Farewell to 2010-2011

Posted June 29, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

Looking back, it’s been a deceptively eventful year.

Post-Gold-Cup Thoughts

Posted June 27, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

Tim Howard is a total wanker.  There’s just no excuse for what he said.  He should be happy about this.  Though to be fair, he’s clearly pissed about the Dos Santos goal, which really isn’t his fault.  Also, he was pretty much awesome the whole tournament.  Maybe simply great during the final, instead of superhuman, but he’s allowed that.

Losing Steve Cherundolo sucked, but as everyone on the planet has noted, Bornstein had no business as his replacement.  Neither should Bradley have moved Lichaj off the left.  While granting that the defense was thin, and that Bocanegra had been effective in the center of the defense, and granting that Ream’s last game prior to be benched was ugly, I *still* would have brought Ream (or even Spector) over Bornstein.  Maybe moved Bocanegra out to the right, but Bornstein was an unmitigated disaster.  Bad choice, Huh Bob.
I’ve gained a grudging respect for Michael Bradley. I  used to think he was only on the team because his dad was the coach (is there anything more American than having dad coach your team?), but he earned his spot in spades.
I think Bob Bradley managed to play all nine US midfielders (except maybe Robbie Rogers) during the Gold Cup.  Quite an accomplishment, and frankly, he was pretty smart in his choices regarding who played when (yes, that’s a backhanded reference to Sasha Kljestan and, sort of, Freddy Adu).  And once he got away from that stupid 4-4-2 and instituted the 4-2-3-1, it actually effing worked, and worked well as a formation.
Also, Bedoya?  Good things there.  More of that, please.  He’s not Donovan, but he can capably take his place as Donovan ages.
The USMNT was woefully short on forwards.  I know that Dempsey can play up front, but when you’re forced to have Agudelo as your base starter – and I like Agudelo, but he’s only 18 – you’ve done something wrong.  Wondolowski should have been given a chance, or the US should have brought at least one more striker.  Bad Bob.
The USMNT performance against Mexico wasn’t that great, but that has a lot more to do with the loss of Cherundolo and the resulting confidence-destroying disaster that was Bornstein – oh, and the fact that Mexico brought their A+ game – than it does with any new long-term problems with the US.  They got beat by a much better team.  It happens.  Also?  This is great news for Mexico, and, I think, Western Hemisphere soccer.
Finally, if Bob Bradley brings back the 4-4-2, can him.  Can him immediately.

Evidence Please

Posted June 23, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

From a letter to the editor in the Lebanon Express:

Allowing teens to drink alcohol under adult supervision does not teach responsible drinking.

In fact, this approach may actually lead to more drinking and alcohol-related consequences. Please remind your teen to “think before they drink.”

Oh, come on.  Let’s think this through.  A parent tells their kid to think before they drink, then refuses to let them drink at home where the parent can engage with the teen about alcohol, as well as monitor alcohol consumption and promote safe drinking behavior?  Instead, the parent punts the kid into the arms of their peers?

Yeah.  That’ll work.

This is basically an abstinence-only, head-in-the-sand approach to alcohol, and there’s a boatload of evidence that suggests that abstinence-only sex education simply doesn’t work.  I’m sure turning a 21-year-old with no information about alcohol consumption loose at Merlin’s or Peacock East, where they can learn the finer points of tolerance, will work perfectly fine.

I’d love to see evidence that an abstinence-only approach is effective with alcohol.  Anyone?

 

 

US v. Panama Lineup and Prediction

Posted June 22, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

UPDATE:  Well, I got that one wrong.  US 1-0 Panama.  I did, however, call the benching of Donovan, the presence of Kljestan and Bedoya, and the formation… not that the presence of Kljestan was effective.

 

Goal over at the NYT has a horribly titled blog post:  The only sense in which the US is peaking is relative.  They’re certainly not playing to the best of their ability.  It’s more like they’ve pulled themselves out of the ditch they spent group play in.

Anyway.  Goal asks two questions about the upcoming US-Panama match:
Coach Bob Bradley faces a few roster decisions: Landon Donovan is likely to return to the starting lineup after coming on as a second-half substitute against Jamaica. Assuming Donovan starts, who goes to the bench? Sacha Kljestan or Alejandro Bedoya? And with Jozy Altidore likely to miss the match because of a hamstring injury, does Juan Agudelo, who played well against Jamaica, start in his place?
I have answers:  Bench Donovan and start Agudelo.  Or, if you must play Donovan, for fuck’s sake don’t mess with the formation.  Place Donovan on the right for Bedoya or in the middle for Kljestan – Donovan can play either position, and though he’s used to be on the wing, as he gets older and slows down he should move into the middle.  Just don’t ditch the 4-2-3-1 that was so effective against Jamaica.
But really, just bench Donovan.  He’s got great ability, but it’s a) time to start giving some younger players like Bedoya a chance, and b) time to play the people who are playing well.
As for Agudelo, remind him to slow play down and pass when he’s got two defenders on him.  The US attack was effective when he allowed Kljestan, Bedoya and Dempsey to get forward.
It’s all sort of a moot point anyway, as the US team will pull an England and just sort of not show up.  2-0 Panama.

A US Lineup for Gold Cup Soccer

Posted June 19, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

Much has been said about the poor showing of the US men’s national team at the Gold Cup so far.  Dirty Tackle and the NYT’s Goal have probably been the two best sources for commentary, and, unsurprisingly, both have commented on the US roster and lineup choices.  Without going into the mistakes that have been made in the past, I want to offer a suggestion for the upcoming US-Jamaica match.

First of all, the US needs to get away from the 4-4-2.  They just don’t have the right people for it.  That said, here’s how I think they should line up:

Howard

Cherundolo - Goodson – Bocanegra - Lichaj

Bradley – Kljestan – Jones

Donovan – Altidore – Dempsey

Yes, that’s a 4-3-3.  I generally consider it a very offensive formation, and the US tends to play slightly more defensive soccer, so this might not be the first thing that comes to mind… but since it seems to be conventional wisdom to everyone by Bob Bradley that the simple formations played by the US are holding the team back, it’s time to ask more from the players.

So why would this formation work?  I’ll handle it by position.

Defense

Cherundolo and Lichaj can both get forward, and in a 4-3-3 that’s needed, even if only  a bit.  The weak point of this formation against Jamaica is speed – Bocanegra and Goodson are at risk of being outpaced in the center.  However, the aerial ability and overall experience the two bring to the positions is worth the risk, for me, especially since….

Midfield

Bradley and Jones are really playing as defensive mids.  Or at least Jones is – Bradley could be freed to get forward more quickly if necessary.  The key here, though, is that Kljestan should be freed up to be an attacking midfielder.  With Dempsey, Donovan and Altidore all on as attacking players, there should be no shortage of good targets.  And having a true defensive mid can stop runs early.  As well, this really means the US can pack the midfield with three mids and let the fullbacks and attacking wingers take care of the outside of the pitch.

Forwards

With a 4-3-3, the two outside forwards are really attacking wingers – think the Barcelona mold, where Pedro and Villa often come into the center around the opponent’s 18, but also track back.  That’s exactly what Donovan and Dempsey can do in this formation, and it plays to their versatility as midfielders who can create chances, score for themselves, and play adequate defense.  This formation also relies on them to track back on the wings and help out, but they both have, when they’re on their game, the ability to play hard for a full 90.  In a pinch, Altidore can play as a lone target man for Kljestan if the wingers are occupied; otherwise, the obvious targets here are slashing runs from or to the wings depending on the positioning of Jamaica’s fullbacks.

Substitutes

Bedoya (the US version of Jesus Navas of Spain in the 2010 World Cup?) is the obvious sub here, on for Donovan or Dempsey if the formation is to hold.  If Bradley feels like they must return to a 4-4-2, I’d suggest moving Dempsey up front and Bedoya on for Kljestan, with Donovan on the wing and Bradley and Jones in the center of midfield.  Or dropping Altidore and moving Bedoya to the right and Dempsey up front as the lone striker.

A straight swap of Wondolowski for Altidore could also be in the cards.

Alternate Formations

This formation could also be run as a 4-5-1 with Altidore as the lone striker if more defensive emphasis was desired.

Or a 4-4-1-1 with Dempsey playing in behind Altidore/Wondo and Bedoya on the wing in place of Kljestan.  The problem here is that the US would sacrifice the third centerline midfielder and lose the potential numerical advantage.

The bottom line here is that the US, outside of Bedoya, doesn’t have any pure wingers but does have a ton of midfielders, and playing a 4-4-2 is not playing to their strength.  They’ve struggled so far, and something needs to change.  Why not introduce a different formation?  Many USMNT players are accustomed to them from their time in Europe (and hell, even in MLS).  Just because it mostly works for Alex Ferguson is no reason for Bradley to stick to it….

Capitalism’s Zombie Dance

Posted February 10, 2011 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

From Francis Spufford’s Red Plenty and courtesy of LGM:

But Marx had drawn a nightmare picture of what happened to human life under capitalism, when everything was produced only in order to be exchanged; when true qualities and uses dropped away, and the human power of making and doing itself became only an object to be traded. Then the makers and the things made turned alike into commodities, and the motion of society turned into a kind of zombie dance, a grim cavorting whirl in which objects and people blurred together till the objects were half alive and the people were half dead. Stock-market prices acted back upon the world as if they were independent powers, requiring factories to be opened or closed, real human beings to work or rest, hurry or dawdle; and they, having given the transfusion that made the stock prices come alive, felt their flesh go cold and impersonal on them, mere mechanisms for chunking out the man-hours. Living money and dying humans, metal as tender as skin and skin as hard as metal, taking hands, and dancing round, and round, and round, with no way ever of stopping; the quickened and the deadened, whirling on.

Beyond the Beat

Posted October 19, 2010 by Dennis
Categories: Uncategorized

For a short time anyway, I’ll be writing a recap & analysis piece for Beyond the Beat on each home men and women’s soccer game at OSU.  I’ve written three so far and have maybe five more to go over the remainder of the regular season.  It’s fun!


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