Odds & Ends: JUMBO EDITION
We love you too!
I know it’s a little soon for another post of this kind, but so much has happened in the last 48 hours that is time-sensitive in one way or another that I fear if I don’t cover all of the items in bullet point fashion I just won’t get to some of them before they become old news. Still, this could turn out to be a lengthy post just the same!
- I don’t think we can count on the kind of “beat down” performance the New England Revolution had last night against the Seattle Sounders happening on a regular basis, but I do think that their dominant effort against the then-best team in the league showed just how much talent coach Jay Heaps has assembled since taking over. Even without last year’s Defender of the Year (Jose Goncalves) and stalwart hometown boy Chris Tierney the Revs smothered the Seattle attack at one end of the field and put on an absolute clinic at the other end. This “mid-range” breakaway attack that Heaps has been implementing was downright scary/beautiful (depending on your loyalties) to watch. UP THE REVS!!
- Assistant manager (and former manager and player at Ross County) Neale Cooper has left the club with immediate effect. This rank-amateur soccer writer has to wonder if his departure might be tied to the future/non-future of his son, Alex, at the club. Cooper, the younger, has been a fringe player since returning to the club where he cut his teeth after not being able to break into the first team at Liverpool.
- Scotland defeated Germany today (1-0) at the UEFA European U17 Championship Finals today putting them second in their group with one match to play. This may seem a “ho-hum” result despite the lofty opponent, but in the bigger picture it’s one more sign that the future of the Scottish national team may be a bright one. Since the S.F.A. hired Dutchman Mark Wotte as the association’s Performance Director in 2011 with the goal of revamping the Scotland youth set-up the national teams from U21 down (both on the male and female side) have improved steadily, regularly making the final rounds of tournaments they have struggled to qualify for in the recent past.
- I don’t have the energy to breakdown the entire new U.S. Soccer/MLS television deal in detail, but suffice it to say that it’s a good thing on several levels. First, there will be nights on each of the networks (ESPN and the various FOXs) for MLS matches, so no more of this “is there a match on this week,” “what night is it on,” “what time is it on”? run-around we’ve dealt with in the past few years. There will also be well over 100 MLS matches shown on these networks in total. Second, guaranteed matches from the USMNT and USWNT each year. Third, Univision Deportes will be the official Spanish-language network for both MLS and the national teams. Finally, this was the kind of “big money” deal (thought to be a total package of almost $100m) that- whether it should or not- lends a great deal of legitimacy to the game in the U.S.. Ask, the NHL what they’d give for a package like this… Full details here.
- Speaking of the USMNT, coach Jurgen Klinsmann named his 30 man preliminary World Cup roster just moments ago and there are…no real surprises. At the same time, a few brief comments from me: Glad to see neither goalkeepers Bill Hamid nor Sean Johnson on the roster. Sorry, folks, still not sold on either one of them. I’m also glad to see that Gooch’s name is not listed among the defenders either- although Michael Parkhurst’s is!! DeAndre Yedlin’s is as well, but I don’t think you’ll see it on the 23 man roster. Not sure about midfielder Julian Green making the final cut either- a bit young no matter how much Jurgen likes him. Also in the midfield, Alejandro Bedoya (what does Klinsmann see in this guy?!) and Joe Corona- really? No surprises up front…unless you count Landon Donovans inclusion as unexpected…
- And speaking of national team rosters, Scotland manager Gordon Strachan revealed his for the upcoming friendly against Nigeria at Fulham’s Craven Cottage (I can only assume there’s a large Nigerian population in London…) and it didn’t contain many shockers either. Nice to see Darren Fletcher is still healthy and a possible debut for Derby striker Chris Martin and another call-up for his teammate Craig Bryson. The latter two combined for 38 goals in the Championship this season as Derby pushed for promotion. Martin also scored in both legs of their promotion playoff win over Bright and Hove Albion. Good stuff!
- Finally, WeeFuse is angry. Today new Heart of Midlothian F.C. owner Anne Budge fired manager Gary Locke, his assistant Billy Brown, and goalkeeper coach Alan Combe along with goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and midfielders Jamie Hammill and Ryan Stevenson (side note: I’d love to see him in Dingwall…) as part of a long-term restructuring effort at the recently relegated club. In addition she brought in Craig Levein as the director of football and Robbie Neilson as, presumably, the new manager. I’ve got nothing against Neilson, he played for Hearts for a decade and at 33 he may still have something to offer the club on the pitch (he’s been a player manager at Falkirk and East Fife over the past two years), but Levein?! I know he played for the club for ages and managed them as well, but you want your club restructured by a man whose tactics are so drenched in negativity that he once sent out a striker-less 4-6-0 formation as Scotland manager in an attempt to gain a draw against the Czech Republic- in a European Championship qualifying match?! Scotland lost, of course. Guess what, though? I haven’t even gotten to the part where I’m mad yet! Here’s the thing: Hearts went into administration last year and were forced to sell off all of their pricey talent, banned from signing senior players while in administration, and docked 20 points before this season even kicked off. Gary Locke took the job anyway- having felt a sense of duty about it as he had played for the club for the first decade of his professional career. Were Hearts relegated? Yes they were, but give them back the 20 points and they would have finished 7th (instead of Ross County) with what was essentially a U23 squad and a few over-age players. Give them back the ability to sign senior players and they might have challenged for a European place. Despite all of these things they still beat crosstown rivals Hibs in two of the three regular season derbies and knocked them out of the League Cup as well before reaching the semi-finals of that competition only to lose on penalties. More than any of this though, they played like true professionals all season long. Even after they were relegated, they continued to battle. And this is their reward? Shameful.