Since we’re into a lot of U.S. national team talk today (with our updated series on the U.S. roster outlook for Brazil … and if you haven’t taken a look, well, let’s get right on that, eh?) may as well extend the conversation a bit.
Yes, Landon Donovan seems to perform better as captain. And history has shown us that a highly motivate Landon Donovan is worth having. You could argue that a guy like that shouldn’t need peripheral elements to goose his motivational mojo, but he’s 31 years old, so he is what he is at this point.
Clint Dempsey’s has been Jurgen Klinsmann go-to as captain for the last few months. But that always looked like an ill fit (even before Dempsey began to struggle somewhat as a goal scorer). It was like a great suit handed to a good looking gentleman – and yet the suit just didn’t seem to fit.
Best guess: It was Klinsmann’s way of encouraging Dempsey to broaden his voice around the locker room. Dempsey is more of a “lead by example” type, and nothing wrong with that. But maybe the U.S. coach hoped to goose a little something more.
Either way, Bradley always seemed like the natural choice. Even more so than Tim Howard, a pro’s pro himself, but not as important to the overall enterprise as Bradley. (Only because Howard can be replaced; Brad Guzan is more like a 1A than a 2nd choice. But there isn’t a player in the pool who can replace Bradley, the midfield brain and easily the team’s top passer.)
There is no one more introspective around the U.S. team than Bradley. There is no one who “thinks” his way around the game more than he does. I still remember listening to the U.S midfielder answer questions thoughtfully about 18 months ago after a match in Kansas City, always with something quite wise to say. And I thought then: this guy is the next U.S. captain.
The hosts badly need to pick up points, though few expect them to do so on Monday. Skeptics, however, will note that Liverpool under Klopp has been giants against the top teams and often lackluster against the other sides.
What they’re saying
Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal on springing an upset: “I would prefer to be Goliath, I would rather be in his position. But during my career most of the time has been spent in the position of David, and we have been able to do some surprises as David. We have done it often, we are working to make more of them. I was kind of the Goliath when I was with Besiktas and Sporting Lisbon, but during those moments Goliath was a little ill.”
Liverpool’s Klopp on goalkeeper Loris Karius: “My favourite solution, always, is that we do it with our boys. They step up, they deliver, they improve. The problem they have is that everyone is watching them (through a magnifying glass) and saying ‘still not good enough!’ I will only mention one name. Everyone talks about him with us and that is Butland. I only saw the game (against Manchester United). Fantastic goalkeeper but was he perfect? No. He wasn’t in that game. But everyone says ‘still better than our boys!'”
It’s hard to see this going in Swans favor at all, though we’ll peg them to keep it close on the score board: 2-0 to Liverpool.
Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.
Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.
But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.
Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.
And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.
He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.
Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.
Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.
He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.
There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.
While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.
The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.
For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.
Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.