- Los Angeles Galaxy’s Josh Saunders
Rationale, motive and intent: Omar Cummings’ penalty kick left so much to be desired, but it still needed quality work to be saved, and Saunders was up for the job. He was also sure-handed as the Rapids’ kept up the pressure but couldn’t squeeze an equalizer past Los Angeles’ last line of defense.
- San Jose’s Steven Beitashour
- Houston’s Bobby Boswell
- D.C. United’s Emiliano Dudar
- Chicago’s Gonzalo Segares
Rationale, motive and intent: Beitashour is a recurring name in this spot for 2012; he’s having a great season. (Same can be said for everyone along San Jose’s back line.) “Beta” had two assists in a big 3-1 win over Real Salt Lake. Geoff Cameron wasn’t at his best along Houston’s back line, but Boswell was Bobby on the Spot when it mattered as Houston just keeps finding the points on this extended road stretch. Chris Pontius’ hat trick may have overshadowed Dudar’s return to the RFK back line, but don’t underestimate how much he added to the result (because as bad as the New York defense was, this one still could have been one of those wild, 4-4 shootouts if United’s rear guard wasn’t ready for the Red Bull’s stacked attack).
- Columbus’ Eddie Gaven
- Portland’s Diego Chara
- Philadelphia’s Michael Farfan
Rationale, motive and intent: Gaven, given more attacking’ freedom in a playmaker’s role for Columbus, sparkled in a 2-2 draw. Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall could probably heard Gaven’s lash from beyond the penalty area more than he saw it. Farfan has been playing well for Philly, and Saturday was no different. Freddy Adu got the fancy backheel goal, but watch the video below as Farfan creates the chance with some incredibly crafty and skillful dribbling inside the home team’s 18. Chara was good in possession against Sporting Kansas City, and that’s harder than it sounds against the Eastern leader’s high-pressure ways.
- D.C. United’s Chris Pontius
- San Jose’s Khari Stephenson
- Chicago’s Patrick Nyarko
Rationale, motive and intent: Pontius’ good work has been well-covered at PST; read all about it here and here. Stephenson’s contribution in the win over nine-man Real Salt Lake was a goal and an assist. As for Chicago’s 3-2 win over Toronto, either Nyarko or teammate Dominic Oduro could have been picked; they both were skillful in the counter attack against a TFC arrangement that was set up perfectly to be picked apart by it.
(Michael Farfan sets the table for Freddy Adu …):
John Terry is the last of the old guard at Chelsea, and club legend Frank Lampard thinks he deserves to stay at Stamford Bridge.
Speaking with the web site ShortList.com, Lampard also said he’d welcome the defender to Major League Soccer with open arms, and checkbook.
[ MORE: Premier League’s Top Five story lines for Week 26 ]
Saying he’d “I’ll get his plane ticket and get him over here,” the New York City FC midfielder called Terry “quite comfortably” the best defender he’d ever played with during his career.
“What John offers is a link with the fans and an appreciation of the young players who he would want to help come through. He’s Mr Chelsea. Those are the sorts of players you need at the club. Without telling the club what to do, I think Chelsea are looking to change the old nucleus we had, what with myself, Ashley [Cole], Didier [Drogba] and Petr [Cech] gone, John’s almost the last one standing. But I don’t think he’s going to be an issue with that – he’ll even help the transition with helping the younger players.”
Even given Terry’s dicey at times off-field reputation, there’s merit to that story (After all, you can’t be okay with Ryan Giggs guiding the youth of Manchester and opposed to Terry leading at the Bridge).
As for MLS, plenty of England’s old guard is here already. From the 2010 World Cup roster alone, Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard are in L.A., Lampard’s in New York City, and Shaun Wright-Phillips is with RBNY. That’s already half the number of U.S. players in MLS who played in the 2010 tournament.
Another member of FIFA’s embattled corps has learned his punishment for egregious ethics violations.
Jerome Valcke, the longtime secretary general of football’s governing body, is going to be away from the game for 12 years, banned from the sport by FIFA’s independent ethics committee.
[ MORE: Hiddink comments on USMNT’s Miazga, center back crisis ]
The 12 years are less than a lifetime but more than the recommended nine years. Valcke was dismissed from his post in January.
From the BBC:
The decision has been made by Fifa’s independent ethics committee following allegations of potential misconduct related to sales of World Cup tickets.
During the investigations, several other acts of potential misconduct arose, including travel expenses policies and regulations.
Valcke’s ban is four years longer than the ones issued to Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini.
Sam Allardyce knows a relegation battle when he sees one, and even an injury crisis has him nervous about using inexperienced USMNT right back DeAndre Yedlin.
The speedy American wingback is on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, and Sunderland’s table position has its manager wondering if he can afford to use the 22-year-old.
[ MORE: Hiddink comments on USMNT’s Miazga, center back crisis ]
Billy Jones is injured, and the Black Cats did not firm up their right back depth in the transfer window. Ex-Celtic back Adam Matthews is among the other options, and played 150 times for the Bhoys.
And Yedlin had just 56 professional appearances and was less than three years removed from two years at Akron when he moved to London.
From the Sunderland Echo:
“We’ve got Billy who has a lot of experience, and obviously we’ve got DeAndre, who has very little experience at this level.
“DeAndre has a lot of qualities, but without that experience, it’s a massive ask to perform at the consistent level that you need to at this stage of the season, particularly with the pressure we’re all under.”
You have to love that following his train of thought would continue with, “but we don’t have any better options, so let’s see what happens!” It’s not quite Guus Hiddink saying of Chelsea youth like Matt Miazga, “We have no fear of bringing youngsters in“, but Allardyce is right in saying the relegation plight is a different pressure than Chelsea’s much safer spot.
This is a big chance — and a big ask — for Yedlin, who replaced Jones in last week’s comeback draw with Liverpool and has only seen Spurs improve since he went on loan. How has Yedlin fared this season? In terms of overall stats, he hasn’t been very good at all, though advanced stats site Squawka says he is slightly better than Jones.
But in terms of straight-up defending, the USMNT man has done the job a lot better.
It would be classic Big Sam to improve his lot in the Premier League safety race because injury forced him to remove Jones.
Go get ’em, kid.
Chelsea hosts Newcastle United this weekend, its first game since the season-ending injury to young defender Kurt Zouma.
The 21-year-old Frenchman has arguably been Chelsea’s best center back when it comes to marking and defending this season, and manager Guus Hiddink has to find an alternative for the big man.
[ MORE: Klopp updates Sturridge, Coutinho fitness; Backs owners ]
While Gary Cahill and John Terry have the familiar names of the bunch, Hiddink won’t limit himself to veteran replacements. Certainly he could slide Cesar Azpilicueta inside, though that would sacrifice about a half-foot, and Newcastle likes to use big striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
He also has 20-year-old USMNT back Matt Miazga — who’s been given squad No. 20 — and said the following in Friday’s pre-match press conference:
“We have no fear of bringing youngsters in.”
Could we see Miazga in the fold on Saturday? Hiddink’s comments sure sound like he’d rather not, but all it takes is an injury or an inkling.
Miazga gave an interview to Chelsea’s web site last weekend where he described his play.
“I really like it, it is a higher level, the ball moves much faster but yeah, it is good. All the guys are very welcoming and I am really enjoying it.
“My game is definitely built on winning aerial challenges and tackles. As a centre-back you have to have an aerial presence and win a lot of headers, and my job is to win duels and not let opponents score, so every time I try to get a good tackle in and make my opponent know that I am there and it is not going to be an easy time trying to go by me.”
The ball moves much faster, and we’re hoping to see Miazga move with it sooner rather than later. Will it be this weekend.