Clint Dempsey’s versatility on display for Tottenham

2 Comments

It wasn’t a banner day for the U.S. international. For much of the first half, he was a non-factor. In the second, seemingly liberated from a role that asked him to play along Newcastle’s defense, Clint Dempsey was more influential, the versatile Tottenham attacker dropping back from his No.9’s post to take possession from deep midfield. On a day when new import Lewis Holtby failed to have his expected impact, it was a needed contribution.

But Dempsey’s utility wasn’t so much in how he played as in what he was able to play. With Jermaine Defoe injured and Emmanuel Adebayor having just returned from Africa Cup of Nations, Dempsey’s ability to push forward and play an in-a-pinch No. 9 came in handy. As we’ve discussed when addressing Dempsey’s uncertain role with Spurs, the one advantage “Deuce” has on his peers is flexibility. He may not be part of André Villas-Boas’s first choice XI, but his ability to step into any attacking role means he won’t lack for playing time.

(MORE: Bale double sinks Newcastle)

On Saturday, despite his mid-week travel to Central America, Dempsey went the full 90 (or 99, as was the case on Saturday). That was largely a function of Spurs’ depleted striker resources, but it was still telling that when Villas-Boas went for Adebayor, he didn’t pull Dempsey. He elected to keep Deuce on and use his versatility to change the formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-4-2. Holtby came off instead.

That choice may also tell us something new about Spurs’ depth chart. Whereas it was initially thought the acquisition of Holtby might cloud Dempsey’s picture, the former Schalke midfielder seems to be made Sigurdsson redundant. When Defoe’s out, Dempsey remains the first option off the bench (as the team goes 4-2-3-1). Instead of competing with Sigurdsson, he becomes a change for a default XI that includes Holtby.

We’ll have to see if Villas-Boas’s Saturday choices become long-term strategy. Until then, this is all speculation, but encouragingly for Dempsey, most scenarios see him maintaining much of his playing time. That’s something that was far less certain when Spurs switched to a 4-4-2 a few months ago.

MLS Three Things: RBNY beats Atlanta, is a special club right now

Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images
Leave a comment

At this point, Jesse Marsch could take the USMNT job, Tyler Adams could bolt for the Bundesliga, and we’d still have to select the New York Red Bulls to finish with a home playoff game.

[ MORE: Willian’s shot at Conte ]

That’s how well run RBNY is these days, which is to take nothing away from their coach and 19-year-old star, but considering they navigated a solid CONCACAF Champions League run en route to this start… well…. wow.

On a night when Luis Robles’ ironman streak ended, Kaku recorded two assists, and Ezequiel Barco bagged his second goal in three matches, they don’t even meet the requirements of our three things.

Form giants deliver more goals

Marsch’s men have been shutout once this season, and most multiple goals in four-consecutive wins. Three of those four wins have come on the road, at LA, Colorado, and now Atlanta.

RBNY has the best points-per-game in Major League Soccer, has scored the joint-most goals despite playing in the second-fewest games, and is allowing barely more than a goal-a-game.

Bet against ’em. We dare ya.

BWP delivers the goods

RBNY’s 33-year-old English star scored twice and won a penalty that Daniel Royer converted as he continued his assault on all future Red Bulls’ hopes of becoming the club’s leading scorer.

Bradley Wright-Phillips has almost 50 more goals than his nearest competitor, Juan Pablo Angel, and he makes headers look like child’s play.

Victory comes with a price

Kemar Lawrence was lost with a scary-looking face-plant on a clearance, and needed to be stretchered off the pitch. Hopefully it’s not long-term for the Jamaican back.

Willian “edits” Conte out of FA Cup champions photo

John Walton/PA via AP
Leave a comment

Willian is not a fan of Antonio Conte.

Come to another conclusion if you like, but it’s hard to argue the Brazilian wizard’s feelings following his Instagram post after Chelsea beat Manchester United in the FA Cup Final.

[ MORE: Matic wants squad changes at Man Utd ]

Willian covered his manager in trophies following the win, and it’d be a stretch to call that a tribute to the Italian’s tactical brilliance.

The player recorded seven goals and six assists despite playing less than all but 12 Chelsea players in league play (12th place Alvaro Morata had 11 and 6).

We’re accepting alternative explanations for the since-deleted Instagram photo below:

Elis scores twice as Dynamo beat Fire 3-2

Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Alberth Elis scored two second-half goals to help the Houston Dynamo beat the Chicago Fire 3-2 on Sunday for their first road win of the season.

Elis, on a one-on-one breakaway, cut back to evade defender Johan Kappelhof and ripped a right-footer from the center of the box into the back of the net to give Houston (4-3-3) a 3-2 lead in the 74th minute.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

The Dynamo’s Romell Quioto opened the scoring in the fourth, running onto a long through ball from Tomas Martinez and rolling the finish past sliding goalkeeper Richard Sanchez. Nemanja Nikolic tied it in the 14th minute and then fed Diego Campos for a goal about two minutes later. Elis converted from the spot to make it 2-2 early in the second half after Mauro Manotas drew a foul in the area conceded by Sanchez.

Chicago (3-6-2) has lost three of its last four games.

 

Inter Milan back in the Champions League after late heroics (video)

Giuseppe Lami/ANSA via AP
Leave a comment

It’s been more than a half-decade since Inter Milan qualified for the UEFA Champions League, an infamous run that ended on Sunday.

Inter scored twice in the final 13 minutes to beat fifth-place Lazio and advance into the Top Four via head-to-head record.

[ MORE: Man Utd youngster gets USMNT call-up ]

Lazio held 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but could not get the job done at home, collecting red cards in the 79th minute and stoppage time.

Uruguayan midfielder Matias Vecino scored his third goal of the season, redirecting a corner kick home in the 81st minute, as Inter clinched fourth place in Serie A.