For most of the first half, I told myself that if today's lineup was Fulham's default starting XI for the rest of the season, I'd be happy with it. Fulham started brightly, striking deep and quick into Blackburn's unsettled defense with a great example of – dare I say it – direct, long-ball strikes. With Cairney and Pringle playing as out-and-out wingers and with McCormack and Dembele an actual strike pair, quick counters looked to be on all day. When O'Hara and Tunnicliffe got into the mix with excellent short passing, Fulham looked to be a very good side indeed.
And so it was as early as the 4th minute, when Dembele shook off his defender a few yards into the Rovers' half and headed straight for the goal line. A quick stop and a blind pass to his left was all it took for Fulham's captain to be one-on-one with Blackburn's keeper. Ross doesn't miss these and it was 1-0. From then on throughout most of the...
The View From South Texas – Notes on the 2015 U-20 World Cup
This year, for the first time in my life, I watched the United States perform in an U-20 World Cup. I watched every minute of every match the lads played, and enjoyed much of it. I learned a considerable amount about the state of our game vis-a-vis the rest of the world at this age group. Here's some thoughts.
This is the first time I've ever seen American soccer players in a competition where they were not the fittest and most disciplined players on display. Fitness, discipline, and a total commitment to the team is the trio that was immortalized by Sir Alex Ferguson as “that American thing.” With the exception of our match against New Zealand, this was not this case. If our players were remarkable in this, it's certainly not down to any of them. What it IS down to is our system of player development in this country.
In countries like Ukraine, Germany, Serbia, and...
After eight matches this season, we had earned the startling total of 1 point. Our clueless manger was out, and we were left with a squad full of promising kids and a few remaining players who could be best described as "journeymen."
Four people who had not been involved during this stretch, turned that completely around in just a few months, bringing Fulham to at least mid-table respectability while providing interesting football that was FINALLY enjoyable to watch again. Who were those four?
1. Kit Symons -- using the exact same squad that Felix was torturing, he turned Fulham into a side that -- at one point -- was averaging 2 points per match -- up quite a bit from 1/8 points per match.
2. Marcus Bettinelli -- despite his tender age, he inspired confidence and showed forthright courage and no little skill. While nowhere near the finished article, he was at least an equally talented replacement for the recently departed David Stockdale.