TFN’s Kyle Hulme analyses USA’s 2-1 victory over Ghana…
The people of the United States are no strangers to history; they can proudly recall how they threw off the shackles of the British in 1776, name the field commanders of the Civil War and talk with intrigue and pride about the Battle of the Alamo. But after last night, perhaps they will have a new historical event to talk about around dinner tables and in classrooms up and down the country – the night soccer established itself as a part of their national identity.
Americans are no strangers to rivalries either – ask any hockey fan and they’ll explain how nothing feels better than getting one over the Russians or the Canadians – and last night another ghost was laid to rest. Ghana may seem like an unlikely rival, given that the two countries have no historic problems and they are separated by oceans and thousands of miles, but the Black Stars have been a thorn in the side of the US soccer team for years, bettering them in the group stage in 2006 and knocking them out with a goal in extra time in 2010. Ghana were a demon in long need of exorcising. But last night the US rewrote history, triumphing under a siege of Alamo proportions and moving one giant leap closer to the initially unlikely progression from their “group of death”. Continue reading →
TFN’s Hugo Greenhalgh believes recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe is unfair…
“Live for today, plan for tomorrow, party tonight.”
Say what you like about the quality of the MLS, but the recent criticism aimed at Jermain Defoe for his move to Toronto FC seems somewhat unwarranted. The striker had been phased out at Tottenham, rarely used under Andre Villas-Boas except in the Europa League. He had fallen down the pecking order behind Roberto Soldado and more recently, a rejuvenated Emmanuel Adebayor. While a ‘little and large’ strike partnership in a 4-4-2 seems like the kind of idea that would have new manager Tim Sherwood licking his lips, it would appear that Defoe’s mind had already been made up. Money talks, as does the guarantee of first team football, but it would be crass to assume that Defoe’s move is purely avaricious.
There seems to be significant indignation that Defoe would rather play for Toronto than for another top-flight club in England. But is this ire really justified? Let’s think about which Premier League clubs Defoe would realistically start for. It’s fair to say he would be a squad player at the rest of the top ten, like he is at Spurs. In the bottom half we can assume that he could start at most, if not all. With the greatest respect to Aston Villa, Norwich, West Brom et al., what can they offer Jermain Defoe? At 31, he’s a player who probably wants a new challenge. Is the prospect of a half-season relegation battle really that desirable? Perhaps he could have been reunited with Harry Redknapp at QPR for similar money but this seems no more credible than moving to the MLS. Overall, there’s a semi-nationalistic air of pomposity that playing in the Premier League is the ‘be all and end all’, when it’s really not. Continue reading →