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What to Watch Today: Everton vs Fulham – Donovan vs Dempsey

January 27, 2012 — by Suman


There’s a whole slate of FA Cup 4th Round matches this weekend, kicked off by a match today that is especially interesting for viewers on this side of the pond. Everton hosts Fulham, which means it’s also a faceoff of the two best American players of this generation: Landon Donovan vs. Clint Demspey.

England FA Cup, Everton vs Fulham (3pmET, USA TV: Fox Soccer Channel)

Grant Wahl has a SI column up today previewing the matchup between “the two best American field players of their generation” which is worth reading in its entirety. Some excerpts:

Who’s done better with the national team? Donovan. Who’s had a better European club career? Dempsey. Who’s got more endorsements? Donovan. Who’s been better overall the past 18 months? Dempsey. Who’s done more to grow MLS? Donovan. Who’s got the better chance to be the U.S.’s first European superstar? Dempsey.

Donovan just rejoined Everton earlier this month on another short-term loan from MLS champions LA Galaxy.  He had a successful loan spell with the Merseyside club two years ago, for three months at the beginning of 2010.  Indeed, Everton wanted to extend the loan, but the LA Galaxy refused, and Everton manager David Moyes would have liked to have bought him–but Donovan’s valuation was too high (£10m) for the cash-strapped Everton.

On the other hand, Dempsey has been in the English Premier Leauge full-time for almost exactly five years. He joined Fulham on a $4million transfer from the New England Revolution during the January 2007 transfer window, and made his Fulham debut on January 20, 2007.  He’s since scored 42 goals in 169 appearances for Fulham–setting records for not only most goals by an American in England, but claiming the record for most Fulham goals in the Premier League era (since 1992).

More from Wahl’s SI piece:

Donovan has played well since joining Everton on a short-term loan, often leading the attack and making Toffees fans wish he would stay permanently. Dempsey, meanwhile, is in the best form of his life. Think about this: the only Premier League players with more goals in all competitions this season than Dempsey (15) are Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney and Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero — a trio worth a quarter of a billion dollars on the transfer market.

Even then, as recently as last spring, English columnist Georgina Turner wrote a column for SI headlined “Dempsey still underrated Despite star performances at Fulham“–and inevitably Donovan came up:

[Dempsey’s] quality seems forever caught in soccer’s peripheral vision. In part, he has suffered from the constant comparison to Landon Donovan; up against the U.S.’ wholesome, twinkle-eyed star, Dempsey’s brooding demeanor makes him an unlikely poster boy. Donovan’s injury-time goal against Algeria at last summer’s World Cup is seared on to the nation’s memory — even people who aren’t that interested in soccer could probably describe it to you. That it was Dempsey’s run and shot that created the opportunity, leaving the box open and the goalkeeper on the floor, is merely a footnote.

Some related posts from our own archives:

On Donovan: see this post from December 2010, about Donovan deciding to pass on a similar loan deal to Everton last season, and this video of that aforementioned most famous goal in US soccer history.

On Demspey: see this post from last October about him claiming the record for most goals scored in England by an American, and this post from August 2010 speculating about how Dempsey might or might not combine with Belgian youngster Moussa Dembélé.  Fulham has since added yet another cook that we like to watch into its attacking midfield kitchen–Costa Rican Bryan Ruiz.  We wrote this just over a month ago, for a pre-Christmas edition of “what to watch”:

two [Fulham] players to watch: Costa Rican attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who arrived from FC Twente over the summer, and seems like he’s only now adjusting and fitting in; and Belgian striker Moussa Dembélé, who also came over after success in the Eredivisie, with AZ Alkmaar, the previous summer.  We wrote at the time that perhaps Fulham might have to choose between playing him and American Clint Dempsey–but they combined rather well last year, and from what we saw in their draw versus Liverpool a couple weeks ago, Bryan Ruiz is starting to combine well with the two of them.


What to Watch This Midweek (Pre-Christmas Crunch Edition)

December 21, 2011 — by Suman

Who knew there’s a full slate of games in the Premier League, Serie A, Ligue 1, Spain (Copa del Rey)? Though to tell the truth, not a whole lot of must-see TV today. Actually the one match today that we will try to watch just kicked off, so this will have to be a very quick post:

Udinese-Juventus at Stadio Communale Friuli (12pmET, Fox Soccer Channel, RAI Internazionale, ESPN3 USA, FOX Deportes): 3rd vs 2nd – Udinese with 31 points, two behind Juve, who are in turn a point behind table-toppers Milan.  Neither team was really expected to be competing for the Scudetto, but here they are. Udinese had a great season last year, but sold off three of their best players (Alexis Sanchez, Gokhan Inler, and a defender whose name escapes me right now).  They failed to get past Arsenal in Champions League qualifying, but that may have been a blessing in disguise, as they’ve been able to concentrate on the domestic league.

Juventus is perhaps even more surprising–still undefeated in the league (9W 6D 0L).  We finally got to watch Juve play (thanks to the fact we flew cross-country on JetBlue, and so were captive with GolTV for 10 hours), specifically the rather dramatic Coppa Italia match they played against Bologna.  Players to watch on Juve: holding midfielder and Milan transplant Andrea Pirlo,  Claudio Marchisio, Paraguayan Marcelo Estigarribia, ageless trequartista Alessandro del Piero; we also like to see Dutchman Eljero Elia, whose been somewhat lost in the shuffle since coming over from Hamburg in August.

Regarding the English fixtures, go over to PoliticalFootballs and see John’s latest post–“This week in: English Football – Christmas Time is Here“.  The one match today in England that we might try to catch later on is:

Fulham-Manchester United at Craven Cottage (3pmET, Fox Soccer Channel, FOX Deportes): Fulham has had success against MU at home: 2 wins and a draw in the past 3 seasons, according to the honorable Barry Glendenning (“purveyor of ‘lazy journalism’ and ‘anti-[insert name of your favourite team here]’ bias”) on this past Monday’s Guardian Football Weekly pod. Although he doesn’t rate them to repeat that success today.  Raphael Honigstein, on the other hand, said he thinks Fulham could very well earn a point from this match, and cites two players to watch: Costa Rican attacking midfielder Bryan Ruiz, who arrived from FC Twente over the summer, and seems like he’s only now adjusting and fitting in; and Belgian striker Moussa Dembele, who also came over after success in the Eredivisie, with AZ Alkmaar, the previous summer.  We wrote at the time that perhaps Fulham might have to choose between playing him and American Clint Dempsey–but they combined rather well last year, and from what we saw in their draw versus Liverpool a couple weeks ago, Bryan Ruiz is starting to combine well with the two of them.

Bonus reason to watch this match: Dempsey is #3 on the list of jid’s players to watch.


Player(s) for the Uninitiated American Sports Fan?

December 20, 2011 — by Suman2


We’ve got a good friend who’s a big sports fan, but mostly of the traditional American variety: primarily basketball and football, both college and pro.

We asked him if he’d ever thought about watching some soccer, and he said what it would take would be a compelling player for him to follow.

Which obviously got us thinking which one(s) we’re going to pick for him to watch.

Here are our preliminary picks–one obvious choice, one a bit less so, and one American:

1) Lionel Messi
2) Mario Balotelli
3) Clint Dempsey (Not only is our friend American, but he’s got an affinity for Texas–the teams he follows most closely are the Dallas Cowboys and UT football. Also the Lakers.)

We’ll be back with a followup post giving some context as to why these three, including some links to background articles and YouTube clips–not least for the friend in question. But we also welcome additional suggestions and/or feedback on these choices. Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.

CommentaryUnited States

American Expats in Europa

December 13, 2011 — by Rob Kirby


As the final matchday of the Europa League group stages approaches Wednesday and Thursday, so does the best chance to see Americans in action overseas on a TV near you. And with some of the Americans’ teams in danger of crashing out of Europa, it may be the last chance for a while. That is, unless your cable package comprehensively covers the Portuguese, Dutch, German and Belgian leagues, in which case you’re really spending way too much for cable.

The two Fox Soccer Channels offer regular viewing of Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Brad Friedel in England and occasionally Michael Bradley in the Serie A, and GolTV shows some of the Bundesliga exploits of Steve Cherundolo and the German-Americans in the national team, but to see Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) or Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City) in a non-streamed format, Europa’s the ticket. Furthermore, with the Manchester teams now surprisingly in the impending mix, there could be some great matches ahead.

Some players, like Onyewu, Kljestan and Jones earned early admission to the knockout phase, as Sporting Lisbon, Anderlecht and Schalke 04 each clinched the top spots in their respective groups and secured berths in the last 32 with a game to spare. Others are less likely, but as it stands, everyone’s got a shot, even if mathematical probabilities aren’t as rosy as they might like.

Dempsey, the all-time leading American goal scorer in the Premier League, has been firing for Fulham this season, both domestically and in the Europa League, where he will always be remembered for his chip into the Juventus goal in 2010. But Fulham jeopardized their shot at the round of 32 when they slumped to a 1-0 loss in the 89th minute against group leaders FC Twente, down to 10 men. However, if Krakow lose to or draw with FC Twente, Fulham are through. But Dempsey & Co. are in charge of their own destiny. If they win, second is theirs. If Fulham lose to or draw with Odense and Krakow pull off the upset, however, Krakow takes the spoils.

Friedel has proven integral to the Tottenham first team, but he usually sits out Europa nights. For Spurs to progress, Rubin Kazan would have to lose and Tottenham have to win and overcome a goal difference of 5. Good time to have a proven shot-stopper, so Redknapp may choose to select him against Shamrock Rovers. However, one school of thought says exiting the competition would help Spurs finish in the top 3 or 4 in the Premier League, not playing weekend matches on the heels of Thursday nights in Europe, so perhaps the bald-pated American will again see some rest. Many betting sites tipped Tottenham to win the cup. Few expected they’d fail to pass through the group stage.

Spector and Birmingham may soon be crashing out, unless they’ve got some goals in them. They need first-place Braga to down second-place Brugge, while they themselves beat Maribor and hope it all works out such that they overcome the 4 goal deficit separating them from Brugge. Doable if they’ve got their shooting boots on (and Braga, theirs).

Altidore, whose career has witnessed a resurgence since joining the Dutch champions, will likely lead the line again for AZ Alkmaar, but the team must get a result against group leaders FC Metalist. Win and they clinch second. If they lose and Vienna defeats Malmo, they crash out. Draw and they squeak through, unless Vienna beats Malmo by 7 goals, which one would have to consider a tad unlikely, as they have conceded almost a third more goals than they’ve scored in the group stages. Altidore has 9 goals this season.

Onyewu, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s long-lost shorter, stronger brother, has similarly returned to form with Sporting Lisbon. In fact, he scored the lone goal in last weekend’s 1-0 victory over CD Nacional de Madeira. And with former club PSV Eindhoven still in the Europa mix, he may have a chance to exact some revenge for their lack of faith in him that led to selling him off this past summer.

Schalke 04 midfielder Jermaine Jones has been seeing more first team action and will live to see another Europa day, as the Schalke tops its group and is certain to go through.

Anderlecht is similarly a lock, and barring injury so is Kljestan, who has excelled at Anderlecht this season and must be wondering why he’s seen so little time with the national team. The midfielder has started 23 matches and scored 2 goals this season.

Hannover 96 captain Cherundolo and his team look favorites for second. Win or draw with last place Vorskla and they go through.

Americans guaranteed passage:
Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon, D)
Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, MF)
Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, MF)

Clint Dempsey (Fulham, MF)
Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, D)
Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City, D)
Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, F)

Highly unlikely:
Brad Friedel (Tottenham, GK)

Wednesday, December 14

Besiktas v Stoke City    1:00 PM (DirecTV)
PSG v Atletic Bilbao    1:00 PM (GolTV)
Fulham v Odense    3:00 PM (GolTV)

Thursday, December 15

Hannover 96 v Vorskla Potlava  1:00 PM (GolTV)
Shamrock Rovers v Spurs   1:00 PM (DirecTV)
Atletico Madrid v Stade Rennais  3:00 PM (GolTV)
Birmingham v Maribor   3:00 PM (DirecTV)
Udinese v Celtic    3:00 PM (DirecTV)

CommentaryEnglandUnited States

Dempsey Ties American Expat Talk

October 31, 2011 — by Rob Kirby

If Dempsey were a dolphin, he'd have a platinum fin.

When Clint Dempsey scored for embattled Fulham in the 2-0 victory over Wigan this weekend, he tied the record of former U.S. international Brian McBride as all-time highest American goal scorer in England’s top flight. (McBride did loan spells at Preston North End and Everton before his tenure at Fulham.) The pair also share another distinction, along with Landon Donovan they are the only American players to have scored in multiple World Cups.

The 28-year-old Dempsey now has 36 league goals in his Premiership career. He also holds the record for highest goal scorer at Fulham, where he joined from the New England Revolution in 2007. Only the most down and out gambler would bet against him extending that onward and upward. Duece be doin’ it up. Clint D, Nacogdoches, represent.

For those who have never checked it out, watch him shout out an alternate reality in which he’s a  platinum-finned dolphin. It’s astounding that he has the balls to rhyme with cameras capturing it all for posterity. But you can’t help but love this clip. Could anyone actually hate a player dophin?

Don’t hate, celebrate (with Clint). Perhaps by reliving his incredible chip at Juventus in the 2010 Europa League.

“He scores with his left,
He scores with his right.
That boy Clint Dempsey
Makes Drogba look shite.”

              — Fulham chant



Europa League: American Expats in Europe

October 18, 2011 — by Rob Kirby


For those looking to spot Americans in action overseas, check the Europa League—it’s televised, great teams abound and, well, there are Americans, too. The elusive soccer grail, as it were. Europa League matches offer rare chances to see national team expats competing against high-caliber opponents on a real live TV. No streaming, no pirating, just a mildly usurious cable package.

He rocks the mic, he rips through defences. Word.

While English Premier League devotees get to see Clint Dempsey (right), Tim Howard and Brad Friedel scoring and shot-stopping on the regular, and Serie A followers will catch the occasional glimpse of Michael Bradley, the Europa League showcases players in the Portuguese, Dutch and Belgian leagues who get showcased seemingly nelsewhere. To be fair, GolTV does broadcast  the occasional Bundesliga match, giving some small-screen shine to Steve Cherundolo and the German-Americans in the national team, but to see Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon), Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) or Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City), Europa’s your best bet.

Ironically, the team most populous in expat Americans, Rangers, utterly dominates the Scottish Premier League this season but got dumped out of the Europa League in late August (after getting dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers in early August). Carlos Bocanegra, Maurice Edu and Alejandro Bedoya regularly receive starting berths, but that didn’t stop Slovenian minnows NK Maribor from handing the team its collective Glaswegian ass two months back, so that’s that for the American Rangers. Other Americans who could be seen until they couldn’t are/were Clarence Goodson (Brøndby) and Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland), who both compete in the top flight in Denmark.

Fear not, though. Many survived the qualifying cull, performed well in Matchdays 1 and 2, and may again feature this Thursday on Matchday 3.

High-functioning U.S. perennial Dempsey has been on fire for Fulham this season and he scored the lone goal against Honduras two weeks back. He gives everything in every game and excels at nearly everything he does (check the Deuce’s rhymes on YouTube…or better yet, don’t). Friedel, for his part, has proven such a crucial addition to Tottenham since joining this summer that Tottenham keep resting him in the Europa League, so don’t necessarily expect to spot his particular shiny bald pate, unless it’s atop a body seated on the bench. Spector, who once more sees the TV cameras zooming in after West Ham’s relegation last season, helped exact revenge on Maribor for his SPL compatriots in Birmingham City’s 2-1 win over the Slovenian outfit on Matchday 2, so good on him (thanks be giving, Rangers supporters).

Altidore will likely lead the line again for AZ Alkmaar, after netting his fourth in the tournament and seventh of the season for the Dutch champions last time out. The spectacularly bearded Onyewu, that unlikely cross between Isaac Hayes and Kareem Abdul-Jabar, has similarly returned to form with Sporting Lisbon, after escaping from PSV Eindhoven purgatory this past summer. From the bench, current Schalke 04 midfielder and former Blackburn loanee Jermaine Jones came on as a substitute in the 3-1 Matchday 2 victory over Maccabi Haifa. AZ Alkmaar, Sporting Lisbon and Schalke 04 all top their groups, and the group leader trend continues at Anderlecht, where Sacha Kljestan will look to start again, having done so in all 13 matches this season, including Anderlecht’s 5-0 thrashing of Standard Liege on Sunday.

Hannover 96 captain Cherundolo, meanwhile, must cope with the ignominy of second place. Although tied with Standard Liege on points, the team cedes first on goal difference. Let’s see some more clean sheets, Steve.

Dominic Cervi, third in line for the goalkeeper spot at Celtic, has yet to feature this season. Perhaps he will at last get a shot to stop the shots. (But be honest. Have you ever heard of him?)

Stay tuned for the continuing exploits of Uncle Sam’s soccer spies overseas. (Seriously. I mean to make a series of this.)

As one last word on Deuce’s iced-out flows, in a freestyle a few years back he had a truly great/awful line in “If I was a dolphin, I would have a platinum fin.” That one really is kind of worth checking out.


Matchday 3, October 20:
1:00 pm EST on GolTV, DirecTV: Club Brugge vs. Birmingham (Jan Breydel Stadium)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: AZ Alkmaar vs. Austria Vienna (AFAS Stadion)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Wisla Krakow vs. Fulham (Stadion Miejski im)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Stade Rennes vs. Celtic (Route de Lorient)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: AEK Larnaca vs. Schalke 04 (Neo G.S.Z. Stadium)
1:00 pm EST on DirecTV: SK Sturm Graz vs. Anderlecht (UPC Arena)
3:00 pm EST on GolTV, DirecTV: Sporting Lisbon vs. FC Vaslui (Estadio Jose Alvalade)
3:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Tottenham Hotspur vs. FK Rubin Kazan (White Hart Lane)
3:00 pm EST on DirecTV: Hannover 96 vs. FC Copenhagen (AWD-Arena)

To recap, Americans still in the competition:
Clint Dempsey (Fulham, MF)
Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, D)
Brad Friedel (Tottenham, GK)
Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City, D)
Jozy Altidore (AZ Alkmaar, F)
Oguchi Onyewu (Sporting Lisbon, D)
Jermaine Jones (Schalke 04, MF)
Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht, MF)
Dominic Cervi (Celtic, GK)

And those Americans who let down themselves, their teams and their country:
Carlos Bocanegra (Rangers, D)
Maurice Edu (Rangers, MF)
Alejandro Bedoya (Rangers, MF)
Clarence Goodson (Brøndby, D)
Michael Parkhurst (Nordsjaelland, D)

Just by plucking names from this group of current and eliminated Europa players, one could field a highly competitive national side. In fact the back 4 and front 2 played the second half against Honduras in the last international break.


Cherundolo – Bocanegra – Onyewu – Spector

Kljestan – Edu – Jones – Bedoya

Altidore – Dempsey




A Dark Cold Monday Night at Craven Cottage

February 14, 2011 — by Cunning Linguist

[Editor’s note: We’ve been soliciting commentary from our resident Chelsea fan via back-channel communications over the course of the season–here is his writeup of the scoreless draw between the Blues and Fulham.]

Watching the Monday game in the EPL. On a dark cold night, very little shine on offer to dispel the gloom. 45 mins in, this is dreadful stuff. The only bright point is that Duff, Sidwell and Sparky are former blues.

Dempey the Tex vs. Čech the Czech

The second half saw Chelsea establish complete and utter domination in the midfield and dictate ball movement with relative ease. By my count Fulham had less than 4 credible attacking forays; in fact, the second half was mostly played in Fulham’s half with about 8 men in the box. Chelsea attacked from all angles but found it extremely difficult to break Fulham down. If Fulham’s resolute defending weren’t sufficient, Chelsea contrived to muck up every opportunity that came their way, and there were quite a few opportunities for Chelsea.

Chelsea were too much for Fulham in the second. In one of two errors for Luiz, Tex was able to win a very soft penalty. Tex then missed his gift-penalty to hand Chelsea a point when they should’ve gone home to face Everton in the FA Cup replay and ManU in the EPL fresh from another loss. Chelsea really should’ve won this game; the ease and abundance of goals from early on in the season have completely disappeared. I do believe the rot is in at the Bridge.