Tag Archives: Clint Dempsey

The National is as impatient as me with Clint Dempsey’s possible transfer

By Kevin Koczwara

Can we all agree that Clint Dempsey, Fulham and whoever else is involved in transfer rumors end this long, over done, holy crap it should have happened already saga? There have been reports that he could go to Liverpool, and probably will, before the summer is over. But things aren’t progressing on any front outside of transfer price tags being tossed out there. More speculation was recently created because Dempsey decided to stay home with his dog and family instead of going with the rest of the team to preseason training in Switzerland.

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Where Bradley went wrong and how Klinsmann can fix it

 By Kevin Koczwara

Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t getting the best of press in his home country of Germany right now thanks to Philipp Lahm’s autobiography “The Subtle Difference.” The Germany captain called his former national team and Bayern Munich manager tactically inept and calls out Klinsmann’s approach to training, which according to Lahm, consisted of only fitness training and no tactical scheming whatsoever. Klinsmann shrugged off the diggers from Lahm and continued on his merry way, which looks likes like a good idea because Lahm apparently doesn’t have anything positive to say about just about any of his past coaches.

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Klinsmann has tough task ahead of him as USMNT coach

 

By Tony Bruce

Can U.S. Men’s National head coach Jurgen Klinsmann be the savior for American soccer? That’s a loaded question, but as the first U.S. coach to have actually won a World Cup, he knows what it takes. From a coaching stand point, the question is how will he attack the task at hand.

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USMNT v Spain thoughts

By Kevin Koczwara

First Half Thoughts

Spain won the World Cup in 2010 and Euros in 2008 because it’s one of those rare national teams that works as a unit and is loaded with über-skilled players. The side has a style of play, and all of the players understand how it works. It’s remarkable to see them work as a unit and build the attack from the back while never losing a defensive shape.

The attacking shape Spain has isn’t anything any other team outside of Brazil and the Netherlands — when its best player stop fighting with one another — can play. There is not form or answer. Players keep switching, moving into space, moving out and filling. It’s like a beautiful blob that keeps creating and always looks to go to goal.

For the U.S. Men’s National Team, it needs to tighten up at the back and get the midfield some help. Maurice Edu and Jermaine Jones are out numbered and out-classed trying to mark and play against Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets — who’s barely had to do anything — and David Silva in the middle of the field. Santi Cazorla is swapping flanks and opening up space for either Sergio Ramos on the left side or Alvaro Arbeloa on the right to overlap and get in behind the defense.

Spain has also taken advantage of the funny bounce on the grass laid over the turf at Gillette. The ball sits up nicely for an attacker when the ball lands and dies on the sod. Because of this, Spain has sent over a few balls into space and to an attacker making a run because the ball won’t continue to roll or bounce all the way to Tim Howard in goal, instead the ball settles nicely on the foot of an attacker. The U.S.’s high line in the defense isn’t helping either. The high line is allowing space in behind and Tim Ream and Oguchi Onyewu don’t have the pace or the communication, or so it seems, to keep up with the through ball.

Second Half Thoughts

The United States just couldn’t cope in the midfield all game, but it did improve in the second half. Spain’s possession game wears a team out, and it just killed the U.S. Michael Bradley — who came on at half-time — Sacha Kljestan and Jonathan Spector — moving into the midfield after starting at right back — couldn’t swarm the ball or force mistakes with pressure because they were worn out from chasing the game.

Bob Bradley finally felt the need to bring on Clint Dempsey and move Jonathan Spector out of defense and into the midfield in the second half. Things clicked a bit better for the USMNT at that point, but it all didn’t work.

Dempsey playing high in the center of the midfield with Michael Bradley, who also came on at half-time, and Spector behind him gave Dempsey the freedom to open things up and hold the ball for the U.S., something the team lacked in the first half with Agudelo and Altidore up top as neither is particularly adept at brining other players into the game or holding the ball.

Kljestan was also impacted by Dempsey’s arrival and the Fulham player’s ability to get on the ball. Kljestan was almost invisible in the first half (I had to check with reporters around me to make sure he was a second half substitute). Kljestan had some positive moments on the ball when he came back and found some space because Dempsey was able to grab hold of the ball and allow Kljestan time to move into space to receive a pass, which is encouraging for Bob Bradley going into Gold Cup games because Kljestan will give him a positive player who can pass the ball and move in the midfield coming off the bench when something new is needed.

Spector looked more comfortable in the midfield than he did on the right side of the defense. At West Ham, he showed more potential and ability in the midfield as a ball winner who found himself ghosting into the box at the right time. Too bad for him that the depth in the midfield is the one area  the U.S. actually has some. He needs to improve his game at right back, still, or get it back to the level of the Confederations Cup in 2009 — where he was a notable addition and stand-out — to find playing time during the Gold Cup.

Steve Cherundolo seems to be aging backwards and doesn’t look like he’s giving the spot up on the right side of the defense anytime soon, which is good for Bradley because he is short of options there. But the U.S. needs cover for the 32 year old, and if Spector doesn’t pick up his game he might see Eric Lichaj jumping ahead of him, as well as Timmy Chandler — who isn’t on the roster because of fatigue from his club season in Germany.

As for Lichaj, he looked uncomfortable on the left, but he hasn’t been playing there for long and he’s right footed, not an easy transition, especially against the best team in the world. There is still promise for him, though. As a right back, we might be able to see more of his ability to get forward and cross the ball.

The key for the game against Canada will be the U.S. ability to create, and its obvious that Clint Dempsey gives them the best chance at creating through the middle and holding play up. Bradley may look for him to be the catalyst in Detroit, Mich. against Canada in the opener if Landon Donovan has to miss the game because of the illness that kept him out of today’s match with Spain. When Dempsey was on the field, the parts all seemed to move and his skill on the ball allowed other players to find space and get into better spots to receive the ball. Which is something this team sorely needs right now.

Kevin Koczwara can be reached at Kevin.Koczwara@thesocerguysonline.com.

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USMNT draws with Argentina thanks to Agudela's second half goal

By Kevin Koczwara

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Juan Agudela has made a name for himself on the international stage for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Quickly. The 18-year-old striker again proved he was more than worthy of earning a spot on the team by scoring his second goal in three games with the USMNT.

Agudela’s goal sealed a 1-1 draw with Argentina, who scored in the 42nd minute when Esteban Cambiasso slammed a rebound from six yards out into the net. Anything less than a win for Argentina looked unlikely for much of the game as it controlled the tempo, almost all of the possession, and had the majority of the chances on net.

Argentina toyed with the USMNT at times in the first half, dominating the possession, forcing the U.S. deeper and deeper into it’s own end. Stretching play from one side to the other. Argentina forced Bob Bradley’s five-man midfield deep into its own end for much of the opening 45 minutes.

Angel di Maria had a great chance to open the scoring in the 34th minute when he found some space in the box after the U.S. was unable to clear the ball. Di Maria weaved around a few defenders but found himself to close to the touchline and had to shoot with no angle. Tim Howard made the easy save.

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Clint Dempsey, the American Model for European Success

Since moving to Fulham, Clint Dempsey has enjoyed a productive career and become a fan favorite at Craven Cottage. (Courtesy Nick Sarebi)

By Kevin Koczwara

Clint Dempsey, Texas native and one time New England Revolution player who set the Major League Soccer record for transfer overseas, $4 million, scored the United States only goal in the 2006 World Cup in Germany. He became the second American ever to score in two different World Cups, joining Brian McBride, this summer when he brought the U.S. men’s national team level with England in Rustenburg, South Africa.

Yet, since winning the 2006 Honda Player of the Year Award, given to the best American soccer player and voted by journalists, Dempsey’s path to success has almost fallen on deaf ears because he plays for a semi-small club in England, Fulham, not the domestic MLS, a huge club in Europe, and he isn’t named Landon Donovan.

Donovan has been a great ambassador for the game of soccer in America. There is no doubting that. But, what Donovan hasn’t been able to do, and this is partially because the MLS won’t let him, is ride out his career overseas in one of the world’s top leagues. Yes, Donovan had a great short loan spell with Everton last year, and he should look to do it again this year, but that was a quick spell where he fit into the team’s plans perfectly. Neither side had much to lose. Everton was skidding, and Donovan was still a star in the U.S. with the Los Angeles Galaxy. There was no risk because Donovan knew he would still be star when he returned to Los Angeles.

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Lack of Premier League Quality Depth Haunts Chelsea

Chelsea fans celebrate the clubs first ever Double. The London club won the 2009/10 FA Cup and the Premier League in one season, but things may not be as bright this season. Courtesy Feggy Art

By Kevin Koczwara

Frank Lampard has been out injured since Aug. 28 with a hernia problem. His absence was suppose to be two weeks, it has now been 12 weeks since Chelsea’s captain has been sidelined. During that time he has recovered from his hernia problem, but has been struggling with a groin strain and will be out another three weeks.

Lampard’s injury troubles could spell trouble for Chelsea in the coming weeks as the team looks for pivotal, timely goals that the England international scores on a regular basis. Lampard finished last season with 22 goals, fifth best in the Premier League, and 17 assists, most int he EPL. Those are some gaudy numbers for a midfielder, and Chelsea hasn’t found a way to replace them while he’s been out this season.

Michael Essien did a stellar job filling in for Lampard, but his two-footed challenge into Clint Dempsey in the dying moments of Chelsea’s 2-1 loss to Fulham, got him sent off and suspended, rightfully so. Without Essien or Lampard bombing into the box or fighting for goals in the closing moments of the game, Chelsea has become a one-dimensional team.

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Yanks In Need of Revolution

U.S. striker Jozy Altridore has shown flashes of brilliance on the field when leading the Americans attack, but at other times his poor first touch has let him down. Courtesy Paul Blank

By Ryan Fleming

After watching the 0-0 yawnfest that was the United States Men’s National Team against Colombia and then a mediocre performance by the Yanks against Poland just a few days prior I was stricken with some revelations.

1. Are they really any good?

Did the Yanks overachieve in the World Cup? It has been known for sometime now that you cannot value a player based alone on his performance in the world’s greatest sporting spectacle. Sure, their 1-1 tie to England in both of the team’s opening games of the tournament was lucky, albeit maybe deserved. The Yanks came out on top of the group, ahead of the Three Lions, as well as Algeria and Slovenia an overall mediocre group even with the likes of England present.

Since being eliminated by Ghana in the second round, the USMNT lost to Brazil, 2-0, then came away without a win over mediocrity once again this past week.

The USA really hasn’t put forth an impressive performance since its 3-1 win over Australia just days before the World Cup. Sure, it managed some thrilling, late-game heroics over Algeria and Slovenia, but does that constitute an overall “good” showing?

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Mr. Blatter, Something Needs to Change

FIFA President Sepp Blatter announcing the 2014 World Cup host winner Brazil. Courtesy Ricardo Stuckert

By Joe Meloni

Being a soccer fan in the United States means learning to deal with a few things. We understand a portion of our friends, co-workers and anyone else likely to stumble upon our Facebook pages thinks soccer is boring, un-American game. It is, after all, predicated upon not screwing up more than it’s about trying to strike as frequently as possible.

Unfortunately, the World Cup provided more ammunition for my narrow-minded cohorts as overworked officials continually failed to make proper calls or keep matches — even Sunday’s final — in line. Naturally, the blame falls on their shoulders rather than the FIFA officials consistently placing too heavy a burden upon them.

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What the Future Holds for the USMNT

By Kevin Koczwara

It has been over a week since the United States Men’s National Team was humbled by a young Ghana squad – the youngest team in the World Cup Finals – in extra time at the World Cup in South Africa. I have had enough time to soak in the pain, the misery and the confusion of seeing my country lose at the World Cup when I truly thought it could advance in the tournament and make major strides, you know, kind of like how the Italians, Argentines and Brazilians must feel right about now.

Then I got to thinking about the future of U.S. soccer and how bright it may be. The squad that went to South Africa was a good mix of veteran players and up-and-coming talent. The roster manager Bob Bradley took with him had a good mix and set a good framework for the next World Cup – 2014 in Brazil.

The Yanks will have major questions to answer during the qualifying for the 2014 World Cup: who will their core defenders be? And who will supply the much needed goals?

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