Archive for August, 2010

On CONCACAF Qualifying Changes…

This is a guest post by super columnist Nick Sindt

Disrupting rivalry is one of the tangential concerns...

Back in May, the US submitted its bid packets for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Per CONCACAF’s website (on May 14th of 2010) that bid packet also had a tasty little treat delivered with it; CONCACAF’s proposal for modifications to its current World Cup Qualifying format.

Recently it has come out (by way of La Prensa and that CONCACAF’s proposal is this:

• Round 1 – The 6 lowest ranked teams will compete in a playoff to pare the entire field down to 32 teams.  (2 games pre team)

• Round 2 – The 32 teams will be divided up into 8 groups of 4 (6)

• Round 3 – The top 2 teams from each group are put into 4 groups of 4 (6)

• Round 4 – The top 2 teams from each group are then put into 2 groups of 4. Group Winners are automatically in the WC.  (6)

• Round 5 –The two 2nd place teams in the groups will playoff for the 3rd slot, with the loser facing off against a country from another federation for the right to go to the WC.  If we are granted 4 slots in the WC then the two 2nd place teams automatically go to the dance.

Others have opined on why CONCACAF is proposing this change; the best reason that I’ve read is that it’ll give the minnows (pretty much everyone outside the top 8-10 teams) in our region more World Cup Qualifying Games, which in turn improves their FIFA Rankings, thus improving the US and Mexico’s FIFA Rankings when they beat them in hopes of landing a seed at the WC Draw.  Plus more games for these teams means more $$$ from gate receipts.  The nations that are consistently in the Hex will see no real financial windfall due to these changes.

Given the format changes, it seems that progress to the WC would be much easier for Mexico and the US, unless the seeding for being drawn into groups (Rounds 2-4) is completely thrown out the window.  Eschewing seeding for a more open, and fair, path to the World Cup would possibly see the US and Mexico set up to face each other much earlier than previous qualifying cycles with the possibility that one may not even make it to the final round of qualifying much less the WC; something I highly doubt FIFA and CONCACAF wish to see.

This all leaves me with the following questions:

Why this format?  Will this format change help or hinder the USMNT’s growth down the road?

First we’ll tackle my issues with the format. If the goal is to give more WC Qualifiers to the lesser nations, admittedly we never know what CONCACAF is scheming thinking, then why not something along these lines:

Round 1 – 6 groups of 6 with the top six teams being “top seeds” for the 2014 cycle this would involve those who were in the Hex last time around. (10, though one group only has 5 meaning they’ll play 8 games).  Top two move on.

Round 2 – 2 groups of 6 with the top two teams earning their WC tickets. (10)

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Bob Gets To Bottom of ESPN Copier Issue

Bob Bradley, rather mundane (except at end) in his SportsCenter interview.

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

A rocky relationship

It was announced yesterday afternoon that U.S. Soccer signed Bob Bradley to a four year extension, thus stating he will be coaching the USMNT through the World Cup in Brazil in 2014.

Over the next few days or weeks, I’m sure we will hear the various reasons or rumors as to why they signed Bradley, and why he decided to sign on. Was it because they couldn’t find someone else? Were his options of coaching for a club team abroad just rumors? A combination of both? Who knows. This is not the point of this article.

This is a lose-lose situation for both parties.

Sunil Gulati was on record post-World Cup saying that he felt the USMNT was capable of more, and whereas they did progress to the group stages, that everyone felt disappointed in the end result and hoped the USMNT would have gone further. Certainly not a ringing endorsement.

Very few national team coaches coach for two World Cup cycles. Those that do typically do not very well on their second go-round. Bruce Arena and Marcelo Lippi spring to mind as recent second cycle failures.

Bradley's finest moment as a coach?

Bob Bradley has done a good job so far. He won the Gold Cup in 07, got second at the Confederations Cup in 09 and led the USMNT out of the group stages this summer, winning the group in the process. He’s put together a good core of players who are very industrious hard workers, and installed a brilliant never-say-die attitude that ensures their opponents can never let up for a second.

The problem is that he’s now fresh out of ideas. Bradley’s loyalty to players (e.g., Clark, Bornstein) cost them many a goal and game. Their inconsistency game to game was due to him not always getting the tactics right, but also due to who was available to him. How is any of this going to change in the next four years?

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Transfer Day Hamper

Love transfer deadline day.

I’ll be updating this throughout the day with thoughts (as I am sure you will below)

Can petulant and perpetual baby Robinho grow up on Milan's watch?

• Robinho to Milan on a 4-year to play with Zlatan, Pato, and ‘Dinho. May open up Dinho move. As long as Pato is allowed to progress I like this deal for Milan. Lots of firepower up top to take the pressure off its aging middies and outside fullbacks.

• Derby County’s Rob Hulse goes to Queens Park Rangers. The deal might signify an end to rumors that Eddie Johnson is headed there. However, it should also open up time for Conor Doyle at Derby. Can that man get some more press?!

• AGF coach Peter Sorenson says he doesn’t see Benny Feilhaber moving today. Bad for Benny, good for Aarhus.

• Liverpool get rebuffed in their attempts to land Carlton Cole–or Roy Hogson’s newer version of Bobby Zamora if you prefer–from West Ham United. If ever a striker need some complementary support and service around him to jump a level, it’s Carlton Cole.

If he stays fit, an absolutely major coup for Birmingham in bringing in spread-the-field middie Alexander Hleb. Birmingham, you are smart, you play as a team….you have TSG’s heart.

• Schalke adding Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for $13M. If Raul can set the table for him, Huntelaar will challenge for the goal title this year in the Bundesliga.

• The Gooch Watch: CB Kakha Kaladze moves to Genoa from Milan, may open some time in the middle for Oguchi Onyewu.

• Can Asamoah Gyan improve his finishing in the Premiership? A big if, but if the answer is yes then WOW does Sunderland have a nasty one-two punch in Darren Bent and Gyan. Oh and Steve Bruce also has a few guys named Frazier Campbell and up-and-comer Danny Welbeck in reserve.

You could say that Sunderland’s strike force is more formidable than Liverpool’s right now.

• It looks like we are about to get through the day without Arsenal making a move for a keeper. That is pathetic and an affront to the Emirates faithful.

• More on Liverpool, Hodgson picks up Paul Konchesky. While a strong move for Liverpool that helps them, that’s a major blow to Fulham’s backline who have played together as a unit more than any other in the Premiership (I need to check that fact, but I believe it’s true.)

• Unconfirmed, but….Tottenham are rumored to have snagged Rafael Van Der Vaart from Real Madrid. A solid signing if true and a better option than…wait for it…..wait for it….Scott Parker.

Bob Bradley & USSF Agree to Extension

(Update: Shaun and I will be along later and tomorrow with more thoughts…)

The tweet from US Soccer was short and simple, “U.S. Soccer has agreed to a contract extension with USMNT head coach Bob Bradley through the end of 2014.”

Four more years for the man behind the sweats.

Oh boy…

Four more for Coach Sweats (courtesy, Matt Mathai)

From the official release:

U.S. Soccer has agreed to a contract extension with U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bob Bradley. The agreement with Bradley, who guided the U.S. team to numerous achievements including finishing in first place in their group at the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the first time in 80 years, will keep him at the helm through the end of 2014.

Read full release here.

Monday Night (Soccer) Movies & Comedy

A few things to share on an eventful day.

• Picked up from Omar Gonzalez’s Twitter by way of T.OchoCinco

• Gotta pay for that new stadium somehow

Wizards' new duds...

We just interview David Estrada of the Sounders and today we interview Ryan Smith. So this humorous post hit us on a loopy Monday evening.

Explaining the team’s marketing plan for the new shirt, Bridger explained, “Believe it or not, we have a lot of fans in the pacific northwest, and we expect this shirt to really resonate with them. So we are going to be selling it primarily in the Seattle-Tacoma region.” Read more here.

Hysterical stuff from which I just learned about.

• And Fake Bob Bradley weighs in on the extension of his Twitter account for four more years.

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On Yanks In Need Of A Home

Thanks to a tweet from PhillySoccer3, I put up this quick catch-all post.

Getting down to the wire for some US players to find a home before the transfer window closes overseas.

Here’s what we’re looking at today, to the best of TSG’s ability.

Run DMB is going to need to be precise...

• DaMarcus Beasley to Hannover

DaMarcus Beasley’s services have been secured by Hannover. A good situation for the Beas who will have Steve Cherundolo to help him get acclimated.

If Beasley can maintain his health, it should be a good situation for him.

And, if his BMW gets firebombed again, he can just go down the street and get a new one.

• Jozy Altidore to Levante UD – Confidence: 25%

Latest rumors have Jozy staying in La Liga with recently-promoted and likely bottom dwellers Levante UD.

Good move for Jozy? Not sure about that. While Villarreal would be able to monitor his progress, it would be Altidore going to a similarly overmatched side like Hull City was last year in EPL.

Don’t like the move for him…if true.

Still likely to live the fairytale...

• Jay DeMerit – Signing confidence next seven days: 66%

Last we heard, DeMerit is still in England. Expect the US centerback to latch on somewhere on or around Wednesday. Given that DeMerit is without a contract, he can sign later than the transfer window closure, but expect it sooner rather than later.

• Benny Feilhaber – Transfer confidence next seven days: 35%

From game reports, it seems as those Feilhaber it tearing up division two Danish football. That said, AGF and Benny probably wish it was division one somewhere else.

AGF recently loaned out Dioh Williams and sold Jakob Poulsen making a Feilhaber sale a little less of a necessity for the recently demoted side.


• Hopefully Jonathan Spector can maybe find himself a new home too. For two years now he’s been moved about in the West Ham line-up between RB and LB. In reality, TSG thinks Spector is best as a centerback.

That said, West Ham don’t like his play–though there may be a foreign bias–and West Ham, even with Avram Grant in charge, look like a mess, especially in the back. Here’s to Spector either getting a permanent role or finding one elsewhere.

• According to Steve Goff via Twitter, Fulham are considering a loan of Eddie Johnson to the Queens Park Rangers. Anorak here, QPR is the former team of Sully Hamid, Bill Hamid’s father. (Nearly done on that interview, fact checking and a few other things.)

• How is it that an 18-year-old American starting for a Championship side does not get more press. That is just flat-out amazing. Conor Doyle for Derby. TSG has reached out for an interview.