there would have to be some to wash away
I have a friend who is as Nats-obssessed as I am, and he sent me an email that I was going to write a long reply to. I have a policy of posting sports stuff, whatever it is, so I thought I'd do it here.
So I've been mulling various solutions to the Bornstein Problem. The most obvious one is just to move Bocanegra left--he's back to spending 90 minutes a game at left back for Rennes, and even scored the game-winner over the weekend--but if Gooch isn't healthy, what then? I was thinking that Edu's got enough experience at CB that I'd much rather see Boca-Edu-Demerit-Spector than Bornstein-Demerit-Boca-Spector. That would mean taking Edu out of midfield--where I think he has to be the de facto starter after his performance Wednesday and Clark's injury--but Clark can at least deputize there if he has to.
Another possible solution would be to switch Spector to left back, where he played for West Ham, and start Cherundolo. It'd be a lot easier of Cherundolo wasn't ALSO injured, but at least he's got a shoulder injury instead of a leg injury and should be back any day now. Anything's got to be better than Bornstein.
Onyewu should be healthy. His injury prognosis never lasted into the World Cup and he is back in training now, in three months he should be ready to go. He will be rusty as hell and probably won't have any games for AC Milan whatsoever, but the US isn't in a position where they can think about not starting him. So the easy solution of sliding Bocanegra over is likely to be what happens.
Cherundolo is in a spot similar to Onyewu. He will be rusty as hell but the USA is going to bring him and since it's just a shoulder he should be ready to go. Given the positional flexibility the US's backline has I assume he's the first guy in the starting lineup no matter where a hypothetical injury or suspension occurs. If it's center back, Spector flips to left and Bocanegra is in the middle. If it's left back, Spector flips to left. If Edu is in at CB at any point, the US is down at least two first-choice players and probably more.
I'm not that concerned about health in the back. I'm more concerned with rust and possession. Jay Demerit is a fantastic defender but the reason he topped out as a very good Championship level CB is what happens when he gets the ball. He looks like me out there. He's a hoofer. Any pressure, or any thing he imagines could be pressure, and he boots it upfield. That makes it even more difficult to get possession against a team like Holland. If there was anything at left back I'd rather see him on the bench. There isn't, so the hoofing is far the lesser of the evils.
Loney brought up a good point in his recap: if there's no Davies, should Donovan just play forward? I think it's obvious either Dempsey or Donovan is going to have to start up top if Davies can't go, probably Dempsey, but Donovan might mesh better with Altidore. That would leave a midfield of Dempsey-Bradley-Clark-???. Seriously, god DAMN Holden's injury; I think Holden after a good couple of months with Bolton could make that midfield good enough to get service to the forwards. Now? Eh. I guess you could also go Dempsey-Bradley-Clark-Beasley, but I think the Beas is probably a sub at best at this point, good as he looked the other night.
Everyone who reads this is going to instantly discount my opinion but here goes: I am tentatively in favor of Brian Ching. I know Ching does not score, and that this is generally believed to be the point of a striker. But if you can point me to any US forward, including Altidore, that can actually score consistently at a World Cup level, I will give you a nickel. None of them can score.
So if they can't score, Ching's dogged work ethic, set piece usefulness, and ability to hold the ball seem attractive options. But most importantly: Ching works spectacularly well with Donovan. He is a passing forward who has time an again picked Donovan out on his frequent killer runs. I think a major reason Donovan was so invisible against Holland was Robbie Findley and, it must be said, Jozy totally failing to get him involved when the ball came to them. Ching is basically equivalent to the rest of the USA forwards when it comes to putting the ball in the net, but probably better in all the other things.
And then, um, is it crazy to think it might be worth giving Brian McBride a callup? He's internationally retired but wouldn't he come back for the WC & runup? He's still producing for Chicago, with 12 goals in 33 games. He just frickin' scored against Chivas (That Chivas) in a Friendly. All of his bones and joints are currently operational. He is probably the best forward in Nats history. He's 37, sure, but beggars can't be choosers.
I do agree that Holden's injury makes it very difficult to put Dempsey at forward unless Beasley goes nuts at Rangers the rest of the year and does not shatter any of his many atom-thick bones.
Edu also has the atom-thick bone issue and is far from proven, but at least he doesn't have a record of insane red cards, deserved or not, like Clark does. Rangers have basically won the Scottish League already so I hope they'll do DMB and Edu a solid and give them a lot of run over the last dozen or so games.
I looked it up--of the 13 field players the U.S. put on the field at the Azteca last summer, 8 of them have suffered some form of major injury since then. The only ones that haven't are Donovan, Bradley, Altidore, Bocanegra, and Spector. I know soccer's got a high injury rate and you can't expect to have your very first-choice 11-and-3-subs, but still--that's ridiculous.
Timmah agrees with you:
But we're hoping that Charlie [Davies] makes it, hoping that Jermaine Jones makes it. Gooch [Onyewu] should make it. So should Clint [Dempsey]. Stu should be OK, barring any setbacks. But it's been really weird. As long as I've been on the team, going back eight years, we haven't had injuries like that. Maybe one guy hurts his knee and comes back around, but not this close to a big major tournament.
So it sounds like everyone should be healthy except possibly Davies, though what kind of shape they're in we'll never know. Jones is the ultimate wild card at this point. It's easy to forget this guy is Schalke's captain and widely regarded as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Bundesliga.
Hey, at least we're not fretting that Chris Armas isn't available.
OTHER THINGS. After the Holland game, in which the US played the standard 4-4-2 with an actual attacking midfielder in Torres, I have come around on the boring USA game of double defensive midfielders. Torres doesn't fit well with the rest of the team if Demerit is hoofing it from the back and no one has enough bite to get the ball back. His touch and ball retention were useless against Holland. Maybe the US can take a more aggressive tack against an Algeria or a Slovenia, but until such point as they can actually pass it through the midfield, a double destroyer setup is the way to compete with the best in the world. Suck 'em in, bite 'em, and counter. Too bad Findley was such a git.
If you put a gun to my head I'd peg my starting 11 against England like so:
FORWARD: Altidore, Ching
WINGER: Donovan, Dempsey
CENTRAL MID: Bradley, Edu
DEFENSE: Bocanegra, Demerit, Onyewu, Spector
MAN WE LOCK TO A TIM HORTON'S IN SASKATCHEWAN: Bornstein
I admit that I don't really have 200 words to meet the diary limit. I'm relying on this note from Brian at the bottom of the requirements section:
Something that requires effort you would like to keep around for posterity's sake should be a diary.
Trust me, I put plenty of work into this. I can't take any more of the emo posts about Beilein and RichRod and the NCAA investigation and "How many games does RR need to win to keep his job" and so on and so forth. We need something more WOO FOOTBALL and less WHY DOES LIFE HATE US?!?
With spring practice ready to start, hopefully this gives everybody a few warm fuzzies and gets you excited again about what we can be. I present to you "Sometimes When You're On: 2010" (and yes, this is the only appropriate song at this point for a Michigan football highlight video):
The resolution option isn't showing up for me yet, but it should be available in HD. Enjoy. Be happy. Go Blue.
To steal a fellow Mgoblogger's signature (sorry, I can't remember whose it is):
"When your team is winning, be ready to be tough, because winning can make you soft. On the other hand, when your team is losing, stick by them. Keep believing!" - Bo Schembechler.
No MCLA program in the country had as a difficult start to their 2010 season as the Michigan Wolverines. With true road games against the #22, #5, and #6 teams in the country, there were never going to be any claims of Michigan padding the schedule with soft opponents. Despite playing without a number of starters in one of the contests (more on that later), the Wolverines emerged unscathed, and are ready to take on yet another top opponent this weekend.
In each game (against Arizona, Arizona State, and BYU), Michigan got off to a slow start, but managed to come back for the win. This isn't exactly a sign that they will be as dominant in the 2010 season as they were in 2009, but if they can work out the early-season jitters, an undefeated run isn't out of the question, especially with the toughest stretch of the schedule out of the way. Part of those mental mistakes - namely numerous offsides violations - can be attributed to the offseason loss of Goalie Coach Brad Gigliotti, who had been running the substitution box for the Wolverines the past several seasons.
The Wolverines welcome Simon Fraser University into the friendly confines of Oosterbaan Fieldhouse on Friday at 7:00 PM for the home opener. The Clan was ranked #3 in the nation last week, but dropped non-competitive games to Colorado State and Colorado (17-7) - both upcoming Wolverine opponents. Against the Rams, Fraser led 5-4 at the half, before allowing five consecutive goals in the third quarter on their way to a 12-6 loss. Since 3rd-quarter runs have been a strength for Michigan through three games, that bodes well.
On Saturday, the Wolverines "travel" to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan in a cross-county CCLA Conference Matchup. The Eagles went 3-4 against MCLA Division 1 opposition last year (6-5 overall), including a 33-8 pounding at the hands of their conference brethren very slightly to the west. This season, they have started with a 1-3 record, defeating only CCLA D-2 squad Calvin College.
Michigan held just a 5-3 advantage at halftime, but exploded in the second half for a 15-5 victory in Tucson. Junior Goalie Andrew Fowler got the start in net, and went the distance for the Wolverines. Reigning CCLA scoring champ Trevor Yealy put in 6 goals, and faceoff specialist David Reinhard won 62.5% of his 24 draws. Every healthy field player saw action for the Wolverines in the blowout.
The Wolverines took a 1-goal advantage after a period in Tempe, and matched the Sun Devils goal-for-goal for the remaining three quarters to come away with the 11-10 victory over ASU. The goalies each played a half, with Andrew Fowler getting the start, and Mark Stone making a last-second save in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. Trevor Yealy had a relatively quiet game for the maize-and-blue, scoring only two goals (tied with David Rogers and Freshman Thomas Paras for most on the team). Reinhard was again exceptional, winning 84% (!!!) of his 25 faceoff attempts.
Against rival BYU, the Wolverines were shorthanded, with six players suspended for violating team rules. Captain Svet Tintchev, along with fellow seniors Kevin Zorovich, Clark Mcintyre, and Josh Ein joined juniors Steve Levitt and Matt Asperheim on the bench. All except Levitt are starters, and their absence was a huge blow to the Michigan effort, also forcing midfielder Jamie Goldeberg to play out of position at attack. Now that the scene is set, take a look at the freakin' awesome setting for BYU's field:
Trevor Yealy was back to form, leading MIchigan with four goals, tied again with Paras for most on the team. As just a freshman, it's clear Paras has a great future ahead of him for this team. Mark Stone went the distance in net for Michigan, and Reinhard again dominated faceoffs, winning 70.1% of his 24 opportunities. Michigan again had some mental mistakes, committing 33 turnovers along with 2 offsides penalties. However, it's the final score that counts, and Michigan's 13-9 victory kept them undefeated on the season.
While North Carolina isn't quite the Goliath they have been in the past, Michigan did have to go into Chapel Hill and face the #12 team in the nation with what's been a suspect offense at best. It didn't turn out all that well. Michigan was swept on the weekend, losing two extremely close games on Friday and Saturday, and was blown out on Sunday to fall to 4-7 on the season.
Starting pitching on Saturday and Sunday just wasn't good enough to compete with the Tarheels, but there was some life shown by the offense.
Full Recaps and Series Thoughts after the jump
(photo to right from minervacat's photo stream)
There was a post that devolved into a discussion of the of NFL Draft eligibility rules about a week ago. As I was the person who was largely responsible, I decided to examine Maurice Clarett's situation more closely. Enjoy.
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NFL eligibility rules, like those of the NCAA, can be a contentious issue. This is likely because, regardless of whether we agree or disagree with a rule, the rules are somewhat arbitrary. Since we’re discussing Maurice Clarett here, I’m going to discuss the NFL’s policy that players must be three years removed from high school graduation in order to enter the NFL draft—in other words, they must have completed their Redshirt Sophomore or true Junior season in college football. Clarett challenged that rule in federal court in 2004, where he first was successful in the Southern District—whose ruling was then reversed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
I want to emphasize that I am not a lawyer, and while the lawyers out there are free to destroy my argument and pick apart my almost certainly incorrect usage of legal terminology, that doesn’t necessarily mean my viewpoint is without validity. As a reference for the legal issues, I’ve used a summary of the case, which is available at the bottom of the page.
This is a topic I feel very strongly about. To me, it’s appalling that an adult who is highly qualified for a job is prevented from pursuing that job simply based on his age. Make no mistake; waiting three years after high school is essentially another way of requiring that NFL players be 20-21 years old on draft day. Of course, for me to be upset in this case, I must assume that Clarett and Mike Williams would have been drafted (or at least signed as an undrafted free agent) by an NFL team in that draft. Both were drafted the next year, so I think it’s safe to assume they would have been drafted the season in question.
My argument isn't about what’s best for the fans, or even for the players, it’s about what should or shouldn’t be legal. I would love every college player to stay in school for four seasons. I primarily follow the college game, and the game’s great players are a significant part of why the college game is, to me, the best sport in the world. However, is it acceptable for the government to allow a private entity to not allow an adult to work in a profession he is clearly capable of pursuing? I’m not saying the NFL had to draft Clarett and give him a huge signing bonus, but they essentially prevented him from even applying for a job, despite having met all non age-related qualifications. I’m going to examine if my argument is valid, and whether it’s reasonable to disagree with the court decision the allowed the NFL to deny Clarett entrance into the draft.
Clarett’s lawyers argued that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement violated various anti-trust acts by denying eligibility for employment to players “who had not first exhausted all college football eligibility, graduated from college, or been out of high school for five football seasons. Clubs were further barred from drafting any person who either did not attend college, or attended college but did not play football, unless that person had been out of high school for four football seasons.” The NFL Commissioner was authorized to admit players via “Special Eligibility,” provided three years of college football had elapsed—these are early entrants to the draft.
The initial case in the Southern District essentially ruled that the Clarett had anti-trust standing; holding that the “’inability to compete in the market’ for NFL players' services is sufficient injury for antitrust purposes.” The Southern District also found that the NFL’s eligibility rules were “blatantly anticompetitive” in ruling in Clarett’s favor. The NFL argued that younger players were less emotionally and physically mature, and therefore more likely to fail at the NFL level. They further argued that younger athletes may attempt to rush their body’s maturation by taking steroids, etc. These are logical arguments that I’d expect the NFL to make here.
Obviously, the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Appeals Court disagreed with the lower court's ruling. Their discussion opens by stating, “It has long been recognized that in order to accommodate the collective bargaining process, certain concerted activity among and between labor and employers must be held to be beyond the reach of the antitrust laws.” This allows unions and employers to negotiate work rules together in good faith—the so-called anti-trust exemption. This is called a “non-statutory exemption,” which is inferred "from federal labor statutes, which set forth a national labor policy favoring free and private collective bargaining; which require good-faith bargaining over wages, hours, and working conditions; and which delegate related rulemaking and interpretive authority to the National Labor Relations Board."
The Appeals Court systematically struck down each of Clarett’s arguments based on past court rulings and federal labor law. According to federal labor law, rules for initial eligibility are required in the collective bargaining process, and may make eligibility more difficult for outside parties, which can be used by unions to protect their workers. Unlike the Southern District, the Appeals Court granted the NFL a non-statutory exemption and allowed them to deny Clarett’s entry into the draft.
The discussion above is what happened during the process. Clearly, assuming that the appointed members of the federal court system are accomplished jurists—which is likely the case—intelligent people can disagree here. I found it interesting that age was not mentioned once in the case summary. When Clarett initially challenged the NFL, I thought it would be a simple case that would immediately fall in Clarett’s favor. He was an adult, and it’s illegal to deny someone a job due to age, which I contend is a clear consequence of the time removed from high school eligibility rules. I was wrong. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states on its website that only workers over the age of forty are protected by age discrimination provisions of federal employment law. That is clearly why age wasn’t mentioned, however, I’m surprised that was not challenged, especially due to the perishable nature of NFL level football ability.
I’m not going to delve too deeply into the morality issue in this diary. I obviously fall on the side of allowing an adult to apply for a job he is qualified for, but many others on the board do not in the case of pro football. I also feel it would have been right for the NFL to allow Mike Williams and Maurice Clarett in under some sort of special exemption. They did win the initial case, and were forced to spend a year in limbo waiting to be drafted—which may have contributed to Clarett’s eventual problems. Had he been able to remain in the very structured environment of organized football, those problems may have been mitigated or never appeared.
Feel free to debate below, but apparently, Maurice Clarett, and I, was wrong based on federal law. Hopefully it was an interesting read.
There have been a lot of requests for this to become a recurring feature (as it was on Varsity Blue), so I'll post the rankings weekly in the diaries, and frontpage it occasionally. The team rankings are very rough estimates until the services have released more full individual grades.
Action since last rankings:
3-5-10 Illinois gains commitment from Hunter Wells. Michigan State gains commitment from Lawrence Thomas.
|Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings|
|Rank||School||# of Commits||Rivals 250||Scout Average||ESPN 150|
I'll only make charts for the teams that currently have commits. Rivals 250 means that a given prospect is on the Rivals 250 to Watch, and ESPN 150 means that a prospect is on the Watch List for the ESPNU 150. Scout ratings are on the 5-star scale.
|#1 Ohio State - 2 Commits|
The Buckeyes start their recruiting class with a couple bigtime defensive ends.
|#2 Minnesota - 2 Commits|
Minnesota has a solid beginning - for now.
|#3 Michigan State - 2 Commits|
The state's top prospect picks the Spartans.
|#4 Michigan - 3 Commits|
Michigan's first three prospects are not super-heralded at this point.
|#5 Illinois - 1 Commit|
Illinois gets a big in-stater to start off the class.
|#6 Northwestern - 1 Commit|
Northwestern holds steady with one prospect.