Thursday, April 7, 2011

Don't forget Frankie

We ought to give a pat on the back to Frankie Simek, who starred in Carlisle United's Johnstone's Paint Trophy win against Brentford on Sunday and became the first American Wembley cup final winner since Jemal Johnson in 2008, or the first at the new Wembley with an American accent let's say.

Frank has always been an impressive performer in my eyes, and could easily have worked at a higher level. I spoke to the one-time Arsenal youth when Aston Villa and Everton were on his case a few seasons ago but he brushed any top-flight ambitions aside, preferring to stay loyal to his contract at Hillsborough. Sheffield Wednesday fans will tell you he was one of their most reliable men for the past five years, where he clocked up 124 appearances.

I saw him score his first goal in England at The Den, and he was memorably calm and self-effacing afterwards about it; an honest Joe who just does his duty. For the Nats, Frank has been behind first-choice Steve Cherundolo and the more-versatile Jonathan Spector and with Eric Lichaj and Timmy Chandler now on the scene, that road is crowded.

When I last saw him backstage in Amsterdam for the pre-WC friendly I again thought he was a useful asset to keep in mind. Moving down a division will not help his US claims, but Frank is only 26 and it would be a loss if Bob Bradley took his eye off the always solid St. Louis-born defender forever.

*I was one of the 5,000 who trekked out to Orient, in the shadow of the Olympic park, to see England's women down the US' 2-1 on Saturday. But as you can see, my view of the proceedings was not the best at Brisbane Road.

What I did see was the world's No.1-ranked women's team suffer from stage fright to deservedly concede two goals in the first half-hour to the tenth-best nation. The US picked themselves up in the second half and were clearly better drilled than England, but failed to take their chances and equalise. Conceding an early goal (8th minute) is not a disaster as the scoring team often relaxes, but if then you fail to take control of the match and let them score a second, you've lost the psychological battle.

The US kick-off their World Cup campaign against North Korea in Dresden on June 28th.

-Sean O'Conor

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