Archive for the ‘'Pool’ Category

Wednesday’s friendly between the US and Denmark so far down the list of important soccer happenings from this last week that I feel a little stupid even mentioning it. However, we love the USMNT here so I will provide a few notes.

Besides the goal which was gifted to Jeff Cunningham, there were almost 0 positives to take from this. The goal was nicely finished and while Cunningham did seem to be the most likely to score, too often he was muscled off the ball and seems too undersized to participate at that level. I think he would be useful in CONCACAF qualifying but the defensive quality is just too high at the World Cup level for him to be effective.

His partner, Jozy Altidore, seems to be out of form lately and hopefully Phil Brown keeps his faith in him at Hull and he can discover some form and more importantly some ball control over the next few months. Form can change in a flash but touch must be developed.

Spector looked lost in the back and so did Hejduk.

Seems that Castillo was brought on in a left midfield role, a pretty crowded position for the US so not sure that’s his best fit but at least he’s now an “American” for good.

Feilhaber and Bradley both looked good. Benny seems to overthink it sometimes and his teammates aren’t always on the same page but he’s always thinking positively and creatively.

And now moving on…


Everyone probably has some idea of Wednesday’s major news item; Thierry Henry’s blatant handball led directly to the winning goal in the France/Ireland playoff for one of the final UEFA WC spots.

The reaction has been massive and wide-ranging. Absurd suggestions like boycotting all of the companies who Henry endorses or asking him to compensate the FAI for the income they have lost by not qualifying seemed to be the first response. Since then, there has been time for those with a little more credibility to react and personally I think that is where we should look. A quick digest of my favorites…

The famously inflamatory Italian coach of the Irish national team, Giovanni Trappatoni, takes a very well adjust view of it.

Jack Bell of the NYTimes thinks it lends credibility to the 5 referee system currently being tested in the Europa League.

Ireland cited a previous example of FIFA granting a replay of a match between Bahrain and Uzbekistan for much less than a blatant handball.

FIFA issued a brief statement yesterday AM refusing the request and it seems that France’s disagreement with the request was the reason.

An Irish contributor to EPLTalk.com, and Arsenal fan, gives his well rounded view.

A breakdown of Arsene Wenger’s response to the whole thing, also from EPLTalk.com.

The former Ireland star, Roy Keane, believes it was karma for the FAI to be denied a replay. More humorous and personal than anything though.

Personally, I think things like this are part of the game. Is it a bit of a negative on Henry’s resume, sure, but he will be remembered for much more than this. The situation seems to unfold slowly now b/c all the replays are in slow motion but the games move so fast that its hard to believe that it was anything more than the quickest of reactions. He is obviously not proud of it and would prefer to have gone through in a more honorable way but les bleus will be there next summer and Ireland will not.

Having only 3 referees out there make the chance that they will miss something fairly likely. It is hard to blame the referee as the request for them to catch everything, especially at the speed of today’s game, is extremely heavy. Look at the NFL where there are the same amount of players on a similar sized field but 7 total referees. Video replay is very difficult in a sport that prides itself on flow and while it might be the best solution, I think the 5 referee system of the UEFA league has to be the next step. A referee behind the touch line would provide more points of view on play in the box (where most of the controversy occurs) and therefore provide a more accurate decision.

If FIFA is not going to force a replay then they would ensure 5 referees at all games next summer in South Africa or there is the chance that much bigger games will be tainted.

Some US notes…

The mens national team has fallen in the FIFA world rankings. These rankings are pretty irrelevant but it should be noted that Mexico has risen and is now considered, fairly I think, on par with the US.

There is still a chance to get tickets associated with the US Team for the World Cup in South Africa next summer. You have to join some sort of supporters club as part of some effort for US Soccer to raise money but to have another chance at team specific tickets is huge if you plan on going next summer. Definitely worth it.


Wrote this on Saturday morning while watching Liverpool/Man City on ESPN2. Getting these games in HD is awesome.

Liverpool definitely has some problems in the back and is now gotta be focusing on just squeezing into that 4th spot and not losing the extra income that comes with Champions League qualification.

I was impressed by David N’Gog though. Filling Fernando Torres shoes is virtually impossible but he seems to be playing more relaxed now and some excellent solo play in the box directly resulted in their quick equilizer.

Alas, a chance to move into 4th was lost and they continue to battle with Man City, Tottenham, and Aston Villa for that final CL spot.

Costa Rica lost their bid to become CONCACAF’s 4th team in South Africa losing 2-1 on aggregate to Uruguay. They gave up a valuable away goal in a 1-0 loss to Uruguay but could only muster a 1-1 tie on their trip to Uruguay, not enough to move on. When combined with Jonathan Borenstein’s last gasp equalizer in DC last month, it was a crushing way to miss the tournament for the Ticos.

That’s all for now, I will probably chime in with some thoughts on El Classico next weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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Coming Back -> etc

After a prolonged absence from posting, here is an attempt at a return post.

If you weren’t able to tell, September of the year before a World Cup is a crazy time in the world of soccer. From all the continental leagues starting, to World Cup qualifying breaks, to CL Group stages kicking off, to the U20 World Cup beginning; it’s a monster month for the sport and impossible to keep up with unless you have the luxury of doing this for a living. It is with that in mind that I am making a bit of a change to this blog.
The focus of I Fischi from here on out will be the US Men’s National Team; it is the team that I am most passionate about/which I feel I am most knowledgeable about and can therefore contribute the most. As they do not play that often, there will be bits and pieces about any other Soccer I feel like writing about. That’s it.
US WCQ Update
Moving on, the US resumes qualifying a week from tomorrow in San Pedro Sula, Honduras against…naturally…Honduras. The full 22 man roster was released yesterday and can be found here, this also applies to the final qualifying match against Costa Rica on 10/14 in DC.
It seems that Stuart Holden has taken over Freddy Adu’s bench spot. An interesting turn of events for one of America’s all time overhyped athletes, although the kid does a great job of keeping his head on straight and working hard….at least his Twitter makes it seem like that. Ha.
No major surprise inclusions although it should be noted that Jay Demerit was left out due to a recent eye injury which has developed into an infection. He has been replaced by the 6’4” Clarence Goodson.
There is still no sign of Frankie Hejduk since his 87′ game saving goal in El Salvador. A little unfortunate considering the energy and veteran leadership he brings to this team. Not to mention the shaky situation in the back.
I am also dissapointed that BB didn’t choose this opportunity to at least bring the recently defected Edgar Castillo into camp.
A quick note….Edgar Castillo is a 22 y/o Mexican left back who has taken advantage of a recently changed FIFA ruling that loosens the restrictions on switching Nat’l Team affiliations. Since he never been capped for the Mexican Sr side, he was allowed to file paper work and become a member of the American squad regardless of his age. Previously the cutoff to declare was 21 y/o. Having been born in Las Cruces, NM to Mexican parental units, he is a natural American. Jermaine Jones is in a similar situation but in the midst of an extended injury absence.

Castillo provides another possible solution at Left Back for the US and you can naturally see why BB wouldn’t at least include him in camp to see how he would mesh with the rest of the squad. Come on BB, Edgar could be the best LB on the roster by next summer and with meaningful competition nearing its end, he should have at least been brought to camp.

Now that most of the American’s are well into their European campaigns, it will be interesting to see how they all come together for this key matchup. As we have seen, these Central American countries are very difficult places to play on the road. Adding to that, Honduras is currently in the 3rd and final guaranteed spot in CONCACAF having 13 pts from 8 matches, only 1 ahead of Costa Rica. Being the 4th place team means a home and home with the 5th place team from South America, a spot which could very well be an Argentinian squad which no one wants to face, no matter how badly they are struggling. Of the top 4 teams, in order, US, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica….none are in danger of missing out entirely but one of them will be forced to play for that final spot. With a W, the US rule that out…with an L, they are very much in the mix going into the final game against Costa Rica.
Every road trip the US has taken in this qualifying campaign has seen them put forth a poor performance. Whether it was a 1 goal victory against lowly T&T, a terrible performance at that Saprissa in CR, or a luckily salvaged tie in El Salvador this team has consistently failed to be at their best on the road. Whether its a lack of a vocal veteran presence or the pack the back and kick it forward coaching tactics which BB and co seem to resort to on the road, they need to put in a better performance next week. A tie would be acceptable, albeit not ideal, but a loss would put way too much pressure on themselves.
Some more commentary on the match itself coming later next week.
On another note, apparently this match will only be on closed circuit TV in the US. SeriouslY?! WTF? SUM? ESPN? GOLTV? FSC? Whoever dropped the ball clearly shit the bed here. Are we in 1983? this is absurd. For a list of locations (read: bars) showing the US v Honduras World Cup Qualifier on 10/10/09, click here. Apparently there is also a viewing party at the Play by Play bar inside MSG here in NYC, tickets are $20 (prior to stupid TicketMaster surchage) and are currently onsale. Details.
US U20
A few brief notes on the US Men’s U20 World Cup campaign in Egypt. I didn’t watch much besides the South Korea match today but the results are very schizo. Apparently they were totally outclassed by the Germans in the opener which was followed up by an excellent 4-1 win against Cameron and then today’s 3-0 defeat to S Korea. All is not lost as apparently a few of the top 3rd place group teams make the knockout round but they will have to wait till group play wraps up tomorrow to find out for sure.
In years past, players like Freddy Adu and Jozy Altidore have impressed the world and shown that at this level at least the US can compete with the world. No one in this class seems to have stepped up yet, although you never know what might happen. + I hear some good things about this kid Dilly Duka out of Montville, NJ.
Overall I think there are some issues with the talent development model in this country but that can be saved for another post.
This Weekend & Randoms
Not a great weekend in the EPL but Sunday morning brings us a delicious Liverpool v Chelsea matchup at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea started on fire but lost at Wigan last week while Liverpool took some time to get on track but have been firing away in the EPL the last few weeks. Both are coming off subpar midweek CL results, a L/absolute drubbing in Florence for the Reds and a measley 1-0 win in Romania (i think) for the Blues. Liverpool is the team which ended Chelsea’s 80-something home match unbeaten streak last season and has the confidence to know they can win. Can the recover from their poor midweek showing against a Chelsea team eager to get back to winning league games? 11 AM, Sunday AM, FSC. Watch.
A sickkkkkkk goal scored by a HS kid from Westport, CT. Credit to his coach, my friend and burgeoning mentor, Dan Woog.

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For the few of you out there who read this on any sort of a regular basis…I apologize but the kind of work they pay me for has been taking priority. A few noteworthy soccer events involving American’s happened this weekend and I had to share.

First and foremost…congrats to Jozy Altidore on making his EPL debut for Hull City and, impressively, contributing directly to the winner. Here’s the video w/his debut at 3:15:
It’s a great, creative thought/ball from Jozy to set up the winning goal, a side of his game which is there but which Jozy can only benefit from improving further; the thought is only half the battle, the skill to execute is just as vital and more impressive.
Check out 4:50 for a near miss from Altidore as well and 5:55 for another great chance.
A great debut, all the credit in the world to Jozy and most importantly congratulations.
Looking forward to the Aston Villa v Liverpool game this afternoon on ESPN2 in the states, 3PM EST. Liverpool has had two very different showings so far while Villa lost to an impressive Wigan side to start this season after an impressive 08/09 campaign. Anfield will be a tough place for them to get points but they have the offensive firepower to find the net once or twice. Word is that Yossi Benayoun is relishing his starting role and the energy he brings for 90′ is unrivaled, ‘Pool is at their best with him on the field.

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