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


Michael Bradley scores 2 more, brings total to 18!

Bradley brings his tally for the season up to 18 overall, 16 in the Eredivisie. His goals started and finished Heerenveen’s scoring and provided Heerenveen with a huge 3 points as the season begins to wind down. The win gives the Frisians momentum heading into next week’s clash versus Ajax and possession of a three game win streak. Bradley hasn’t just surpassed DaMarcus Beasley and Eric Wynalda for most goals in a season for a Yank Abroad. He has destroyed it with several games still to go. The three points puts them up and tied for fourth and six points from 2nd. Between Bradley and the other youth phenom on the team, Miralem Sulejmani, have really made names for themselves this year. It’ll be interesting to see where they end up in the summer. For Bradley, a move is expected but Sulejmani could stay another year or so.

Check out his second goal – an acrobatic sidekick:

Yanks Abroad: Bradley with his 17th! Pickens, Szetela, etc.

Michael Bradley didn’t let his US/Mexico disappearance get to him and continued his scoring ways for Heerenveen. This time, the 20 year old halted PSV’s dominance of the Frisians with a 52nd minute equalizer. It’s 17th goal overall, 13th in Eredivisie play. See below…

Danny Szetela – newly loaned out to Brescia of the Serie B – looked decent in the last 10 minutes of a 4-2 Brescia comeback win.

Oguchi Onyewu played all 90 minutes in a Standard Liege shutout of Rosealare. Unfortunately, Liege couldn’t find any offensive production either. 0-0 tie.

Not one American started for Fulhamerica in a 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough. Brian McBride and Clint Dempsey did get in. Dempsey after the break, McBride with 30 minutes to go. Kasey Keller sat on the bench, but is back and ready for selection. Eddie Johnson apparently got into a reserve game a couple days ago and scored in a 3-0 win.

Timmy Howard won the battle of the American goalies as Everton beat Marcus Hahnemann‘s Reading 1-0 and put them into the relegation zone. Bobby Convey was not selected.

Benny Feilhaber was not selected for Derby’s ass-whooping at the hands of Tottenham. Eddie Lewis is out injured.

Jonathan Spector was a last-minute sub for West Ham United in their 1-1 tie with Birmingham City.

Johann Smith
wasn’t selected for Bolton’s 1-0 loss to Portsmouth.

Matt Pickens was on the bench for QPR’s 3-2 triumph over Southampton. He didn’t play.

Jay DeMerit
was not in the line-up for Watford’s 2-1 win over Ipswich.

Fullback Zak Whitbread went all 90 minutes for Millwall in a 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest.

Jemal Johnson got on for the last 5 minutes in a MK Dons’ 1-1 tie with Rotherham.

Steve Cherundolo started at fullback in Hannover 96’s 2-2 tie with Karlsruhe. Sal Zizzo was on the bench, but didn’t see any time.

Bryan Arguez
wasn’t selected for Hertha Berlin’s squad and Preston Zimmerman didn’t make the Hamburg squad.

Greg Dalby
wasn’t selected for Charleroi’s game versus Sint Truiden.

U.S. 2-2 Mexico: Losing a Tie

I’ll start with the usual caveats: I watched this with a 3-year-old distracting me throughout with puzzles, demands to play with balloons, gigantic playground balls, etc.

That said, that was one lucky tie. The U.S. squandered possession, our midfield got slaughtered, our flanks overrun, and the chances we deliberately created could be counted on one hand – and Josmer Altidore got on the end of most of them. Fortunately, Mexico continued their tradition of mentally seizing up every time they got within 30 yards of the U.S. goal…so not all was lost.

It has been sometime since the temptation struck to say we simply don’t know how to play the game. But that’s not fair. Over a few, brief spells the evolution of U.S. soccer showed, but these fleeting moments came and went too often near the center stripe and, more often still, they played out in a kind of ragged, random vibe. Worse, our composed moments featured too many long balls forward and those came to players who appeared ill-suited to cope – again, Altidore and Clint Dempsey.

Against that, the Mexicans displayed – to borrow a “John Harkesism” – good “characteristics”on the ball’: between better movement and sharper passing, they simply outplayed the U.S. in every meaningful aspect of outfield play (thank god for goalkeeping, right?) The most striking sequence came in the second half when four Mexican players set up an impromptu game of keep-away in the U.S. half against up to eight U.S. players. But the Mexicans’ better moments came with the simplest stuff – finding the open man in space, too often just in front of the U.S. defense. This approximates the time when my heart shrunk into my stomach and my balls lifted toward my stomach…a kind of “Oh Shit” pinch designed, perhaps, with the intention of holding the crucial pieces together until the bad stuff passed. Continue reading

CHI’s Best XI of January 2008: Eto’o, Lescott, Casillas, etc.

Well I wanted a new feature this year and, after a long thought process (about a minute or so) I opted for the one that would cause me to get laughed at/yelled at/argued with the most (and guess what? that’s the point). So tell me who I missed, who I should watch out for, and ways to make this more efficient. There is a bit of bias involved and understandably a Thierry Henry could go on there, but let’s just say this is heavily based on statistics for the current month. Winter breaks in Italy/Germany make for a rather England/Spain-centric presence in this month’s rankings.

Samuel Eto’o – Barcelona/Cameroon (F)


No one can argue against Eto’o as the Barca star made his club and country extremely happy in January. Three goals for the club as he fought to stay a couple days longer in Barcelona so as not to lose more ground to La Liga leaders Real Madrid. In doing so, Eto’o contributed three goals in 2 La Liga wins as Barca managed to close the gap marginally. He then reported for international duty and in the opening (and jarring) loss to Egypt, Eto’o provided a consolation brace. The Indomitable Lions then recovered and dispatched of Zambia (5-1) and the Sudan (3-0), with Eto’o providing three more goals and securing the African Nations Cup All-Time Leading Goalscorer title.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United (F)


NINE goals for the 22-year old. It’s hard to believe that only a year and a half ago Ronaldo was almost on his way out of Manchester after a World Cup spat with Wayne Rooney. Not to mention, Ronaldo over the past several years has been oft-criticized for his over-exaggerated play, diving, you name it – he’s been scrutinized for it. January 2008 proved to be the world’s acknowledgment that between him and Kaka there is no one better right now. And 27 goals in 28 games this season proves that…many of them in clutch circumstances. His main victim? Who else but Newcastle…a hat-trick spelled the end for Big Sam but Kevin Keegan hasn’t had much luck either. Goals – 1/5, 1/12 (3), 1/19, 1/27 (2), 1/30 (2)

Emmanuel Adebayor – Arsenal (F)


The powerful Arsenal striker has had one hell of a January (and a lot of it has do with the fact that he has Cesc and Hleb in the midfield feeding him). Eight goals in total – 5 in EPL play and 3 in the domestic cups. Adebayor’s victim of the month was Newcastle. In the span of three days, Adebayor has scored three times against the down and out Magpies, eliminating them from the FA Cup and pushing them further down the EPL table. Arsenal now sits at the top of the standings and look poised to do more damage as long as the Togan’s form continues. Goals: 1/1, 1/12, 1/19 (2), 1/22, 1/26 (2), 1/29

Continue reading

Michael Bradley: This is officially silly…

A 7-0 shutout/romp of Vitesse Arnhem continues Heerenveen’s ascent to the top.

And Michael Bradley continues his scoring streak. Once I saw that scoreline, I half expected to see him score all 7. Regardless, Bradley has now upped his total to 16 on the year, 11 in the Eredivisie. His 12th moves him up to 6th on the scoring charts in Holland and makes it 6 goals in his last 5 games. Heerenveen is on a 4 game tear, having outscored their opponents 17-1.

It was Bradley’s ability to rip a long shot that surfaced this time around – and if he wasn’t taken off with 30 minutes to go. He probably could have grabbed one or two more. His replacement Roy Beerens tallied two of his own in the last 30 minutes. The 7-0 slaughter pushes the Frisians into second place in the Eredivisie. I think this kid might lead them to a title – if it weren’t for the fact PSV has a 9 point lead with 11 games to go.

Michael Bradley scores 2 more, attracts Blackburn, in Heerenveen’s 3-0 win over De Graafschaap

Bradley is now up to 15 total for the season and 11 in the league. Now I’m just baffled. This is amazing. I understand Heerenveen is a team that scores a LOT of goals all the while conceding a lot too…but Bradley has now scored 5 goals in his last 4 appearances, and 8 in his last 8.

Could this push a big European club like HSV to act sooner rather than later???? The new suitor, however, is Blackburn of the EPL. Get him in the door Friedel (although I don’t think he’ll need any help).