Everybody Soccered - July 2015

Covered photo is from Self. I don't know what's going on in the picture

 

 Eight yards out, this ball is routinely left by most goalkeepers for defenders to clear out on their own.

Eight yards out, this ball is routinely left by most goalkeepers for defenders to clear out on their own.

1. Guzan Leaves Gold Cup with Mixed Reviews - After conceding five goals in six games, CONCACAF rewarded Brad Guzan with the Golden Glove for the tournament. Statistically, it was an easy pick as Guzan had the lowest total of the top four nations but his performance in the semifinal match left some fans sour. After not coming out to collect a long throw-in in the first half, Jamaica took a 1-0 lead off a stunning header tucked back post. The frustration towards Guzan was only intensified as Guzan was called for a handball minutes later, setting up a free kick to put Jamaica up 2-0 just ten minutes before half time.

Guzan is unfortunately a victim of bad luck. On the first goal, the header is taken from eight yards out, a gray area for goalkeepers to challenge the cross or not. Yes, there's enough time for Guzan to chase the ball down but if anything goes wrong in the collision with two men his own size, he's far away from the goal. Retreating to the line in itself isn't a bad move as the shot turning to a goal is a low percentage play. Only the perfect header, which Mattocks pulls off, will score over the 6'4" John Brooks. The goal looks bad on Guzan's part for not pressuring the shot, but if he goes for the punch and can't get through the two players for a clean punch, he could easily be in a messier situation.

 John Brooks shrinking under the free kick that scores for Jamaica's second goal.

John Brooks shrinking under the free kick that scores for Jamaica's second goal.

The following handball is a call rarely seen yet somehow extremely fitting for CONCACAF. Should it have been called? While it's a rule, it's inconsistently called and the punishment doesn't fit the crime. A throw that creeped over a line by a few inches (on a pass that didn't even connect to an American player) is punished with a free kick from 18 yards out? The call is harsh and overall unnecessary but insult is added to injury when Jamaica drills the free kick home over a shy wall. Ideally, the wall would jump in the situation to cover the crossbar but the 6'4" center back fails to use his size yet again, squeezing himself under the driven shot that just skims the rooftop of the goal. Had the wall jumped, or even if Brooks had gone to his tippy toes, the shot doesn't make it on frame.

Despite Brian Strauss writing about Guzan's seizing the chance to become USMNT's number one, Klinsmann is being quiet on who the number one will be moving forward. Tim Howard is expected to push for the starting spot again but even timing hasn't been great for him. Howard announced (on the same day as the Jamaica match) that he was ready to come back to the national team. Howard later cleared up that he has been saying the same answer for a year now and that the timing was just a little unfortunate, not trying to imply Guzan isn't capable of the job.

Guzan is the most technically sound goalkeeper since Brad Friedel and should be rewarded with the number one position. After making multiple saves throughout the Gold Cup to keep the US in position to be in the semis, the Jamaica game should not be used to make a sweeping judgement on Guzan as a goalkeeper. Not to mention, Tim Howard is on the decline after a rocky season with Everton. Sticking with Guzan will pay off in the short and long term.

Aside from the National Team, Guzan has been getting some mixed messages on his next season with Aston Villa. Originally there was a vote of confidence with Shay Given moving to Stoke then Guzan was rumored to be on the way out. Aston Villa manager Tim Sherwood quelled fans, reassuring Guzan was going to be the number one for next season.

 

2. Ethan Horvath Shines as Champions League Qualification Begins - USYNT goalkeeper Ethan Horvath has elevated to the starting role at Molde FK after previous starter, Ørjan Nyland, left for Germany. ASN talked with Horvath about his omission from the U20 World Cup and becoming a starter for his club. Horvath only turned twenty last month but he is off to a bright start.

Already early into the season, Horvath has had some interesting matches. We had the rare treat of two American goalkeepers facing off overseas earlier in the month as Horvath's Molde topped Quentin Westberg and Sarpsborg 08 4-1, including an assist for Horvath on the final goal. (Highlights here.) Recently, Molde earned a 1-1 draw away against Dinamo Zagreb in the Champions League qualifying match. They play the second leg of the qualification at home on August 4th.

Horvath has been the recipient of Olympic buzz, some wondering if he could snag the back up position for the Olympic team. Regardless of how unlikely it would be for Molde to release him for a non-FIFA sanctioned tournament, it's even more unlikely that he would leapfrog older goalkeepers, even if Horvath is playing in the Champions League this year. He's just too young to be playing that high up in a cycle. He will most certainly become a quality goalkeeper, but at twenty (essentially starting his sophomore year in college) he's not there yet.

(Horvath has been occasionally blogging for Reusch, which you can read here.)

 

3. Only Shooting Stars Break the Mold - Several leagues announced their all-star selections. MLS named Nick Rimando, David Ousted, and Clint Irwin to square off against Tottenham. Rimando made two great saves in the first half while Ousted held down the fort in the second, preserving a 2-1 win for MLS. (Irwin did not play.)

MLS festivities included a MLS Homegrown game, featuring Columbus Crew's Matt Lampson and FC Dallas' Jesse Gonzalez on the roster. Gonzalez started the game and Lampson stayed in for the second half and penalty shootout, which the homegrowns lost. (Highlights here.) Gonzalez, a Mexican-American, has played with the Mexican USYNTs and while he is not technically locked in, it would be a surprise to see him switch to the US.

Other notable all-star selections from across the country:

PDL
Matt Williams (GPS Portland Phoenix)
Yuta Nomura (Springfield Synergy)
Michael Yantz (SW Florida Adrenaline)
Matt Grosey (Kitsap Pumas)

American Soccer League
Tony Halterman (Evergreen Diplomats)

W League
Rachelle Beanlands (Laval Comets)
Britt Eckerstrom (Colorado Pride)
Robyn Horner-Jones (Charlotte Lady Eagles)

Developmental Academy
U18s
Mason Stadjuhar (Orlando City SC)
Marcel DaSilva (Shattuck-Saint Mary’s)
JT Marcinkowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

U16s
Trey Miller (New England Revolution)
Ben Hale (FC Dallas)
Pierce Ashworth (Pateadores)

(WPSL, NPSL selections have not been announced yet.)

 

4. American Goalkeepers on the Move Overseas:

 

5. U23 College Camp Called In -  As Olympic qualifying approaches, Herzog has called for a college-based combine to look at some outside options for the Olympic pool. Last month I weighed in on who I thought were the front runners were and boy was I wrong. Of the four - Wade Hamilton (Cal Poly), Jonathan Klinsmann (Cal), Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara), and Andrew Tarbell (Clemson) - only Tarbell is without any USYNT experience. So while it's good to see him getting a look, both Klinsmann and McIntosh are out of their depth here. Hamilton can be given a solid argument for, but like I listed in my article for Soccer Over There, there are several better options getting overlooked.

 

 Credit to Soundersfc.com

Credit to Soundersfc.com

6. Tyler Miller Returns to Seattle - After an unsuccessful run in Germany, Tyler Miller returned to sign with USL Sounders. Miller spoke a little bit about the tough time in Germany and coming back to the team who originally drafted Miller last January. While Miller had some time with the U23 US team overseas, it's hard to tell what Seattle is going to do with both him and Charlie Lyon, who has been playing very well this season. As of right now, Charlie Lyon has moved up to the first team since Stefan Frei got injured earlier this month. Once Frei comes back and Lyon bumps back down, I would imagine we'd see Lyon and Miller rotate games as both goalkeepers are more than capable of playing in USL.

 

7. US Open Cup Heroics -  John "Clutch" McCarthy was named the US Open Cup Player of the Round for his penalty heroics. This is nothing new for McCarthy, who also knocked out his old club, Rochester Rhinos, in an earlier round in similar fashion. While McCarthy has struggled to earn back the starting spot, with Philadelphia leaning towards Brian Sylvestre as of late (not to mention Andre Blake is still in the picture), he has really thrived in Open Cup play. The Union take on the Chicago Fire on the 12th, which recently saw Jon Busch earn the ninth recorded goalkeeper assist in modern era of the US Open Cup.

  Thanks to   Josh Hakala at thecup.us for the information.

Thanks to Josh Hakala at thecup.us for the information.

Mildly related: Once a Metro published a touching video for every goalkeeper to play for the Philadelphia Union.

 

8. MLS Incorrectly Suspends Konopka for a Game - Toronto FC goalkeeper Chris Konopka was suspended for one game for his slide against Andoni Iraola. MLS doesn't go into detail what Konopka did wrong, nor did the announcers find anything wrong with Konopka's slide at the time, so it's a little confusing what Konopka exactly did wrong. He challenges the ball cleanly with a compact body frame. His legs and arms aren't in an awkward position that could endanger anyone and he is not using his body as a weapon. On top of that, Iraola has plenty of time to jump over Konopka, which he does, and land safely. Perhaps the most confusing thing is that MLS is implying that Konopka should have chosen a different action, which is unknown to anyone of what that would be. Hopefully we do not see an overreaction by MLS to suspend goalkeepers being justly aggressive on 1v1 situations.

 

9. MLS Salaries Released - Nothing really to see here outside that there is only one pool goalkeeper listed: Trey Mitchell at four cents over $50,000. Los Angeles had originally reported they signed him back in March but he is technically a pool goalkeeper training with the Galaxy. Either way, the end of the MLS pool goalkeeper is surely near. Every team has a USL alliance now so the emergency call-up can be relegated to a loan. I don't have a complete list, but I would have to think the most successful pool goalkeeper is Tim Melia, the current starter for Sporting Kansas City. The pool keeper had its purpose but now that the league is more stable they can do without it.

 

10. Angel Alvarez Finishes as Runner-Up - Angel Alvarez and LVSA 97 Red lost last weekend to FC Golden State White 2-1. Alvarez was compared to Nick Rimando by Top Drawer Soccer, which I assume is a great article because there is a paywall on the writeup. You can watch highlights from the game here, where he makes multiple saves, and read an old interview with the dual national's interesting backstory here.

 

Lastly, Everybody Soccer had multiple things pushed out this month. I interviewed Mallori Lofton-Malachi, an outstanding goalkeeper whose career was cut short by a severe concussion. The USWNT GK Pool was updated and expanded to seventy goalkeepers. The amateurs were treated with a ranking of the top college goalkeepers in each class for this upcoming NCAA season. And there's my monthly post on ASA where I break down the inefficiencies of the GmxG stat and give MLS GOTY Power Rankings. 

Not written by my own hand but still worth taking a look, SASH now has bios up for every player in the US Soccer Hall of Fame. They were all written by soccer historian Roger Allaway.

And American goalkeepers did very well in The Guardian's top twenty-five of best American soccer players ever.