The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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A Step Too Far?

It was fun listening to Brad Friedel being interviewed after the Tottenham match this past weekend, where he displayed his usual prowess in goal. Although still very American, his accent has shifted toward British, as you might expect after playing in England so many years. I personally think he’s one of the best twenty keepers of all time, though not many would agree with me. More interesting right now is the fact that Clint Dempsey has also joined Hotspur. Dempsey, of course, will never lose his Texas accent no matter how many years he plays in England. It will be hard for him, however, to find a place in a side that does not favor his sometimes ponderous style of play. He is nothing like Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale and has never played for anyone like AVB. He will have to displace Adebayor and Defoe or ride the bench. The thing about Clint, though, is that he always proves his detractors wrong and never fails to rise to any new challenge presented to him. He makes the first team no matter who the manager happens to be or how unrelenting the expectations. I wouldn’t bet against him, but he’ll need to score goals from the off. I hope this isn’t a step too far. Klinsmann needs Dempsey to be match fit for World Cup qualifying matches.

September 4, 2012   Comments Off on A Step Too Far?

Dempsey’s Shiner

Jermaine Jones, the Schalke midfielder, is a great addition to the U.S. squad. We now have a midfield that can compete with anyone. All we need now are world class forwards and defenders. Still, we are looking more and more like a real footballing nation. Miracles do happen.

Dempsey didn’t score, but he certainly competed. Has he been on Berbatov’s training regimen? Clint seems to have a bit more resolve and quickness. When he got an elbow in the eye during Fulham’s match against the Hammers, he said he wasn’t coming off. He had worked too hard to make the starting lineup. I guess there’s hope for us after all.

October 10, 2010   Comments Off on Dempsey’s Shiner

What was he thinking?

Footballers now decorate their arms from wrist to shoulder with tattoos. Some are better than others. In the match yesterday between Fulham and United, I noticed that Clint Dempsey now sports a tattoo of the state of Texas on his left arm (click the image and see for yourself). It reminded me of the bumper stickers I used to see as a kid glorifying the Lone Star State. You know, “Everything’s bigger in Texas,” and “Don’t mess with Texas.”

Though not surprised, I was disappointed.

August 23, 2010   Comments Off on What was he thinking?

Gar nicht

Yesterday I watched the United States-Algeria match via a German feed, because it was the only HD source I could find. Interestingly, the commentator was certain that Dempsey was offside when he scored his goal, even after seeing the replay which clearly showed he was onside. It was amusing, because my German friend was equally as certain about other questionable decisions. Of course, everything depends on your point of view. In his defense, he knew a number of Algerians who played or had played in the German leagues. I kept saying, “Gar nicht,” but, of course, he couldn’t hear me.

Clint Dempsey was a warrior, even taking a fist in the face for his troubles at one point. I do hope Harksie and others stop implying that Clint is lazy or not fully dedicated to the cause. In the end, he was instrumental in Donovan’s goal with 92 minutes on the clock. It was neat and clinical. Outlet to Donovan, who pushed the ball to Altidore who passed to Dempsey in front of net, who followed up and created the rebound which Donovan finished. The goal was well deserved. Interestingly, Donovan had disappeared for much of the second half. Maybe he was saving himself for the opportunity he knew would come.

Former President Clinton was interviewed after the match and said that all great conflicts eventually become head games. I had to laugh. So Clintonesque. Maybe for you Bubba, but not necessarily for the rest of us.

I still think something is horribly amiss in the England camp. They upped the tempo several times against Slovenia and were dangerous whenever they did, but generally did not play up to their standard. I don’t think anyone knows what’s wrong—the media, the players, or Capello himself. I certainly haven’t a clue. I don’t buy any of the reasons given—tiredness, stress, pressure, discontent with Capello’s methods, unreal expectations, etc. Perhaps some of the players are as just jaded as I am with football. Too many matches in such a short period of time.

Still, on the positive side, Capello’s English has improved considerably since he began his reign as England manager. Kudos, Fabio! Parla un buon inglese.

June 24, 2010   Comments Off on Gar nicht

Ya gotta believe!

Fabio Capello earns about ten times as much as any national manager in the world. Is he really worth it? The price tag can be justified only if he is able to bring the World Cup trophy to England. During qualification, Capello’s ability to manage the team, handle the media, and make the right substitutions were always spot on.

Now all of that is in question. In the draw against the United States, Senior Capello made several mistakes:

  • Using Robert Green in goal
  • Matching Heskey against Onyewu
  • Starting Milner
  • Starting Ledley King
  • Playing Lampard and Gerard together in central midfield
  • Bringing on the violent and rather slow Jamie Garragher.

For the most part, Onyewu outjumped and flattened Heskey, neutralizing his ability to effectively bring Rooney into the game. Milner was no match for Cherundolo, who easily dribbled past him whenever he desired. King had to be replaced with the less than effective Garragher. Green let in a howler of a goal. And Lampard and Gerard gave away the match (as amazing as that seems) because of the gaps they created in midfield.

One wonders if Capello even bothered to analyze the U.S. players and consider the match-ups he was creating. Robert Green, of course, will be blamed for the draw, but it was really Fabio himself who seemed totally out of his league.

June 12, 2010   Comments Off on Ya gotta believe!

Clint Scores!

It was fun listening to John Harkes say nice things about Clint Dempsey yesterday during the match with Turkey. He’d obviously been told he had to. John managed to keep his distaste for the Texan out of his voice until Clint scored, and then his first comment was that the ball had bounced off Dempsey’s back into his path. Harkes’ comment had me laughing out loud. The goal was scored through grit, determination, and perfect placement of the ball, not through a lucky bounce.

Dempsey was interviewed after the victory and in his Texas drawl said that Findley’s running on top stretched the defense and created pockets which he and others were only too happy to fill. Even though he’s been in London for a while, there was not one trace of Englishness in his accent. It was pure Texan. When Harkes was playing in England, he sounded like a Wakefield collier. I suppose he wanted to fit in. Happily, his New Jersey accent has returned.

The match had many positives for the U.S., particularly the team’s ability to shift gears and move the ball forward at pace. Of course, it left us vulnerable to Turkey’s swift counter, but that’s the price you pay for playing attacking football. I have to admit I was relieved. We are not going to embarrass on the world stage after all.

May 30, 2010   1 Comment

Reinvent Yourself, Clint

In the Europa League final between Fulham and Athletico Madrid, Clint Dempsey, who took over the central striker position from Bobby Zamora, looked woefully inadequate. He was seldom able to control the ball and involve his teammates as Zamora had. This was especially evident after Damion Duff was replaced on the right side of midfield. After that, Fulham could hardly string three passes together. Of course, we always knew this was how things would go for Dempsey up front, whom I like to think of as the Larry Bird of football. He’s not particularly fast, often clumsy, a bit lazy, and never quite what you want or expect. His saving grace is that he’s unpredictable and scores when you least expect it. Now that Simon Davies has replaced Dempsey on the left side of midfield, I wonder what will happen to Clint. I’m a little concerned that his best years are already behind him. Will he find his way back to Major League Soccer in the U.S.? Prove me wrong, Clint. Say it isn’t so. Reinvent yourself. Show us that the best is yet to come.

May 13, 2010   Comments Off on Reinvent Yourself, Clint

Juve Crashes Out at Craven Cottage

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when John Harkes watched Clint Dempsey score the winning goal for Fulham against Juvenus that crashed them out of the UEFA league. It was a perfectly placed chip over the keeper into the top left corner of the goal. A moment of genius. Harkes has never scored a goal like that in his life. Dempsey may not be as cute as Harksie, and, of course, he’s annoyingly diffident, and, worse, he’s from Texas, but the man has moments of skill that give a fan hope for the future of American soccer.

March 18, 2010   2 Comments

“Disappearing” Harksie

John Harkes is back to dissing Clint Dempsey at every opportunity. In the T&T game, he criticized him on literally every touch. It was kind of like olé, olé, only in Harke’s case, more like…bad, terrible, awful, lazy, should have been at the back post, needs to wake up, off his game, not helping his side, should be subbed, looks like he was walking, seems exhausted, maybe he’s ill or something, shouldn’t be on the field, etc.

It’s so obviously a vendetta that it’s embarrassing.

Not that Harke’s criticism is entirely unwarranted. Clint, and the entire U.S. team, can be frustrating at times. But the thing is Dempsey scores important goals at critical times, so who cares? Well, apparently John does. As I mentioned in a previous post, I would guess Harke’s real issue is that Dempsey won’t kiss ass.

Anyway, the problem was easy to fix. I simply muted the sound and Harksie disappeared.

September 10, 2009   Comments Off on “Disappearing” Harksie

Predictions for the EPL

  • Rafa Benítez, the sweet Spaniard everyone loves to hate, will be fired as Liverpool manager sometime after the first of the year, when it becomes obvious even to the Americans running the club that his system and the players he’s chosen will not win anything. You’re lucky you’re at Liverpool, Rafa. Roman Abramovich would have gotten rid of you years ago. The really unforgivable thing is your system is boring, boring, boring.
  • The bookmakers have got it right. Chelsea will win the league, but if and only if Drogba remains healthy.
  • Wayne Rooney will finally have a 20-goal season. Even so, Man U will be forced to find a proven goal scorer from abroad, because Berbatov, even though he has exquisite touch and is working his ass off this year, can’t seem to find the net. Where is Robbie Keane when you need him? Oh I know. Back at Tottenham.
  • Clint Dempsey, though an oddly awkward looking American footballer, will continue his scoring ways, perhaps with a team other than Fulham.
  • Everton will finish in the bottom half of the table. Anyone who saw them play the U.S. All-Stars will know why. By the way, so will Aston Villa.
  • There is a 99.9 percent probability that Burnley F.C. will go down. It’s sad, of course, but even Hull and Stoke can crush them. Nevertheless, or perhaps because of this, Burnley’s chairman, Barry Kilby, will be voted sweetest old guy in England.
  • Not a single English referee will be suspended this year for gross negligence, even more than a few of them will be guilty of it.

August 18, 2009   Comments Off on Predictions for the EPL