Poland 0-3 U.S. – Um, wow.

Here’s the funny thing about last night: we won the game. By that I mean, we have won games in the past – e.g. by the means of scoring at least one more goal than the other team – but the remarkable thing about last night was that we won. And this was in Europe and against a decent team and we looked better, collectively, certainly, but also, in some places, on an individual level. Well, all right.

As you’ll gather below, I’m just in love with the U.S. Men’s National Team right now – or the Yanquis, as I like to call them. Rather than bore you with a blow-by-blow run-down, I’ll bore you with several quick, hopefully interesting observations:

– Was Landon Donovan man of the match? Tempting thought. If nothing else, the man actually delivered solid set-pieces, several of them – a “holy shit” kind of thing all by itself. And I don’t care what anyone says or thinks, he did damn well on that breakaway in spite of missing the goal.

– Speaking of set-pieces, I would be freakin’ the frank out if I was Polish, or just supported their national team; they were all over the place on set-pieces. And against the U.S.

– If you’re wondering about the odd use of the word “frank” above, that was inspired by the show about the ghost hunters from Rhode Island that broadcasts on the Sci Fi Channel. Freaked out and unable to say “fuck,” one of the guys said something like “that is so frankin’ weird.” I just liked the sound of it. Back to the game… Continue reading

MLS Daily Sweeper, 03.25: Temptation + Yanquis Chatter

– Damn the MLS Newsstand for linking to so many articles from Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal.  All those tempting articles, each boasting a teasing title more tempting than the last: “Leading the League’s Expansion Drive”; “Agent Business Evolves as Sport Grows”; “Talks to Start Soon on New Labor Deal.”  I gave up plenty of information – too much, in fact, and given how far I went, they probably already have it – before panicking at the fine print on Street & Smith’s (non-) privacy agreement (e.g. “We reserve the right to announce your browsing history to your mother on national television….and she will cry…”  and “Please forward your child’s name, a photograph, and a short list of things that will lure him/her into a car with strangers.”)  Anyway, those sound great…I’m sure I’ll cave later…damn them.

– I know all y’all know about tomorrow’s friendly between the U.S. Men’s National Team (Yanquis) and Poland.  But I thought I’d pass on what I counted as the most interesting items on that – for instance: Soccer America’s piece calling on Bob Bradley to seek alternatives to perennial automatic Landon Donovan; ESPN.com’s preview (from Jeff Carlisle) which features a public flaying of Benny Feilhaber’s attitude, courtesy of Mr. Bob Bradley (to which Feilhaber should retort, “Well, well…Donovan is your security blanket…so there!”); finally – and this only related because the main article is about the Yanqui roster for the Poland game – the draw for the Beijing ’08 Olympics is on April 20.  I didn’t know that till then…it’s possible I’m behind the curve.

– Lastly, but not leastly, did anyone else know Shalrie Joseph coulda/mighta played for our beloved Yanquis?  Thoughts on this less-than-relevant revelation?  Here’s mine: as much as I believe Joseph would be an upgrade as a deep-lying, central mid and as much as his physical presence would truly be something, we’re pretty stacked in that position.  So, yeah, I’d like him to be there, but it’s not the end of the world that he isn’t.  I just wish Dwayne DeRosario 1) was American instead of Canadian, or, 2) that he hated being Canadian and loved the U.S. of A.  Anyway, good luck in qualifiers, Shalrie.  I’m pulling for Grenada.

So…right…that’s it.  I mean, no one’s going to vote to call Seattle’s expanion team “Seattle Republic.”  Otherwise I’d have to say something about that.

Bob: Commence the Experiment

A couple people are posting the U.S. roster that was called in to play Mexico this Wednesday – and at least one person is playing “the roster game” (and having a couple bites at as he does it). On the other side of the affair, Sideline Views’ Luis Bueno listed Mexico’s traveling party and added some analysis for good measure. Much like Luis, I think the Mexican roster looks pretty solid – as in, a whole lot like an A-Team…or maybe that’s just what I think when I recognize many of the names on a Mexican roster.

So, to kill some time on a slow Sunday (the Super what now?), I thought I’d take some time on the question of who should we play against this bunch. Given my present state of, um, underwhelmedness regarding the significance of the result itself, I’m still advocating on-field experimentation. And, in the event we do lose, we can adopt the Mexican tactic of blaming the loss on such externals.

So, below, I’ll trot out the starting XI I’d like to Bradley trot out on Wednesday…and I do so knowing this is not the line-up we’ll see. Before naming names, I should confess I tend to favor 4-4-2’s for perhaps the dumbest reason: I’ve played as a defender in my share of 3-5-2’s and I just hate how exposed I feel back there…absolutely prejudiced me against that formation. What can I say? I view myself as a midfielder…in spite of the few seconds I’ve received on that opinion from the various coaches I’ve had.

Enough preliminaries…here it is: Continue reading

The Math for Bringing Back Benny F.

In an attempt to improve on covering stories until they reach an end, I updated my earlier post on Benny Feilhaber’s now-kiboshed move to Maccabi Tel Aviv; England’s Derby County rejected the move.

There was more to the story – and I covered it in the update – but there’s more still yet in play…enough so that to warrant a new post. A blurb by Richard Jolly for ESPN noted “a lot of interest” in moving Feilhaber to Major League Soccer (MLS). There’s a lot to like about this and on a couple levels. First, unless fans across the country all rate him higher than MLS’s coaches, Feilhaber will get plenty of playing time in the States. That plays into a secondary element: keeping Feilhaber fit and available – i.e. more than he is currently – for the U.S. National Team. And that’s a good thing, even if he doesn’t pan out for the U.S.; at least we’ll know, right?

The tricky bit comes with the money side – and this something a few people are kicking around today, WVHooligan among them. Even setting aside a transfer fee – and that could hurt badly enough – the trickier part is Feilhaber’s pay. Is he worth designated player money? Much as I like Benny, he’s too green, too unknown to justify that kind of money. So, does he want to play badly enough to take what would likely be a whopping pay cut?

Curiously, it’s MLS Rumors that came up with a plausible, even likely, solution (I went with “curiously” because I count on that site for rumors first and analysis second):

“According to a source it is quite possible Derby will send him to MLS on a loan deal and if that happens his most likely destination is San Jose.”

Ta-da! Benny gets to play, Derby keeps an asset, and, assuming I understand how loans work, pays Benny’s bills. Whether or not this comes together, the mechanics of the deal “a source” describes sounds workable.

Feilhaber to Israel…less weird than it sounds.

Keying off a BBC report (which, for the record, I didn’t read), Sports Illustrated’s FanNation reports Benny Feilhaber may move to the Israeli First Division, specifically, to Maccabi Tel Aviv. Not to bag on the Israeli league (as I may have done to, say, the Greek First Division…at some point), but this is not one of the regular destinations for players looking to “go to Europe.” Obviously, that Israel isn’t actually in Europe complicates things just a little.

That said, this isn’t a horrible move. To begin, there’s the promise of some European football. Maccabi Tel Aviv’s Wikipedia page ends with a chart on how far the team got in various European competitions in recent years. Doesn’t look like Maccabi gets very far, and there’s more UEFA Cup than Champions League in there, but provided this means regular, competitive playing time, it improves on Feilhaber’s current pine-riding gig.

UPDATE: Thought I’d keep this post current in case Google or something refers people back to it.  Derby rejected Maccabi Tel Aviv’s offer for Feilhaber.  So, no Israel for this Yanqui.  There is talk, however, of interest from Major League Soccer (MLS)…and that’s more interesting still…and, possibly, driven by a desire to insure availability for the U.S. National team?