World Cup 2010: Beasley resurgence could add important option for US squad

Beasley could be valuable weapon off the bench in South Africa

Few American soccer fans will have expected DeMarcus Beasley to be in Bob Bradley’s plans for the 23-man US squad headed to South Africa. His play over the last couple of seasons for club and county has been very disappointing, and he seemed to be losing his long running battle with injuries. Furthermore, new faces were emerging to take over from Beasley, especially Charlie Davies. But now Davies is almost certainly out for the World Cup as he recovers from a horrific car crash and Beasley is getting regular minutes and scoring great goals for Rangers. If he’s back to his best, his pace and experience would be a great asset to the US in South Africa.

We all remember shouting at the television as ball after ball seemed to bounce of Beasley’s feet as if he’d never played soccer before. Whether playing left wing or a more unfamiliar left back, he looked lost. After being substituted during the first-round Brazil game in the Confederations Cup last summer, it looked like his national team career might be over. Making matters worse, he wasn’t getting a kick at Rangers, stuck behind two players and seemingly on the outs with Manager Walter Smith. He even talked publicly about wanting to leave Glasgow in the January transfer window in the hope of getting some playing time and forcing his way back into consideration for the US squad. Continue reading


Interpreting MLS’s Offer to Stuart Holden – It’s PR

MLS offered Stuart Holden a considerable salary increase to lure him to resign with the league. Holden who was making just $35,000 this past season was offered an approximately 10 fold increase, ie $350,000 to resign with the league. What to think of this?

While this sounds like a good offer, this is really a public relations jester from MLS. Stuart Holden could have resigned at the beginning of the year but refused and played for a measly 35 grand so that he would be free to sign with a European club in the offseason. Holden has garnered a lot of interest from practically every club in Scotland, including Rangers. But since Holden could be signed on a free transfer it is likely he could be signed by a team from one of the bigger leagues. While $350,000 is a good salary for MLS, this is small beer compared to what he could get paid in Europe. If MLS were to offer to make him a designated player and pay him around the 1 million mark it could have a bit more appeal, but even with that Holden could still likely make more in Europe. So by offering Holden a new offer and having Holden turn it down this will enable MLS to save some face for losing such an up incoming star. This is similar to when the Washington Nationals sought to resign Alfonso Soriano – a move that bought some goodwill.
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What Donovan Could Have Been…

Steve Davis at Daily Soccer Fix gives his take on what Donovan could have been had he stayed in Europe. Steve argues that had Donovan continued on at Bayern Leverkusen he would have likely become another Eddie Johnson or Damarcus Beasley. In other words, a player who never gaining the trust of this European manager warms the bench and sees his skills stagnate and decline. Davis’ argument provides an important corrective to the constant Landon bashing asserting that he didn’t have the stones to stick it out in Europe. However, while the alternate scenario drawn up by Davis is certainly plausible, there is also another scenario that I think is equally plausible – that Donovan would have become an elite world class player, resembling an American Michael Owen.
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Landon Linked With Everton

It is being widely reported in the British press – everywhere from the Guardian and Telegraph to tabloids like the Sun – that Everton’s David Moises is keen on signing Landon Donovan on loan in January. The story – while being reported by the British pressmakes sense. Everton is desperate to bring in players but doesn’t have the cash to make a real splash. Donovan would fit their needs, as would a loan.

But more importantly this would make sense for Donovan. His loan last winter to Bayern Munich was seen as a flop, largely because they didn’t resign him, but I think this assessment misses the mark on a couple of levels. First, Donovan actually played pretty well and had a number of near misses in front of goal – those find the back of the net it’s a different story. Second, Klinnsman who brought in Donovan was on his way out and Donovan was Klinnsman’s boy so the people upstairs were not that keen on signing him to a long term deal. Finally, and most importantly his Munich move was NOT a flop, because it made Donovan a much better player. Coming back from his stint abroad Donovan looked sharper, more technical, more in tuned to the game. He shed his tendency to float in and out of games that winter and emerged as the true leader and captain of the US team, as well as the Galaxy.
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Jozy, you can’t be serious

photo by: Scott Dungan

photo by: Scott Dungan

I looked in horror to see that Jozy had not even made the bench. I was about to write a post saying how flippin crazy Phil Brown must be, when I found the reason Jozy didn’t make the bench: he was late to the game. And Phil Brown is not – repeat not – a happy camper.

This is from the Sky Sports story:

Brown called the United States international’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’ and acknowledged Altidore would be hit in the pocket.

He said: “It’s going to cost him a lot of money, unfortunately.

“That for me is information that stays in house. The reason he wasn’t on the bench was our business.

“Jozy was on the bench until 2.10 when I decided to change it.

“It’s unacceptable behaviour, full stop.

“You prepare all week for a match day, mentally and physically. To ask a player to arrive an hour and a half before a game is not too much to ask is it?”

Not good Jozy – he is definitely going to have to work hard to get him out of the dog house. The big fear is that the fans begin to turn on him a bit. After that first game he has yet to set the team a light – but to be fair to him, most of his appearances have been off the bench and Hull are just flat out bad.

Thoughts on Fulham vs. Hull, Clint vs. Jozy

Clint Dempsey got the start while Jozy started on the bench. Clint went the full 90 and demonstrated his class and skill. While US fans should be concerned about Jozy not starting, the fact is that he played 95 minutes on Wednesday and it is understandable that he did not get the start. That said there are some reasons for US fans to be concerned about Jozy’s situation.

First, on Dempsey.
Missing the last two games gave Holden and Torres a chance to challenge his place on the national team. Both solidified their position on the national team and have demonstrated their are real options, but I don’t think either came close to displacing Dempsey. While US fans were ready to throw the book at Dempsey, he is clearly class. Duff got a lot of the press attention in this game, but Dempsey to me excelled. His control, passing, and movement with the ball got Fulham into dangerous areas of the field. And he was unlucky not to score. Dempsey basically pushed up as a third striker at times. Granted he did not have to do a lot defensively, but since we are likely to play with two holding midfielders Dempsey should start out wide as opposed to up top.
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Head scratcher: who replaces Davies?

Grahame Jones at the LA Times has a great piece on the lack of any suitable replacement for Charlie Davies. Over the last year the US team was looking increasingly settled, Donovan emerging as a creative midfield force on the left and Davies making the pacy second striker role his own. With the two on the field we were explosive and dangerous on counterattacks and Davies tendency to pull wide left enabled Donovan to frequently over lap on the inside of him. We have suddenly lost a huge threat on the counter and a ton of energy and pace and Bradley has a very tough choice over who to partner with Jozy. Who can provide that? Maybe no one. However, due to Jozy’s versatility – he has the size and strength to be a target man, as well as the pace and skill to run at people and get behind defenses – Bradley has a number of options. Here are some possible options and some players that could emerge as potential replacements.
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