Matt Besler

By position: Looking at the defenders who made the U.S.’s final 2014 World Cup squad

2 Comments

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timothy Chandler (Nuremberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders)

Others who cross over: None

Last cuts: Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Clarence Goodson (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Parkhurst (Columbus Crew)

Quick thoughts

1. More questions than we thought – Right back has been a talking point since the U.S. lost Steve Cherundolo, but with Clarence Goodson cut from the team, central defense is a question, too. So many have been speculating Omar Gonzalez hasn’t firmly won his starting spot, yet the man who was thought to be his main competition is gone. And the new contender? He’s also a candidate at right back.

Many have noted Klinsmann’s recent thoughts on Cameron – how he thinks the Stoke right back’s best position is in the middle. This is nothing new. It’s also nothing that’s prevented Klinsmann from playing Cameron in midfield or wide.

Eight hours after the final squad was named, that versatility is clouding the picture. We have no idea where (or if) Geoff Cameron will play in Brazil.

2. Fabian Johnson both key and potentially irrelevant – That’s irrelevant to the defense; not to the entire team.

Johnson’s played left back for the U.S., has recently seen time at right back at club-level, and has worked out there during the last week in Palo Alto, yet when you look at the midfielders selected, his best use may be in left midfield – where he’s been playing more often than not for the U.S., of late.

Consider the impact on the rest of the team. That means Beasley would start at left back, while Cameron and Timothy Chandler (and perhaps DeAndre Yedlin) fight it out on the right. The lack of options in the middle seen to foreshadow what Klinsmann might do at the back.

3. DaMarcus Beasley is going to his fourth World Cup – After today’s day’s big omission, we shouldn’t take this for granted. Beasley was part of the last U.S. team to make the final eight and has played in a  Champions League semifinal. From Manchester City to Rangers, South Korea to Brazil, the soon-to-be 32-year-old has had one of the most remarkable careers of any player the U.S. has produced.

And now, having adapted to an entirely new challenge (a permanent move to full back for country), Beasley will build on his 117 caps at his fourth World Cup. We’re not talking about this enough.

Conclusion

Matt Besler will start, but the rest is unknown. Thankfully, Klinsmann’s given himself options, even if two of his defenders (Brooks, Yedlin) look unlikely to see time in Brazil. With the flexibility of players like Cameron and Johnson, the U.S. has options should Beasley and Gonzalez fail to cement their spots. Come June 15, there may not be a set back four.

Fan at Turkish soccer game invades pitch, gets kicked in the face by a player

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.26.50 PM
Getty Images
Leave a comment

A fan at a game in the second tier of Turkish soccer found out the hard way why it’s a bad idea to run onto the field and cause trouble.

In the second half of Saturday’s matchup between 2nd placed Karabukspor and 6th placed Elazigspor, a number of fans ran onto the field. In the fracas, one of the pitch invaders ran at the referee and threw something at him. In response, as the usher tries to grab the fan, a player comes in and throws a flying kung-fu kick to the fan’s face. The kick ends up catching him in the face, and there’s some collateral damage as the usher takes a bit of the attack as well.

The “weapon” the fan possesses appears to be a wooden spoon, and he has two of them (seriously? who has not one but two wooden spoons at a soccer game?). He throws the first at the ref – which misses – and then in an attempt to defend himself, he throws the second at the player, which connects mid-kick.

Turkish soccer has struggled to prevent fans and players from interacting violently. Last week, a top flight match between Trabzonspor and Fenerbahce – two big clubs in Turkish soccer – was abandoned in injury time when a fan brutally attacked a referee.

VIDEO: Louis van Gaal has animated post-match reaction to Fellaini incident vs. Leicester City

1 Comment

Louis Van Gaal has his own, very unique style in describing big moments in matches. Geoff Shreeves surely knows this each and every time he goes to interview the Manchester United boss.

And yet, he continues to show us something new each and every time.

During the first half of Manchester United’s match with Leicester City at Old Trafford on Sunday, Marouane Fellaini and Robert Huth had a confrontation during a corner. Replays showed that Huth grabbed Fellaini’s hair at the same time the Belgian threw an elbow at the Leicester defender. Van Gaal was obviously focused on Huth’s misgivings.

[ RECAP: Leicester City guts out 1-1 draw at Old Trafford, can win Premier League on Monday ]

In an attempt to convey his feelings, Van Gaal grabbed Shreeves’ hair, saying, “When you see what Huth is doing with Fellaini, that’s a penalty. Shall I grab you with your hair, what is your reaction? Your hair is much shorter than Fellaini’s, but when I do that, what are you doing then?”

It got weirder. Much weirder. Van Gaal continued to say, “I think that’s a normal reaction. Every human being who is grabbed with the hair…only with sex masochism, then it is allowed, but not in other situations.”

Southampton 4-2 Manchester City: Southampton carves up City behind Mane hat-trick, Tadic service

during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester City at St Mary's Stadium on May 1, 2016 in Southampton, England.
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester City clearly had one eye on the Champions League semifinals. It came at the expense of their chances to remain in the competition next year.

The visitors at St. Mary’s had the opportunity to lock up Champions League play next season with all three points, but instead Manuel Pellegrini rested a number of starters including Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne, and Southampton ripped them apart in a 4-2 win. Saido Mane grabbed a hat-trick and Dusan Tadic had a trio of assists as their attack swarmed a mistake-prone and clearly distracted Manchester City.

Both sides had spells in the opening 20 minutes, but Southampton appeared more dangerous. Shane Long made multiple appearances in front of the Manchester City goal, picking the pocket of Pablo Zabaleta to earn a corner on 15 minutes and shooting just wide of the near post in the 19th minute.

Frasier Forster was required to keep the game scoreless in the 20th minute as Kelechi Iheanacho stole the ball from Virgil van Djik on the touchline and found Raheem Sterling in space inside the box, but his shot was saved expertly by Forster.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

It would be the in-form Long to take the lead in the 25th minute on a beautiful bit of play. A fantastic ball over the top of the City defense fell to a streaking Dusan Tadic, and his flick over the top met a sliding Shane Long, who beat Nicolas Otamendi for the opener.

They’d get a second just four minutes later on yet another sweet-looking goal, with Tadic getting yet another assist with a perfectly weighted ball for Saido Mane, who smacked it by Joe Hart from a tight angle.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Southampton continued to press and hold much of the meaningful possession, but Manchester City refused to capitulate, scoring a lifeline before halftime. With the ball in the Southampton penalty area, Cuco Martino saw the ball skip off his thigh and pop into the air, where Iheanacho latched onto it and headed it into the net.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

It was a tough way for the hosts to go into halftime, as they had dominated much of the first half, but no matter, as they made amends. Following the break, Southampton restored their two-goal lead off a corner in the 57th minute as Van Djik’s header was tipped by Joe Hart off the crossbar. Jose Fonte whiffed at the rebound but Mane was there from point blank range to give Southampton a 3-1 lead.

Mane would complete his hat-trick in the 68th minute. Van Djik won the ball in the Southampton half to start the break, and Tadic picked up his third assist of the match as he slotted Mane through on goal for yet another clinical finish.

Manchester City got another back as Iheanacho bagged his second in the 79th minute with a wonderful curler from outside the box, but it was too little too late for the visitors.

Both teams fought until the final whistle, and it could have cost Jesus Navas his fitness as the Spaniard seemingly picked up a serious limp in the final few minutes.

VIDEO: Claudio Ranieri says he might miss Leicester City winning the Premier League

MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 01:  Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City applauds the fans after the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Old Trafford on May 1, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Following Leicester City’s gritty draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford, the Foxes missed out on securing the Premier League trophy, but come tomorrow evening, they could still be celebrating.

With the point against United, their magic number is now two, meaning any dropped points by Tottenham wins Leicester City the league title. Tottenham travels to Stamford Bridge tomorrow to take on Chelsea, and should they fail to win, the trophy is Leicester’s.

But manager Claudio Ranieri, the hero in Leicester for guiding their beloved club to the unthinkable, might be the last to find out.

In his post-match comments, Ranieri said he could be on a plane during the Spurs game, therefore unable to find out the result until he lands. The reason? He’s going back to Italy to have lunch with his 96-year-old mother.

“I would like to watch to watch the match,” Ranieri said. “But I think I am on the flight back from Italy, and then it’s difficult for me to watch the match. Maybe when I landed, I will know the result.”

What a family man. No wonder his team plays like a close-knit unit.