Archive for August, 2012

Scratchwork: Dempsey At Spurs: How A Texan Fits In Across The ‘Hood In London

Dempsey, White Harted.

Quick scribbling on Clint’s move to Spurs before the weekend. Hardly proofread.

A Twitter-refreshing-exhausted US fan base exhaled in relief Friday as the United States chief attacking export, Clint Dempsey, settled in down the street at White Hart Lane.

Dempsey–though to be headed for much of the window to Liverpool–joins a smartly-operated team that is at an inflection point in its trajectory to being a yearly Champion’s League contender.

With former manager Harry Rednapp in charge, the Spurs hustled themselves to a Champion’s League birth two years ago, only to see their run to Europe’s top tournament and standing in the domestic league suffer under the weight of both competitions without the requisite amount of depth.

With Rednapp jettisoned in the offseason and Chelsea Scarlet Letter A, V & B, Andre Villas Boas, the Spurs continue their lofty aspirations, but are currently undergoing some early season struggles to integrate into AVB’s system.

Now the question where is where does a Texan fit into the plan.

The best way to review the Spurs is a team that plays a 4-3-3, but whose compositional components really deploy more in a 4-2-3-1.

A possible Spurs formation.

(Note: In the diagram above, on the backline, Kaboul is out for Spurs currently and Michael Dawson, William Gallas and new recruit Jan Vertonghen will all bear central defense responsibilities).

The reps at the spear of the formation will likely go to former Arsenal and Manchester City man Emanuel Adebayor, a gifted and start target forward who has increasingly improved his distribution game as he enters the later stages of his career. He’s backed by and/or will occasionally play with Jermaine Defoe up top.

Next comes Dempsey’s “line” which consists of an oleo of Clint, Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Aaron Lennon as a likely rotation of four players across three positions. The player roles here will be backed up by David Bentley (yes, he’s back) on the right. Young attacking part Danny Rose has been loaned out to Sunderland.

Behind the band of attackers are two midfield engines where likely starters will be another Fulham man inbound, Moussa Dembele, inhabiting Luka Modric’s carriage role (though playing it differently) and Sandro playing AVB’s “Busquets” role. Both Scott Parker and Jake Livermore will rotate into these roles and occasionally Dembele will push up into the attacking line.

Best bet on Dempsey? He’ll play centrally in a role similar to the one that Rafael Van Der Vaart inhabited. Occasionally, he’ll play any number of other positions, from up top in a target role (actually the role he excelled most in last year at Fulham) to cutting in from the left wing and running off the right hash as well.

Dempsey should see at least 66% of the snaps on the season. You don’t buy a 29-year-old player in the prime of his career to change his playing frequency and use as a super sub.

The following schematics show other deployments where Deuce may get some playing time.

Dempsey may be deployed occasionally as an in-cutting left midfielder in a role similar to one that Bob Bradley favored him in early in Bradley’s tenure coaching the USMNT. Gareth Bale very sparingly could be used in the reserve LFB role when Assou-Ekotto needs rest.

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Liverpool Hotspurned: Dempsey Tottenham-Bound As Window Closes

Clint Dempsey signed a three-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur on Friday, just hours before the end of the transfer window.

Sky Sports reporting the clubs had agreed on a transfer fee of 6 million pounds ($9.5 million).

Will The Deuce Abide…and remain at Fulham?

UEFA Champion’s League Guns Drawn: Madrid? City? Oh My…

The UEFA Champion’s League draw went down today…. and let’s just say that PSG, Barcelona and United made out like bandits.

Madrid, Man City and Dortmund …. not to mention Ajax. Yeah, they’ll be battling each other in the next round. Better have plenty of team depth.

A look below.

Group A

FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev, PSG, Dinamo Zagreb

Group B

Arsenal, Schalke, Olympiacos, Montpellier

Group C

AC Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, Anderlecht, Malaga

Group D

Real Madrid, Manchester City, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund

Group E

Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus, FC Nordsjaelland

Group F

Bayern Munich, Valencia, Lille, BATE

Group G

Barcelona, Benfica, Spartak Moscow, Celtic

Group H

Manchester United, Braga, Galatasaray, CFR Cluj

Reports: Caleb Porter To Be Named Portland Timbers Honcho

Chief Chainsaw…

The rumors have wafted for days now and now tomorrow seems like the day.

Akron wundercoach Caleb Porter breaking his contract that runs through 2020 and taking the top spot on the bench on the sideline at Jeld-Wen.

It’s a splashy hire, but anything but a secure–it’s somewhat analogous perhaps to when Rick Pitino went pro after many years at the helm at Kentucky (or even Providence for that matter). Can Porter, does Porter have the tactical managerial chops–ones that weren’t present as the US U-23’s crashed out of their invitation to the Olympics or was his success chalked up to recruiting? Or does a superior recruiting record obscure his tactical ability.

Caleb Porter to be named Portland Timbers’ head coach.


Cat Out of The Bag? Is Dempsey Sunderland AFC-bound?

Dempsey: These transfer rumors have nine lives…

Murmurs buzzed Sunday evening of Clint Dempsey headed to Sunderland.

They’ve heated today with now news of a price ($12M USD) and that Sunderland midfielder and former Manchester United castoff Keiran Richardson might be sent on the train the other way if Dempsey moves to the Black Cats.

More tweets and rumors that Dempsey was taking his medical late English time today.

So what happened with Dempsey if this move comes to fruition? Let the speculation begin. (Let it be said that TSG said was a soft market for the Texan, unfortunately that is).


The Weekend: Live Commentary

Rough end of week for TSG. We’ll have more stuff next week.

Enjoy the final days of August(a).

Man City v. Liverpool the big one in Britland. RBNY vs. Sporting KC (and unfortunately no chance for another Espinoza-Henry tete-a-tete) the big one from the domestic selection.

Differencemaker? PLEEAAASSE!

TSG Holds Court On Yanks Abroad With “The Hitman” Brian Sciaretta (Part I of II)

(This intro written just about one year ago.)


The first time I met Brian Scriaretta was at the USA-Chile Camp Cupcake closer match in January 2011.

I had the pleasure of sitting next to the guy in the press box and our opposite roots of reaching that press box came out in our first conversation.

Brian, “So are you on this Twitter thing? I just started man.”

Matt, “Yeah, it’s really good at finding out half-truths, ridiculous commentary and having clichés RT’d.”

Brian, “Whoa, you have like (some number in the 2000s) followers! I’ve got like 200.”

Matt, “There are folks with like 80,000. Most of mine are stunningly beautiful women who have zero followers and offer work-at-home kits anyway and want me to click on links.”

After out technology chat, Brian proceeded to regal me with the tales of US players abroad that I had never heard of. Jonathan Brooks, Sean Cunningham and more.

To be honest, I felt like trying to sneak a few keystrokes into the Googlilator when he was talking so I didn’t sound like I worked at Bleacher Report.

Targeted by The Hitman…

At the time, Brian was going on about this guy, Tim Something …. Timmy Chandler–for those that don’t know Brian got the first interview with the now somewhat famous US Men’s (half) National Teamer.

I learned about a few other players in Germany whose names sounded like serial killers and questioning whether Teal Bunbury, fresh off his exciting play in South Africa and January Camp, had filed his one-time switch.

Brian has a virtual encyclopedia of knowledge of young US players in his head and at his fingers and he goes about providing info and interviews of players who will become popular two years from now. If I’m ESPN, I would hire the guy just because he’d hockey stick my SEO (search engine optimization.)

Brian is so good at tracking down US players (the nether reaches of Peru) that TSG coined the nickname “The Hitman” for him because, well, “he’ll find you.”

Now… Part I of II, TSG’s finally sits down with American soccer media’s Hitman. We’ve been trying to put this back-and-forth together for a year, but Brian’s been busy tracking down the next American Soccer Yeti and I, well, haven’t.


TSG: In your opinion, who are the top 5 players abroad that US fans should be excited about in terms of solid club play and contributions to the national team?

Fabian, #1

The Hitman: The first and foremost is Fabian Johnson. I honestly believe that this guy will be an enormous boost to the US team for years to come. He has a great attitude and is all business when he’s on the field. Just look at how he played last season. Up through the winter break he was in the midfield and was second in the Bundesliga in assists. Then he moved to left back and was one of the best left backs in the Bundesliga. I think for the national team his future will be in the midfield.

I also think a lot of Americans really need to be keeping a close eye on Sonderjyske midfielder Conor O’Brien who is playing very well in the Danish Superliga. His plays as a central midfielder that sits deep but makes plays. He also is solid defensively as well. With Jose Torres still very inconsistent for the US national team, Conor O’Brien may be a player flying under the radar.

In terms of up and coming players we will talk more about Brooks and Gatt shortly but they are the top two on my list of up and coming American players.As far as teenagers who I think is how you define up and coming, I rate the Liverpool duo of Villyan Bijev and Marc Pelosi highly. In the United States I also think Luis Gil and Jose Villarreal are looking good. Jerome Kiesewetter just signed an impressive professional contract.

TSG: So your top five….

The Hitman: So in terms of top 5 teenage American prospects here is my top five:

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