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Thursday, March 02, 2017

OT: March-April 2017 Soccer Thread

March is coming in a lot more like a lamb in my neck of the woods than nursery rhymes would suggest, and the same is true at the top of the Premier League. There’s more excitement (of a sort) in the Champions League, and some intrigue at the top end of the table in at least a couple other major European leagues. Plus relegation scraps abound!

Once again, I’m too lazy to bother putting together an interesting fixtures list. My guess is you all don’t really need my help on that front anyway.

The Marksist Posted: March 02, 2017 at 09:00 AM | 323 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off-topic, soccer

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   101. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:24 PM (#5417358)
Sevilla will have nobody to blame but themselves if things hold.
No doubt, but Leicester was also generally playing very well before the sending off.
   102. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:28 PM (#5417363)
Leicester has moved incredibly quickly for me from fairytale story to 'dear god, please lose and go away forever.'
I'm pretty much over them in the league, but it's still quite fun to see them succeed in Europe. They've also played very well in this tournament.
   103. The Buddy Biancalana Hit Counter Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:32 PM (#5417366)
I'm pretty much over them in the league, but it's still quite fun to see them succeed in Europe. They've also played very well in this tournament.

It's the only argument against Kante being one of the top 3 players in the world over the last 24 months still standing.
   104. madvillain Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:35 PM (#5417367)
keeper forward!
   105. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 14, 2017 at 05:56 PM (#5417378)
It's the only argument against Kante being one of the top 3 players in the world over the last 24 months still standing.


Also that the French team he left for Leicester was 13th with him, and then went to 7th without him.

"My #### doesn't work in the Pyrenees" - N'Golo Kante
   106. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 14, 2017 at 06:31 PM (#5417390)
According to Caley's xG, Sevilla only had 0.4 expected goals outside of their missed penalty. That's probably less than 0.3 xG (and no penalty miss) during the near 50-minute stretch that Sevilla needed a goal and were playing at even strength. Leicester really strangled them today.
   107. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:39 PM (#5417500)
It's the only argument against Kante being one of the top 3 players in the world over the last 24 months still standing.

Well, the other thing I was coming here to say is a few things.

1. It's clear that the team gave up on the manager. And, they should be embarrassed about that, but it happened. So, part of their sucking is that.
2. They overperformed drastically last year. Vardy and Mahrez just finished every chance they had.
3. Running is contagious. And Kante deserves a ton of this credit. But not all of it. You know another thing besides the manager that's changed the last 3 games? Okazaki is back in the lineup, being a ####### bulldog and pressing the #### out of everything. And suddenly, everyone is. Vardy is chasing down balls played back to the keeper where he has no chance to get it, but is just forcing the keeper to hoof it. You feel like an ####### out there if one guy is just going to run his ass off and you're not. Kante and Okazaki were those guys for them last year, and when they went out of the team it seems like the other guys were willing to let it go.
   108. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:45 PM (#5417501)
I also don't think Nasri should have been carded there. I dunno, that head stuff is stupid and isn't really dangerous IMO, plus Vardy totally started all of it. Nasri decided that he doesn't give a #### about Sevilla though.

How is that giant awkward guy the man stepping up for Sevilla on a penalty? That makes no ####### sense.

Good to Leicester for going through. I still think Sevilla are clearly better, but Leicester played them tough.
   109. Textbook Editor Posted: March 14, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5417510)
keeper forward!


This is, quite literally, the most exciting play in soccer for TE, Jr.--the soccer equivalent of a triple play or a no-hitter for him. He LOVES it when the keeper comes up for a corner or free kick.

It's the only argument against Kante being one of the top 3 players in the world over the last 24 months still standing.


I do think *some* of what makes Kante great is being a great fit to two great systems in back-to-back years, although naturally you could say this about lots of good/great players fitting lots of systems. I'm really not trying to knock the guy--I absolutely believe he's a great player--but I do think he's been somewhat lucky to have been excellent fits in 2 excellent systems. But with his work rate, positioning, and skill level, he'd make almost every team better on the pitch--I just think the level of his influence would likely be different under different systems.

And while yes, what the players seem to have done to Claudio really kind of stinks... Holy hell, LC is in the final 8 of the CL. That's a hell of an achievement. I don't know who would be their ideal matchup in the next round, and I could easily see a team like Bayern utterly destroying them, but it will make for fun viewing.
   110. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 14, 2017 at 11:41 PM (#5417521)
I also don't think Nasri should have been carded there. I dunno, that head stuff is stupid and isn't really dangerous IMO, plus Vardy totally started all of it. Nasri decided that he doesn't give a #### about Sevilla though.


Disagree. Nasir was ####### stupid. Vardy deserved a yellow for simulation but Nasri needs to be smarter and not use his head to thrust at an opponent. The way the game is officiated today that's an automatic yellow. Nasri bit into a turd sandwich of his own making.
   111. Mefisto Posted: March 15, 2017 at 09:25 AM (#5417568)
There's a good article on the flaws in Ellis' implementation of the 3-back system here.
   112. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:00 PM (#5417888)
I see I'm already too late to predict a chaotic Man City-Monaco game. The comeback has already begun.
   113. madvillain Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:10 PM (#5417898)
I see I'm already too late to predict a chaotic Man City-Monaco game. The comeback has already begun.


Tough task today, but they look up for it. What a pretty pitch they have. Looks like a fairway almost at Augusta.
   114. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:35 PM (#5417919)
The "defense" that Sterling played there at the top of the box on the second goal was pathetic. The marking in general was non-existent.
   115. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:38 PM (#5417921)
So zero shots attempted (on or off target) for City in the first half? Cool cool cool, that's totally fine.
   116. madvillain Posted: March 15, 2017 at 04:45 PM (#5417925)
The "defense" that Sterling played there at the top of the box on the second goal was pathetic. The marking in general was non-existent.


Looked to me that Man City wasn't prepared for the overlapping run, at all. For such a toothless attacking half you'd have think they were parking the bus and getting men behind the ball. Somehow they had the worst of both worlds.
   117. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:08 PM (#5417941)
Oh my god Aguero with a golden chance that's saved/scuttled.
   118. madvillain Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:09 PM (#5417942)
Is it Kasey Keller on the commentary? He's brutal.

WOW! What a ####### save! What positioning from the keeper.
   119. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:16 PM (#5417955)
Nice goal from City that was coming for about 10 minutes. I think they'll need another one to put this thing away.
   120. jmurph Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:20 PM (#5417959)
Because of that. That's why they'll need one more.
   121. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:47 PM (#5417995)
City just gave away the first half. They weren't ready to go at all. Subasic made a couple of great saves and the defending on the decisive free kick was horrid.
   122. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 15, 2017 at 05:47 PM (#5417997)
I'm not wrong that there were an obscene number of goals this round am I?
   123. Sean Forman Posted: March 15, 2017 at 09:07 PM (#5418085)
Well I guess Pep will have free hand to clean house now.

Kompany, Sagna, Clichy, Kolarov, Zabaleta, Toure, Caballero all safely over 30. Fernandihno 32, Fernando 30. I can't believe they've let the defensive side slide this badly.

All that said, they should have won the tie. The had a lot of good chances in the 2nd half.
   124. frannyzoo Posted: March 15, 2017 at 09:22 PM (#5418089)
Remind me again...what's the only EPL team still in Champions' League?

I guess there's two ways to look at the Ranieri firing. I humbly do not subscribe to the "we're better now because we fired him" theory. Not giving the guy, after winning the ******* league, a chance for a return fixture win similar to yesterday is beyond the pale, as they say. It's ****** up, in other words.

Meaning, there's no reason to celebrate something that is almost as amazing, already, as winning the EPL was last year. Bitter dregs, this.
   125. vortex of dissipation Posted: March 16, 2017 at 12:00 AM (#5418139)
If Leicester win the Champions League (I'm just asking, not predicting anything), is Ranieri eligible to receive a CL winner's medal?
   126. Richard Posted: March 16, 2017 at 01:35 AM (#5418147)

I guess there's two ways to look at the Ranieri firing. I humbly do not subscribe to the "we're better now because we fired him" theory.


It's small sample size so far but the theory that he had lost the support of the players gathers more credence every time they play. It's a rotten thing to do but, as I said in the previous thread, I think it was defensible and it's working out so far (although if Craig Shakespeare, who I have not given any thought to or heard of since the late 1980s when he exasperated my Wednesday supporting pals with his poor quality midfield displays, is manager this time next year I will be amazed).

So that's 3 East Midland teams who've reached the last 8 of the Big Cup. Forest won it twice and Derby got to the semis before the ref and Juventus cheated them out of a place in the final. Who's next? Notts County? Mansfield Town? The mind boggles.
   127. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 16, 2017 at 09:58 AM (#5418200)
I guess there's two ways to look at the Ranieri firing. I humbly do not subscribe to the "we're better now because we fired him" theory. Not giving the guy, after winning the ******* league, a chance for a return fixture win similar to yesterday is beyond the pale, as they say. It's ****** up, in other words.

Why do you think this is the case? I don't think the facts back this up.

   128. nick swisher hygiene Posted: March 16, 2017 at 11:28 AM (#5418243)
I think "support of the dressing room" just has to matter much more in soccer than other sports. The manager who thinks he's a tactical super-genius always flames out, right? I mean, the world thought Pep was great, but really he had great talent: how much better than anybody else they could have hired has he been with City? As much as tactics matter, I suspect they matter at top levels less than any other major world sports.

Disclosure: everybody in this thread knows more about this subject that I do.
   129. jmurph Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:27 PM (#5418469)
I think "support of the dressing room" just has to matter much more in soccer than other sports. The manager who thinks he's a tactical super-genius always flames out, right? I mean, the world thought Pep was great, but really he had great talent: how much better than anybody else they could have hired has he been with City? As much as tactics matter, I suspect they matter at top levels less than any other major world sports.

I don't pretend to be smart enough to be able to parse out the credit for big managers like Jose and Pep and Ancelotti and the like- how much is them vs how much is their expensively assembled talent. But there's also the value in soccer in player recruitment- probably a lot more than in any other major sport. With City specifically, they almost certainly don't sign Gabriel Jesus without Pep, likely not Sane either. I'm sure that has been true at various times for SAF, Mourinho, and all of the other big names.
   130. The Marksist Posted: March 16, 2017 at 03:38 PM (#5418482)
I imagine how I'd feel if my boss was an arrogant dick, or even a decent guy that I thought wasn't that smart, or just completely unrelatable. It would probably be harder to give 100% or stay productive. I figure that's true for professional athletes, too. As much as we want the fact that they earn a huge salary to mean they can ignore those factors, it doesn't. So, if the Leicester squad didn't think Ranieri was doing the job, I don't find it all that surprising that they weren't performing well. Sounds like a natural result to me.
   131. Dale Sams Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:01 PM (#5418564)
Spectacular free kick there by Rostov. That was world class given the range.
   132. ckash Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:03 PM (#5418567)
Lord that Gladbach - Schalke game was something to behold. As a Foals supporter I am not happy.
   133. Dale Sams Posted: March 16, 2017 at 06:04 PM (#5418568)
As far as dressing rooms go...I've seen players drop their heads cause other players are ####### up one way or another...I've seen teams feel like they're destined to lose...but not giving 100% because you don't like you're manager is the height of petulance.

Not that guys like Vardy strike me as the pinnacle of maturity.
   134. The Marksist Posted: March 16, 2017 at 08:22 PM (#5418618)
Call it what you want, I just think it's easy to fall into a pattern of not killing yourself because you think the manager's plan is bad, or he's getting the team selection wrong, or he talks like a moron, or whatever. I'm not saying it's even conscious/intentional; just happens because humans are human and do human things.
   135. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 20, 2017 at 04:51 PM (#5420158)
I didn't see any comments on the Champion's League draws, so let be the first to say these quarter draws lined up about as well as possible to lead to the most exciting quarters.

I'd argue the 4 best teams are all playing each other (Juventus v Barca, Bayern v Real). No all-Spanish matchups. And Atletico is playing a team pretty similar to them in style, with Leicester - it'll also be both a real challenge, but a doable one, for them to keep their CL run alive. Dortmund v Monaco should be great fun, as well.
   136. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: March 20, 2017 at 04:53 PM (#5420159)
Monaco's GD in Ligue 1 this year is a cool +61. PSG, for reference, is "only" +39.

More fun with Ligue 1 stats:

Cavani has 27 goals this year. Big bounce back year for him to prove he can still be an elite striker. Only one other player on PSG has more than 3 goals (Moura).

Monaco has 9 different players with 5 or more goals.
   137. jmurph Posted: March 22, 2017 at 12:18 PM (#5421313)
The absolute worst thing about sports is when there are a bunch of interesting, competitive races, like for the Champions League places and for relegation in the Premier League. Sure would hate to see some tight, meaningful league games played this weekend. So, in other words, thank god for the ####### pox on humanity that is this late-season break for extremely unimportant international friendlies!
   138. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 22, 2017 at 03:29 PM (#5421553)
As far as the man management angle goes with Ranieri, I don't see how you can lose faith in someone who lead you to an EPL title, despite being picked for relegation, in less than a year. It rankles.

Though I would be endlessly interested in seeing what would happen if the Foxes somehow won the Champions League while getting relegated.
   139. Baldrick Posted: March 22, 2017 at 03:45 PM (#5421567)
The fact that Leicester has instantly started getting results with Ranieri's departure only makes me angrier.

I now desperately want them to lose, and lose in a humiliating fashion. And get relegated. And never show their stupid faces again.
   140. Baldrick Posted: March 23, 2017 at 02:02 PM (#5422307)
New USWNT roster contains a grand total of two central defenders. Because centerbacks are so passe. Ohai and Oyster with callups, which is cool. But...yeah, getting harder and harder to justify Jill Ellis.

About to watch the Man City women in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. A chance to see if Carli Lloyd's recent terribleness had more to do with situation or the inevitable ravages of age.
   141. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 23, 2017 at 06:44 PM (#5422550)
So, in other words, thank god for the ####### pox on humanity that is this late-season break for extremely unimportant international friendlies!


The USMNT has two HUGE games this week. Friday home to Honduras then Tuesday at Panama. Kinda need four points here.
   142. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 24, 2017 at 12:24 PM (#5422929)
So, in other words, thank god for the ####### pox on humanity that is this late-season break for extremely unimportant international friendlies!

Technically there are World Cup qualifiers too. But yeah. The March international break is the worst.

I guess it is semi-convenient for Tottenham right now since it gives Harry Kane a 'free' week to heal up.
   143. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 10:44 PM (#5423407)
#USMNT XI: 1-Howard, 2-Villafaña, 3-Gonzalez, 4-Bradley (C), 6-Brooks, 8-Dempsey, 9-Lletget, 10-Pulisic, 15-Nagbe, 17-Altidore, 20-Cameron
   144. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 10:48 PM (#5423409)
No pressure tonight, USMNT ...
   145. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:05 PM (#5423416)
I declare that a good start.
   146. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:06 PM (#5423418)
Need at least four points from these two games.
   147. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:13 PM (#5423422)
Good start in terms of the goal, but Honduras are hanging in there; goal was probably a wee bit against the run of play.

Bad break for Lletget.
   148. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:14 PM (#5423423)
Bad call there by the linesman, the ball stayed in.
   149. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:15 PM (#5423424)
Between Bradley and Klinsmann it seemed like bad starts were par for the course so this was good.
   150. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:23 PM (#5423427)
Honduran keeper will want that back.
   151. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:25 PM (#5423428)
WE'RE NOT LAST, WE'RE NOT LAST!!!
   152. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:29 PM (#5423430)
Pulisic.

How many times are we going to say that name in the next 10 years?
   153. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:30 PM (#5423432)
The goals are great but I've been i,pressed with the central defense. They've really cleared Honduras out anytime they had a whiff,
   154. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:36 PM (#5423434)
USMNT actually is in 4th for now, ahead of Honduras. If the WC qualifying ended now, they'd match up against either Australia or. . . Uzbekistan for a place in 2018.


edit: they put that graphic up on the tv immediately after I wrote that.
   155. Mefisto Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:47 PM (#5423436)
That's gone much better than I expected.
   156. Manny Coon Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:52 PM (#5423437)
The Pulisic to Dempsey goal was just great play by both of them.
   157. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 24, 2017 at 11:58 PM (#5423438)

How many times are we going to say that name in the next 10 years?


There's once ...
   158. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:00 AM (#5423439)
He's absolutely dominating tonight
   159. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:01 AM (#5423440)
Twice ...
   160. Textbook Editor Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:03 AM (#5423442)
In Uefa WC qualifying news... The tackle on Seamus Coleman in the Ireland v Wales game was... horrific. In real time, and from a far away, wide angle, I thought his leg was broken and when they didn't show ANY replay at all, I knew it was horrific. Then, googling to try to find out what his status was after the game, I was treated to still shots from my search parameters and... Yup. Horror show. I really, really hope it's not a career-ending situation.

Ireland get a point, which I would have taken before the game given the injuries we had going in but, man, that point comes at a high price.
   161. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:07 AM (#5423443)
Well, this is sure as hell not the outcome I would have ever guessed from tonight's game ...

Save some for Panama, boys!
   162. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:08 AM (#5423444)
Klinsmann worst coach in soccer history confirmed
   163. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:09 AM (#5423445)
This is a,azing
   164. Textbook Editor Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:14 AM (#5423447)
Isn't Honduras supposed to be... decent? Sorta good?
   165. greenback fixes the cable Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:14 AM (#5423448)
He's absolutely dominating tonight

You mean he's absolutely do,inating, don't you?
   166. Baldrick Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:20 AM (#5423449)
Pulisic is good, sure, but it's time to bring on Wondo. Put em to the sword. Am I right or am I right?
   167. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:21 AM (#5423450)
2 subs for injuries?

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugh.



   168. Howie Menckel Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:30 AM (#5423453)
Ireland get a point, which I would have taken before the game given the injuries we had going in but, man, that point comes at a high price.

damn but I love the tontext. and want more
   169. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: March 25, 2017 at 12:53 AM (#5423460)
Isn't Honduras supposed to be... decent? Sorta good?


They were at the last 2 World Cups, so yeah
   170. cmd600 Posted: March 25, 2017 at 01:00 AM (#5423465)
Ireland get a point, which I would have taken before the game given the injuries we had going in but, man, that point comes at a high price.


And Bale's yellow takes him out for the Serbia game, one that Ireland could really use Wales grabbing another point.

Home against Serbia this September seems like it will be the deciding match. I'm not sure you could have asked for much more than tjat.
   171. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: March 27, 2017 at 02:04 PM (#5424196)
Christian Pulisic, best player, or best player ever?
   172. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 27, 2017 at 02:39 PM (#5424226)
You mean he's absolutely do,inating, don't you?


It's possible that I was really drunk on Friday night. As a side note, do not do a knee slide on a stone lanai. It seemed like a good idea at the time but the next morning, oof.
   173. madvillain Posted: March 27, 2017 at 07:07 PM (#5424426)
Christian Pulisic, best player, or best player ever?


While I enjoy the "Christian Pulisic is the real deal coming out party" articles after the Honduras game it just goes to the show the average soccer commentator and fan doesn't know too much about the world's game.

How is a dude that was tasked with starting in place of none other than Marco ####### Reus (and starring as his replacement) in a UCL round of 16 game not going to make Honduran defenders look like chumps?

Pulisic was playing meaningful minutes as a sub for Dortmund at 17 and he was this year as well until injuries (and his own play) secured him a starting spot over proven, veteran stars like Shinji Kakawa and Andre Schurrle. Dortmund paid 30 million for Schurrle the German international, and Tuchel prefers an 18 year old American most days. And the play of the two backs up the coach -- at least in Tuchel's 3-5-2 setup.

Christian is ready to run now, he's been ready for months. Even Jurgen realized this, although against Mexico it was always a tall order to build an entire formation around Pulisic.

Pulisic will easily go down as the best US player ever, unless he is just riddled with injuries. By the time he's 23 he could be at Real, Barca, or Bayern or Man U. Hell, he could be there by 21 after leading Dortmund to a few big wins a long the way.

The US has never come close to developing a world class player, I don't think even at the peak of their powers that Deuce or Landon or Reyna or Howard quite cut it. Pulisic is arguably World Class now judging from his exploits in the UCL against the likes of Real and Benfica -- in a few years, he almost certainly will be.
   174. Manny Coon Posted: March 27, 2017 at 08:54 PM (#5424461)
I agree Pulisic has more upside than anyone the US has ever had. I will say though that at has best Donovan could counterattack as good as almost anyone, his goal against Brazil in the Confederations Cup and goal against Algeria at the World Cup were really strong examples of that. Against defenses that were settled in though he wasn't as good. Also at his best Friedel was one of the very best keepers around and was good for a very long time and was excellent at 2002 World Cup. An excellent keeper just doesnt have the same impact as great attacker though.
   175. madvillain Posted: March 27, 2017 at 09:15 PM (#5424472)
Donovan would be a helluva winger next to Christian in the middle at "10". It's nice to see Deuce get to play meaningful games with Christian. Clint can really play his (imo) best at his "shadow striker" role behind Jozy or Wood and with Christian constantly pressuring the defense with runs and quick touches Deuce is going to have a lot of room to finish and poach and create some himself.

I was very impressed with Clint on Friday his finishing of course was impeccable (and neither goal assisted was by any means a sitter, he still had plenty of work to do, granted Pulisic's passes were inch perfect) but he was also tracking back, playing unselfishly, and looking pretty spry for a guy just working back into game shape.

Excited for tmr. I saw the US play Panama at Centurylink a few years ago in a WCQ from the 3rd row midfield, right in front of the sounders' players apparently (people kept pointing them out, I had no idea). Amazing, packed atmosphere and we won 3-0. Let's hope for more of the same tmr.
   176. Howie Menckel Posted: March 27, 2017 at 11:26 PM (#5424525)
And Bale's yellow takes him out for the Serbia game, one that Ireland could really use Wales grabbing another point.

Home against Serbia this September seems like it will be the deciding match. I'm not sure you could have asked for much more than that.

thanks!

there must be other small nations that always dance so precariously on the qualifying line
   177. Textbook Editor Posted: March 28, 2017 at 12:15 AM (#5424532)
there must be other small nations that always dance so precariously on the qualifying line


I think Sweden always seems to be on the edge of WC qualifying...

What hurts smaller UEFA nations is the FIFA ranking/UEFA coefficient thing: it's damn near impossible (save a run to a EC QF or a WC QF) for a nation like Ireland to really build up a robust coefficient, and this means they're almost always in Pots 3/4 for any draw (6 very bad, 1 very good), and to emerge from a 6-team group from Pot 4 as a group champion is pretty rare; finish 2nd (less rare) and you're still subject to a 2-leg playoff against (likely) a pretty good team to get to any major tournament.

For Example, here's the pots Ireland has been in for recent qualifiers:

2018 World Cup - Pot 4
2016 European Championships - Pot 2
2014 World Cup - Pot 3
2012 European Championships - Pot 3
2010 World Cup - Pot C (i.e., 3)
2008 European Championships - Pot 4

(World Cup uses FIFA ranking at the time of the draw to determine pots; UEFA European Championships uses a UEFA coefficient to determine pots.)

Frankly, Ireland being level on points to lead the group after 5 matches is about as good a start as you could have hoped for. (They have 11 points from 5 matches; in 2014 qualifying they had 14 points from 10...) To be fair, they also got pretty lucky with the draw, as from a team in pot 4, their group is about as ideal a group as you could hope to get.

To be honest I'm not sure I understand how they got into a Pot 2 for the 2016 Euros, nor do I get how their performance at the Euros (they made it out of the group stage, and did have a win over Italy) seemed to worsen their FIFA ranking to the extent that they dropped down to a Pot 4... but such is the life for smaller nations.
   178. Richard Posted: March 28, 2017 at 03:30 AM (#5424550)
To be honest I'm not sure I understand how they got into a Pot 2 for the 2016 Euros

They were the lowest ranked team in the pot (essentially the 18th best side by ranking). For the World Cup preceding they were third in pot 3, so they only moved up 3 spots, which isn't much.

Their fall to pot 4 is, I agree, peculiar. I particularly don't understand how Scotland, who haven't qualified for a tournament this century, are ranked at the top of pot 3 above Ireland, who have qualified for 2 out of the last 3 major tournaments.

Ireland's performance thus far is especially pleasing for them given the injuries they have had to contend with. Meanwhile Wales, of whom so much was expected, are going to knock themselves out by drawing too many games if they aren't careful.
   179. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 28, 2017 at 10:29 PM (#5425068)
Unsurprisingly, Panama are targeting Pulisic.
   180. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 28, 2017 at 10:46 PM (#5425076)
And Pulisic is targeting Dempsey!
   181. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 28, 2017 at 10:47 PM (#5425077)
Very impressed with Pulisic this game. As Biff notes Panama have been kicking him at every opportunity but he hasn't backed down Andy in fact seems to be rising to the challenge.
   182. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 28, 2017 at 10:50 PM (#5425079)
That was nearly Delap-esque. What a throw.
   183. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 28, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5425083)
The injuries/absences at the back are very noticeable so far.
   184. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 28, 2017 at 11:23 PM (#5425087)
Bruce has to make a change back there. Can't keep relying on Timmy like this.
   185. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 28, 2017 at 11:26 PM (#5425088)
Ream has had some moments tonight and I don't think Omar has been necessarily bad but they have lacked the awareness together.
   186. Howie Menckel Posted: March 29, 2017 at 12:45 AM (#5425098)
And Bale's yellow takes him out for the Serbia game, one that Ireland could really use Wales grabbing another point.

another weird idea from an American standpoint. your player is sidelined for the Cup? no worries, the offender will sit out the next game when you wish he could have played against a key rival. your welcome. and the horse he rode in on.
   187. madvillain Posted: March 29, 2017 at 01:22 AM (#5425101)
Given the injuries, which are incredible really, I'm happy with 4 points from those two games. That said, get healthy guys.
   188. cmd600 Posted: March 29, 2017 at 01:48 AM (#5425107)
Even with the injuries, they had a lot more talent on the field than their opponents. Four points should have been the minimum, especially considering the position they put themselves in after the first two.
   189. madvillain Posted: March 29, 2017 at 01:42 PM (#5425387)
Even with the injuries, they had a lot more talent on the field than their opponents. Four points should have been the minimum, especially considering the position they put themselves in after the first two.


Certainly.

It's really too bad that JJ and MB are STILL the "best" we can trot out in central midfield. Emerson Hyndman could have contributed last night and a midfield with Hyndman and Nagbe in front of MB would work entirely better then the crap we saw last night with an invisible JJ and a defensive minded (best I've seen from him in a USMNT shirt recently) Bradley leaving few options outside "punt it to Pulisic" in the attack.

But all that said, I think if Brooks and Cameron are available the US wins 2-0 or 1-0 last night. Relying on Ream, Gonzo and Zusi at the back is a bridge too far. It's a bit puzzling the US can't product more depth at CB. Is Matt Besler hurt?
   190. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 29, 2017 at 01:53 PM (#5425399)
It's a bit puzzling the US can't product more depth at CB.


I feel like this is an area where Klinsmann deserves all the criticism he gets. To me the key for a national team center back pairing is familiarity but with Klinsmann it seemed like every game was a new pairing back there. Injuries are a challenge but I think you gotta roll with your preferred combo as much as possible.

You saw it last night. I don't think either Gonzalez or Ream played poorly individually but the lack of understanding between them created several chances.

All that said 4 points was what was needed, 4 points was what we got. Looking at the remaining schedule;

Home T&T and Panama - 6 points
Away Mexico and Honduras - losses

That leaves two games; at T&T and home for Costa Rica. 10 points probably gets us the game against the AFC teams. 12-15 is probably necessary to get us the automatic qualifier. If we can win at T&T or the home game to CR that pretty much gets us there. All in all 4 points was what was absolutely needed here. Yeah I'd have taken 3 but cliche and all, a road point in the Hex is a good point.
   191. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: March 29, 2017 at 01:57 PM (#5425410)
Just to give a bit more to that;

@Costa Rica - lost 2014, lost 2018
Mexico - won 2014, lost 2018
@Panama - won 2014, draw 2018
Honduras - won 2014, won 2018

So we are -5 points which isn't good but if we do what we did last time in our remaining matches that is still 17 points and were are comfortably in.
   192. Textbook Editor Posted: March 29, 2017 at 02:12 PM (#5425420)
You saw it last night. I don't think either Gonzalez or Ream played poorly individually but the lack of understanding between them created several chances.


I know I haven't thought this through but... Would a back three setup help with this CB pairing issue at all? Or would it make everything worse? I guess it depends on who you'd employ as the DM/shield in front of the back 3...
   193. madvillain Posted: March 29, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5425503)
I know I haven't thought this through but... Would a back three setup help with this CB pairing issue at all? Or would it make everything worse? I guess it depends on who you'd employ as the DM/shield in front of the back 3...


Cameron could do it, although I'd prefer him at CB when everybody is healthy. I'd really like to see a 4-1-2-2-1 setup with Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks and Villafona at the back, Bradley at the "6", Nagbe and Hyndman in front of him, then Pulisic and Johnson/Clint (with freedom to come inside) in front of Wood/Jozy.

The formation might get a bit too narrow at times but Yedlin covers so much ground he can provide width on his side and giving Pulisic freedom is key. Jones just got in his way last night.
   194. Sean Forman Posted: March 29, 2017 at 05:55 PM (#5425613)
Back 4 last night was all 2nd choice. Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, and Fabian is a strong enough back 4 to beat anybody. Hopefully we never see Jermaine Jones in another impt match. Bradley and Jones are both well past their primes and probably should start being moved to the side.

IMO, we should be lining up for a run at 2022 in Qatar. Pulisic will be at his absolute peak, as will Brooks. I think both of them will be at UCL top 8 type teams by then. We need to start putting in younger players in the midfield and figure out who can play. Tyler Adams, Hyndman, Acosta.

Do what it takes to qualify, but then go young at the WC and get the youngsters playing time. u-20 WC is in 6 weeks.

"Anybody in concacaf"
   195. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 29, 2017 at 11:03 PM (#5425750)
I think both of them will be at UCL top 8 type teams by then.

This isn't really contradicting you, but Pulisic already is.
   196. Textbook Editor Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:12 AM (#5425890)
Hey, Spurs Think Factory... Any idea which side of Red Bull Arena Spurs fans will be on for the 7/25 game vs. Roma. Ticketmaster presale started up and... the ticket ordering website provides absolutely no information regarding this. Not that I'm overly worried about accidentally winding up in a Roma section, but... I'd prefer to be with Spurs fans if I could swing it.

Thanks!
   197. Mefisto Posted: March 30, 2017 at 11:23 AM (#5425898)
   198. Sean Forman Posted: March 30, 2017 at 01:51 PM (#5426072)
This isn't really contradicting you, but Pulisic already is.


I was going to say top players on UCL top 8 sides. Pulisic is not quite there (though maybe he is, not quite clear). I see him as a rotation player at this point.

TE might not be divvied up on that way. The Copa and Friendlies I've been to don't seem have any team division in the stands.
   199. Textbook Editor Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:05 PM (#5426085)
TE might not be divvied up on that way. The Copa and Friendlies I've been to don't seem have any team division in the stands.


Ah. Makes sense, I guess. The # of Roma ultras currently residing in the NYC metro area is probably pretty small...

   200. Sean Forman Posted: March 30, 2017 at 02:08 PM (#5426090)
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