WHO’S WHO: Breaking down US forwards on the 30-man World Cup roster

9 Comments

Six forwards made the list of 30 players on the United States provisional roster for the 2014 World Cup, and now we finally have an answer as to whether Jurgen Klinsmann considers Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey among that group, or as midfielders.

There are loads of question marks on the list, not for their inclusion but for what their presence will give the States. Jozy Altidore has struggled mightily in the Premier League, drawing some praise for his physical play but scoring just one goal for the Black Cats. To be frank, he’s looked out of place, uncomfortable and ineffective just one year after lighting the Eredivisie on fire with goals upon goals.

Two months ago, a USMNT supporter would’ve laughed at someone who thinks Clint Dempsey may be the most surefire thing in this bunch. The Seattle Sounders man had just completed a lackluster loan spell at Fulham after a tough readjustment to Major League Soccer after transferring from Tottenham last year. But he’s back, looking closer to the tenacious world-beating leader we saw at Fulham than anything since.

Landon Donovan is a wild card, still waiting for his record-breaking MLS goal with the Galaxy but also still a question thanks to his soccer sabbatical. It seems foolish to ever doubt the relentless and respected Donovan, but at 32-years-old there will always be whispers of whether age has had its way with the man.

Playing in Austria isn’t exactly the recipe for high praise, but Terrence Boyd has scored 20 goals for Rapid Wien and five of those goals came in Europa League. He’s been quick, physical, deft and clinical for the Vienna club.

And speaking of “lesser” leagues, we’re back in the Eredivisie with Aron Johannsson. He started red-hot for AZ Alkmaar before petering out a bit down the stretch. The Icelandic-Alabaman is a threat and a bit of an unknown for Klinsmann. If he has his form in camp, starting is not out of the question.

Finally, the feel good story of the roster in Chris Wondolowski. All the man does is score goals and is set to compete for that spot in Brazil despite not making his USMNT debut until late in his 20s. He has scored two goals for the States in 2014, and if we’ve learned anything it’s not to count out a man with “Wondolowski” or “Wondowlowski” on the back of his US shirt.

For takes on the forwards who didn’t make the cut, read our “Who got snubbed?” post here

How could Klinsmann deploy this unit? Obviously the answer is any way he wants, but Altidore and Wondolowski are more than capable of holding the ball up-top, and there’s no shortage of men who can run off them. The other European players on the list are capable of playing a strong post-up as well. We have plenty of time to break down the “how,” but this is our take on the “why.” What say you?

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Terrence Boyd (Rapid Vienna), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

WATCH: Knee slide celebration goes face plant for RSL’s Mulholland

Adam Fondren/The Deseret News via AP
Leave a comment

We’d ask Luke Mulholland to take a bow, but we’re unsure how that would turn out.

The Englishman celebrated his 16th Real Salt Lake goal with a knee slide turned face plant on Sunday, and it was immediately clear he shared in the laughter it caused at Rio Tinto and on screens around the world.

[ RECAP: RSL 2-0 Seattle ]

Mulholland helped RSL continued it’s improbable red-hot run into the playoff picture with his third goal of the season on Saturday night against Seattle with a run in front of a defender to punch home a cross.

On his way to the corner flag for a nice slide, the pitch decided to rebel against his knees and sent him face-first into the Earth.

WATCH LIVE: Brighton hosts Newcastle United

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Newcastle United looks to continue its rich vein of form when it visits some old friends at Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Brighton manager Chris Hughton has led both clubs to Premier League promotion during his managerial career.

He’ll keep ex-Newcastle keeper Tim Krul on the bench in favor of Australian backstop Mathew Ryan.

As for Newcastle, the Magpies are unchanged from last week’s win over Stoke City.

LINEUPS

Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan; Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner; Knockaert, Stephens, Propper, March; Gross; Hemed. Subs: Krul, Rosenior, Huenemeier, Schelotto, Izquierdo, Murphy, Brown.

Newcastle United: Elliot; Mbemba, Clark, Lascelles, Yedlin; Ritchie, Hayden, Merino, Atsu; Perez, JoseluSubs: Darlow, Gamez, Manquillo, Diame, Murphy, Shelvey, Gayle.

Steven Gerrard didn’t want any part of Coutinho in training

AP Photo/Clint Hughes
Leave a comment

Steven Gerrard has issued some fairly hilarious comments regarding former Liverpool teammate Philippe Coutinho.

The Premier League legend admits there were days in training that the sight of the Brazilian wizard on the other side of the pitch made him lash out.

[ MORE: Palace fans must be patient ]

It seems Gerrard wanted nothing to do with marking Coutinho in small-sided games, and the idea of “Stevie G” spouting off in frustration when Brendan Rodgers posted Coutinho across from him is a wonderful mental picture.

From The Liverpool Echo:

“He’s impossible to defend against,” Gerrard told BT Sport after Saturday’s game.

“I mean when I used to train against him, I’d hate it if I was on the opposite five-a-side team. I wouldn’t go near him. And sometimes I’d say to him: ‘Keep away from me! He can embarrass you [as a defender]. He can stand you up, he can both ways, he’s got such a low centre of gravity. He’s sharp, he’s quick and he’s two or three steps ahead of defenders. He’s so, so clever.”

Again, the vision of Gerrard throwing his hands up with a “Nope, not having this today” is amazing. Even if exaggerated, we love it. We picture that old meme with the office worked tossing papers through the air.

Patience with Hodgson required by Palace

Getty Images
1 Comment

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson is 0-2 in his new gig and the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t exactly within touching distance.

The latest defeat is a 5-0 blowout at Manchester City, and the immediate road ahead is sobering: at Manchester United and home to Chelsea. Following a trip to Newcastle, who is in form, the Eagles have matches vs. West Ham, at Spurs, and versus Everton.

[ MORE: Premier League Sat. roundup ]

Palace is 0-6 overall and the first team in the history of the Premier League to go goalless through its first six matches.

Palace fired Frank De Boer after four league matches and a summer in which the club failed to add much to its squad.

And Hodgson is feeling his way through the dark. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of this is the timing of Palace’s change.

From the BBC:

“I am learning about the team all the time and they are learning,” said Hodgson.

“Our focus has to be in May. By the latter part of the season the players must know what we are looking for. They should feel stronger by then.”

To be shooting for May has to be overwhelming for the Selhurst Park faithful but may indicate their most reasonable promise of life in the Premier League.

Palace fans cannot afford to get caught up in how Sam Allardyce saved them a year ago, because his turnaround coincided with the Eagles’ purchases of Luka MilivojevicMamadou Sakho, and Patrick Van Aanholt. An influx of talent does not save a season alone, but we’re fairly sure Alan Pardew would’ve relished the chance to work with two new backs and a stabilizing center midfielder.

Remember that Allardyce then retired, which says something given his willingness to bask in any light in which he can claim a modicum of credit.

So Hodgson, known for his relentless training methods, needs to be given his time. Palace will likely have at-most one point after the next two PL matches, and they may have not scored yet. History can be daunting, but supporters need to exhale and realize the road ahead is long.