ten words or less #62

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving here in the States, it’s the time of year when many reflect upon all of the things in their lives for which they should be thankful. Things are no different here at WSOTP. And while I’m especially thankful for a wonderfully patient wife, a loving family, and that Spurs’ UnderArmour kits aren’t as hideous as I had anticipated — among other blessings — amongst other things too, of course — I do have one gripe I want to air about the holiday.

Thanksgiving Turkey Soccer

The dearth of usable Thanksgiving-themed soccer images on the internet is roughly equivalent to the amount of soccer normally on TV on Turkey Day.

Between the NFL and NCAA, the American-flavored version of football seems to go hand in hand with Thanksgiving. Games will be on all day tomorrow, and many families across the country will gather around their TV’s to watch as a part of their annual holiday tradition. But as my fellow soccer fans will attest, we’re normally left in the dark on Turkey Day by the major networks. This year, we’re lucky enough to have Europa League matches to occupy us, but they’re typically not high-profile matches. And while that’s enough for me, that doesn’t mean everyone else in my family will prefer round football to egg football this year. But since the festivities are being held at my house this year, the rules will be different… a new dawn for Thanksgiving traditions is in the cards.

But if your family won’t budge from their normal traditions, here are some links to help keep you from feeling neglected. Happy holidays everyone!

This article convinced me to subscribe to Howler quarterly. – whatahowler.tumblr.com

I want prints of these for my [imaginary] office. – 8bitfootball.wordpress.com

Or “Why fading European stars like to play in MLS.” – metro.co.uk

Old Italian men are weird. – dirtytackle.net

Little cheer at Wolves this season, except this brand refresh. – weareraw.co.uk

More Howler: maybe the USSF wants to forget its past? – theoriginalwinger.com

Next, bring this to the States. – fantasista.co.uk

Foolish man records tornado hitting soccer ground… for our enjoyment? – youtube.com

This defense of American soccer culture hit close to home. – sbnation.com

playing the game

When the clock struck midnight GMT on Tuesday and brought an end to another hectic transfer window for Spurs, I admit that I was initially left a bit dumbfounded by the moves the club made. Who did we bring in? They’re both over 33! Has Levy lost it?!?!

tottenham's ryan nelsen

spurs signing blackburn's ryan nelsen (above) and everton's louis saha, both considered past it by lower clubs, didn't exactly show "ambition". or did it?

I angrily hashed out an outline for a scathing post — rife with references to nursing homes and a need for another ambulance on match days — detailing how these aren’t the type of players that a club supposedly harboring title ambitions should be signing, and that they shipped off players who were better than the players replacing them. However, as fits of rage tend to do to me, I was too worn out and frustrated to complete the article that night.

The workday on Wednesday provided me ample opportunity to further reflect on the transfers. And the more I thought about it, a potentially bigger plan seemed to unfold from them. Maybe there was more to these signings than I had initially thought.

Let’s take a deeper look at the departures from White Hart Lane, first:

  • Roman Pavlyuchenko finally engineered his long awaited exit from the club with a reported £7.5 million move to Lokomotiv Moscow. Aged 30, he’s nearly four years younger than the man who replaced him in Spurs strike corps. Yet despite showing flashes of an ability to produce brilliance, his inconsistency led him to spend most of his time in North London on the bench, bitching about lack of first team chances and/or pining for a transfer. Either way, Pav moving on was always the most likely move to happen this January.
  • Sébastien Bassong — another player frequently linked with a move away from Spurs — departed to Wolves on loan, with an option to buy at the end of the season for what’s expected to be a fee of around £4.5 million. Though not a bad player when not caught with his pants down, he was rather prone to a major error now and again.  At nearly a decade the junior to his replacement, and with a severely depleted Tottenham back line, Bassong’s departure was one that left me the most worried.
  • Steven Pienaar’s return to Everton on loan was also another puzzler. With Lennon struggling for fitness, and Gareth Bale’s style of play always seeming to invite a crunching tackle, Spurs aren’t exactly up to their teeth in wingers at the moment. Though not as direct as Bale or Lennon, Pienaar was a great player to be able to bring off the bench. But thanks to a long injury lay off, Harry never really grew that fond of the guy, so a move wasn’t that unexpected.
  • former tottenham striker, roman pavlyuchenko

    getting rid of pav's high wages and poor attitude will be more beneficial than if spurs had held on to him through the summer.

    Vedran Ćorluka’s loan to Bayer Leverkusen, much like Pienaar, leaves Tottenham dangerously thin at the right back slot. At 25, he’s also significantly younger than his replacement, and he was never a player I bemoaned to see on the pitch due to his comfort on the ball. But, with speed a priority in Spurs style of play, Charlie’s propensity to look like he had a refrigerator strapped to his back while running made him a prime suspect to move on. Although I suspect this move is more to do with him securing a spot in Croatia’s Euro squad than a want to leave the club.

What’s the one thing all of those players has in common? They’re all players in their prime that were desperate for first team football.

Securing money now for Pavlyuchenko was clutch, as a poor performance at the Euros would have severely deflated his sell on value in the summer — something strikers are particularly at risk of during major tournaments. But loan moves for the rest were brilliant bits of business, too. All three are likely to feature prominently for their new temporary sides for various reasons (injuries, league position, etc.) so if they perform well, Spurs will be in position to ask for larger sums for them all come the summer.

Now let’s take a look at Spurs two arrivals:

  • Louis Saha comes with the stigma of being old and injury prone. Despite that, and much like Pav, he’s still capable of producing a moment of magic. Even better though — and very unlike the Russian — is that he’s actually still capable of producing a match-dominating performance. Though with only two goals this term, one would hope being surrounded by higher quality players will bring that out of him more frequently.
  • Ryan Nelsen also arrives with a dodgy fitness history, but a boatload of experience to balance. He captained the only side at South Africa 2010 that left the competition without a loss. Nelsen has 172 Premier League caps to his name, and was a major contributor to Blackburn Rover’s relegation-staving efforts last season after forming a formidable partnership with oft-Spurs target Chris Samba. And his four year spell with D.C. United also inspires… confidence. Yeah.

So what do these elder statesmen have in common? They are proven veterans — a.k.a. Premier League Experienced Players — who know that they’ll have to fight if they want to see playing time, and won’t pitch too big a fit if they don’t make the starting XI. Oh yeah, and they were both FREE and are likely on significantly less wages than the players they replaced.. Considering that both have signed relatively short contracts, if neither works out, we’ll be rid of them quickly without having to pay anything extra.

Effectively, we’ve swapped skilled back-ups with problematic attitudes for slightly-less skilled back-ups AND stayed cash-positive. On closer inspection (and assuming that our loaned players perform well), the moves actually set the stage for Spurs having enough to make a bid for a world class player or two in the summer.

Combining the £8m for Pav, plus conservative estimates for cash from the sales of Bassong (£5m), Pienaar (£6m), and Ćorluka (£6m) in the summer, and you’re left with at least £25 million. Further sales of fringe players such as Giovanni dos Santos and potential Champoins League money could easily raise that total.

athletic bilbao's fernando llorente

with levy saving money this window, it could clear the way for a massive buy in the summer. i'd prefer that move to be for this guy.

For that kind of money, you could make a pretty big big splash in the transfer market. Loïc Rémy, Bafetimbi Gomis, Leandro Damião and — most preferably — Fernando Llorente, are all players within reach with that much cash in Levy’s back pocket. Even if they have to pay over the odds for that elite striker we’ve all been craving, there should still be enough left over to buy cover at right back, on the flanks, or in the center of defense.

So while this revelation obviously has me excited, I’m not stupid enough to not see that this plan also has tons of potential pitfalls.

The most glaring and obvious problem Levy’s thriftiness has caused us is the current crisis at right back. With Walker picking up a hamstring injury in the win against Wigan on Tuesday, Ćorluka off to Germany, and the young Adam Smith loaned to Leeds, there are no fit, natural right backs in the side. Sure, Kaboul and Nelsen can deputize, but they’re not exactly comforting options.

Even more concerning is how confident Levy seems to feel that Tottenham are going to finish in the top four. If he wasn’t that confident, would he have resisted his penny-pinching ways and kept the better players on the books? I don’t know the answer to that question, if you’re waiting for a response… hence my concern.

Look, Dan Levy has played the game that is the transfer market far better than any other manager/sporting director in the top six over the last two years. And though this January’s moves don’t seem the shrewd on the surface, they could pay off and pave the way to Tottenham establishing themselves as a new force in the Premier League.

But if we somehow manage to shit the bed and slip out of the top four, I have no doubt that the whole house will go to hell. Falling out of the Champions League means we’ll no longer have any incentive to offer Bale or Modrić to stay. They’ll likely have to sell one, if not both. While that’s another £70 million to spend, it’s even more to replace.

And if that happens, I’ll be really, really pissed that I didn’t write that scathing post I had originally planned.

the many dreams of robbie keane

new l.a. galaxy signing robbie keane

wait, so he's always dreamed of playing for LA? uh... ok.

Growing up on the not-so-mean streets of the Tallaght in South Dublin, a young, bright-eyed Robbie Keane had many dreams.

While just dreaming of becoming a professional footballer would be enough for the average aspiring young player, a boy-aged Keane could scarcely suffice with just dreaming for that alone. Ambition, after all, should never be limited.

You see, the nubile Robbie Keane dreamed of one day plying his trade for not just one club when he grew up. How short sighted. Instead, Robbie dreamed of playing for many illustrious football cubs. But how do I know this when I’ve never interviewed him?

Well, he’s publicly admitted as much… several times.

Crumlin United to Wolverhampton Wanderers (1997)

a young robbie keane signs with wolves

this awkward-looking teen had a mind full of dreams.

“I had expected to be playing in the reserves and, all going well, that I might get a chance in the first team towards the end of the season. But it has all happened much faster than I could ever have thought.” – Robbie Keane

I couldn’t find a damn thing about Keane signing a professional contract with Wolves on the internet, mostly because the web hardly existed then and I don’t feel like paying to read old newspaper archives. So I just posted the earliest quote from the kid I could find. But I’m guessing making the rapid jump from Dublin small-time to the England big-time was dream worthy. (Not such a Source: The Independent – 22 November, 1997)

gordon strachan signs robbie keane at coventry city

keane's purchase by coventry was a dream move for the club at least.

Wolves to Coventry City (1999)

“All being well it will be one of the great signings for Coventry City that has ever taken place.”
-Kevin Richardson

If I became the most expensive teenager in British history, I would certainly be living in a dream scenario. And based on Richardson’s statement above, the then-City chairman clearly thought it was dream-worthy to land the 19-year-old Keano. (Source: The Mirror – 19 August, 2009) Apparently though, they didn’t let teenage signings speak to the press about their arrivals at a new club that time, since no quotes from Keane could be unearthed about his signing. However, he did provide this snippet after scoring two goals on his dream debut:

“With all due respect, I have nothing to prove about my worth to anyone.” – Robbie Keane

It seems that, if nothing else, he was cocky as hell about it. (Source: Sunday Mirror – 18 August, 2009)

Coventry to Internazionale (2000)

“I am absolutely delighted at the prospect of joining a world famous club like Inter.” – Robbie Keane

Despite likely being one of the two biggest clubs he has ever played for, it seems that this wasn’t a club that Keane dreamed of playing for. Instead, he was just “delighted.” This should hardly be surprising though. After all, kids from the British Isles always tend to hate playing on the continent. (Source:The Independent – 30 July, 2000)

leeds united sign robbie keane in 2000

he doesn't look dream-come-true happy.

Inter to Leeds United (2001)

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Robbie wasn’t dreaming as a child that his eventual move to an Italian giant would end in just 6 months later. A return to Leeds, initially on loan, would save him. And since I can’t find a quote on it, I’m guessing he never dreamed it.

Leeds to Tottenham Hotspur (2002)

“I know I said I didn’t really want to leave Leeds but when I came here to talk to Glenn his long-term plans appealed to me and that is why I am now a Tottenham player.”
– Robbie Keane

Shit… let’s just ignore this one, alright? I mean, it would be my dream move to be signed by Spurs, even if it was in a desperate, cut-rate fire sale to attempt to keep my old club from going under. Sadly, no matter what I say or dream of, that doesn’t change whether or not Robbie dreamed of playing for Spurs. Sigh. (Source: BBC – 31 August, 2002)\

Though to be fair, he probably did dream of moving back to Spurs after his disastrous spell at his next club.

rafa benitez and robbie keane at liverpool

see, now that looks like a dream-come-true happy face.

Tottenham to Liverpool (2008)

“I’m not saying it wouldn’t have happened if I’d come to Anfield then (1997), but I always held out hope that I’d come back and this is a real dream come true for me.” – Robbie Keane

I feel inclined to believe Robbie on this one, as it’s been reported for a long time that he’s been a life-long Scouser supporter. But, I feel fairly safe in assuming that he never dreamed that the experience would effectively be a disastrous, 6-month, £8 million loan. (Source: The Sun – 30 July, 2008)

celtic signing robbie keane

signing at celtic was his father's dream, and apparently the dream of all of those fans being held back by police.

Tottenham to Celtic (2010)

“I always wanted to play for Celtic. I’m happy to be here and I can’t wait to get the jersey on for real.”
– Robbie Keane

So he didn’t exactly say that it was a dream of his to play for Celtic, instead saying that he “always wanted to play” for the Hoops. And I’m confused, because he said when he joined Liverpool that the Mereysiders were the club he supported growing up. Huh. But apparently Robbie Jr. playing for Celtic was his deceased father’s dream, and Harry Redknapp was even quoted as saying, “He’s a big Celtic man, it’s a dream come true for him.” Therefore, I am confident that this was a dream of his, too. (Source: The Sun – 3 February, 2010)

Tottenham to L.A. Galaxy (2011)

“I have always wanted to come and play in MLS so it’s the perfect combination for me and a dream come true.”
– Robbie Keane

Considering that Robbie was 12 when the first MLS match was played in 1993, I’m beginning to suspect that the Irishman has some skills in clairvoyance in addition to his fading footballing ones. I also suspect that he was eager to take a big MLS pay-day for less work than is required at a Premier League club, assuming there were even offers from England’s top flight. (Source: Irish Times – 16 August, 2011)

———————————————————

I don’t have any proof, but I have to imagine that Keane’s boyhood moto went something like, “I want nothing more than to be an extremely expensive journeyman striker.” And, to give credit where credit is due, he’s done just that.

Dream on, Mr. Keane: who knows to what heights they’ll take you next. China? Malaysia? Maybe even Ireland…

panic attack

I’m not having a panic attack. I swear… I think. Maybe I am having one. Well, wait… no I’m probably not having a panic attack.

luka modric during tottenham preseason training in south africa

apparently the saga over this man's signature has distracted levy and redknapp from getting any transfer work done this summer.

But with just a few days remaining until the Spurs’ delayed official start to the Premier League’s 2011-2012 season, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy is officially making me lose sleep.

I know that last season was a bit of a mixed bag for Spurs and their fans. We were all enthralled by our magical European adventure, but also all rightly disappointed that the team couldn’t consistently put in the type of domestic performances that were earning them worthy praise on the continent.

As this post clearly points out, Tottenham were a team that could hang with the big boys. But on the flip side of the coin, they were decidedly average against team’s they should have been beating. The rigors of the Premier League, regardless of the competition faced each weekend, were too much to heap on players who were already being asked to carry heavy Champions League loads.

One thing that is certain is that the lack of activity in the January transfer window played a decently-sized part in the club’s eventual shortcomings.

The squad clearly needed reinforcements (in particular at the front end of the pitch) to continue battling on multiple fronts, and yet the only area they reinforced was the one area of the pitch that didn’t need that much help (although, a midfielder like Pienaar was a deal at the price we landed him for). Long story short, thin as the squad was, it couldn’t cope with a multi-competition battle.

So when Tottenham relinquished their short hold on a top four position back in the spring, both Levy and Redknapp admitted that big signings would be necessary to get the club back on track with their grand aspirations.

tottenham's brad friedel and michael dawson

friedel should help lift tottenham's defensive acumen, but he's not the impact signing that we had all hoped for.

Initially, long-term “dream” targets came back to the forefront. Forlán, Falcao, and Rossi were all floated in the deep pool of summer transfer rumors. But for various reasons (too old, too expensive, and too not for sale) none were realistic solutions to the Spurs’ striking woes. It appeared that Tottenham would either have to pony up and spend like the club has a super-rich foreign owner, or unearth a diamond in the rough.

Fellow Ohioan Brad Friedel was the first signing of the window, and though he was also a bargain-buy that addressed a weak spot in the team, his arrival was hardly the “big time” signing that we all wanted and the team needed.

But I remained optimistic; perhaps Friedel’s signing was the beginning of a torrid of transfer activity at White Hart Lane. After all, we don’t just need to buy at Tottenham: we also need to trim. With one of the largest squads in the Premier League last season, Levy remained (rightly) insistent that arrivals at the club would necessitate cash from sales.

Yet Friedel, to this point, remains the only transfer dealing of this extremely crucial off-season. One free signing, and only two paltry sums coming in after the Lillywhites finally disposed of serial-loanees Jamie O’Hara (to Wolves for £3.5m) and Robbie Keane (to LA Galaxy for £3m)… nothing official about Jenas, Hutton, Dos Santos, Bassong and Palacios being sold off to raise the all important cash.

So while Tottenham Hotspur seem to be twiddling their thumbs, all of their direct competitors have been busy strengthening their squads.

kun aguero at manchester city

though they bid for him in january, spurs never had a realistic shot of landing kun.

Manchester City, the club that’s recently been Tottenham’s biggest rival (as far as league places are concerned) over the last few years, have continued to spend astronomical sums on players they may (Stefan Savić) or may not (Clichy) need (Agüero could be unneeded if Tévez doesn’t leave). Sadly, additional devastating signings this window seem imminent. If they’re not competing for silverware on all fronts this season with the talent in that squad, then Mancini will have proven himself a moron of a manager.

Liverpool, the club that Tottenham displaced in the Champions League last season, look to have finally gotten back on track with new owner John Henry and new (and old) manager Kenny Dalglish aiming to return to their rightful place as an English power. The signings of Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson, and José Enrique on top of the January signings of Suarez and Carroll, mean that the Reds have dropped a reported £94 million on getting themselves back in the top four.

Manchester United, the club that doesn’t ever have a down year, also look primed to continue their run of dominance over English football after finally dolling out a big chunk of the Ronaldo-sale money. Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones have arrived on the back of £50 million, plus there is emergence of Tom Cleverly and the possible arrival of Wesley Sneijder from Inter to further bolster their ranks. When Sir Alex said Tottenham could compete for the title this season, he must have forgotten that his team were competing in England this season.

Then there’s Chelsea, the club that’s played the part of Luka Modrić-stalker all summer long. To be honest, they’ve not spent much on players so far this summer (Lukaku and Romelu)… most of their outbound cash was to pry away Mourinho-lite Andre Villas-Boas from Porto as their new temporary manager. Their lack of player spending has definitely been surprising, as the club’s senior citizen squad looked in the most need of reinforcements. However, I fret that they might not quite be finished for understandable reasons.

And then there’s our North London rivals, Arsenal, the club that… well, thank god at least one of our rivals is looking to be in worse shape than us. Serves them right, that scum.

I sit and watch world-class players arriving at those clubs, and I think to myself: “Those are the types of players we need.” But then I remember, the reality of it is, we can’t afford those players.

Stuck in an undersized stadium that’s unable to generate the necessary revenues to truly invest in a squad, Harry and Daniel have openly admitted that we can’t compete with the big boys when it comes to wages and transfer funds. So, now we’re having to make do with less ambitious targets.

fc twente's bryan ruiz

ruiz would be an ideal, (relatively) cheap signing for tottenham. but is there enough time to pull it off?

Blackburn sweeper/striker Chris Samba‘s name keeps coming up, though improving the back four isn’t and shouldn’t be near the top of the club’s priority list. There have been links to another central midfielder in Real Madrid’s Lassana Diarra, which would make some sense if Palacios leaves. I’d love to see Twente’s Costa Rican striker/shampoo-commercial model Bryan Ruiz get bought, but with so little time left in the window, a deal like that would be tough. Maybe a loan move for everyone’s favorite mercenary, Emmanuel Adebayor, seems the most likely, but do we really want a player that nobody else wants?

And that’s not even touching on the possibility of Modrić leaving and how that could blow everything to hell. Levy seems to have the kid in a vice grip at the moment, but who knows what Chelsea’s millions could persuade the chairmen to do.

Look, my club’s biggest adversaries have spent over a combined £185 million pounds to solidify and/or improve their places in the league. Tottenham have spent zero. Everyone knew that Spurs needed to improve if they wanted to achieve their dream of becoming one of the big boys, and yet the club has done practically nothing to this point to show any of that necessary transfer ambition.

Sure, Harry Houdini could have another late-breaking, wheeling-and-dealing transfer that he’ll pull out of his sleeve like he did with van der Vaart. Maybe he’ll deliver the striker we so desperately need at 11:59pm on August 30th. But if he’ goes that long without a signing, I’d be more willing to bet that it will be another midfielder than a striker… ‘Arry seems to love those center of the park ballers.

And if that’s the case, someone call me a doctor… I’m going to need a prescription for Xanax that will last much longer than just through the remainder of this transfer window.

ten words or less #10

 

i <3 you.

 

i’ve been lazy. really lazy. here’s the ten words or less from last week. it’s ridiculous how long it took me to post this. i apologize.

i’m not the only one with a gareth bale crush. – sportsillustrated.com

please, tell me WTF is going on here. – thespoiler.co.uk

a valid complaint, but aren’t we being a bit dramatic? – threematchban.com

only real can  have a “greatest volleyed goals” compilation. – youtube.com

dear ryan shawcross: please shut up. – unprofresionalfoul.com

finally, some light is shed on the “fake” togo team. – slate.com

i love charlie davies. sssttttttttaaaaaanky leg. – soccernet.com

i’ll admit: i don’t love football this much. – theoffside.com

revisiting “boarding passes, please”

way back in january, i wrote the longest blog post i’ve ever written outlining who i thought bob bradley would be taking to south africa this summer. i’ve been anxiously awaiting the day bob would finally announce his 23-man roster, just to see how well i would do predicting bob’s simple mind.

the USMNT arrived in south africa on memorial day. it's time to see how accurate i was at picking the 23 guys who would get a ticket back in january.

that day has come and passed.

and guess what? i didn’t do too bad.

though there were some shock exclusions/inclusions, most of which i like much better than i had predicted bob capable of selecting. though i don’t want to go on giving him too much credit at this point. let’s revisit that subject after the world cup.

so let’s get on to evaluating how well i did picking who i thought bob would be giving his boarding passes to. and we may as well re-evaluate the players he chose while we’re at it.

for sure on the plane (8 out of 8 correct)
these were the guys i knew would be in south africa. i would have wagered anything on it… but i didn’t, because i’m an idiot (not that there really are any places to bet on “what eight guys will definitely make the US world cup roster,” are there?). either way, i killed it on this round.

1. CORRECT – landon donovan (f – l.a. galaxy): landycakes has certainly set the stage for himself going into the summer. his loan to everton turned out to be a fantastic move, finally proving himself at the highest level consistently. if he has a good world cup, his price tag will skyrocket and MLS will surely cash in on bidding war that will ensue for his signature in august. so, it’s easy to say that donovan has some lofty expectations to meet. will he be able to handle the pressure? here’s hoping he does.

2. CORRECT - tim howard (gk – everton): having a world class keeper is the best remedy for having a suspect backline. good thing that’s not a problem for the USMNT, right? … RIGHT?!?!

3. CORRECT - jozy altidore (f – villareal): my worries persist about altidore. he didn’t get any regular time at with one of the worst premier league teams this season. though he showed some flashes of brilliance, they were very quick flashes and few and far between. i still doubt he’ll ever be able to play a full 90, and he can’t be in that great a form if he wasn’t breaking into relegated hull city’s line-up. he’ll be a starter on june 12th, but will he do anything productive. probably not (yes, that is a challenge jozy. prove. me. wrong.)

4. CORRECT - carlos bocanegra (d – rennes): chuck. what an enigma. captain of the USMNT, regular in europe. but we just can’t ever seem to play him in his best position: left back. if they would play him there instead of the center, then we wouldn’t have to freak out anymore about whose playing on the left flank. we have plenty of quality center backs bobby; please play bocanegra where he belongs. oh, and let’s hope he is fully fit come the england game.

5. CORRECT - michael bradley (m – borussia mönchengladbach): the coach is bringing his kid along, and just like every national pool players’ parents’ worst nightmare, i’m sure they’re all thinking that the coaches kid will get the favoritism. while a case could be argued for this when mike was brought into the national team fold a few years ago, it definitely isn’t the case any longer. bradley deserves to be here. let’s just hope he can keep a level head for the next few weeks.

6. CORRECT - jay demerit (d – watford): if he can shake the injury bug that he’s had over the last year, i want to see jay starting at centerback next to onyewu. that way we can play bocanegra at his natural left back.

7. CORRECT - jonathan spector (d – west ham): pencil him in as the starting right back (though he could face some competition from steve cherundulo), but it’s possible we could see him on the left too. let’s hope he remembers to bring his consistency boots too.

8. CORRECT - brad guzan (gk – aston villa): back up (to another retired american) at aston villa, back up for the national team. poor guy will probably never get to play.

don’t have my pass yet, but pretty sure i’m getting one (8 out of 8 correct)
i must have been taking my genius pills still at this point, because i nailed this round too. don’t worry, this won’t become a trend.

9. CORRECT - oguchi onyewu (d – a.c. milan): gooch proved his fitness  after the horrific torn patellar tendon that he suffered in the USMNT’s last world cup qualifier. the question that remains though is whether or not he can play at the same level he played at in last summer’s confederations cup. if not, the yanks are in trouble.

10. CORRECT - clint dempsey (m – fulham): deuce came back earlier than anticipated from his partially torn knee ligament, even contributing in fulham’s late season run to the europa league final (including this STUNNING goal against  juventus at craven cottage). promising news for a team that needs good injury news.

11. CORRECT - ricardo clark (m – eintracht frankfurt): finding regular time at the end of the bundesliga season was key to clark making the final 23, and he’ll be in tight competition with michael bradley for the starting defensive midfield slot on june 12th.

12. CORRECT - stuart holden (m – bolton): i’m glad stu made the team, especially after he cracked into bolton’s squad towards the end of the english season. i was worried he wouldn’t see the minutes after his leg break a few months back. his creativity and consistency are in demand with this roster, and i’d love to see him make the starting 11 against england.

13. CORRECT - jonathan bornstein (d – chivas usa): just as i predicted, the mexijew made the squad simply because we had to bring in another true left back. and hopefully he’ll only play because we’ve gotten to plan C, D or E due to injuries. or if we’re up by two goals against england and we bring him on for a forward… but hopefully not even then.

14. CORRECT - steve cherundulo (d – hannover 96): he’s healthy, and has loads of experience in europe and internationally, but he still can’t get in front of spector. but if spector catches one of his patented cold-streaks, expect steve to steal back the spot.

15. CORRECT - benny feilhaber (m – agf aarhus): not the danish-based player i would have liked to see make the final roster (cough, rolfe), and not exactly the beset player the USMNT have at their disposal. but he’s got the experience and bob’s confidence. let’s just hope he ends up keeping bornstein company on the bench.

16. CORRECT - maurice edu (m – rangers): edu played great for rangers down the stretch this season, and his reward was earning back the national team spot he hadn’t occupied in nearly 9 months due to a knee injury. should be a starter, but that’s only if bob can see beyond benny.

yeah, i think so, but… (4 out of 7)
here’s where it fell apart for me. but that’s to be expected, as these guys are pretty much the fringe players in the squad. like i said earlier though, bob surprised me with some of his picks in this space, in a good way (for now at least).

17. WRONGconnor casey (f – colorado rapids) edson buddle (f – l.a. galaxy): saying that i am stoked that casey didn’t make the roster is an understatement. but there is no way that i could have predicted that buddle would have made this team. who would have known that he would have caught fire this MLS season? certainly not me, and certainly not anyone else back in january. i hope he can keep up the good form, because we certainly don’t have many other forwards with impressive goal scoring credentials lately.

18. CORRECT - jose francisco torres (m – pachuca): miracles do happen, and torres is proof of that. i didn’t think that there was a chance in hell that bob would pick him. now that he’s made the team, my thought process is, “i doubt bob will use him.” if he does though, i would not be surprised to see torres involved in something awesome.

19. CORRECT - demarcus beasley (m – unattached): despite rangers not extending his deal, lazarus has risen from the dead and has reclaimed his national team spot. after last summer’s performance in south africa, i thought for sure he was done. i still think that bob doesn’t quite trust him anymore though, and would be surprised to see him get tons of time in june. and if we play him on the flank in the back again, i might actually fly to south africa to and beat bob silly.

20. CORRECT - marcus hahnemann (gk – wolverhampton wanderers): edged out troy perkins, as he should have. not much to say here, other than it will take a weird sequence of events to actually get to see the wolves shot blocker get the nod in south africa.

21. CORRECT - clarence goodson (d – start): i felt like i was going out on a limb to call this one back in january, and my how well that worked out for me. he’ll provide solid cover in the center of defense in the event that we have any major injury problems.

i certainly wasn't expecting a former MLS journeyman to make the final 23. gomez's good form has made me look silly.

22. WRONG - edgar castillo (m – tigres) herculez gomez (f – pachuca): looks like i picked the wrong mexican player for this spot, and i’m not surprised i didn’t see this one coming either. gomez has been in stellar form in mexico this season, and we needed to bring another forward in good form if charlie davies wasn’t passed fit.

23. WRONGcharlie davies (f – sochaux) robbie findlay (f – real salt lake): i don’t need to reiterate why i wasn’t surprised to see charlie not make the squad, but i’m still upset that he won’t be in south africa. will findlay and castillo be able to fill davies’ growing empty shoes? i don’t know. but they need to, because jozy doesn’t look to be prolific at anything aside from headbutting people.

final tally: 20 out of 23 players picked correctly.
so overall, i was pretty pleased with myself on picking this roster. do i like all of the picks? no, not really. but could they really have brought in anyone else (aside from davies or rolfe… both of whom are hurt) that would have been major improvements? no, not really.

no sense in getting all worked up either way, at this point at least. let’s see how bob uses the 23 guys at his disposal, then we can start kicking and screaming. until  then, let’s support out boys and hope that my hired snipers can pick bob off before the 12th.