Let's hit the rewind button and see what caught my eye this weekend from around the world of futbol . . .
Done and Dusted?
Even though Liverpool managed to ride the late, late Torres-show to victory yet again, I think you saw this weekend why the race for the Prem is dead. Man United went away to one of the form teams in the league missing some key components and, though they suffered a few nervous moments, last ditch tackles and interceptions kept West Ham from ever really threatening van der Saar's long shutout streak.
Liverpool, on the other hand, needed to fight back to level terms twice and grab the late winner against a side that's been nothing short of miserable in recent months. Yes, yes, they were playing an experimental lineup without many of their regular starters, but that lack of true depth is going to hamstring them down the stretch run. And you can't count on every Prem side to throw up the kind of defensive and mental miscues that Portsmouth did on Sunday.
What about the other contenders? What other contenders? Arsenal? Fading into oblivion with a damaged squad. Even with a team full of Lazaruses (Lazari?), 12 points is a huge margin to overcome. Chelsea? A draw at home to a Hull City club in free-fall? Yeah, not so much. Villa? Maybe the only ones that might press Liverpool for #2, but they might be a little thin to do even that. Still, a Champions' League spot should be fitting reward for an excellent season. Fitting, until of course, participation in said tourney undermines their league form next year.
But what about the domestic front . . ?
Roger-less in DC?
Oh dear. The veteran hand that was supposed to steady the young United back line has decided that the American Dream isn't for him. So where does that leave United? Desperately looking for a veteran presence in defense, I'd say. Can they get a signing done quickly enough to integrate the newcomer before First Kick, or were all of the FO's eggs in one Brazilian basket?
I'll hope for the former, but prepare for the latter. Are you ready for Janicki-Veris? I suppose those of you hoping for a Mediate resigning will be happy, but if Mediate is our centerback depth, I'm more than a little worried. Besides, putting a guy who missed most of last season due to concussion-related problems in the one spot on the field where he's most likely to head the ball and encounter flying elbows seems a bit . . . questionable?
We shall see. Even with the addition of Roger, I still felt we were entirely too thin on defense. Without Roger? Yikes!
In other, somewhat related defensive depth news . . .
Not Many Choices
That's the situation Bob Bradley is looking at as he heads into the opening round of the Hex. A look at his 20-man roster reveals that most of the team pretty much picks itself. Chinger-Donovan up top, Dempsey on the right flank, Bradley Jr.-Kljestan in the center of midfield, Timmy Howard in goal, Gooch-Boca in front of him. That leaves just three spots up for grabs, but of those, I only see one that I would question.
Beasley's been out injured and hasn't been playing much for Rangers, but given the inexperienced alternatives (Rogers and Torres), I think he starts on the left. Similarly, I think Bob gives Hejduk the nod over Wynne for similar reasons. Which leaves left back, where we have the Bornstein-Pearce Conundrum. Pearce hasn't been getting regular minutes, but he's been the starter. Bornstein isn't in-season, so that probably negates any playing-time benefit he would see. I think Pearce gets the nod as Bob looks to continuity.
And finally . . .
Look, we know it's happening, it's just a matter of how much money MLS can get for him. After Milan showed their initial cards at $10 million, the Gals went hardball at $22 million to open. So where will the dust settle? Milan puts up $14 million, Becks kicks in $4 million in desperation-to-escape-LA money, and MLS pockets $18 million. That's my guess.
What do you think? Think LA and Milan can work a deal? Does Bob have any surprises in store for Sven? Where does the United FO go next in their search for defensive help? Can anybody catch Sir Alex and his red machine?