The Weekend: Live Commentary

And we begin….

Oh look, Drogba's falling again..

42 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 5:08 AM

    Apparently Alex Song was just heard lecturing Aaron Ramsey about Ramsey’s need to hold his position. Arsenal fans, feel free to chortle in disgust.

    Why does Wenger persist in playing Song so often and not getting a better #6? Biggest personnel mystery among big English clubs, right next to Carroll* and Gareth Barry.

    * (My Carroll theory: a Liverpool scout meant to fly out to Bilbao to check out Llorente, but actually decided to party in Newcastle. He saw Carroll and said, “Aw shoot, he’s close enough” and that’s why we are where we are.)


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/21 at 5:16 AM

      Wenger doesn’t get a better #6 because he’s a stubborn, cheap bastard. He signed Song as a young player for something like 1 mil GBP and now he’s determined to prove that he’s a genius with all these players. It’s the same reason it took him forever to realize that Diaby was awful.

      If Liverpool were smart they would just follow Newcastle’s scouts around then offer 1 million more for any player that Newcastle wants to buy. It would be similar to the way that it seemed that Chelsea in the past decade were only signing players that Man Utd wanted (Robben, Essien, Obi Mikel). That way you get the good players while also putting down a rival. Although knowing the way Liverpool and their fans operate they believe that only Barca is a rival to them as the bestest football team in the world. They have won 5 European Cups you know.


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/21 at 6:20 AM

        Who do you suggest Wenger goes out to buy, who is not already playing for a big club on a big contract? One thing to criticise, but how about to offer some solutions?

        Of three of the hottest young DMs out there, I am thinking Yann M’Vila will be at Arsenal next season, unless PSG are determined. Strootman will probably go to United or City. And Martinez will likely stay in Spain.

        Don’t No. 6s traditionally play CB? I was of the understanding that it was the No.4 that plays DM? Just asking?!


        • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/04/21 at 6:57 AM

          Well according to Jurgen, that holding DM is the #6. Fifa 12 even agrees. :>

          Arturo Vidal is a #6 correct?

          Podolski is already in a Gunner state of mind, but Arsenal need a quality CAM if they want to go H.A.M. next season IMO


          • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 8:30 AM

            Was thinking Arturo Vidal last season specifically, yeah. Went to Juve but Arsenal could’ve offered Champions League instead. M’Vila will be an excellent pickup, of course.

            As to #10: I would guess, assuming health next year, we’ll see Wilshere given a try at #10. I wonder whether he’s a more natural #8, but I’ve heard speculation that he restrained his creative impulses in ’10-’11 because he was letting Fabregas do the business.


        • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/21 at 10:22 AM

          I have a solution for Wenger. It’s called man management. He played Mathieu Flamini over Lassana Diarra as Flamini’s contract was running down only to allow Diarra to leave for Portsmouth after 4 months. Flamini then walked on a free because Wenger had barely used him prior to that time.

          I thought the numbering system when back to front traditionally so from left to right in the back it was 3-4-5-2 not sure about the central defenders. I’d have to pull out my “Inverting the Pyramid” to be sure though.

          As others have mentioned either Vidal or M’Vila would work for Arsenal. That would require Wenger to actually spend some money though so I wouldn’t count on either happening.


          • Posted by Clarence on 2012/04/21 at 3:24 PM

            If you are talking about the traditional numbering system prior to squad numbers, it went as follows:

            Goal keeper 1 ( or 0 or 12)
            Right back 2
            Left back 3
            Right halfback 4
            Center back 5
            Left halfback 6
            Right winger 7
            Right inside forward 8
            Center forward 9
            Left inside forward 10
            Left wing 11
            Subs: 12, 13 , 14 and so on

            This system, even as far back as the 1960”s was never as rigid and people seem to think.

            When people say “traditional Number 6 or whatever” it depends on what team you are talking about and their tradition.

            Franz Beckenbauer wore #4 when he was an attacking right half for Germany but when he morphed into his iconic sweeper role he switched to #5.

            With English teams the #5 has traditionally meant a big, bruising powerful center half. Beckenbauer was certainly never that and neither was Zidane, a #10 who used to wear #5.

            The Dutch never cared much for numbers maybe because of their total football concept where a player could wind up playing at center half, right wing or left back all in the same half. They had keepers (Jongeblood ) who wore #8. And I believe Tierry Henri wore # 14 because it was Cruyff’s number, and both of them were starters not subs.

            George Best was regarded as one of the iconic Man U #7’s but he often wore #8, and #11.

            And for those of you who are violently incensed that Daniel Williams wears the #7 for the US , in the European Cup final in 1968, Man U vs, Eusebio and Benfica, Denis Law was hurt so his # 10 ( though he and Charlton often wore #8, and #9 as well) was worn by David Sadler who as best as I can determine played defensive midfield.

            Numbers are just rough guidelines.

            Wearing a # 3, 6, 10 or 11 does not stop you from playing on the right hand side of the field.


            • Posted by Alex on 2012/04/22 at 10:34 PM

              Danny Williams wore the 7 because that was pretty much his role, RM. He obviously was instructed to tuck in and defend more than our preferred RW Landon Donovan

          • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/21 at 7:41 PM

            A) how many players are on your teams?!
            B) does that form a pyramid?!

            I think you mean 2-3-5, no?


            • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/21 at 8:41 PM

              I was referring to the shirt numbers.

            • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/22 at 8:42 AM

              My bad, Jared. Re-reading your post, it makes sense as to what you’re referring to.

              Obviously my opinion is extremely UK centric, (3-6-5-2) that’s how it was ((in a 4-4-2 formation) when I grew up (with 12 and 14 as subs). Not sure how it is / was on the Continent.

            • Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/04/22 at 1:59 PM

              GeorgeCross smoking that good stuff huh

  2. Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 11:58 AM

    The upcoming TFC vs. Chicago match illustrates many of the problems with player development in MLS. With Chicago, you’ve got a manager who insists on trotting out guys like Oduro, Nyarko and Logan Pause–who are all OK players, but ones who won’t win a championship or fetch you a significant transfer fee. Meanwhile, Chicago’s got Orr Barouch on the bench–who’s been a very interesting player when I’ve seen him on the field–and hasn’t yet even let Victor Pineda get to the bench, despite their manager saying “We’re going to have to get him time” and his looking lively for the US u-20s. I’m not saying either of these guys have to be given a starting spot, but why not give them a chance off the bench once in a while?

    To make development work, it really has to be an institutional priority. The only real teams in the league that consistently value youth development are SKC and RSL. Probably not coincidentally, they’re the two best teams in the league.


    • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 12:57 PM

      Should probably add that it’s ridiculous Chicago only have one homegrown player from Chicago in the first place. The Chicagoland area has produced four US international players in top leagues (that I can think of off the top of my head)–Bradley, Lichaj, McBride, Guzan–which stacks up to any metropolitan area in the U.S., I’d imagine. That’s before considering the huge Latin population in the area. So Chicago is hugely behind in the youth development front–and that’s very unfortunate.


    • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/04/21 at 2:06 PM

      Ok, dth, I will bite. What do you suppose the reason is?

      Lets take NE as they are my local team (but by no means am I a fan or a close follower). They at best could hope for a 4/5 seed but have no real ambition past a first round exit. They have in my mind a mega-prospect in Fagundez (I know he won’t play for the USA which actually makes the point stronger in my mind). Fagundez has one game played so far and that was as a sub.

      Now here is the list of players that have more minutes then him at F so far this year:

      Ryan Guy – blah
      Sene – a good MLS plaer but a 26 year old international
      Brettschnider – a former U-20 that was picked up off waivers
      Cardenas – blah, uses an international slot
      Moreno – a 29 year old international player

      I am not saying Fagundez is better than all of these or even most of these players but you have a couple of servicable players. No one that is going to develop into the type of striker you need to be a Supporter’s Shield contender.

      With no relegation its not a need to win today to stay up.
      With no chance to win it all its not a need to win today
      None of those people are drawing me to see a bottom half of the table team in Foxboro
      Its not that any of those will net a profit on resale

      I just don’t get it.

      Logic would dictate that you get him 15 or so games. Maybe 10 20-30 minute stints and 5 starts. Let him learn let him make mistakes. It makes no difference in your season. If you have something then you can play him more next season, and sell him when he turns 18 or sign him to a young DP deal.


      • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 2:25 PM

        Fagundez is an interesting example. On one hand, you want to get him minutes as a professional. He’s ready technically and tactically. On the other hand, he’s tiny–and by tiny, I mean really tiny. So I’d be seriously worried about exposing him to injury by playing him a lot–or unless I carefully selected which teams to play him against.

        It’s not just playing a guy, but it’s playing him in situations that he can contribute to the team and learn from. And it’s about coaching him to improve. You look at Philadelphia and their youth brigade. Mwanga is worse in year three than in year one. Okugo rarely gets PT. Adu is shunted off to the wing more often than not (and unless you’re doing an Ashley Young/Andres Iniesta tucked-in winger type thing, I think we’ve determined to everyone’s satisfaction that that doesn’t work. If the Adu thing is going to work, it’s as a tucked-in winger, a withdrawn forward, or a #10.)

        What does it say that of the homegrown players who’ve made a difference over a significant amount of time–Najar, Hamid, Agudelo–that they all got their chance essentially by accident rather than as a result of a deliberate plan to build up a player from nonfactor to impact sub to starter? (Note, also, that we haven’t had an impact homegrown since those three who debuted in 2010.)


        • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/04/21 at 3:16 PM

          On Fagundez I suggested that he get a number of 30 minute stretches thinking of exactly what you pointed out.

          Now on the Philly team, we have a team that in the past three years has not developed their youth. I get this if you are Man U competing for a title, or even Bolton (this year) trying to avoid relegation.

          What has Philly gained by playing others over Okugo? What are they gaining by not playing him? Why wouldn’t you roll the dice and even it cost you a couple points a year you may get a decent transfer fee.

          I am agreeing with your point. I just can’t figure out why this is happening. I assumed there was some theory behind your post.


          • Posted by Clarence on 2012/04/21 at 3:37 PM

            It seems to me very year the standards and quality required to play in MLS go up.

            While I am not very familiar with how extensive a net, MLS teams cast when they work their homegrown player thing but given that they have not been at this very long is so surprising that their homegrown programs are yet to be as productive as everyone would like?



          • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 4:32 PM

            I don’t really have a grand unified theory besides observing MLS teams, as a whole, aren’t particularly good at it. Some teams have a ton of youth but not much idea of what to do with it (Union), some don’t have much of it at all (say, Seattle), and most have some but have no desire/ability to nurture it.


            • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/21 at 7:23 PM

              I think a big part of the issue with MLS playing youth is that with so many spots open for the playoffs teams try too hard to just get in. A lot of times that involves playing a terrible style with mid level journeymen.
              Throw in the fact that the coaches are just recycled so there isn’t that much in terms of change in style. Even rookie coaches a lot of the time are just assistants of previous coaches who don’t adapt (see Marsch in Montreal).

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/04/21 at 9:16 PM

              Sorry for the misread. I thought you had some theory.

              As for Jared’s theory about too many playoff spots not sure I buy it. The fact that someone like the Rev’s are competing for 5th and a playoff spot can’t translate to any significant number of season tickets or increased attendance down the stretch. Other than revenue I am not sure what a first round exit gets you.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/04/21 at 9:21 PM

              Matt, now that you have the March to the Match podcast, any chance you could talk to some folks and get someone to write a piece on this particularly in the wake of the Olympics and the story about how the Mexican league has a youth minute minimum.

            • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 9:28 PM

              Mexico doesn’t have a youth minute minimum–they scrapped it. They also have playoffs, though perhaps the claim is that 8/20 is just right but 10/19 is too many. At any rate, I don’t think either of these things really explain it. Brazil, Argentina, Germany, etc.–none of them have youth minute minimums either.

              I think it’s mostly cultural. The idea of taking a holistic developmental perspective of an athlete for the pros from age 16 to age 21 or so is basically unknown in all other American sports. Naturally our culture doesn’t really get it.

            • Posted by BernieBernier on 2012/04/21 at 9:35 PM

              Sorry for this but continuing the last post…

              Our best U-23 players/young, all but Shea developing outside the MLS.


              Yet other than Shea and Gil (and maybe Adu although I wouldn’t call what he is doing in Philly as development) we see many MLS field players that were top tier prospects 3 years ago stagnating at an age where they should be breaking out. If by 23 you can’t start in the MLS odds are very good that by 27 you won’t be playing CL.

              Bunbury (this one seems to be criminal)
              Agudelo (arguably as he can’t seem to start)

    • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 9:06 PM

      The weirdest non-use of young/homegrown players has to be FC Dallas, though. They’ve invested an incredible amount of money in their academy teams and those academy teams have responded by producing a high number of youth national team players. Those youth national team players have, in turn, been signed by the pro team. But the pipeline springs a leak there: not a single player is a regular for the senior team.

      It’s not as if these players have been tried and found wanting; they haven’t been tried at all. This refusal to try reached absurd heights today in Vancouver. The team is down 1-0. There are homegrown creative talents on the bench. Only one sub has been made–the nondescript journeyman Scott Sealy. Do the homegrown talents get a chance? Late in the game, at 88′, there’s a corner and a sub is made. Is it a homegrown? Nay: it’s…a mid-twenties centerback. One sub goes unused. So many questions, like: what, exactly, is going to go wrong if you put in a homegrown forward? What’s the point of investing all this money if you’re just not going to use the players the system produces? What’s the point of signing players before they hit college if you’re not going to play them in the pros?

      I remember reading that one of the homegrown players for Dallas played a grand total of 374 minutes in the reserve league last year. That’s, like, nothing. If he had gone to college he probably would’ve played 20 games or so; at 60 minutes a match, he’d’ve gotten 1200 minutes or so. I’m not so sure 374 MLS reserve minutes > 1200 college minutes purely from a soccer perspective.

      Anyway, I hope in the long run MLS front offices don’t answer the question “What’s the point of having an academy/signing players out of high school?” with “there is no point.” Because I could understand how you’d come to that conclusion.


  3. Posted by Antonio Henry on 2012/04/21 at 1:56 PM

    How about Newcastle? They go fresh off of promotion last season to a Champions League finish(potentially) this season. Has there ever been such a turn around like that? At this rate they might as well go ahead and bid for a quality defender like Adil Rami or Medhi Benatia.


    • Posted by Jared on 2012/04/21 at 4:45 PM

      Nottingham Forest under Clough in the 70’s. I believe they went straight from Divison 2 (Championship equivalent) to Division 1 Champs (Premier League equivalent).


  4. Posted by Crow on 2012/04/21 at 5:05 PM

    Wooten with the game winner in his first start. Kaiserlauten will be relegated but I’mm guessing Wooten may go elsewhere?

    Eddie Johnson retires.

    Dortmund wins the Bundesliga. I still don’t know how that happened after Bayern’s start and all of Dortmund’s injuries.

    I’m worried about Bolton. They have been playing better and have games in hand but they are running out of time to be in 19th. What happens to Stu and Ream if they get relegated?


    • Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 5:35 PM

      Re: Dortmund: not losing in 26 games will tend to get it done. Hoping that we can see the Gotze/Kagawa/Reus/Lewandowski quartet together next year. That’s nasty attack.


      • Posted by Crow on 2012/04/21 at 8:27 PM

        I really hope they can play like this in Champions League next year…. with the team intact. With all the revenue coming in they better keep the team together. You’d be crazy to leave this team unless you would be starting in Madrid, Barcelona, and maybe Manchester.

        Side note- Will Boyd get some time down the stretch for Dortmund with the title wrapped up?


  5. Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 7:20 PM

    Camilo with a beaut against FC Dallas. Why hasn’t he been playing again? Speaking of odd Whitecaps decisions, they’re persisting with their “Omar Salgado is the next Brek Shea” experiment. Crazier experiments have been tried.


  6. Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 8:15 PM

    Cronin:Beckham::Baca:Juninho. Discuss.


  7. MLS is having the weirdest day. In all 3 matches I’ve watched today the teams with the most possession, most attempts on goal, most completed passes, best passing accuracy have lost. Yet the ones with most fouls have won. Wonder what that says about MLS today?

    Any thoughts?


    • Posted by Berniebernier on 2012/04/21 at 10:00 PM

      It says that in MLS, much like the USMNT, you can win ugly. Play tight organized defense, hack down skill players, have a burner or two for on the counter, be in good shape and un your ass off, when in doubt foul good attacking players is a recipe for success.

      Note that this works in most countries. See Stoke.


  8. Posted by dth on 2012/04/21 at 10:34 PM

    If Steven Lenhart were named Rafa Marquez, would we let him get away with his antics?


    • Well said. I hate that guy with a passion! He’s just a nasty player. Although without his douchebaggery we wouldn’t know how awesome Mike Magee is in goal! His diving saves were some of the most epic moments in MLS history.


  9. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/22 at 10:16 AM

    Liverpool are almost 40 points behind Man United. That is ridiculous.

    Would love to know what their ‘cost per point’ is (wage bill / no. of points).

    Actually would be interesting to see this across the leagues, to see if Soccernomics is correct with their assertion that wages accounts for +95% of final league position. So we would able to (crudely) see if a manager is ‘under performing’ or ‘over performing’ or performing as expected, when comparing this to their actual league position.

    Does anybody know where I could find this data? I can only see Salary Tables that are a few years old…


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2012/04/22 at 10:21 AM

      Perhaps there will will an inevitable time lag as teams release data. And I suspect some teams that are ‘private’ entities don’t have to publicly reveal their accounts?


  10. Posted by Ufficio on 2012/04/22 at 11:17 AM

    Who will score more for the US during qualifying: Clinton or Josmer?


    • Posted by dth on 2012/04/22 at 12:44 PM

      Probably Clint.

      Here’s the attacking lineup I want to see:

      Howard; F. Johnson, Cameron, Bocanegra, Chandler; Bradley, Kljestan; Gomez, Dempsey, Donovan; Altidore.


  11. Posted by dth on 2012/04/22 at 4:53 PM

    So who’s going to be Thierry Henry’s Ruud Gullit?


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