Second thoughts on Perkins and DC United’s “dumb” trade

I may have been a little harsh in my assessment of the DC United – Philly Union trade. I called it “dumb.” Thinking about it a bit more that was kinda of a “dumb” reactionary assessment. There is clearly a logic to this deal for United.

One of the most frustrating things about the deal, is that Philly clearly made out like gangbusters and forced United to pay a hefty price for the right to sign Perkins. It does have to be taken into account when assessing this deal that United it significantly helped its arch-rival. This is why Arsenal and Spurs, Liverpool and Man United, don’t do deals. Still, while I think United paid too high a price, they did get their man.

From United’s perspective they just signed one of the top five American goalkeepers for the next decade. Perkins is 28, someone United knows, a player that left Europe not because he couldn’t cut it but for family reasons, and most importantly he will probably be with United for the next decade.
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DC United’s Dumb Trade

News broke yesterday that DC United has traded with Philadelphia for the rights to sign Troy Perkins who is leaving Norway to resign with the league. Perkins is an excellent keeper and United have been struggling to replace him since he left a couple of years ago. With Josh Wicks injured, getting a goal keeper was a top priority for United, so in that sense United got their man. But at what price?

In my view, United simply gave away way way too much. In exchange for the right to sign Perkins, United gave away Fred and the #7 pick in the draft. Fred’s form had slipped over the past couple of years, but there were hopes that he would regain his productive form, as he is just turned 30. United resigned him with this in mind, thinking that Fred could help fill the void at attacking midfield that will likely be left by the departure of Christian Gomes. Trading Fred for Perkins would be worth it.

But trading Fred and fist round pick is a huge price. United’s two first round picks last year, Chris Pontius and Rodney Wallace were instant starters and look like potential national team players – Pontius is in the USMNT Jan camp and Wallace may play the always scarce left back position (he also may have to chose between Costa Rica and the US). This was also a fairly deep draft, so much so that there is good reason to think United could have drafted someone to contribute right away.
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Is Wayne Rooney Simply An English Carlos Tevez?

Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez are essentially the same player. They are both world class but neither are saviors, no matter how much the English hope Rooney will be. Yet these two players in England have been seen as two players of completely different caliber in the UK, with one praised at every turn and the other dismissed as a headless chicken.

Wayne Rooney has 14 goals in the Premier League this season, which is quite a showing in just 20 games. However, four of those goals are from the penalty spot. So if Rooney didn’t take spot kicks, as was the case last year, Rooney would have 10 goals in 20 games. This isn’t bad, but it hardly fills the void left by Ronaldo (not to mention Tevez) and helps explain why United are struggling a bit more this year. Tevez after his recent hat trick has 12 goals in 19 games, subtracting penalties, 11 goals in 19 games.

Now there is much more to a player than just how many goals they bring to the table. But it strikes me that both Rooney and Tevez essentially offer the same thing: a good (not spectacular) amount of goals and a massive work rate that epitomizes defending from the front.
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FA blow it: Ferguson allowed to resume abusing referees unabated

Ferguson free to rant again; Photo by Austin Osuide

Alex Ferguson is a very good manager. But he also brings the game into disrepute with his constant abuse of match officials. There was a glimmer of hope that the Football Association was starting to get serious about managers and players intimidating referees when Ferguson was given a 2 game touchline ban with 2 more games suspended for remarks about referee Alan Wiley.

The suspension of the final two games was supposed to serve as a check on Ferguson’s antics, but in two successive weeks the Man U manager has gone back to his typical tirades and the FA have given him a complete pass. Instead of being a deterrent, this episode has just given Premier League managers the green light to whine, complain, and otherwise abuse match officials making a mockery of the FA’s “Respect Campaign.” Continue reading

Terrorism hysteria in full force after Togo attack but South Africa can’t be defensive

World Cup Organizing Committee head Danny Jordaan loses his cool

The attack on the Togo national team bus on Friday that killed three people during the African Cup of Nations in Angola was a serious incident. African soccer and security officials should investigate it fully to determine what led to the attack and how these types of incidents can be prevented in the future. This one attack in Angola has caused some to foolishly question whether the World Cup should go ahead in South Africa this summer. That kind of hysteria is exactly what terrorists are trying to provoke, as our own over-reactions often do more damage than the terrorists could inflict themselves. South African officials are rightfully indignant, but their response needs to be confident and reassuring rather than defensive and complacent.

The attack on the Togo team which killed the bus driver, assistant coach, and spokesperson as well as injuring nine others took place in the Angolan region of Cabinda, separated from rest of Angola by a strip of the Republic of Congo that reaches the Atlantic coast. Insurgents in the oil rich province have been fighting for the region’s independence and claimed responsibility for the machine gun attack on Friday that occurred just after the bus crossed into Cabinda. Angola was mired in decades of civil war than ended in 2002 and the attack and resulting withdrawal of the Togo team was a severe blow to the government that had hoped the African Cup would showcase a country emerging from violence. Continue reading

5 Months Out: AF’s World Cup Squad – Who’s In Yours?

5 months from today the US will face off against England. We are now in the stretch run to South Africa so what better time for me to put forth AF’s World Cup squad. On the 12th of each month we will update this roster, as questions get answered, players breakthrough and others fall out of form.

A couple of notes on the selection process. Since the World Cup is six months away and we don’t know for sure who will be fit (Jermaine Jones), who will get pt (Eddie Johnson), and who will be in form, this roster will work off the premise that the World Cup starts one month from today rather than six. In other words, this is to mimic the type of decision Bradley will have to make come May. As a result this means injured players that could be in the running, such as Jermaine Jones and Charlie Davies are out. However, I am making one exception to this rule and that is for Gooch. His recovery is going well and he should be back in training in March. Even if there is a set back and he has yet to play for AC Milan come May, I still think he makes the squad. In other words, we expect him to be there so a further injury setback is equivalent to losing one of the other currently fit members of the team.

A couple of general thoughts and guidelines to the squad. First, a World Cup squad almost always has 3 goalkeepers and 8 defenders. Second, the US has a lot of versatile players that can play different positions – out wide or up top, centerback or fullback, center-mid or defensive-mid. This will give Bradley some flexibility and some ability to be creative with who he brings. Third, this is my squad, not one based on what Bob Bradley will do. Some of Bradley’s favorites are missing and some of the picks are meant to create a bit of intrigue – so feel free to disagree vehemently.

Look for updates to this roster each month as we get closer to the World Cup. So without further ado…


Jozy Altidore – Kid may not have lit the Premiership on fire, but he has grown and developed as a target striker playing at Hull. While I am not sure this is great for his overall progression, it is ideal for this US team which lacks another truely dangerous target man. He can now post up like the best of em. He starts against England.

Landon Donovan – Okay no brainer here. But I put him under striker because I think with the loss of Davies we need someone with pace that can break past defensive backlines. The US is a counterattacking team and Donovan is better positioned to get out on the break up front than from a wide midfield position. I also think that Donovan in the midfield hurts us a bit defensively. Dempsey can slack off when he isn’t up for it, but he will be motivated as hell in the WC. However, my general view is that he should play where ever David Moyes plays him. It was wide right against Everton, but Moyes suggested he may play in the whole as well. If Donovan cuts it enough defensively for Moyes in midfield than that’s where he should play.

Robbie Findley – This was a tough call between Findley and Cunningham, and frankly if he starts MLS on a tear Cunningham has to be in the squad. But Findley has loads of pace, is young and promising, and came on strong last season. Findley is the most like for like replacement out there for Davies.
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World Cup 2010: US foe Algeria gets thumped in African Cup opener

Algeria fall flat in African Cup of Nations opener; Photo by Chimpanz

Unheralded Malawi crushed US Group C opponent Algeria 3-0 in each team’s African Cup of Nations opener today, in a result that should bring smiles to American, English, and Slovenian faces. We shouldn’t get too carried away as the match did come just days after the attack on the Togo national team bus has thrown a cloud over the whole tournament. But Malawi isn’t exactly a world or even African soccer power. The poor display by the Algerians is more evidence that the US team really should qualify out of the group stage at this summer’s World Cup Finals.

Malawi got off to a great start in the 17th minute when Algerian goal keeper Faouzi Chaouchi’s attempted clearance deflected off one Malawian attacker right to another for an easy goal. Another defensive lapse led to the 2nd goal, and just after halftime, Malawi made it 3-0 after Chaouchi flapped at a cross allowing striker David Banda to slot home from the resulting scramble. It should be noted that Chauchi is not Algeria’s No. 1 keeper, although he did start the decisive playoff match against Egypt because regular keeper Lounes Gaouaoui was suspended. Gaouaoui is out of this tournament suffering from appendicitis, and with a performance like this Chaouchi didn’t do himself any favors if he wanted to take the field against the US in South Africa. Continue reading

Weekend Premier League Games Raise Questions About Gunners And United

There were only two Premier league games over the weekend due to the deep freeze, but these two games involving Manchester United and Arsenal were significant for the title race and perhaps for the top 4 scramble. Both United and Arsenal came away fortunate to get a draw – United through an own goal and Arsenal through two deflected goals – raising further doubts about both sides. While both remain in the title hunt, both also could be dragged into the top4 scrum should they continue to struggle, especially if City, Spurs, and Liverpool get hot.

Arsenal was outplayed at home by a spirited but injury riddled Everton still sitting in the bottom half of the table. The midfield of Ramsey, Denilson, and Diaby were outplayed and outmuscled by Everton, especially by Fellani. When Arsenal did get in the final third, Everton effectively clogged the middle forcing wide players to put in crosses, which with no aerial threat in the box, Everton was able to deal with very easily. Stephen Pienar’s outstanding breakaway goal at the end was in many ways a byproduct of this as they have to get Gallas and Vermaelan into the box to have any threat. Arshavin, the most dangerous player on the pitch, was anonymous throughout most of the match and looks wasted playing with his back to goal.
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Perfect start: Donovan plays well and earns praise from Moyes

Donovan earned Moyes' confidence in terrific debut; Photo by Jason

For those longtime Landon Donovan watchers, his first performance abroad is usually heart in throat time. Whether it was his disastrous performance for Beyer Leverkusen in a Champions League game against Liverpool or last season’s scruffy debut for Bayern Munich, a poor start seems to haunt Donovan. His confidence then collapses as he eventually limps home. But not this time. Donovan was a serious threat down the right, put in the corner from which the Toffees scored their first, and almost netted himself. A terrific start that will boost the confidence of a player that so needed a positive beginning to his stay in the Premier League.

Too often, Donovan has failed to live up to his enormous potential. Two spells with Beyer Leverkusen and one in Munich only reinforced the impression that he could thrive in the small pond of MLS and the U.S. national team, but he couldn’t hang with the big boys. I recall reading the text commentary of his Champions League game when the writer said Donovan was playing so poorly he was afraid of the ball. It was so bad that for the remainder of the season, that commentator would note when a player seemed anonymous that he was ‘doing a Donovan’. Continue reading

Donovan’s Start Live Blogged

Donovan is starting against Arsenal. What a debut for Donovan. Due to the weather killing just about every other Premier league game this weekend, Donovan will quite literally be playing in front of the watchful eye of almost all fans of English football. I just added Setanta, despite the fact its going under to see this game and will provide some comments on his performance and the game.

Closing Donovan thoughts: The debut was outstanding. He looked like an Everton regular and perhaps one of their best players. If you didn’t know it was his debut you would have yelled at the TV when we was withdrawn. He looked very very comfortable with the pace of the game and showed outstanding touch and pace. To use the cliche “he played within himself.” He played smartly and picked his spots and didn’t immaturely try to be a hero at every turn and was at times arguably to unselfish. He also demonstrated that he could pull the strings, as he had some fabulous passes.

Importantly, he showed to David Moises what he is capable of – the key now will be getting him more integrated into Everton’s approach. Following the halftime it definitely seemed that Everton was looking to release Donovan more and I bet Moises told the players at halftime to look his direction.

68: And LD is predictably subbed.

67: LD starting to look a little gassed.

65: Snow really coming down… even Arshavin the Russian looks uncomfortable.

62: LD cheered by Everton fans as he goes to take a corner…. and it was a weak corner too short.

60: Arshavin has been totally anonymous.

58: Donovan playing further up the field and more centrally, Traore takes advantage with good and dangerous run up the wing.
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