Archive for November, 2011

Thoughts: France Teaches Klinsamerica A Lesson

Tough one.

Can’t call them “snap judgments” because they took way too long. TSG’s Tuesday will be along shortly with the official review.

Here are some thoughts that I want to spill out on the screen. We’ll give it the “Good, Bad, Ugly” treatment because it works well here.

Gloves? Off.

The Good

• Bunker?! Take horse, go to barn….

I’ve read a few places that the United States came out and bunkered yesterday. If that phrase graced your notebook yesterday for the game review, you should be led out to pasture and put out of your misery or at least give me some of what you’re having because the street value must be absolutely tremendous.

For a positive from the United States yesterday, look at the first 45 minutes of the match.

The United States pressed up the pitch on the defense. They deployed a a 4-4-2 from dead ball situations in France’s end.

Here at the 9:10 mark, the US is establishing its defense--HIGH UP THE PITCH. Instead of following runners, the US has effectively said, "We're claiming this area. If you can get it through us, bully for you. If not, over the top you go." Yann M'Vila elects to try and sneak a long pass to a France linking player up the pitch that Beckerman intercepts. As the US continued to press up the pitch, France would adjust and drop players into the midfield for linking and working on the Yanks' right rib cage. -- Ian Darke right afterward on-point, "There's a problem *with the offense*, but nothing wrong defensively"

Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore chased down defenders looking to manage possession and multiple times both Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu made “sprinting jabs” to meet either M’Vila or Diarra who were providing the link to up the pitch.

(Were you watching? Well if you weren’t or called it “bunkering”–just take a look at the heat maps of US backline here OR the defensive tackling of Shea and Altidore here or the origination passing of Bocanegra and Goodson here. You get the picture.)

In this sequence, Kyle Beckerman has already forced a back pass to the wing, where Dempsey pursues. Though late, Edu will react (need to be quicker buddy) and come cover the central player, Altidore is putting pressure high up the on Koscielny. This would qualify as *not bunkering*

With the US advanced, they did a fantastic job of keeping cohesion.

Tim Howard was not forced into making a save until the 22-minute mark against attackers from Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and PSG. He made two “plays” in the first half–though speedy PSG winger Jeremy Menez–who had a terrible haircut and whose game reminded me of Theo Walcott–skied a ball badly on a pivot in the box that a striker would have more than likely deposited in the mesh behind Howard.

That’s three legitimate opportunities. Two of those came after the 37-minute mark and were due to fatigue by Tim Chandler and Steve Cherundolo respectively.

Yes, US didn’t generate chances. We’ll get to that.

For the first 45 minutes however, they forced France to work hard to move the ball out of their own end. France struggled from dead ball positions; they needed quick transitions up Franck Ribery’s flank that put pressure on Clarence Goodson and Steve Cherundolo.

(*Note, you don’t go to Loic Remy in the 2nd half to stretch the defense if you’re not facing pressure in your defensive kitchen and need the opportunity that the over-the-top or the long ball presents….and as the US succumbed to.)

• Without getting hyperbolic, quality from the Dutch man

Jozy Altidore looked like a man focused for a full game for the first time in his international career on Friday or rather perhaps since Rustenburg and with Three Lions running around.

That’s a huge positive for the player TSG refers to as “The Drifter”….in and out of games that is.

Even better? Altidore, in-control, but somewhat manic on defense chasing down defenders in possession. When was the last time you saw Altidore actively look to win possession–consistently? Maybe the Charlie Davies RFK match from October 2009?

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Discussion: USA 0, France 1

For TSG’s USA vs. France preview, go here.

The USA goes up against France today for the first time in international football in more than 30 years. That’s amazing. The work of Jurgen Klinsmann…or?

Media coverage begins at 11:55 with the kickoff five minutes later. Starting line-ups in about an hour or so.

Enjoy the game.

These two are quite familiar with each other and will like go one-v-one often today.


Video Primer: USA vs. France

For TSG’s USA vs. France preview, go here.

Starting line-ups just a few hours away.



For Those That Put On Uniforms….To Protect

A moment of silence and thanks for all who gave to protect the freedoms and lives of their fellow citizens. My grandfather.

Thank you….and may solace come to those who lost loved ones in the name of the country.

Happy Veteran’s Day.

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Video: Le Professeur On The Rooster

Arsene Wenger chats Brek Shea


More: TSG’s Brek Shea Interview

USA vs. France Coverage: On Yohan Cabaye

Newcastle resident Ronan Quinn on one of the eleven that may start versus the States

Cabaye's made a splash already this year by the Tyneside...

TSG’s USA vs. France Preview

With the likes of Andy Carroll, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan and José Enrique all sold since January, many worried about Newcastle’s prospects of survival in the Premier League. As it happens, Newcastle United are sitting third above the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.  And as the USMNT approach their game against France this week, my focus is on one of the central figures of Alan Pardew’s French revolution, Yohan Cabaye.

Replacing any of the aforementioned players was going to be a tough job for anyone, as they were all stars of a successful season for the North-East club last year. Particularly tricky, was the task facing Cabaye who was indirectly replacing captain Kevin Nolan, scorer of a a fantastic 12 goals from midfield and a superb partner for the industrious bulldozer, Cheik Tiote.

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TSG’s Official USA vs. France Preview: The Germans Are Coming!

Storm the beach!

Remember the span of time in 2009–and towards the end of 2010 World Cup qualifying–when the United States had a home match at Rio Tinto against El Salavador before going on the road against a Trinidad & Tobago side whose quality in that game was going to be a crapshoot?

If you recall that match like I do–a missed clearance by Jonathan Bornstein that led to an El Salvadorian goal, a few moments of attacking pressure at the end of the first half which scantily provided the winning difference–than you are quite comfy with at least the notion of new US manager Jurgen Klinsmann attempting to implement a style of play here for the United States in the friendlies leading up to World Cup qualifying.

You may not enjoy the results, but the notion of “trying something new” for a US team that had gotten stale with the similar game planning of the Bruce Arena and Bob Bradley eras is a positive.

Back to the match.

El Salvador, currently ranked #82 in the world by FIFA, came into a hostile environment in Sandy, Utah and nearly etched out a victory. The United States should’ve handily dealt with the mid-level programs from CONCACAF.

Yet, they did not. Victories, while prevalent in the former regime; were hardly ever “without a shadow of a doubt.”

For the bulk of Tim Howard's USMNT career, he's been Travolta dancing to "Staying Alive"

Tim Howard was relied on to be other-worldy rather than “I’m-there-in-case-you-need-me.”

If the average fair like El Salvador challenged the Yanks, its juxtaposition against quality clubs is stark. The US bunkered against power clubs like Brazil and Spain in hopes of snatching a victory by Howard’s paws from the jaws of defeat. The Confederation Cup up to the Argentine friendly earlier this year in New Jersey.

Klinsmann’s directive from USSF doesn’t allow for these displays, but seems to give him some leash with the results. Bradley was tasked with those “results,” Klinsmann is tasked with creating a program. Remember that.

It takes trying new things. It takes trying new personnel and it takes losses–because how can you expect to win outright with a new style, when the old style was familiar and comfortable…and barely got you those results.

The United States will play France (FIFA: #15) this Friday and they will likely lose despite a weakened Les Bleus side.

If they lose with a bunkered-in approach, then you should throw your iPhone against the wall, take the dog for a walk or pound out detested epithets in 140-character intervals on Twitter, because what you’re getting is more of the same. Or rather less of the same, nothing new and no result to boot.

However, if they lose “differently” or with a “we need to try and dictate play” bent, then it’s a matter of continuing to measure incremental improvements, some of which can be qualified tactically: (1) the discovery that it is possible to cover the US’s relatively weak central defense with a single centerback, (2) that it is possible for those same centerbacks to control the ball and enable possession or (3) that it is possible to defend in the opponent’s half.

…And some of which can be qualified personnel-wise: (1) Yes, Kyle Beckerman is able to pass forward effectively under duress (2) Yes, Timmy Chandler can hold down the leftback spot because (3) no Edgar Castillo could not. Or  (3) Yes Clint Dempsey should be moved exlusively inside or (4) yes Michael Orozco may not be the answer, but he has the attributes to allows other defensive and offensive philosophies to manifest.

Klinsmann will not be judged on this camp and he probably won’t be judged by playing the likes of Haiti or Bermuda in the early rounds of qualifying. It’s both a scary feeling, but it’s only through risk–Klinsmann or other–that you gain.

Hey now, slow clap, let’s get on to our customary preview:

About The Opponent: France

New manager Laurent Blanc has taken a measured approach in his first year on the job.

France is looking for a revival.

After a Thierry Henry handball against Ireland enabled the former Euro power to claw their way into World Cup 2010, team dissent with coach Raymond Domenech (pronounced dont-know-much) had players revolting during the tournament.

The days of being part of the higher class of UEFA seemed to have slipped away as harshly with the graceless ending to Zinedine Zidane’s international career–a headbutt to Italian defender Marco Materrazi in a World Cup Final loss in 2006.

France has yet to reclaim the stature they were elevated to 15 seconds before Materrazi whispered something in Zinedine’s ear and the superstar went bezerk.

As France readies for Euro qualifiers, their squad under new mind Laurent Blanc is one that is two states of flux.

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