Friday, August 31, 2007

I shall return!

Slurpo-san is headed out of town for a few weeks, and so it is with a heavy heart that I leave you in the capable hands of Scotto. Who knows when I will return from the Atlantic armpit of Florida, but hopefully it will not be there any longer than necessary. In the meantime, over to you Scotto!!!

Stay tuned for Danny Szetela decision...

Danny Szetela's future home should be decided today reports Ives Galarcep on his blog. Will it be Roma, Brescia or new suitor Newcastle United??? And, when will he be leaving? Immediately or Jan 1st?

(Related question: the guy has not really impressed in MLS. What gives? Why do some teams pluck young players that haven't really succeeded in MLS? And why don't they succeed in MLS? Convey played well in D.C., but seemed to fade his last season in the league, as if he was not really into it, so perhaps these players lack motivation in this league? The book is out on Adu. But, does MLS not develop players well? Beasley certainly does NOT fall into this category, nor does Bocanegra or McBride. And Jozy seems to be coming along nicely. Maybe, though, every player is different, and responds differently to different stimuli. Thoughts?)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Beckham Injury Watch, Part Deux

The good news is that David Beckham's ankle will have a little more time to heal. The bad news is that this latest layoff is the result of yet another injury to the Fragile One.

Apparently Becks injured his knee during last night's SuperLiga final, which the Galaxy lost on penalties to Mexican side Pachuca. At least LA finally managed to score 2 goals in a game...too bad one of them was for the other team. And not that the Galaxy really had a chance to make the playoffs, but any lingering hopes of a miracle run are certainly over now. Too bad the MLS doesn't relegate teams to the USL, otherwise there would be a legitimate chance that the Galaxy would be dropped and forced to sell Becks back to England lest he suffer the ignominy of playing for a 2nd division US team.

It seems that many of the worst-case scenarios for Beckham's MLS career are coming true:

1) crazy travel schedule, including England matches, leading to exhaustion? check!

2) nagging injuries made worse by the fact that several MLS teams play on turf? check!!

3) Becks the recipient of many hard tackles from overzealous and reckless opponents? check!!!

4) 32-year old midfielder with a history of ailments breaks down? check!!!!

Hopefully, this will just be a bump in the road and this layoff will give him ample time to rest and recuperate, and he'll be back next Spring fit and better than ever...just in time for Euro 2008!

Case closed!

Well, I think we can finally close the case of the missing ram. A stumper it was, and we were in a pretty tight jam there for a while. I wasn't sure we were going to make it. But, after a little note back to HQ (in this case, Yanks Abroad), everything came to a satisfactory conclusion.
Once we pulled the mask off of the villain responsible for hiding Benny, it turned out to be none other than the old nemesis of all Americans trying to ply their trade in the English footy leagues, the Home Office.
Said the Office, "We would have gotten away with it without the meddling of you pesky bloggers!"
Thanks to YA for getting to the bottom of this riddle.
As for Benny, well, Benny will be all right. Played 60 in a reserves match last night and hopes to see action this weekend against Liverpool. Ah, it reminds me of the case of the plodding Liverpudlians...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Szetela move near?

Slurpo-san thought that Danny Szetela's loan move to AS Roma was a done deal, but apparently not. Word has it that Reading, Everton, Lazio, Celtic, Rangers, Hertha Berlin and, yes, AS Roma are still in the hunt for Szetela's signature. Go Danny go, get away from MLS while there's still time! Don't become the next Mastroeni!!

Slurpo-san thinks that Szetela played exceptionally well during the U.S's U-20 World Cup run this summer, so its not surprising to see the long list of potential suitors.
Its good to see players capitalizing on strong showings in international tournaments, including Zizzo, Adu and now Szetela from the U-20 team, and Feilhaber from the Gold Cup and Copa America (ugh) teams. Stand by for a host of Jozy Altidore rumors as soon as he turns 18 in November, with a move during the January transfer window a distinct possibility.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The mystery thickens; time to bring in added investigative wattage

The clock is ticking indeed! We noted below the curious disappearance of Benny Feilhaber from Derby's lineups so far this year despite the team's early struggles. Thought we might have an answer when a popular Derby County FC site reported this morning that Benny was set to make his Rams debut tonight in a Carling Cup matchup with Championship side Blackpool (great name). Again, the article reports that the manager stated that Benny had settled in well!

Come match time, and, voila, no Benny! Not even on the bench. This is getting kind of odd considering there has been no comment from the team. Is Benny, much like Frank and Joe above, tied up in some haunted mansion? I'm sending a telegram up Bayport way to get some extra help on this puzzler.

MLS--Minor League Soccer

In this first installment of what is certain to become a running feature, we bring you the continuing misadventures of MLS--Minor League Soccer. As this league, which is supposedly in its ascendancy, struggles to make itself relevant in the USA and in the greater footballing world, there have been and will continue to be missteps.

Scotto previously noted the fact that the Dallas paper printed the picture of the wrong Denilson, and the WNBA's supremacy over the Galaxy-Chivas derby.

And now? Attendance for Wednesday's SuperLiga match between the Galaxy and Pachuca has been capped at 12,500 despite the fact that the Home Depot Center seats 27,000! And why would MLS and the Galaxy voluntarily cut their gate receipts by more than half????

It seems that HDC shares space with Cal State Dominguez Hills, and "Attendance was limit traffic and ease parking problems for students in their first week of fall classes."

What the?! First, quick show of hands--who outside of Carson, CA, has ever heard of CSUDH? Second, the fact that MLS would allow something as significant as attendance--and the resulting profits--at a marquee event to be affected by something so random as "student parking issues" is just mind-boggling.

If MLS cannot overcome issues like this, soccer will never "make it" into mainstream sporting America.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Weekend wrap

My two big stories you can find below (Klinsi and Benny). Otherwise, here's my executive summary of the weekend:

1. ManU was really lucky to get 3 points against Tottenham. That said, Scholes was great.

2. I love Reading manager (and economic historian) Steve Coppell:

“I’m old school, I suppose, but I want someone to say to me: ‘I made my fortune in
electronics, you know about football. I’ll look after the business, you take
care of the football, and we’ll both get on with it’. That’s my environment to
work in.”

3. Dempsey opened his account for the season (1:12 into video) for Fulham in his first start of the year. Keller also got his first start with Fulham. Usual result on the road, though, as the Cottagers go down to Villa 2-1.

4. Team Friedel (Blackburn) and Team Howard (Everton) battled to an entertaining 1-1 draw.

5. Really enjoyed the ManCity-Arsenal match. And glad to see Sven lose.


1. Slurpo-san summed up the DC-Toronto match about right. Zzzzzzz.

2. That's all I saw. Not sure if I had the option of watching anyone else.

3. Enjoyed the recent Q&A on Ives Galarcep's blog. Lots of Q's about MLS expansion. 18 teams by 2012??? Yowsers. Might be a tad many for the US player pool to support. But are you thinking what I'm thinking? Get the boots out and go for a jog, and let's get ready to walk on!!!

I'm going to try and make it as a reserve right back for "PSV Cleveland." Who's with me?

Finally, MLS goal of the week: Jozy's 25-yard field goal attempt (check out video highlights): it's long enough, it's...GOOD!

We noted last week the signing of Denilson by FC Dallas. We figured we were talking about the 30-year old member of the 2002 World Cup-winning Brazil side, and former member of Balompie Blog-favorite Real Betis (Beeeee-tis!). Well, not so fast. The article announcing the signing in the Fort Worth Star Telegram posts a picture of the 19-year old Arsenal midfielder who goes by the same name. Typically ignorant MLS reporting or an amazing coup by the league? (I personally think Denilson is making an unwise career choice by leaving Arsenal for FC Dallas.)

Episdoe IV: A New Hope

The Galaxy is in a state of civil war.

The Colorado Rapids, with strikes from Conor Casey, Mike Petke and Colin Clark, have just won yet another victory against the evil Galaxy empire. After the battle, journalist spies managed to steal secret plans to the empire’s ultimate weapon, the KLINSMANN, a legendary striker with enough power to destroy the entire league. Pursued by the empire’s sinister agents, KLINSMANN is the only coaching hope to save Beckham and restore winning to the Galaxy…

Slurpo-san says...

Slurpo-san (who is considering using the 3rd person to refer to himself in all future posts) was visiting his old, and soon-to-be new, hometown this weekend. Therefore Slurpo-san was deprived of all EPL-action. the only footie Slurpo-san watched was the dismal Toronto-DC United affair which doesn't warrant further mention. On the bright side Slurpo-san, and Slusho-san (the official wife of Slurpo-san--tip of the cap to TMQ), got to eat some great food, hang out with family and go house-hunting w/ the official realtor of the Slurpo family. So it wasn't all bad. Slurpo-san will try to pick up the posting pace this week, and keep your eyes open for a new feature: "Slurpo-san's weekly rant." Stay tuned for more details.

The Case of the Missing Ram

More detailed thoughts of the weekend in the EPL and MLS this evening, but until then, Balompie is putting out a call for all amateur sleuths for a most intriguing missing persons case.

As we all know, newly promoted Derby County (aside: should we henceforth dub Derby "DAAAAARGH-by?") recently signed America's hopeful-savior in the midfield, Benny Feilhaber. Benny, by all accounts, has looked good in practice, and has been in good form for the Nats since summer. Yet, not only did he not see any action in Saturday's brutal loss to fellow-promotee Birmingham, he didn't even dress. What gives? The Rams are, frankly, not looking good thus far, and, logic would suggest that the team would be eager to try out their new (and creative) midfield acquisition.

So, what's the story? I have yet to find an answer, though there are all sorts of curious theories afloat.

In separate Ram news, new-Derby-signee Eddie Lewis, aka "Lazarus", made a pretty good debut against Birmingham. One of the few brightspots, Eddie even notched an assist on a pin-perfect cross from the left flank that should cause all U.S. fans to get all dewy-eyed from nostalgia.

Off to my violin...

Friday, August 24, 2007

A WNBA Super Clasico!!!

I feel bad for MLS sometimes. Last night, the (surely self-dubbed) "Super Clasico" derby between the LA Galaxy and Chivas USA was delayed by...a WNBA game. And, not just any WNBA game, but the first triple overtime game in the history of the league. Ouch.
I guess MLS decided to start the game before the television coverage switched over and we finally got to the game about 12 minutes in. I hope this isn't a sign of the pecking order over at ESPN. I can kind of sort of understand not switching over during what might have been the most thrilling game in WNBA history (I can't say for sure as this marked my first WNBA viewing experience--it was FAN-God awful). But, I thought maybe, just maybe, one of the twenty other ESPN channels might have switched to the game. Well, ESPN Classic did switch from its normally scheduled the WNBA game. Ouch ouch.

Once we finally got to the game, though, we saw Chivas beat down a thoroughly miserable-looking Galaxy side. Galaxy bruiser and purported midfielder Kevin Harmse (pictured) finally got tossed from a game for a sly uppercut thrown during a scrum that ensued after a hard foul on Beckham by Chivas MF Jesse Marsch. I say "finally" because it's hard to watch Galaxy games and not dislike Harmse. He's kind of like Robbie Savage for Blackburn but without any positive soccer skills whatsoever.

Anyway, no way Becks should have come back for the second half. He was exhausted and ineffective (not surprising), but with a big Galaxy middle finger to Fortuna, out he came for the entire 2nd half. Oy...were they tempting fate. He ended up limping off the field at the end. He went 90 with a man down! ARGHHHHH! Sub him out, for the love of God! It was painful to watch. I wanted to strangle Galaxy manager Frank Yallop through the TV. Yallop seemed to push it off on Beckham--"he said he wanted to go." Of course he's going to say that. Manage him! Take him out. You were getting trounced anyway!

Oh well. Nice job by Chivas. MoM: a lively Maykel Galindo and an effective Sacha Kljestan (tie).

Hey Freddy you're so fine, you're so fine you blow my mind, Hey Freddy!

As we all know, Freddy Adu, Landon Donovan's successor as US Soccer's golden boy, made a summer move to Benfica. Interesting story below about what Freddy has to prove at Benfica. The author is a bit harsh about the Adu-hype machine, but I do agree that its time for Freddy to deliver on the field, and if his performance at the U-20 WC is any indication, I think he's a good bet to impress.

My biggest concern is whether he falls victim to the age old problem of having to impress a new coach who is likely to bring in his own favorite players, and who has nothing invested in the players already with the team:

I for one am stoked to see what Freddy can do with regular training with high-level talent. He'll be 21 at WC 2010, so there's no reason to think he can't make the USMNT and contribute.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

"I'm this ugly and still the women are all over me..."

Looks like FC Dallas will finally be utilizing their DP slot with Denilson deciding to join the Hoops:

Well, he'll be entertaining. The title of this post refers to a comment he made re Beckham: "He’s pretty. So he’s very lucky: he’s both a footballer AND pretty. I’m this ugly and still the women are all over me."

If the overall attractiveness of the FC Dallas roster might take a hit, it's safe to assume the attractiveness of their play should improve (assuming he meshes). Toja and Denilson roaming the midfield? Man. Hope the fans turn out.

As for his looks, judge for yourself (but he's no Eric Estrada).

American Goalkeepers: the new black

I guess everybody just has to have one--an American goalkeeper that is. Fulham FC notes on their website the signing of aging Ami backstop Kasey Keller (link below). Not too surprising really after the gaffes last weekend for poor Fulham. But, also, perhaps a sign that Lawrie Sanchez may not be too dissatisfied by all the Amis he has on his bench???

Separate Q: With now 4 yank keepers plying their trade in the EPL, are we finally seeing the fruits of Sylvester Stallone's starring role as Hatch in "Victory"? Forget Bradenton, it's time to make a stirring WWII-era football pic with a stud American forward.

(Separate Q: how long before Derby comes a'courting for Tony Meola?)

new PT unis

reason #6,784,378 why I'm glad I dropped my letter: new PT uniforms! Yes, the Mullenator has mandated new PT uniforms that include "odor resistant shorts". (Was this really a problem? and if so, everyone who has ever worked in ship's laundry should receive an immediate lifetime pension and some sort of congressional medal.)

the possible captions for this photo are endless...feel free to chime in with your own suggestions. Here are a few to get you started:

"check out the odor-resistant shorts on BH3 Fairsunnyweather!"

"So I was bummed about getting extended in the desert until I saw these new uniforms. Thanks Mullenator!"

The hex continues...

Random thoughts on USA-Sweden from Slurpo-san:

1) The FSC commentary was horrendous--they could have at least tried to make it seem like the the play-by-play and color guys were sitting pitchside rather than in a stateside studio...but no. Limited crowd noise, complete ignorance of substitutions, this was just a tremendously poor production.

2) Unlike the FSC commentators, one of whom went so far as to call him a "wildcard" since he was the only member of the back four who didn't play at the Gold Cup, I think Cherundolo played well.

3) Bornstein:Bradley::Agoos:Arena. I can no longer rationally discuss his continued inclusion in the team. I remain convinced that Bornstein has compromising pictures of Bradley, a goat and a liter of tequila squirreled away in a safety deposit box.

4) Apart from Beasley blowing a gilt-edged chance in the first 3 minutes, the team had little attacking edge. And how could it considering there were 6(!) midfielders on the pitch. Donovan and Dempsey are miscast as strikers, particularly against burly European opposition. Perhaps ONE of them would be effective playing off a McBride-esque target man, but we'll never score against the big (non-Mexico) boys of the world without a more traditional 4-4-2 and a target man of note. Also, Feilhaber does not belong in exile on the wing--he needs to be at the center so that attacking moves can flow through his fluent passing and use his excellent vision.

5) Timmy! He was fantastic, and single-handedly saved us for a 3-0/4-0 hammering.

6) Ibrahovic could have had 3 all by himself in the first 15 minutes. This guy is a stud.

7) good to see Convey getting a run out, but I still don't understand what Bradley sees in Davies.

8) I'm over Oguchi--I used to think he had Rio Ferdinand-type potential, but I wonder whether his understanding of the game will ever match his obvious physical gifts. I'd rather see Charlie Blackmouth and DeMerit in central D.

9) I like that we're willing to go over to Europe and play big names, and also call in our Euro-based players. But its really hard to take anything positive from this match.
Scotto's take:
I concur with Slurpo-san. I guess every coach will have his boys, but I was a little worried when Bornstein was even selected. Why bring an MLS-er to Europe when you have plenty of defenders playing over there who you should be taking a look at? Didn't make sense. And now, I'm worried about the selection rut Bradley seems to be falling into. Specifically:
(1) I really like Michael Bradley's upside, and I guess playing him now will only help in the long run. BUT, I really didn't like him getting the nod to be paired with Mastroeni over Feilhaber (read where Benny got in the starting 11 only after Ching wsa dropped at the last minute). That doesn't make much sense.
(2) Our defense has some problems. I'm with you on Gooch. I think I, gulp, prefer Conrad in the middle. And, probably foremost, I think DeMerit deserves an extended look.
(3) Time to bring in Jozy. We need a target man. It's unfortunate that Ching couldn't play, b/c I think he could have done some nice things with Landon up top. But, Altidore seems to be improving almost daily and could be a stud by 2010. I hope we bring him in against Brazil. Gotta think he'd love playing in that atmosphere.
(4) Concur with the glut of MFs. Even though we're deep there (by our standards), doesn't necessarily mean we play them all as forwards. See Jozy comment above.
(5) Timmy's getting d*** good. Betcha England wishes they could claim him.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

U.S. vs Sweden

Will we continue to play poorly in Europe?
Will our midfield be overmatched?
Will Bradley get a yellow for his bad habit of constantly grabbing opposing players' arms?

Find out today as the U.S. Men's National Team takes on Sweden in a friendly from Ullevi Stadium in Goteborg (is there anywhere nicer than Goteborg in August?). 2:30 p.m. EST.

However, yours truly will not watch it live, so media blackout in effect until further notice!!!

Secretive dealings at the national team camp...

Found this picture from the Nats' site. So, today's game: create your own dialogue!


Marcus: So, you really want me to ask management about you coming over to play at Reading?
Landon: Yeah, if it's not too much trouble.
Marcus: Alright, I'll see what I can do.
Landon: Tell them I'll make them forget Sidwell.


Marcus: So what's it like playing w/ Beckham?
Landon: He's, um, he's okay, I guess. So about Reading's need for an attacking mid...