If we're going to insist on taking just one of either Dempsey or Donovan, then I think it's pretty clear which one deserves the nod. It's Landon.
Lebron James once famously said that if he really wanted to, he could win the NBA scoring title every year. (He also said he'd win a million championships with the Heat, but I'll give the King the benefit of the doubt.) The implication was that doing so wouldn't give his team the best chance to win. The King has put his money where his mouth his by providing an average of 7+ assists per game in every season since 2007, and despite his well-publicized struggles in the playoffs, you can't argue with his regular season success.
On the other side, I've been at Madison Square Garden when Carmelo Anthony takes over the fourth quarter of a game, and when he gets going, he doesn't miss. Like, ever. But 'Melo isn't exactly known for his ability to spread the ball around. He's also not in the conversation for "best player in basketball."
Here's my knock on Dempsey: Like 'Melo, the dude doesn't pass. He breaks ankles and scores goals. He scores scrappy goals; see US vs. Panama, 6/22/11. He scores wonder goals; see Fulham vs. Juventus, 3/18/10. But for the US - a team that has been loudly and repeatedly criticized for lacking creativity - that's not enough.
Donovan is a game changer. Period. He does what Dempsey cannot in making everybody around him a better player. And that's the point: the Greats make others around them great.
Like Lebron, Landon has his detractors. Unlike Lebron, he's done enough to shut up his critics. He was the best US player at the 2010 World Cup. He's won in MLS. He's done well in his last two stints abroad. And his ability to pick out a pass separates him from Dempsey in his ability to break down defenses. That makes him the more dangerous and, to me, more valuable player in terms of what a team needs.
The crabs vs. wolf debate on ExtraTime Radio has reached a new level, and Simon and I haven't even gone on our man-date to see The Grey yet.
If you haven't been listening, the debate for the last few weeks has been whether or not you'd choose to fight 300 crabs or one wolf.
We've weighed in, the listeners have offered their thoughts, and now there's some actual proof that four guys with microphones are indeed mightier than 300 of Alaska's finest fighting crustaceans (crabs are crustaceans, right? Just checking)
A listener sent this image in to us after some heavy duty (and top notch) photoshop work. You can check out his Off The Laces blog here. Nice work.
Has there been a more compelling storyline in 2012 than the intrigue surrounding the Philadelphia Union forward corps?
When Peter Novak drafted UCLA striker Chandler Hoffman in the SuperDraft a lot of people either scratched their heads or surmised that Danny Mwanga was on his way out of Chester. But then Sebastien Le Toux turns up on TV one morning seated next to Tim Ream behind the Bolton bench and just like that opinion shifts to Le Toux being the one with his bags packed.
But like any good drama, take HBO's A Game of Thrones for instance, there has to be a plot twist to keep it interesting, keep everyone on their toes. Today we received two of them: Bolton boss Owen Coyle signaling the end of his interest in Le Toux and news that Mwanga is off on what seems like an oddly-late training stint with Aston Villa.
I love the intrigue, I really do, but what's really going on in PA? Is it that Philadelphia is no longer big enough for the two of them? Is there a tactical switch on the horizon that requires some personnel shuffling? Maybe Novak is ready to throw Hoffman into the deep end?
I can't say what's going on in the heads of the Union technical staff but that shouldn't stop you from taking a guess at what they're thinking; let us know your thoughts on Philly's Game of Forwards in the comments below. I'll go get the popcorn, let me know if anyone gets the Ned Stark treatment while I'm away.
We've heard rumors of this in recent weeks, apparently it's true. Is this odd timing, considering the preseason is underway?
— Richard Motzkin (@RichardMotzkin) January 27, 2012
The picture above is from the 2010 World Cup but it speaks to today's must-see TV event: the FA Cup face-off between Landon Donovan's Everton and Clint Dempsey's Fulham (FSC 3pm ET). And just to sweeten the pot, FSC will broadcast the match in HD with "Uncle" JP Dellacamera and Eric Wynalda on the call for this unmissable dual between these USMNT stars.
So if you haven't already called out to work today...DO. IT. NOW. Unless you work somewhere where they don't care or encourage you to watch soccer like the MLS Digital office or in a bar. Surprisingly, both have beer but I think MLSsoccer.com might actually have more flatscreens than a lot of places you go to watch soccer these days; 1-nil to MLSsoccer.com.
If internet fan forums and Google translate are to be believed, ex-FC Dallas and Toronto FC striker Peri Marosevic has landed himself a trial with Silkeborg IF of the Danish Superliga. The Jutlanders - who are comfortably mid-table with 26 points from 18 games - have a host of players in for a look as they gear up for the second half of the season. (SIF4ever.dk - 1/26/2012)
This just goes to show you that, if the opposition can sell the alleged infraction, you will always get a card even if the referee is not watching.
All the questions you ever wanted to ask Steve Zakuani.
What did he say to Brian Mullan? How close did he come to the end of his career? Did they actually consider amputating his leg when things got really bad?
And don’t miss when LA Galaxy manager Bruce Arena sounds off on Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey, Omar Gonzalez and Jurgen Klinsmann’s quest to find the American style of soccer.
If you include the Tim Ream transfer to Bolton Wanderers, the New York Red Bulls have arguably executed the three shrewdest business transactions in MLS history.
The club transferred Tim Howard to Manchester United for a reported $4 million, Jozy Altidore to Villarreal for a widely cited figure of $10 million and now Ream for a fee placed at $3 million. The return on investment for each player is stunning.
It’s a transfer sum that should serve as a strong reminder to Erik Soler, Hans Backe and NYRB brass, who have lately been criticized for preferring the international player over up-and-coming young Americans. They have even outwardly expressed their views on the SuperDraft and lack of impact prospects they believe are available. That was not the rationale employed just a short time ago in the case of Howard (assigned to NY in 1998), Altidore (No. 17 draft pick in 2006) and Ream (No. 18 pick in 2010).
That trio weren’t the finished product when they joined the club, but they were shown confidence and allowed to play and make their share of mistakes. Today’s club is reticent to do that with national team regular Juan Agudelo, although, ironically, he may very well be the source of the next massive transfer.
Just days after trading another SuperDraft pick for Kenny Cooper (their first-rounder in 2013) and publicly stating their intention of adding another international to fill Ream’s shoes – Wilman Conde is the name that comes up – the Ream deal should come as a wake-up call.
The Red Bulls are probably waiting until further investment in their academy can produce "higher quality" talent that’s ready to play immediately. But why wait? These talents can also develop on the MLS stage NOW if given the chance. It’s time to renew that commitment to American college and academy products and in some cases give them playing time ahead of the internationals.
History has shown – it’s good business.
Who says you can't go home again?
Former Vancouver Whitecaps DP Mustapha Jarju is returning to the scene of his greatest successes as a footballer: RAEC Mons. The Gambian international scored 34 goals in 99 league matches for the Belgian club between 2008-11. He scored none in 10 appearances for the 'Caps, a record which didn't quite inspire new manager Martin Rennie to keep him around for a second year.