Three things we learned from Tottenham Hotspur vs. Everton

2 Comments

LONDON — Following Tottenham’s 0-0 draw with Everton at White Hart Lane on Saturday, we learned plenty about both teams as they aim to set a top four challenge in motion. On this showing, top six seems more attainable for both this season.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

With John Stones getting booed by both sets of fans and the subject of chants surrounding his transfer request amid interest from Chelsea, it was a lively encounter which saw Harry Kane continue to struggle in front of goal and Tim Howard pull off a heroic performance.

Here are three things we learned from the Lane.

KANE’S FRUSTRATION CONTINUES

As Kane raced through on goal, one-on-one with goalkeeper Tim Howard in the 23rd minute, home fans at White Hart Lane rose to their feet as one. After Kane’s heroics last season, everyone expected to see the net ripple and Spurs to be 1-0 up. Wrong. Kane hesitated, looked across at the linesman, then fluffed his shot and Howard saved superbly down low.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

He looked frustrated. Was snapping at shots and his aerial knockdowns were not finding the feet of his teammates. In the first half Kane continued to drop deep, twice hitting long-range efforts from distance which sailed harmlessly over Howard’s crossbar. After four games this season, Kane has failed to score a single goal and although he did have the ball in the back of the net in the second half, a quick glance to the linesman showed he was offside.

The England international scored 21 times in the PL last season, 31 times in 51 games total, but remember, Kane did not score his first PL goal of the 2014-15 campaign until Nov. 2. He still has plenty of time to turn things around this season but one thing is for sure, Spurs’ main man is in a slump and its now 22 shots without a goal this season.

HOWARD MORE THAN READY FOR USMNT RECALL

Just in case anybody had any concerns about Tim Howard returning to the U.S. national team fold for the first time in over a year next week when the U.S. face Peru and Brazil in friendlies, you needn’t worry.

Howard, 36, pulled off a highlight reel performance at White Hart Lane on Saturday, excelling in the first half with a string of fines saves just to give Jurgen Klinsmann a friendly reminder of what he’s capable of.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

First came his best, as Kane raced through on goal Howard stood his ground and saved superbly with his feet as Tottenham’s leading goalscorer from last year hesitated with the finish. In the 27th minute he saved well again down low from Ryan Mason after he broke into the box. Soon after Howard dove down to his left to stop a shot from Nabil Bentaleb and nobody from Spurs’ reacted to the loose ball.

In the 32nd minute he made a fine fingertip stop from Toby Alderweireld’s header from a corner and Howard’s heroics helped continued in the second half as he denied Mason with a low shot. Last week Howard was criticized by some when he was beaten at his near post by Kolarov in Everton’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City, but the New Jersey native was Man of the Match this time out.

“I am man of the match this week and last week I was the goat. That is football.”

Klinsmann recently stated that Howard is his No. 2 behind Brad Guzan for the upcoming friendlies and will be for a while longer. After taking a self-imposed sabbatical from USMNT action, that’s to be expected. But if Howard keeps playing like this, he will be the USA’s No. 1 again before you know it.

ERIKSEN INTEGRAL; DEMBELE, CLEVERLEY GO DOWN

Without the injured Christian Eriksen, Tottenham’s creativity and spark in the final third took a big hit. Ryan Mason was tasked with playing just behind Kane in the first half but despite his endless running, he failed to unlock Everton’s defense and squandered multiple chances to score. The writing was on the wall nine minutes in as Mason was set free down the right but his ball into the box was high and wide. With Mason playing a more advanced role in Eriksen’s absence, he had another chance in the 17th minute after Danny Rose’s cross but finished poorly as he arrived late in the box. Delle Alli was brought on early in the second half to replace the injured Moussa Dembele but the 19-year-old didn’t fare much better. It’s clear that Kane is going through a tough time and that’s inhibiting Tottenham, but without their chief playmaker Eriksen, Spurs’ offense is struggling as they’ve scored three times in their opening four games.

Two players are also struggling with fitness after this game as both Tom Cleverly and Dembele were stretchered off. Cleverley’s right leg was caught in-between a sliding tackle from Dier, and while many claim it was a foul from Spurs’ central midfielder, there were no complaints from Everton’s players. Yes, Dier’s trailing leg caught Cleverley and caused the injury, but when sliding in to make a tackle sometimes this happens. There was no malice in that challenge but Cleverley was very unfortunate and could well be spending a long time out on the sidelines. At the start of the second half Dembele went down right on the touchline as he clipped a ball back across the box and it looked as if he injured his Achilles by clipping one leg with another. Again, another lengthy spell on the sidelines beckons.

Atletico Madrid roster for MLS All-Star Game includes Felix

Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Major League Soccer fans will get a good luck at one of the hottest prospects in world soccer when the MLS All Stars take on Atletico Madrid in next week’s MLS All Star Game.

Joao Felix, the $142 million 19-year-old, is among the roster announced by Diego Simeone for the match.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

Felix scored 20 times with 11 assists in 40 matches for Benfica before moving to Atleti in the summer. Those numbers include a hat trick against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarterfinals first leg.

The other stars will be there, too, provided no transfers happen in the interim. Koke, Thomas Lemar, Diego Costa, and Saul Niguez are in the squad.

New Atleti defender Kieran Trippier and longtime El Tri hero Hector Herrera will also be sure to help drive attendance in Orlando City.

The full roster is here.

Leagues Cup preview: MLS gets its next shot at Liga MX

Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s not a typo; The s is very real.

The Leagues Cup — not the League Cup — is the new competition pitting Major League Soccer sides against some of the top sides from Mexico’s Liga MX.

The tournament has been expanded before it’s even seen a ball kicked in competition, as the second edition with go from eight to 16 teams.

[ MORE: Newcastle in for $28M Saint-Maximin ]

For now, though, we’ve got four American and four Mexican sides meeting over the next two months in a bid for North American supremacy not unlike a CONCACAF Champions League stripped of all the minnows.

Much like the CCL, the Mexican sides will be expected to triumph, even with all of the quarterfinals being staged in the United States.

Chicago Fire hosts Cruz Azul on Tuesday, followed by the LA Galaxy’s visit from Club Tijuana.

Wednesday will see the Houston Dynamo host Club America, and Tigres UANL at Real Salt Lake.

The winners meet Aug. 20, while the final will be played Sept. 18 in Las Vegas.

There’s a lot of promise in this, and it gives MLS another chance to make some statements about the distance between it and Liga MX. The Mexican sides have flat out dominated the CCL, and it’s not difficult to make the same prediction for this tournament.

But, like many tournaments, it also gives success-starved clubs a chance to give their fans something big and their players a tonic. For Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s Chicago, for one, it’s a huge opportunity. And for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy, it’s a look toward another piece of silverware for one of the world’s biggest trophy cases.

USMNT prospect Ledezma earns praise from van Nistelrooy

Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Even for talents of the highest levels with top soccer education, sometimes a kid’s gotta learn how to eat.

Richard “Richie” Ledezma, 18, is in the midst of his first year at Eredivisie side PSV Eindhoven, a spot which beckoned after a five-match, one-goal season in the USL with Real Monarchs of the USL.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Ledezma starred for U.S. U-20 team at the World Cup after his first half-season with PSV, which saw him play with the U-19s while trying to lose some weight.

From Goal.com:

“PSV help me with my nutrition, with my food and how I eat. It’s the quantity of food you eat, I guess,” he added. “Because I came a little chubby, when I got here, I guess. They all called me ‘fatty’ and stuff, so I was like, cool, you know? So no more McDonald’s.”

Goal’s James Westwood had a wide-ranging interview with Ledezma and also spoke with soccer royalty: longtime Real Madrid and Manchester United scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was Ledezma’s coach with the U-19s.

“He’s making a difference in midfield with very quick-thinking passes, movement, can score a goal, play people in, he’s creating chances for the whole team.”

That’s not just good praise from a legend, but a solid sign for fans of the United States men’s national team. A proper No. 10 or playmaking midfielder could allow Gregg Berhalter or another future USMNT coach to use Christian Pulisic on the wings.

Ledezma has some work to do before he breaks into the first team of the Dutch runners-up, who have signed former Stoke City man Ibrahim Afellay and has Gaston Pereiro in the fold as well.

Newcastle reportedly in for $28M mercurial Nice attacker

VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images
Leave a comment

L’Equipe says that Newcastle United have returned to Nice in the hopes of landing Allan Saint-Maximin.

The Ligue 1 outfit wants $28 million for the playmaker, who could team up with Miguel Almiron and (maybe) Joelinton to give the Magpies a much-improved attack.

[ MORE: Chicago adds USMNT hero ]

Saint-Maximin, 22, has 10 goals and 10 assists across his last two seasons with Nice, and played everywhere in attack for Patrick Vieira: both wings, center forward, second striker, attacking mid… even some left and right midfield.

The player, however, has been a headache for Vieira at times, with the manager saying Saint-Maximin believes that he has enough talent to reach the highest level without the required amount of work.

That said, the youngster’s skill set is electric. He’s a March birth date, too, so a relatively young 22. That $28 million would be another transfer record broken for Newcastle, assuming it happens ahead of the Joelinton move.

Or… as Newcastle fan knows, neither could go through.