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Messages - jknezek

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Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 22, 2016, 09:10:39 am »
Thoughts from last night. 1) They were better. 2) We didn't help ourselves. Lot of things need to go right to pull off an upset, and we did none of them. From the coach to the players, it was a shambles as the Brits say. Wondo should never have been on the field. I respect him. He's a great MLS player and he's had a great career, but he doesn't have anything to offer at this level. That's on JK. In all the permutations I thought of for our line up, I never thought he would start Wondo. Read my above post for the outcome of that decision.

The first goal was just poor defending by Beckerman and Bradley. You can't lose track of the best player in the world when not in possession on the outskirts of your own box. Seems simple, we failed. Guzan could have done better to save it. That save was the thing that our goalies have made in those epic games where we pulled upsets or held top teams. This time it didn't happen. It would have been an amazing reaction from Guzan. We needed it. We didn't get it. We were not built to chase Argentina from behind.

The other two goals were just icing on the cake. We weren't going to score 2 or 3 times versus Argentina, we didn't create 2 or 3 good chances all game. So at this point we can just talk about why we couldn't create chances.

1) Our passing was awful. Their press completely rattled us. Even when we had time, we scuffed passes, didn't hit them with conviction, or sent them off target. It's been a while since I've seen that many hospital passes. Yes I'm looking at you Bradley! I love Bradley. He's the kind of American player I think we are going to play with going forward. Smart, hard working, reliable. Generally. This game sucked. He worked hard but he wasn't smart and he wasn't accurate, and he wasn't reliable. The last 30 minutes he finally found his footing, for the most part, but way too little too late.

2) No possession. Yeah, this is related to the passing. Possession? What's that? We had none. I didn't expect to play them straight up. I figured we'd need to counter, but we had to be able to string together a couple minutes here and there just to catch our breath. Our passing never let that happen.

3) 50/50 balls. Usually this is where the American work rate shines. It didn't. They won way too many 50/50 balls. Especially on the ones we panicked and bombed out of the back. Part of this was Wondo. He isn't quick enough to get to those balls at this level and, as we saw with goal number 2, he doesn't have the touch for this level.

4) Moderate good points. Brooks was strong. Cameron wasn't bad, although goal 4 might have been him or Birnbaum making an awful error. At that point I was hardly watching so I don't know which. Yedlin got forward well. He's high risk and high reward, but he might have been the only one that even troubled Argentina. Williams didn't. Zusi worked hard. I don't see much difference between him and Bedoya. Probably why he's the first off the bench. For what it was worth, Zardes was good, especially the last 30 minutes in a more natural advanced role. Even without that though, he worked hard and even demonstrated some touch that was mostly missing during the tournament.

5) Disappointing players? Wondo by a factor of 1000. Although how disappointing could it be when everyone but JK knew he shouldn't be on the field? Beckerman. He didn't have a good game. Bradley didn't seem to trust him, leading to some of those awful passes and indecision and part of the reason why I thought Bradley picked up after Beckerman exited. Regardless, Beckerman didn't have the bite needed, the speed, the anticipation, basically he wasn't good enough. Unlike Wondo I think Beckerman could have played well enough to help, he just didn't have a good game.

6) Other thoughts. The two subs everyone wanted, Nagbe and Pulisic, didn't do much. Granted at 2-0 down when Pulisic came in, and 3-0 for Nagbe, we were looking beaten. There wasn't much to offer. Birnbaum... eh. Was he at fault on goal 4? If so, that's about all he did.

7) Going forward. I really don't care who we play, there are two ways to go into the consolation round. With the team most likely to win, or the players most likely to be needed in this next cycle. It's only a one player difference, but it's a big one. I'd leave Jones on the bench and play Nagbe. Otherwise go back to the group game line ups with the possible exception of Zusi for Bedoya, but I think that's a wash. Give Nagbe a chance to show if he can be an advanced playmaker at this level and drop Bradley back into his comfort zone. Bring on Pulisic early in the 2nd half.

I really hope the consolation game can get that Argentinean aftertaste out of my mouth. We could and should have done better. Not necessarily a win. But certainly a better effort.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 21, 2016, 11:54:04 pm »
It was the kind of bad moment from Guzan we couldn't afford. He got frozen. But Bradley and the mighty dreads losing track of the best player in the world was a bigger proble . Goal 2 was 100% an over matched Wondo. Bad touch, bad chase, bad foul, bad card. All on Wondo. The free kick was a thing of beauty by Messi, but the rest was a player that shouldn't have been on the field screwing up. At that point we were screwed and managed to botch 90 percent of our passing. Totally intimidated and put off our game by their press. We aren't at their level and made way, way, way too many mistakes to give ourselves an underdog's chance.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 21, 2016, 08:57:29 am »
I'm somewhat obsessed about tonight's line up. I fully intend to watch the game, but something about how JK lines up what he has to work with tonight has me fascinated. I give the guys about a 15% chance of winning, I think we win 1 or 2 out of 10 against Argentina. Guzan is going to have to have the game of his life.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 20, 2016, 09:16:04 am »
I said it above and I'll say it again. I simply can't stand Lalas. I don't understand why he's everyone's go to guy for studio work. I also never understood how he kept getting GM jobs. I prefer to remember him as one of our first modern World Cup heroes and I think our first Serie A player. Since then it's been nothing but botched jobs and nonsense on TV.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 18, 2016, 10:01:25 pm »
It's going to take a hell of a game and a little luck.

South Region football / Re: FB: Old Dominion Athletic Conference
« on: June 18, 2016, 06:10:27 pm »
I just looked at the article and I'm calling b.s. on a lot of those numbers. I've been to Sewanee probably 5 or 6 times for W&L games. I doubt I've ever seen 3500 people in the stands.

South Region football / Re: FB: Old Dominion Athletic Conference
« on: June 17, 2016, 06:01:46 pm »
They showed 4400 for the W&L game last year. I was there and I doubt there were 3000 in the stadium. E&H does sell and collect tickets so they should be accurate but I think there is some inflation.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 12:19:41 pm »

Howard vs Belgium was one of the best displays of athleticism I have ever seen.   Of course I took Belgium that game and lost my shirt, but it was just phenomenal.

It was. But Keller vs Brazil and possibly Meola vs England in 2003? or 2004? might even have been better goal keeping performances, though not on the same stage. I played against Howard in h.s. and club many, many years ago. We eliminated his team from the NJ State h.s. playoffs in a penalty shoot out his senior year (1997). Of course at the time he was playing in the field for his team, not goal. Some deal he cut with the coach to play. He was all-state in the field as well. I lost to his club team in the NJ State Cup one year when he was in goal. I don't remember him doing anything crazy, but I don't think we tested him very much either.

South Region football / Re: FB: Old Dominion Athletic Conference
« on: June 17, 2016, 12:15:02 pm »
would never smoke a cigar around others, always seek away to an area where NO ONE ELSE is. I have those spots at HSC, obviously will not find one at GC. I have several such spots at W&L, in the woods between the creek and the field. Can see the game and security guards approve. GC and RMC are the only two that are difficult, but what the hell. Once my kids are done, I will not be traveling to the away games anyway.

It's been a while since I had a cigar but I used to enjoy them as well, so I'm just giving some gentle ribbing. A buddy and I used to go up on the roof of my 5th floor walk up apartment in NYC when I lived there 10+ years ago and smoke cigars and watch the city lights. Good times. I don't think I've had one in years now though.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 11:25:05 am »
I hope Venezuela at the very least makes Argentina work for it. The winner will have 2 fewer days rest and an equally unattractive flight. Maybe a suspension or two will make it look less lopsided before the whistle. But the U.S. is going to need a crazy performance if it is Argentina. Think Kasey Keller versus Brazil in '98 or Tim Howard versus Belgium in '14. Yes there is a reason I'm focusing on goalies...

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 10:40:38 am »

Give Pulisic a shot in this one rather than Nagbi...

I doubt JK will start Pulisic. He's never started for club or country at the senior level. I do see him as an offensive sub, especially if we fall behind.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 10:05:55 am »
Thought they were playing in Houston then NJ for finals?

They are. I was referring to finishing 1st or 2nd in the group. We finished 1st so we flew all the way to Seattle but got the great crowd. Finishing 2nd would have been a short drive to NJ, but a much more mixed crowd. I wasn't a fan of the travel to Seattle, but that crowd was incredible and I think important. We aren't going to have favorable crowds in Houston or NJ if we make it. Or in AZ if we end up in the 3rd place game....

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 10:02:39 am »
Likely to see...

          Dempsey Zardes

Bedoya Bradley Beckerman Zusi

Johnson Brooks Cameron Yedlin

vs Argentina I'd go:


 Bedoya  Bradley Beckerman Zardes
Johnson Besler Brooks Cameron Yedlin

Bedoya has two yellows. He's out.  I think we're likely to see this:

F Johnson  Bradley      Zusi
Besler Brooks Cameron  Yedlin 

Though I hate breaking up the back line again, F Johnson can help Besler. Zusi is a stabilizer for Yedlin. I hate pushing Bradley up but Beckerman can't play that role. He's a destroyer and even less of a creator than Bradley and he's just too slow. I don't see Nagbe playing in front of Bradley against Argentina. Maybe if it's Venezuela. But the Besler decision surprised me, so I guess I wouldn't be too surprised if F Johnson stayed across the back line and JK went with a surprise on the left side of midfield. I don't think he trusts Nagbe to play enough defense though, especially missing Jones.

Men's soccer / Re: Barclays Premier League Pick Em
« on: June 17, 2016, 09:49:46 am »
Thoughts on last night. The first half was excellent. Then the wear started to show. Brooks was dominant again, especially in the first half and the last 5 minutes of the game. He wasn't quite as strong in the middle of the second half and I think it had to be fatigue. That Paraguay game took a lot out of the guys. Kudos to Guzan. Another solid effort with one spectacular and necessary save. Not much he could do about the goal. Good decision making on when to come off his line all night on crosses.

I didn't see Besler coming in that role but he was serviceable. Ecuador had more speed on the flanks than even Argentina is likely to possess, though not the same skill front to back. Lot to be proud of for Besler playing an unfamiliar role. F Johnson did well also. They keyed on that side for a long time and he held his own considering Zardes did a lot of defensive hustle but he's not a great defender. FJ also got forward a bit in the first half. So he wasn't quite as anonymous as he was against Paraguay. It wasn't Cameron's best night. A couple flubbed clearances including one that should have cost us badly. He seemed a little slow as well, so I'm thinking fatigue as the night wore on.

Bradley was very, very good. He didn't get a lot of publicity but he snuffed out the center of the field from the box to the mid line. Granted Ecuador's strength was down the wings, but Bradley made sure that they had no shot coming up the gut. He connected well front to back, though I still think he takes the safe ball square or back too often. Didn't contribute much on offense in the first half but also didn't seem to tire the way the rest of the team did in the second.

Zardes still has no touch, but again he got what he needed done and he ran all night. I expect to see him start up top for Wood. We don't have another choice except Wondo and I just don't see JK going that route. Maybe Zardes will be more settled higher up the field, though we might miss his speed and hustle deeper back. Bedoya hustled all night but he wore out. JK is on the hook for his card and the foul that created the goal because Bedoya should have been pulled 10 minutes sooner. JK is rigid about subs. 70th minute, 80th minute, 88th plus minute. That wasn't good enough last night as Bedoya needed to come out in the late 60s. Ecuador still might have scored, they had plenty of chances, but they wouldn't have gotten the one they got.

Jones is a hot head. It's the chance you take with him. And it hurt. Instead of coasting to a win up a man, he was just stupid enough to fall on the wrong side of a "point of emphasis" for the tournament. Exactly the wrong thing to do at the wrong time, especially for a veteran. Losing his work rate is going to hurt. Especially against a team like Argentina. We don't have a good replacement though I suspect Beckerman will get the nod. That makes us slower and less likely to get up field, or it means Bradley has to be more advanced where he never seems to shine.

Wood has been incredible. He's not getting goals, but he is the force that is causing defenses to fear our ability to score. He has kept Paraguay and Ecuador honest and prevented them from bombing forward. The card wasn't the worst one for the U.S. on the night, but it hurts. I also think it was a little chintzy from the ref but he was trying to regain control after the double ejection fiasco. Players have to know the next moderate tackle is going to be punished, and Wood was the unfortunate one to do it. I think Zardes can do 85-90% of his role up front, but I wish Wood was eligible.

Dempsey -- fantastic again. Creative force, goal scorer, worked for the assist. Tracked back when needed but got forward. This might be the best tournament for an American attacker that I can remember.

Happy to have a few extra days rest. These guys are going to need it. It's going to be another long flight, but the crowd in Seattle was worth the distance. In NJ I'm not sure that game goes the U.S. way. I feel like the crowd kept the team on its feet when we were being shelled at the end.

South Region football / Re: FB: Old Dominion Athletic Conference
« on: June 17, 2016, 09:28:44 am »
what the hell is this world coming to ?????

A world where we try not to poison those around us inadvertently?  ;D

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