Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Robbie Findley?

I'm even a Robbie Findley fan, but I don't get this.

When I checked to see who made the final cut, I was fairly happy that Bradley decided to go with 7 DF, but after I saw Brian Ching was cut, I couldn't do the math. Bedoya was out, no Rodgers (which I would have loved, but there really wasn't any room for him), no Eddie Johnson (deservedly so)... what the F? Then I saw Robbie Findley's name under the forwards section... But the ESPN article didn't even bring up his name, focusing more so on Gomez and Buddle. Typo?

Nope. I am baffled at this, but as I said earlier, Bradley gets paid to do this stuff; I do it for shits and gigs. But all I had heard about Findley was that he had been out of form (due to injuries and lack of playing time), and the fact that he didn't play last night only made it clearer that he was almost guaranteed a cut. But as I said, Bob knows better than me; if Findley was better than Johnson and Ching during the training, then yes, he deserves it. But this is still a big shocker.

Anyway, there will probably be a lot of outcry from fans and pundits just as there was over some of the call-ups into the 30-man squad. But it's all in the same vain, since there are only 11 players on the field, and on top of that, only five subs. So that makes 16 players who factor into each game, which means that the 23rd and 22nd guys chosen will probably never see the field. It's a lot of pissing and moaning over ceremony.

Yes, there can be yellow card accumulation or even red cards that cause players to miss matches, but I still think bringing in forwards who are really in form and letting them battle it out is a good idea, although it is risky because these guys (Gomez, Buddle, and Findley) have next to no experience.

I will say that I do feel bad for Brian Ching. As much grief as I give the guy, this has to be heartbreaking for him.

The 23

So it's been awhile, but I have a few things to say regarding the US's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic last night and the final roster which is to be announced sometime today.

I didn't get to watch the game last night as ESPN3 is blocked in my neck of the woods, and I couldn't just head over to a bar to watch the game since it was on at 2 a.m. over here.

I'm not all that surprised by the scoreline. This is like an exhibition game in Spring Training or in Pre-Season football, scorelines don't really matter as you're trying to get a good look at who might make the roster.

I've seen the highlights, and I've read a few first hand reviews, but I've yet to get a firm grasp on the overall thoughts on who played well and who played bad. There were players who were active but didn't produce much (Beasley and Edson Buddle), there were guys who showed flashes of good and bad (Goodson, and Edu), guys who didn't do much of anything (Johnson and Rogers), and then there were guys who were just plain bad (Pearce, Bornstein and Cherundolo). And that might not have been the case, but from what I have read so far, that's the general consensus.

Before I get to my final 23, I'd like to address Herc Gomez and his goal. Even the man himself said the goal was 10% him and 90% Goodson, yet most US pundits are praising him like he is the second coming of Van Nistelrooy. I'm not even saying Gomez shouldn't make the final 23 (he should), but that goal was hardly the reason. I'm happy he scored it, and I've seen many a strikers flounder an opportunity like that, but it was hardly a wondergoal, which is what it was treated as by some US followers (I'm looking directly at Alexei Lalas, who to me, is a complete joke of a commentator).

OK, so enough of that. But here is my final 23, and let me already say that I haven't seen many of these guys play, but I have followed them recently, and I am aware of what type of form they are in. I am also aware that Bob Bradley and his staff do a much better job of selection than what we give them credit for; it's what they get paid to do and Bradley (though I don't always agree with his tactics) seems like a hard working fellow who wouldn't breeze through this type of task. Anyways:

GK (3)
Hahnemann (who based on form, should be the backup goalie)

DF (7)
* I think BB is comfortable with the flexibility of Edu at CB (despite his gaff last night on the 4th goal) and Beasley at LB that he will only need 7 in back.


* If form is really what matters, Gomez and Buddle should make the squad. I know LD and Dempsey can both play up front, but they are both better suited and more comfortable on the wings. Bringing one less defender allows them to bring both Buddle and Gomez, who are both in the best form of their careers and offer different skill sets.

We'll see what happens today, but I'm confident those are the best 23 at this moment, even though there are some GNJB whipping boys in that group (Ching, Bornstein), but the WC is best suited for veterans.

Anyway, I've been giving this a lot of thought, and there would be two formations I would love to see, one that would be in my dreams, and one that is actually possible.

My Dream






* So my reason to think this might work is it's the same formation that the US U-20 '07 team used so well and it worked quite well with Altidore up front but flanked on the wings by guys who do better facing the goal. Holden is the key though, he must have the ability to distribute quickly from the middle and work well with the lone man up front as Adu worked so well with Altidore in '07 (it's almost like the triangle offense in the NBA, where you have to have a big man who can pass at the top of the key or foul-line extended).

The other question is whether Dempsey would be able to track back and play the left side of defense (Donovan would be able to), a role he isn't used to. Although you could have the two D-MF rotate over and not be so dependent on the wingers tracking back. But I think Bradley would really flourish (as he did in '07) in this role especially alongside another quality holding MF like Edu. This formation is also dependent on the fullbacks pushing forward to provide service on the outside, which would suit Spector well, but Bocanegra might struggle (especially coming off hernia surgery). So this might be a formation better suited for Bornstein.

Either way, this formation utilizes Dempsey/Donovan better (on the outside, facing goal) while also adds supporting help to the defense, which surprisingly is probably out weak point. The US has been letting up a lot of goals lately, and usually only holds the opponent to 1 or zero goals when they get a standout performance from their Goalie. Many US fans and pundits like to focus on goal scoring, but in this cycle, the defense has been the bigger concern.







*That might even be a little two offensive for BB who may opt for two holding MF like Bradley--Clark or Bradley--Edu, but I have little doubt he is going to play one of Dempsey or Donovan up top with Altidore.

I should probably explain my 11 a little more, and maybe I'll do that later, but I'm a bit late for a lesson, so I have to shove off. More to come.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Steelers are Still Top

I've already beat the whole Steelers-popularity thing like a dead horse, but this recent article from Yahoo has brought the issue back up again. I saw the article linked and lauded as a quality piece of work... um, not really all that good. It's basically a guy going up and down Carson street asking the service industry about professional athletes in town. There are no real facts or statistics regarding approval or popularity. It's basically a run down of how the Penguins act in public compared to the Steelers.

Deadspin did the same thing a few weeks ago, but with swear words.

But I really liked the Empty Netters post on the subject. Seth hits the nail on the head (although again, not sure about his support of the Yahoo article); these two franchises have vastly different faces of the franchise. Hell, I'd say the Pirates have a better face of the franchise in Andrew McCutchen than the Steelers have in Roethlisberger.

But the most important thing is dispelling the notion that the Penguins are more popular than the Steelers. Maybe in the service industry that might be true (although, surprisingly, I've never heard of Ben leaving a bad tip, in fact I've heard two stories in which he's given a c-note on a small tab, which certainly doesn't make him a good person, but should make him more popular with the waiters of the world), but when it comes down to it, we're in the beginning of May, the Stanley Cup playoffs are off and running, the Steelers haven't played in five months, the Pirates are already out of it... no wonder people are so Penguins centric.

Mostly this comes out of my frustration with that Yahoo article, which was complete trash. And I don't really want to defend the Steelers players and their actions. But why is this news at all? I'm with Madden on this one; football players are generally assholes, while hockey players are much more personable and better people. That's a huge generalization, but I think we can find no better example than Sid vs. Ben.

But to say that the Penguins are more popular than the Steelers in Western PA is kind of ridiculous. Until there is a well-researched article on the subject that convinces otherwise, this is definitely still Steelers Country.