Monday Musings, Episode III – Revenge of the Greek

Here is my third installment of “Monday Musings.”  As always, it’s a mix of insight, analysis and fluff.

Part I – Fired Up Friday

First off, after some notable snipping on Twitter among Fire fans, it’s a relief to see everyone happy after the Fire got its third victory of the season on a cold and blustery Friday night.  While not quite a sell out in terms actual attendance, the crowd was very loud, and truly into this match.  It has been a long time since we’ve had this type of atmosphere at Toyota Park.  Section 8 was very active and there was even stereo effect between Section 8 and Sector Latino during goal kicks.  You all know the irksome chant.  Someone did their best to translate it when Montreal’s Evan Bush was subjected to this “friendly greeting.”


Here are my performance summaries.

David Accam improved yet again, scoring his first goal of the season and made the MLS Team of the Week.  His pace was blistering, and he’s only going to get faster as he approaches his peak fitness.  Although his goal was largely a gifted howler by NYCFC’s keeper Ryan Meara, I’ll give him credit for seeing the opportunity and calmly following through on it.  Here’s a clip of the “howler”.

At other times he deftly dribbled around the NYCFC defense to showcase his DP status.  He also gave a glimpse of Gareth Bale where he effectively “passed” the ball to himself when he motored by a defender with ease.  Had he scored during his three man dribble fest, it would have made the Friday night highlight reel.  Unfortunately, he was taken down from behind in a brazen two-footed challenge in the 24th minute which led to a well-deserved red.

It’s still early in the season, but if David continues at this pace, his acquisition will showcase the scouting skills of Frank Yallop and his staff.  Moreover, David may demonstrate that a team does not have to spend silly money (I mean “Dempsey Money”) to acquire great talent.  Don’t take my word for it.  David’s recent play has caught the attention of the Guardian’s Graham Parker Graham Ruthven (scroll to the bottom of the article).

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/apr/27/red-bulls-shine-against-galaxy-as-tenor-of-1-derby-changes?CMP=share_btn_tw

Sean Johnson had a better game in terms of distribution.  Instead of punting the ball up the pitch, he rolled the ball out to his fullbacks and midfielders.

At times I felt like we played three fullbacks with Eric Gehrig playing as a right centerback next to Jeff Larentowicz, when Joevin Jones pushed up.  Having said that, Jones is speedy and I hope that his probing attacks will lead to more assists or goals.  Adaliton dos Santos Filho had a good game, and appears to be a much more reliable centerback than the much maligned Bakary Soumare.  That said, Soumare has played far better with Montreal as evidenced by his blocked shot late in the game:

But just don’t take OTF’s word . . .

Matt Watson was a surprise start, and played with a sense of purpose as if he was trying to show the coaching staff that he deserves a weekly start.  Watson was robbed of a goal when Ryan Meara stretched to save his header in the 84th minute.

Matt Polster had one hell of a match and almost scored from distance on an ambitious, long range strike.  Matt also gets credit for keeping his head and not earning an unnecessary card.  If he keeps this up, he should be on the short list for rookie of the year.

Guly du Prado started the match over Quincy Amarikwa and looked improved but tended to drop back wide and deep.  “Play like a forward” shouted my follow season ticket holder Brendan Carr.  Whether dropping back was by design is unknown.  His first half was much better than his second, which may explain why he was subbed out in the 65th minute.  Whether he is going to be paired up top next weekend or whether Kennedy Igboananike gets a chance may rest on what happens this week during practice.

Shaun Maloney had another good match, with more than a few exciting dribbling moves from his fleet feet.  We’ve been waiting for some set piece magic to appear, but alas, it was not to be this week.  I sense that Shaun will be working a bit harder on set pieces this next week before the Fire heads to Sporting KC on Sunday.

Harry Shipp had an excellent match.  He’s not fast, but he’s efficient as hell.  He’s always in the right place at the right time.  He also knows where his teammates will be.  Harry has “vision”, which is something you can’t really teach a player.  Harry’s vision allows him to see opportunities and effortlessly direct the ball towards those opportunities.  To quote the late Albus Percival Wulfric Brian, “it is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”  Harrison Shipp makes all of the right choices.

With more time, Harry and Shaun Richard Maloney will link up with numerous goals this year.  I’m not the only one to say this, but I’m pleased to see that the Guardian agrees with my analysis:

Shaun Maloney is proving a creative and dangerous force up front and once he starts linking up consistently with the latest populist shout for a national team look, Harry Shipp, the goals should start coming from that axis.

Last on my list is Quincy, who appeared to have earned the scorn of the crowd at the end of the game when he needlessly held on to the ball and attempted to barrel his way into the goal without passing the ball:

My guess is that Quincy is going to be relegated to a late match substitute.

Towards the end of the game, I grew worried that Fire might concede and I wasn’t the only one in Toyota Park have that nagging feeling.  I’m glad my worst fears were not realized, but the Guardian article echoed my thoughts on this point:

But the other is a more general issue for Chicago continuing to allow teams to stay in games. Eighteen draws last season tell their own story, and despite the changes, including Accam, and despite their sometimes exhilarating approach play, the Fire, as they showed on Friday, are still struggling to kill off games, even against a depleted and dejected 10-man NYC team.

Tying would have been a tragedy given the amount of shots which either hit the posts or were saved by NYCFC’s keeper Ryan Meara, who may have had the match of young his career.

Moving into next weekend’s game versus Sporting KC, the Fire need to bury those shots early because they will be playing to a full house of hostile KC fans.

Part II – Do Keepers Dream of Electric Sheep?

In addition to Ryan Meara’s howler, another MLS keeper had a semi-howler. Ghanaian keeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey blew a fairly routine save in 77th minute of the hyped up Seattle Portland match.

Every the poacher, Clint Dempsey walked onto the goal line unmarked and tapped the ball.  While I like Clint Dempsey when he plays for the United States, I find annoying as a MLS player.  His scrappy, poorly defended goal didn’t win me over.

Despite my feelings about Dempsey’s theatrics and constant stink-eye face, I have to admire his bravery in his post-game interview where he amassed a considerable amount of eye contact with Fox’s Julie Stewart-Binks.

In contrast to Dempsey, David Accam didn’t back off Meara’s bungled attempt to avoid a corner kick, stripped the ball from Meara and calmly slotted it in from an angle with approaching defending in his way.

Brad Guzan also had an embarrassing howler in his all-important relegation battle – though it didn’t change the outcome of the game:

While people questioned whether Brad’s gaff should void his USMNT status, I tweeted a link which shows that even Manuel Neuer has a bad day:

Either way, all of these keepers must have tossed and turned all last night, dreaming of their respective howlers.

like_tears_in_the_rain_by_saturnoarg-d4uxbpw

[“Like Tears in the Rain” by Salvador Trakal]

Part III – Fluff Time, “Garbage Time”

Katie Nolan’s show “Garbage Time” on Fox Sports 1 is pretty funny.  Sunday night was the first time I ever watched her show, and lucky me, she discussed soccer!  Well sort of.  Unfortunately for Nike, it was a funny, four minute rant against the new USA Women’s kit.  Catch the video here:

http://www.foxsports.com/watch/garbage-time-with-katie-nolan?vid=434855491598

In response to Nike statement that the “volt yellow” socks and “blue lagoon” shoes are paying homage to Canadian lakes (yes LAKES), she exclaimed “Holy [bleep] we are honoring a different nation with our national uniforms?  That’s nice of us.  That’s actually such a Canadian thing to do that we have out Canada’ed (sp?) Canada!” 

If you’ve never encountered a Canadian tourist, Katie was taking a dig at how annoying nice they try to be.

She then cut to clips of several players repeatedly saying how “clean” the jersey is, suggesting to me, that the players are characters out of Karel Capek’s classic, “Rossum’s Universal Robots.”

In fairness Nike, not every country incorporates their national flag.  According to Charlie Brooks, Nike’s VP of North America Communications:

Take Germany’s kit for example, world champions. The German flag is yellow, red and black. The kit is white with black trim on it. I understand people asking about the colors, but there’s also that level of not all national teams have to represent the flag.

Translation?  If it’s good enough for Germany, it’s good enough for the Good Ole USA.

My take is that Nike borrowed from the Bauhaus Movement, where form follows function.  After all, it’s just a kit, right?  And if the USA women win the World Cup, then the kit may immortalize the ’15 generation and distance them (as they often desire) from the ’99 generation.  At the very least, the players won’t have to worry about grass stains on the Canadian “tundra” (turf).

Part IV – “Tweet of the Week”

It’s only Monday but Tweet of the Week should go to Austin Berry who tweeted that he had made the inside of a South Korean woman’s magazine:

You’ve got to wonder who Berry ticked off to end up playing in South Korea.  At least he’s not in North Korea.

Runner up for Tweet of the Week goes to Sean Johnson who is apparently brushing up on his French – to the horror of another fan:

Part V – ICYMI

In case you missed it, the Sean Johnson to Montreal Impact “trade” rumor exploded and burnt out quicker than a supernova as these tweets book-ended by Jeffrey Carlisle demonstrate:

Even Ted chimed in:

Part VI – Revenge of the Greek

I trust that Frank Klopas won’t let North America down by collapsing at home after surprising many people (but not me) with an early goal during “Greek Time” in last week’s CONCACAF match in Mexico City vs. Club América.

In case you missed it, this is the crap that Montreal Impact keeper Evan Bush had to deal with in his remarkable game.

Coldplay_Mylo_Xyloto_Tour_@_Wells_Fargo_Center

[Lianak409 on Flickr ]

Unfortunately for Montreal, Evan Bush got a yellow card at the end of the game and his yellow card accumulation prohibits him from this Wednesday’s match (presuming he can even see). But it gets worse, as Montreal was unable to appeal Bush’s yellow card.

In a nutshell, the rules don’t allow a team to appeal the yellow card and Montreal arguably wasted its time filing an appeal.  Section 6.5 (a) of the Champions League states:

The following decisions of the CONCACAF Disciplinary Committee shall not be subject to appeal: a. Cautions and censures imposed on players, Referees, Assistant Referees, fourth Officials, team staff and officials, other persons or national associations.

Similarly, Section 6.8 specifically states that suspensions from yellow card accumulations are not appealable:

any player cautioned or sent from the field of play by the referee shall be subject to the punishments specified in 6.28, 6.29 and 6.30. Such punishments are automatic and are not subject to appeal.

The operative Section, 6.29, provides that a second yellow in a consecutive match applies to the next match.  This is pretty unfair given how Evan was treated, but the rules are the rules.   You can only image how upset Frank Klopas is right now:

plates

[Franziskakessler.com , Artist: Melli Ink]

Without Sean Johnson to save the day, the Impact have other options – notably Jeff Crandall has offered to play:

Alternatively, I’m willing to pitch in.  When Frank Klopas saw me play during a media match a few years ago, I made a pretty great save (IMHO), low to the corner of my goal, which caused Frank (who was watching from the stands) to jump to his feet, clap and yell “Hellas” (I was wearing a Greek National Team jersey).  Ignore the knee braces, they are just for show and to trick opposing players into thinking I’m too old and crippled to play:

Friendly_3

[Chicago Fire]

If the Impact score another early goal and successfully park a Trojan bus, the Impact could win this match.

Trojan1b_2

[webspace.webring]

And if the Impact wins, this will be the new Malort:

brandy_met10

[thewhiskyexchange]

Good Luck Frank!

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