Posts Tagged ‘David Beckham’

Monday-P-L: Specs Gets In, More…

We’ll just use this column today to update Americans in the Premiership and all other mild goings-on during a global holiday week.

Specs: Shaky in return at LB today

• One game in the book thus far, Jonathan Spector subbed in for Herita Ilunga at leftback in the 20th min. Specs, who’s been per our last columns, the 5th defender looked a little bit rusty and slow.. He did however, get beat for a Jermain Defoe strike attempt that Defoe rushed to the rebound and knocked home late in the 2nd of the 2-0 loss.

Specs is looking more and more like a central defender to me these days or a right back that needs cover in defending against the Defoes and Robinhos of the world.

Another game note, TSG fave Luka Modric (pictured as well) had a beaut of a goal in his first starting assignment since coming back from a broken leg.

Clint Dempsey is playing a more reserved role on the left flank today against Chelsea. Zoltan Gera has gone up to the forward role and already produced, giving Fulham a 1-0 lead 20 mins in at the Bridge. Dempsey would have gotten beat up on his crossing and down the line runs today against the Blues. Update: 2-1 Drogba, with an onslaught by Chelsea in the 70th minute decade. Goal for Didier, own goal on Smalling for Fulham. 2-1 Blues.

• Hurry up Landon Donovan, it took Everton 82 minutes, the last 20 or so with Burnley down a man to score at home against the EPL newcomers. Yikes! Disclaimer in that Luis Saha is out of the 18 for this one–shows you his impact. The game closes 2-0 Everton, seven saves for Big Timmy Howard and a late goal from South African Steven Pienaar.

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The Opposition: The Case for Becks

The grinch in me is really coming out over the holiday season. Not sure why that is.

My leading thought coming into this column: 73% of me thinks that the complete about-face in David Beckham’s play for the Galaxy this past season–once rumored loan agreements weren’t reached–was motivated from a desire to show Fabio Capello he’s still a player and still a team player.

I wonder, actually, how Galaxy fans feel about that statement.

Nevertheless, Mr. Spice certainly showed that he can still play this year. Not only play, but impact a game (albeit in the MLS) and impact a game even when hurt. Now if Becks is hurt, he’s not going to make South Africa, but any coach wants to know if a contributing team member can still make it happen under duress.

The case for me though is clear. David Beckham’s position for the England national team should already be solidified.

Let’s consider why:

Pitch skills: Primarily, David Beckham is still one of the world’s best “special teams” players. My first recollection of England’s 2006 WC campaign is Wayne Rooney exiting the pitch due to immaturity (on his part and Ronaldo’s part). My second memory: England’s one dimensional attack of Aaron Lennon and Aaron Lennon alone when they couldn’t get the ball successfully to Shrekman Rooney. My third memory, Beckham coming in for a few late game cameos and immediately changing the complexion of the game.

Beckham is still a difference maker. He can’t do it for nearly as long as he used too and his percentage of execution is lower, but he’s still a difference maker. He’s also still up there with the best free kickers in the world (Ronaldo, Danny Alves).

Will Beckham be fit, loan and contribute at Milan in '10?

You don’t need Becks for back-up duty. You need him for an acute skillset that no one else gives you on that team besides maybe Gerrard. And we all know Gerrard’s international record.

Player knowledge: In the past decade, David Beckham has played in the EPL, La Liga, MLS and Serie A. He’s played with the likes of Ronaldinho, Kaka, Sergio Ramos and a host of other players that will factor for their national teams. TSG is not running the math here, but we’re guessing that for club and country, Beckham’s played against at least 50% of the UEFA-representing World Cup starters.

Acutely in the group stage, Beckham would and should be there in the ear of Glen Johnson, as England takes on the States communicating attacking tendencies of one Landon Donovan.

Media Deflection: Next, bringing Beckham deflects attention from your team’s play. With Beckham in the mix, you know that every reporter is going be clamoring for his take on England’s progression. Having Beckham in the locker room to absorb the barrage of press inquiries will be good for the other players and the team.

Imagine if Becks doesn’t come for the home side. Who answers the hard questions after an England loss or draw in the group stage? Wayne Rooney, John Terry. And doesn’t then all of the reporting on England focus squarely on their game performance alone, not the global magnetism of Beckham’s take on the situation?

Further David Beckham beyond deflecting and navigating the media will arguably be treated less harshly should England falter in the early going–not least because he won’t be playing a bulk of the minutes. That shelters the team as well.

The case against Beckham? We can’t think of it.

We made it until the end without even mentioning 2018.

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: 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.

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Galaxy-Chivas: Hardly a SuperClassico

Update: Post victory for the Galaxy, David Beckham decided not to give it a go for club and country, by removing himself from Fabio Capella’s side for this coming Sunday’s friendly with Brazil. It’s a good move by Beckham and a bigger one than you might surmise as Beckham wants to obviously make the squad, some suggest that he needs to be putting in time at an overseas club and finally because it may threaten his go at the England cap record.


It’s the Herbalifes vs. Sunderland L.A. and I’ve got my bottle of Barbaroja Argentinian Red Ale and I’m ready to go.

TSG finally made it back to the MLS playoffs after watching the inaugural Sounder-Dynamo affair in Emerald City. Kevin, Antonio, start the discussion in the comments and please rip me apart for the “novi” comments.


Two reasons the Galaxy came out on top

A 1-0 grind-it-out win for Donovan and company that saw Los Angeles keep more possession in midfield and play more consistently in the back than Chivas. Does anyone actually call Chivas the Goats? Is that a real nickname?

Here are our observations, rudimentary as they might be, on a game where LA pushed the ball to Beckham to create opportunities and Chicago did not really string anything together more than a few sprinting counters toward the middle/end of the 1st half.


• Thank you, thank you ESPN Soccernet. Nothing interesting on the game in your pre-game columns and then I go to look at the start time of the match and you’re match card says 19:30 EST (7:30 EST). So I tune in and I’m subjected to a pre-game that not only did I not have time for, but that I really didn’t want to see. I walk away thinking the game now starts at 8pm EST–I come back at about 7:50 and it’s 9 minutes in. Disservice.

• Carey Talley, sir. You are a defender. You are a captain. You are from Tennesse, not South America. You don’t have long enough hair. And you probably don’t score.


Let me spell it out Talley: L-O-S-E T-H-E M-A-N-B-A-N-D

Lose the manband!

You’re a captain for chrissakes. After the manband and the yellow card in the first half, I hoped for a better second half for you that allows you to sport that extra non-essential accessory. Not sure you earned it in your team’s finale.

• I’m sorry, I see Bruce Arena and I don’t think, “former USMNT coach” or “former Virgina coach.” I think “Ba-Ba-


TSG presents, "You make the call." Gary Dell'Abate or Bruce Arena?


• I think Jonathan Bornstein *is* going to make it there. “There” being a quality defender. He has the tools and I can see growth in his game. I’d like to see him play with more confidence and, most importantly, lose the silly “non-fundamentals” plays.  Bornstein went to his dominant foot to make a clearance midway through the first half and cleared the ball right into Edson Buddle’s arm (could have been his Buddle’s head and could have been a goal). Great play (and speed) getting back to disrupt the play for Bornstein–but a horrendous decision. C’mon Johnny, be good.

• Sacha Kljestan is just an unbelievably inconsistent player. Laid into a 30-yarder and nearly scored in the first half, but also had worse than a Clint-

San Jose Earthquakes vs Chivas USA

TSG to Kljestan: You have not arrived yet. Quit the antics.

Dempsey-against-El-Salavador giveaway in his own end that led to a good chance for the Galaxy. I expect more from Kljestan. You haven’t “arrived.” So you don’t get to yell at officials and you don’t get to be nonchalant on the field. We need some visionary midfield play on the USMNT, but you’ve got to improve.

And once again, Taylor Twellman agrees with TSG; this time on SK.

• Speaking of Kljestan, Preki had him out wide to start both halves. I’m not sure if he was trying to force Arena and LA to chance tactics when he brings him later in the half, but the Serbian-American is clearly a central midfielder, not a winger. The ploy didn’t work and also robbed Chivas of midfield linking.

• It is easy to see how Beckham’s upbringing and quality create opportunities for Los Angeles. Simple, effective, visionary passes. The ball obviously to Donovan before the penalty was a “maybe four players in the world can see and do that” ball. I love how Beckham uses the threat of his longball to create spacing. I wish I was a young player and could learn from him.

• I saw Omar Gonazlez’s potential, but I saw a lot more of his youth today. He’ll get there too.

• I expected more from Landon tonight. He’s categorically a threat, but don’t try to make the perfect pass or shot, just rip it. What did you see? Still an effective game for Captain America.

• Cuesta,who I criticized last week, is a yellow card waiting to happen for Chivas. The central defender needs to think a bit more before he acts. Reminds me of a Titus Bramble, minus some pounds. (Update: Learned that Cuesta committed the foul for the penalty kick. Be discreet lad!)

• Extremely surprised at the space through the middle of the field and the midfield. More surprised that neither team capitalized.


Preki: What could have been...

• Mike McGee taken off in the 86th minute, about 85 minutes too late. A few simple passes would have unlocked a lot more Landycakes tonight.

• John Harkes, please explain what you meant by this:

• 78th min. Harkes, “Beckham’s coming out. You’ve got think of the next game. He’s got 5 days to get ready and he’s got to play more this season. He’s got to remember that, not Brazil (England nattie friendly).”

• 85th min. Harkes, “Beckham must have been really hurt. I guarantee you he’s only thinking about this game. This is the one that matter.”

Um, yeah.

• “Loved” the fisticuffs at the end of the game. What the h*ll was Preki doing out there? I love when players mix it up after the game knowing full well that nothing is going to happen. Real tough.

• What I (actually) loved more was Donovan being the last one to leave the field and cheering on all the Galaxy fans. Class.

Thanks TSG readers for getting me into the MLS playoffs.

November Weekending: TSG and You

I’m ran out of creative titles for our weekend piece a long time ago. What I have not run out of is cheesy “soccer globe” pictures at my brothers request.


Mark's favorite soccer globe #7

Away we go….

First a big thank you to all of you that nominated TSG for best soccer blog on, especially whoever left the fantastic comment. Like we said earlier this week, we’re going to bring this one home like’s it’s a Champion’s Cup for the fans….FOR THE FANS DAMNIT!

Second, a happy birthday to one Josmer Volmy Altidore. Next time we chuck some flack at JZA, let’s remember that he’s, still, not legally allowed to consume alcohol in the States. Happy 20th to the USMNT big man, let’s hope he unwraps a start this weekend.

• Can’t start off the weekend without commenting on the Columbus Crew having time to hit the links before the frost appears in November.  I wonder what the odds were in Vegas (if they run them) that the Crew, with their typically brick wall backline, would give up three unanswered to Real Salt Lake. Applause to RSL as they finally played a tough game on the road in Abercrombie country. More notes:

» Poor fan favorite Frankie Haircut did not help the cause for the home side Thursday evening and I place the blame squarely here. Kidding.

» Taylor Twellman has his own candid assessment of why Columbus exited.

» The piece I wanted to write comprehensively today was on a Chad Marshall. The Stanford grad earned his second straight MLS defender of


The 6'4'' needs to take on bigger targetmen

the year award this week which begs the obvious question, “Whither Europe, Chad?” Beyond Marshall’s stoic on-ball defense, TSG has been consistently and pleasantly surprised by Marshall’s deceptive speed and ball distribution (a trait sorely lacking on the USMNT) from the central defense. A move to Europe–Marshall trialed in Germany last year–would be as good a measurement for Marshall as for the MLS. Can the best MLS defender rise to a top squad in Europe? We’re betting on you Chad.

Oh and slight positive for the USMNT here. Big Chad’s schedule (as well as Robbie Rogers’s) is now wide open for Slovakia and Denmark.

• Forget if Saturday or Sunday is the better soccer day this weekend, you just don’t want to miss the EPL showdown between Chelsea and Manchester United.

» The first question in this one is undoubtedly going to be: “Can the Red Devils much maligned defense handle the attack of Drogba and Anelka?” It’s very possible that both Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic will watch this one from the sidelines. That would leave a somewhat capable, but less experienced duo of Wes Brown and Johnny Evans deputizing in the middle.

I’m more worried about the pace of Anelka in this one as I think Brown and O’Shea can, at least somewhat, contain Drogba on United’s right side.

» I’ve been very impressed with Michael Essien (as always) this year, but also Branislav Ivanovic who is filled in more than capably for the


Le Sulk will need to put on Le Show for the home team.

injured Jose Bosingwa at right back for the Blues. Not sure he gets up the pitch this Sunday as he does against weaker sides, but still look out for him.

» I’m beating the same drum again, but again I think the midfield is the difference in this one. TSG has consistently criticized the center of the pitch of Sir Alex, be it the lack of younger talent or just Fergie’s combinations. Against a very formidable midpitch of Lampard, Essien, Ballack and likely Joe Cole, Man U will have to work very hard to link passes up the field and get the ball to Wayne Rooney. I expect Ferguson to start Scholes and Carrick in the midfield, but I’d really like to see Darren Fletcher and Anderson, especially, in there to start. Although Scholes has the vision to unlock a game like this, I don’t think he has the consistency anymore and I’m not sure his he can handle the physical play of Lampard and Essien. Additionally, I think Man U’s best shot at ball movement is the wings with Nani and Antonio Valencia.

» Don’t forget to pop over here if you’re in SF for the match and some FIFA.

• Sunday should also give USMNT fans yet another reason to tune in with Hull City (JZA) playing at Stoke City, West Ham (Spector) playing at Everton (Howard) and Fulham (Demps/EJ) traveling to Wigan. Would love to see Jozy taking some shots on Thomas Sorensen.

• And if the EPL is not enough, (the) MLS brings us the second leg of Dynamo-Sounders and Galaxy-Chivas. The Houston home game should have

MLS Earthquakes Galaxy Soccer

Um, where do you want me now coach?

some fireworks given the chippy play throughout the opener. Houston will definitely be looking to come in and show a lot more consistency than they did up in Emerald City. As for Chivas-Galaxy let’s just hope for a better defensive affair…well and actually better coaching from Bruce Arena.

Arena kept moving Beckham all over the pitch last Sunday, trying to free up the Spice Man for some service. Alas, I think all it did was throw the offense out of whack for the Galaxy. Any thoughts here?

• Back to Saturday, tune into Tottenham vs. Sunderland. While Man U-Chelsea is certainly the marquee match-up, Tottenhan will be looking to rebound against a suprisingly strong side from Steve Bruce. If Sunderland can right itself against inferior opponents, they’re strong enough to get a shot at qualifying for the Europa Cup come campaigns’ end.

Alas the Black Cats enter the game without striker Kenwyne Jones, who was just a moron in not containing himself last weekend as West Ham defender Herita Ilunga did his best fish-out-of-water routine, and Lee Cattermole who sustained an injury as is probably a bigger loss.

Oh and someone needs to clue in Harry Rednapp that his talent needs are in goal and defense, categorically not on the offensive end. Van Nistelroy? Pass.

Probably would have been good to hold on to Darren Bent though. Let’s predict Bent’s twitter message: “Just a draw man. But Harry knows he screw’d up. Nice to stick one home back at White Hart. Fools….”

• In the last game Saturday, Wolverhampton entertain Arsenal. After Wenger’s squad shellacked Hotspur last week, look for Arsenal to hang a 3 or 4 spot going away. Let’s just hope it’s not against USMNTer Marcus Hahnemann.

We’ll update this piece more as the day goes on….

Oh, two weeks to playoffs and in the Bundestinysanfrancisco League, the San Francisco Black Sox have new unis and merch and a commanding lead in the standings, positive 28 goal difference in 6 games. Keep it up Sox. If you like the logo, go right ahead and sport it–we don’t make a nickel.


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