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Diego Valeri with another wonder goal. October 28, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in MLS, U.S. soccer.
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The little known footballing nation above Mexico produced a great goal this weekend. The Portland Timbers are tops of the west and headed to the playoffs? Yep, that’s how that works over here.. But before they get set to meet Colorado or Seattle the Timbers cemented their place in the standings with a 5-0 thrashing of Chivas USA.  Here is one of those goals, it’s a chip, its beautiful.

Cheers!

Neymar signs for… Oregon State University? May 31, 2013

Posted by michaeltomlinson in Brazilian soccer, MLS, Spanish soccer.
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The Brazilian starlet was all but destined to be Barcelona’s next great South American star. Instead, Neymar has decided to take his talent South beac… Err Corvallis, Oregon! As pictured below the 21-year-old striker has closely monitored the progression of Portland Timbers GREAT Ryan Johnson and has decided to take on 4 years of eligibility, just like former OSU stand-out, Johnson. This of course makes a lot of sense due to a recent independent study which I just made up that says  U.S. soccer players have a 74% chance to be more successful in the pro ranks if they opt for the college route. A couple more interesting statistics, Neymar is now 69% more likely to puke immediately following a beer bong attempt gone wrong, but is also 93% less likely to contract gonorrhea after a transexual orgy… We all have our vices.

With the African Nations Cup coming up, the Premier League needs Thierry Henry December 23, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in English soccer, U.S. soccer.
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Somewhere, someone seems to have decreed that the idea that Thierry Henry could sign for an English club this January should be treated as insanity. I don’t know why, because it makes perfect sense to me.

It may be that English pundits are simply unfamiliar with Henry’s time at Barcelona. The English narrative surrounding Henry is that Arsene Wenger took an anonymous Juventus winger and unleashed his potential by moving him to center forward. When he went to Barcelona, people seemed to forget about him after his misfit first season under Frank Rijkaard.

Nobody has ever given Henry enough credit for his second season at Barcelona. He scored more than a goal every other game. And he did it, playing on the left wing in a 4-3-3.

If Henry is seen as a player who can contribute effectively from the left wing in a front three, he seems like just the man for Arsenal. Gervinho will leave Arsenal for the African Cup of Nations in January. The Ivorian is the Gunners’ starting left winger and he’s similar in style to Henry: moves intelligently, cuts in onto his right. Henry’s no longer as fast as Gervinho, but he has a better touch and certainly finishes better. He also knows the club and appears to have matured and mellowed out. It doesn’t make sense to sign him as cover for Robin van Persie, since even if the Dutchman’s understudy, Marouane Chamakh, is going to the Nations Cup too, the South Korea striker Juyong will still be waiting in the wings.

And it’s not just Arsenal. Chelsea’s Salomon Kalou, another Ivorian striker who cuts in from the wing will also be leaving for the Nations Cup, along with Didier Drogba. Fernando Torres is basically no longer a footballer, and if he isn’t reincarnated with the club’s Ivorians away, meaning that Chelsea will be down to Daniel Sturridge, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku up front. Henry could do a job for them.

Henry has also been linked to Everton, which shows you how smart David Moyes is. The Toffees are short of goals and creativity and Henry would be an excellent source of either, certainly better than Louis Saha or Denis Stracqualursi.

There’s also Newcastle, which has a strong francophone emphasis, seems to be going places, and will lose Demba Ba to Senegal’s Nation’s Cup bench. These are just clubs that need cover, too. Henry could enhance nearly any of England’s clubs and, since the loan would be short-term, there’s very little downside to the move. If none of England’s clubs make a move for Henry this January, they’ll be the ones suffering from insanity.

Juan Veron delays retirement. YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS December 10, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Argentine soccer.
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When I read that legendary Argentine midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron announced he’ll delay his retirement until June, I

  1. Rejoiced
  2. Knew it was all about me.

As you’ll recall, when the Estudiantes man announced his retirement earlier this year, I promised to watch his last game. I didn’t get around to it. He’s giving me the opportunity to make good on my word. Bless.

Is winning with proactive soccer a bigger accomplishment than winning by counterattacking? December 10, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Chilean soccer, Spanish soccer, Tactics.
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I got to thinking about this after reading the final paragraphs of Nicholas Rosano’s excellent article about Universidad de Chile and its coach Jorge Sampaoli on SB Nation.

(Counter-attacking) has proven the recipe for teams outside of Argentina and Brazil to compete for the big boys in South America’s premier competition, but Sampaoli’s team seem intent on trying something different.

If Universidad de Chile can take down the big sides in Argentina and Brazil in both the Copa Sudamericana and Copa Libertadores while playing (proactive soccer), it will be a fantastic accomplishment.

I suppose it is; I certainly accepted it automatically on reading that, but then I got to struggling for a reason.

Attacking soccer is harder to pull off. It mostly centers around ball possession, and when you think about it, ball possession requires not only skill and tremendous teamwork, but also morale. You need to have confidence in your own ability and the ability of the teammate you’re passing to in order to play possession football successfully. So a coach needs to:

  1. Excavate players who are technically proficient enough to keep control of the ball
  2. Create an environment in which those players are familiar enough with their teammates’ movement to anticipate where they should pass the ball on the field.
  3. Devise a system that allows those players to exploit their talents.
  4. Inspire those players to belief in not only themselves, but also their teammates and the system they’re playing.
  5. Do this better than his opponent.

This is enough to make you wonder why people do it at all, but the answer is easy: proactive football played well enough is more effective. It also might explain why Barcelona is so successful: players who have grown up together or in the same system will more readily anticipate their teammates’ movement, and the shared experience will make it easier to motivate them. That very upbringing also emphasizes technique. When you throw in a coach who also has the same background, you’ve got far readier ground for a world-beating side. At almost any other club, you’d need to start pretty much where Barcelona was at the beginning of the 1990s to get where Barcelona is today.

Who Is Tim Matavž, and Why Does He Hate Freedom? November 15, 2011

Posted by michaeltomlinson in International soccer, U.S. soccer.
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With a most glorious two goal lead at half time the United States of America, freedom and gastric bypass looked to roll past Italy’s eastern neighbor and footy juggernaut, Slovenia. Comfortably embracing a 3-1 spot at the end of 45 minutes, stars and stripes were all smiles. Just to clarify I don’t like alliteration, that was an accident, forgive me. Someone who shan’t be forgiven is Mr. Matavž and his flamboyant display of rich talent and total disregard for America’s well being.  As if the soccer rich country of a bustling 2.1 million needed anymore help on the pitch, Matavž tried his best to keep our righteous brothers from the best country on earth from what was rightfully their own, a win. With his tricky footwork and top class positioning, Matavž exploited America’s most abundant natural resource, boundlessly slow center backs.

Matavz

Modern Fascist headdress

Sure Slovenia suffers from a large degree of crippling poverty and corruption but who are they, and who is Matavž to try to ruin our dreams on this day. I’m sure the 10’s of hundreds of people watching it on ESPN, like Alexi Lalas were thinking, why am I such an entitled ginger dickhead and who are these Yugoslavian fools trying to beat us at our arguably 4th most heralded sport. I’m not sure if we can prosecute Slovenian’s living in Slovenia who have never been to the States for Treason, but seriously looking into it is on my immediate agenda. Oh America ended up winning 3-2, but that isn’t the point, what is he trying to prove with a chefs hat and gloves on? Is this some sort of fascist attempt to recruit food service employees for a full on revolution? Probably.

SI.com reporter uncovers US Soccer’s player-cloning plot! November 12, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in U.S. soccer.
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Here’s a quote from Peter Berlin’s analysis of the recent friendly between the USA and France:

For that reason, it doesn’t matter now whether he believes his best midfield pairing involves Michael Bradley or Jermaine Jones or the starters Friday, Kyle Beckerman and Maurice Edu. Edu and Beckerman were both winning only their second caps. It will take a while before Klinsmann knows exactly what he has in them. He needs to find out.

(emphasis mine.)

Kyle Beckerman (17 caps) and Maurice Edu (30 caps) were winning their second caps?

There’s only one explanation for this: Peter Berlin, through dogged journalistic pursuit of the truth, has uncovered a shocking secret: The U.S. Soccer Federation, taking cues from the film Moon, has an infinite store of clones for several of its midfielders. They are periodically incinerated and replaced, really for no reason whatsoever, except possibly the LOLs.

Dastardly. But why does Berlin have to be so coy as to just hint.

US broadcasters paid more for World Cup broadcasting rights than any other country. That’s insane. October 16, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in U.S. soccer.
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At first it defies belief to think that a country that’s relatively indifferent to soccer can provide FIFA with its biggest TV rights payments. That’s what Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl said in his Thursday column.

But it actually makes sense.

  1. The US has a huge population, which is a lot of viewers to be reached.
  2. The US has a huge economy. US TV networks can afford to pay more than ones in Brazil.
  3. There are more Spanish-speakers in the US than in any other country aside from Mexico, according to some estimates, meaning that the US has one set of bids for a soccer-ambivalent majority population, and another for a soccer-mad minority. Wahl even says the Spanish-language rights to the World Cup go for more than the English-language ones, which is in itself crazy.

Nevertheless, mind-boggling.

Chicharito’s likelier to have learned about bicycle kicks from Hugo Sanchez than from Rooney October 12, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in International soccer, Soccer in the Americas.
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Mexican striker Hugo Sanchez is often erroneously credited with inventing the bicycle kick.

Yahoo blogger Ryan Bailey suggests Chicharito Hernandez learned to perform the bicycle kick from teammate Wayne Rooney, who scored from one against Liverpool last season.

But Hernandez has a countryman so closely associated with the move that people often mistakenly claim he invented it: the great Real Madrid striker Hugo Sanchez. In fact, below is an example of his work from a game against Athletic Bilbao that is almost identical to Hernandez’s top-corner effort in the video Bailey is blogging about:

Maybe-impossible feat makes former Crewe striker easily the greatest footballer in the history of St. Vincent & the Grenadines October 11, 2011

Posted by Alex Tomchak Scott in Soccer in the Americas.
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Former St. Vincent and the Grenadines striker Rodney Jack’s Wikipedia article states that, in addition to his footballing exploits, Jack is “best known … for his long-term relationship with singer/songwriter Ash Cherrington.”

Considering that the first five results for Cherrington’s name on Google are social networking profiles for someone named “Ash Cherrington” and number six is Rodney Jack’s Wikipedia article, Ash Cherrington is probably best known for his or her friendship with Rodney Jack.

So Rodney Jack’s celebrity derives from his friendship with someone known only for his friendship with Rodney Jack. I don’t believe that’s even possible, but somehow Jack has accomplished it. I think this makes him easily the greatest footballer in his country’s history. Let’s see Ezra Hendrickson accomplish the impossible.