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Faryd “Full Beast Mode” Mondragon


 

Full Beast Mode in Full Effect (via Brotherly Game)

 

The 2011 Philadelphia Union is a much different team than last year. Gone is the Inaugural Season Hoopla. The club has drastically changed the attitude of a team from “We’re happy to compete” to “We mean business.” Look no further than the signing of Faryd Mondragon as proof. He’s the major reason why the Union are top of the table in the early part of this MLS season.

 

Mondragon’s signing was met with a great deal of fanfare. For one, it meant that Chris Seitz role on the team would either be bench player or shipped off to man the South Pole. More importantly, his signing showed everyone (Fans, Media, the League) that the Union were not taking any chances. Mondragon is a proven winner – having played on the Soccer World’s biggest stage in the Champion’s League (held my beloved Liverpool to a nil-nil draw) with Turkish Giant Galatasaray. His experience is what made it a great signing then – his performance this season is nothing short of phenomenal.

 

The story of the 2010 Union Goalkeepers was pretty bleak – two clean sheets the entire season. To add insult to injury, they literally fumbled multiple chances in to their own net. Not to belabor the subject, but it was laughable and the fact wasn’t lost on the likes of Nowak and Hackworth. Enter Faryd Mondragon and his current form. Three clean sheets in the first four matches and a loss to the Giant of the MLS the Los Angeles Galaxy – by one goal. To be blunt, he’s been stellar.

 

One of the most important duties of the goalkeeper is to organize and motivate your backline. Clearly, Chris Seitz and Brad Knighton, maybe through inexperience, did not accomplish this well enough last season. The fiery Mondragon has been a catalyst for change in this department. Where once a weakness last season, the back four has been in full on beast mode in the new campaign.

 

Danny Califf is crunching people but not getting over aggressive where it hurts the club. The new man Valdez has been a revelation alongside Califf. His strength, speed and intelligence has rubbed off on the two outside men in Sheanon Williams and Jordan Harvey. They know if they can’t mark their men, Valdez is up to the task. Williams especially is brimming with confidence. His speed and toughness, to go along with his Rory Delap like throws, have made him a staple this season and a fan favorite. Where last season looked as though four men were doing separate jobs on their terms, the back four is now playing at an incredible work rate – for each other. While I’m not on the pitch with them, I have this gut feeling that it’s all because of the presence of Faryd Mondragon.

 

Some people reading this may say something to the effect of having been lucky – particularly tonight with Juan Agudelo’s hitting the woodwork twice. That may be true, but those are the bounces that are finally going wide or high instead of off a glove and in the back of the net. Where I’d rather be lucky than good – Faryd Mondragon just happens to be both – and damnit, I’m glad he’s on my team.

 

What do you think of Mondragon’s season thus far? Is he the straw that stirs the Union’s Jack and Coke? Hit me up in the comments, Doopers.

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Coolness, Soccer, Union

 

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Bradley Makes His Picks


The Picks Are In

Bob Bradley has made his choices for the upcoming friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay later this month. He’s bringing basically everyone for these matches. The only surprising omission in my eyes is Ale Bedoya, who had been getting some run with USMNT.

Here are the rosters (from Soccer By Ives):

“GOALKEEPERS-Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), David Yelldell (MSV Duisburg)

DEFENDERS-Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres), Timothy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Zak Whitbread (Norwich City)

MIDFIELDERS-Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Mikkel Diskeruud (Stabaek), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)

FORWARDS-Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt)”

As you can see it’s pretty much the entire lots of regulars. Fans will get a chance to see the usuals in Donovan, Bradley, Dempsey, Howard and Altidore. Should be exciting to see what tactics Bradley rolls out for these tough friendlies as well as who Argentina and Paraguay throw out there.

Some guys to watch:

Oguchi Onyewu – Is he completely healthy? can he get back to being the monster in the middle for USMNT. Hell, I think we’ll settle for an injury free run.

Jonathan Spector – He’s had an up and down season for the Hammers but when he’s is going, get this guy a heat check. Let’s see if he continues to show that fire with the Red, White, and Blue?

Tim Ream – Will he be able to prove that he’s the answer on the back line? Everyone is saying he’s going to be a staple for a decade…can he do it against elite competition?

Stuart Holden – Stu has been on fire for Bolton Wanderers this league. It’s be Holden that makes things go in the middle, doing so against elite competition. Can he show fans/coaches that he’s the next big star in American Soccer?

Juan Agudelo – Unlimited potential and did well when paired with Teal Bunbury. Can he continue to progress for the USMNT, show his talent while learning new tricks? Can he escape the doldrums that Jozy Altidore sometimes get stuck in? Future is bright – let’s continue to build.

There you have it. Who are your X-Factors for these friendlies? Who has the most to prove? Are you going to either match (or both)?

Hit me up in the comments…

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Five for Fergie – Let the Twitter Fun Begin!


In the event that you may have forgotten the Sir Alex Ferguson had blacked out the media (included the club’s official website) after stomping off from a fresh whipping from King Kenny and the Reds, news came in today that he’s been banned for 5 matches (equal to about 30k in salary).

What’s crazy is that Ferguson has actually been disciplined at all. Some funny tweets rolled in on Twitter upon the news. Here they are:

Some funny and some truth after Nani’s miraculous recovery:

And just plain funny:

EDIT lets keep them rolling people

Hit me up on the Twitter @JamesPJennings and submit your funnies on the Fergie ban, I’ll repost them here. Or you could actually leave a comment, something rarely done here so think of yourself as a trend setter.

 
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Posted by on March 16, 2011 in Coolness, EPL, News, Soccer, Tweet Treat

 

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Kuyt Has A Song


I just came across this from Twitter.

@Rilkham came up with an awesome song for Kop hero Dirk Kuyt, who always seems to get the big time goals for the Reds.Great job! Voice is not too shabby either…

Check it out here and be sure to follow him on Twitter- he’s obviously True Red!

 

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Coolness, EPL, Fun, Soccer, Tweet Treat

 

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Tweet: The Midfield Makes It Happen


Here is an interesting tweet from @Ashley_Escobar regarding the match yesterday. It was crazy how much space Liverpool had in the midfield. United were playing the same system with class players in Nani, Scholes, Giggs and (not so much) Carrick – why did Liverpool crush?

Kenny Dalglish seemed to learn a lot from the hiding he took at Upton Park the week before. The midfield for Hammer were in complete control for the majority of the match.To be honest, this match played out similarly in my eyes.

Lucas was allowed to sit back (while making some impressive runs forward when needed) and play field general. He controlled the manner in which Liverpool attacked while the likes of Meireles and Suarez to carry out his orders. Steven Gerrard wasn’t running all over the pitch trying to take control- he played his role and played it perfectly to allow even someone like Maxi to do well yesterday. When he allows the match to come to him, Gerrard can make everyone around him better by freeing up runs for Suarez, Meireles, and Kuyt. Hell, he almost hit a beauty from outside the 18 yesterday.

Liverpool need this Gerrard – not one who tries to force the issue (all while still not 100% fit – a whole other topic) while running all over the pitch. Play your role and get results should be the mantra of this club and each Red did that to perfection yesterday en route to crushing the first place Red Devils.

If you don’t already, follow @Ashley_Escobar on Twitter for more insight with the passion you would expect from an tried and true Red.

 
 

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He’s Finally Here – Carroll Debuts


 

Man - King - Electric (in that order)

 

Andy Carroll made his long-awaited debut today when he came on in the 74th minute. It’s crazy to think that Liverpool bought him only a month ago – since fans have been hearing about the 35 million pound man everyday since.

While it was only 15 minutes, it was a huge deal for the club. For one, they were in the middle of crushing their most bitter rival. How better to say we could have really owned your soul by trotting out a 6 foot 3 inch thoroughbred in the waning moments. It would have been bedlam had he scored.

Secondly, it continues to show Liverpool’s progression from bottom feeding Hodgson awfulness to Master of Hope and Awesomeness that exudes from the birthday boy – King Kenny Dalglish. Suarez (your other big name from January) has just sliced and diced his way through United’s back line and here come big Andy Carroll, ready to head on anything he can jump up and get. It’s an excited thought for the club and even more so for the fans.

Which leads me to the last bit about Carroll – the fans want to see this guy. One of the coolest things after Carroll came on was his immediate impact and showcase of what he intends to do while wearing Liverpool’s number 9. A throw in leads to Kuyt lifting a ball in Carroll’s general vicinity and he smashes a header from 17 yards away. Sure, it was easy for Van Der Saar but it showed his intent as well as his skill. Liverpool desperately needs someone who can go up and get those types of passes. Carroll not only can do it, he can put those in the back of the net – a huge advantage.

It was a huge day at Anfield. The fans were witness to one of Liverpool brightest performances of the season. Six points lay between the Reds and the fifth spot with Spurs drawing against Wolves today. It can be done and if today it an indication – these last nine matches are going to be fun to watch.

 
 

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What More Could You Ask For?


Men of Magic

Today was splendid. I took a mini vacation back home above the Poconos to see my family and take in some fresh country air. Sure, it rained every second of each day I was there but today was pure sunshine. It started last night when I came to the understanding that my parents (who barely have a working phone line) somehow subscribe to Fox Soccer Channel. After a quick (but silent) chant of You’ll Never Walk Alone, I set my cell phone alarm for 8am – while they have Fox Soccer, they don’t have a DVR. No, I can’t have it all.

8am came EARLY – mainly due to the fact that the previous night was one of heavy drinking in celebration of my Cousin’s 31st birthday. Fun was had by all and although I was asleep, the rather large burrito and 17 Newcastle Brown Ale’s from the previous night was keeping me up. The cool part about my self inflicted ailment was I was up in time to watch Liverpool beat United in the 2001 Community Shield – in pre preparation for today’s “Clash of the Giants”. Needless to say I stayed up in anticipation of 830am kickoff.

As the match drew closer my father came down the stairs and saw I was like a kid on Christmas morning (I had a very good feeling about this match) and so I decided to spend a half hour explaining the rivalry and all. It was fun to try to explain the pure hatred to a die-hard baseball man. It took the full half hour (I’d like to think I did a good job) but he couldn’t stay to watch with me (mass) – although he gave me “LIVERPOOL!” shout as he walked out the door. Class guy my pop is.

Anyway, the match finally started as my heart burn was slowly fading away. I was amped for this match because it was tilted in Liverpool’s favor. The Manc’s backline in disarray, losing a heart breaker to Chelsea, Sir Alex Ferguson being his usual dick-headed self, it was all adding up to a classic. It certainly didn’t disappoint.

Mainly because of one man: Luis Suarez. The new man was simply brilliant! While the (good) Reds completely crushed the Red Devils in the midfield with the likes of Meireles, Lucas, and Gerrard, it was Suarez who was ready to apply the dagger appropriately.

While we saw a precursor to the first goal today in a similar move from Suarez last week at Upton Park, this one was insane…I literally spayed the dog I screamed so loudly when it happened (sorry, Stella). The closer a defender got to our man he quickly flicked, twisted, poked, juked, and then flicked again a perfect ball to Dirk Kuyt for an absolute stunner. It was laughable that Van Der Sar even sprinted at the linesman for offside. You simply cannot spoil beauty.

I was most impressed in the manner in which Liverpool dominated the game. They attacked in a way that made United know they meant business. It wasn’t harried or frenetic – it was calm, calculated and highly effective. While Berbatov struck the post in the first half, you got the feeling United weren’t going to muster anything against the offensive machine of Liverpool this afternoon. Rooney, Nani, Berbatov were all helpless today – Rooney especially.

The Nani back header was hilarious and a resounding announcement that Liverpool were golden today.

The Nani tears, sprint at the ref to show the wound, fall to to the pitch in more tears was absurd and borderline insane. I honestly think he was still embarrassed at the game he was having and the back header to Kuyt. Yes, Carragher was clumsy and should have been sent off but the state of affairs that followed were silly and unecessary. Phil Dowd did his best but should have shown Carra red and been on with it. Lucky that Lucas jumped over the next slide by Rafael. Dumb thing to be doing up 2 at the stroke of half time.

Equally hilarious though was Luis Suarez pulling Rafael’s hair in the fracas that followed the challenge on Lucas. Loved that players were standing up for their own. FEISTY!

While United did there best to muster anything. It was really all Liverpool in this one. I loved every second – even the half hearted goal by Chicharito in the plus 90. It was the quietest celebration on record. While there was no clean sheet, any one who took this one in saw Liverpool, led by an electric Luis Suarez, greatly better an inept Manchester United side this afternoon.

It was glorious!

 

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