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Friday, August 04, 2017

OT: New Season August 2017 Soccer Thread

Are you ready for some futbol?

EFL - August 4 (that’s today!).  Note that ESPN has taken over the broadcast rights from BeIN and is going to make most games available on ESPN3 including today’s Sunderland loss to Derby County.
EPL - August 11 (Arsenal-Leicester). Also 8/20 is Spurs-Chelsea, that’s a big big game early.
La Liga - August 18
Bundesliga - August 18 (Bayern-Bayer Leverkusen)
Serie A - August 19 (Juventus-Cagliari)
Champions League Playoffs - August 15 - The best of the bunch look to be Liverpool-Hoffenheim, Nice-Napoli and CSKA Moscow-Young Boys
Europa League - August 17 - Everton get Hajduk Split but generally I won’t pretend to be knowledgeable about the teams here.
Also assorted Community Shield type things and a bunch of World Cup Qualifiers get rolling on August 31.  This is the penultimate break before the end of qualifying for most places so these are likely to be some very big games (US-Costa Rica September 1).  An

Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: August 04, 2017 at 08:07 AM | 1192 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: off topic, soccer

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   501. Howie Menckel Posted: September 05, 2017 at 09:46 PM (#5526687)
flip
   502. J. Sosa Posted: September 05, 2017 at 10:13 PM (#5526705)
After much careful consideration my studied opinion of the USMNT is:

We suck. Sometimes things just are not complicated. Not a very talented squad. I'm not sure what the answer is but I am sure that I hate how we have been setting up. I detest any sort of attempt at ball possesion with this group of players. We suck at it. Full stop. I also really don't like our midfield. We have no creativity so why pretend that we do. As much as it pains me to say it, I think Klinsmann had the germination of the right idea before getting killed for it.

We have an odd mix of players that don't fit. A 4-4-2 isn't going to work and I don't think a 4-5-1 will either. With our midfield I just hate those formations. I also strongly dislike any formulation that is made to accommodate Altidore. He sucks. I've always disliked his game. I don't care if he likes having a strike partner and hates a three man midfield. My preference would be for his extensive ass to sit on the bench. I think Klinsmann was thinking in the right direction with the 3 man line. Pulisic needs to play behind the striker for the USMNT. He is a kid, he isn't comfortable there, yada yada. He's all we got. The end.

Put him in the hole behind Wood or Altidore if Dozy has to play. That still allows us to shore up our pourous vacuous mess of non creative suckage in midfield. A two man midfield with this personnel is doomed. We don't have the pieces. That would allow us to jam the midfield. Put a couple of burners on the outside and hope that the 3 man line doesn't get lacerated as much with some actual shielding from the mids for the love of God. Bunker and hope for the best. We should never, ever, ever play anything but a low block with this group.

It is risky, and I get why we aren't doing it in qualifying, but I think they need to go with it and stick with it. Any notion that we have too many talented players is crap. Klinsmann had the right idea. It would be painful, but the stuff we are doing now is doomed.

   503. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:28 AM (#5526818)
#499--Technically not dead, but now need an awful lot to go right.

I can't run down all the permutations, but basically any path to qualifying means 2 wins (Moldova, @Wales) in last 2 matches. That gets them to 2nd in the group with 19 points, but 6 of those would be over last-place Moldova, which means those 6 points are dropped (for purposes of figuring the top 8 second place finishers, from the 9 groups), leaving them with 13 points for playoff consideration. At the moment, 13 points would probably get them in as a playoff team (current last place team for such a thing is Wales with 8 points and Bosnia with 10. But it isn't set in stone.

But pretty much--unless Moldova manages to draw against Wales in their next game--Ireland needs to win out to have any change of the WC.
   504. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:42 AM (#5526820)
502 - I don't think you're wrong there. I think we had as much of a "Golden Generation" as we are likely to get in US soccer in the naughties and it carried us to 2014. Donovan, Dempsey and Howard are going to be on every "All Time Best XI" that a US fan puts together for a very very long time. Bradley probably too.

Right now though we don't seem to have a star in his prime. Pulisic has been exposed a bit this week (not a criticism, dude's 18), Bradley has a lot of miles on him and isn't the same, Howard isn't the same, Dempsey too. Just looking at the roster there really aren't a lot of players in that 23-28 age range.

I was a bigger Klinsmann fan than most but I'll put some of that on him. One thing that irked me about him was the amount of time he spent tinkering with lineups. I think our central defense in particular was an area that would've benefitted from more consistency. Even if Gonzalez and Ream (or whoever) weren't the best two, just rolling them out consistently would've helped.

The one thing I will disagree with you a bit on is Altidore. I'll admit I'm a fan of his but I'll concede he's not any kind of star. I think he's the best option there though Morris is impressing and at 22 could easily have a future. I won't be surprised if he supplants Jozy soon.

With all that said the US is not in bad shape all things considered. Home to Panama and at T&T is six attainable points. Do that and they are through. It won't be easy but it should be achievable. I'd like to reach the World Cup simply because as a US fan I like seeing us succeed. I don't think we are positioned to do anything there. Getting out of the group is going to be unlikely but I think it would be good to make it. If we do I hope Arena (or whoever runs the show) skews the roster young and gives some guys time with an eye to 2022.
   505. ckash Posted: September 06, 2017 at 07:20 AM (#5526843)
Seems to me the only effective formation for the USMNT is a 4-3-3. In a perfect world it could be

Johnson-Brooks-Gonzalez-Yedlin
Bradley-Nagbe-Cameron
Pulisic-Wood-Dempsey

Johnson and Yedlin attacking the flanks, Cameron and Bradley sitting in front of the CBs, Nagbe supporting the forwards.

But Brooks is hurt, Yedlin has disappeared, Johnson is a shell of himself, none of the Mids are truly starting XI quality in any type of formation, and Dempsey is old and better suited as a sub. And Wood can't play alone up top all that effectively, at least on the USMNT.

Also neither Guzan or Howard engender must confidence at this stage. They really should work Hamid or someone else into the mix.

It's depressing.
   506. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 09:38 AM (#5526921)
#504--Does just 3 points get the US through to a playoff? I was running through this and it seems Honduras is unlikely to take all 6 from Mexico/Costa Rica, but crazier stuff's happened and Mexico really has nothing to play for in that last game (though Costa Rica will when they play Honduras, as they're not through yet).

I could see a scenario where they might only need 3 points from their last two games to make a playoff; but for automatic they probably need at least 4 (with 1 coming from a draw with Panama and then a hope Costa Rica shows up and beats Panama in the last game while USA beats T & T).

I know they're not playing well, and no one wants a two legged playoff against Syria or Australia (for many obvious jet-laggy & political reasons), but would either of those teams really be considered a favorite against the US in such a scenario? (Legitimately asking; I have no idea.)
   507. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:14 AM (#5527065)
As you note it's possible, perhaps even likely that three points gets it done but I'd say at least 4 is the bare minimum. Let me see;

1. WIN OUT - We are direct to Russia (unless Honduras wins out also AND makes up 8 goals of GD, not going to happen)

2. LOSE OUT - Unless Honduras lose out also we are missing the World Cup. That's actually possible but not likely.

The other scenarios are a bit more complicated so trying to figure it out is a bit crazy. Ultimately if we beat Panama and draw T&T we should be OK.
   508. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:51 AM (#5527117)
Thanks, Jose... I think the inverse (draw Panama, win T & T) may also get us through to at least a playoff, assuming Honduras doesn't win out... but now my brain hurts figuring this out.
   509. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:56 AM (#5527126)
If we can't beat Panama at home, we deserve to end up in the playoff spot ... and lose to Syria.
   510. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:58 AM (#5527128)
Yeah, I started putting it together and it just gets nuts.

Panama 10 pts, 7 GF, 5 GA, +2
US 9 pts, 12 GF, 11 GA, +1
Honduras 9 pts, 9 GF, 16 GA, -7

The problem with a draw to Panama and a win at T&T is that puts us on 13, Panama can get to 13 with a win over CR in their last match and Honduras can pass us with two wins. That 6-0 over Honduras right now is looming pretty large. It's not hard to envision a scenario where that is decisive.

Actualy beyond that the US is looking likely to win any tiebreaker scenarios with both Panama and Honduras.

Relevant tiebreakers;

Goal difference
Goals scored
Points in matches between tied teams
Goal difference in matches between tied teams
   511. J. Sosa Posted: September 06, 2017 at 12:45 PM (#5527184)
Agreed Jose, I very much want us to get to the World Cup. It is the one national team I really enjoy getting behind, in other sports it often feels too much like rooting for the heel in a squash match. This team just isn't very talented. When Donovan and the boys were at the peak, there was a little frustration that they didn't push on further, but as time goes by I strongly suspect the achievements of that group will be more appreciated. I know I personally having watched this cycle's efforts have realized how good of a thing we had going there for awhile. It might not be that good again for the foreseeable future.

ckash, I would agree that a two man midfield needs to be avoided at all costs. To me that is the primary overriding concern. That, and trying to free up Pulisic as much as possible. Long term, he's going to have to be the guy. He isn't capable of that right now, but might as well be placed in the role now unless there is some type of concern on how it would impact his long term development.

Bradley is just so toast. His legs are just completely gone. We have no mids at all. I think Dempsey's best suited for a super sub role, his stamina was sometimes an issue even in his prime, much less now. My concern with a 4-3-3 is that we don't have anybody to play wide up front capable of handling defensive responsibilities, and we don't really have anybody capable of creating anything from midfield. IIRC Altidore said as much in the past. It is a real pickle. As you mentioned, the only two guys that we really have that can get down the flanks are Johnson and Yedlin. We just don't have the athleticism or stamina required to play a 4-3-3 I don't think. But we also don't have the ability to play a 4-4-2. It is a problem. But if forced to choose I would choose against a two man midfield in any event. No legs, no legs anywhere. Basically my reductionist objectives would boil down to two from my arm chair:

1. Avoid a two man midfield.

2. Find a way to free up Pulisic. He's the only guy we have capable of creating anything. If it were me, I'd send him to the Mesut Ozil School of Setting Up Awesome Chances for Lesser Teammates and Conserving Energy on Defense for Youngsters that Can't Read Good and Want to do Other Things Too. I don't want him killing himself out wide chasing some speed merchant in other words. Let him focus on trying to create something.
   512. Topher Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:07 PM (#5527203)
Seems to me the only effective formation for the USMNT is a 4-3-3. In a perfect world it could be

Johnson-Brooks-Gonzalez-Yedlin
Bradley-Nagbe-Cameron
Pulisic-Wood-Dempsey

Johnson and Yedlin attacking the flanks, Cameron and Bradley sitting in front of the CBs, Nagbe supporting the forwards.

But Brooks is hurt, Yedlin has disappeared, Johnson is a shell of himself, none of the Mids are truly starting XI quality in any type of formation, and Dempsey is old and better suited as a sub. And Wood can't play alone up top all that effectively, at least on the USMNT.

Also neither Guzan or Howard engender must confidence at this stage. They really should work Hamid or someone else into the mix.


Yedlin has a hamstring injury at the moment. And Johnson seems to still be recovering from his.

I question if you can effectively have Nagbe and Dempsey on the field together. Both seem to roam a bit too much to complement one another all that well -- although I admit the sample size where I've seen them together is small.

If the roster is healthy, I think I'd consider going 3-5-2. I hate the idea of two on top since our forwards are crap. But I think a single striker alone doesn't get the job done. I'm also including Matt Besler. I'm not a huge fan, but his appearances for the USMNT typically aren't cringe-worthy (which you can't say about most defenders) and I think him being a natural left-footed player goes a long way to getting him into the starting 11.

I have no clue who you put behind the sticks at this point. I'm with ckash in that neither Guzan nor Howard seem all that appealing at this point in their careers.

I'm being realistic with the formation below. I'm pretty sure I'd rather have Benny Feilhaber over Darlington Nagbe, but I think Feilhaber's days with the USMNT are likely over.

I'm also a bit tempted to go with Acosta over Nagbe. Assuming qualification, I expect Acosta to develop enough over the next nine months that he'll be a slightly better option but for now Nagbe still is the better player.
.
        
Altidore     Wood

              Pulisic
        Nagbe       Bradley 
Johnson                      Yedlin

     Besler   Brooks   Cameron 

               
??? 
   513. Topher Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:11 PM (#5527208)
Bradley is just so toast. His legs are just completely gone.


I can't completely agree with this, but I'm awfully sympathetic to the viewpoint. I wonder if it would make any difference if he were no longer a full-90 player.

There still are moments (ignoring Pulisic for the moment) where Bradley looks like the best player the US has on the field. The quality is still there in moments. But more often than not these days, he looks like he doesn't belong.

I'm sticking with him since he's only 30. But this "rut" has been going on for a while now.
   514. madvillain Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:18 PM (#5527218)
1. Avoid a two man midfield.

2. Find a way to free up Pulisic. He's the only guy we have capable of creating anything. If it were me, I'd send him to the Mesut Ozil School of Setting Up Awesome Chances for Lesser Teammates and Conserving Energy on Defense for Youngsters that Can't Read Good and Want to do Other Things Too. I don't want him killing himself out wide chasing some speed merchant in other words. Let him focus on trying to create something.


Yes. And more specifically on the 1st point, avoid a 4-4-2 with Bradley and Nagbe as your CMs. If Arena is going to insist on playing Bradley and Nagbe together then it has to be a 4-3-3 or 3-5-3. Personally I like to see Cameron used in front of the backline and behind Nagbe and Bradley in a 4-3-3. This should allow the US to build out of the back more.
   515. PepTech Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:42 PM (#5527242)
So we could realistically be without both Chile and the Dutch? Who saw *that* coming? Any other surprises (Denmark? Greece? Ireland?) would be small potatoes. I guess Iceland getting back in would be pretty cool, and maybe Cabo Verde competes with them for smallest population to qualify, but compared to the Netherlands...
   516. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 01:59 PM (#5527260)
Second place teams in UEFA right now;

Portugal
Northern Ireland
Italy
Iceland
Slovakia
Sweden
Montenegro
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Wales

One of those teams will automatically miss out (Wales at the moment) and four others will lose in the playoff. A drawing of Portugal and Italy for a playoff game would be intriguing (assuming UEFA doesn't rig the draw to make sure it doesn't happen but if you can't trust a soccer federation who can you trust?).

Cameroon has made 6 of the last 7 World Cups but have already been eliminated this time around. The Ivory Coast have a run of three straight World Cups in some jeopardy, a one point lead in their group with two games left. Similarly Ghana are missing this WC after making three in a row.

And as you note Chile are at risk as is...well everyone in CONMEBOL. What a shitshow. Argentina also could miss out though it's unlikely for Chile AND Argentina to both miss out.
   517. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:03 PM (#5527266)
Also Australia have made three in a row but are in jeopardy needing to win two legged ties against both Syria THEN the CONCACAF rep. Speaking of which, the US has one of the longest streaks in the world going with seven in a row. Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Italy, South Korea and Spain are the only teams with equivalent or longer streaks. And of course the US is far from safe.
   518. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:12 PM (#5527270)
ckash, I would agree that a two man midfield needs to be avoided at all costs.


Side note: TE Jr's team is starting 11v11 this year, and my 3 assistants insisted on starting out in 4-4-2 (I was angling for 4-2-3-1) and basically we've gone 2 scrimmages and run practices in a 4-4-2 and... it just doesn't work. We've faced two 4-3-3 teams and been overrun and the 2 midfielders are gassed after 10 minutes. My guess is that most teams we'll play will be 4-3-3. I don't personally want to go to 4-3-3, because for my guys that would be license for 3 guys to not play defense (which would make matters worse), and am considering going to a 4-5-1 just to have more bodies in the midfield.

We've also started talking about "grids" (with visuals/handouts!) to get them to understand what areas of the pitch they should be thinking about retreating to/attacking at changes of possession. It's a work in progress...

I confess I did not truly grasp how hard going from 9v9 (~80x~45 pitch) to 11v11 (our home pitch is 120 x 75) would be... The 50% bigger pitch is just insane, and some of the boys can't wrap their brains around using the space... and some can't even kick the ball more than 30 yards if they're kicking it as hard as they can. Gonna be an interesting 1st game this weekend...
   519. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:16 PM (#5527273)
On the flip side;

Peru are looking for their first appearance since 1982
Congo are three points behind Tunisia but have not been since 1974.
Burkina Faso and Cape Verde are tied atop a very close group both looking for their first bid.
Panama are currently in on what would be their first trip.
Iceland have never been and could still win their group for an automatic berth or win a playoff as a second place team.
Northern Ireland haven't been since 1986 and could advance through a second place playoff.
Wales are still alive as a second place team. They haven't been since 1958.
   520. PepTech Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:17 PM (#5527275)
Chile still has Brazil to play, although Brazil may not care. La Roja's best chance is for Peru to fall out, as they have both Colombia and Argentina left to play, and they've been over their heads so far. Chile needs to whomp Ecuador and hope for the best. I think we can all assume CONMEBOL #5 will wax NZ in a pinch, although maybe not if it's Peru.

Yeah, I'd bet my mortgage that Portugal does *not* get paired with Italy, although I guess we did get Portugal-Sweden last time around. And I'll also be surprised if Portugal doesn't win at home against Switzerland to take the group.

Hard to get too worked up over the African or Asian results, although I suppose Cameroon and the Coasties would rate as surprises. Cameroon had it tough against Nigeria anyway; Ivory Coast will probably win their group in the end. Group D is the one that's upside-down; literally anything can still happen there, I suppose.
   521. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:22 PM (#5527279)
We've also started talking about "grids" (with visuals/handouts!) to get them to understand what areas of the pitch they should be thinking about retreating to/attacking at changes of possession.


One important area of development that I think we are just getting to in the US is the soccer viewer rather than the soccer player. As a kid I could watch Rich Gedman catch or Jerry Sichting take a jump shot and learn my game but soccer was just too abstract for me. I loved playing it, played every year into high school but I never felt I had the understanding of the game in large part because I never watched it played by pros. Kids today have that background.

I see it coaching little league. When I can tell a kid "watch how Jackie Bradley tracks that fly ball" he can relate. With soccer you can tell a kid "watch Luka Modric pick out the wide player" or whatever. That wasn't something that existed when I was a kid.
   522. Sean Forman Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:23 PM (#5527281)
I've never played soccer at any level above youth, so I may not know what I'm talking about, but it really seems unlikely to me that the benefits of tactical flexibility overcome the lack of time for preparation and the variability in players available.

These players have club teams where they are put into a particular system and they spends months learning and then they get to the national team and JK and Arena are putting them into a different system each match with 2-3 days prep. If it were my team, I'd settle on a national system and commit to it for 5 years. U17, u-20, u-23, MNT all of them playing the same general system. It can have attacking and defensive variants, but that's it. Same set piece philosophies etc etc.

Some players just won't fit and maybe that's not fair to them and maybe you'll have holes that you can't fill and maybe some stars will be underutilized, but I can't believe that a higher level of cohesiveness wouldn't count for a lot when talking about a national team setup.

Edit: I also think that in the USA's case I would think that our pool of players is rather broad relative to most countries. Meaning we don't produce a lot of superstars, but would have a very deep set of squad players, so that the difference between the best RB in the pool and the one who best fits the National system is smaller than it might be for a country with a much smaller population.

Maybe that would allow opponents to develop a book on how to beat us, but I think execution of a clear plan counts for quite a lot.
   523. Sean Forman Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:33 PM (#5527286)
CONMEBOL qualifying is bonkers. Two matches to play, 4.5 (actually five as the playoff is vs oceania) and as I read it everyone from spot 2-8 is still in play as possible qualifiers. I guess concacaf is 2-5, so maybe it's not that crazy.
   524. Sean Forman Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:35 PM (#5527288)
One important area of development that I think we are just getting to in the US is the soccer viewer rather than the soccer player. As a kid I could watch Rich Gedman catch or Jerry Sichting take a jump shot and learn my game but soccer was just too abstract for me. I loved playing it, played every year into high school but I never felt I had the understanding of the game in large part because I never watched it played by pros. Kids today have that background.


I think this is huge. We've had a couple of college students interns the past few years and they all watched champions league. I had zero conception of European Club Football before 6 years ago.
   525. ckash Posted: September 06, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5527310)
My daughter is also in her first year of 11 v 11, and her coach is running out a 4-3-3 that morphs into a 4-4-1-1 depending on who's on the field. My daughter plays the #10 role and is either out wide or right behind the striker, and all the kids except for whomever is # 11 are expected to contribute in defense (which my little one isn't too great at). In their scheme it's the Fullbacks who are getting worn out because all the attacks are coming down the flanks.
   526. Baldrick Posted: September 06, 2017 at 03:20 PM (#5527353)
One of those teams will automatically miss out (Wales at the moment) and four others will lose in the playoff. A drawing of Portugal and Italy for a playoff game would be intriguing (assuming UEFA doesn't rig the draw to make sure it doesn't happen but if you can't trust a soccer federation who can you trust?).

They 100% will seed the playoffs to ensure that Portugal and Italy don't play each other.
   527. Pirate Joe Posted: September 06, 2017 at 08:52 PM (#5527556)
Group D is the one that's upside-down; literally anything can still happen there, I suppose.



In that vein, FIFA has ruled that the South Africa - Senegal match from last November must be replayed. South Africa won that game 2-1 in part because of a handball call on a ball that apparently hit the defender in question on the knee. The referee from the game has been banned for life for "match manipulation". The replay will take place in the November international window. With Burkina Faso and Cape Verde currently one point ahead of Senegal in the standings a replay of a Senegal loss could give them the points needed to top the group.


   528. Richard Posted: September 06, 2017 at 09:37 PM (#5527566)
Wales are still alive as a second place team. They haven't been since 1958


When they had already been eliminated in qualifying, but got a reprieve as everyone drawn to play Israel withdrew on political grounds and FIFA decided that Israel couldn't qualify without playing at least one game. Belgium got the first opportunity to play them and refused. Wales stepped in and beat Israel 4-0 over 2 legs.

1958 was also the last time Italy didn't qualify. Northern Ireland knocked them out.
   529. Richard Posted: September 06, 2017 at 09:39 PM (#5527567)
They 100% will seed the playoffs to ensure that Portugal and Italy don't play each other.


Last time they used FIFA rankings. I suspect they will do so again, and without checking I assume this will keep these two apart.
   530. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:42 PM (#5527608)
Last time they used FIFA rankings. I suspect they will do so again, and without checking I assume this will keep these two apart.


I can't seem to find any info as to how they'll do the seeding; how can this be not a known fact at this point? (Oh... wait... because it's FIFA, that's why...)

The UEFA playoffs will have some fascinating ties. One reason the bed-shitting Ireland did over the last 2 games is irritating is that (to me) the playoff route was almost certainly going to be a way harder route than just winning these last 4 games and topping the group. Even if they scrape into a playoff tie, they'll likely face Portugal/Italy and these are not ties Ireland can win.

I suppose it's possible Serbia completely shits the bed in their last 2 games while Ireland win out, but this seems... highly unlikely. And frankly, with non-qualification should come a change of stewardship; Martin O'Neill may be an upgrade on how Trappatoni managed the team, but if so it's a marginal upgrade. They're not world-beaters, and their high water mark in International competition may well be the 2002 WC, but they should be doing better than they are.
   531. Textbook Editor Posted: September 06, 2017 at 11:49 PM (#5527610)
I think this is huge. We've had a couple of college students interns the past few years and they all watched champions league. I had zero conception of European Club Football before 6 years ago.


TE, Jr. simply cannot understand that when I was 12, the only way to find out England First Division standings would have been to seek out a Library that got a UK newspaper and check the standings... which would have been at least a week or two old by the time the Library got that paper. It blows his mind that this was the case.

+1 that this is a huge driver here. When I announced we'd be starting out in a 4-4-2 formation, several of my players groaned; one specifically asked why we couldn't play a 3-4-3 like Chelsea. That... would simply not have happened when I played soccer at age 12.

Another factor here is FIFA games--the kids all talk at practice about the different formations they use, etc. Now, some of them don't understand how these FIFA game formations translate to *actual* soccer on an *actual* pitch, but... well, it at least its way more progress on that front than 10, even 5 years ago.
   532. J. Sosa Posted: September 07, 2017 at 08:39 AM (#5527663)
re: TE\formations

Yeah, I admit to a bias against two man midfields for the most part unless there are exceptional circumstances due to the players available. I'm just a dope on the internet, but ceding a numerical advantage in the middle of the field has generally appeared to be a bad idea to me over the years, and I don't really care for 4-4-2 as a rule. There are exceptions of course. Leicester is the most recent notable example, but that was largely down to personnel. IIRC there was discussion here about which player was most valuable to that team, I argued in favor of Kante for this very reason. It is hard to overstate how much he meant to that team. He allowed them to play that way. Having at least one exceptionally mobile and indefatigable center mid is almost a must if playing a two man midfield against a three. And there also has to be other personnel reasons to play that way. Liverpool was another recent example when they had Suarez and Sturridge. But:

1. They had Suarez and Sturridge, who were probably (at the very least) two of the five best strikers in the world that season.

2. They played a diamond to help mitigate the disadvantage, conceding width.

3. They had Henderson water carrying for his mates.

Altidore just simply isn't good enough to make this sort of concession for. If he is either unable or unwilling to be successful as a lone striker, he needs to ride the pine.

re: Ability for kids to watch soccer

Yes, this is a very good point. Back when I played I can remember being at a soccer camp and one of the Brazilian coaches having vhs tapes of the World Cup. That's pretty much the only soccer I ever saw on television as a young man other than maybe some random ESPN production showing grainy highlights of past World Cups. I had no conception of how to use space or angles at all. I think watching players that knew what they were doing would have helped a lot. Now of course, it is part of the culture. My kids wear Dortmund and Liverpool shirts to school and can watch Champions League after they get home. It is a different world they live in.

Also regarding the Library and newspapers, I once explained to my sons about card catalogs at libraries. It blew their minds. They acted like I told them I used to ride a sabre tooth cat to hunt mastadons when I was their age.
   533. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 07, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5527689)
The only professional soccer I saw on tv before the 2000's was some NASL on, IIRC, the Wide World of Sports and, randomly, some PSG and Ajax games on ESPN in the summer of 1983 or 1984. Not sure if those were replays or friendlies or what. I know it must have been summer because it's the only time I would have had to waste watching whatever crap ESPN was offering up during the day back then. Actually, as I think about it, ESPN was probably superior back then when they just had non-stop sports on. I saw a lot of Aussie rules football back then, too. That's a pretty great sport I'm surprised doesn't have a bigger following here.
   534. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 07, 2017 at 09:54 AM (#5527703)
The EPL has voted to close their transfer window before the season starts. That means they won't be able to add players once the season starts but clubs in other leagues, who aren't making this change, can still try to buy their players. So, the Oxlade-Chamberlain drama wouldn't have happened but Barcelona could still have tapped up Coutinho to the end of August.
   535. The Marksist Posted: September 07, 2017 at 10:14 AM (#5527722)
The EPL has voted to close their transfer window before the season starts. That means they won't be able to add players once the season starts but clubs in other leagues, who aren't making this change, can still try to buy their players. So, the Oxlade-Chamberlain drama wouldn't have happened but Barcelona could still have tapped up Coutinho to the end of August.


Feels like this'll be a disadvantage in the short term, but that other leagues will likely follow suit eventually. It makes too much sense to close the window a the start of the season, rather than creating so much uncertainty through the first few weeks of games. But FAs/UEFA/FIFA rarely do sensible stuff, so...
   536. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 07, 2017 at 11:59 AM (#5527828)
The EPL has voted to close their transfer window before the season starts. That means they won't be able to add players once the season starts but clubs in other leagues, who aren't making this change, can still try to buy their players. So, the Oxlade-Chamberlain drama wouldn't have happened but Barcelona could still have tapped up Coutinho to the end of August.


Feels like this'll be a disadvantage in the short term, but that other leagues will likely follow suit eventually.


This seems like it will be rather fascinating to watch unfold, since I can see advantages and disadvantages accruing in both directions. Barcelona could still make moon eyes at Coutinho after the PL window closes, but Liverpool's hand is significantly strengthened, since they literally could not bring in a replacement. Since PL clubs are rarely going to need to sell a player purely for money (and if they did, they'd almost certainly have closed the deal during the window), I think those fears are overblown.

OTOH, that also works in favor of European clubs waiting out bids from PL clubs, but will also probably lead to an earlier market price spike as PL clubs try to push deadline deals across.
   537. PepTech Posted: September 07, 2017 at 12:18 PM (#5527848)
Actually, as I think about it, ESPN was probably superior back then when they just had non-stop sports on. I saw a lot of Aussie rules football back then, too.
Yeah, baby! Lots of billiards, I seem to recall. And the occasional caber toss.

   538. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 07, 2017 at 12:29 PM (#5527853)
On my last trip to Australia we just happened to be in a city whose AFL team was playing in what would in the NFL be the conference finals before the Super Bowl. We went to this local pub to have dinner and it was filled with people wearing gear of the local team and getting psyched for the game and then, before I knew it they were down 30 points and the place was like a library (or the Emirates, if you prefer). I don't really remember how the scoring works but I think that was pretty extreme.

The internet tells me it must have been this game.
   539. jmurph Posted: September 07, 2017 at 12:31 PM (#5527855)
Actually, as I think about it, ESPN was probably superior back then when they just had non-stop sports on. I saw a lot of Aussie rules football back then, too.

They also weirdly had some business/financial programming? I don't miss that part.
   540. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 07, 2017 at 02:48 PM (#5527953)
They also weirdly had some business/financial programming? I don't miss that part.


It was still better than Skip Bayless.
   541. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 07, 2017 at 02:53 PM (#5527956)
Linked just for the picture.

Because I love it.
   542. jmurph Posted: September 07, 2017 at 03:35 PM (#5528002)
It was still better than Skip Bayless.

Now you're talking: Skip Bayless on the business news of the day. Get on the phone with your agent, Jose!
   543. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 07, 2017 at 03:37 PM (#5528004)
Now you're talking: Skip Bayless on the business news of the day.

It already exists--it's called CNBC.
   544. jmurph Posted: September 07, 2017 at 04:33 PM (#5528069)
It already exists--it's called CNBC.

This is probably a correct CNBC burn but I don't think I've ever seen even one minute. Oh I guess I'm familiar with that Kramer mad money deal, so I take it all back. He is basically Bayless.
   545. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 08, 2017 at 08:17 AM (#5528270)
I'm forced to watch/listen to CNBC at work when the boss is around and it is torture.

But what's not torture anymore is hoping Vincent Janssen makes good! He's been loaned out to Fenerbahce where he will, ironically, join Roberto Soldado in their front line. Robin van Persie is still hanging around there, too. I think it's safe to say he'll never play for Spurs again and he probably made a mistake not accepting that loan to Brighton.
   546. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 08, 2017 at 08:43 AM (#5528279)
If you had your money on the EPL being the first league to sell what remains of its soul, then you were wrong. The correct answer is La Liga. Games featuring Barcelona and Real will do fine, of course, but good luck trying to fill a stadium for Malaga vs Deportivo. Hidden in that article:

Speaking in July, the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said no plans were currently in place to stage league matches abroad.


“There is no [current] plan to do it,” Scudamore said. “The clubs would like to do it but we are also realistic that says until the reaction is any more warm, it won’t happen,” he added.

“If it did, it wouldn’t be a 39th game ... but there is no prospect of it happening any time soon. We have no time set for it but I am a man of belief. I thought it was the right thing to do, I still do.”


   547. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 08, 2017 at 09:04 AM (#5528288)
On the list of evil, soulless things soccer leagues do this is pretty low. There are lots of reasons it SHOULDN'T happen but one game a year isn't the end of the world.
   548. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 08, 2017 at 09:34 AM (#5528317)
On the list of evil, soulless things soccer leagues do this is pretty low. There are lots of reasons it SHOULDN'T happen but one game a year isn't the end of the world.

I have to disagree. I think these games stripped of their local context would be meaningless.
   549. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 08, 2017 at 09:58 AM (#5528336)

But what's not torture anymore is hoping Vincent Janssen makes good! He's been loaned out to Fenerbahce where he will, ironically, join Roberto Soldado in their front line. Robin van Persie is still hanging around there, too. I think it's safe to say he'll never play for Spurs again and he probably made a mistake not accepting that loan to Brighton.


He certainly made a mistake signing for Spurs (money aside). As a Harry-Kane-like substance, he was never going to get significant playing time unless Harry Kane got seriously hurt and he gave up a prime year of potential development.

At this point, I hope he bosses the Turkish SuperLeague around a bunch and can be sold on in a mutually-beneficial manner next summer.

   550. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 08, 2017 at 10:09 AM (#5528346)
I think the simpler explanation is Pochettino just doesn't like what he sees from him. Even when Kane wasn't available he preferred just playing Son as the 9. It's just one of those transfers that didn't work out.
   551. Textbook Editor Posted: September 08, 2017 at 10:24 AM (#5528368)
My kids wear Dortmund and Liverpool shirts to school and can watch Champions League after they get home. It is a different world they live in.


J. Sosa--I'm pretty sure I've said this on threads elsewhere, but to me one of the main things helping to drive the soccer thing in the US is that kids get to watch high-quality games (basically playoff games) on their TV, AFTER SCHOOL... not at night, not on weekends... they can come home from school at watch Barcelona or Real or Bayern or whoever play on TV and watch the sport's greatest players play in the biggest competition in the world.

They can't do that with baseball, or basketball, or hockey--those playoff games are all at night (usually), and if you're an East Coast kid, you never see West Coast teams play because of the time zone thing. (I wonder how many kids at TE Jr's school who wear his jersey actually saw a Steph Curry playoff game from start to finish--probably single digits.)

This is, I think, a huge thing for cultivating fans going forward, and the NBA, MLB, and NHL have basically ceded growing their fan base in any real way (i.e., watching full games, paying for tickets, immersion in fandom)... to the NFL (which plays games--largely--at times when kids could watch games in full).

I'm not a football fan, but when I was a kid, I probably saw more football games than baseball games (even though I much preferred the latter), simply because of when they were largely played.

I've not seen hard studies of the economics here--I would love to see some sort of aggregate number showing total soccer jersey sales in the USA compared to what it was, say, 5 years ago, and compared to aggregate football, baseball, hockey jersey sales. Maybe they've all gone up--I have no idea... but I see kids all the time in soccer jerseys; we were at the zoo a few weeks back and I saw more kids in soccer jerseys on the day (maybe a dozen) than in jerseys for all other sports combined.

Also: totally agree that if you have a stud workhorse DM, 4-4-2 can work... but the problem there is if you have that kid on your team at the youth level, such a player might be the best player on your team, and getting him to buy in on playing that role may be... difficult to do. It *is* better to flood the midfield, I think.
   552. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 08, 2017 at 10:54 AM (#5528388)
I think the simpler explanation is Pochettino just doesn't like what he sees from him. Even when Kane wasn't available he preferred just playing Son as the 9. It's just one of those transfers that didn't work out.


I don't disagree, I just think that even if Poch had rated him, I don't think the transfer would have worked out, at least for Janssen.
   553. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 08, 2017 at 11:24 AM (#5528426)
   554. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 09, 2017 at 01:50 PM (#5529025)
United are really going to piss me off this year.
   555. JuanGone..except1game Posted: September 09, 2017 at 04:23 PM (#5529068)
I am honestly just perplexed that Kloop and others can't see that Mane's karate kick to the face isn't a straight red, and not a particularly close one. I'm guessing that he would have needed both feet/studs to Ederson's face to have convinced them.
   556. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 09, 2017 at 05:01 PM (#5529078)
I don't really mind managers saying stuff like Klopp said. There is a "defend your player at all costs" mind set that I think is hard to overcome.

I can't imagine how any kind of impartial observer wouldn't recognize that as a red. Studs to the face is kind of about as easy as it gets.
   557. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 09, 2017 at 05:27 PM (#5529083)
I can't imagine how any kind of impartial observer wouldn't recognize that as a red. Studs to the face is kind of about as easy as it gets.


This. It was weird following the Guardian MBM (while watching the NBCSN feed at the same time) and seeing it take about 30 minutes for them to come around to the obvious.

I mean, "karate kick" sells it short, it was a flying-karate-kick-with-a-ten-yard-run-up offense and it doesn't make a whit of difference whether he saw the keeper or not or whether it was malicious or not (well, it would for the punishment, but not the card).
   558. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 10, 2017 at 12:06 PM (#5529278)
That ALSO should have been a red. Lack of contact shouldn't be the determinative factor.
   559. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 10, 2017 at 12:49 PM (#5529286)
I have to imagine that was the end of the Frank de Boer experience at Palace.

Four games, no goals, isn't going to get things done.
   560. J. Sosa Posted: September 11, 2017 at 09:11 AM (#5529521)
Re: Mane

Studs up challenges at merely shin level are pretty much an automatic red even without contact in the modern game. Studs up at head level, much more so. There seems to be some old residual sentiment towards intent amongst players and coaches (not just Liverpool). Sometimes collisions are inevitable if both players are determined not to pull out of the challenge. Mane could have used his head to win the ball and been the one going off on a stretcher, or he could have conceded the play, or he could go spikes high. I think that is where some of the sympathy comes from. It was an obvious red, but it was a split second challenge where if Mane won the challenge there is a good chance he scores. Provided he didn't get sent off for spikes being high.

Re: Klopp

Managing is like parenting sometimes. Mane was devestated after the game. Pointing out to your most important player that his relentless hustle and effort in trying to help your team umltimately hurt the team the next several matches isn't productive on several levels.

Re: growing future customers

People have predicted doom upon baseball for a long time regarding tv start times. I would be interested to know if there is any data showing if it has had an impact. I am sympathetic to the view that it has. One of the first things that struck me about club soccer was how awesome it was that it took place in the morning or early afternoon for the most part. As for anecdotal current trends, baseball barely registers for my kids or the kids at their school. But everybody knows who Curry, LeBron, Messi, and Ronaldo are. It will be interesting to see what that ultimately may or may not mean.

Re: ckash/TE posters with kids on youth teams

Feel free to post updates, I sincerely enjoy reading about the exploits of youth teams. I decided to be an unrepentant braggart about my children a long time ago for my part, otherwise what's the point.
   561. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 11, 2017 at 09:40 AM (#5529533)
I thought the Mane red was so hilariously obvious I was also confused that there was a "debate" about it. It was just a bummer that it ruined the game.

I was shocked by how easily Spurs swatted aside Everton. I think it says more about where Everton are right now than Spurs. Everton spent a lot of money this summer but they've lost their best two players and their replacements aren't nearly as good. That's the first time I've ever seen them roll over against Tottenham, at least.

I don't know what Crystal Palace are up to but I'm glad Hodgson gets a chance to prove he's not an idiot. The irony is that Palace looked very good yesterday except for the finishing. If Scott Dann doesn't miss a sitter is De Boer still in a job? (Hard to believe now, but De Boer was the favorite among Spurs fans for the manager job over Pochettino at the time. Always ignore the fans!)
   562. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 11, 2017 at 09:51 AM (#5529538)
Everton has been closer to the best teams in the league rather than middle of the league the last couple of years. I think that's over. I remember hearing some chatter from Everton fans (I think here, but elsewhere too) about how too much of the team's offense is built around Lukaku. I felt that was a be careful what you wish for situation. They seem pretty mid-table to me.

I agree with #560 on the Mane situation. I don't think there was intent, and I think that was probably where the debate was coming from
   563. JuanGone..except1game Posted: September 11, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5529545)
I don't know what Crystal Palace are up to but I'm glad Hodgson gets a chance to prove he's not an idiot. The irony is that Palace looked very good yesterday except for the finishing. If Scott Dann doesn't miss a sitter is De Boer still in a job?
That performance by Palace was just abject and clearly something was/is wrong. You should be able to get a few goals out of a squad with Puncheon, Cabaye, Bentenke, etc so I can't say that the firing was unfair. I think Hodgson is competent enough to get them to mid table.

I agree with #560 on the Mane situation. I don't think there was intent, and I think that was probably where the debate was coming from
I just keep struggling with why "intent" all of sudden matters. Cahill got a red a few games ago where he just dove in, studs up, in a split second decision without "intent", and nobody made this argument. I just don't think "intent" has anything to do with how reckless a challenge is.

I will never be able to hate Mourinho, as some Chelsea fans are beginning to do, but I can't say I miss having to deal with his nonsense. Both arguing that too many teams are sitting behind the ball AND that Fellani's, yes that Fellani, unavailability is a proper excuse for the Stoke draw when you have a team with 2 of the most expensive transfers in history is just hilarity. IF Man U has a bad run this year, his pressers are going to be gold.
   564. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 11, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5529551)
Fellaini has kept in his place at Man U through 3 radically different managers now. That's pretty incredible.
   565. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 11, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5529552)
Granted, United have spent a ton of money to get the depth they have. But they went from a team with very little depth a couple of years ago to a ton of depth now. I find Mourinho to be a bit of a clown but he's done a pretty good job remaking the roster (although I think he's mellowed a bit out after his most recent sacking at Chelsea).

Having Martial and Herrera off the bench as your top wing/attacking option and your best backup midfielder is incredible. I wish Tottenham had added that sort of depth.
   566. Baldrick Posted: September 11, 2017 at 10:48 AM (#5529565)
In fun things this weekend, on a broadcast of the NC Courage game this weekend, Anson Dorrance (former USWNT coach, coach of the most successful college women's soccer program in history by a country mile) said the following:
“She’s turned over all defensive responsibilities to the center back. Maybe that's why she's the leading scorer. She pretends to be the right back but she's actually the right wing. And she absolutely stopped. If I had a gun as a coach on the sidelines, I would've shot her right there.”

No comment yet (and likely none forthcoming) from any of the interested parties.
   567. jmurph Posted: September 11, 2017 at 11:25 AM (#5529598)
I just keep struggling with why "intent" all of sudden matters.

My favorite part of the discussion was "watch the replay, his eyes never left the ball!" Which, uhh, yeah? Part of the issue with the play, actually.

But yes, I agree that Mane is not a monster and did not mean to kick anyone in the face. And I also agree that of course that fact is irrelevant to the way it should be officiated.

I thought Liverpool looked really good in the time before he was sent off- I was surprised that MCoA's xG map had City as the better team, though of course the goal in an obvious goal scoring opportunity probably did all the work there. As a City fan I was feeling very fortunate that they were ahead at that point.
   568. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: September 11, 2017 at 12:24 PM (#5529665)
Intent is always relevant. Regardless, in this case I think Mane did enough to earn the red even if there was no intent to make contact. He definitely should have realized that the keeper could/would be there and could very well be leading with his head, so the play was quite reckless.

If Mane had gone up with his boot like that, but dead set on knocking off the keeper's head, and just happened to miss by a foot, he would also have fully earned a red.

On the other hand,if Mane had done exactly what he actually did and there was no contact with the keeper, a red would probably have been excessive.
   569. Textbook Editor Posted: September 11, 2017 at 01:13 PM (#5529707)
J.Sosa--Since you asked, an update...

We played a 4-5-1 over the weekend in TE Jr's U13 game. Half my team is "playing up" a year, so we'll pretty much always be the smaller of the two teams; my hope (after a couple of 4-4-2 disaster scrimmages) was to flood the midfield, rotate out CMs frequently (there's maybe 3 guys who can go more than 15 minutes at a stretch), and hope for the best.

It was interesting... The team we played quite honestly had more talent--one thing that happens as the age groups go up is the number of teams per town (even bigger towns) contract, so where you may have had 14 6-team flights in U8/U9, you now have 9 6-team flights in U13. As a practical matter, that means smaller town teams now almost always have 2-4 really good players, with the rest being on the level of the players on my team (which is the "B" team for my town). So what's tough is that my team is more a collection of good (but not great) players, all of whom have + and - things they bring to the table. Most other teams now have the players I have (more or less) + 2-4 really good players (each of whom would probably be the best kid on my team).

Now, what's interesting is that in 11v11 on a pitch as big as we play on (120 x 75), some of that advantage can be neutralized if you have a good back 4 (which I have, usually) and if you have some speed (which I also have). It looked to me like they were playing a 3-4-3 against us (though at times it was more a 4-3-3; they only had 3 subs and I think they were going back and forth with it), and the 4-5-1 worked reasonably well against it. In fact, had we been smarter about playing in through balls, I think we could have done better. (My players are still in the discovery stage of passing into space; to some of them it just seems... wrong--like they're passing to nobody. I realize this seems a bit silly to anyone who watches soccer, but a surprising number of my guys don't really watch soccer, despite my urging. But our one goal came on a through ball where our striker rounded the keeper, so maybe now they got a glimpse of how that can work.)

The biggest issue that came up is that the CMs ran themselves out, and despite rotating 6-7 guys through the 3 slots they were all pretty exhausted by the end. We lost 3-1, but to be honest the scoreline probably flattered us a bit.

The good news is that one thing that jumped out from the performance is that we need to make the move to 4-2-3-1. We need guys who are committed to linking up the back 4 and the front 4, so that the front 4 guys don't feel like they have to pick up the ball 80 yard from goal and make a 70 yard run. It will--I think/hope--shorten up the field a bit for the midfielders/DMs, so there is less box-to-box running (which very few of them can do). If we can get decent passers in the DM roles, we might even be able to take advantage of balls over the top of high lines down the wings to exploit our speed (we ain't Barcelona; we're going to have to counterattack effectively to score goals).

Our games will not be pretty. And most of the team is not capable of playing anywhere close to 70 minutes yet, but I think they will get there. They're starting to see the possibilities in front of them. And to be honest, at this point I'll take that--the jump from 9v9 on a 75x47 pitch to 11v11 on a 120x75 pitch is BY FAR the biggest leap/adjustment I've seen them have to make, and I expect the whole season will be fairly tough until they get their sea legs.

   570. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 11, 2017 at 02:01 PM (#5529759)
That sounds great TE. What you say about passing to space is similar to something I used to see when I coached basketball. In basketball the best way to get open is often to go away from the basketball rather than towards it. The kids would always gravitate to the ballhandler which bunched things up. It's tough to teach something that is so counter intuitive.
   571. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: September 11, 2017 at 02:52 PM (#5529792)
CL group stage this week. According to the betting odds, there are only 3 competitive groups:

C: Chelsea, Atletico, Roma
G: Monaco, Leipzig, Porto
H: Madrid, Dortmund, Tottenham (and even here, Madrid is considered a near lock unlike Chelsea and Monaco).

So 3 games have very high leverage this week:
Tomorrow: Atletico at Roma
Wednesday: Dortmund at Tottenham, Monaco at Leipzig

   572. Textbook Editor Posted: September 11, 2017 at 03:06 PM (#5529809)
It's tough to teach something that is so counter intuitive.


It really is... After all, you pass a football TO a person, right? And you throw a baseball TO a person... (Though obviously, in both cases, not always, but you get the idea.)

It IS a lot like basketball, and I've noticed to some extent that the boys who have played basketball "get" the idea of moving off the ball better than those who don't (or who don't watch soccer regularly).

I will say this--even teams we've faced that are clearly better technically than us don't quite exploit through balls the way they could/should (at least not yet)... It IS an odd concept, and it also involves TRUST, which I think it also a key thing we've been trying to focus on, as in: play your position, don't run all over trying to "help" your teammates in places on the field you shouldn't be... TRUST that your teammate will do his job and get the ball to you, because you can't go get the ball and take it to goal on a 70 yard run yourself--it just won't happen/work.

The TRUST part is a bigger deal than I thought it was in all of this, and is much more psychological than technical, but is absolutely a hurdle they're going to have to clear in order to play well as a team/get to the "next level". It's probably a bigger challenge for us as coaches, frankly, than anything else.
   573. Textbook Editor Posted: September 11, 2017 at 03:13 PM (#5529815)
Wednesday: Dortmund at Tottenham, Monaco at Leipzig


This is, quite frankly, a huge game--the biggest of Spurs' season, perhaps, and the whole CL campaign, frankly, hinges on this game.

Spurs absolutely, positively MUST get something from the game. Ideally, all 3 points, but they cannot lose it if they hope to advance.

Basically, the way the group will probably go is: Both Dortmund and Spurs will likely lose both their games to Madrid and win both their games against APOEL, which means their head-to-head games will probably decide things. If Spurs can manage to get 4 points from their Dortmund games, they've gone a long way in helping get themselves out of the group stage.

Crazier stuff can/will happen, but Spurs need to treat these Dortmund games as must-wins; the 2 Real games I frankly think they can punt (or at least they can punt the away game if it doesn't work with where the team fitness/fixture pile up is when that rolls around.
   574. ckash Posted: September 11, 2017 at 03:57 PM (#5529846)
Kid club team update: 2 games on Saturday - 1st at home at 11am, 2nd at a town 80 miles away at 5pm. 1st game was a hard fought win against a "big-city" team. (We live in a town of 30,000 people give or take - most of the teams are from Lexington and Louisville). Ref let a lot of pushing and grabbing go, and at the end of the game an opposing player was tugging hard on the jersey of our fullback who swung around to shake her off. There was contact and the opposing player flung herself dramatically to the ground. In doing so she broke her arm. Bummer ending.

2nd game - girls came out flat, no rotation (there were 14 girls dressed for 11 v 11) and they got stomped. It's a u13 team made up of a 10 year-old, but mostly 11 and some 12s. Opponents were all 12 year-olds and they were BIG. And fast. And strong. And they knew our girls were outclassed so they took it easy on them. My daughter was bruised, lost 2 fingernails and had a layer of skin missing from her calf.

The 4-3-3 is more of a 4-5-1 and only our right fullback has the speed to break down a defense, bit she can't cross into the box very well. Otherwise we counter attack by bombing it downfield in the hopes that our Center Forward can catch up to it and make something happen (She's 12, really tall and can outrun most of the CBs). We have some girls with good ball skills but no tactical awareness, some who know what to do but are half a second slow in their decision-making and lose possession too easily (that would be my daughter) and some girls who resemble 4th line forwards in hockey who basically just go out and run around, chase the ball and occasionally come up with to but don't know what to do with it and can't dribble or pass.
   575. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 11, 2017 at 04:04 PM (#5529850)
I have to travel for work Wednesday so I'm going to miss the Dortmund/Tottenham game, I'm pretty annoyed. I agree that is almost certainly the biggest game of Tottenham's season. If they win it, they are by no means guaranteed to advance but they are in the driver's seat.
   576. AuntBea calls himself Sky Panther Posted: September 11, 2017 at 04:16 PM (#5529853)
Basically, the way the group will probably go is: Both Dortmund and Spurs will likely lose both their games to Madrid and win both their games against APOEL


The above scenario may be the most likely individual result for those 8 games (though is RM really favored over Dortmund in Dortmund? It must be close.), but it can't be very likely overall. There is bound to be a draw or two in there, and potentially an upset as well. Doesn't really change how important this game is for Spurs though of course.
   577. J. Sosa Posted: September 11, 2017 at 06:38 PM (#5529898)
re: TE

Sounds like a lot of fun. One of my sons played in that age group last season. I'm no tactical expert, but one thing that seems to help at that age is playing a high line to help your mids, which might seem counter intuitive but does often help. You may be doing that already. The idea is to essentially ask your mids to play half a field rather than the full field, which at that age is a monster. It gets your defenders more involved and gets them to share more of the running load. It also helps avoid those 70 yard runs for your attackers you mentioned, which is another problem super common to that age. Most teams struggle to beat an aggressive trap, and if you coach your keeper to act as a sweeper, the high line does not get beaten as often as you would otherwise think unless the other team has a superstar.

Man, I get what you are saying with through balls. I think it has something to do with the age and spatial development, most of them sincerely just do not get it at that age in my experience. They eventually did it by rote, but very few of them actually understood why. The biggest issue I generally saw at that age was that the game gets more and more ragged, the gaps between the midfield and the defense can get enormous. In addition to the high line, you could also consider coaching each half differently if the players can pick up on it. In the first half play more aggressively, in the second half maybe absorb pressure and instruct your mids not to be as active going forward. The gaps in the second half often get ridiculous otherwise. An overwhelming majority of goals conceded that I've seen at that age come in the second half, the mids get caught out and don't get back on the counter. Keep me posted, I'm interested to see what you come up with and how the team develops over the course of the season. With a young team and a new system, 1-3 sounds like a good first result to me.

re: ckash

It could just be me, but in my anecdotal experience girls' soccer certainly has always appeared to be much more vicious than the boys. For whatever reason, it seems like the refs let a lot more stuff go. And this may be an unfair generalization, but it seems like with guys some of them just play because that is what they are supposed to do. Usually with the girls, they are there because they want to be, and it shows. It also seems like they are "smarter" on picking up things at the younger age groups. I don't know if Mefisto is around, but he had/has two daughters that play and was involved with an academy, and if IIRC he said as much as well.

I know what you mean by "running around." I used to have this mental numbering system in my head each time I coached a new set of players. I gave a point for courage, a point for stamina, a point for game intelligence, and a point for skill. I coached very few players that were fours, but it was always fun figuring out who could contribute where, it was very rewarding. If the coach has your daughter playing what sounds like a supporting striker or winger, I suspect that is pretty flattering, they must have a pretty high opinion of her ability. It sounds like she is trying to do what the coach tells her to do, which is a very good start. Most players that age are headless chickens like you said, it is a good sign that she at least knows what to do. Maybe as the season goes by the game will slow down for her, it is a very good sign that she is already capable of knowing what to do and just a step slow making decisions. Keep me posted. I really miss coaching, it is fun watching kids learn and develop.

re: CL

Really looking forward to the games this week, mainly Liverpool of course, Dortmund v Spurs, and Leipzig. I watched the Leipzig game this weekend and Keita suffered what appeared to be some type of groin strain. I don't know how serious it proved to be, but it could hurt Leipzig.
   578. Textbook Editor Posted: September 11, 2017 at 07:13 PM (#5529908)
There was contact and the opposing player flung herself dramatically to the ground. In doing so she broke her arm. Bummer ending.


Lol... Am I correct in thinking the millennials call such a thing a "self own"? As a Gen X'er I can't keep up with the kids and their newfangled speech idioms...

We have some girls with good ball skills but no tactical awareness, some who know what to do but are half a second slow in their decision-making


ckash--with u13 you guys are on the full field now, right? Yikes--I can't even fathom a 10 year old hanging for very long on a big pitch, especially with the banging that goes on. We basically told our guys they shouldn't expect a single call ever, and I think they were very surprised with how much banging their was in their game--it really does seem to be called a bit differently than U12 is/was. But that's fine; it's what they'll have to deal with in 2 years in HS, so they better get used to it.

FWIW, the tactical awareness is, I think, the absolutely LAST thing most kids seem to develop. Again, it helps if they watch soccer--at least they can see the appearance of a tactical structure when a team falls back on defense, etc. On their own pitch, in a game situation, it's often very hard to tell (and, to be honest, soccer tactics are sometimes difficult to explain--you want flexibility/fluidity, but also rigidity when necessary... it's a lot to grasp).

What I've found in the past, in small sided, is that if you give ONE kid a job, then it's often easy for them to just do the job (even if not well). The minute you have partnerships (or 3 CMs like I tried yesterday), some inevitably get confused by "who's ball is that," etc... and if they're taking the second to wonder who's ball it is... you can guarantee it will be neither of theirs... One reason why I think a 4-3-3 works fairly well (with most teams) is aside from your CB pairing (which is crucial), you can give everyone a task/position and while there's overlap it can be limited if you want it to be. I'm going with the 4-2-3-1 because I tell the backs to get forward in possession and need CB cover, as while my CBs are good, they are not particularly fast, so the more bodies the merrier. That and I also know I'll be able to have some good DM pairings I can use--experienced kids who won't just play kickball back there (which, alas, many of them still do).

The decision-making... Yeah, that's a tough one. I've been trying to find some drills that really focus on that particular skill, but it's a hard skill to isolate/focus on in any one drill... I do think one thing that plays into quicker decision-making is comfort on the ball--a lot of times when my guys take forever to release the ball, it's because they're trying to have the ball set *just right* so they can strike the ball cleanly, etc... Not understanding that they can't let "the perfect be the enemy of the good". But I also think the speed of the game is really overwhelming to some of them, and they get nervous about making mistakes. We often will tell them--don't be afraid to make a mistake; we'll see and know what you were trying to do (most of the time)--the execution is not as important to us as the thought process... If you're making the right decision with the ball, but your pass doesn't come off, etc. that (for me) is A-OK... What's crucial is not making dumb decisions. Everyone will mess up on execution (even pros)--you just don't want to make silly mistakes (trying to dribble the ball out of the box from the 6 yard box on defense in traffic, that sort of thing).
   579. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 11, 2017 at 09:05 PM (#5529951)
Dude, you're Alexi ####### Lalas ...


Former U.S. defender Alexi Lalas blasted the national team amid its current struggles to qualify for the World Cup, calling the players "underperforming, tattooed millionaires."

After losing to Costa Rica and drawing in Honduras this month, the U.S. team will have its qualification hopes go down to the final day of CONCACAF qualifying. If the side cannot improve on its current fourth-place standing, it could move on to an intercontinental playoff against Australia or Syria in November.

And Lalas, now a commentator for Fox Sports, made his feelings clear -- player by player -- on a live, televised tirade during Sunday night's broadcast of the Seattle Sounders-LA Galaxy game.

"It's dark days, indeed, but this is a time for leaders to step up," he began. "And so to the supposed leaders, I will say this....

"Tim Howard. Tim, the Belgium game ended three years ago. We need you to save the ball now. Geoff Cameron. Clean it up, or let's get someone who will.

"Clint Dempsey. Yeah, you're a national team legend; now we need you to be a national team leader.

"Michael Bradley. The U.S. does not need you to be zen, the U.S. needs you to play better. Jozy Altidore. Is this really as good as it gets? Because it's still not good enough."

Lalas also targeted U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who before the loss to Costa Rica enjoyed a 14-game unbeaten streak this year upon replacing Jurgen Klinsmann.

"Bruce Arena. Jurgen Klinsmann lost at home to Mexico. You lost at home to Costa Rica. This is now all on you, not Jurgen," he continued.

And he also took a shot at young star Christian Pulisic, adding: "And, oh, by the way, to all the guys that I didn't mention, it's because you don't even warrant a mention. That includes you too, Wonder Boy."


ESPNFC
   580. ckash Posted: September 11, 2017 at 09:10 PM (#5529952)
TE: My daughter rotates with another girl fairly evenly. The FB I mentioned earlier played all 70 minutes of the first game and probably 45 to 50 of the second game. Our Striker played every minute of the 1st game, then played all but 10 minutes of the second, moving to CM to try to use her height to staunch the bleeding. It worked for a bit. At most we have 16 girls available (5 subs) but we have a tournament in October (minimum of 3 game over 2 days, max of 5) that 2 girls can't be there for, so those girls that do play will be run into the ground.

The coach is very much a blood and guts type; he told the girls he wants them to be the hardest team the opponent plays all year, regardless of score. He came from a bigger program in Lexington and I think reality is setting in. He's got some scrappy kids but they have limits and can only take so much punishment. It will be an interesting practice tomorrow night.
   581. Textbook Editor Posted: September 11, 2017 at 10:22 PM (#5529976)
ckash--Thanks for the background. It's tough. To be honest, I think most kids play way too many games. I understand the need for tournaments (the one our club does is essential to its finances), but 3 11v11 games in 2 days is too much (let alone 5). We're mandated to play 3 tournaments a year, and I confess I really dislike them. TE Jr's middle school team (should he make it) play 20 games in 6 weeks (!!), so their season can wrap up by the end of October... On top of the club games he'd play. It's batshit crazy to purposefully schedule 4 games in 5 days, but that's exactly what all the middle schools apparently do around here.

The blood and guts thing is also tough... The one thing I've definitely learned in the 2+ years of coaching is that you simply have to have a varied approach to man management... you can't be all arm around the shoulder, and you can't be all blood and guts. They're 11-12 years old; some of them respond to one more than the other--sometimes depending on the day. I have some parents who I think wish we'd go all in on blood and guts, but here's the thing... I just want the kids to love the sport. To want to coach it when they grow up, play in an adult league, watch games with their kids on Saturday mornings. Most of my players probably won't even make their HS team... to browbeat them because (essentially) they're physically limited players playing against better athletes... it seems counter-productive to me.
   582. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 12, 2017 at 09:23 PM (#5530475)
Watching some of the highlights, I'm shocked that Roma were able to keep a clean sheet against Atletico. And I'm also shocked that they got manhandled so badly at home. I really was expecting that to be a more even affair.
   583. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 12, 2017 at 09:28 PM (#5530477)
Barca over Juventus 3-0 seems pretty shocking to me, even if they were at the Camp Nou.

Chelsea 6-0 over Quarabag at Stamford Bridge, on the other hand, does not ...
   584. Textbook Editor Posted: September 12, 2017 at 11:59 PM (#5530602)
J. Sosa--somehow I missed #577 last night... thanks for that advice; we are going to try to shorten up the field by playing a higher line; the CB are a little uncomfortable with it because last year in 9v9 we played mainly a 4-3-1 that had the backs being really aggressive and so the CB pair would often sit quite deep as a result (we also had some weaker GK last season that contributed to this tendency as well).

One thing that did resonate about the higher line... even if you break it, on a 120 x 75 field like we have at home, you're asking a guy to run ~50 yards with the ball, while being chased, and then put a clean finish past an onrushing GK... The other team had literally a 2v0 break late in the game, but by the time their player sprinted 35 yards to the 18, he was exhausted, tried to do a cutback to set the ball right for a shot... and one of our defenders had caught up to him by that point and poked the ball away. So even on a breakaway, there's a lot for a kid to do at the end of a lung-busting 60 yard run.

The gaps between midfield and defense were great late in the game, which is why we're going to switch to the 4-2-3-1; I have ~8-9 guys I could trust in any of the back 6 roles, and I figure more than anything we just need good decision making back there, and a way to link up play so the midfielders don't have to run so far back to gain possession... But I'm sure that will be a work in progress as well.
   585. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 13, 2017 at 09:42 AM (#5530678)
Dude, you're Alexi ####### Lalas ...


Yeah, I thought it was pretty rich for this guy to be talking about how people look. The shot on Pulisic in particular was nothing less than a cheap shot.

Generally he's not wrong, they have to play better but as we discussed earlier in the thread the short answer is it is just not a very good team right now. I keep coming back to the lack of "prime" age players. This is the lineup against Costa Rica;

Howard - 38
Villafana - 27
Bradley - 30
Nagbe - 27
Wood - 24
Pulisic - 18!
Ream - 29
Altidore - 27
Zusi - 31
Cameron - 32
Johnson - 29

I mean what player in there is the best he's going to be right now? Maybe Nagbe. Altidore is a disappointment of that there is little dispute but it's not like there are a ton of options. Morris probably but it's not like he's Romelu Lukaku.

The Pulisic thing really pissed me off though. That is just bitter idiocy. That's like a Red Sox fan complaining about Rafael Devers. The guy is 18 and that he's probably our best player is more of an indictment of the other 10 guys on the pitch than anything else. When he doesn't have it so be it. Likewise the idea that a guy like Howard is resting on his laurels is pretty dumb. Flip side of Pulisic but he's 38, he simply not the same player he was and that he's our best option is again an indictment of guys like Guzan and Hamid than anything else.
   586. Jose is an Absurd Doubles Machine Posted: September 13, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5530679)
They're 11-12 years old; some of them respond to one more than the other--sometimes depending on the day. I have some parents who I think wish we'd go all in on blood and guts, but here's the thing... I just want the kids to love the sport.


This is so true. I see it coaching the same age in baseball. It's such a trick to figure out when you push a kid and when you put your arm around him. They are SO emotional at that age too (especially the 12 year olds) and it can be a challenge.
   587. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 13, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5530687)
It seems like the US has way more depth than they had 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. But that's mainly squad depth, and yes, the top line talent is all old. There should probably be some questions about that.

I think for lower tier teams like the US, how well you do has so much to do with having your few legitimately good players be goal scorers, and Dempsey and Donovan were guys that could score goals. Pulisic will get there, I think Wood could potentially be one of our best strikers in history.

I think when we talk about the US sucking and all that, it is worth also noting that it seems like the other teams in the CONCACAF have legitimately improved. Costa Rica is probably the best example. The group is less of a push over than it used to be.
   588. Richard Posted: September 13, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5530688)
US under 23 international and Spurs loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers made his English league debut last night, playing well and scoring the winner in Sheffield United's 1-0 win at Bolton. He looks a promising prospect.
   589. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 13, 2017 at 10:40 AM (#5530707)
Spurs fans are very hopeful of Carter-Vickers. Take good care of him, Richard. I wish we'd sent Onomah to Sheffield United instead of to Steve Bruce's Villa, too.
   590. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 13, 2017 at 02:19 PM (#5530914)
Tottenham: Lloris; Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Aurier, Dier, Dembele, Davies; Eriksen, Son; Kane. Subs: Vorm, Foyth, Trippier, Walker-Peters, Sissoko, Winks, Llorente.

Borussia Dortmund: Burki; Piszczek, Sokratis, Toprak, Toljan; Sahin, Dahoud; Pulisic, Kagawa, Yarmolenko; Aubameyang. Subs: Weidenfeller, Subotic, Castro, Götze, Zagadou, Isak, Philipp.

First start for Aurier.

Big start for Sanchez.

Huge game for Spurs.

I won't be able to watch until I get home tonight, thanks to a going away lunch for our CTO that was scheduled yesterday, I can't decide whether to follow along with the Guardian MBM or try and avoid spoiling the result.

COYS!
   591. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 13, 2017 at 02:35 PM (#5530943)
I think I mentioned it already, but is it just me or are there more interesting matchups this year? I think some of that has to do with the fact that outside Real everything feels very wide open this year.
   592. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 13, 2017 at 02:42 PM (#5530946)
I won't be able to watch until I get home tonight, thanks to a going away lunch for our CTO that was scheduled yesterday, I can't decide whether to follow along with the Guardian MBM or try and avoid spoiling the result.

I can never resist peaking when I DVR a game. But no DVR today! I'm at home, with a beer, ready to have my heart ripped out.
   593. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 13, 2017 at 02:50 PM (#5530951)
What a finish!
   594. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: September 13, 2017 at 02:55 PM (#5530957)
Liverpool have now given up 6 goals in their last 80 minutes of play.
   595. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:00 PM (#5530962)
This game is insane already.
   596. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:01 PM (#5530964)
Already cheating ... What a start it sounds.
   597. SPICEY WITH A SIDE OF BEER ON A BABYYYYYYY Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:01 PM (#5530965)
Looks like this game is off to a hell of a start. Dortmund vs. Tottenham is such an awesome matchup of styles.
   598. Nose army. Beef diaper? (CoB) Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5530971)
He scores when he wants!
   599. jmurph Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:11 PM (#5530980)
I'm not watching but I just looked at the scores and it looks like total chaos all around.
   600. There are a lot of good people in alt-Shooty Posted: September 13, 2017 at 03:17 PM (#5530997)
BVB bossing the game but they look terrified the rare time Spurs get to run at them.
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