Archive for February, 2010

March Boarding: Delayed, Cue “The Odds”

On hold...

The 1st of the month in 2010 usually means issuing our monthly World Cup boarding passes.

March Boarding Passes: DELAYED!

However, one problem…the USMNT is currently embarked on a friendly trip to Amsterdam to discover how close or how far they are off world class pace. TSG will also get a little more insight on who’s making that plane as well.

So we’ll delay our boarding passes series and use  March 1st to kick-off a new column here at TSG that we’ll simply call, “The Odds.”

It will go like this, whether within the column or in the comments, odds will be laid down on an event, for example, “A Benny Feilhaber goal against England on June 12th.”

I say “1,000 to 1.” By the feedback we get in the comments, we’ll move the “line” on the event up or down and then publish all the prognostications, likely up top in the navigation bar.

Remember, we need you’re feedback to move the line.

I’ll take a shot at kicking us off in a mini-version here, please contribute yours in the comments:

2 to 1: Landon Donovan gets two or more goals at World Cup 2010.

5 to 1: Steve Cherundolo gets in a game at World Cup 2010 before Jonathan Bornstein.

Even money: US gets beyond the Group Stage at World Cup 2010.

• 10 to 1: Jermaine Jones makes an appearance for Bob Bradley’s squad before June.

10 to 1: Alejandro Bedoya makes the World Cup roster

• 2 to 1: Ricardo Clark starts June 12th

I’ll stop here for now and will blow this concept out, if you like it, in the next column.


5 to 1: Michael Bradley scores in the group stage (B-Mac)

3 to 1: Charlie Davies makes the WC 2010 roster (Evan)

Sunday: Guz To Lift the Cup?, Killer Stu Quote…

Update: Maurice Edu, comes off the bench in the 26th minute, scores the winning goal for Rangers in the Old Firm clash at Ibrox Sunday in the 90th minute. That’s a huge goal for Edu, 1-0 Rangers.

Even more excellent match-ups as Sunday gets going.

• Number one on the docket. Brad Guzan and Brad Friedel go for the hardware at Wembley against Manchester United. Rumors abound that Wayne Rooney might watch this one from the bench. Wow….wasn’t getting knocked out of the FA Cup by Leeds enough for Sir Alex…now he’s risking the Carling. Are we really expecting Dimitar Berbatov….or even Michael Owen to step in and carry the load up top?

Claimin' some hardware?

The one rabbit in Ferguson’s hat…Antonio Valencia has been pummeling the competition lately. He should stay in here.

Here’s some commentary from our roundtable on this one:

Richard, EPL Talk:

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.

You can catch this one on ESPN360 by the way.

Lando takes on 'Arry...

• The last top squad for Landon Donovan and Landy, Tim and crew go White Hart Lane to beat-up on ‘Arry’s Rednapps.

More roundtable commentary:

Riley, Die Hipster Brewing:

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?

A few other notes from this one:

» David Bentley is playing so well in Aaron Lennon’s absence that talk about his getting a look-see on Capello’s side is growing

» Don’t forget to check out Luka Modric, back from injury and starting to meet the expectations and praise lavished on him in 2008.

• The famous Old Firm game goes down at Ibrox on Sunday. It’s the only game on the Sunday SPL schedule and Mo Edu and DaMarcus Beasley will likely be participants.

• Got some free time Sunday? See if you can catch the Bayern Munich match-up with Hamburg. You already know about Arjen Robben who will be terrrorizing Bob Bradley’s side on Wednesday and Mark Van Bommel of Bayern Munich, but do you know about Hamburg defender Joris Mathijsen and the man featured in the clip below? Ankle-breaker Eljero Elia, who will likely start-up top for the Dutchmen.


Saturday follow-ups:


♦ While the soccer world will be buzzing about Ryan Shawcross’s ill-timed, but hardly malicious tackle that left Aaron Ramsey with a potentially career-threatening injury, isn’t it time that the FA take a closer look at Michael Ballack’s antics. Not even half the player he once was, Ballack is continually berating the refs, issuing cheap shots (last year on Patrice Evra, yesterday on Carlos Tevez) and today hoping to punch the ball in the goal blatantly with his hand.

Ballack is a dirty and, yes, malicious player and Chelsea and EPL are worse for it.

Hey EPL: "Because the Yanks Are Coming...The Yanks Are Coming!"

♦ Our community raved about Stu Holden’s performance for Bolton against Wolves Saturday. Well, not just ours. Here’s a sampling of board comments from the Bolton faithful:

» “For me, the outstanding player today was Holden. His vision and passing was bloody brilliant. He outshone Wilshere and Lee in my book.”

»  “One bloke sat behind me was referring to Holden when he uttered ” That lad is too good for our team!” I had to have a sly chuckle to myself.”

♦ Wow England’s defense Is…A…Mess. Beyond the Bridge-Terry festivities, Bridge has dropped the squad from his priorities and John Terry tiptoes up to Tevez before the 1st goal yesterday and nearly ushers it in. Rio Ferdinand is shelved and Micah Richards looked overweight, ambivalent, and clumsy yesterday. Now Ashley Cole is contemplating retirement? Yowsers.

Sunderland boss Steve Bruce suggests Kieran Richardson be considered for the England left back spot. Bad idea; I would rather put Peter Crouch back there if I’m Capello.

More coming…

Saturday Soccer: “The” Battle & More

Buchupureo, Cl.

First, best to all of TSG’s friends in Chile as a horrific earthquake took place this morning. A tsunami is feared as well.

• John Terry and Wayne Bridge about to shakedown their untenable distraction this morning as Chelsea battle Manchester City on ESPN2….TSG will be following along. Never let a woman come between….

Update: Wayne Bridge drops his hand below John Terry’s and refuses to shake hands.

• Looking for a place in the 18 for Stu Holden and a Hahnemann start as The Reebok plays host to a relegation-saving clash between Bolton and Wolverhampton.

Looking forward to Wednesday, JDM...

• Jay DeMerit…who we’ve been chatting about with the Watford faithful here (along with a remark on Tony Meola)…welcome Santiago Muñez and Newcastle to Vicarage Road Stadium.

• Sheffield United are looking at Plymouth Argyle and Kenny Cooper off the bench this morning.

• Bo’ Munchen and Sweatpants Jr. take on SC Freiburg and cagey Cameroonian striker Mohamadou Idrissou.

More coming….

Counterpoint: Jozy, The Facts & Formations

I rarely comment on other publications here at The Shin Guardian.

Continued challenges in his absence....

Mark and I generally believe that we ourselves can present both sides of an argument and debate, with our community, the merits. It’s one of the strengths–we believe–of our publication.

However, I have to take umbrage with a piece that ESPN introduced yesterday mandating that Bob Bradley change his formation as he is bereft of strike partner for Jozy Altidore.

The column had a number of challenging statements that I want to make sure readers have a counterpoint to here.

I’ll summarize the article as, “an indictment of Bob Bradley’s tactical line-up in the absence of Charlie Davies. The author mandates that Bob Bradley deploy a 4-5-1 with Jozy Altidore as the lone strike option up top and add a central midfielder.”

First, let me state something: 1) I have absolutely no problem with the premise and given that Bob Bradley has introduced both Alejandro Bedoya and DaMarcus Beasley into the Netherlands friendly camp, he’s probably considering it 2) I’m not attempting to defend Bob Bradley merely present a system of events as they transpired and why the author should not take the scathing and fallible approach he did.

First, let’s address the timeline and hindsight. A show of hands out there, how many people enjoyed the benefit of watching Jozy Altidore play 90 quality minutes before February?

Ok, put your hands…down….wait, they’re not up. That’s right, the emergence of Jozy Altidore as a plausible option to play alone at the top of the formation is a fairly recent development….as in a few weeks recent. Jozy is a 20-year old player who is starting to learn the striker role against the best possible competition. He’s also been far from consistent to date.

Yes this is an odd picture, but Altidore is better in tandem.

Next, let’s see how Jozy Altidore has succeeded in the 4-5-1 at Hull City. That’s not the case either. In fact, much like we put forth about Landon Donovan, Jozy has become much more of a weapon with the threat of the pass, playing off another striker, namely Jan Venegoor of Hesselink. “VofH “is benefitting from Altidore’s ability to create at the top of the offensive third. He’s been the recipient of many a threatening pass, two that have led to goals. (Here’s an article on that pairing.)

In a 4-5-1, it is sometimes very difficult to get that other striker involved when he is not on the pitch. Sarcasm intended.

So our first condemnation is that the option of Jozy Altidore as the author calls “the lone wolf” was not apparent until recently. We are just over 100 days until World Cup 2010 and the author condemns Bob Bradley for not employing this option when it wasn’t even an option until recently. I have no problem with Bob Bradley’s decision making here.

Next, let’s look at history here. We cited it in this column here, calling the formation “the McBride.” Admittedly it was a different time and space and of course a different coach, but in the 2006 World Cup Brian McBride was hung out to dry, namely by the Czechs and the Italians. Absorbing consistent pressure as the United States still does today, the US relied on over-the-top balls to McBride. McBride had no striker playing off him and no option to go forward. If the midfield troops weren’t there in time? Possession lost as we saw.

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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–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.


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The US 20: Looking To Do Van Damage

The roster is out.

A fresh observation of Captain Carlos...

Cutting it up on the pitch next Wednesday against the Netherlands for the Yanks:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton)

DEFENDERS (7): Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Carlos Bocanegra (Rennes), Jay DeMerit (Watford), Clarence Goodson (IK Start), Heath Pearce (FC Dallas), Frank Simek (Sheffield Wednesday), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Rangers), Alejandro Bedoya (Orebro), Michael Bradley (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Landon Donovan (Everton), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), José Torres (Pachuca)

FORWARDS (3): Jozy Altidore (Hull City), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake), Eddie Johnson (Aris Thessaloniki)

TSG bullets:

• Bob Bradley in last night’s post game comments admonished reading too much into this roster, suggesting that those absent are not necessarily out of play for RSA 2010.

• That being said, conspicious by their absence: Freddy Adu….teammates DaMarcus Beasley and Maurice Edu made it…Adu’s teammate Eddie Johnson made it. Adu…nowhere to be found.

• I think you can read into Jeff Cunningham’s absence. Findley makes the trip from MLS so it’s not a league thing. Cunningham didn’t acquit himself all that well on the pitch the past two games against junior competition.

• Eric Lichaj…sorry not to see you up here brother.

• Remember, you heard it here first, we’re fans of Bedoya. He’s a somewhat physical winger who can take it to the hole. Does this say anything about Robbie Rogers USSF staff evaluation? Good question.

• Interesting Kljestan omission. Did he know before last night that he wasn’t going and so made that theatrical goal celebration?


In case you missed it, here is the TSG community discussion from Monday on who merited a look.

Also, in case you missed it, here is the Dutch provisional roster announced last week.

Awaiting our community’s comments.

Ching Shines, Kljestan Strikes: US 2, SLV 1

Brian Ching collected his 43rd cap, 1 goal and 1 assist to lead the USMNT to the win.

The USMNT, featuring nearly all MLS players, notched its first win since early October with a come-from-behind, 2-1 victory over El Salvador in Tampa Bay.

Following a familiar script against lesser foes, the US controlled most of the game, struggled in the offensive third, conceded a goal against the run of play and then came to life.

When the US last faced El Salvador in Rio Tinto Stadium in September it was a Jonathan Bornstein miscue that led to a goal by Los Cuscatlecos with the US dominating. Tonight it was Brad Evan’s defensive gaffe that produced the lone Salvadoran goal in one of the few forays into the box for the visiting team.

Though this match could be better called an audition for a few remaining World Cup spots, it was nice to see the US finally finish strong behind second half substitute Brian Ching. The Big Aloha’s head produced the equalizer off a Heath Pearce cross while his feet provided a one-touch assist to Sacha Kljestan who put home the game winner in stoppage time.

The win will play well on Sportcenter (hopefully) and is a good thing for a program coming off three lackluster performances. However, it should be noted that the Salvadorans play made one wonder if they stayed out late last night at the infamous Tampa Ballet. Well that, or maybe they just didn’t care.

Some players added to their resume for selection while others did not.

The more significant story for the USMNT is whose performance got them one step closer to packing their US Soccer duffel for South Africa. Of the 13 World Cup hopefuls Matthew mentioned in the preview

5 boosted their stock…Brian Ching, Robbie Findley, Sacha Kljestan, Clarence Goodson and Heath Pearce

2 held their spot…new Captain Jonathan Bornstein and versatile Robbie Rogers

2 didn’t help or hurt their chances…Kyle Beckerman and Jeff Cunningham

1 took (another) step backwards…Conor Casey

3 never saw the pitch (which probably isn’t a good thing)…Chad Marshall, Troy Perkins and Chris Pontius.

Before jumping to conclusions, it’s worth remembering the level of competition in this match and reading Bob Bradley’s post-match comments about Ching-Casey, the Netherlands roster selection and the World Cup roster.


» Best Play of the Game: The  Sacha Kljestan game-winner. El Sal’s Gonzalez mental mistake combined with Kljestan’s effort led to an odd-man rush by the USMNT. Mr. Victoria’s Secret then laid off a pass to Ching who dropped a nice one-touch back to Klestan for the finish.

One question: Was it me or did Montes (SLV’s keeper) look like he got shot in the back? He started to challenge SK, then dropped to his knees prematurely and fell down. Either way…it was a great give-and-go.

» Most Unheralded Play: Conor Casey struggled on offense playing the first 45 minutes, but his defensive effort kept El Salvador off the scoreboard midway through the first half. The visitors sent a free kick deep into the box that look destined to allude the defense in favor of an on-rushing Custcatleco. Just before the ball dropped at the far post, Casey rose up and used his noggin to get the US out of danger.

» Golden Shinguard: A number of candidates, but TSG is going with The Big Aloha. Ching scored and assisted on the two US goals and was a consistent target for the attack in the second half. Granted he could have been marked better, but that’s not his fault.

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