Tuesday, August 24, 2010

EPL Week 3 Preview - Part 1: Saturday Fixtures

Blackburn v Arsenal: Arsenal are coming off a renowned thrashing of newcomers, Blackpool with guns-a-blazing. Youngster Theo Walcott looks to continue his breakout performance with a smooth, possession-orniented Gunners team. Blackburn look to turn things around after a shocker at Birmingham after going up 1-0, only to lose 2-1. Their play against Everton in the first week looked promising and they will look to use their home pitch to their advantage.

My prediction: 3-1 Arsenal. Chamakh and Walcott on the score sheet.

Blackpool v Fulham: The Seasiders return to Bloomfield Road for the first time this Premier League season. Look for their supporters to push on a fragile side who fell 0-6 at the Emirates last week. Fulham has been playing good football after snatching two points away from the Red Devils. Having been unlucky and nearly grabbing the three themselves, Fulham look to reassert themselves against a relegation favorite.

My prediction: 4-0 Fulham. Gera and Zamora leading the way.

Chelsea v Stoke City: Chelsea are on a hot streak; there's no doubting that. Stoke look a poor side at the moment and have slim chance at ousting the Champions at Stamford Bridge. Short and simple, this should be another thrashing.

My prediction: 4-0 Chelsea. Drogba with at least two.

Tottenham v Wigan: The Spurs are struggling a bit in these first few weeks after a monumental fourth place finish last campaign. Look for some tired legs after the midweek fixture against the Young Boys. Wigan, well, have been struggling to say the least. Look for them to have their best game so far, falling just short of some points. Look for the home side to eek it out.

My prediction: 2-1 Tottenham. Bale to get involved and N'Zogbia to keep Wigan alive with his first.

Wolves v Newcastle: Newcastle were the story of the week last gameweek, trouncing Villa 6-0. Andy Caroll looks to be in top form and Newcastle look keen to stay up this season. Wolves have had a strong start, snatching up four points in their first two fixtures. With my boldest pick of the weekend, I choose Wolves to upset a hot Newcastle in a nail-biter.

My prediction: 3-2 Wolves despite a valiant effort from Caroll and Barton.

Man Utd v West Ham: This game will take place at Old Trafford. Look for the Red Devils to spring back from their perpetuating Cottage Curse and come back title-contending form. West Ham has been both bad and unlucky in the first two weeks. Look for Manchester United take this game easily over a struggling side in convincing (aka Chelsea-esque) fashion.

My prediction: 5-0 Man Utd with Rooney and Hernandez finally getting in on the scoring with help from Scholes.

Sunday and Monday predictions to come.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New Player Joining SJ Earthquakes is Geovanni

Geovanni, the attacking midfielder from Brazil, has been the lastest signing and first DP player for the Earthquakes.

The ex-Manchester City and Barcelona Brazilian who most recently played for Hull City is the newest player for the Californian side that is struggling to hang onto playoff contention.

Looking to liven up the squad and ticket sales, the Earthquakes have made a large investment in a 30 year-old. As a fan, I'm delighted that management has made a strong effort for a postseason push, but also worried about splurging on a washed-up international.

Look for my next blogpost this weekend following my trip to Buck Shaw Stadium for the California Classico where the Quakes will face the LA Galaxy. Hopefully Geovanni will be on display and complement the talent of Stephenson, Convey, and Alvarez.

Check back soon for that post.

Freddy Adu to join MLS' San Jose Earthquakes?

Freddy Adu has been stirring up the strong possibility that he will return to the MLS to revamp his sluggish career that has stalled overseas. In the past week he has hinted at a move back the United States.

Although recent reports have linked him to the Galaxy, it is important to note that the San Jose Earthquakes (my team, I've been a season ticket holder for six years) own his allocation rights. Meaning a return to the MLS for Adu gives full control to San Jose in determining the young player's future.

If that's not enough for you get this. At 12 EST tonight, the official San Jose site has released an official hint as to who the team is chasing as their club-first designated player. They only clue is that one of this player's former club is Benefica.

The site also cites this player as someone who has played in two major European leagues. Adu has appeared in both the Portugese and French top flights.

I'm sorry but that fits all-too-well for me. I don't want to speculate too much, but I'm passionate about my club and if this move is made, I will be one happy Earthquakes fan.

People are also linking this signing with Geovanni, which would be brilliant as well. But honestly, it makes me much less excited. He fits all criteria including Benefica and two leagues in EPL and La Liga.

Start churnin' out those Adu kits boys, we got ourselves a new star!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

What the Future SHOULD Hold for Bob Bradley

It has been a crazy summer for Bob Bradley.

He rode the high of a bittersweet World Cup result as the manager for the United States. In retrospect, American critics have questioned some of decisions and his credit has taken a hit.

Since, he has been linked to multiple jobs at the top flight in England including Fulham and Aston Villa. But is this the right place for the interim manager turned solid American skipper?

Quite frankly, no. Bradley has no place in the EPL. Every fan forum I have read has been overwhelmingly against a Bradley move for their club, and I have to agree with them. For a man who has only had experience in the MLS, English football is a huge step for a man who would be a pioneer in that position.

"How do you get valuable experience in Europe when no one will give you a chance?" you may ask. Well, many have argued that Bradley did poorly in an ideal situation with the United States. With a perfect draw of opponents and an adequate slew of talent, Bradley failed to take his team beyond the round of 16. I'd say that's a bit harsh.

Bradley's place in recent news has been amongst a consensus that his time with the Yanks is up. This should not be the case.

From an outsider's perspective, take a European club, Bradley is most certainly not the answer. From an American perspective, he is THE man for the USMNT job. Why?

It turns out, he has gained enough respect for his time with the US that even consideration for these positions makes him one of the best managers we've had. He had a few questionable squad decisions here and there but as an American, I can only have another American coach my national team.

Bradley needs to be resigned by USSF before he gets swooped up by a lower-tier European job. We owe Bradley another shot for a few more years, developing a few more players for the future. I don't think a Klinsmann is a good fit for our country's team.

I don't feel comfortable with a foreigner as a national team coach, and that goes for all countries. I feel most proud when my team succeeds with an entire unit of American contributors. Bradley has the ability and the talent to make things happen and he deserves to stay on for another few years.

Blackpool Trounces Wigan 4-0

Leading up to my second season as a fan of the EPL, I had still not found a team to cheer for and I'm still not sure that I have. But on Saturday morning, I had come into the day deciding that among the various fixtures at the 15:00 time slot I would watch Blackpool at Wigan.

I had become interested in the Tangerine Army after American stand-out Michael Bradley had been linked to the club following the world cup. Falling in the love with the colors, the passion, and the underdog story, I chose to root for the Seasiders (on Saturday at least).

As you all may know, they destroyed Wigan away yesterday. Led by new signing Marlon Harewood and old boys Charlie Adam and Steven Taylor-Fletcher, Blackpool could have easily gone up 5-0 with poor decisions by the assistant referee and a wiff from Brett Ormeron.

The second half was better from Wigan, who had crumbled in the first forty-five, but failed to generate any offense themselves.

What should we take form the game? Blackpool to make top 8? Not quite. Wigan played like a lower table Championship side on Saturday and the Seasiders will have a MUCH harder time this season. This is good news for 'Pool, however. The confidence and reassurance that they belong in the league has been put in place. Look for Blackpool to outplay five or six sides this year and avoid relagation.

P.S. Still looking for a side to cheer on. 'Pool is nice but I'd like a more contending club that doesn't have to battle the beast that is relegation.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brazil Youth Tackles A Struggling US

It's disappointing for a fan of the US Men's National Team on a day like today. We put what was essentially our best foot forward against a second-rate Brazil team and turned no results. And I mean nothing.

For starters, the Brazilian team that played tonight should be praised greatly by all football supporters. What seemed to be a second string team in comparison to World Cup squads played quality, traditional Brazilian football. Footwork, passing, and pace pushed them lightyears beyond the bumbling, stumbling US.

Brazil's goals came from 18 year old wonder Neymar in the 28' and an effortless touch by Pato in first half injury time.

The final score ended as it did after 45 minutes, 2-0 Brazil. The talking points come in review of the game as a whole. First the better side.

Brazil to "Jogo Bonito" to a whole new level. The young talent in Pato, Neymar, and others samba-ed circles around American defenders and laughed off the last 45 minutes of the game as the South Americans cruised to victory.

Their play was crisp, clean, and classic Brazilian. After a disappointing World Cup campaign, Mano Menezes has gathered a young squad that definitely has a bright future looking toward 2014.

As the for the United States, I will evaluate each player.

Bocanegra played solid other than his hiccup on Neymar's goal, failing to challenge him the air. Just about what he managed in the World Cup. He plays solid defense but nothing too impressive.

Gonzalez's first start was relatively strong as well. Nothing terrible comes to mind in his performance which isn't true for the rest of the team. His height is a plus and he seems a bit more skilled than Onyewu.

Jonathan Spector was relatively invisible. Which is alright for a defender because he made no clear mistakes. You'd like to see some attack from Bocanegra or Spector as outside backs, but hey, we have to walk before we can run.

Bornstein did little other than lose the ball and make a few easy passes. Bedoya did about the same.

Bradley saw a lot of time on the ball but seemed to rush the attack a bit. He sent multiple US possessions into the opposing eighteen on risky long balls. His poise was good and definitely played the best of any American tonight.

John Harkes brought up a good point today, noting that Edu and Bradley have incompatible play styles. Edu seemed almost invisible as well. Not much else to say other than I would like to see more time for Jose Torres in the midfield.

Feilhaber was unimpressive. He made many possession mistakes and seemed uncomfortable.

Kljestan had his moments. You can tell he has poise on the ball, but he made a few errors. I'd like to see him start over Edu or Feilhaber next time.

Goodson came in late a wasn't tested much but played a solid game.

The attack of the team in general was lackluster. When the forwards did get the ball, the creativity absent and touch was second-rate. Buddle and Donovan played solid games but the poor midfield play prevented them from getting many chances to prove themselves. Altidore came in a made little to no impact whatsoever. Playing a bit selfishly and accomplishing nothing.  Findley and Gomez were a bit invisible but because the ball was never at their feet.

Tim Howard and Guzan played well. Especially, Guzan who kept the score from being too embarrassing.

Overall, the team played a bit poorly. Bradley led the attack and tripped a bit along the way. His play was solid, however, and the rest of the midfield prevented Donovan, Findley, Gomez, and Altidore from accomplishing anything.

Brazil outplayed the US, and I hope that some maturation will come with time as we look toward 2014.

Bob Bradley has been buzzing in the papers and I will post his latest move in the next fews days as it surfaces.

Monday, August 9, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Martin O'Neill Resigns from Aston Villa

In a shocking move, Martin O'Neill has resigned as manager of Aston Villa. Villa is a team that has been gaining steam over the past years with young talent in Gabby Agbonlahor and Ashley Young that were ready to fight for a Champions League spot this season.

With this move, reportedly over MON inability to use club funds to complete the deal with James Milner to Manchester City among other prospects, Villa is crippled. What looked to be a very promising season as Villa continued to be on the rise, is now surely unlikely.

With Ashley Young on the fence about leaving Villa Park, he must certainly be on his way to Spurs as rumored in the past few days.

I would not be surprised if a few other quality Villa players were offered money to join other clubs and left the team that seems to be stumbling near the peak of the climb that is the EPL table.

Villa fans should be heartbroken, not because their gaffer has left them, but because their management has caused him to do so. This season will definitely be a rough one at Villa Park.