>Monday Lunch: Great Weekend for Americans Abroad

Posted: February 15, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

>   Starting today, and every Monday from now on I, Evan, will talk through the weekend that just happened. I will discuss what I thought was good and what I thought was poor with, of course, an American focus. I will also mention what I am looking forward to seeing in the next week in soccer.

Weekend Recap:

   As I took in the Borussia Monchengladbach-Nuremburg game this Friday, I made an astonishing amount of discoveries about the Bundesliga and many other related things. First off, I will admit, I have never seen a full Bundesliga game before Friday, and with the team of our favorite coach’s son playing, Friday seemed like a perfect time to open up my German soccer experience and I was not disappointed.
   Michael Bradley, the man I turned on the game to watch, was for my money the second best player on the pitch the whole day. As always he was much better in the first half then the second, but total in the game I don’t think he lost possession more than 5 times, and that’s saying something for a central midfielder. Bradley played a beautiful ball to set up the first goal of the 2-1 home win; a ball that left me thinking about how much service Jozy will have this summer. Bradley was smart in his passing and had a few great tackles in an overall great performance.
   When I said that Bradley was the second best player, that is because the man who dominated the game was a Brazilian central defender called Breno. This man won everything near him and was neat and tidy in distributing the ball to teammates and even having a few runs up the pitch offensively. When I looked him up after the game, I found out that he was just 20 years old and on loan from Bayern Munich. Look for this man to make a huge impact in the game in years to come.
   Another astonishing thing I uncovered from this game was the play of Albert Bunjaku. The naturalized Swiss international didn’t really make an impact on the game besides his equalizer right after half time, but then the announcer said something that really interested me. Apparently this man has scored 11 goals already this season in the Bundesliga: quite the respectable number. However, as a team in all, Nuremburg has scored just 18 times this season. I don’t know whether to be more impressed with Bunjaku or depressed with the efforts of the rest of the team.
   Lastly from this game, more great news for the USMNT, one of Algeria’s key players, Karim Matmour was featured the first time this year for Borussia Monchengladbach. The good news was that he looked atrocious. When he came on he got in the way of the keeper leading to a goal by Canadian international Rob Friend, but after that, he only hurt his side. He was set up twice for golden opportunities in the second half, which would have finished off the game both times. On the first one, he tried to dribble the ball around the keeper only for him to be disposed easily. The second was better because he actually managed to get a shot off, but the keeper saved it with no trouble at all. After this, he somehow managed to mess up a three on two breakaway. Overall his performance was terrible and if this is the type of player that consistently suits up for Algeria, USA should be in for a two or three goal win at least come June 23rd.

   Jose Francisco Torres, the man who I said would not make the World Cup squad, is now in my opinion back on. Although he only played 45 minutes as a sub on Sunday, he scored the winning goal on a free kick and added an amazing celebration afterwards. He has replaced Edgar Castillo on my roster for the World Cup. You may be thinking; why would Bob Bradley take nine midfielders and only seven defenders? This is a good point, but Maurice Edu showed at the 2008 Olympics that he is more than comfortable to slide in and play central defense, but he would still be behind Onyewu, Bocanegra, Demerit, Goodson and Spector in the pecking order.

   Freddy Adu scored the winning goal for Aris Sunday as both he and Eddie Johnson got starts for the Greek side. It’s good to see two of the most maligned national team players playing well and getting results for their club teams. One can only hope that this would continue; giving Bob Bradley more decisions.

   As I mentioned on Thursday, there were a few players that I was unsure about their injury situation, but we look to have resolved that. DaMarcus Beasley made a surprise start in Rangers 3-0 win Sunday and although he didn’t do anything notable, it was good to see him back on the field as the World Cup draws nearer. Also of note in the Rangers game: Maurice Edu did not play but he was named as a sub: great to see the Americans in Scotland getting back in the squad.

   Also great to see was Stuart Holden making the 18 for the Bolton game. Hopefully with more training he will start to see some playing time.

   Last in the weekend wrap-up, Fulham posted a 4-0 victory over Notts County moving into the quarterfinals where they will face Bolton or Tottenham after their replay. Hopefully they can stay alive long enough for Clint Dempsey to get some meaningful time in an important elimination competition before the World Cup.

What I will be looking forward to this week:

Everton vs. Sporting Lisbon Tuesday 9:45am PST

   Landon Donovan only has about a month left on his loan but he still has more than a few key matches left to play, this being one of them. Everton host one of the top Portuguese sides in the first leg of a Europa League (former UEFA Cup) round of 32 match-up. This is one of the marquee matches of the round and look for Donovan to shine coming off his best ever game in Europe.

Wigan vs Bolton Wednesday Noon PST

   This will be one of the famed “6 pointers” as 16th place Wigan host 19th place Bolton. Obviously not a game between top sides, this is more of an interest to me in seeing if Stuart Holden will get off the bench and get his first meaningful minutes in England. Look for him to make a late game cameo possibly for 10 or 15 minutes.

Everton vs Manchester United Saturday 4:45am PST

   This is my match of the week as Everton host the defending champions and the side currently 1 point out of first place with 12 matches remaining. After Landon’s impressive performance against Chelsea and with Ryan Giggs nursing an injury hopefully Landon will continue his strong form and have a great game contributing to an upset. I see a draw, 2-2 perhaps with Landon getting a goal and playing a good game overall. And yes, I will be watching this game even if I only get 2 hours of sleep.

West Ham United vs Hull City Saturday 7:00am PST

   Another “6 pointer” here between 14th place West Ham and 17th place Hull City. I am actually really excited to see Jozy go up against Jonathan Spector assuming they both start. It should be noted that Hull have been poor on the road, having picked up just 4 points from 13 matches on the road while scoring only 7 goals and letting in 31. However if Jimmy Bullard makes his return to the starting lineup, I expect things to be different. I think Hull will record its first away victory 2-1 with Jozy getting one of the goals.

   Overall it looks to be an Exciting week for Americans in Europe and the USMNT overall. Look for me on Thursday to wrap up the Everton and Bolton games while also looking at what we can expect from USA’s February 24th friendly vs. El Salvador.

  1. Flyingoose says:

    >I'll be up FOR SURE on Saturday to watch the game live before I work.

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