June 25, 2009


Fulham Boss Roy Hodgson Considers Bid For Jozy Altidore - Report: The American is apparently on the Cottagers' radar... (Zack Wilson, 6/24/09, Goal.com)

Fulham could be lining up a swoop for United States international striker Jozy Altidore, who has not managed to establish himself as a first-team regular in Spain with Villarreal. [...]

His frustration with life in La Liga has reportedly intensified his desire to succeed in Europe, and England would apparently appeal as a destination, according to British tabloid The Daily Mail.

As the Premier League builds an audience in the States, there's a tremendous opportunity for some side to craft a distinct appeal to Americans by signing our players and maybe developing a relationship with an MSL team. No coach in the EPL did more with less than Hodgson last year except Tony Pulis and Steve Bruce. Pulis's Stoke even plays a style that would appeal to American fans, but Hodgson already has Clint Dempsey.

American players have had trouble getting playing time in Europe because of the prejudice that we just can't be any good. But that victory yesterday ought to get some guys a second look. Altidore has some work to do on his first touch in particular, but Onyewu could start for pretty nearly every team. The most pronounced shortage in top-flight soccer is of physically-dominant, defense-minded fullbacks, which is what he is. The thing for a Fulham is that they could establish a pipeline to a player and a consumer pipeline, giving them a double win.

U.S. sends shockwaves across Europe with win against Spain
(Steve Davis, 6/24/09, ESPN SoccerNet)

Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey supplied Wednesday's goals, but inspiring performances could be found all over the field in a result that's sure to make global headlines. It snapped the reigning European champions' 15-match winning streak and jaw-dropping 35-match unbeaten streak.

Jasper Juinen/GettyImages

The U.S. team pulled off one of the biggest upsets in soccer history.

Tim Howard was a force in goal. His adamant stand will surely evoke comparisons to Kasey Keller's massive night in the U.S. net in a similarly stunning 1998 upset over Brazil in the Gold Cup final. In front of Howard, center backs Jay DeMerit and Oguchi Onyewu were shot-blocking giants, lunging, stretching and diving time and again to reach shots or poke balls from Spanish strikers David Villa and Fernando Torres before they could endanger the goal. Midfielder Ricardo Clark retreated into deep spots near the goal to provide more of the same.

Landon Donovan, supremely fit, covered honestly and reliably on defense and was always aggressive in sprinting forward on the attack. On one of those hard runs forward, Donovan and substitute Benny Feilhaber conspired to set up Dempsey for the late insurance goal. Dempsey had a hand in both U.S. goals, feeding Altidore on the critical first-half strike and exploiting Sergio Ramos' sloppy, thoughtless defense for the late goal. Dempsey started at a wide midfield spot but scored for the second consecutive game after, interestingly, he was shifted forward into a striker's position. Dempsey plays in the midfield for Fulham, but his latest pair of strikes will surely renew enduring debates about whether he's better when deployed closer to goal.

In terms of magnitude, Wednesday's victory on a cold night in South Africa may not preside quite as sweetly as modern-era upsets over Portugal and Mexico in 2002, or a breakthrough result over Colombia in 1994, for those were meaningful World Cup triumphs. But in terms of perceived imbalance in talent, this one stands tall.

Budweiser Man of the Match: Clint Dempsey (USA) (FIFA.com, 24 June 2009)
After claiming the accolade in USA's final group game against Egypt, Clint Dempsey collected his second Budweiser Man of the Match award in two matches following his outstanding role in the 2-0 defeat of Spain in the first semi-final of the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009.

The decision was made by the FIFA Technical Study Group, who watched the game from the stands at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung/Bloemfontein.

"As well as playing a direct part in both goals, setting up one and scoring the other, Dempsey linked up play perfectly between midfield and attack," commented TSG member Holger Osieck. "In the second half, playing as a second striker alongside (Jozy) Altidore, he ran tirelessly from one flank to the other."

Soccer steps into the limelight as America celebrates its miracle on grass: A stunning win over Spain at the Confederations Cup has left the USA's football-supporting minority dreaming of a bright future (Amy Lawrence, 6/25/09, Guardian Sports Blog)
The contribution of Donovan, now 27 and with over 100 caps, was massive. Then there was the 19-year-old unpolished diamond Jozy Altidore, the most expensive player ever to leave the MLS, whose bulldozer strength opened the scoring. Interestingly, he endured a pretty challenging first season in Europe since signing for Villarreal for a reported $10m (£6.15m), and made only six appearances.

It is telling, nonetheless, that 18 members of the 23 man squad play abroad - 16 of them in Europe. That is a considerable change to the 2002 World Cup, when the US team performed well and made it to the quarter-finals. The split between the American and European based players then was roughly 50-50.

The footballing savvy they are picking up abroad is encapsulated in the figure of Clint Dempsey, whose quick reflexes finished Spain off. Over the course of last season at Fulham under the shrewd stewardship of Roy Hodgson he has become a much more complete and productive player.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2009 5:45 AM
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