs wouldn’t have loaned him out. Also, Alan Hutton is not exactly brilliant, but Harry prefers him to young Walker.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 1:11 PM

      Wilshere-Rodwell-Lampard would be an extremely interesting central spine. And, to be honest, Wilshere is probably better than many of the options Capello is trotting out there in the deep-lying midfield position and I wouldn’t be surprised if Rodwell is too.

      I like Martin Kelly quite a bit. Very impressed by his post-Dalglish form.

      re: the suggestion of bringing in veterans to camp. One coach who’s been very good about bringing veterans of various nationalities into his camps is Thomas Rongen–he’s had Jaime Moreno, Dave van den Bergh, Tab Ramos that I know of recently. I think it’s a good idea.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 1:57 PM

        Agree on Martin Kelly. He’s done really well and I thought he had a good game vs Cole yesterday – certainly wasn’t over-matched.

        I wonder if Darren Bent will ever play well in an England shirt. Not sure what it is, but he always seems to get stage fright and fluff his lines. Got to wonder how many chances Capello will give him. And I suppoose that really highlights the lack of firepower of genuine international class England really have.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 2:10 PM

          I was also interested by Glen Johnson on the left. I’m not a huge fan of him, so maybe I’m biased towards thinking his left back play is fool’s gold–but still, might be something there.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 2:20 PM

          His left foot is decent, but did you notice how many times he had to check back onto his stronger right? If Gerrard plays that left-mid for England (4-2-3-1), you need the LB to overlap…

          Plus he has given away silly fouls because he tackles with his right foot rather than left. Probably be OK vs. teams not in the top 16?


        • Posted by Bode on 2011/02/07 at 2:59 PM

          Some Kelly observations from a Liverpool fan who has been able to see a little bit of the guy:

          He’s tall, pretty fast (doesn’t look fast because he has long strides), and a solid defender. A lot of people have been talking about his offensive game is, but to be honest I don’t think he’s particularly adept on the ball. My observation could be skewed because I naturally compare him to Glen Johnson, but I think he needs to improve his offensive game (he is quite young). However, defensively and “character”-wise, he is excellent. Last season, he was thrown up against it in a Champions League tie against Lyon and acquitted himself well.

          There is some buzz amongst Liverpool fans that he may have a similar career path to Carragher–starting as a fullback but eventually finding his place as a centerback.


  2. Posted by Kyle on 2011/02/07 at 12:48 PM

    Unless of course Davies does well and gets mired in MLS’ transfer fee demands keeping him from getting back to europe


    • Not sure I follow. Sochaux owns Davies’s contract. If signed by DCU he’d be here on loan for 12 months. They can’t keep him here.


      • Posted by John Henry on 2011/02/07 at 1:47 PM

        Supposedly MLS doesn’t do loans unless there’s an option to buy.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 1:49 PM

          Yeah, but there’s an easy workaround to this–just insert a buyout clause that’s so high that it’ll never happen. “Yeah, you can have Davies…for eleventy billion dollars!”


      • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 3:17 PM

        Matt: Apologies I was unclear Davies…

        It is clear however that Sochaux is in a bind with Davies in my opinion. He’s not good enough for the 1st team and clearly better than the reserves. They can’t really send him to another Ligue1 team for fear that if he does produce they wouldn’t look so great

        Going to tier 2 team were he not to produce than the question is can he ever play in Ligue1.

        Additionally, DCU can probably do the best on funds become MLS is probably the only place that Davies serves as a marketing rod.

        Hence my Sochaux point above. Sorry for the lack of clarity.


  3. Posted by Crow on 2011/02/07 at 1:09 PM

    A 3-6-1. LOL. Maybe Bob Bradley should give it a try!


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 1:59 PM

      I thought it was a 5-4-1 ‘diamond’, which is great with the wingbacks – diamond formations are typically narrow…


    • Posted by Berg on 2011/02/07 at 7:14 PM

      Only if we can get Jozy a tape of Kuyt’s game against Stoke. THAT’S how you play as a hold-up lone striker.


  4. The only game I got to see from the weekend was Fulham/Villa. I thought Kyle Walker looked fast and seems like a promising player, but in all honesty, his shot would have been saved by most EPL keepers. Schwarzer can cover a lot of ground, but his reaction times have to be pretty bad. Dempsey was pretty forgettable in that match as well, except that he managed to come through when it counts in typical Dempsey fashion. I thought it was a fun game… horrible own goal by Paintsil… I mean he basically took a header on his own goal. I wish I had gotten to see 10 or 15 minutes of Bradley Jr, but no such luck.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 2:07 PM

      Was he even in the 18? Has his paperwork come through?


      • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 2:10 PM

        Bradley wasn’t in the 18. Apparently had only practiced w/ Villa at one session. I’ll be more disturbed if the pattern continues next week.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 2:15 PM

          I do think Bradley has his work cut out getting in front of Makoun. Sometimes I keep forgetting that GH managed Lyon [where Makoun played under GH].

          Like I said before, I hope he does get a fair chance and that he takes it and earns himself a contract.


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/02/07 at 3:15 PM

          Have seen Makoun a few times this year and this weekend and he doesn’t impress. Rather weak on the ball and inaccurate passing is what I’ve seen. But Houlier seems to keep his own mind…


      • Posted by Eric on 2011/02/07 at 2:18 PM

        His paperwork had already gone through by match time but he had only practiced with the team for one day. It’s rare for a coach to insert a player into the first team with only one day of practice, unless you’re Fernando Torres.


        • Yep, I wasn’t expecting it, I was just hoping I’d get to see him since I was able to watch the game. Fox Soccer Channel seems to have no rhyme or reason as to which games they show… I think I’ve only been able to catch one or two Bolton games this season.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 2:57 PM

          On Saturday, ESPN2 usually shows the lunchtime game (0730 EST). FSC and FS+ generally show a game at 1000 and 1230, so the choice is pretty good, but somewhat random. But if you’re a supporter of a ‘big team’, they’re the ones that are normally televised. Also, FS+ shows Championship games, so there’s a chance to watch Guzan at Hull City too!


        • Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/02/07 at 3:19 PM

          Anyone else of the mind that Ancellotti’s hand was forced with starting Torres? I cannot imagine that the formation was his idea. Introducing a brand new and pretty tough to execute formation with one practice just doesn’t sound like his style.
          But then again from a tactical standpoint he cannot stop making Kalou his first sub either in spite of his lack of form.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 3:36 PM

          Nah–Ancelotti likes the diamond. Tried it out when he first arrived at Chelsea and used it often when at Milan.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/02/07 at 3:42 PM

          Chelsea have played the diamond formation /4-3-1-2 a fair bit under Ancelotti, no? My bemusement is playing Anelka at the top of the diamond. He’s done OK but he is an out and out striker, rather than a ‘second’ striker. Would of thought Lampard would be taylor made to play that position, but that’s just me.


  5. Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 2:09 PM

    BTW, Wood came in in the 88′ while 1860 chased a goal for the win. Only 2 minutes stoppage time at the end of the game, which seems very low. Didn’t get many touches and mostly misplayed them (intercepted by opponents; one of them started a break for the wrong team)–he was trying out combinations that the defense was too fast for. A speed of play/thought issue, I think. Seems to have a good touch, and had a nice off-ball run where his acceleration looked good. We’ll see.


  6. Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/07 at 3:16 PM

    mcbride on the olympic team was a big mistake for us soccer. it might have been a nice for brian mcbride and family, but us soccer would have been much better taking a younger player. what did mcbride bring in the way of leadership, we got a crushing red in the importaint 3rd game and we could not hold the lead in the second game.

    hopefully usa will use future choice not to send some player on a farewell tour, or whatever the heck that was. it was a blown opportunity not to give a forward a shot who might actually see playing time in the future, say, charlie davies. or maybe kenny cooper or ej would have been better choices then a thirty five year old.

    if you want leadership from older players, then make them coaches.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 3:22 PM

      Disagree here, but you’re accurate on the analogy.

      All I’m saying is bring the player to camp–whether by coach, player-coach or player.

      My argument goes like this. Bob Bradley washed through I think 92 players last cycle. I believe only Maradona looked at more (that may be in accurate).

      I would rather the US look at less fringe players–like, say, a Kevin Alston or Marvell Wynne–and cultivate fewer players just a little more.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 3:37 PM

        How much are the numbers inflated by Camp Cupcake–we’re the only country to do that–and the second Gold Cup run (the only country, I believe, to have a continental tournament the same year as the Confed Cup, with the attendant B-team issues)?


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/07 at 5:33 PM

          whats your point ddt?


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2011/02/07 at 5:57 PM

          I think that was the point of Matt’s comment. The 22nd and 23rd guys on the camp cupcake roster have a 0.001% chance of playing meaningful A team minutes. Rather than send Larentowicz to South Africa trip why not bring in Mastro. Ignoring his penchant for bad/cheap cards he should be able to teach Dax something over the length of the camp. That item would be beneficial for Dax going forward where as Larentowicz contributed nothing going forward.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/07 at 7:19 PM

          see, now you guys are trying to make the us player pool smaller and smaller. and i just dont get it. lets take the oldest players and the youngers players and forget the ones in the middle. it reminds me of the old hot dog movie with rudy garmish.


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/07 at 5:51 PM

        so matthew, you are saying that a country with a huge player pool should look at less players and cultivate the ones that are “chosen”. im serious now, because total football took a serious blow this weekend when it gave up a four goal lead.

        marvell wynne is getting selected for the us team not because he is fast, but because he is a good defender, please dont let anyone else try and tell you any different. that would be a real disservice to what these guys are trying to accomplish. you have to say that lichaj may be good, but he is being passed over for other players right now and his stock is not what it was last month, when he was FOTM. matt honestly, were you even remotely embarassed by marvells performace at the 08 olympics, or were you proud of his performance and verve?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 6:15 PM

          As is always the case, I never look at observations in isolation.

          When Eric Lichaj snuffed out Gareth Bale a few weeks ago, it was one performance…as was the following one when he got manhandled by Manchester City.

          With Marvell Wynne, I think the book is on him. He’s very good when he’s tethered to one responsibility with capable defenders around him.

          By and large that works in MLS, because the quality around him is very good versus the opposition. Take it to the international level and suddenly the quality around him is a little more inconsistent and he performs just as inconsistently if not more so.

          Everyone has “their” player where they make a statement like “if he can just grasp his talent, his game” he’s got all the skill in the world.

          Whether it’s in football (Vince Young) or basketball (Marvin Williams, Hasheem Thabeet)…everyone picks a player where they just say, “If they ever get that IQ they’re going to be monstrous.”

          Some players put it together, others don’t.

          For Wynne, he’s got superior strength and catch-up speed which he relies on rather than uses only when he needs to. In the Olympics those attributes were just that much more superior.


        • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/07 at 7:26 PM

          dont forget that when lichaj “snuffed” out bale, tottenham was playing with ten players. think about it matthew, wynne is playing center back for the team that won the mls cup, with another center back in moor, who is not even really center back, just like edu is not really a center back either, but marvell played in the same backline with him at the olympics.


  7. Posted by JasonPrice on 2011/02/07 at 4:42 PM

    Man, the Revs are going to be awful this year.


  8. Posted by Ryan R. on 2011/02/07 at 4:45 PM

    Not quite no lose for DC. If Davies can’t cut it, they get no production and have used up their top allocation spot. What DC needs to figure out is whether they think CD9 will be better than the next US international that comes into the league and they want to sign.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 4:56 PM

      Nearly no lose.

      First, any other striker is undoubtedly going to cost you as much if not more AND is very hard to find.

      Look at Thierry Henry–arguably the best striker to come into this league whether through injury or lack of motivation his on field exploits didn’t match his hype or contract.

      Then if you take a look around the league, there is really no situation where a team is settled at the long term for striker beyond, maybe, RSL and Philly if you consider Le Toux a striker.

      Freddy Montero has been rumored to move on for some time. Omar Cummings was a work permit away from a loan away from Colorado. Edson Buddle has moved on.

      Chris Wondolowski needs to duplicate his work.

      Not really do you get down to Justin Braun (who still wants to play in Europe) or Brian Ching…not long for many more years do you find a team set at striker (byeond RSL/Philly).

      If Davies is fit, that’s a hell of a pick-up. If he’s not fit, he doesn’t get signed. If he’s fit and doesn’t produce, thats you’re only risk and this week should give some indication of that.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 4:57 PM

      I didn’t even mention the Landin bomb for the Dynamo last year either.


  9. Posted by dth on 2011/02/07 at 6:12 PM

    So…Andy Najar is polling Twitter about his national team choice:



    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/02/07 at 6:15 PM

      Saw that. Doubt it’s serious and I doubt he’s really taking a ton of advice from it. He’s all of, what, 17? :>


    • One of his most recent tweets on the subject:

      “Honduras winning, usa ganando, Honduras, usa , Honduras ……..el ganador es DC UNITED!!!!!”


      • Posted by dikranovich on 2011/02/08 at 10:42 AM

        he should play for honduras. it would help raise the profile of cocacaf overall. he is a great player and maybe usa could use him, but really we will produce more top players. go play for honduras najar and keep doing nice things with dc united.


    • Posted by Steve Trittschuh on 2011/02/07 at 7:31 PM

      Look Andy, the choice is simple. If you never want to make the World Cup: Honduras. If you want to make the World Cup every cycle: USA.


  10. Posted by scweeb on 2011/02/07 at 8:22 PM

    I love the idea of bringing Mcbride in to the camps! He can teach so much to are younger forwards coming up.


  11. Posted by chris on 2011/02/08 at 7:05 AM

    so whats the timing on the schedule,
    im coming to LA in april and want to go to a Galaxy game,
    when will i find out?


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