Monday Quarterbacking

Going to be a little lighter week here at TSG. Enterprise taxes and things like that.

Some observations from the weekend:

Prediction mongering:

NYRB will take this Henry instead...

• Anybody who bestowed the “best ever” talent tag on the New York Red Bulls want to step up now. Do I have this right? The Red Bulls have two goals for the year. In short–with that line-up–that’s pathetic.

No faulting the DeWayne DeRosario acquisition, but leaders (at least those that are paid like them) lead by example and it sure looks like Thierry Henry is having a swell time enjoying NYC, going out on Saturday, and just casually kicking the ball around.

Or not even making it that far.

Oddly enough, both David Beckham and Thierry Henry went across the pond to train this past off-season with Beckham getting flack and Henry praise for the understated manner in which the training was handled.

Let’s leave that for the comment section.

• No horn tooting, but TSG’s ROY pick Will Bruin with a scorcher on Saturday night. Now, the pride of Indiana U will probably be lapped for the ROY (Sapong? Soares?), but Bruin is a new breed of MLS target man: one that can play the hold-up game, but is also good and nimble on his feet.

Still wondering how teams passed right by Bruin in the draft. Specifically the Union and the team he helped thump, the Whitecaps.

“Houl In the Hell”

Conspiracy theory? US owner Randy Lerner wanted Michael Bradley at Villa.

Hard to explain how Bradley, a solid if unspectacular Bundesliga midfielder, “chooses” to head to Villa and summarily is sent to the reserves and not called into the 18 for Villa this past weekend.

The starters for Villa? Old man Sylvan Petrov and teacher’s pet Jean Makoun while Nigel Reo-Coker relieved a faltering Makoun.

Let’s say that if this was basketball and I asked you why the Oklahoma Thunder picked up Kendrick Perkins–wouldn’t you say that is for some toughness, beating down weaker teams and standing up to the likes of the Lakers etc.

Seems to me that a Newcastle game is precisely the game Michael Bradley may have thrived in. Chippy, physical affair and all.

Interesting goings-on at Villa, but don’t let the American media snow you. While Gerard Houllier is temperamental, if a player can help them avoid the drop, he’s playing. (And remember not only Bradley, but Reo-Coker is out of contract at the end of the year too–so it has nothing to do with playing “your guys going forward.”)

The story here is Bradley, not Houllier.

Here’s the background–if you haven’t read it yet–on Michael Bradley and the Villa midfield.

Hula, Hoops

Now at leftback?

Colorado came back down to earth this weekend upon their visit to Frisco, Texas. Chalk it up for now as an anomaly for the Rapids, while FC Dallas might have shocked their team into action.

A glimpse on Friday evening of what the “new-look” Dallas squad can do, highlighted by Brek Shea now at leftback (calling all national team fans–all national team fans please pick up your megaphones) attacking down that flank. Didn’t look half-bad ether.)

Goals, galore

Deposits this weekend for Herculez Gomez (2), Jozy Altidore, Alejandro Bedoya and assists for Eddie Johnson, Eric Lichaj and Benny Feilhaber among others.

TSG, for one, is going to dial down (as we did this weekend), the “oh-my-gosh-an-American has scored” broadcasting.

With now more than a handful of Americans playing in the various top leagues, shouldn’t goals be expected from Americans and perhaps not a magnanimous announcement every time?

And continuing on the curmudgeon theme of this bullet, Jozy Altidore’s goal was “well-taken,” but I’d like to see a few more here from the American and a few where he goes and gets them. Hell of a service on that play to Altidore’s skull shot.

• Omar Gonzalez’s inbox

Subject: Saw your DCU vs. LAG match.

Message: Don’t use your hands


Ah, yes...

Goodbye Tea Time

So let me see if I have this right. With Stan Kroenke’s Arsenal bid, only one of the top six teams in the EPL table is owned by an Englishman, that being Tottenham Hotspur.

Somewhere Montgomery Burns–I mean Don Garber–is flickering his fingers.

• Today: Liverpool vs. Manchester City

Following-up: I still like (Somtimes You Have To Splash)–independent of Fernando Torres’ struggles for Chelsea–Liverpool’s move to bring in Andy Carroll. Don’t look now, but Liverpool is in 6th–though they need some help to move further up the table–and Jamie Carragher is boasting about transfer expectations this summer.

Big change from where Liverpool was around December 2010, no?

Some moves are more than just about the dollar amount versus the player’s skill-set.

40 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 9:44 AM

    I’m sorry, I just don’t see it with Will Bruin.


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/04/11 at 9:49 AM

      I see it in MLS for him.


    • Posted by Kevin on 2011/04/11 at 4:34 PM

      I think he’s very mature on and off the field for his age. I think he’ll develop into a good target who’s national team career will be less prolific. If only Houston had an aging player that fits a similar mold…

      all in all good for Dynamo, but I don’t see him internationally.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 5:12 PM

        It was weird, but Bruin was playing off of the target striker against Vancouver. Seemed to work all right for them as they got the win. I’m just not sure what quality of his pops out at me in the long-term. I suppose he’ll be a serviceable striker for them.


  2. Posted by John on 2011/04/11 at 10:06 AM

    Given the issues with Liverpool over the course of this season, I think most fans are just about ready to have the season over. Obviously it would be nice to qualify for Europe (pipe dream) but if you look at the vagaries…

    Jettisoned Hicks and Gillette.
    Jettisoned a clearly “in a funk” Fernando Torres
    Jettisoned a never accepted Roy Hodgson
    Climbed from second from bottom to 6th.
    Injury concern with: Daniel Agger (out for season) Steven Gerrard (out for season) Martin Kelly (essentially out for season) Fabio Aurelio (injured most of season) Glen Johnson (Injured/out of form most of the season) Carragher (aging and injured)
    Awful acquisitions in: Joe Cole (Awful) Poulson (Missing) Konchesky (shipped out and actually worse than Glen Johnson playing LB which says quite a bit)
    The continuing LM debate/debacle: Jovanvich, Cole, Maxi, Kuyt have all played with really no one making good.

    The fact that Krygiakos was a capable mainstay this season says quite a bit about the defensive frailty during the season. (also says great things about his durability)

    Lots of good things to look forward towards going into the off season, but this one has been… difficult.


    • Posted by jwrandolph on 2011/04/11 at 1:01 PM

      Liverpool is up on Man City 3-0 at halftime. They played a really great first half of attacking ball. Its nice to see their fans have something to cheer about.


      • Posted by John on 2011/04/11 at 1:18 PM

        Indeed, some of this has been horrid defending and give aways in bad positions by City’s defense. However the finishing has been superb.

        Flanagan has looked fine (so far) at RB given that he is 18.

        Also, there really is no comparison in the level of hustle, peskiness and work rate between Suarez and Torres. Granted they aren’t the same kind of player, but it is highly refreshing to watch someone come back, receive the ball, work to get other players into position and then pop up at the right time to be dangerous.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 1:22 PM

          Flanagan has looked fine, but this seems a very thrown-together team. Spearing has given a lot of effort today but just isn’t very good with the ball at his feet. A lot of players to cycle through for this team and given the achievement to deadweight ratio, I’m sure Fenway Sports Group feels fairly optimistic.


          • Posted by John on 2011/04/11 at 1:25 PM

            Most definitely a very thrown together team because the injured list contains:

            Kelly – Starting RB
            Johnson – Starting LB
            Gerrard – Starting MF
            Agger – Starting CB


  3. Posted by Steven on 2011/04/11 at 10:08 AM

    Yeah, color me unimpressed with Bruin. It was a good finish, but I saw nothing special from the guy.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 1:23 PM

      Well, it was a good finish but what was the Vancouver goalkeeper doing out there in the first place?

      My darkhorse pick for Rookie of the Year…Russell Teibert. I like the cut of his jib.


      • Posted by Mccul105 on 2011/04/11 at 4:05 PM

        He must have taken a page out of the Donovan Ricketts School of Goalkeeping. Zing!


  4. I haven’t seen Shea at LB. I’ll have to watch for that. It could be an intriguing possibility for the national team if he really ‘gets’ that position.

    Notes from the DCU-Galaxy game:

    Large, vocal crowd

    The CD9 PK was weak, and I probably wouldn’t have called it, but you CANNOT put your hands on a forward in the area. Especially with Okulaja running center. From a national team perspective, Omar has to learn that.

    Abbey is the worst referee I have seen. Not only does he lose control of his matches early, he loses his temper early. He doesn’t like to be questioned AT ALL. Sorry, dude, that’s going to happen when you can’t ref for s**(&.

    Dunivant could have been red-carded for his two-footed challenge.

    Beckham SHOULD have seen a straight red for his two-footed scissor tackle on Wolff’s legs from behind. That was cynical, dirty tackle that could have injured Wolff. If he didn’t get the red just because he’s Beckham, that’s shameful.

    Bill Hamid came back after shoulder surgery. He showed his rust on some crosses and deep balls, but he’s quick as a cat, and very few forwards will want to take him on in a physical battle in the box.

    The biggest story to me was the play of three rookies making their debuts for DC.

    Blake Brettschneider up top is going to be a good one. He’s utterly fearless and has a real nose for goal. He’s inexperienced, of course, but I could foresee a Davies-Brettschneider starting forward tandem soon.

    Korb at RB did a really good job. He is rugged but is still capable of delivering some nice crosses. He made a rookie mistake leaving his mark on the LA goal, but he’ll learn. He went to Akron along w/ Kitchen, so there’s potential for some built-in chemistry on the field.

    Ethan White (yet another Maryland product) was superb. He came in to the team with some hype, but this was unexpected. He looked calm and he looked strong. He played the ball out of the back and didn’t hoof it out mindlessly. If he continues to progress as he has already, he’s going to be on the national team soon, and he’s going to shoulder out one Mr. Gonzalez who looked pretty passive on Saturday.


    • Posted by John on 2011/04/11 at 10:20 AM

      The Beckham tackle (at least on TV) seemed very bang bang, and with the positioning of the ref I wasn’t too surprised he only got a yellow. The replay of it was very illuminating.

      DC needs/deserves a soccer specific stadium.


      • I’d be willing to forgive most referees, but Okulaja has a long history of incompetence.

        Re: the stadium, I’ve vowed to stop thinking about it. It just too painful a subject. I’ll pay attention when they announce the ground-breaking, or when they tell us that the team is leaving.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 10:25 AM

      Ethan White is a superb athlete but needs to figure out the game some and work on his technical ability. He’s a nice lottery ticket to have, that’s for sure. I’ve said before that I wish you could combine Robbie Rogers and Clint Dempsey, and in a similar vein I wish you could combine Perry Kitchen and Ethan White.


      • White is definitely raw, and showed his age on a few plays. That said, he was very good keeping forwards uncomfortable, and used his strength well.


    • “but you CANNOT put your hands on a forward in the area.”

      Thank you sir, I have been pointing this out to people nonstop. Criminal sin is giving anyone the opportunity to go down there.


  5. Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 10:41 AM

    I just don’t get all of the worry about New York. Their results have been so-so but they played a B-team against Columbus and just got DeRosario last week. Too early to panic I think.

    I do, however, think it’s interesting that Agudelo seems at his best counterattacking and doesn’t seem to be able to beat guys off of the dribble.


    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/04/11 at 11:11 AM

      I don’t know about that. Agudelo had some decent moments, but sometimes took to long to make his moves, allowing a second defender to come in and take the ball away.

      One thing that I worry about with Juan is pure speed. He has kind of a lumbering stride and doesn’t really seem to pull away from people. His goal against Seattle was more about strength and skill than speed. Still, I think quickness is more important than pure speed in soccer. Juan is fairly quick and he seems to have a knack for making good plays around the goal. Even in this last game he had two shots off the bar.

      As for NYRB as a whole, they haven’t been overly impressive (although their results have been slightly unlucky). If I hadn’t seen the highlight clips, I never would believe that Thierry Henry is the same guy who did those amazing things at Arsenal. I have yet to see him beat anyone off the dribble or take a dangerous deep shot at goal. I don’t know where those skills went. He seems content to loiter around the top of the box and try to pick out his teammates with passes.

      I don’t think he should be knocked for his effort though. He seems to be trying hard. Last game he had one play where he chased a guy down halfway across the field to win the ball back after being dispossessed. The problem seems to be less about effort and more about his declining physical skills. From the looks of things, his body is sapped.

      MLS keeps getting mediocre on-field results from these aging stars because they buy them so late in their careers. Just once I’d like to see a team splash the cash for a budding star just entering his prime. It won’t happen any time soon, but I wonder what it would take for a team like Seattle to buy a Sergio Aguero, Mesut Ozil, or Neymar.

      I realize that those guys are probably far too expensive and ambitious to ever land in MLS. A more realistic option might be buying the kind of $2-8 million prospects that top European teams pluck out of Eredvisie, Ligue One, Liga Portuguesa, etc. The problem with this idea is that the name Georginio Wijnaldum doesn’t quite have the same marketing clout as Thierry Henry or David Beckham, and at this point big $$$ players in MLS have been more about off-field visibility than on-field quality.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 11:20 AM

        I think Juan is explosive but not super-fast. The speed he showed to draw the PK against Seattle was very good, for example.

        But you know, of his opportunities so far, a disproportionate number have occurred when he hangs out on the shoulder of the last defender and explodes onto a through ball (or over-the-top ball). That can only really work against a team with a high defensive line, and that’s a tactic you only see part of the time. I’m just wondering what else he has to offer: his passing is fine on the deck but I haven’t seen him make a really visionary pass; his aerial game is fine, but not exceptional; I haven’t seen him shoot a long-range shot since the Milk Cup final, which was a u-20 match; his dribbling skills are OK but I haven’t seen him beat a fullback around the corner with them.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 2:40 PM

          An interesting comment from Hans Backe:

          “Of course, Red Bulls coach Hans Backe is quick to provide a reality check. “Juan still has a lot to learn in one-on-one situations,” Backe says. “We tell him, Try to hold onto the ball. Don’t just flick it away. He’s becoming much more involved now and controlling the game better.””

 (subscription required)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/04/11 at 11:51 AM

      You’re misreading DTH. There is no worry; they just should be better.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 11:59 AM

        Do you mean “should be better” in the future, or “should be better” right now? If the latter then I’m not sure that’s reasonable.


    • Agreed. It’ll take a few games for the players to become accustomed to each other. Until they do, as a DC United fan, I’m going to enjoy it. It’s going to be a long season for us after that.


  6. Posted by Alex Song on 2011/04/11 at 11:15 AM

    All these posts and not one word about TSG darling Tim Ream gifting three points to Philadelphia with one of the worst giveaways I’ve seen from a defender lately?

    I think Ream is a promising player, but he seems just as mistake-prone and raw as some of the other USMNT CB prospects who aren’t as easily forgiven by fans.

    Plays like the one he made on Saturday are the reason why Ream isn’t an automatic lock starter in the Gold Cup over more experienced, less exciting options like Gooch, Boca, and De Merit.


    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 11:22 AM

      Yeah, it was a bad mistake, and Ream has had his share of brainfarts. Of course, all of the U.S. defenders–except maybe Cherundolo–are more prone than most to bad mistakes. Gooch likes keeping guys onside; DeMerit and Bocanegra get out-athleted; Spector is wholly inadequate as an athlete; Bornstein is Bornstein.


    • Tim Ream is a very talented kid, and plays with a composure far beyond his years. That said, he’s still very young and is prone to make errors that betray his inexperience. He hasn’t made it a habit. If and when he does, that’s when we can start throwing him under the bus.


  7. Posted by Ufficio on 2011/04/11 at 12:20 PM

    While Gerard Houllier is temperamental, if a player can help them avoid the drop, he’s playing.

    The words “in the manager’s estimation” are missing here. I’m not going to pretend to be qualified or knowledgeable enough to know whether Bradley deserves playing time for Villa, but it wouldn’t be the first time that a manager unjustly left a player out.


  8. Posted by John on 2011/04/11 at 12:40 PM

    Andy Carroll has gone into Beast Mode.


  9. Posted by kaya on 2011/04/11 at 4:34 PM

    Did Marquez look any better than Henry? When I saw him (Marquez) play last season, he all but set up a hammock in midfield to complete his transition to retirement. I figure maybe it’s a what you do when you move from UEFA to MLS when you’re 30+.


    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/04/12 at 2:39 AM

      Actually, he did. I thought he played pretty well.

      He might be the best dribbler on the team.

      His set pieces are still an adventure though.


  10. Posted by Kevin on 2011/04/11 at 5:21 PM

    I agree that Bradley would fit in nicely with Newcastle United

    I refuse to think that Bradley is at fault for lack of playing time.

    I’m so glad somebody decided to try out Shea at LB. I was beginning to think nobody ever would.

    Lastly, since you mentioned Burns you gave me a license to post this video…


    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 5:27 PM

      Hasn’t Shea been tried before at left back, or am I crazy? The problem with Shea is he’s kind of stuck in a rut: he’s just skilled and soccer-smart enough that you think “hmm, this guy, might be a player,” but not quite good enough to translate those thoughts into achievements. I’m just not sure if it’s ever going to “happen” for Shea, by which I mean be one of the best players in the league and European glory, etc.

      The issue for Shea at left back will be his explosiveness issues: like a cornerback on an island, a fullback has to be able to defend one-on-one. Can Shea do it against the better wingers in the league? What happens when it’s, say, Steve Zakuani or someone like that?


      • Posted by Kevin on 2011/04/11 at 6:47 PM

        Honestly, I can’t say that I know how he handles defensive skills such as one on one defending, but keep in mind that players bring a different approach to a different position. If you try to play “your game” at CB and you’re a striker, it just won’t work out. Right now, you can only look at his skill set, tendencies at other positions and try to make some sort of guess as to how it will translate. Unless, of course, you’ve already seen him play LB.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/04/11 at 7:17 PM

          Skill set is one thing, but athleticism is another: maybe it’s a flawed analogy, but might his difficulty beating guys one-on-one (due to lack of explosiveness) will translate to difficulties to defending for the same reason?


  11. Posted by Dan Kiszka on 2011/04/11 at 8:49 PM

    Hahahahaha, Don Garber is totally Montgomery Burns.


  12. […] Shin Guardian still doesn’t understand how a team like Philadelphia could pass on Will Bruin in the SuperDraft. I nod my head emphatically while thinking about Carlos Ruiz’s 5-roll dive […]


  13. Got a chance to see Bruin in person on Sunday and he impressed. He’s not the most fluid guy on some of his runs but he positions well, does a good job holding up, and isn’t afraid to go at a defender 1v1. His footwork is a lot better than I expected, he had an impressive run in the first half where he went at two defenders, took them to his right and got a clean shot off on goal.

    Very cool to see him open his account in the second half, hoping it’s the first of many to come. He’s Ching 2.0.


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