Getty Images

Robertson says Alisson has Liverpool’s full support

Leave a comment

Despite his error over the weekend, Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson has the squad’s full and total backing, defender Andy Robertson says.

Alisson has been hailed as a massive success so far this season, but in Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Manchester United this past weekend, the Brazilian made an error in spilling Romelu Lukaku‘s cross that allowed Jesse Lingard to strike, leveling the score at 1-1. It’s officially the second error Alisson has made this season leading to a goal, according to Opta statistics, following his possessional mistake in the 1-1 draw with Chelsea earlier this season.

[ MORE: Rabiot benched by PSG for contract dispute ]

Robertson, though, knows that the goalkeeper position is unusually harsh given the costly nature of consequences mistakes at the back. The Reds squad is still fully behind its shot-stopper, knowing that the big money paid this summer for his signature is more than worth it.

“He has been unbelievable this season and we all make mistakes,” Robertson said.”If Mo Salah or [Roberto] Firmino make a mistake it maybe doesn’t get punished because it is up the other end but that is unfortunately what a keeper has to put up with, if they make a mistake it usually turns into a goal.”

Robertson notes that despite the mistake – which didn’t result in any points dropped – Alisson still has come up with massive moments this season, most notably the huge, late save against Napoli to help Liverpool advance in Champions League play.

“Of course, he will be disappointed with it [the mistake against Manchester United] but he bounced back and we can’t moan about it,” Robertson said. “He has dug us out Tuesday night and we are still in the Champions League because of him.”

Liverpool sits top of the Premier League table, unbeaten in league play so far this year. They are on a six-match winning streak, outscoring teams 16-2 over that span.

Klopp: ‘I would have paid double for Alisson’

Getty Images
1 Comment

Jurgen Klopp is pretty pleased Liverpool dished out a then world-record transfer fee of $83 million for Alisson in the summer.

He even believes they got a bargain.

[ MORE: Klopp reacts to Liverpool win ]

Alisson made a wonderful reaction save to deny Arkadiusz Milik in the 92nd minute on Tuesday at Anfield, as a goal for Napoli would have sent them through to the UEFA Champions League last 16 and knocked Liverpool out. Sure, the shot was right at him but that was because Alisson rushed off his line and read the situation perfectly.

In the end Liverpool, who dominated the game, held on for a 1-0 win and Klopp was full of praise for his Brazilian goalkeeper.

“If I knew Alisson was this good I would have paid double,” Klopp said. “It was not only one save. He had a lot of things to do tonight. How cool and calm he was with the ball helps us a lot in our buildup situations. When he comes out for crosses he is outstanding. And, yes, that save was just incredible.”

How good has Alisson been this season since arriving in the Premier League?

The stats do not lie.

Last season Liverpool’s goalkeepers had a save percentage ratio of 64 percent, which was ranked 19th in the Premier League. This season with Alisson in goal it is 86 percent, ranked 1st in the Premier League. Liverpool have also conceded just six goals in their opening 16 games of the Premier League season, compared to 20 goals at this point last season.

Besides that obvious improvement, Alisson has had a calming influence on the defenders ahead of him and even though he’s had a few dodgy moments with the ball at his feet as he tried to overplay in the opening months of the campaign, he now seems to have eradicated that from his game.

5 things we learned from USMNT’s 2-0 loss to Brazil

Getty Images
2 Comments

The United States played Brazil on Friday night, and it was always going to be a daunting task. A young, inexperienced team against essentially Brazil’s World Cup squad.

To that end, it was a wonderful opportunity for the United States. They had nothing to lose by going out and hoping to compete. If it went awry, there’s plenty to be learned, and if it went well that’s a great sign. It didn’t go great, but there was plenty to draw from the match. Dave Sarachan and his team put up a great fight, and didn’t back down from one of the world’s best, refusing to bunker in and simply defending to pull out a gritty result.

[ USMNT-BRAZIL: Full recap | Player ratings ]

Given the fact that this national team essentially hit the hard reset button after the Trinidad & Tobago loss, it’s hard to judge sheer “progress” over the last few years, but there are a few more things we can pinpoint.

1) These kids are not afraid

In the opening 10 minutes, Dave Sarachan’s kids came out and high-pressed Brazil’s World Cup squad. Not just a high press…a VERY high press. The United States had nothing to lose in East Rutherford, and they played like it early on. That’s a great sign for some of these kids, who ended up troubling the Brazilians early on with the press.

After falling behind, the US took its few opportunities and went headlong at the visitors, with DeAndre Yedlin bombing down the right flank. The half-hour mark provided an impressive spell for the hosts, as the US earned four consecutive corners and all proved dangerous. Weston McKennie was fantastic going forward and was dangerous all night in the attacking third. After Brazil scored its second on a dubious penalty call, the US went right down the other end and threatened.

Dave Sarachan after the match said that Antonee Robinson might have been a little tentative at the beginning, but if anything, his errors were from over-committing, not sitting back and letting Douglas Costa come to him. Mistakes were made by the U.S. regularly, and there were plenty of matchups that featured a significant talent gap. Still, hesitancy and trepidation was not the reason the United States was beaten tonight, and that’s a positive to be taken.

2) The rookie mistakes eventually need to end

These kids are young, there’s no doubting that. The United States starting lineup featured a full 11 players 25 years old or younger. Still, eventually this process needs an end-point, and the kids will need to learn from their mistakes. Making those mistakes in matches like this is perfectly acceptable, but learning from those mistakes is the next step.

[ MORE: Player ratings from USMNT loss to Brazil ]

Take Brazil’s first goal for example. Antonee Robinson was burned by Douglas Costa down the flank because he switched off for a split second to communicate a defensive responsibility to his teammate and in the process over-committed. Costa, a player with incredible speed and instincts, took advantage and roasted the young left-back. Then, in the middle, Matt Miazga was beat by the oldest striker trick in the book – Roberto Firmino appeared to head towards the near post before drifting back to create space behind his unaware American defender.

Those mistakes are acceptable at this stage against this opponent, and they provide valuable learning experiences, but eventually those need to be learned from, or they will have been in vain.

3) Bobby Wood is fourth on the striker depth chart

Bobby Wood started the match at striker over Timothy Weah, and many fans were disappointed not to see the young, in-form PSG attacker earn the majority of the minutes. Wood struggled from the onset, giving the ball away cheaply which caused promising attacks to disintegrate, and he failing to find space up front. That is largely due to the strength of the opposition, but he still should be able to pick a spot or two over the course of 55 minutes. He ended up with nothing.

Weah came on with a little over a half-hour to go, and he proved more dangerous and decisive on the ball. He cut in from the left to earn Wil Trapp a long-range effort that forced Alisson into a shaky save in his most notable moment in an otherwise collectively sleepy second half. Weah should ultimately be ahead of Wood long-term on the depth chart, as is likely first-choice selection Jozy Altidore and young Josh Sargeant. Wood is a fine option, but he coughs up possession far too often, and against strong opponents like this, he cannot afford moments of inaccuracy when the team needs to value possession.

4) This defensive partnership can stay

Despite the early mistakes on the opening goal, Matt Miazga and John Brooks played quite well against one of the world’s best teams. There’s serious potential in this defensive partnership, and those who championed Miazga with Cameron Carter-Vickers seem to have forgotten about the experienced Brooks. Especially considering these two had only played 45 competitive minutes together before tonight, it was a stellar showing for the duo, and one that will give U.S. fans plenty of hope for the future. Had the back line not been exposed by poor wing defending, it might have been an even better night for the defense as a whole. Miazga was required out wide right on a couple of occasions to help cover defensively, and he did well in space, a difficult ask of a central defender. Not only that, they were dangerous on set-pieces with the U.S. threatening the most on corners. These two can grow together, and with CCV also in the mix, the U.S. suddenly appears set up at a position they’ve struggled to find consistently for a long time.

5) – This team needs leadership. Now.

Dave Sarachan has done a fine job ushering in a new era of players into the national team, but he serves little value to the US otherwise. The kids are doing their best on the field, but need a clear direction for the long-term future, and they need it now. The longer the United States waits to hire a coach, the more time is wasted to find new talent, create a plan for moving forward, and implement that plan on the field. The World Cup may be four years away, but valuable days are being thrown in the trash. The team needs a direction, and they need the leadership to implement that direction. The team has no chance against the world’s best without that leadership, and it showed tonight. These matches serve little purpose if they don’t come with direction and long-term values. Earnie Stewart may want to take his time, but that’s not in the best interest of this national team, and we saw that on the field tonight.

USMNT 0-2 Brazil: Young hosts no match for Neymar, Firmino

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Brazil coach Tite named a very strong starting lineup, with the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, and Casemiro. That was always going to be a struggle, and it was, but the United States was far from run off the field in East Rutherford on Friday night as they fell 2-0 to the World Cup quarterfinalists in an international friendly meeting.

The United States came out of the opening whistle with a very high press, and it seemed to trouble the Brazilians from the start, but the visitors began to figure things out and struck in the 11th minute. Douglas Costa straight burned Antonee Robinson who over-committed on the flank, and his cross found Roberto Firmino at the back post who had drifted back from an oblivious Matt Miazga. Brazil nearly grabbed a second as Costa again torched Robinson, this time cutting inside, but his ball into the box was fumbled at the penalty spot for Neymar.

[ COVERAGE: 5 Things Learned | Player Ratings ]

The US had its best chance down the other end on the half-hour mark as Yedlin crossed to Weston McKennie, but his promising shot was blocked. The ensuing corner resulted in a header by Miazga on a delicious cross from Julian Green, and again it went out for a corner. Again McKennie had a massive chance, but Alisson came off his line to smother the shot from the far post. A fourth corner again came sizzling in, but Wood couldn’t get his head to it and instead found himself shaken up on the turf.

Again Brazil almost had a second, but a Coutinho shot from the top of the box was blocked bravely by Robinson and Zack Steffen saved the follow-up from Fabinho. They would double the lead before the break when Fabinho went down softly in the penalty area trying to squeeze between John Brooks and Wil Trapp, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar sent Steffen the wrong way for his 53rd international goal. At the break, Brazil had most of the possession while the United States was left with little to savor.

With no substitutions for either side at halftime, Brazil came out of the break with the intent. Douglas Costa toasted Paul Arriola down the right, and nearly found Firmino but his poor first touch killed off the chance. Yet again, Costa beat Robinson on 52 minutes – this time through the middle – and fed a delicious pass to Neymar, but his shot was slowed by Steffen and eventually cleared off the line by Matt Miazga right on the doorstep.

[ MORE: U.S. to hire new head coach by end of 2018 ]

Sarachan brought on Timothy Weah and Kellyn Acosta for Paul Arriola and Julian Green as the game neared the hour mark, a positive substitution. Tite countered with the addition of Arthur for Manchester United midfielder Fred, while Douglas Costa was removed for Chelsea winger Willian. McKennie had a chance to put the U.S. on the board soon after, but he put his effort just wide on the end of a curling free-kick.

Another change for either side saw Gyasi Zardes replace Bobby Wood, while Paqueta made his international debut for Brazil replacing Coutinho. The U.S. nearly found an opening as Wil Trapp forced a shaky save from Alisson with a long-distance shot low and to the left. Down the other end, Robinson picked Firmino’s pocket to save a breakaway opportunity. The U.S. again had a chance on a set-piece with 15 minutes to go, but Alisson stopped a weak effort as two U.S. players came together for the shot.

With three minutes remaining, the U.S. had one last chance as Tyler Adams sent a cross in that went just over the head of Gyasi Zardes, while substitute Christian Roldan had his follow-up cutback cleared away. The loss is just the second for the United States in seven matches since the failure in Trinidad & Tobago, and will provide Dave Sarachan and the rest of the coaching staff plenty of tape to teach the players how to match up against the best in the world.

VIDEO: Alisson makes big mistake; Liverpool finally concede

Leave a comment

Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson is known for his exceptional footwork with the ball at his feet.

Um, yeah. That didn’t go so well on Saturday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

In the second half of Liverpool’s game at Leicester the Brazilian international was caught in possession by Kelechi Iheanacho after trying to turn him. Iheanacho then squared for Rachid Ghezzal to score.

Jurgen Klopp initially responded by shrugging his shoulders, as Alisson’s first slip-up in a Liverpool shirt was extremely predictable.

He had almost been caught out last week against Brighton but he obviously didn’t learn his lesson with the pace of the Premier League catching out the former Roma goalkeeper just a few weeks into the new season.

Watch the video above to see Alisson’s blunder as Liverpool conceded for the first time this season.