More Weekend: Darlington Nagbe Brings The Cowbell, Nowacky, & A Birchall Name Check

Just seemed appropriate here for….


Game Of The Weekend: Real Salt Lake out-experiences the Portland Timbers

…and that was Darlington Nagbe going crazy Will Ferrell on Saturday night along the Columbian. (4:25 and 5:00 marks below.)


Nagbe’s Messi interpretation at the beginning of the second round in Portland on Saturday night was class.

Alas, Nagbe’s two fantastic moves and finishes were not backed up with the bite of his teammates and their failure to get stuck-in against Wile E Salt Lake.

Bringing the Cowbell!

Kyle Beckerman and crew stormed back to snatch victory from the chainsaw of defeat with a savvy veteran effort that saw them turn up the tempo, but not depart from their style of play. The Timbers lost focus and on a perfectly placed Kyle Beckerman 8-Ball, the men from Utah departed Jeld-Wen with three points on the strength of a 3-2 come-from-behind win.

Some other important notes from this instant classic:

• Jorge Perlaza–sniffle–needed to do better on chances. Thrice he was played in and thrice his effort was not good enough to best Nick Rimando. Don’t worry, we still have our monthly pass on the MEGABUS set to auto-renewal.

• The Timbers–beyond their inconsistent display–have another correction they need to make. Kris Boyd–despite some missed buckets–is a lot to handle for most MLS teams, but put him up against a strong centerback duo in Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers and he had real difficulty holding up the ball. Not every team obviously has an Olave-Borchers combo back there, but a word to Timbers’ competitors. Bang on the Scotsmen–it impacts his play.

• Eric Alexander is coming on….strong. What’s impressive about Alexander is his ability to combine linear attacks with strength on the ball. Most players use their strength on the ball to hold or they are deployed as such. Alexander consistently took bump-and-run coverage, but kept moving towards goal. TSG called Alexander their 2011 breakout player. Seems we were a tad hasty.


Sing Jose-Wondo: The Quakes are rumbling

Good game.

A fantastic effort up in Seattle from the Quakes on Saturday night.

Credit must go to coach Frankie Yallop in this one, whose just about as inconsistent as they come in the gaffer department.

Yallop played San Jose’s traditional sit-and-spring game, inviting Seattle to attack, holding strong and bum-rushing the counter. It’s the way to beat Seattle, this year, last year, in the future until Sigi Schmid addresses his team’s appetite to get stretched and then have to defend miles of space on the counter.

The difference–a Wondo penalty conversion courtesy of a Matt Burch foul on Steven Lenhart in the box. It was a deserved if not often called fould and that was the difference.

And one more note. If you’ve been following along with TSG over the weekend, we’ve been begging for a suspension for the Sounders’ Osvaldo Alonso who intentionally shin shivered San Jose’s Rafael Baca in the head. The image below does not do it justice.



The Union – Whitecaps Sleep-A-Thon

Good on Vancouver. Extremely poor on Philadelphia.

You'd like to believe that arm points forward not back...

Vancouver had some missing engine parts and went on the road in a feisty environment to earn a point through a 0-0 draw. The Whitecaps have every reason to come out on the road with a defensive disposition–yet they still played the aggressor far more often than the opponent in this one.

The Union however have no excuse. Despite a facing an older backline and an ancient goalie, Union manager elected to hold off on deploying either Jack McInerny or Danny Mwanga until the second half in this one. Non-speedsters Chandler hoffman and started up top in this one.

If you can’t go for it at home against a visiting midtable side who is out of their timezone, when can you go for it?

The Union management should be looking hard this morning at Peter Nowak’s course this year in Philly.


• has run his best offensive weapon (Le Toux) out of town, despite…

• codling America’s kid Freddy Adu who has yet to produce up to the level and expectations of his contract while…

• benching his captain who was soundly confused by the whole affair.

That doesn’t include Nowak’s seeming desire to play a 4-4-2 despite deploying an oft-injured Gabriel Gomez (who excels when attacks are not named “counter”) and 30-year-old Brian Carroll (who has always excelled more with guile than speed).

Nowak’s decisions this year in Philly have been curious as best and one wonders if his way of doing things–not the coach’s ability mind you–has worn out its welcome in the Philly locker room.


You just got yourself the Revolution: 3-1, Jay over Bruce.

Talk of tunnel dust-ups (Beckham and more), lack of effort (Arena: “If I could have replaced all 11”) and more, the Los Angeles Galaxy share the basement in the Western Conference this morning with their MLS brethren Chivas USA).

Miss me?

The reality, a domino effect of missing Omar Gonzalez and Landon Donovan and shoddy midfield play (missing a little Chris Birchall bite, are we now?) has completely collapsed the style of place that Bruce Almighty wants to go with in Southern California.

Follow along with us.

Without Omar Gonzalez ruling the air and ably able to cover drifters behind the line as well, the Galaxy are playing hesitant in central defense. By ability and because of its skittishness, the Galaxy backline drifts backward in games.

This gets the negative ball rolling.

Now the midfielders are forced to cover much more ground in central midfield, exposing Beckham’s commitment to retreat and Juninho’s tactical nous with more open spaces. Leftside defender Todd Dunivant–largely overhyped last year–now has more ground to cover and can’t stand up forwards and wingers near the halfline with the confidence that there is someone patrolling behind him.

Ryan Guy went buzzing up, down and through Dunivant on Saturday night.

Can't come soon enough....

Forced backward on the pitch, the Galaxy still looked to play “Three flights up” to Edson Buddle and Robbie Keane, yet there was no oncoming trailer or winger slanting in to continue attacks. It was Robbie Keane-or-bust in the false #9 role on Saturday night.

Keane was fantastic, but not enough.

Meanwhile the Revolution outpaced the home side and converted their chances. Simple as that.

Luckily, Landon Donovan returns for the Galaxy and his industry and linking ability will take quite a bit of pressure of that midfield.

The Galaxy go hunting for that elusive next win this coming Saturday in Kansas City, certainly the weekend’s marquee match-up.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Union on 2012/04/02 at 2:14 PM

    Cap him!!! Hah.

    Not sure what Nagbe plans on doing in terms of his international career, as shaky as the US program has been recently in terms of tournament qualifying, Liberia isnt his ticket. He grew up in Ohio, so US citizenship can’t be too far off….

    For those that have followed him more than I, are his skills as legit as the wonder-goals from this year (and last year indicate? He’s 21, w/ 0 international experience, I’m thinking that is mainly bc playing under Caleb at Akron is way more logical than heading to Liberia to play with the U-20s. Everytime I’ve seen him he is class, he definitely is more than a one trick pony. His skills on the ball seem just as good as his speed.

    Whats the story?


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/02 at 2:17 PM

      he’s trying to gain citizenship apparently, but he only recently started the process. Awhile to go.

      According to Brian Sciaretta, he wants to play for the US.

      I mentioned last year that I think Nagbe will be ready for Europe this year–as in a trial or lower league that is. Last year, Spencer played him out on the wing a lot because he couldn’t deal with the hits. Showing he is capable this year.


      • Posted by Union on 2012/04/02 at 2:46 PM

        Thanks Matt. Is there a chance he is poised for a Brek Shea-esq emergence this year? As in, all of a sudden he takes over the MLS, becomes a top 5 player?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2012/04/02 at 4:50 PM

          Not sure where he plays in the Timbers system allow for that — remember Alhassan (who dominates the ball) was not in the 18 this match.

          I’ve always thought Nagbe has the chops, but he’ll need to be more consistent. I would say, if he stays and keeps progressing next year would be more his year. he’ll have more amazing moments this year though.

          Don’t know his ceiling yet, but because of his ability on the ball and his ability to play with quick action-reaction time that’s why I think he could give it a go in Europe.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/04/02 at 3:39 PM

        Heard a rumor he was engaged to an American girl, which would speed the process considerably if true.

        Anyway, hoping this doesn’t turn into a Yura Movsisyan situation.


        • Posted by John on 2012/04/02 at 5:02 PM

          Rumor is true, he proposed to her in portland.

          AFAIK the reason he ended up with portland is because vancouver knew that he wouldn’t play for them as that would have hosed his citizen path.

          The more you know.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/03 at 7:39 AM

          He’s not the next Yura Movsisyan, he’s the next David Regis. We need to get more American women to marry quality soccer players from countries that have no hope of succeeding in world football.


          • Posted by dth on 2012/04/03 at 8:57 AM

            Yura is also married to an American.

            Regis’s case is probably inapplicable here: it was in 1998–the citizenship process tightened post 9/11–and he was married to a government employee, which sped the process.


  2. Posted by LandoCalrissovan on 2012/04/03 at 6:50 AM

    Great stuff re Union. Pyongyang Piotr et al are understandably trying to spin a home draw against a depleted Vancouver as some kind of major victory (and, to be fair, it almost is considering the first three games), but only a few outlets (yours, Philly Soccer Page) are pointing to it as what it really is: more evidence of sputtering.

    Having Califf back and securing a clean sheet has somehow managed to obscure more of Nowak’s bizarre tactical selections (Lopez? Torres? Hoffman? Mwangmac in the second??), which I can’t imagine even Nick-Sak can particularly understand.

    I think we’re getting pretty darn close to a point where the Union would be wise to thank Peter for building up the program, put a plaque with his name on it at PPL, and send him on his way.


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