Player ratings are to soccer what box scores always were to baseball: the essential starting point from which to launch most discussion.
Here are Travis Clark’s player ratings last night from Top Drawer Soccer.
These can be tricky, and here’s a good reason why: What do you give U.S. center backs Perry Kitchen and Ike Opara? On the one hand, Thursday’s night at LP Field finished in a shutout, with very little for goalkeeper Bill Hamid to do. Still, Opara was had once by Michael Chang, who was Cuba’s only danger man in the attacking third. Kitchen also had his iffy moments with Chang.
The night didn’t demand better from them, but matches ahead certainly will. So I’d say the “6” for both U.S. central defenders, above average but not by much, was spot-on.
Clark saw just a little more in Freddy Adu’s night than I did. Adu’s free kicks and corner kicks were sharp (certainly better than some of Mix Diskerud’s efforts from the corner arch.) But he was a little tame in the run of play. I’m not saying Adu played poorly, not by any stretch. I just suspect there’s more ahead, and that he might have done a little more to cut up a Cuban defense that offered all the resistance of mushy fruit.
I also thought Diskerud’s passing and possession in midfield easily mitigated those underwhelming corner kicks. Clark assigned a “6,” mostly nicking the U.S. midfielder due to those sloppy restarts.I might have gone a notch higher.
Clark, who has monitored the U.S. under-23s as well as anyone in U.S. media, far as I can tell, raved about Joe Corona. Who could argue that? It was a night of quality linking play and even higher-quality finishing.
Here are Soccer America’s rankings for the compare-and-contrast thing.
Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.
Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]
A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.
The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:
The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.
The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.
Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops again ]
The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.
The U.S. took that lead into halftime.
Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.
Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.
Craig Shakespeare had a pretty strong opening bow as interim Leicester City boss, with the Foxes climbing out of the drop zone after a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool on Monday.
Now Leicester has to figure out, at least in the short-term, if Shakespeare is capable of more.
[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]
It’s not unusual for a club to respond to a manager change. Hull City was buoyed by some early season results and stuck with Mike Phelan in a move that didn’t work out well. Garry Monk was given the reigns of Swans soon after winning the South Wales Derby, and enjoyed a good reign in Swansea.
Here’s what Shakespeare had to say after Monday’s win, from the BBC. He sounds more Nigel Pearson than Claudio Ranieri.
“You could tell from the word go there was intensity and passion.
“All credit to the fans tonight. I think there was a worry in some quarters about how they would react but they were outstanding.
“The professionalism of the players has never been questioned by me. Having taken training with them, I know the criticism has hurt and perhaps there was a little more fire in the belly because of that.
“They know they are guilty of under performing but this is only one result and we must build on that.”
Leicester hosts Hull City next weekend, and then has 10 days before its UEFA Champions League second leg against Sevilla. Should Shakespeare be given the chance to make history?
A desperate Leicester City battered Liverpool at the King Power Stadium on Monday, leaving Reds boss Jurgen Klopp to question how his side lost to another relegation candidate.
That’s four teams in the Bottom Seven to beat the Reds this season, and the fifth is 11th place Burnley.
[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]
Klopp said he could explain the loss in German, but the challenge of doing it in English was proving difficult.
“The language issues always come a little bit more when you have to explain defeats and it’s really difficult to find the right words. It was not an over aggressive game from Leicester. Even for this level we were not physical enough today.”
Liverpool did look soft without midfielder Jordan Henderson, and did have multiple midfielders in the back line with Lucas Leiva at center back and James Milner on the right.
But moreover, the players failed to follow some of Klopp’s guidelines. For example, Christian Fuchs was able to launch several of his big throws into the 18. One helped Leicester to a goal.
“We gave throw-ins away like we never spoke about it. It does not make much sense to give away 20 throw-ins to Fuchs from that position.”
It wasn’t good enough, and it’s baffling to see Liverpool this season. A club that took four of six points from Chelsea has lost to a quartet of relegation battlers. This isn’t good.