Monday Quarterbacking

You still on that jellybean high? Fantastic weekend for soccer, if you could squeeze it in:

Target audience: Appropriate Herbalife sponsorship with Portland in town....

• The Los Angeles Galaxy went out of this world with their 3-0 thrashing of the visiting….”TIIIIMMMMBERs!”

While the Galaxy’s form will be hailed, I’m not sold on their squad just yet. Chad Barrett played above himself and P-Town’s midfield seemed to be sleeping on the job (in reality they were just, collectively, a step slow).

Press the Galaxy’s midfield. Give Beckham, Juninho and Donovan less time on the ball and to make passes. I’m curious then if there forwards will loose themselves and give their midfield counterparts streaking runs or interplay up top.

Not sold, but we shall see.

A few other nuggets in this one:

» AJ De La Garza filling in for the injured Leonardo looked dynamite. I shall call him Mini Cannavaro. For now. Hope he lives up to the junior nickname.

» Interesting post-game commentary from Landon Donovan where he lightly admonished, “Have people figured out I’m not a goal scorer [more a passer] anymore?” Was known for a while, but sure make Bruce Arena’s commentary that Donovan might be play as a second striker prior to the season a little hollow. That’s Arena for you though.

» Darlington Nagbe. Take solace Portland. Kid will be a player.

• MB90 minus 90: I’m afraid it’s time for all those that glommed on to the statement, “Michael Bradley has earned playing time everywhere he’s went” to throw an asterisk on that statement.

Villa skipper Gerard Houllier was admitted for emergency surgery earlier in his coaching career at Liverpool and now he’s back in the hospital as of last week. That likely means a “don’t rock the boat” squad with assistant manager Gary McAllister in charge.

Late to the "party" at Villa Park...

You may see Bradley sneak in the 18 one or two times and even the eleven once, but you can consider–for whatever reason–Bradley’s time at Villa to be a failure for his exposure.

Once again, Junior Bradley was nowhere to be seen as Aston Villa drew Stoke City 1-1 on Saturday. Manning the midfield hub was 31-year-0ld Stiliyan Petrov and Nigel Reo-Coker. On the bench for the Houllier’s was Jean Makoun…and 37-year-old Robert Pires.

Has Bradley’s ability or career plateaued or is this just a speed bump. I still maintain that the Bradley to Sunderland nonsense (only heard here in the States) was just a story plant for buzz. Whither Bradley post-campaign? Back to Bo’Munchen, but will it be in Bundesliga II?

• Spec-ulating: Speaking of the Yanks’ midfield, a healthy performance from Jonathan Spector though West Ham got the knife from Chelsea. Spector’s midfield movement (on the account of him being a former striker I’d imagine) is excellent, but he’s still not a run with the ball or final pass sort of guy. With Bob Bradley seemingly now chock full of righbacks (Cherundolo, Chandler, Lichaj) will Spector be used in the midfield?

• Arsenal fan? Always turn your set of at 80 mins: Tough weekend for Arsenal fans as Tamir Cohen banged home a header to give Bolton a 2-1 victory over the would-be title seekers. At some point, if you’re not going to make the right purchases, you have to at least ask your manager how he’s going to solve those late game mental mistakes.

And Danny Sturridge for Bolton, once again proficient.

David Vaughan for Blackpool; Jermaine Jones thinks about the yellow for Blackburn...

• The Yellow Card Bowl: Who gets the first today as Jermaine Jones and Blackburn face off against Nigel DeJong and Manchester City.

• Get out of the kitchen!

• The story for ‘Pool: Liverpool, creeping up the table. The story for Pool? Not Maxi Rodriguez’s three-spot, not that Joe Cole actually still exists. How about that John Flanagan kid at rightback? He’s 18!

• The other ‘Pool: After a stirring first half of the campaign, Blackpool find themselves in the thick of relegation fisticuffs. How about this? The player’s voted their player of the year this past week. Charlie Adam, of course, right? Nope. Seems threats and commentary about wanting to leave the club midseason didn’t sit well in their dressing room. The Tangerines Proper went with the other middie David Vaughan.

• Serie A’s Arsenal: Speaking of pretenders, Napoli showed they’re a cut..below as they fell on the road in a rather mundane effort to Palermo. I only know because, you know, Pastore.

• The Real Madrid: Don’t look now, but Real Madrid is a peeking. 6-3 over Valencia on Saturday including the return of Gonzalo Higuain who dropped a hat trick on Los Che. That’s right Gonzalo, “I’m on my Euro Dance Train” Higuain.

[Yes, I know you can’t watch the video here, clickthru. Can’t say it’s worth it, but….]

Back in the Americas

• Herculez Gomez, again

Just checked my watch. Yup, about that time of year that Herculez Gomez revs up the engine. His fourth in four games this weekend, though Pachuca gave away a victory and drew Queretaro 1-1.

You’ve got Bunbury, Agudelo and Altidore for the Gold Cup. And then, in our opinion, you’ve got the poacher-finisher-hard worker type in either Gomez or Wondolowski (and maybe Buddle.)

Charlie Davies, not in that conversation quite yet (as we saw Thursday when he played a higher class of defender.)

• Sporting KC sieve it up against Los Feilhabers

Didn’t see this one. But don’t be too hard on KC as their defense continues to prove leaky. It’s not a Cup championship worthy defense, but it will show better once KC gets back in their new digs.

Must be continually tough to play on the road at the beginning of the season. But, you know, Livestrong.

• Tough weekend for the U: Beyond Nagbe, a tough weekend for Akron University alum Steve Zakuani who is now on the road to recovery from that nasty tackle by Brian Mullan.

It was discussed on TSG here, but the key point of infuriation stems around Mullan’s lack of contriteness both during the game and following the game. Can’t say I disagree though the shock must have still been ebbing through his veins as well. Another good point brought up here questioning whether an injury of that magnitude happens on natural grass.

The next question? The magnitude of the suspension. Ten matches? Twelve? Less?

18 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by KickinNames... on 2011/04/25 at 8:48 AM

    Re: Mikey…the questions about his pro career continue but I think that this is a blip on the screen for him. He’ll probably find a lower level EPL or higher championship club willing to take on his services. I do think that it is telling that he has gotten little or no playing time with a midfield that’s shot thru with holes at Villa. Being brought in on transfer in Jan, you’d think there was an opportunity there but I don’t think his first impressions didn’t warrant being given the minutes. And when you comp is Reo Coker and an over the hill Petrov in midfield. Macoun you can chalk to a manager’s favorite but Pires doesn’t belong on an EPL pitch.


    • Posted by Alex Song on 2011/04/25 at 3:44 PM

      IMO his biggest problem is that he offers very little going forward. He’s not quick. He can’t dribble. He can’t really make a dangerous pass. Almost all of his goals are slop.

      I think his ceiling is much higher as a defensive midfielder. His biggest assets are his physical strength, his aggression, and his work rate. I think he needs to be a Song/Fletcher/Cattermole/De Jong type of player instead of trying to be a complete CM. Not gonna happen.


      • Posted by dth on 2011/04/25 at 4:46 PM

        This is not quite true. Bradley can make a dangerous pass; it’s just not his forte. But I’ve seen him deliver several quality through balls in his time. Dribbling is pretty irrelevant skill for central midfielders to possess–it’s the turns and the quick feints to throw off a presser that are important. Bradley’s fine at those too, though not exceptional or anything.

        Bradley is a box-to-box midfielder that will probably be best deployed as the middle of a three-man central midfield.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/04/25 at 5:17 PM

          The only problem is dth, you seem to be the only person to witness MB making said dangerous pass. Did you managed to sneak into a game played behind closed doors?!


          • Posted by dth on 2011/04/25 at 8:28 PM

            Hah! No. Towards the end of his ‘Gladbach tenure he did. See ‘Gladbach-Hamburg in December 2010 for an example (Bradley had an assist and sprung his teammates twice for a one-on-one with goalkeeper, both of which said teammates failed to convert.)

            Anyway, I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m over-the-moon for Bradley or anything; I think he tops out at a midtable team in Bundesliga/EPL or something. But I do think he’s underappreciated, mostly because of his last name–people project their feelings about Bob Bradley and US Soccer generally onto Michael Bradley, which is unfair. Getting rid of Michael Bradley just means you have to use another box-to-box midfielder or linking midfielder who’s at best good but not great at holding possession. No real #10s, just guys who can kind of approximate the role. I think most people will acknowledge this reality if pressed on the subject but act as if there is one anyway.


            • Posted by dth on 2011/04/25 at 8:35 PM

              I should add that the reason I reference the Gladbach-Hamburg game often is not so much the outstanding quality of Bradley’s game–he was a poor finisher that day–but just because it was unusual on a number of different levels. Bradley was played in the hole in a 4-2-3-1 and was in the middle of a number of goal-scoring opportunities, most of which were wasted. Bradley was probably the second-best Gladbach player that day and the since-fired manager replaced him, bizarrely, at like the 75′ minute. The Gladbach fans booed the hell out of the manager and one of the prominent Gladbach forums expressed the same sentiment, with one fan posting something like “I’ll forgive you [Michael Bradley and Marco Reus] when you leave.”

              Reus, by the way, is another interesting player–a winger–who I’d try and buy were I a team interested in picking up a young, cheap, creative winger. I imagine he’d do well in Liverpool, for example. ‘Gladbach are surely destined for relegation, which is very strange, as the team is much better than that–they had an injury crisis early in the season, combined with a spate of red cards that doomed them. Bradley and Reus were their only consistent performers. The second week of the season they crushed Leverkusen 6-3; Leverkusen, of course, have been the second-best team in the Bundesliga for much of the season. I do wonder what might have been with that team…

  2. …and somebody finally scored, with an assist from a puddle.


  3. Posted by dth on 2011/04/25 at 9:16 AM

    Speaking of Akron products, has anyone been able to successfully figure out why Robin Fraser insists on playing Zarek Valentin at centerback? His listed weight is at 156! 156! To me he screams right back–and a good one.

    I’m also interested to see what happens when some enterprising coach sticks someone right in the hole against LA. What, is Beckham or Juninho going to mark him? Do you really want Omar Gonzalez having to make the decision when to come out and when to stay at home? It might happen as early as NYRB-LA, with Thierry Henry making himself a huge nuisance for LA.


    • Posted by Izzy on 2011/04/25 at 6:02 PM

      I definitely agree with that sentiment about how the Galaxy deal with a central play maker. In fact, the first goal in the LA-Dallas semi-final was a direct result of that. Juninho and Birchall marked McCarty and Hernandez, leaving Ferreira free in between lines. He could float close to the backline, deep, from one flank or the other, but he was never picked up, and it was from close that he got his goal. People kept blaming Gonzalez and DeLaGarza, for it, but can you blame them for not wanting to step out and leave the other 1v1 with a pacy-ish forward like Atiba Harris?


  4. Posted by John on 2011/04/25 at 12:26 PM


    Flanagan at RB is 18 ….

    as well as…

    Jack Robinson at LB who is the robust age of 17.

    Youth is served?


  5. Posted by Soccernst on 2011/04/25 at 5:09 PM

    Looked like The Sheriff got some good minutes today. Gamecast notes he put three crosses that created scoring chances for Earnshaw. Anyone see the game?


  6. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/04/25 at 5:12 PM

    Palace pretty much secured their Division Two survival today. It has been squeaky bum time in the Cross household for the past few weeks.


    • Posted by Soccernst on 2011/04/25 at 6:45 PM



    • Posted by dth on 2011/04/25 at 8:29 PM

      Has Palace averted its financial issues?


    • Posted by Colin on 2011/04/26 at 4:15 AM

      i had never heard the term “squeaky bum time” prior to last week, and now I’ve seen in 3 times.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/04/26 at 6:34 AM

        It’s a gem of a phrase that gets over used at “the business end of the season”…


      • Posted by Colin on 2011/04/26 at 7:10 AM

        haha yup. The first I heard it was from Emily Blunt on Conan, then I saw it on the Nottingham Forest boards whilst discussing Robbie Findley and their chances of clinching a playoff spot, and now here.


  7. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/04/26 at 3:23 AM

    Sort of. We are out of adminisration, but the reality is that if another club offers money for one of our players, it’s hard to turn down (eg Wayne Routledge, John Bostock, Tom Soares, Ben Watson, Victor Moses, Andy Johnson). Which is why I cannot see us getting out of this division soon. We seem to get asset stripped every year. Next to go will be Nathaniel Clyne and Wifred Zaha (future England players I might add), and we will get peanuts for them…

    The current consortium need to sort out the manager and the ground. The rest will come slowly.


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