What Jurgen Klinsmann said about Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson


A few of us saw a little something in Sacha Kljestan’s evening in Glasgow, as the Anderlecht man was assigned the “Dempsey” role, playing ahead of two midfielders and behind striker Jozy Altidore in the match against Scotland.

His ratings from some of the respected, uh, “ratings agencies,” weren’t bad. The New York Times, Soccer America, and ESPN.com all gave Kljestan a grade that was somewhere between “not bad” and “pretty good.”

But the only gradebook that really counts, as we know, belongs to Jurgen Klinsmann; the U.S. manager will make the career-defining choices next May, assigning 23 men to his World Cup roster for a trip into Brazil. And, well … Klinsmann didn’t sound overly impressed.

(MORE: What we learned in Friday’s draw with Scotland)

He did mention that Kljestan was in a less familiar role, playing higher up the field than he typically does for Anderlecht in Belgium. That said …

He did OK, but it was tricky for him because we wanted him to play in between their two lines, the back line and the midfield line, and to find him in those spaces closer to Jozy, rather than further back. His instinct tells him to drop a little deeper because that’s what he does at Anderlecht, and then suddenly we had three midfielders in the same area with Jermaine [Jones], Michael [Bradley] and Sacha. That’s not what we wanted. We wanted to find people between their two lines of four, so it was a bit tricky for him.”

Thing is, tough role or no, Kljestan is in a position, like a few others, where he needs to make an impression – even if that means making a gourmet meal from leftovers. At seven months until the World Cup, it is what it is at this point.

Meanwhile, Klinsmann was more positive in his assessments of Brek Shea and Aron Johannsson, who helped their cases for Brazilian roster placement.

Johannsson keeps moving up, perhaps already having lapped Herculez Gomez, who fell behind initially due to some summer injury trouble. Shea helps himself every time he gets the ball, points himself forward and tells himself “Go!”  Thing is, the United States has so little of that, so Shea provides a real change of pace. When a certain problem needs solving, he’s the only solution on this roster.

For everything that Klinsmann said about Shea and Johannsson, read his post-game comments here.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.