U-23s: Adu’s Second, an Artist’s Rendering

Here’s a little sketch I made of Freddy Adu’s second goal for the U.S. u-23s…and, yes, that’s Sacha Kljestan in the foreground celebrating with the big ol’ thumbs-up…and do note Canada’s Josh Wagenaar’s complete paralysis.

Anyway, I’ll be posting these throughout the year as a substitute for photos. In spite of making Adu’s jersey look like the Canadians…and Wagenaar’s somewhat stubby legs…um, there’s the absence of the crowd…um…I think that’s it…I find the likeness uncanny. Especially Klejstan. Yeah, he looks a little heavy, but you know what they say about the camera adding 20 lbs.

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LiveBlog of USA/Honduras tonight! – Sans Altidore, Adu, Edu

90′-5′ – EDDIE GAVEN CONVERTS!!!!!! a 1-0 win, the USA wins the group!
90′-4′ – Davies gets another penalty; great first touch and he’s leveled at the penalty bo
90′-2′ – Not much to really say about this game. Except I can see Edu and Orozco as your centrebacks in the next round, Hill and Sturgis as your fullbacks, Holden and Zizzo/Given on either wing, Kljestan and McCarty in the middle, Altidore up front with Adu withdrawn
88′ – here comes the ‘I have a cramp and need to waste time’ tactic, we’ve seen this one before
87′ – Findley keeps taking people on, getting in the box, but not shooting for net!! – he passes the damn ball off and it is blocked.
85′ – a great run from Bernardez is pulled back to the top of the penalty box and rocketed on net, it hits the left post and clangs out – guess who it was?? Ramon Nunez.
84′ – Holden has chance to shoot, Davies has a chance to shoot, nobody shoots though – the build up is great but there is no one pulling the damn trigger
80′ – almost all of the action has been on the left side of the field this half, I haven’t heard Kamani Hill’s name once
77′ – there is a girl in her bra and thong on the field. Faaaaaaaaaantastic. Wrapped in an American flag. Not bad looking. Who said Tampa wasn’t trying? – FSC just replayed it again.
74′ – maybe I was wrong about Davies’ speed, he is definitely giving the Honduran centerbacks a lot of trouble
72′ – I will definitely take that, Davies beats a defender with speed, cuts off, tries to curl to the post but hits the goalie in the chest – good to see him get after it though
SIDENOTE: San Jose 1, Toronto FC 0, but the game was suspended due to severe lightning in the area which also postponed the Red Bulls/Charleston 8:15 matchup – those wondering, FC Dallas is kicking off against Los Angeles right now on FCDallas.com
68′ – Here comes former FC Dallas man Ramon Nunez for Luis Lopez
66′ – Eddie Gaven with a pretty turn, but not much comes of it
62′ – DAVIES MISSES WIDE!!! Ew. He wanted that so bad, yet you could pretty much tell he was going to miss. Yikes, why wouldn’t Holden take that?
61′ – Charlie Davies DOESN’T DIVE!!!! he gets a great square ball from Hunter Freeman and the Honduran defender drags Davies down, Davies to take the penalty
60′ – Davies comes on for Zizzo and apparently that injects “a little bit of pace” into the line-up; not true – their speed is pretty comparable, fresh legs are good though, Dax McCarty also comes in for Sacha Kljestan
57′ – Hunter Freeman is booked for bowling over Padilla, who seems to be the victim of a lot of hard challenges today…legitimate hard challenges
56′ – Welcome (#24! who is NOT Hendry Thomas) receives a nice long ball from Honduras’ backs, he gets a shot off but the 6’6″ Cervi gobbles it up
54′ – crowded box and a Honduran cross leads to a shaky recovery from Dominic Cervi; the two Hondurans barrelling into the box land right on top of each other…but no, both did not feign an injury
52′ – good give and go between Findley and Holden finds Holden one on one with keeper 5 yards away; his subsequent shot is blocked though – Findley and Holden have worked well together, a better game from Robbie but he’s missing that instinct we saw him have last MLS season
51′ – a short corner this time but Holden skies the cross, it gets hit out and in order to stop the Honduran counter attack, Sacha Kljestan scissor tackles a Honduran midfielder
49′ – Ianni has to control himself, he just horse collared (ok, maybe it wasn’t that bad) a Honduran striker, got away with it but he’s sitting with a card and has retaliated once or twice before
48′ – I don’t think the USA has had ANY effective restarts tonight – Holden is definitely no Freddy Adu on those set pieces
46′ – Honduras is playing without Hendry Thomas…I mistook Thomas for #24…I guess their resting their best players too. Which would make sense…I’d like to see Ramon Nunez at some point too.
SIDENOTE: Why am I so damn excited for this MLS season to start? Why are you? Why aren’t you?
HALF-TIME – and we look the better team, just need Robbie Findley to be a little more productive and Chad Barrett needs to wake the hell up (I think he knows that though, you can tell he’s pretty pissed with himself)…
45′ – Reyna comes in real hard on Zizzo, gets a yellow – no, it’s not Claudio Reyna, he wouldn’t do that to Sal Zizzo, he’s a nice guy.
42′ – another over-head through ball that almost puts a Honduras striker through, offsides is called though
42′ – more diving from Honduras
41′ – does anyone know what’s up with Barrett? he just botched a simple trap – confuddling…
40′ – I like Zizzo on this wing, a lot, but not sure if I like him there more than I liked Holden
38′ – pretty uneventful right now, although I must say, the midfield and defense look decent today – we just need to convert the chances
33′ – nice dummy by Stuart Holden leads to a Chad Barrett shot, the shot isn’t threatening however, Fernandez gobbles it up
28′ – first Honduran shot on goal, Cervi handles well
26′ – WOW. Findley just destroyed Hernandez, the Honduran goalkeeper…but he didn’t score. Looked pretty clean too – Hernandez came out, Findley’s eye was on the ball and they collided with the RSL striker coming out on top
24′ – someone tell Floppy McGhee on Honduras front line to go the hell home, he looks like Charlie Davies flopping around like that
22′ – a Sal Zizzo square pass is handled well in the 6 by Findley, who then has a point blank shot snuffed by Hernandez, the Honduras goalkeeper – pretty decent.
20′ – Kamani Hill looks a lot better tonight at right fullback – could it be due to a lack of motivation for Honduras? he just advanced up the field then threw a snake on the defender and sent a decent ball in which was unfortunately lost on the bounce
17′ – why is Chad Barrett on the field?? he receives a great ball, has space, then shanks a cross – then again, watch him score tonight…
15′ – Patrick Ianni gets booked for getting in a scuffle with Hendry Thomas – on a good note, however, the passing out of the back has been pretty damn good
13′ – Holden levels Honduras’ Daniel Alvarez who proceeds to roll around on the ground for a while, no booking issued
12′ – Zizzo and Findley one-two in the box leads to nothing but at least they’re communicating – Findley probably should have shot the ball instead of laying it off to Zizzo
9′ – Honduras has goal disallowed when – the aforementioned Cervi made the wrong decision leaving the net open – luckily, it was offsides and Cervi got the chance to level Hendry Thomas in the process – both Orozco and Ianni were caught on an over-the-head through ball
8′ – 6 foot 6 inch Dominic Cervi would eat Peter Crouch for lunch, bet you his dancing is better too
6′ – the Americans have come out swinging here, trying the long balls, working the wings, give and gos, and holding strong on any counters
4′ – great ball from Kamani Hill springs Zizzo, who promptly passes back to Hill – Kamani unloads a great cross into the box which is almost put away
3′ – Barrett’s first touch was good, which is promising – Holden’s run moves square to Kljestan who first times a shot on net, it swerves but right into the keeper’s mitts
1′ – Zizzo darts into the penalty box right away and gets robbed of a penalty kick
GAME ON! – sidenotes: please show the other side of the stadium, at least there are people there.

Pregame: You’ve heard his name already this tournament, mainly for his two goals, but the Honduran to watch out for is forward Hendry Thomas. The 22 year old has been capped over 10 times for the senior national team and his combination of speed and strength makes him a problem for Ianni and Orozco in the back. Honduras also has a defensive leader in Emilio Izaguirre who has also been capped over 15 times for the senior national team.

Roster:

—————Cervi—————

Hill—-Ianni—-Orozco—Freeman

Zizzo—Holden—Kljestan–Gaven

——-Findley—-Barrett——–

Well, it looks like first place doesn’t really matter to Nowak. Actually, to be fair, this line-up should be able to beat Honduras, but if you have the chance to rest Adu and Altidore you might as well take it. It’ll be interesting to see Holden in the middle with Kljestan as he was a great on the wing the other day and in the middle he’ll have to operate with much less room. Pretty excited to get a look at Dominic Cervi though and hopefully Orozco can repeat his previous performance. Findley and Barrett will redeem themselves – just a hunch.

Pregame: San Jose is leading Toronto 1-0 at the Charleston Challenge Cup, right before the break. SJE goal was scored in the 22′ by defender Jason Hernandez. Julius James looks decent starting at center back for TFC and some crazy bastards from Toronto actually made the trip down to Charleston for the match – all of 20, but still…

Pregame: Cuba is being picked apart by Panama, who are 3-0 up.

Pregame: Get on over to USLLive.com for a little while before kick off and watch expansion San Jose versus last year’s expansion club Toronto FC. Ronnie O’Brien looks decent so far and, most importantly, healthy.

1st Place in Group A has taken on a new meaning now that Mexico lost to Guatemala yesterday and sits dangerously close to elimination and almost guaranteeing that the highest they can finish is Group B Runners Up. Which means, if the Americans win the group – they get Mexico in the all-important semifinals (as only the two teams that make the FINAL, qualify for the Olympics).

If Nowak goes for the win against Honduras, which he should, and the steady progression of improvement continues then we shouldn’t worry about opponents. There will be more info tonight after I get back from a day of scrimmages.

7:00pm, FSC.

Getting My Head Around Olympic Qualifying

Yeah, about 75% of you covered this stuff a couple months back, when all this was announced, but I’m just getting to it now. For what it’s worth, I blame February. In spite of being the shortest month, there’s just something about it that takes forever. With any luck, though, I’ll help out a couple other people coming late to the party.

So, Olympic qualifying for the United States U-23s (aka, Lil’ Yanquis) starts this coming Tuesday. All Li’l Yanquis games will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel, as will both semifinals, the third-place game (what? who cares?), and the final. A quick list of games, the opposition, and kick-off time (Pacific Standard):

Tuesday, March 11, 5 p.m. v. Cuba
Thursday, March 13, 5 p.m. v. Panama
Saturday, March 15, 4 p.m. v. Honduras

With that, you have all the teams in our group, that is Group A. There’s just Group B besides, so, to put it all together: Continue reading

Ah, Next Week; Oh, Next Week…A Pre-Season of My Own

Fans of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the broader national team set-up are in for a double-edged treat next week – and one only has to go here (Fox Soccer Channel’s listings page) and pull up the pdf for next week’s schedule to see what I’m talking about. Yessiree Bob, next week soccer fans get Olympic qualifying (three games in five days? Pity the kids, people, pity the kids) and the kickoff of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. Even if one watches only games involving MLS clubs and the “Junior Americans,” that’s five games in four days. Ob-ser-eve (that’s fancy for “observe” and the times are for the live games on Pacific Standard Time listings):

Tuesday, Marcy 11: USA U-23s v. Cuba (5 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 12: Harbour View v. DC United (5 p.m.)
Wednesday, March 12: CD Municipal v. Houston Dynamo (7 p.m.)
Thursday, March 13: USA U-23s v. Panama (5 p.m.)
Saturdady, March 15: USA U-23s v. Honduras (4 p.m.)

Now, I know that sounds like an easy week for the average soccer-geek, but, for some of us, that’s enough to put strain on a marriage. Add in the other CONCACAF Champions Cup games (Montagua v. Pachuca, March 11, 8 p.m.; Saprissa v. Atlante, March 13, 8 p.m.) and I’m basically giving my wife cause to file. On a related note, this really feels like the season coming on even if it’s a month away. Now seems like a good a time as any to work on the diplomatic/marital skills my twin hobbies (e.g. watching/commenting on soccer) require; there’s a full summer ahead of negotiations, trade-offs, even summits to work in all these games. A one-week warm-up seems like just thing to get my mind limber…