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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Dempsey Downs The Azzurri

Sitting on my couch, rain pelting down from the Honolulu sky I sat, clammy palmed as watched the US National Team defeat the four time world champions 1-0. Forgive the dramatic first sentence as I am reminded by the ever-growing cynic Alexi Lalas that this is only a friendly. I won't ignore this fact because well it is only a friendly, with nothing more than just pride on the line for the Italians. You would expect to see a different result under different circumstances, as the will to win was valued more by the American side and thus put forth the effort. I praise what Jurgen Klinsmann has done with these international friendlies, taking the opportunity to throw his American boys into the fire pitting them against top opposition in Argentina, Belgium and Italy. The threat of a destructive, morale splitting, confidence destroying defeat is their but in the tests that our men have faced, they have looked  at adversity and smiled. 

Dempsey's Goal:

It was once again the American footballing bad- boy Clint Dempsey that made the difference with the goal, but on a whole the team played very well. Some of the old negative habits returned with an isolated attack in Jozy Altidore and poor defensive positioning from Bocanegra and the rest of the back line. For me what separates this game from the rest is the over commending commentary on the what the US does well was actually justified. Often times the commentary team is too quick to commend the US on doing  mundane things... well. Ian Darke and Taylor Twellman in the booth told it like it was, praising what was worthy of praise, and slighting what was worthy of slight. Jozy Altidore did hold the ball up well, especially in the second half, and really was the one worthy of most the fanfare associated with the goal, as he chested, and layed-off the ball for Dempsey's strike. Not letting in a goal masked the ease that Sebastian Giovinco and the Italian attack had in springing the US defense. Lucky for the US the Linesman seemed to have money riding on the boys from the red, white and blue, as every defense splitting run from the Azzuri was called offside. We escaped without any of those chances nestling into Howard's net...but just barely.

I often feel as though as the US suffers from the curse of the commentator far to often. When ever the team manages a coup, the surprise factor spurs constant mention on how this is a huge upset and this and that, to the point where I found myself saying out loud "Darke, cool it with the chatter, your gonna jynx it." Luckily it was not the case this time round.

USMNT Road Strip
With the USMNT registering their first win against the Italians in 11 attempts, bringing Klinsmann's record to 5-4-1 as head coach I can honestly say that this was a huge success for the Yanks. Friendly or not, it was the best performance so far under German rule, No doubt. Done without Landon Donovan, and in a new road strip that looks absolutely brilliant. White sleeves, black stripe across the chest, and a majestic red, white, and blue collar some of the German'd new-boy's had a chance to shine, and shine they did. Fabian Johnson looked really handy in the left-back spot, and when he broke forward with pace opportunities where created. It was his cross that led to the goal, and further down the road looks a possible answer for the spot with a question mark hanging over it in terms of Brazil 2014.

If their was any question over Michael Bradley's place in the squad, their shouldn't be. His work rate, passing and vision is integral to the teams play. Paired with Edu in the center they clogged holes well, and both made some timely tackles in maintaining the purity of the scoreline.

My thoughts, take them as you will.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

New Knits: Netherlands National Away Kit By NIKE

 The Netherlands’s new away kit represents the inherent style and authority of Dutch football in a sophisticated new black design.

The new away shirt is black, a naturally stylish and sharp color, which denotes both authority and a lethal approach to the game. It is augmented with a striking orange panel from the home shirt on the right side from the shoulder to the torso.
In line with Nike’s commitment to superior athletic performance and lower environmental impact, the fabric of the new kit’s shorts is made with 100% recycled polyester, while the fabric of the shirts is made with at least 96% recycled polyester. Each kit is made using an average of 13 recycled plastic bottles.
As a huge fan of the Dutch Orange, this primarily black kit doesn't really do it for me. I 'am a fan of the minimalist style but I really dug the away kit worn at the last EURO's, with the flag banner across the chest, and the baby blue shorts.

The Nike Pro Combat Hypercool 2.0 top delivers ventilation and sweat-wicking fabric to help keep athletes cool and comfortable during practice and match play.

Thanks to

Monday, February 20, 2012

Liver n' Onions: Dalglish's dream delivers

Liverpool's lunch time kickoff against Manchester United a week a go was always going to be a game worth talking about.The events leading up to it between Suarez and Evra, and the events that transpired during. Having taken a week to digest, asses and formulate thoughts on, I have decided to not comment on it. I could being as this is a Liverpool dedicated blog, but  Liver n' Onions has decided to move on. Talking about it anymore will just continue to distract  the footballing public from what really matters…the football. This was certainly the case in the game, where the Suarez,  Evra storyline stole the show.

This weekend the EPL was not in action as the FA cup  took  center stage once again. Liverpool took on Brighton & Hove Albion Sunday in the FA Cup 5th round, as they looked to continue their good form in the cup's this season. The match took place Anfield, for better or worse as the reds have yet to be defeated but have made it a habit of drawing matches. Taking into account how the Brighton side play under Manager Gus Poyet ,who on a side note  publicly supported Suarez in the race accusations, could give Liverpool a run for their money. Brighton play a good brand of pass and move football, similar to Swansea City in the Premier League, but Liverpool's defensive solidity was backed to reign supreme. Brighton defeated Newcastle United to reach this level of the competition, a side who is challenging at the top of the Premier League: 

Before the match I made some mock line-ups for the two teams. 

Proposed line-ups for pre match:

Kelly, Carragher, Coates, Robinson
Maxi, Spearing, Adam, Downing
Suarez, Carroll
 Actual starters Henderson ( For Maxi) , Johnson ( For Kelly) , Sktel ( Coates), Enrique ( Robinson)
Calderon, Greer, Dunk, El-Abd
Noone, Forster-Caskey, Barnes,  Buckly,

Vokes started up top, LuaLua on the wing and Navarro in the center forming a 4-2-31

The line-up spoke volumes about how Dalglish feels towards the cup. A line up that is for me stronger than the one put out against Manchester United last weekend. Brighton is certainly a lesser opposition compared to United, and against United you can't really blame Dalglish for setting up more defensive. This said, Liverpool did exactly that, play defensively. Throwing caution to the wind sometimes gives players confidence as the intent to get a win is shown, and this was  seen against Brighton. With a strong line-up emerging from the tunnel we can see that Liverpool's targets this season have changed. Fourth spot looks to be lost, and the chance of winning the league, was never a realistic expectation. Making it to the quarters of the FA cup and to the final of the Carling Cup is certainly a statement, and a valid possibility of acquiring silverware.

Martin Skrtel started proceedings off on the right foot for the Reds as he headed a corner in for the first goal just 5 minutes into the first half.   

Right from the off you could see something start to click up-top for Liverpool. This is because Suarez and Carroll both started on the pitch. Bought for the dynamic big-man, small-man combination, we all have been left wanting, as they rarely see game time together. In this game you can see that you need them both on the field on the same time. When you play Carroll you need Suarez, because it allows Carroll to lurk in the box, as Suarez will come a little deeper to get the ball, so Carroll doesn't have to. Carroll doesn't seem to manage all the tasks required when he play's up top on his own. He's not a complete striker, he's rather one dimensional, although he claims otherwise. He needs to be able to rampage into the box, and be physical. He needs it served him, but when he gets isolated he has to work too hard to get service, forcing him out of position. Suarez is the perfect tonic, as he will roam, drop deep, pick the ball up and connect with one-twos in and around the box. 

You could also see the importance that Gerrard plays in this delicate ecosystem. The accuracy, and vision in a pass, gives Liverpool the option to play it short with Suarez, or long to Carroll with deadly accuracy. Gerrard is the common denominator in this, and this cohesion has been missing through a variety of reasons, suspensions, injuries and such. We saw last night that it works, and well when all three are on the pitch at the same time.

A shaky start for the Brighton side was remedied with a wonderful strike from Lualua in the 17th minute, penetrating Liverpool's….Uhmmm wall? A blistering grass cutter gave Reina no chance as it leveled terms.

Another goal from Liverpool exposed  a lethargic looking keeper Brezovan, as he punched across into the air with bodies falling everywhere. Suarez had time to take the lose ball down out of the air and release a shot that rocketed back off the Brighton keeper into the air falling to Glen Johnson who headed it in to Brighton's Bridcutt, who on trying to clear but ricoched it into goal.  

Brighton looked particularly vulnerable off crosses, and corners, and most of the promising moves for Liverpool came down Stewart Downing's side. Liverpool flooded the box when Downing and Adam got the ball, and a few crosses wen't close to connecting with the pony-tail of Carroll as he vied with defender El-Abd for room to breath.

Let's face it Stewart Downing has been a sheer disappointment since his move from Aston Villa. Stats don't lie and the most glaring is his in the 2011/12 EPL season. He has played 24 goals, 0 goals, 0 assists ( that's right 0, not quite the ammunition for Andy Carroll) and he has registered 49 shots. I wish I could say well this is okay because he tracks back, "Puttin in a shift," but this is not the case. He is exposed when he plays a defensive role, a large part of his positions make-up is to help out his fullbacks, but Downing provides slim support. This is not to be forgotten, but with the Downing and Carroll combo finally connecting against Brighton things should be looking up….hopefully. In the 57' min Downing cut a ball into the box and the left foot of Carroll took care of the rest making the game 3-1 and possibly the killing the competition. Unbridled joy spread across the face of of Dalglish as two of his, highly scrutinized, big money signings combined.  

Killing the competition is exactly what this did as, but losing 3-1 away at Anfield is no embarrassment for the likes of Brighton. Neither the scoreline or the lack of embarrassment proved to be true as Brighton was hit with another sucker punch in the form of a second "Og." 71' minute it was Bridcutt once again scoring in his own own net as he tried to clear a Gerrard shot off the line. The the match commentator offered some consolation to the Brighton player saying "it's not often you come to Anfield and scores twice. Don't think he'd see the funny side though. 

Losing a grip on reality, Brighton suffered another tragedy when just three minutes later a 3rd own goal went in. Poor control in the box lead to defender Dunk kneeing a cross into his own goal making it a 5-1 scoreline. If I can get a bit "punny" with it it was certainly a slam dunk of an own goal...oh that's bad.

Polar opposites were Poyet and Dalglish on their respected benches. Everything going horribly wrong for Brighton, and all the hopes and dreams of Dalglish coming true as the 6th goal was a product of the Liverpool's highly priced, and anticipated strike duo combining. A cross found its way onto  Carroll's head,  who headed across goal to Suarez, finishing in front of a spineless and humiliated Brighton defense. Having just missed a penalty he makes it 6-1, and a smile reaching ear to ear beamed from the face of Dalglish.

Liverpool emphatically reach the quarter finals of the FA Cup and will face against Stoke City. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Milanese Massacre: Arsenal 0-4 AC Milan CL

Well that's all folks- in terms of Arsenals' CL European adventure as their first leg tie against AC Milan ended  4-0 in favor of the Italians. Arsenal has long been known as the kids of Arsenal, with manager Arsene Wenger having a knack for seeking out young talent from around Europe. The team that played yesterday were not kids, but they sure played like them. Against the likes of Ibrahimovic, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Thiago Silva, Arsenal looked toothless. Good possession once again led to nothing,  Laurent Koscielny came off with an injury in the first half, Van Persie managed 1 or 2 shots max, Tomas Rosicky once again rocketed every shot into row Z, and keeper Szechney couldn't clear his lines to save his life.

Mark van Bommel in the center of midfield for Milan seemed to have time to take a smoke break in the and Abbiati was tested in goal, not by shots but by his ability to stay awake. Ex-Tottenham player Kevin Prince-Boateng opened the scoring with a one time, cross body volley that  went in off the under side of the bar. Robinho notched two goals, one created by a slip from Vermaelen and the other was crafted from a cut back after Ibrahimovic's daring run to the by-line.  Ibrahimovic added to the score sheet with a penalty won by a deft cross body drag in the box.

Arsenal looked as bad as I have seen them, and the look of despair on Wenger's face as he mashed his hands deeper into his coat pockets was almost comical as it's becoming a regular occurrence due to Arsenals form. I swear I'am going to make a montage of his fits from the sideline, and watch it when I'am having a bad day.

Arsenal is struggling in the league, and now that they're are certainly out of the Champions League, one must look beyond bringing Thierry Henry back to salvage the clubs reputation.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why I listen to World Football Daily

Why I listen to World Football Daily:

I have to show some love the show that has made me the football fan that I am today. World Football Daily is a subscriber based radio show that brings the "going-ons" of global football to the American fan, five days a week. As a devoted listener since 2009, I have been tantalized by the variety of guests and players they have managed to bring on the show. A large part of the knowledge I posses on this game I can be attributed to the topics discussed on this show and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the game. As a football addict this show is my pusher, and I don't see rehab in my future anytime soon.

An average show runs about two hours long and is filled with un-parralled content. The global perspective of the game is observed as guests such as Graham Hunter and Tim Vickery frequent the show. Players like Rafael van der Vaart give you the insight to the life of the player as well as the preparation heading into their weekend fixtures.

If you're a fan, player or casual supporter this show is for you. The video below gives you a visual look on what i'm talking about as you see the WFD family explain why everything I have just said is poppycock.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Capello Says "Ciao!" To His England Manager Position

In a mixture of shock and predictability Fabio Capello has resigned from his post as England National Team manager. The most apparent reason for this is his beef with the FA over stripping John Terry of the captaincy behind his back. This may be the reason on the surface, but the Italian's discontent with life as England's manager goes deeper.

What really put this into motion was when he gave back the captains arm band to Terry in the wake of him losing it the first time. That was when the issue of his off- field affair with fellow International Wayne Bridge's wife. The fact that these issues- the infidelity and accused racist allegations are aiding in a manger stepping down from his post is outlandish. Like I said these are just the blanket issues covering 
Capello's apparent distain for the FA of England, and clearly It had gotten too much for him to take

Capello threatened to publicly challenge the FA's decision to strip John Terry of the captaincy, pending the outcome of his court case in July, which seemed to be his final stand as now using Terry in the squad would be useless. With stripping the stalwart Terry of the captaincy, using him in the Euro's would be a tough prospect and If I were to bet on it, his play would suffer. Terry relishes being the captain, and the responsibility required up's his game. I have heard pundits say that it doesn't matter if he physically has the captains band on his arm, he will still yell the loudest and lead the squad through play. I do not believe this to be true. When Terry is in the squad the captaincy is rightly his. For me he has not been convicted of racism yet, so therefore how can you punish him? Who knows what Capello actually felt on the matter, but the fact is he was upset that the decision was not left up to him.

He successfully got his squad to this summers' European championships, not to mention doing it in a way that puts them as one of the front-runners to win the competition. Capello struggled to command respect from the players early in his tenure but since he has shaped a a squad that plays pretty well together. He has injected some youth into squad with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Kyle Walker, whose spots now are not necessarily guaranteed.

What's next? Harry Redknapp is the prime candidate to take over the gig, but prying him away from Tottenham who are challenging for a title, would be out of the question. Stuart Pearce takes over as a care taker manager for the time being, until a long term replacement can be found. The consistency to which England continuously complicate things prior to an International tournament is uncanny, and now until a solution is found journalist alike will be harping on this point.  I will be anticipating the players reactions come their friendly with the Netherlands later this month.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Liver n' Onions: Cats Game

The successes of Liverpool football club in the last couple of weeks has breathed a new wind into the sails of the fans, giving hope of silverware and a possible place in the Champions League next season. 

On a day that Liverpool were held to another draw at home, and I say " Held," because they deserved a win based on play, I will touch upon a few successful weeks for the red side of the Mersey. The reds' have reached their first Carling Cup final since 1996, defeating Manchester "Moneybags" City to progress to Wembley. The catalyst of this recent consummation is one Craig Bellamy,  who I would argue has been one of the most on form players in the all of the English competitions, EPL, Carling Cup and FA Cup.  Bellamy was a  brow raising signing not unlike Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes returning their old sides. Such furrowed brows have since subsided as he in the absence of Luis Suarez through suspension has earned his stripes and has been the driving force for Liverpool in attack. He defeated old employers City, to reach the Carling Cup Final on the 26th February,  in which they will meet Welsh side Cardiff City- another former employer of Bellamy. This is a game the reds should feel they could win, and they should. The Carling Cup was not necessarily the goal that Dalglish targeted  this season, as grabbing the fourth spot and a Champions League place next season was surely objective number one.  Adding some silverware to the trophy cabinet  would be a snip, considering the season thus far. The Calrling Cup is nothing to shrug at considering it's the best we may get as the all elusive fourth spot looks  a mammoth undertaking. 

If Liverpool nab the Carling Cup in late February, should people consider this season a failure? Missed opportunities have hurt Liverpool and they continue to consistently drop points in the League to weaker sides,  but with all the money spent on talent in the summer, does winning a competition such as the Carling Cup justify the money spent? 

I say yeas, and this is how I see it. Once the cream of the crop In English football Liverpool have dropped from those heights, due to management, signings and form over a space of time. Yet the expectations still remain high from when they dominated the League. Not being the the club that it used to be fans, and spectators must not necessarily lower expectations, but they should evolve. Reaching the Carling Cup Final by defeating Manchester City, and the fourth round of the FA Cup through defeating Manchester United is just the speed that Liverpool should be striving for. Having spent chunks of cash on two strikers I see the reason for disappointment over performances, as this splashed cash has increased expectations. But in comparison to Manchester City, the cost to get this success pales in comparison, yet Liverpool just knocked them out of a tournament to reach the final. 

This gel I setting or it has been the last few weeks as Bellamy, Henderson, Kuyt, and even Andy Carroll have created some cohesion amongst each other. This cohesion was necessary as Liverpool faced Tottenham Monday at Anfield. Their home stadium has been anything but a fortress this season yet with blossoming form of late, aided by Luis Suarez and Steven Gerrards' return to the squad, a sense of confidence was set upon me. Suarez did not start as Bellamy, Carroll and Kuyt have performed well together, but he did come on later in the match and looked a tad rusty.

Liverpool looked to capitalize on the absence of the influential Raphael van der Vaart, starting with theoretically three forwards up top. Less of a thereat from Tottenham going forward made it possible for Gerrard in the center to push up behind Carroll who was spear-heading the attack. Unfortunately having Bellamy and Kuyt  on the wings, they looked to come into the middle too often making Liverpool's shape extremely narrow at times. Glen Johnson playing on the left due to an Injury sustained by Jose Enrique, got forward well and produced a great save from keeper Brad Friedel on the stroke of half time.

The game was not without incident as it ebbed and flowed towards its finale, still without a break in the deadlock. Though the score was as it started, the most interesting point was not the cat that ran out onto the field, stopping play for some minutes, it was the considerable determination the players showed in contest. Similar to a cat Tottenham remained on their feet even after intense pressure from the Liverpool attack. Just like in the game against Wolves Andy Carroll held up play decently, and his touch looked less like he had a wrecking ball as a foot. Suarez walked onto the pitch in the second half to a fanfare of support, only to get booked strait off landing a kick strait into Scotty Parkers' stomach. Manchester United's striker Wayne Rooney offered his opinions via Twitter, saying that the Uruguayan should have been sent off. He's just one of those guys Suarez who just can't avoid controversy to save his life. I was watching and I saw no intent in the kick and whether it was malicious or not, only he would know. 

The pace was frenetic, with full blooded tackles flying in left and right yet when it came to chances- production was slim. Gerrard looked in good form, and taking into account  the involuntary rest due to an injury ridden season, you might just see him return to full fitness and form at   Liverpool sit in seventh,  4 points behind Chelsea in fourth place.

Liverpool face Manchester United at Old Trafford this weekend and having defeated City and the team in question a week or two ago, they will be looking to repeat the coup. It would be a bit of a Coup d' Etat against the city of Manchester if Liverpool where to top them again, away from home. If you thought that the atmosphere was roaring in the Chelsea vs. Manchester United  game at the weekend, wait until  this game takes place. It couldn't come at a more convenient time for a controversy as Suarez will be available, and may possibly start, against Patrice Evra and United. I would expect tempers to be docile on the side of Suarez, but I wouldn't be surprised if Evra refuses to shake his hand in the pre-match pleasantries. 

Stay tuned for the post match thoughts at

Friday, February 3, 2012

Oh John.

The swirling tornado of a news story that has consumed all footballing media outlets in the last few days is that John Terry has once again been stripped of his England Captaincy.  This follows the allegations of racial abuse directed towards QPR's Anton Ferdinand.

The captain of England's National team cannot be seen as a racist whether he innocent or guilty, a decision that will not be decided for some 9 months following his trial. Furthermore is Terry will not be eligible to captain England come this summer European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. It's really funny how England always seem to but themselves in it right before a tournament though there still is some time.

Possible replacement Rio Ferdinand, the brother of  the "abused, " Anton has come out to day via twitter  saying he will not enter the running for the England captaincy. If Rio where to take this mantle,  I would be dumbfounded, not to mention astounded if conspiracy theories don't start to fly.

Expanding on the racism theme Luis Suarez will be available for Liverpool's clash with Tottenham on Monday.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

EPL Transfer Deadline Day Madness... Summarized.

There's only one way to consume the madness of January 31st aka Transfer Deadline Day, and that  is to jump in with both feet. So here ya go:

South African Steven Pienaar rejoins old side Everton on loan for the rest of the season after having found it impossible to get playing time at Tottenham Hotspur. It screams a bit of a mistake, but then you can not slight a player trying to compete at a higher level club. Now he returns to the side to which he earned the move, what a pity.

Continuing with the trend of loan moves in this edition of the January transfer window is the Chilean David Pizzaro joining Manchester City from AS Roma. He's a handy 32 year old who has struggled finding a first team place in the ever-evolving ethos in Rome. Like the last years signing of Patrick Viera, Pizzaro will be used as a back-up to the likes of Yaya Toure, Nigel De Jong and Gareth Barry. Question, what happened to Owen Hargreaves?

Now for a little Russian fun.

Fulham has signed Russian International Pavel Pogrebnyak from VFB Stuttgart. As you will see when you scroll lower, Bobby Zamora has completed a move to QPR, so the need of a out and out striker was a need that is now filled by the big Russian. In the Euro's of 2008, the same tournament that saw Andrey Arshavin become a coveted player...hmmm...Pogrebnyak also played well, making a name for him self, linking him with clubs around Europe. 

In the same tournament mentioned above another Russian in the form of Roman Pavlyuchenko upped his credit, in which he moved to Tottenham Hotspur, but this dream move turned into a bit of a nightmare. The striker has made the move to Lokomotiv Moscow, after falling out with the upper management.

London re-location starring Bobby Zamora is a headline worth stopping for, as the 31-year old Fulham striker moves down the road to fellow west London club Queens Park Rangers. Along with bringing vital EPL experience to the ranks of the newly promoted club, Zamora brings a goal scoring edge to a club that has been lacking a striker. A spine now of Zamora, Barton, and Nedum Onuoha, doesn't really sound like a spine of a Championship side.

Perhaps the most interesting move in the anarchy of transfer deadline day is France's Louis Saha's move from Everton to Tottenham. This comes a bit out of left field, but history supports the notion, as the journey man Saha has graced the books of Premier clubs Manchester United, Newcastle, Fulham and Everton. Some striking support, with the now absence of Pav's (mentioned above), and a backup for Adebayor.