>Thursday Lunch: Holllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllywood (Kljestan)

Posted: February 25, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

>Wow, I just finished watching the USA-El Salvador game and Hollywood got the winner in added time. It was an entertaining game that showed us some few things about what is to come. But first…

Weekday thoughts:

   Ronaldo has announced that he will hang them up in 2011 once his contract with Corinthians runs out. It will be sad to see possibly the greatest forward of all time (certainly the greatest in World Cup history) retire. Over the years he scored 15 World Cup goals and 62 international goals overall while winning 2 world cups, finishing in second in one, and making the quarterfinals in his last. He also won 3 FIFA World Player of the Year awards as well as a World Cup Golden and Silver Ball, and a World Cup Golden, Silver, and Bronze Boot. He will be missed.

   Some interesting news this week out of the Algeria camp: according to a report, two likely world cup starters in Portsmouth left back Nadir Belhadj and ES Setif keeper Faouzi Chaouchi might be suspended an additional 4 games for their red cards against Egypt in the African Cup of Nations semifinals, which would all but rule them out of the World Cup.
   Also of note, Algeria picked their base camp for the World Cup at sea level and was one of only seven sides to do so. Considering they play USA in Pretoria at 4,170 feet above sea level, this doesn’t seem like a good move.

   Grant Wahl is reporting that USA is likely to play one last friendly before the World Cup: likely June 5th against Australia somewhere in South Africa. USA had a similar game against Angola four years ago in Germany; however, that game was a closed-door scrimmage. From what I have heard about this game though, it would be open to the public. This is another great addition to the list of friendly matches that will come our way before the World Cup.

   In Wednesday FA Cup action Slovenia captain Robert Koren scored twice against Reading. After doing some research, it appears that the West Brom player scores about once every 10 matches for both club and country, and all the offense goes through him. Should we be worried? Considering Carlos Bocanegra has a better goal scoring record, I would say no.
   Spurs calmly lit up Bolton 4-0, but this game was notable for another reason. Stuart Holden got the start in central midfield and played all 90 minutes. Holden was simply the best player for Bolton, which wasn’t really saying much, but he was head and shoulder above everyone else. I watched 80 minutes of the game (my stream cut out for 10 minutes) and by my count, Holden gave the ball away just once. He certainly looks like he belongs in the side and he should have had two assists, but one of Bolton’s Bob Marley look-alikes did terribly with the glorious chances he was granted. Personally, I would like to see the Iceman starting in the center of the park with Michael Bradley next Wednesday. It also should be noted that Holden was very strong with his set piece deliveries.

USA 2 El Salvador 1

   This was a good match that saw USA dominate as expected, however they did not finish their chances. In general, USA looked very good on the buildup, and the counter as a few players helped their chances and a few hurt theirs.

Men of the Match:

3.    Sacha Kljestan – Hollywood had a great first half in terms of distribution and was somewhat unlucky to not score one of his two chances. He didn’t give the ball away much, but I didn’t have him in my top three players until he scored the winning goal. He has definitely earned a spot on the roster vs. the Netherlands.
2.    Brian Ching – Ching Kong was great for the whole 45 minutes. He fought for the ball and distributed it well. A healthy Ching could go a long way in the World Cup in terms of holding possession and possibly adding the odd goal here and there. His flicks were world class today, not to mention the fact that he got a goal. My favorite play from him was a half volley that he took very well off a cross from the right side. I’m still not sure how he got to it and got it on goal. With the terrible forward play as of late, Ching looks to have earned a spot in South Africa just based on this performance.
1.    Heath Pearce – What can I say? He was a monster for the full 90 minutes. He slightly edges out Ching based on having a great game vs. just a great half. Pearce was getting up and down the field all day; attacking just as well as defending for most of the game. He had the cross that Brian Ching scored on and he had a few others that should have resulted in goals. However, my favorite play of the game was in the 85th minute when he absolutely destroyed Arturo Alvarez on a two-footed challenge. Pearce got all ball and it shouldn’t have been a foul. It was the sort of tackle that you dream of making; unfortunately, he got a yellow in the process but it was undeserving. Perhaps this is karma for Alvarez pulling a Benedict Arnold (© Will Robinson) on the USA.

Disappointment(s):

Robbie Rogers – He looked lost for most of the game. He got into good positions but did nothing with the ball and had a terrible game decision wise. I was looking for more from the Columbus midfielder.
John Harkes – No explanation needed.

Now, time for my Thursday top 10 list, after bashing Americans last week, I decided to give my boys some love this week by naming my 10 favorite American players of all time. (Note: I realized after making this list that I left off Carlos Bocanegra, if I had to make the list again, he would be just above McBride and below Donovan. Call it my top 11 list.)

10.    Alecko Eskandarian – I gotta throw some love to some of my DC boys even if he only played once for the national team. I love how this guy scores so many amazing goals and his 2004 MLS Cup MVP season was unforgettable. I still wish that DC never traded him even if it meant giving up just 20 goals in 4 years in order to get Luciano Emilio who would provide 40 in 3 years. He is also the only player on this list that I have met. Fun story: In 2005, he had just returned from injury so he didn’t start when DC played San Jose at Spartan Stadium, so I talked to him at half time, got his autograph, and told him to go score some goals. He then proceeded to score zero goals in the 2005 season. My bad Alecko.

9.    Clint Mathis – Cleetus has to have a place on this list, if only for just being a straight up badass. His peak was short, but from 2001-2003 no one was more dangerous for the USMNT. His goal in the 2002 World Cup against South Korea is still one of my all time favorite goals.

8.    Brian McBride – Although I only witnessed the end of his career, what a career it was. His 30 goals are third all time (until Dempsey passes him in 2012/13) and he provided invaluable hold up play that we haven’t seen since he retired. USA is still struggling to cope with his retirement.

7.    Landon Donovan – You would think that the all time leading scorer would be higher up on my list, but he isn’t. I love him; I just love all the other guys a little more. There isn’t really much to be said about Landon that you don’t know. He is the best USA player now and probably of all time, I just like everyone else’s styles a little more. Donovan has also been great in MLS play. In the first professional game I ever went to back in the days of the 1836 San Houston DynaClashQuakes, Donovan scored a goal and set up another in a 3-1 win.

6.    Jozy Altidore – I just love the way he plays. He is so big and strong and you have to love the stanky legg celebration. Jozy is electrifying and he has a chance to be the best USA forward ever, if he can just become a little more consistent in the EPL. No player this young has been in such a high league before though. Jozy has a bright future.

5.    Michael Bradley – Admittedly, he dropped some spots for being a former MetroBull, but I just love the way he plays. He is strong in all facets of his play. He plays a great through ball, makes great late runs, scores a decent amount of goals and is strong in the air. If he could just stop getting red cards in tournament semi finals, he would be great.

4.    Charlie Davies – I was at his international debut and my initial thoughts were that he would never amount to much. I was obviously proven wrong though and he was the surprise of 2009 in both good and bad ways. It is a sad story that someone was at the top for such a short amount of time before he had it taken all away. His goal in Mexico was fantastic and it gave me confidence that we will get a result there soon. I believe that when Charlie gets back he will be stronger than ever and USA will reap all the benefits.

3.    Ben Olsen – The former heart and soul of DC United since 1998. Ben Olsen was never the most skillful player, but you did not mess with him. He was rugged and had a knack for scoring timely goals. It is sad that my favorite DC player retired, but his ankles were never quite right after 2000 so he will get some much-needed rest. It was great to see him play in the last World Cup.

2.    Oguchi Onyewu – The first time I saw Onyewu play was against Mexico at Azteca. Onyewu was not nearly the player he is now and had a howler of a game then. But he showed me a lot when in the return leg of that game he absolutely dominated Jared Borghetti leading to one of my favorite pictures of all time:

Onyewu is possibly the most physically gifted athlete on the team however; he really struggled technically until a few years ago. He was amazing at the Confederations Cup, he won almost every ball and his distribution was world class. Hopefully he gets over this injury and gets minutes for Milan before June. We need this absolute monster back.

1.    Clint Dempsey – Was there ever any doubt? This is all I have to say.

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Comments
  1. Flyingoose says:

    >"In the first professional game I ever went to back in the days of the 1836 San Houston DynaClashQuakes, Donovan scored a goal and set up another in a 3-1 win."And Ching had the other two goals.

  2. Flyingoose says:

    >especially the blast into the net from 2 yards away, haha.

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