Paul Mariner is tasked with slowing down Liverpool FC on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he isn't averse to sharing a few pointers with a fellow English No. 9.
Andy Carroll's future with the Reds may be in doubt – rumors have been swirling about his future under Brendan Rodgers, with a return to Newcastle gaining the most momentum – but Mariner didn't hold back when asked what advice he would give the 23-year-old striker.
A former England international and target forward back in his day, Mariner drew on his own experiences to identify a weak point in Carroll's game.
“I learned from a very early age that if you want to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to be very consistent and you’ve got to have tremendous movement," Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. "In the old days, when defenders could come through the back of you, if you stood still, you were absolutely stupid because you wouldn’t last two minutes on the football pitch. You had to be constantly on the move.”
And how would Mariner apply that lesson with Carroll? As it turns out, with a little help from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Andy's an unbelievably imposing figure. He can strike fear in any defense. The one bit of advice that I would give Andy is that when he’s in the box I’ve noticed he’s just a bit static," Mariner said. "He’s got such tremendous ability. One of the greatest players that I saw in the modern era was Klinsmann. Klinnsman in the box was unbelievable.
"I remember one of the first goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. He basically made a step in front of the defender, then stepped out, the ball was delivered and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net. I’m only talking about a yard or half a yard, not massive distances. You’ve just got to unsettle the defenders when the ball is coming into the box. If Andy was to do that, then he’s very difficult to stop.”
Of course, Toronto FC fans will hope Carroll doesn't heed that advice come Saturday afternoon.
If you haven't already, give this morning's OPTA Spotlight on Danny Koevermans and his contributions to Toronto FC over the past year a quick read.
Here are some diagrams (the first a plot of the result of each of his shots this season and the second a map of his shots on target) that show how Koevermans has scored each of his nine goals in 2012. As you can see, he's almost exclusively been a poacher that relies on proximity to goal rather than pinpoint finishing to be successful.
Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
Cette semaine, les trois mousquetaires de l’émission (à écouter ici) sont quatre, puisque Patrick Leduc, consultant sur la chaîne de télévision RDS, les accompagne pour un Coup Franc presque totalement consacré aux trois clubs canadiens :
- Tous ont fait le grand ménage : Montréal s’est départi de Braun, Wahl et Montaño, Toronto a envoyé De Guzman, Plata et Soolsma sous d’autres cieux, alors que Chiumiento et Le Toux ont quitté Vancouver. Lequel a réalisé les meilleures opérations ?
- Lequel des trois clubs est en meilleure posture, cette saison et à plus long terme ?
- Pourquoi le changement soudain de philosophie à Vancouver, qui prend un virage écossais ? Les amateurs de beau jeu doivent-ils s’inquiéter ?
- Martin Rennie est-il toujours maître à bord ?
- Toronto se portera-t-il mieux sans De Guzman ? Y attendait-on trop de lui ?
- La blessure de Koevermans n'est-elle finalement pas la plus grande perte pour le TFC ?
- Di Vaio n’a pas encore marqué pour Montréal (revoir sa grosse occasion à Philadelphie) : le doute s’installe-t-il ?
- Dans quelle logique s’inscrivent les récents départs à l’Impact ?
- Lequel des entraîneurs restera en poste le plus longtemps ?
- San José - Salt Lake : un sommet à sens unique.
De nombreuses questions auxquelles nous tentons de répondre, mais nous aimerions aussi recevoir votre opinion. N’hésitez pas à nous l’envoyer par courriel (coup.franc@MLSsoccer.com) ou sur Twitter (@CoupFrancMLS). N’oubliez pas non plus de nous envoyer vos compositions pour le générique de l’émission.
L'émission Coup Franc est disponible sur iTunes.
Julian de Guzman appears to be on his way out of Toronto after four years spent as one of the biggest names on the Reds’ roster.
Sportsnet in Canada is reporting that de Guzman has been traded to FC Dallas, although it’s unclear exactly what head coach Paul Mariner’s club will get in return for one of their three Designated Players.
De Guzman has appeared in 65 games for Toronto since signing as the first Designated Player in club history in 2009. Read the report here.
La finale de la Coupe des États-Unis, programmée de longue date à Kansas City, opposera le Sporting local à Seattle, triple tenant du titre. L’affiche rêvée !
Lors des demi-finales programmées ce mercredi, Kansas City s’est imposé 0-2 à Philadelphie, vengeant le cinglant 4-0 concédé en championnat il y a quelques semaines, alors que Seattle a confirmé son retour en forme en battant Chivas USA 4-1. Mais Sigi Schmid ne sera heureux qu’en cas de victoire lors de la finale, le 8 août. Rappelons que le vainqueur décrochera aussi un ticket pour la Ligue des champions 2013-2014.
La journée a également été très animée du côté nord de la frontière. On a commencé par des transferts : Davide Chiumiento quitte Vancouver pour le FC Zurich, Justin Braun rejoint Salt Lake et quitte Montréal qui s’est renforcé avec l’arrière gauche suisse Dennis Iapichino, alors que Toronto se sépare de Nick Soolsma et prête Joao Plata.
En soirée, le duel entre les Ontariens et leurs compatriotes du Pacifique a eu des allures de feu d’artifice (résumé vidéo complet). Le marquoir indiquait 2-1 à la fin du temps réglementaire, avant que Mattocks n’égalise de la tête suite à une détente digne de la NBA. Mais tard dans les arrêts de jeu, Dunfield a offert les trois points au TFC.
Joao Plata was at the "White House" on Friday afternoon and his former club in Toronto couldn't seem any farther away.
Although there has been no official word from Toronto FC, the Reds fan favorite was holding up a Liga de Quito jersey in a press conference held at the Ecuadorian club's Casa Blanca, where reports indicate he will remain through the end of the year.
Plata returned to Ecuador earlier this week unbeknownst to TFC, who were expecting him to show up to practice earlier this week although they admit they were investigating a potential loan deal with his former club.
The 20-year-old did not appear under new Toronto manager Paul Mariner, who took over for Aron Winter, and Plata told FutbolMLS.com earlier this week that he did not figure in the Englishman's plans.
But they were happy to have him in Ecuador, if this photo from Friday is any indication.
— Jonni Martinez (@DJJonniM) July 6, 2012
There's like a 99 percent chance that, if you're reading this blog post, you also watched the 2012 European Championship final between Spain and Italy.
It was awesome. Even if you had no rooting interest (full disclosure: I'm a quarter Italian, but was pulling for Spain), it's hard not to get caught up when the stakes are that high and the quality of soccer on display matches it.
And it just kills me that CONCACAF and CONMEBOL can't figure out a way to get a "Copa Américas" up and running every four years, starting immediately after the Euros. What an incredible opportunity the two confederations are missing.
Hopefully someday, they'll figure it out.
Anyway, only one real observation this week...
Scoring keeps going up and up and up
OK, now that you've read it, you know that teams are passing more, passing more accurately, passing more aggressively, and as a result (we assume), scoring more. Before this week scoring was already up 12 percent over last season's pace. That will have gone up some more, since in Week 17's 10-game slate there were 34 total goals.
And it's not just a blip. Since the end of the international break, MLS clubs have produced 100 goals in 33 games (thanks to Greg Lalas for that little tidbit).
It's the reversal of a 10-year trend. Back in 2001 MLS averaged 3.28 goals per game; by 2010, that was down to 2.46. Here's the whole table:
2011 -- 2.58
2010 -- 2.46
2009 -- 2.54
2008 -- 2.81
2007 -- 2.66
2006 -- 2.62
2005 -- 2.87
2004 -- 2.61
2003 -- 2.89
2002 -- 3.01
2001 -- 3.28
2000 -- 3.19
1999 -- 2.86
1998 -- 3.57*
1997 -- 3.26
1996 -- 3.37
The key thing here isn't just that MLS have imported guys like Thierry Henry (one of the league's elite finishers) and David Beckham (one of the league's elite chance creators). The league's also kept guys like Dwayne De Rosario and Brad Davis, who've both had overseas interest; they've developed highly rated talents like Chris Pontius and Will Bruin, who've both been given plenty of time to figure out where the net is; and, of course, used the Reserve League to help build Chris Wondolowski, who's turning into one of MLS' all-time greats.
It's a multi-faceted approach to finding and cultivating talent, and the numbers say it's working.
* For those of you who don't remember 1998 for one reason or another ... yes, that season was as crazy as the numbers indicate. Go find some YouTube clips of that year's Galaxy squad — it'll be worth your time.
Nous sommes le 27 juin, date importante puisque c’est l’ouverture de ce qu’on appelle communément le mercato, c’est-à-dire la période de transferts de mi-saison. Dès aujourd’hui, et jusqu’au 27 juillet, les 19 équipes de MLS peuvent se renforcer avec des joueurs évoluant à l’étranger.
Certaines n’ont pas attendu avant d’annoncer l’arrivée de nouveaux éléments, mais ceux-ci ne pouvaient pas jouer en match officiel avant aujourd’hui. C’est le cas notamment de Jairo Arrieta (Columbus), Oscar Boniek Garcia (Houston) et Marco Di Vaio (Montréal). Philadelphie a aussi annoncé l’arrivée de l’international malien Bakary Soumare.
Quelles équipes ont selon vous besoin de renfort, et à quelle position ? Qui peut d’ores et déjà s’en servir pour préparer 2013 plutôt que pour réussir 2012 ? Quels joueurs désignés joindront les rangs de la MLS dans les prochaines semaines ?
Le premier à l’œuvre sera Di Vaio, puisque Montréal affronte Toronto dès ce soir (19h30). Une raison parmi d’autres de se déplacer au stade Saputo. Selon l’Impact, le TFC est un « ours qui dort ». Va-t-il marquer quatre buts à domicile pour une troisième fois consécutive face à un adversaire qui se cherche un leader en défense ?
Notez pour conclure que les belles histoires des équipes de divisions inférieures ont pris fin hier en Coupe des États-Unis, dont les demi-finalistes sont Philadelphie, Kansas City, Chivas USA et Seattle.
I just went 2/9 on my weekend picks. This was after going 2/6 midweek.
It’s not because I’m bad at picking games (though lord knows, I’m not good), but it’s because the parity in MLS is just that hard to get a handle on these days. This is a league where players like Branko Boskovic and Chris Rolfe come off the bench, where Danny Koevermans goes from misfiring back to deadeye, and where a nine-point week is enough to vault you back into the playoff race.
Turns out the Galaxy aren’t dead yet
Sorry, I know this is going to annoy a lot of you. It’s always fun to try to shovel dirt on the champs – doubly so when it’s a high-profile team.
But it turns out that was premature. LA just rattled off three straight wins, including two by shutout. It’s too early to say they’ve returned to their 2011 form, but it’s also clearly too late to take back all the nasty stuff we’ve said about them over the past couple of months.
One thing to bear in mind: David Beckham said it came down to being happy and loose in the locker room, and that it’s cleared up only in the past couple of weeks. So whatever it was that was eating away at LA’s commitment went away when Robbie Keane did. Will it return now that he has?
“Emergency Defender” proving a rock in Philly
Last week John Hackworth said that youngster Amobi Okugo would be playing in central defense for the time being as an emergency measure. If his first two games there are any indication, he may never get a chance to move back to the midfield.
Okugo is simply excellent when the game is being played in front of him, showing good anticipation and understanding of both when and how to play outlets to the midfield. He’s also big and strong enough (6-foot, 170 pounds) to bully around in the box when it comes down to that.
Most importantly, though, he’s just a better player when he doesn’t have to have 360 degree awareness. This isn’t unusual – d-mids tend to mature later than other players precisely because it’s such a complex position.
But Philly already have two veterans (Brian Carroll and Gabriel Gomez) for that spot, and are paper-thin in defense. And the US… well, we know all about the plethora of defensive-minded central midfielders available to Jurgen Klinsmann.
There are, however, precious few young central defenders who’ve impressed on a game-to-game basis. Okugo’s off to a good start in that regard. Let’s hope he stays there, and we see a bit of him in the red, white and blue this January.
Why not build more Gordons?
Alan Gordon didn’t just become a good soccer player overnight. He’s always had a great passing eye, a good understanding of where to be in build-up play and a willingness to stick his nose in. Even if he’s not a 90-minute player, he’s still valuable. The past two months – and past two games especially – have been proof enough of that.
The thing is, though, that Gordon (and his teammate Steven Lenhart) were built by years of practice and occasional game time. Each of them took several years to get up to speed, and now the Quakes are reaping the rewards of both LA’s and Columbus’ hard work.
Which begs the question: Why don’t more teams take on young guys like Gordon and Lenhart then groom them for that specific role? While combing through MLS rosters, the only ones I’ve seen who are really, truly doing that are Columbus (with Tom Heinemann and Aaron Schoenfeld), Houston (Cam Weaver and Colin Rolfe) and New England (Blake Brettschneider).
None of these guys are truly ready right now – though Brettschneider is close, and Heinemann would have gotten there this season if not for his injury – but in two years, all of these guys can be looked at as Gordon or Lenhart-types.
Or, if you want to go with the original model: Brian Ching-types.
So yeah, putting a guy like that – a true center forward – out there may not be what Vicente del Bosque would do. But no MLS team is going to have Xavi, Iniesta, Silva, Fabregas and Busquets to call on. If you’re not Spain, chances are you’ll need a target.
I’d want my team already hard at work making one.