So I think we owe everyone an apology for the lack of content lately. Charlie has mono and has his work schedule changing, Andy has a head cold and is working on a play, both of us are juggling full-time jobs, soccer practice, girlfriends and injuries/illness...this doesn't mean we don't want to work on the blog...but damn is it hard to find time. Keep an eye out this weekend as we should have some new stuff
Andy – Where do you think you wanna play this weekend?
Charlie – Whaddaya mean?
Andy – Position? 4-3-3?
Charlie – I can’t play this weekend. Mono = enlarged spleen= no contact sports for a month…but right mid/back
Andy – F***, you’re out half the season, essentially
Charlie – Yep, but Meagan made cute hair bows for the cheerleaders, think I might get me one of those
Andy – I was gonna bring you a pea coat and a scarf and you could pretend to be the manager.
Charlie – Yes! And on days when I feel like being sporty, an orange fleece with “CG” on it.
Andy - Not sure I get that reference
Charlie – Everbody gets fleeces with their initials on it
Andy - …ah…I think that will overextend our sponsor’s budget
Charlie – How am I to lead our team if I can’t be comfortable and sporty?!?
Andy – I haven’t the foggiest
Charlie – “Over extended buget…” They said the same thing when I suggested bringing in Rademel Falcao
Andy – How’s your “C’mon lads!”?
Charlie – Throat strong, hearts full
Andy – Spleen enlarged
Charlie – Mono has kept me abreast of Champions League and Europa League. Swansea had a hell of a game
Andy – I regret my cancelling FoxSoccer, but I’m always at work during games
Charlie – Ah, as I would be…if I weren’t infectious…with team spirit
Andy - …you sure you should be at practice today? I mean this is no pink eye…and you ain’t no Landon Donovan
Charlie – Just for the kick around
Andy – Fair enough, we’ll try and not aim for your spleen
Charlie – I say that if the doctor says yes to gentle love making, then kicking a soccer ball around should be just fine
Andy – Did the doctor actually say that?!
Charlie – I asked. Dad was in the room
Andy – Charlie Gilliam: A Man with Priorities
Charlie – And Prednisone coursing through his veins
Andy – That’s not a PED is it? We’re at the top of the table right now, I refuse to let you ruin this for us
Charlie – I can pee for the proper authorities. Like Rio, I may “forget” to show up and then need another couple weeks.
Andy – So you will practice by playing FIFA 14 for the next few weeks
Charlie – I do not have the demo. No internet so far away from civilization
Andy – You are just sad right now, aren’t you?
Charlie – The steroids do weird things to your emotions
Andy – I would hug you, but I don’t want your germs
Charlie – I’m not infectious, come over here and I’ll lick you
Andy - …I need an adult
Arguably one of the great individual triumphs in sports, one of the finest moments of mind over matter in the entire realm of athletic achievements is what is commonly known as "The Flu Game"
1997 NBA Finals, Utah Jazz vs Chicago Bulls, game 5. The series is even at 2 games a piece and Michael Jordan goes absolutely beast while carrying a stomach bug (flu or food poisoning, its still debated). We've all seen the pictures and videos...if you haven't, GTS, but it is probably the most recognizable instance of a professional athlete overcoming illness.
...and then...we have the pink eye game. It was quite clear during the game and has sadly become one of the major talking points after the game, that Landon Donovan was playing with conjunctivitis. Now soccer has always been perceived as a soft option by a lot of American's, mostly because of the whole diving thing...but seriously? Are we really gonna make a big deal out of pink eye? Yes its gross. Yes its highly contagious. But its pink eye. I'd bet there are probably hundreds of cases of pink eye in primary school every single day, its not a big deal.
I do believe we should commend Mr. Donovan for never being caught on camera scratching his eye...but again guys, its just pink eye. Simmer down
Mark it down, September 10, 2013 and the US Men's National Team is on easy street. With 9 months to play till the 2014 World Cup the US has locked down a spot and can spend the rest of their time sifting through hundreds of players to find the ideal 23 man roster to take to the World's biggest stage.
Coach Klinsmann has already said that he fully intends to treat the final two World Cup Qualifiers like any other game, and for the most part he is right to do so since it is so infrequent that these players get a chance to play together. I think however it is foolish to think that we are going to see the same 23 we have seen for the last couple of qualifiers. Lets take a look at the key areas of focus for the Jamaica & Panama games
I would be lying if I said I didn't want to rest key players/world cup locks like Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley, etc. But I also think we need to keep our foot on the gas. Two more wins would be huge for this team moving forward.
Anyway you slice it, these games should be fun to watch, I get the feeling like the Jamaica game may be a huge offensive output from the US especially if Altidore, Dempsey and Donovan are all on the field at the same time.
I feel like we should be drinking wine with this, but we are called pint for the pitch and though I am not opposed to drinking a pint of wine...it may hurt me later that day.
We don't get to talk much about Serie A in this country (unless we are talking Michael Bradley or Serie A teams in Champions league) and that is primarily because of the lack of coverage here in the US. The other thing about this particular matchup is that we here in the US don't talk much about the 3-5-2 formation that both of these teams employ. This one is a big one Juvents vs Inter, La Derby d'Italia. 214 times this game has been played and it has failed to disappoint.
Lets looks at the facts to start with:
On paper it would seem like these two teams are trending in opposite directions. Juventus has a veteran squad that has been together for several years with superstars Gianluigi Buffon in goal and Andrea Pirlo prowling the center of the park. The also have made big moves to bring in Carlos Tevez, the Uruguayan striker joins them from Man City and French U-20 hero Paul Pogba who has featured heavily for this team over the past year and will continue to do so.
Inter on the other hand has lost some of the fire that has been heavily featured at San Siro over the previous decades. Argentine veteran Esteban Cambiasso has been here since 2004 but he is one of the few constants, that also include Diego Milito (injured) and Javier Zanetti. Gone are Samuel Eto'o and Wesley Snejider or their UEFA championship squad in 09-10. This squad has had to make several changes including new head coach Walter Mazzarri. Inter even seems kinda poison on the transfer market, failing to bring in any big name talent from some of the larger clubs in Europre, players preferring to transfer instead to AC Milan, Lazio, Roma or (unfortunately) Juventus.
On paper looking at this match-up, you get really excited about the prospect of Cambiasso vs Pirlo...but you quickly realize it Pogba and Arturo Vidal are gonna get involved heavily in that battle and Inter's other CM's, likely Kovacic and Guarin are not even in the same category as the guys Juve have in their possession hub. The depth and overall talent that Juventus brings to this match cannot be understated, Inter will give them a run for a while because everyone gets up a little more for a derby, but they just can't handle the champions this time around
Ok...no Michael Bradley, no Jozy Altidore, no Matt Beslar and no Geoff Cameron...you guys aren't making this easy for me.
___Clint Dempsey_________Landon Donovan__________Alejandro Bedoya___
_____________Jermaine Jones______________Kyle Beckerman____________
Fabian Johnson___Clarence Goodson___Omar Gonzalez___Michael Parkhurst
But I'm just not certain on any of this. I feel Bedoya and Zusi are pretty inner changeable so lets go ahead and pencil him in just because...lets call it a wild card. Bedoya played well in the Gold Cup against CONCACAF foes (tough of considerably lower quality), Zusi seemed a step slow against Costa Rica, he may still not be 100%, I can see the opposite happening too, Zusi starting and Bedoya coming off the bench, but I'm going with my gut here.
Parkhurst should get the start over Michael Orozco, but Klinsmann's comments in the press conference are a little worrying, don't be surprised if Orozco gets a run out against the nation where he plies his trade.
We need a true striker in this game, Eddie gets the start up top. Donovan and Dempsey should both play the full 90 today too, most importantly I believe one will play just behind EJ and the other will play on the overlap side (for the US under Klinsmann, its the left). Looking back at the US over the past few years, we have always favored overlapping on one side primarily. During Klinsmann with Beasley and Fabian it has been the left, during Bradley with Cherundolo it was the right (as it was with Arena and Frankie Hejduk before Dolo). The reason that Donovan played so well on the right in front of Dolo is because Steve's runs allowed Landon to tuck inside as that third attacker. This is exactly what the US should be looking to do here. Fabian and Eddie Johnson have both done this over the past 3 years, but Dempsey and Donovan are ideal for it.
This does leave a void of position for Fabian Johnson who will move to LB. Beasley's games at LB have been:
Costa Rica - Snow Games, doesn't count, no one played well, junk game
Mexico - Clearly the weak link in the defense, had few good moments
Belgium - Lost 4-2...not a player for these type of games
Germany - Ignored in the first half as they went after newly deputized RB Evans
Jamaica - Weakest team in the Hex, didn't play that well
Panama - 2nd weakest team in the Hex
Guatemala - Don't make me laugh
Gold Cup - Playing against B-teams, wasn't anywhere close to dominant
Costa Rica - MUGGED ALL GAME LONG
Against real competition, Beasley cannot match up. Fabian should move into defense to help without Michael Bradley in the picture. Run DMB is the back up (fans should expect the same type of national team future from Edgar Castillo, who is a virtually identical player).
Goodson steps in obviously for Beslar.
Taking over for Bradley, reports are that Kyle Beckerman will likely get the run-out. He has experience, he's played against Mexico before and US fans should feel comfortable with him sitting right in front of the back 4 and destroying. Jones will be given a little bit more freedom...which suits him.
Aron Johannsson should come off the bench late. Brad Davis or Jose Torres, Corona or Zusi/Bedoya. Mix probably doesn't play in this one.
1-0 US win. Goal coming late in the second half. Mexico is in too much disarray to pull this one out
Yikes, what an ugly first half of soccer. I just want to go over a few things that should be pointed out in this game.
Honestly, I'm kinda relieved. The pressure of the win streak is off, so the guys can kinda just go out and play. I think it means more to the US to clinch at home against Mexico than on the road against Costa Rica.
Notes coming into Mexico:
Lets just right into this, shall we.
Tim Howard, GK - Hasn't lost either of his jobs yet, had a few big moments against Bosnia & Herzegovina with an CB pairing that had never played together before. Its hard to unseat the Vice-Captain
Brad Guzan, GK - I want to make a film reel that just has Brad following Tim around with the Jaws Theme in the background. Guzan started his season tremendously with a big win over Arsenal, how many times does that need to happen before he is the guy
Nick Rimando, GK - Injury is the only thing keeping this vet off the roster, he is having a tremendous MLS season.
Matt Beslar, D - His spot wasn't really threatened by the two guys from the high leagues during the B&H game. He is still the best defensive reader on the roster
DaMarcus Beasley, D - I really hope we play some European friendlies in November. Run DMB is benefitting mostly from Fabian Johnson's great performances at LM, rather than LB.
Omar Gonzalez, D - Goal against Roma. Goal against Juventus. New DP contract with the Galaxy, this kid is on top of the world, time to keep showing strong and he jumps up a few more spots.
Fabian Johnson, D - Still listing him as a defender for now, it will depend entirely on how Dempsey, Donovan, Zusi and what the heck Eddie Johnson get positioned come the September friendlies.
Geoff Cameron, D - Weak game against B&H, might end up just being a reserve from here on out, go thing he can play like 5 positions. If he would just commit to getting better in attack he might lock down the starting RB job.
Clarence Goodson, D - Great Gold Cup, starting to hit some consistency with San Jose. Stays on the roster because he is the veteran presence they need, the camp battle for the starting job could be very interesting
Brad Evans, D - Means a lot that Klinsmann started him against B&H, we may just be stuck with him because we don't have a lot of time left (Granted, we did start Robbie Findley during the 2010 World Cup with virtually no experience).
Michael Bradley, M - Actions speak louder than words. We win when Bradley plays well, and Bradley pretty much always plays well.
Graham Zusi, M - Going to Brazil, should start at RM. 3 Assists for the US in WCQ.
Mix Diskerud, M - Did not have a stellar game against B&H but his work ethic and creativity make him something special. The team needs a CM who is a creator and without Holden on the team, he might be the guy. I really want to see him play side-by-side with Michael Bradley
Jermaine Jones, M - Rough game against Bosnia, looks very much like the weak link in the midfield, but will have to be supplanted by someone else as nothing is going to be taken from him easily (see Mix)
Brek Shea, M - Needs to get healthy and play for Stoke, but he is so dynamic off the bench, he truly deserves the call-up.
Alejandro Bedoya, M - Bumps Corona off the list, a true winger with great pace and athleticism. Will stretch a defense in a way that Corona never will. Probably the true back-up to Zusi out at RM.
Maurice Edu, M - The longer he is off the field, the more his stock will fall. Beckerman and Danny Williams might prove tempting alternatives if he doesn't find playing time soon.
Jozy Altidore, F - Did anyone expect Jozy to score off that set piece? Wow, this kid is so good, and at his age, he may get better yet.
Eddie Johnson, F - Played much better when put up top with Jozy in the 4-4-2 second half against Bosnia. 6 Goals in the last year are pretty good for a guy who disappeared from the team for years
Landon Donovan, F - Scoring touch carried over to LA now too. He's got to be a lock, the question is where does he play come 9/6
Clint Dempsey, F - Dempsey is still on the roster, but I feel he drops a bit. Not because of his move to Seattle, I just think you go with who is hot right now, and Dempsey disappeared during most of the Hex games in June, I can easily see Donovan moving into his withdrawn striker role and Dempsey sliding outside (seems more likely thatn many of the other options)
Aron Johannsson, F - Played less than 30 minutes against B&H, but was a wonderful spark for the squad, I think he earned another call-up...and I think future call-ups will result in his inclusion in the squad...that kid is going to need some sunscreen for Brazil.
Terrence Boyd, F - Still on a tear in Austria, recovered quickly from his injury, needs playing time at the International level. Gomez, Agudelo & Wondo all have more experience with the USMNT and that might matter
And now for the next 12. Remember we are going off of a potential 35 man preliminary camp to decide who will be on the 23 man roster for Brazil
Michael Parkhurst, D - Still not getting playing time, still the next guy on the call sheet for RB. He is an injury away from a World Cup roster spot. If he starts against Costa Rica or Mexico he might help solidify his claim
Kyle Beckerman, M - Good Gold Cup, solid MLS season, Edu recovering. He is back in the mix and is in serious contention to be that back-up holding mid.
Joe Corona, M - Very telling that he isn't on the roster for the next round of WCQ's. Bedoya, Zusi, Donovan and Dempsey are better. Should be primed for 2018
Sean Johnson, G - See last month. Rimando will have the job unless Klinsmann goes young, in which case Johnson is the best option
Hercules Gomez, F - Johannsson's emergence, Donovan's return and Boyd's youth will keep him off this roster, even when he gets healthy again
Jose Torres, M - Diskerud & Bedoya's emergence and Klinsmann's preference of Fabian Johnson or Brek Shea on the left are a serious blow to Torres
Chris Wondolowski, F - Finally found his scoring boots in MLS, but is buried behind strikers with a better pedigree
John Anthony Brooks, D - Are we still including the "Anthony"? Goodson's chances are hurt by not getting the WCQ call-up, still may decide not to play for the US which is the only thing keeping him in the 12 cut.
Edgar Castillo, D - I really don't see how this guy is still around. Had a good game against Bosnia...but I'm not sold on the guy. If Fabian gets shuffled back to D in the next few months, Castillo is gone.
Sacha Kljestan, M - Makes his debut on the list, I lump him in with Torres in the "not doing enough offensively or defensive, good in possession, good on a set piece, not a dominant athlete" category. Great distributor, but only good in the middle and is buried on the depth chart.
Michael Orozco Fiscal, D - Keeps fighting his way into rosters, his versatility will help him, maybe with Evans out he'll get a look at RB like I've been saying for 12 months
Timmy Chandler, D - I don't want him on this list anymore, but until RB gets locked down he will always be on this list...get your head right Timmy
I could include a few more like Agudelo, Cherundolo, and Danny Williams but I won't. Enjoy, share your own opinions, I'll see you next month.
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