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30 May 12:13 pm

For a change, it was the US national team coach's turn to tell someone else how to do their job.

In Tuesday afternoon's pregame press conference ahead of a massive match against Brazil, Jurgen Klinsmann on two separate occasions encouraged the Brazilian press on hand to support their national team. It was also an indirect message to the US soccer media on hand just before CONCACAF World Cup qualifying kicks off on June 8.

"[Mano Menezes, Brazilian national team manager] only has a chance to make that transition to integrate a new generation of players if he has the support by you — the Brazilian media, the Brazilian people," Klinsmann said in response to a question from a Brazilian reporter. "If you constantly doubt whatever he’s doing every game and every loss he has on the way to the World Cup in 2014, he’s going to have a really, really difficult time.

"I think you chose a very good coach and you have a very good coach and you've got to support him. So even if on the path to 2014 maybe it doesn’t work out perfectly, you have a new generation of players coming through. So I hope you give him the support and you don't doubt him every time maybe something goes wrong."

It brings up an interesting debate: Is the media's job to get behind their country's team? Or is the media's role to document, tell the story and analyze a situation when things go right and when they go wrong?

Fans of England's Three Lions may not want to read further. Klinsmann makes an example of the English national team to drive his point home later on in the press conference.
 
"It is very simple. In a soccer-driven country, which Brazil is, Argentina is, Germany is and England is, it all depends on how much you all go in the same direction," Klinsmann said when asked to share his experiences at the helm of Germany when that nation hosted the 2006 World Cup. "So you have two choices you can make: I support my team from a media perspective, too, or I given them trouble or give them doubts or give them nasty comments or whatever.

"If you look at England, England often beats itself. It's not the opponents necessarily. They make themselves so much problems they create before tournaments and you see how the last tournament went for then. So it’s the environment that you create. However, we were able to do that, the people started to be really positive [in Germany ahead of the 2006 World Cup]."

Does he have a point? The media has a role in the type of environment surrounding a sports team. But does the press really have any sort of moral obligation to their country?

30 May 11:00 am

Pour une équipe qui a des ambitions internationales, remporter la coupe de son pays est un chemin rapide pour accéder à la scène continentale. La Coupe des États-Unis ne fait pas exception.

Alors que le championnat est une épreuve d’endurance qui n’offre qu’une place en Ligue des champions (et deux autres aux finalistes de la Coupe MLS), il suffit de 5 rencontres à une équipe de MLS pour s’y qualifier via la coupe. On peut même y racheter sa saison, mais tout faux pas est interdit ! Le palmarès de cette vénérable épreuve presque centenaire montre toutefois qu’elle échappe rarement à un club de MLS depuis 1996.

Après deux tours qui ont opposé des équipes de divisions inférieures, les équipes de MLS entrent dans la danse cette semaine à l’occasion des seizièmes de finale. Toutes têtes de série, elles ne s’affrontent pas entre elles, ce qui n’a pas empêché 7 surprises à l’occasion des 14 rencontres disputées ce mardi. Pour les détails, voyez la couverture exhaustive offerte par mlssoccer.com.

Les supporters se passionnent aussi pour ce qu’on appelle le Petit poucet de la compétition, l’équipe de la division la plus faible. Au stade actuel, c’est le Cal FC (USASA), qui se déplace à Portland ce soir. Car les surprises font le charme de la coupe où, sur un seul match, les plus grands exploits sont possibles !

29 May 5:03 pm

Schellas Hyndman is not a man worth messing with. Fortunately for MLS fans, comprehensive video backing that assertion up pops up from time to time.

The latest proof that pushing Hyndman too far is a terrible, no good, very bad idea comes from this video of the FC Dallas manager dropping a grown man to his knees with barely a touch. Hyndman was taking part in a radio interview that turned from soccer to, apparently, submission moves, prompting the black belt to demonstrate on one of his interviewers.

In case you were unaware of the former SMU head coach’s martial arts prowess, read this story from 2008 detailing Hyndman’s upbringing and eventual status as a master of self-defense. It’s fascinating stuff.

And in case you need further proof, here is a well-worn video that cements Hyndman as MLS’ toughest head coach (you can skip ahead to the 16-second mark).

29 May 4:41 pm

La selección nacional de México jugará este jueves en el Soldier Field de Chicago (8 pm; TV: Univisión) ante un rival que ha de ser especial para el director técnico del Tri José Manuel de la Torre: Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Especial porque ese fue precisamente ese seleccionado que ‘El Chepo’ tuvo que enfrentar en su debut como mandamás de la selección mexicana el 9 de febrero, 2011 en el Georgia Dome de Atlanta.

A pesar de que el marcador terminó 2-0 a favor de México, algo para notar de ese partido fue la gran cantidad chances que el Chicharito, Dos Santos y sus compañeros se perdieron.

Ahora que van a Chicago, ¿Veremos mas contundencia del Tri o será mas bien una sorpresa?  

29 May 3:16 pm

Total Points – Dwayne De Rosario (89)

With Thierry Henry missing several weeks due to a hamstring injury, DeRo has taken over as the No. 1 player in Fantasy Soccer: Manager.  He’s had a weeks of 10, 15 and 20 points, and his most recent point output was the most by a single player thus far in 2012.  DeRo has 20+ more points than the next closest midfielder, making him a legitimate threat every week and a player you can build your team around.

Percentage Owned – Jay DeMerit (35.3)

DeMerit has been the most widely selected player in FS: M the entire season. Thirty-five percent of all managers currently have him on their roster. The second-closest player is Kenny Cooper (28 percent). At one point, DeMerit had the highest score of any defender, but lately he’s been slipping. D.C. United players Daniel Woolard and Brandon McDonald, Aurélien Colin, and even teammate Lee Young-Pyo have since leapfrogged DeMerit, so only time will tell if it’s his worldwide fame or his actual production that makes him the most “popular” player in MLS.

Crosses & Key Passes – Graham Zusi (33) & (34)

Zusi has calmed down slightly after a fast start, but his 33 crosses are still seven better than the next closest player. Three successful crosses equals one bonus point, so Zusi could’ve potentially gained an additional 11 points for his efforts thus far. He also leads the league in Key Passes (34) and has seven more than the next closest player in this category as well. Zusi should continue to be one of the most coveted midfielders due to his time on the ball and SKC’s all-out attack style offense.

Big Chances Fluffed – Dominic Oduro (7)

One of the fastest – if not the fastest – players in MLS has been a huge bust in 2012. In the four games in which Oduro has scored, he’s tallied six or more points each time. However, in every other game this season (eight games) he’s managed just two points or less. In his last seven games he’s put up one point or less on six different occasions. Oduro is getting great looks, but he’s missing every single one of them. He leads all players in BCFs and has been deducted seven points total because of it. At this point, he’s more of a risk than anything.

CBI’s – A.J. Soares (123)

My initial pick for Defender of the Year is not having a sophomore slump by any means. His 123 CBIs (clearances, blocks and interceptions combined) leads all players and he’ll likely widen the gap with two games coming up in Week 13. Only three other players have more than 100 CBIs and none of them will be under more pressure than Soares should the rest of the season. He’s an absolute ball shark, but has never really been a threat on set pieces. One can only hope that his recent goal will encourage Jay Heaps to push him up more often.

Recoveries – Osvaldo Alonso (136)

Disregarding goalkeepers, there’s a tight battle for the title of “the best second-ball winner” in MLS. Alonso currently leads Dax McCarty (133) by only three recoveries, but that’s pretty much his only competition. Kyle Beckerman has the third most with 100, and it looks as if his absence due to national team duty will only widen the margin. Alonso has gained 19 bonus points already from recoveries so expect him to keep this all season long.

Transfers In – Nick DeLeon (3,800+)

When David Estrada (3,500+ transfers) started cooling down, DeLeon became all the talk. The D.C. United rookie is currently the most added player with over 3,800 transfers. His value started at $5.5m and quickly made its way to $6.8m. Now that he’s back from injury don’t expect him to return to his previous form. When DeLeon was clicking, DeRo and Salihi were in a slump. Now that they’re back in form, expect DeLeon to take a back seat. He’s still valuable, but not as much as he was back in April.

Dream Team – Kenny Cooper (4)

No one has made the “Dream Team” more times this season than Kenny Cooper, but you have to credit Thierry Henry with helping him reach this point. Coop-dog has scored six or more points on nine different occasions in 2012, making him one of the most consistent forwards in MLS. He continued to put up numbers even when Henry was out, so look for him to only get better now that he’s returned.

29 May 2:39 pm

Auteur d’un magnifique but samedi dernier contre l’Écosse, Michael Bradley s’est une fois plus fait remarquer positivement par les nombreux clubs qui le convoitent.

Toujours sous contrat au Chievo Vérone, l’international américain peut partir pour une somme que les médias italiens estiment entre 2,5 et 4,5 millions d’euros (3,2 à 5,6 millions de dollars). Le directeur sportif du club déclare d’ailleurs que « la possibilité de le voir sous le maillot de Chievo la saison prochaine est vraiment faible ».

Le milieu de terrain est cité dans plusieurs clubs italiens. La Gazzetta dello Sport mentionne le nom de Palerme, mais ceux qui reviennent le plus souvent sont l’AS Rome et Naples. Toutefois, il pourrait bien prendre la direction d’Anderlecht, qui pense à remplacer l’international argentin Lucas Biglia, annoncé en partance.

L’information annoncée en Italie par Tuttosport et en Belgique par Het Laatste Nieuws est relayée par de nombreux médias. Le site officiel du championnat de Belgique (l’équivalent de mlssoccer.com) mentionne même que son agent dément les contacts avec Rome et Naples, et confirme des discussions de longue date avec Anderlecht.

En signant chez le champion de Belgique, Bradley y deviendrait coéquipier d’un autre international américain, Sacha Kljestan.

28 May 10:01 pm

I don't have the words to explain how cool this is. I'm sure you understand.

28 May 11:37 am

Aux deux extrémités du classement, Kansas City et Toronto ont remporté une victoire très attendue qui leur échappait depuis longtemps.

Fatigué par un programme chargé, San José n’a pu retourner une situation difficile une fois de plus, sur le terrain d’une équipe de Kansas City où CJ Sapong a retrouvé le chemin des filets grâce aux souliers de Kei Kamara.

Tenu en échec à Chivas USA, Seattle est l’autre ténor à réaliser la mauvaise opération du jour et peut remercier David Estrada qui lui permet de rester invaincu en déplacement. Malgré un goût de trop peu, DC United a confirmé sa forme resplendissante à domicile. Salt Lake, privé de nombreux titulaires, a souffert mais gagné contre Dallas, dont l’entraîneur cherche du positif dans un bilan de 1 sur 18.

Rien ne va plus non plus au LA Galaxy, qui a également pris un point en six rencontres, et qui met sa défaite à Houston sur le compte de la chaleur et de l’humidité. Les Texans ont pris leur revanche de la Coupe MLS grâce à André Hainault, qui a fêté son retour de la plus belle des manières.

La seule équipe de bas de classement à s’être imposée est Toronto, qui a enfin pris ses premiers points de la saison grâce à l’apport de son duo néerlandais en fin de match.

LES RÉSULTATS
Houston - LA Galaxy
Toronto - Philadelphie
Columbus - Chicago
DC United - New England
Salt Lake - Dallas
Colorado - Montréal
Portland - Vancouver
Chivas USA - Seattle
Kansas City - San José

2-1
1-0
2-1
3-2
3-2
3-2
1-1
1-1
2-1
Cliquez sur un résultat pour voir le résumé vidéo

 

27 May 3:16 pm

Mea culpa.

I owe Jurgen Klinsmann that much after panning his lineup before the match, since it was chock-full of central/defensive midfielders. I worried that they would spend 90 minutes bumping into each other and checking back to the ball instead of finding gaps and exploiting them at pace. My worries were, as it turns out, totally unfounded.

A few things:

The formation was a 4-3-2-1

It's called the "Christmas Tree," and like most tactical innovations, it was brought to us by the Italians. The strength of it lies in having a pure d-mid — in this case Maurice Edu, and later Kyle Beckerman — sweeping directly in front of the backline. This both protects the somewhat fragile US central defense (still the area of main concern) and allows the other central midfielders to push forward both with and without the ball.

Edu wasn't flashy, then, but he was effective. And with Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones pushing up, Scotland hardly had time to breathe when they were trying to play out of the back.

Offensively, the width was usually provided by overlapping fullbacks, which allowed Landon Donovan and Jose Torres to help crowd the midfield, forcing turnovers and moving quickly into space. In a 4-3-3 (which is what Scotland played — and they did so without a true ball-winner, which is suicide), they would have started much wider.

Boyd's off-the-ball movement was stellar

The other thing that made the formation work was Terrence Boyd's unselfish running. He looked like a more athletic (and far less polished) version of Conor Casey out there, and the similarity is no accident: Like Casey, Boyd has spent time learning in the Borussia Dortmund system, one where the center forward is expected to do as much work creating space off the ball as he does with it.

The best example of that came in the 11-pass sequence that led to Donovan's shot off the post in the 50th minute. Instead of showing for the ball, Boyd cut diagonally through the box, dragging two defenders with him and opening the lane for another touch and that cheeky cut-back shot.

If it had gone in, Boyd wouldn't have gotten an assist—- or any note in the box score at all. But it was a huge, heady, veteran play from him.

And hardly the only example on the night. His activity opened space for Bradley's golazo, and he was instrumental in forcing the early turnover to make it 1-0.

Wide play is a concern heading into the Brazil match

The weakness of the formation, of course, is that you give up a lot of width. Yes, Donovan and Torres pulled a bit wider on defense than in attack, but the few times Scotland got by them, there were acres of space to exploit. That's when the Scots were very dangerous — and where the goal came from. Geoff Cameron gets the blame, but it was a central midfield miscommunication that left Bardsley wide open to pick his spot for the cross once he was past Torres.

This was somewhat of a recurring theme throughout the evening. It's also a real worry because neither Steve Cherundolo nor Fabian Johnson are great 1-v-1 defenders, and because Brazil love to overload the flanks.

Landon Donovan never wanted to be Batman

He wanted to be Robin. I don't doubt for a minute the sincerity of the interview he gave last week, but I think the underlying cause is what's telling.

Donovan has worn a heavy mantle during the last 10 years, almost always regarded as the US' best player. The fact that the team and the league have progressed so dramatically with him as the focal point says something about his talent.

But as soon as the pressure's off, as soon as it's someone else's team, he starts playing without the weight of expectations. We've seen it at Everton, we've seen it in flashes over the last three years since Clint Dempsey has started to really challenge for the mantle of "Best US Player," and we definitely saw it Saturday night.

Expect more of the same for as long as people are saying this is Dempsey's team. Landon seems totally at ease with the notion, and when he's feeling like that, the scoreboard tends to light up.

26 May 11:13 pm

Here's a look at the first two goals from the US national team's 5-1 romp over Scotland on Saturday night in Jacksonville, Fla. More to come thoughout the night, but also make sure to check out the recap and final stats here.

WATCH: Donovan puts US up early

WATCH: Bradley's half-volley from distance

WATCH: Donovan gets his second

WATCH: Donovan finishes his hat trick

WATCH: Jones completes the rout