Tab Ramos named his roster for the upcoming Toulon Tournament earlier this week. One name missing from that roster is Anthony Brooks. He told some German press that he wants to pull a Timothy Chandler circa 2011 (rest over the summer since he is young and new to the Bundesliga) and sit out of national team competitions (but maybe he changes his mind if the USMNT come calling?).
Another name missing from the U-20 team is forward Villyan Bijev. And now he has accepted a call by Bulgaria’s U-21 team for this summer’s Euros, which would provisionally cap-tie him. Bijev’s last appearance with the US came with the U-18 team at the Lisbon International Tournament.
Speaking of the Lisbon International Tournament (I love easy transitions), the current U-18 team opened up the 2013 Lisbon International Tournament with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic.
Going back to the U-20 team, Jose Villarreal’s name was missing from the Toulon Tournament roster because the Galaxy didn’t release him.
Stoke City and Tony Pulis have decided to part ways. Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu will have a new manager to impress this summer.
Photo time! Clarence Goodson and Brøndby avoided relegation over the weekend so they celebrated by taking a shirtless photo in the locker room (this is for the ladies).
Charlie Davies and Randers finished third in the Danish Superliga, so here is Davies showing off his bronze medal.
And congrats to Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht on winning their second consecutive Belgian league title. Here is a photo of Sacha and the cup. Staying with Sacha, I should hopefully have the Sacha/mustache shirts up for sale later tonight/tomorrow. It all depends on my travel schedule today.
With the major European leagues winding down, it’s time to renew an annual OT tradition: the OT XI. With our expansion into more coverage of Americans in Mexico, we’ve adjusted the eligibility for the OT XI. In the previousthreeeditions, only Clint Dempsey has managed to be a mainstay. Will that continue this year?
Without any further delay…
Matt Taylor, Preußen Münster (Germany)
Jozy Altidore, AZ (Netherlands)
The 2012-13 OT XI features two forwards for the first time since the 2009-10 team with the lone forwards from each of the last two seasons (Taylor in 2010-11, Altidore in 2011-12) earning the honors. Taylor returned to the 3. Liga after a season in the 2nd Bundesliga and put up another 15+ goal season, scoring 16 as Preußen Münster jumped from mid-table to nearly earning promotion. He added a hat trick in a DFB-Pokal upset over top-tier Werder Bremen. Altidore, unsatisfied with his 19 goals across all matches in 2011-12, decided that he wanted the American record for goals in Europe to return to the Netherlands and shattered Clint Dempsey’s record from last year as he buried 23 league goals and another eight in cup matches.
Michael Bradley, Roma (Italy)
Sacha Kljestan, Anderlecht (Belgium)
Conor O’Brien, SønderjyskE/ Nordsjælland (Denmark)
Clint Dempsey, Totenham Hotspur (England)
After a solid debut season in Serie A with Chievo Verona, Bradley made the jump to perennial power Roma and became a fixture for the Coppa Italia finalists. Kljestan put in another strong season of central midfield play and great mustaches as Anderlecht repeated in Belgium. With that title, Kljestan will play in the Champions League group stage once again. After a decent debut season in the Danish Superliga, O’Brien flourished into full-blown World Cup sleeper with four goals in twenty matches with SønderjyskE. After his contract expired mid-season, he jumped to eventual runners-up FC Nordsjælland and became a regular there by season’s end. Dempsey overcame a slow start following his move to a bigger club to hit double-digit goals across all competitions for the third straight year.
Charles Kazlauskas, Helmond Sport (Netherlands)
John Anthony Brooks, Hertha BSC (Germany)
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City (England)
Edgar Castillo, Tijuana (Mexico)
The Milwaukee native rightback Kazlauskas put in another strong season in the Eerste Divise, scoring five goals across the board as Helmond Sport made the promotion playoffs again. Brooks, in his first full professional season, was dominant as Hertha cruised to the 2nd Bundesliga title. In a crazy centerback stat, he did not receive a yellow card all season. Cameron made the jump from MLS to the Premier League and featured all across the backline in making 35 appearances. Castillo, having made a permanent move to Xolos, put in the strongest season of his previously-troubled career as Tijuana won the Apetura in just their second season in the top flight.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa (England)
After years of languishing on the bench, Guzan finally got the chance to start regularly in 2012-13. Despite not having a great goals allowed record, Guzan single-handedly kept a dreadful Aston Villa defense afloat. With Villa frequently starting 3+ defenders under the age of 23, Guzan came up with critical save after critical save, earning his teammates’ vote as their player of the year.
Jozy Altidore, F, AZ
Altidore becomes the first person to win this award not from Nacogdoches, Texas, to win this award. His 31 goals, as stated, broke Clint Dempey’s American-in-Europe record of 23 from last year while stealing the MVP award away from him as well. AZ, despite a poor Eredivise campaign, won the KNVB Cup for the first time in 31 years behind his winning goal in the final. Altidore will almost assuredly leave the Netherlands this summer after finishing 4th in the Dutch scoring charts.
Goal of the Year
It may have looked awkward, but Clint Dempey’s 35-yard goal against Stoke City late in the season was simply splendid.
Performance of the Year
In a critical late season match against Manchester City, Clint Dempsey sparked Tottenham’s dramatic comeback with a goal and an assist in Spurs’ 3-1 victory that kept their Champions League hopes alive for the time. It was exactly the type of match and performance that we people wanted to see Deuce come up with after his move from Fulham.
U-20 coach Tab Ramos has released a 22-man roster for the Toulon Tournament in Toulon, France, which will serve as the final tune-up before the U-20 World Cup begins in Turkey on June 21. It’s the usual mix of MLS, Mexico (Jeffrey Payeras from CSD Municipal in Guatemala thrown in), and a few Europe-based players.
People who know more than me predict “subtle changes” for the World Cup roster. Thirteen players from the CONCACAF qualifying squad are on this Toulon tournament squad; notable names not there (for various potential reasons) include John Anthony Brooks, Jose Villarrael, and Luis Gil.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (7): Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), Juan Pablo Ocegueda (C.D. Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), Jeffrey Payeras (C.S.D. Municipal; Hawthorne, Calif.), Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.)
FORWARDS (6): Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), Daniel Garcia (North Carolina; Dallas, Texas), Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), Alfred Koroma (Akron; Southlake, Texas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders Academy; Mercer Island, Wash.), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.)
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport in Eerste Divisie Promotion Playoff
Welcome to the Weekend Commentary Thread – Sunday Edition
Crunch Time: Decision Day. Germany closed out its seasons on Saturday, and the tension at Schalke and Hoffenheim was palpable. Today its England, Italy,Turkey, Portugal and Belgium.The potential for drama abounds as teams battle for a European place for next season or fight to stave off relegation into the lower leagues.
Yesterday I called it Germany Day, but no-one dominates today, so lets call it Euro Day. Lets start with England’s EPL, and lets key in on London specifically, where three teams #3 Chelsea, #4 Arsenal and #5 Tottenham, are chasing each other. One slip now will make the difference between the UCL and the Europa League next season. The matrix of possibilities is mind boggling, lets look at the matches. None of the games is easy (this is the EPL) Chelsea though seem to have the biggest task to maintain there position. #6 Everton and Tim Howard have had some success against Chelsea over the last few years, Everton cannot catch the front-runners any longer but a win at Chelsea would cap off a season, where they grabbed bragging rights from Liverpool, and David Moyes will like to have a win to see him off the Manchester United next season. I have a feeling Everton Wins. Arsenal visit lowly #13 Newcastle, on paper Arsenal should have no problem, but a 7-3 loss at The Emirates will be stuck in Newcastle’s craw, and a win would be something to sooth their fans frustrations for the summer months. I don’t believe Newcastle will win/ Draw. Now on to the match that all US fans will be following, Tottenham at White Hart Lane and #17 Sunderland. Gareth Bale and Clint Dempsey along with their team mates will want to do their bit to reach the UCL, win first, check on the teams around you later. Interestingly its been four years since a game between these two teams has had a spread greater than one goal, Tottenham did win 2-1 at the Stadium of Light, earlier this season. Sunderland’s woeful away record v Tottenham’s excellent home record says it all. I will buck recent history, Tottenham Wins by at least three goals.
In Belgium, its finale day in the “Championship Playoff” All six teams will be playing, and five of the six have an opportunity to reach European competition next season. The final games fell into one of the strangest configurations I can remember (this is points based league) #1 plays #2, #3 plays #4 and #5 plays #6 – What are the odds on that? Anderlecht and Sasha Kljestan play Zulte-Waregem for the automatic spot in the UCL. Both teams have the same post season record of 4W 2D 3L – Anderlecht are top based on the post season point system that gave them 34 points to start, Zulte-Waregem received 32 points (based on final positions in regular season ) Are you still with me? A win or draw and Anderlecht get the automatic spot, a loss and a 2+ goal win by #3 Club Brugge would knock Anderlecht out of a UCL spot, and into Europa league. Its wacky, but the drama it produces is unique to Belgium. History between the teams has Anderlecht with four wins, one draw and two losses over the past three years and with Zulte-Waregem winning the last two games (including a 2-1 home win on April 20th) I’m pulled toward a draw, but Anderlecht seem to have re-found its form of late. Anderlecht Wins.
In Portugal, Estoril and Tony Taylor have a famous opportunity, from what I can see Estoril has never been in European competition ( you can email me or comment if I’m wrong) On Sunday they will be playing Gil Vicente in the finale of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, they are two points above Vitoria Guimaraes, so a draw is all that Estoril need to play in the Europa League next season. Estoril are hardly a “big” club by anyone’s standards (example; their stadium capacity is 8K) and a chance of hosting some of Europe storied teams must be exciting the team and the fans. Lets hope they don’t choke, and make the jump. Gil Vicente are a nemesis for Estoril, you have to go back to 2009 since Estoril have beat them and have a lifetime six wins, two draws, nine losses record. Still I think that the moment will not be lost on the team. Estoril Wins
My last two teams are Bursaspor in Turkey and AS Roma in Italy. One has qualified for Europe already, the other cannot. The Ultras in Bursaspor “Texas” have made Maurice Edu a favorite, and whether Maurice plays in today’s game at Genclerbirgli they have pushed the management at Bursaspor to request of Stoke a full transfer. Bursaspor are sitting in the final Europa League place in Turkish Superliga, they can’t be caught or move higher. European competition is not new to them, although you might say European success would be. Genclerbirgli has not beaten Bursaspor since 2009, although there last meeting produced a scoreless draw. With little to play for by either team another draw wouldn’t surprise. The Green Crocodiles,Bursaspor Wins. AS Roma cannot reach European competition this year through the league, but I included them here because they play Naples and because they had a horrendous earlier part of the season that took them out of contention early. Sunday they play one of the hottest teams in Italy Serie A, Napoli. This is their European test. AS Roma v Napoli is a historical match-up that tends to end up split each season. Napoli walloped Roma in Stadio San Paolo 4-1 where Uruguay’s Roberto Cavani struck for three goals. AS Roma and Michael Bradley, but without Totti (red card) will want to have a good showing against the UCL bound team in their home finale. To Close to Call.
One other game to talk about, In Holland, Helmond Sport will visit Rotterdam in the Promotion Playoff 2nd leg. Unfortunately Charles Kazlauskas and co. are down on aggregate after a 4-2 home loss in the first leg. Still if the opposition can score four, why not you. Rotterdam and Helmond ended the season tied on points, with Rotterdam getting the edge through goal differential. Helmond did go to Rotterdam and beat them 3-0 last year, so they have done it in the recent past. Optimistically, I think this one goes to penalties.
So that’s my take on Sunday’s games. Agree? disagree? Let me know, be proactive if you don’t like the prediction then have one ready
Looking forward to you joining me early on Sunday morning for “The Thread” see you then.