Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Transfer topic that!

[Photo -]

Anderlecht midfielder Sacha Kljestan went a bit crazy on Wednesday night, bagging a pair of somewhat similar goals with his head to go with an assist in a 4-2 Belgian Cup quarterfinal capper against Zulte-Waregem. The 'stache maestro hit the first goal and the winner to double his total for the campaign. You can see both goals in the video box at the top right of this page. You want videos #11 (opener) and 9 (brace-maker).

- Greg Seltzer

Y'all ready for this?!? (updated)

Yeah, I think tonight is the night we get to see DeAndre Yedlin (pictured in yesterday's training with Christian Eriksen) make his Tottenham debut.

Spurs are still working Kyle Walker back from injury in the midst of a fixture crunch, they sold Kyle Naughton to Swansea yesterday and tonight's Capital One Cup semifinal opening leg visitor is League One Sheffield United. My brain says a start is not out of the question.

We shall see, but Yedlin is in the provisional squad of 24, with a dress squad of 18 to be named about an hour before kickoff.

UPDATE: Nope.No Yedlin tonight. Seems like a real missed opportunity by the Spurs manager to me.

- Greg Seltzer

[Photo - Tottenham]

Monday, January 19, 2015

The Case of Inspector Kljouseau

I will keep this relatively brief, lest I fall into a manhole in trench coat. The recently confirmed list of MLS suitors for Sacha Kljestan from (I believe, and forgive me If I am wrong somewhere) Ives Galarcep, Jeff Carlisle and Steven Goff was LA, Seattle, NYRB and Philly Union. I will now see those gentleman (as all four currently remain in the race) and raise them interested parties Chicago, two other MLS sides I will not discuss yet, longtime admirers Gent, an Eredivisie club (working on a confident hunch) and at least one other team from Europe. And while all this is going on, Anderlecht have asked the American to stay at least until the end of the season. It turns out manager Besnik Hasi - who put Kljestan up for sale for the second time last month - remembered that his squad will be light four African Cup of Nations participants for a while as they chase three crowns. Oof.

There will be a full MLSS report before long that contains as many ways to express the concept of "at least" as one could think of - reason being that I still may be underestimating the crowd by yet another a couple of teams. Stay tuned...

- Greg Seltzer

Kicking off the goodie parade...

I have learned that Colorado playmaker Dillon Powers - fresh off receiving an Italian passport - is also now receiving interest from Atalanta and Palermo, with a possible view to a summer offer. I also suspect he has at least one suitor in another European country, but let me get back to you later on that one.

And yep, the title means there is more goodie-liciousness to come very soon.

- Greg Seltzer

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Black Cats = Adorable

So Gus Poyet thanks his lucky stars he could ditch Jozy Altidore to sign Jermain Defoe, proclaiming them a whole new team that will now give the novel concept of facilitating striker chances a whirl. I'd wonder what Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham thought of those comments, but let's stayed focus on the dis.

Then, the seemingly delusional Poyet (Sunderland can propel Defoe back into the England set-up!!) instantly benches Connor the former savior-with-a-long-term-contract in favor of his new exorbitantly-priced, 32-year-old small forward, who has not played since October and has not scored since July. After today's 2-1 loss at Tottenham, which saw Defoe (reportedly on about $110,000 per week salary) worth all of 12 offensive touches in 75 minutes, the ex-Toronto FC man has two goals in his last 29 EPL contests.

Don't let me confuse the issue and let you think this is about criticizing Defoe. No no... right now I'm thinking he is both a freakin' fiscal genius and a figure for impending sympathies. And I say this about a guy who will probably score about as well as anyone short of Messi could in this Sunderland side coached by that manager, because he will look to fire at will from anywhere (a ka the mindset Altidore never adopted to adjust, his biggest gaffe of the tenure).

Would you like a real post-mortem stat on Altidore's overall play and who should point fingers at whom for his general failure during a self-imposed Black Cats sentence? From his arrival to departure, against all Prem opponents (including six cup matches with Chelsea, ManU, Stoke and S'hampton), Sunderland averaged a goal every 66.8 minutes with him on the field and a goal every 103.1 minutes with him as a spectator of some sort.

Yup. And the rage was even more displaced this season, when Altidore struggled like hell for league minutes after a World Cup injury gave him the late preseason start. This term, Sunderland has hit 11 times in 1,399 minutes with the American watching, giving them a goal every 127.2 minutes. With him on the field, they have scored eight times in 311 minutes, or once every 38.9 minutes played.

Yeah, you are reading that correctly. During Altidore's rare chances to see the pitch, Sunderland actually scored at a rate more than three times higher than without him. Today, they managed but three shots until trying to rally in the waning moments and Defoe was helped to do less than nothing.

So who really ruined whose time here? In truth, they should be happy Altidore didn't bag those two or three head-scratching misses, which gave the boss and the rest of that squad ample cover from the bashers' nasty stick. He didn't just occupy defenders while he was there, he occupied most of the UK media jabs and local flamethrowers as well.

As the American pulled a DNP in four of his last five games on their books, an irate majority on the fan message boards suddenly decided that Wickham had become terrible. And Poyet was totally clueless. And the midfield created nothing. And the team passes poorly all over the field. Etc etc etc.

The reality is Altidore was bad by his standards, but Sunderland collectively were and remain even worse by quite a ways. Hey, remember their worst losses of all? The 8-0 to Southampton, the 5-1 to Spurs, the pitiful 3-1 loss to newly-promoted Crystal Palace last season. The US striker left not one footprint in any of those debacles.

It likely won't be their last on the matter, but at least Altidore's new club certainly got the first laugh out of this swap deal:

- Greg Seltzer

Friday, January 16, 2015

Aaaand that is that.

Sunderland have announced both the signing of Jermain Defoe and the departure of Jozy Altidore to Toronto FC. It will ruffle some feathers, but I am not even slightly happy about this.

I also highly question the logic of SAFC giving a 32-year-old forward a three-and-a-half year deal at a reported £80,000 a week. It probably would have been a better idea just to pretend the team had any interest in serving their strikers. Well, at least Defoe won't slow Sunderland down with any of that silly team play.

- Greg Seltzer