Group Stage Worst XI

June 25, 2010

This should be fun. Be prepared to see a lot of Italy, France, England, and

GK: Robert Green (England)- The biggest gaffe of the tournament did not prove ultimately costly, but it did have a role in landing England in a brutal knockout bracket. An honorable mention could go to Marchetti,of Italy, who did not inspire confidence in place of world beater Buffon, surrendering a poor 3rd goal against Slovakia that all but did the Italians in, and being poorly positioned for the Kiwi’s goal.

Defense:

Patrice Evra (France)- The French captain got benched for their 3rd and final game after getting smoked by Mexico, in particular on a play that led to Mexico’s second goal.

Fabio Cannavaro (Italy)- Another Captain who got mercilessly disrobed numerous times. It seems the past is written with Cannavaro, but not the future.

Rafa Marquez (Mexico)- Screw this guy. Yeah he played OK, and yeah he scored their goal to draw against South Africa, but seriously, screw this guy.

Kim Jong Il (North Korea)- Not even a sophisticated missile defense system could salvage the North Koreans.

Midfield:

Frank Lampard (England)- Big Fat Frank has yet to hit the broad side of a barn with as much as an early cross.

Frank Ribery (France)- When in doubt, run as fast as you can into the nearest defender and then yell at your teammates after your shortish frame gets muscled off the ball.

Kader Keita (Ivory Coats)- The Academy wouldn’t even proud of this shambolic acting performance that even Drogba and all of Italy would be embarrassed by.

Tim Cahill (Australia)- When you are the supposed “talisman” of your club and country, it helps to not get red carded out of the tournament within the first 60 minutes.

Forwards:

Wayne Rooney (England)- Disappointing is not a strong enough word, although it has enough letters in it to be beyond Sir Wayne’s vocabulary.

Guiseppe Rossi (ne Italy)- While I will continue to laugh at the arrogant American-born “Italian” for scorning his country of birth only to be left of the Italian side, there is something karmically ironic that Italy struggled with their older and duller attackers.

Group Stage Best XI

June 25, 2010

Here are my picks for the Best XI of the group stage

GK: Tim Howard (USA), not the best scoring record, but stellar in goal coming up with some of the biggest stops of the tournament; a great organizer, and providing outstanding distribution, including the throw that led to the Goal That Changed Everything.

Back line:

RB- Maicon (Brazil)- a force at the back as well as in attack. Quite possibly the best defender in the world right now.

CB- Lucio (Brazil)- El Capitan is a dominating presence and the galvanizing force behind Brazil.

CB- Ricardo Carvalho (Portugal)- A savvy presence chairing a staunch defense that has yet to yield a goal.

LB- Phillip Lahm (Germany)- Hard not to give it to the German Captain who has given the Germans a new identity and some superb flowing attacking forays.

Midfield:

RM- Elano (Brazil)- Dominating at times and always clever, Elano has been masterful in build-up and exquisite with free kicks.

CM- Wesley Sneijder (Netherlands)- I would have put to take Michael Bradley here, but I have to go with his more attacking focused model from the Oranje. He’s been the key to all that works for Holland.

CM- Juan Veron (Argentina)- The maestro has picked up where Riquelme left off and has been as important a piece as anyone in lifting Argentina to the top of the Group stage class, creating the space for Messi and Higuain to operate.

LM- Park Ji-Sung (South Korea)- Some might have taken Cristiano Ronaldo here, but Portugal has not scored against anyone not a part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Park has been instrumental in bringing the South Koreans through, the engine that makes them go. And while LM is not his preferred role, he can play anywhere across the midfield and has been too good to leave off.

Attack:

ST- Diego Forlan (Uruguay)- Continuing his end of year form that brought him a Europa league trophy, Forlan has been savvy in attack and a constant menace to opposing defenses.

ST- Lionel Messi (Argentina)- Higuain may have collected the bounty of goals so far, but it would not be for the industry, creativity, and attention Messi has drawn. He is the best player on the best team thus far, and there is no doubt about either of these. 

Hon mentions:

D: John Mensah (Ghana), Diego Lugano (Uruguay), Antolin Alcaraz (Paraguay)

M: Mezut Ozil (Germany), Michael Bradley (USA), Alvaro Pereira (Uruguay), Keisuke Honda (Japan)

A: Marek Hamsik (Slovakia), Luis Fabiano (Brazil) (obvs.), Gonzalo Higuain (Argentina)

Stay tuned for my rundown of the Worst XI for the group stage.

NBA Draft review

June 25, 2010

Some quick draft thoughts, picks I liked and other notables:

Spurs pick James Anderson at #20. The kid can score and was a star his whole life. Amazing how the Spurs keep coming up with great players in the draft.

While I like both Bledsoe and Pondexter, I love the moves OKC made to get Cole Aldrich and Mo Pete. Aldrich will fit in perfectly there and he fills a giant need for them. They elevated their contender status with these moves.

I love the Dominique Jones pick by the Hawks when it happened, and I love the Mavs acquisition of him even more. I watched a lot of him last year and he was without a doubt the best offensive player in the Big East. Big move by the Mavs here.

The Hawks made up for it though by acquiring Jordan Crawford. Kid is a gamer, although I wonder about his attitude questions in that team. Do we even know who is coaching that meltdown-recovery effort?

There will be lots of talk about how “well” the Clippers did, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Seems like too much of a hodgepodge mix of players, and again, still no coach to even know what they are going to do.

2nd Round

The most obvious player of interest to fall is Hassan Whiteside, the 7 footer from Marshall who some had projected as a high lottery pick. Not sure why he fell, but clearly there is upside there. Going to the Kings, with Cousins and Evans, will be an interesting experiment in chemistry, or it could pay off big time.

I really liked what the Heat did here, taking Jarvis Varnado of Miss. St. and Da’Sean Butler. Both are big time players with some freak talents. Great players late in the draft.

The next pick by the Lakers was equally good, Devin Ebanks.

I also liked the Celtics pick of Luke Harangody. I have been a big critic of Harangody’s all through his college career, but I can see him fit in and do well in Beantown.

In summary, my best draft grades have to go to:

1. OKC

2. Spurs

3. Mavs

4. Kings

US vs Australia

April 22, 2010

a good showing by the US. we were just better on the day and probably better on any other day as well. the pitch was awful and i can understand the aussies complaints about training there so let’s just be thankful no one got hurt.

great showing by buddle. findley had a tough day all over. he’s creating chances but i’m just not sure he’s talented enough. he’s not even very fast with the ball. buddle was a bit of a revelation. great to see a guy finish. gomez looked like a deer in headlights. he might not be ready yet either.

clark had an uneventful day for the most part. his positioning can come into question. i think we are much better with edu and/or torres. it’s curious that we haven;t seen hardly anything from either of them or stu holden. maybe bradley didn’t want to show too much.

i like when demspey and donovan play together on the same side, and that can only happen with dempsey up top and holden on. i also don;t know why bradley doesn’t play donovan on the left after he played so well on the left for everton.

the back line is a serious question mark. i don’t see how we have a chance at holding england to less than 2 goals, unless we frustrate them to the point that their bums start twitching. it’s not that i don;t think the guys back there are good, they just have their moments where they stop running don’t close out. watching gooch run makes me nauseous. bornstein is still not good. cherundolo is a bright spot though. and goodson has shown some plus side too. he’s learning and gaining experience and that’s all you can ask of him. but you wonder at what point bradley has to put the best footballers on the pitch, even if it means playing edu in the back line.

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February 18, 2010

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