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Harv on Califf, Adu opinions, more USA thoughts

Union

With Sheanon Williams returning to the Union, Chris Albright may return to the bench (though… who knows). But the local lad remains a great spokesman for the Philly soccer scene. “In my mind, this is the best soccer community in the country, hands down. I know from where I grew up playing the devotion people in the inner city have to soccer, and it obviously spread into the suburbs. I’ve always known the potential was here. It just took a vision, proper ownership and a stadium to get people to come. It’s a wonderful environment.”

Speaking of players who embraced the city, Jordan Harvey looks set to start when the Vancouver LE TOUXS Whitecaps drop by PPL Park on Saturday. First choice left back Alain Rochat is undergoing treatment on an injured knee and Harvey is next on the depth chart. “I have a lot of good memories and it holds a really good place in my heart,” Harvey told the Vancouver Province. “I’m looking forward to seeing some old faces and the fans that are so rowdy. It will be fun to see the reaction.”

Asked about his good friend Danny Califf, Harvey responded, “Reading the articles and speaking with him, it’s interesting to see what’s going on.”

Nothing cuts to the emotional core of a tough loss like the reaction of a 19-year old fan, and that’s exactly what Jack McInerney was when the US Olympic team crashed out of qualifying. ““I didn’t say anything,” the Union striker said. “I was just staring at the TV. It was hard to believe.”

The Brotherly Game says the right midfield role is, “still an unconvincing one for [Freddy] Adu despite his goal and three assists in his three starts during Olympic Qualifying.” Considering that it’s the only role in which he has been even moderately effective in the past few years, let’s hope it becomes convincing fairly soon.

The Goaltender believes Adu just needs to keep a strong mental approach: “Just because Adu is played on the right wing instead of in centrral midfield shouldn’t be a barrier to working hard and finding ways to express his skills. The level of talent in MLS, for as much as the league has improved, still is such that Adu can have plenty of space to create from anywhere if he wants to.” The Union, unfortunately, haven’t created space for their skill players in the final third for over two years now, so Adu’s going to have to look pretty hard for those gaps.

The best lede of the day award goes to Andy Jasner, who begins his article on the Union’s bounce-back hopes by writing, “The Philadelphia Union are keenly aware of what has transpired over the first three matches in an 0-3-0 start to the 2012 MLS season.” Whew! Good to know someone is aware of what transpired because the rest of us couldn’t tell what the heck was going on out there.

Conor O’Grady defends Zac MacMath, writing that the young goalie is not that similar to Chris Seitz. “[Seitz’s] tension, nerves and occasional sheer panic were visible from the Commodore Barry, and opponents knew it.  Not so with MacMath.  At least not so far, anyway.”

Apparently MLS is outdrawing Ligue 1 in France this season.

USA

Bruce Arena has the answers for US soccer: “We need to have new leadership, a fresh way of doing things. Usually it’s a new coach. But maybe it’s time for new leadership and new concepts as well. Who knows? But I think we’re making progress, regardless of this result.”

Chuck Murphy knows why the US team was bounced from the Olympic qualifiers: “There we see how many of the players, all of them highly skilled, have been coddled for most of their athletic lives.” Murphy specifically targets the incident when Terrence Boyd left the field bloodied after some shenanigans around the top of the El Salvadorian box. “I’m not asking for them to throw a punch and take a red card with a one goal lead and time running out. I am asking to see some pluck. It was absent in Nashville.” And in response to Freddy Adu and Mix Diskerud’s complaints that they were bitten during the match, Murphy says, “Guess what? Sometimes teams who want to win will kick, claw and bite.”

ESPN says that the Olympics have to be kept in perspective. “If this batch of youngsters flourishes regardless of its Olympic setback, Monday night’s events will be quickly downgraded from calamity to afterthought.”

Other

Goal.com previews tonight’s Champion’s League match between Toronto FC and Santos Laguna.

In FA Cup action yesterday, Tottenham and Everton advanced to the semis.

Chelsea continued their renaissance with a 1-0 win at Benfica while Real Madrid broke down a stout APOEL defense in UEFA Champion’s League play. AC Milan and Barca face off today in the marquee matchup of the quarterfinals. Munich and Marseille are also on the schedule.

And today wouldn’t be awesome unless Mario Balotelli was doing something random. This time he dropped in on the press conference introducing Inter Milan’s new head coach. Balo no longer plays for Inter, but he happened to be in the neighborhood and decided to release some of his pent up crazy. Dude is amazing.

21 Comments

  1. I feel like I am driving the MacMath bandwagon alone, but I still feel very good about him. He is aggressive, and tries hard to command his box. His errors have not changed this at all. Considering both of the goals Hamid allowed to Canada would NOT have happened if it was MacMath there, I hope Hamids and Johnsons failuress in qualifying put MacMath into perspective a bit for everyone.

    • I’m on the MacMath bandwagon with you, and I feel he will be fine once we can get a defense settled in front of him. Those seven matches that he filled in last year weren’t a fluke. The U played some very tough opposition (SKC, Seattle, DCU) with the strains of a playoff push and we didn’t miss a beat. Young GKs will make errors, that’s just a fact of life, but Zac proved he’s got the mental toughness to shake off a boo-boo.

      A return to the four man back line of Califf, Valdes Williams and Garfan will do wonders for our defense and in turn allow our GK to shine.

    • The Black Hand says:

      MacMath has made a couple of nice challenges on attacking players who have gotten clear of our defense. However, he has made some very poor challenges that could have easily resulted in goals, if not for a defender bailing him out. His aerial game is horrendous, his positioning, in relation to the goal, when being attacked, is not good. To say that MacMath is able to perform at an international level is a bit of a reach, to say the very least. I, too, feel that you are driving the MacMath bandwagon alone and would ask you to stop off and pick up an experienced goalkeeper who can step in. Allow young Zach to remain a backup and study the game at a professional level. He is not ready, especially with the back line of defenders that Nowak fields in front of him. He is being fed to lions and they are feasting.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I stand corrected. You are not the only one driving.

      • That’s easy to say pick up an experience keeper so MacMath can learn, but….. 1) Where are you going to find an experience keeper at this point in the season who would be an upgrade over ZM? 2) Do you risk killing ZM’s confidence & in turn create another Chris Seitz if you do find a replacement over the summer?

        I put a good deal of the blame for Zac’s struggles at the feet of the technical staff. They made the big gamble that Zac was ready for prime time when they opted to not acquire a veteran keeper in the close season. They are the ones choosing to play a three man backline and benching the team’s captain leaving gaping holes in the defense and on field leadership. I get that the kid gifted the opposition two soft goals in Portland and at home vs the Rapids, but that’s when the coaching staff needs to give their young keeper as much protection as they can with a solid four man back line that has worked well together in the past.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        In response to your number 2. If MacMath cannot cope with a veteran presence being brought in to help him and take some minutes, then he never was for real to begin with. That said, I think he if for real and would be absolutely fine with it. Number 1 is the tricky part.

      • Well said, Sean. Amen.

      • The Black Hand says:

        1) I would explore the option of trading for a veteran goalkeeper who is currently a backup. I wouldn’t call it an upgrade, I would just say it would be an insurance policy in case young Zac proves to not to be the goalkeeper that we hope he will be. That way we won’t be caught with our pants down, like we are right now. So far, MacMaths play, in my eyes, has been subpar and I feel he is already making excuses for his performances. (The fact that the sun was in his eyes during the second half of the Rapids match that started at 4:30, is tough for me to get my head around being that he was facing east and at that time of day the sun would be well behind him.)
        2) I would absolutely risk ZM’s confidence if it came to make a decision that could benefit the club. If his current form has made him feel confident, we are in far worse trouble than had been imagined.
        That said, I absolutely agree with you that the ineptitude of our current “manager”, and the science experiment of a squad he has been fielding, has directly added to MacMath’s struggles. However, that does not let him off the hook for the goals that should have been stopped.(2 in Port. very easily could have been 3 with the one he almost set into his net in the first half and the sunintheeyes vs. rapids.) That is more goals than the team has scored directly resulting in poor form of the goalkeeper.

      • Ditto what Black Hand said, and to address the international level comment – he WAS the 3rd GK called up for the u23 training camps so he has some pedigree and future expectations.
        And in regards to the Hamid goals I mentioned, the first Canada goal was an embarrassing case of Hamid timidly backing up to the ball and practically waiting for it to get to him, allowing the free header. One thing we see from MacMath all the time is that he attacks the ball in the air (and as you said, sometimes when he shouldn’t).
        The second Canada goal was just as bad, as Hamid either didn’t learn from his mistake or got scared from it, and just sat on his line as low cross was sent into the box.
        I am not saying MacMath is a better prospect than Hamid right now, I only wished to put the two GKs into perspective and highlight some of MacMaths strengths.

      • oops, I meant ditto to RFC Sean. (an edit option for this blog would do wonders btw)

    • DarthLos117 says:

      James my perspective from Hamid, Johnson AND MacMath’s recent failures is that the American soccer goalkeeping outlook looks grim…please stay away from assuming that goals would not have happened if blah blah blah…or I could assume MacMath would have lost the ball in the lights/sun against Canada. For the record, I want MacMath to succeed both in the MLS and for the USA. I aint gonna take anything for what it may be but rather from what I see and what it is at the moment. The recent American Under’s failure have set Soccer back…we look like the chumps of old.

      • Keep in mind that Timmy Howard didn’t really hit his stride until he had been with the MetroStars a few years, and even after he established himself as a stud there were struggles once his position at Man United was undermined. All these young American goalies have until 2015 to get ready for the big stage.

      • Seriously being over negative here, a few errors for very young GKs, at an age where THEY ARE EXPECTED TO MAKE ERRORS, sets “soccer” back for us!?!?!? Ridiculous.
        I guess soccer has been set back for Arsenal and Man U as well since their young GKs have definietly had their growing pains as well…

      • DarthLos117 says:

        If they ARE EXPECTED TO MAKE ERRORS get off of Johnson and Hamid’s back. (For the record I dont expect elite players who represent our country to make mistakes) Also read my post before you criticize it. I cite the “American’s Under’s failures” as setting back the American soccer outlook not just goalkeeping mistakes…

      • Section 116 says:

        Am I the only person who is hoping for a summer loan of a European #1 keeper in that “very valuable” International spot?

        Someone who is clearly only an interim guy, will be a mentor to McMath, and can cover when McMath is at the Olympics (oh, wait….)?

  2. I am jumping on Wynalda and Arena’s bandwagon: Gulati has to go. He has to take responsibility for the U20 and U23 fiascos. Was also discussed in depth and agreed this morning during the Daily Football Show on Sirius/XM.

    Good article (answers for US Soccer). Explains the problems we now have replacing current players who are in their 30’s, and that Friedel may have to be called out of retirment….; well, there is Guzan, I guess.

    Also good stuff about current players being too soft. Good points.

    • Not to extend an argument, but exactly what are the underlying problems that need this drastic attention? That Klinnsman has decided to go 4-3-3 on the youth teams? The fact that for a few games the u23 looked to be playing beautiful attacking soccer? The fact that the changes implemented will take years, maybe a generation, to become fully implanted into American soccer culture? The fact that all these changes were implemented with the general understanding it would be a multi year project?
      It’s borderline laughable that missing out on the Olympics, the first major “test” of a new soccer system that, as mentioned, could take years to become normal for us, generates this kind of response.
      I just think the take away should be something like “Well, it was our first major test of this new mindset, and you know what, we actually looked pretty capable at points playing this brand new 4-3-3, and the future looks really bright, particularly with this young attacking talent,” not “OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG.”

  3. OK Adam: Goaltender = hockey. Goalkeeper = soccer. JTannenwald may appreciate the proper name of his blog appearing as well. Also kudos to Chuck Murphy – great writing.

  4. I agree our young players are too soft. Someone bites your ear , get his number wait your chance. complaining about it after the game is immature nonsense. We are missing a huge opportunity in London to put our young players on a big stage.What a shame!

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