Archive | August, 2010

Why rehiring Bob Bradley was a bad idea

31 Aug

I first heard the news that Bob Bradley had been rehired as the coach of team USA via Twitter.  I hoped this was merely inaccurate, but alas, twas true.  Bob Bradley, the man with the mind-boggling lineup decisions in the World freakin’ Cup, is set to be the coach through the next World Cup in Brazil. Sigh. It was disappointing to see U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati stick with the familiar for this appointment.

Now I don’t think Bradley is a bad coach, but I also don’t think he’s the type of coach that can build the U.S. program into a team that can consistently compete on a high level.

He has achieved a certain level of success with the team, taking them into the second round of the World Cup and winning the group.  Even with that experience though, are expectations going to be any higher for the next go-round?  Not for me.  I’ll be impressed if the team even makes it into the second round now.

The failings of Bradley’s preparations came out in the World Cup.  In three of the four games, the U.S. gave up a goal within the first 10 minutes.  It happened in prior matches too.  If giving up early goals is an issue, why not tinker with the formation to start with a super-strong defensive front and then gradually work out of it?

Now you can’t attribute everything that happens on the field to the coach, but a coach has got to implement some form of consistency in a team.  The only thing you know you will get out of a U.S. team is that they will go hard, but they’ve always done that.  Will you actually see them string together passes? Who knows.  Will they be able to put a shot on target? Who knows.  There was not enough improvement in Bradley’s team from beginning to end.

His World Cup squad selection also left something to be desired.  Robbie Findley? Really?  The guy is fast but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with his shot and last time I checked, strikers are supposed to score goals.  The World Cup is not the place to see if a player works out.

I realize that there’s a lot of politics involved in the job as well, but at some point, Gulati’s got to grow some balls and buck the system in making this hire.  Or just fire himself for making dumb decisions, that would work too.

So congratulations U.S. soccer on sticking with the status quo.  Way to aim high.

P.S. There’s way too many members of the soccer media saying this was a good decision.  Boundaries must be pushed for the U.S. to improve on the world stage and that just ain’t happening right now.

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Torres scores, Liverpool wins

30 Aug

Fernando Torres’ long goal-scoring drought is finally over and Liverpool picked up its first Premier League win of the season.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Torres’ strike was his 50th Anfield goal and 41st in 43 Premier League appearances at home.  Talk about a superb strike record.  Can you imagine what it could be if he stayed healthy for an entire season?  Regardless of his number of goals, he very much needed the confidence boost of a goal.  Hopefully this means we’ll be seeing his name on the scoresheet a lot more often.

Even though a 1-0 win over West Brom isn’t the most impressive scoreline in the world, it was a win the Reds desperately needed.  It’s good for the team to go into the international break (yes, already) on a positive note.  The team currently sits 13th in the table, but is one of six teams sitting on four points.

The victory comes as Liverpool announced the signing of Portuguese midfielder Raul Meireles to replace Javier Mascherano.  Meireles didn’t play yesterday, but will be available for the next game against Birmingham.  The Reds are also close to signing left back Paul Konchesky from Fulham.  I believe that move is dependent on a medical.

Manager Roy Hodgson is also hoping to sign another striker before the transfer window closes on Wednesday.

Premier League TV Schedule – August 28-29

27 Aug

Week three of the young Premier League season kicks off tomorrow with Blackburn hosting Arsenal.  There’s really not any super intriguing games this weekend.  I guess you could say that Aston Villa/Everton SHOULD be the pick of the lot.  But I also said that last week about Blackpool/Arsenal and look how that turned out (6-0 Gunners in case you missed it). It’s also going to be a chance for Liverpool to pick up its first win of the season (and they should have a very good chance against West Brom).

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the TV schedule for the weekend.

Saturday, August 28
Blackburn vs. Arsenal – 7:45 a.m. ET/ESPN2 (Live)
Blackpool vs. Fulham
Chelsea vs. Stoke – 9:55 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Tottenham vs. Wigan – 10 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)
Wolves vs. Newcastle – 6 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Delayed)
Manchester United vs. West Ham – 12:30 p.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Sunday, August 29
Bolton vs. Birmingham – 8:25 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer Plus (Live)
Liverpool vs. West Brom
Sunderland vs. Manchester City
Aston Villa vs. Everton – 11 a.m. ET/Fox Soccer (Live)

Liverpool’s Europa League path set

27 Aug

The 2010-11 Europa League draw was held earlier today.  Defending champs Atletico Madrid will take on Bayer Leverkusen, Rosenberg and Aris.  My Liverpool boys will play Steaua Bucharest, Napoli and Utrecht.  Europa League play gets underway Sept. 16.

The U.S. is well-represented in Europa League play.  Freddy Adu (Aris), Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht), Samir Badr (Porto), Greg Garza (Sporting Lisbon) are all on teams in the group stage.  Will they actually play?  Well, that’s a different story.  I forgot to mention yesterday that there’s also U.S. players in the Champions League.  Maurice Edu is with Rangers, Oguchi Onyewu is with AC Milan and Jermaine Jones with Schalke.

Group A – Juventus, Manchester City, Red Bull Salzburg, Lech Posnan

Group B – Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Rosenberg, Aris

Group C – Sporting Lisbon, Lille, Levski Sofia, Gent

Group D – Villarreal, Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb, PAOK

Group E – AZ Alkmaar, Dynamo Kyiv, BATE Borisov, FC Sheriff

Group F – CSKA Moscow, Palermo, Sparta Prague, Lausanne-Sport

Group G – Zenit St. Petersburg, Anderlecht, AEK, Hajduk Split

Group H – Stuttgart, Getafe, Odense, Young Boys

Group I – PSV Eindhoven, Sampdoria, Metalist Kharkiv, Debrecen

Group J – Sevilla, Paris St. Germain, Borussia Dortmund, Karpaty Lviv

Group K – Liverpool, Steaua Bucharest, Napoli, Utrecht

Group L – Porto, Besiktas, CSKA Sofia, Rapid Vienna

2010-11 Champions League group stage is set

26 Aug

The 2010-11 Champions League draw is in the books.  Holders Internazionale were drawn in group A with Werder Bremen, Tottenham and FC Twente.  Group G is looking like a tough one as AC Milan and Real Madrid meet in the group stage for the second straight year.  Ajax is no cakewalk either. Meanwhile, Manchester United gets to take a trip down Fergie’s memory lane to Rangers in group C.  The competition gets under Sept. 14 and 15. (Quick aside, it was super depressing not to see Liverpool somewhere on this list.)

Group A
Inter
Werder Bremen
Tottenham
FC Twente

Picks to advance: Inter, Werder Bremen

Group B
Lyon
Benfica
Schalke
Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Picks to advance: Lyon, Benfica

Group C
Manchester United
Valencia
Rangers
Bursapor

Picks to advance: United, Rangers

Group D
Barcelona
Panathinaikos
FC Copenhagen
Rubin Kazan

Picks to advance: Barcelona, Rubin Kazan

Group E
Bayern Munich
Roma
Basel
CFR Cluj

Picks to advance: Bayern, Roma

Group F
Chelsea
Marseille
Spartak Moscow
Zilina

Picks to advance: Chelsea, Spartak

Group G
AC Milan
Real Madrid
Ajax
Auxerre

Picks to advance: Madrid, Ajax

Group H
Arsenal
Shakhtar Donetsk
Braga
Partizan

Picks to advance: Arsenal, Shakhtar

This could be a long season for LFC

25 Aug

The optimism I had about this season quickly fizzled after Monday’s debacle against Manchester City. Opening the season with a 1-1 draw against Arsenal was an acceptable result and hopes were high (at least with me) that things could be turned around from last season. But oh, how that buzz faded on Monday.

Manchester City ran circles around Liverpool. It was like watching a giant game of keep-away for 90 minutes. Just painful. The absence of midfielder Javier Mascherano clearly hurt, but overall the team just looked lost. They couldn’t string together passes, didn’t take advantage of their few opportunities and were constantly beat to the ball. At one point, possession was 63-37 in favor of Manchester City.

It sucks to lose, but I can accept a loss against a team that played well like Man City did.  However, I can’t accept the manner in which Liverpool lost.  There was no passion, no spark.  Roy Hodgson has got his work cut out for him.  He’s got to figure out a way to get Fernando Torres back in form.  Torres has been off since Spain’s World Cup run and desperately needs to find the back of the net and some confidence.

Hodgson also has to get this whole Mascherano situation figured out.  The midfielder wants out and supposedly refused to play Monday (Thanks Masch!).  Quick aside: Can I just say how much that bugs me when a player wants a transfer but isn’t getting it so he decides he won’t play/try and act like he’s five.  It’s obnoxious and disrespectful behavior and I hate it. (Keep in mind Mascherano’s contract runs through 2012.)

I also realize that the squad’s got a new coach and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get used to that.  I don’t think the season is completely over, like it was suggested on Yahoo! UK today, but I think the team has got to step up its game.

The Reds are currently fourth from bottom in the table.  I realize it’s only been two games, but that is just not acceptable.  They play West Brom on Saturday and will hopefully finally get a win and some semblence of pride.  But before they play West Brom, they’ve got to head to Turkey for the second leg of the Europa League clash with Trabzonspor.  Oh yeah, and they’ll be playing that game without Steven Gerrard, Torres, Daniel Agger or Maxi Rodriguez.  This season is off to a phenomenal start. 

Here’s hoping it gets better and for the love of all that is holy, FIND NEW OWNERS ASAP.  This ownership mess is casting a pall over the entire club and something has got to change if Liverpool’s going to get back to the level it should be.  Tom Hicks and George Gillett need to F&%$ off and actually put the interests of the club at heart, but that’s clearly just wishful thinking.

Three 6-0 games?!

23 Aug

Well, apparently I was really, really, really off about Arsenal/Blackpool being a good game on Saturday.  Arsenal was one of three teams to claim a 6-0 win over the weekend.  Chelsea defeated Wigan 6-0 and now has a goal difference of +12 after two games. Yikes.  Oh yeah, and the Blues have put 14 goals (14!) past Wigan in their last two meetings.  That’s just sad.  The surprise of the weekend came as newly promoted Newcastle put a beating on Aston Villa, 6-0.  Guess the loss of James Milner was more emotional than they thought it would be.  Even Joey Barton got in on the scoring action for Newcastle.

There have only been 19 6-0 games since the inception of the Premier League and four of them have happened in the first couple weeks of this season.  I doubt that kind of scoring is going to become a regular thing, but if it does, that is not a good sign for the competitive balance of the league.