Thursday, April 30, 2009

No More Serie A?

Following in the footsteps of the Premier League, Serie A has decided to break away from Lega Calcio and their Serie B comrades. 

Many people are wondering why would Serie A do this? 

The answer has to do with TV revenue. 

Serie A has to share TV revenue with Serie B and Lega Calcio. While this benefits the smaller teams, larger teams such as Inter, Milan, and Roma all seemingly felt that they could make more money if they got exclusive TV deals, in which they didn't have to share any money with smaller and unsuccessful clubs.

Serie B teams have long complained that they were not getting a fair amount of money, and Serie A teams have long threatened to break away and leave them out to dry.

The moment has seemingly come for this to happen. 

19 of 20 Serie A teams have agreed to break away, with Lecce being the only team against it. Lecce is currently in 19th place and are likely going to be relegated, so of course they don't want to see Serie A break away while they are in Serie B. 

When you look at how this same move affected the Premier League you have to be somewhat excited about this separation. When the Premier League broke away they got a ton of money from Sky Sports, which allowed their teams to go out and buy the best players, and essentially turn the Premier League into the premier league in the world. 

If Serie A can get a similar deal, teams would be able to go out and buy better players, which would ultimately mean more Italian teams having success in the Champions League and UEFA Cup. 

This deal would mean however the teams in Serie B would suffer. The rich would get richer and the poor would get much poorer. (Although the incentive to get into Serie A would be much greater, which I feel would ultimately improve the quality of the matches.)

As an AC Milan and Italian soccer fan I'm excited for the change. It was going to take a drastic move for Serie A to become the best league in the world again, and I think this is a good first step.

The Problem With ESPN

Here in America, ESPN is truly the "worldwide leader in sports." Millions of people wake up with Sportscenter in the morning, and go to bed with it on in the evening. Anyone in America that follows sports seemingly gets their information from ESPN.

The only problem? ESPN has literally no respect for soccer.

Let me start by saying that I understand the soccer isn't the most popular sport in America. I understand that most people in America would probably consider the NFL, MLB, NBA, and Nascar to be more popular, meaning ESPN putting hours upon hours of soccer on their networks would probably get them bad ratings.

With that being said, ESPN must understand that soccer in America will only go as far as they are willing to take it.

People have argued about making soccer popular in the United States, but I feel that no one has questioned the way in which soccer is presented on ESPN.

Many people are casual observers of sports, and Sportscenter is the show in which they derive most of their information. Here is where many of the problems arise:

There is absolutely no way that soccer will become popular in the United States if the anchors on Sportscenter continually make a joke of the highlights they are presenting. Anchors such as Neil Everett always make a joke of the names of teams and players when they talk about a soccer highlight, and act as if no one in America actually cares about what they are presenting. The only way a soccer highlight makes an appearance on Sportscenter is if a crazy goal is scored, or if they are contractually obligated to show it based upon their exclusive network rights. 

I'm not sure if soccer is some inside joke at ESPN, but I know that the people on TV would surely get reprimanded if they laughed through an entire NFL highlight, or harshly make fun of the city in which a team plays in. 

I can't tell you how many times I've watched ESPN and had to change the channel because the people on TV were passive aggressively bashing soccer. 

And what about the people at ESPN that actually do know about soccer. Where are they? 

Currently ESPN has 1 show dedicated to soccer called ESPN Soccernet Press Pass. You can't find this show on ESPN however, you have to go to one of their family of networks. Press Pass is currently on ESPN Classic for 2 days a week with a weekly coverage of 2 hours, all on a network that few people even get. 2 hours a week on ESPN Classic? Fishing legitimately gets more coverage than soccer.

ESPN has all the tools to make soccer in the United States popular. They have a seemingly endless budget, which in turn has given them the rights to the Champions League tournament, the World Cup, and the United States national team. 

Coverage of these tournaments is good when it is happening, and interest seems to sharply gain due to many casual observers noticing the high level of play that the MLS rarely provides. However,  after the tournament is over, ESPN does nothing with the new casual viewers. They make no attempt to draw new fans in.

I believe there is plenty of high level soccer year round, that if shown, would not hurt ESPN's ratings at all.

David Beckham proved that a proven superstar going to the MLS is not going to make soccer in America important.

I feel that the job truly belongs to ESPN.

What do you think? Should ESPN even try to make soccer popular in America?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Breaking News: Ferdinand in the Hospital

Breaking news out of Manchester is Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand has been taken to the hospital with a rib injury.

Sir Alex Ferguson said, "He's got a crack on the ribs."

I'm not sure if this means Ferdinand's rib is broken, but Ferguson does not think that Ferdinand will be fit for Man United's next game against Arsenal.

The injury supposedly happened when Ferdinand collided with Eduardo. 

This could be very bad news for Man United, as Vidic and Ferdinand completely shut down the Arsenal attack today. 

This could be the 2nd defender to get injured in the Champions League, as Barcelona's Rafel Marquez recently sustained a season ending injury.

How do you think this injury will affect Manchester United?

Poll Result

To the question, "Who Will Win the Champions League?"

40% said Manchester United
24% said Chelsea
22% said Barcelona
5%   said Liverpool
3%   said Arsenal
2%   said FC Porto
1%   said Villarreal
0%  said Bayern Munich

Obviously this voting started at the beginning of the Quarterfinals.

These results mean that the readers of Il Mondo di Calcio believe Manchester United will repeat as champions. 

Cannavaro Coming Back to Serie A?

Real Madrid defender, and captain of the Italian national team, Fabio Cannavaro is seemingly on his way back to the Serie A.

Recent statements from Cannavaro's agent suggest that the 35 year old will be playing for Juventus next season.

Cannavaro's agent said an offer from Juventus would be, "the most fascinating."

Cannavaro previously won 2 championships with Juventus, however they were revoked due to the match fixing scandal that saw Juventus relegated to Serie B. 

Most rumors surrounding Cannavaro's future hinted that he might join his brother at Napoli, however this now seems unlikely.

While I believe that Cannavaro has been an excellent ambassador for Italy and the Italian game abroad, I feel he belongs in Serie A.

What do you think? Is Cannavaro to Juventus a good move for him, for Serie A?

Chelsea Holds Barca

Sorry for the lack of updates lately, it's been a hard couple weeks here at school.

As many of you know, Chelsea and Barcelona tied 0-0 in Spain today. 

Barcelona had possession of the ball 70 percent of the game, and other than a Didier Drogba chance in the 1st half, Chelsea made no attempt to attack for the entire game.

When I watched this game, I could tell it was going to end 0-0. Every time Barcelona brought the ball up the field, they had to go through 8 to 9 players from the edge of the box. 

After this game I really feel that Barcelona will win. Chelsea can only play in a defensive shell for so long without Barcelona scoring, and I believe if Chelsea does decide to open up and attack they will leave themselves up for a counter attack.

Update: If you guys haven't heard, Barcelona's Rafael Marquez is out for the rest of the season after injuring his knee in the second half of the game.

What do you think?

Here are highlights of today's game:

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Premiership Talk Podcast

I was recently the co-host on the Premiership Talk podcast for episode 16.

Brian, the founder of and I talked about the last week of Premier League action, the FA Cup, the Champions League, UEFA Cup, and other top stories...

Go to and download or stream episode 16 to hear us.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

From Russia With Love

After witnessing one of the most exciting Premier League games I have seen in a long time, Andrei Arshavin has possibly arrived. 

Arshavin scored 4 times today in Arsenal's 4-4 draw with Liverpool, and easily looked like the most dangerous player on the Arsenal side. 

The Russian playmaker has looked ok thus far, scoring 2 goals adding 3 assists in 7 Premier League matches, but you had to wonder whether or not the chemistry was really there between him and his teammates. 

This game I believe has sealed any chemistry issues between Arshavin and his teammates, and will certainly put the memory of his long transfer saga behind him.

For Liverpool fans this is not the game you wanted Arshavin to break out. Liverpool needed to get a win in order to move into 1st place in the Premier League. This draw now means they are equal in points with Manchester United, however United have played 2 less games than Liverpool.

I honestly feel that Arshavin has now personally seen to it that United take home the Premier League trophy this season. I believe the 2 game difference will be too much to overcome for Liverpool, so all you Liverpool fans out there say thank you to Andrei Arshavin for insuring Liverpool takes home no trophies this season.

All in all a performance like this hasn't been seen at Arsenal since Thierry Henry was up front, and Arshavin's 4 goal game will be a performance Arsenal fans will surely remember.

Early Look at the New Chelsea Jersey

Here is a leaked photo of the new home Chelsea jersey for the 2009-2010 season:

Personally I think that this is one of the worst jersey's I've ever seen. It looks like there is a bra in the jersey, and the thing in the middle is supposed to look like a zipper but its not. 

They also took out the collar that Chelsea has had in their jerseys for a while, and made the stupid mesh half the shirt. 

The away and alternate jersey doesn't look as bad, but the home one to me is terrible.

What do you think of the new kit?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Racism Hurts Serie A Once Again

Just when Juventus fans thought that AC Milan overtaking them in the standings was bad, news out of Serie A is that due to racist comments made by Juventus fans during the 1-1 draw with Inter Milan, Juventus will have to play their next home game without any of their fans in attendance. 

I'm not sure, but either that game will be the Italian Cup match against Lazio on Wednesday, or it could be their next home game in Serie A which is which is on May 3rd against Leece.

The player who the abuse was launched at is Inter's Mario Balotelli. Balotelli who's picture you see above is an Italian born in Palermo with Ghanian descent. The racist remarks were coming after Balotelli scored Inter's only goal in the match, and continued throughout the game.

Supposedly the fans were yelling at him, "a black Italian does not exist." 

These kinds of statements are obviously unacceptable, and really show how much work Serie A needs to do before it becomes the most respected league in the world again. 

I understand the passion that fans in Italy have for the game, but "a black Italian does not exist?" First of all that is clearly a false statement, and honestly I'm disgusted by the statement. 

Those fans need to grow up, get cultured, and stop acting like the rest of the world agrees with your racist attitudes. 

I hope Mario Balotelli scores 10 goals the next time Inter plays Juventus.

Juventus is appealing the ban.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Totti Into the Top 10

Roma's Francesco Totti scored 2 goals against Lecce today in Roma's 3-2 victory.

Those 2 goals put him into the top 10 in scoring all time in Serie A. 

Totti's second goal gave him 175 in his career in Serie A and he needs only 4 more goals to move into 9th place. 

Everyone else in the top 10 no longer plays, so Totti most likely will finish well above 10th place when his career is over. 

The all time leading scorer in Serie A is Silvio Piola with 274 goals. 

I would like to say congratulations to Totti, and hopefully he scores many more goals for Roma (just not against Milan). 

Here are the highlights of the Roma vs. Lecce game where you can see both of Totti's goals:

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The PFA Awards

As many of you know, the recent PFA or the "Players Football Association Player of the Year" nominees have been released. 

Essentially, this is an award that the players of the Premier League vote on, to honor who they feel is the best player of the year.

Now this year, many people are criticizing the nominees, because there are 5 Manchester United players among the shortlist of 6 players. Those 5 players are, Cristiano Ronaldo, Edwin van der Sar, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, and the final nominee is Liverpool's Steven Gerrard.

My personal opinion on the matter is this, I will trust the opinion of players voting for players than writers or coaches or owners. The players are the ones that play against each other, and they are the ones that get the truest sense of how each individual is. If the players of the Premier League believe that 5 of the best 6 players of the year come from Manchester United, than who am I to argue?

Last year a similar award was awarded in the Bundesliga, and Franck Ribery rightfully won. This season, Zlatan Ibrahimovic rightfully won the award in Serie A. 

I have no reason to believe that the players will vote for a fellow player that does not deserve the award.

With this being said, I believe the award comes down to Vidic and Gerrard. Vidic had an amazing season when the players were voting, and Gerrard has led his team to a position to win the Premier League....I believe one of these two players will win...

What do you think? Are the nominees for the award correct? Post a comment and let us know!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What About Babel?

What would you think of a coach who refuses to start an extremely fast and skilled 22 year old striker with loads of potential? You might call him crazy. Perhaps incompetent if he does not realize the talent he has on his bench. 

While Rafa Benitez is neither of those things (perhaps crazy) that is the situation he has on his hands when dealing with Ryan Babel. 

Ryan Babel came to Liverpool two seasons ago from Ajax as a youngster with loads of talent and potential. Babel was doing well in the Dutch league, and was quickly moving up the ranks on the Netherlands national team. Everything seemed to be in place for his breakout in the Premier League. 

A takeover or breakout has never come from Babel. Babel a natural striker has been stuck behind Fernando Torres and Dirk Kuyt in the lineup, and even Steven Gerrard seems to play up front more than Babel. 

This season Babel has only started 6 games and has now publicly admitted that he feels frustrated with his role on the team. If I could describe Babel's playing time this season in two words it would be erratic and infrequent. 

Babel claims to have made great improvements to his game but has never been given the chance or enough time to show it. It appears that Babel could be on his way out of Liverpool.

The question now becomes what is Rafa Benitez to do?

Babel is clearly a talented player, but he clearly should not be playing over Torres or Kuyt. Both of these players are well established in the Premier League and appear to be leaders on the team. 

The problem is a player like Babel will not want to sit on the bench for much longer. Plenty of teams could use another striker and would love to have Babel on their team. If Babel is not part of Liverpool's immediate plans, I think they should sell him. If Liverpool cares about Babel at all they will let him get playing time somewhere else. Perhaps a loan is possible? 

What do you think? Should Benitez play Babel more in order to keep him at Liverpool, or should he just let him go?

UEFA Cup Semifinal Set

The semifinal of the UEFA Cup has now been determined, and we are guaranteed to have a German and Ukrainian team in the final.

In the semi's Dynamo Kyiv will play Shakhtar Donetsk while Werder Bremen will take on Hamburg. 

With teams such as AC Milan, Valencia, Tottenham, Fiorentina and Aston Villa in the tournament when it began, this final 4 cannot be the one that anyone expected. 

Who is the team I'm putting my money on? I'm betting on the team that eliminated AC Milan to win.

When the UEFA Cup began, AC Milan was easily the most talented and prestigious team in the tournament and I figured them to win. However, when they played Werder Bremen they were defeated on the away goal rule and Bremen advanced. 

After seeing Diego lead Werder Bremen past AC Milan they then became my favorites to win it all. I mean if you can beat AC Milan you can beat any team in this tournament. 

Diego's 2 goals today helped Bremen defeat another Serie A team Udinese, and I gotta think that Bremen will take home the trophy in Turkey. 

Ibrahimovic Is Gone for 100 Million

Don't worry Inter fans it hasn't happened, yet.

However, Inter club director Marco Tronchetti Provera said that a 100 million euro offer for Zlatan Ibrahimovic would most certainly be accepted. 

Serie A fans know that such an offer was recently rejected by AC Milan when Manchester City tried to lure Kaka away. 

Provera seems to think that Inter Milan could win and be competitive without Ibrahimovic, especially if they went out an bought other players with the 100 million. 

Personally I feel that this kind of talk during a season can only be a distraction. If your an Inter fan, coach, teammate etc.. you don't want your star striker that's under contract until 2013 to be worried about whether or not he will be sold.

Even though I'm an AC Milan fan, I don't want to see Zlatan leave Serie A

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Has Anelka Ever Been Worth It?

Nicolas Anelka rejoined Chelsea this week after a 3 week absence. The question to me is, does it even matter? Do Chelsea even need him? Not only does it even matter, but has Anelka ever been worth his transfer fee or salary when all things are considered?

I'll answer the first question right now. Chelsea's 3-1 victory over Liverpool in the Champions League proved to me that Chelsea does not need Anelka to be successful. Didier Drogba is obviously a superstar up front, and the rest of the Chelsea midfield with Lampard, Ballack, Deco, Essien and the bunch provide the goals to win. Even substitute defenders can score for them. The second question however is a bit trickier.

For those of you that don't know, the Frenchman Anelka has played for 8 teams in his career including two stints with PSG. His recent move to Chelsea worth 15 million pounds made him officially the most paid for player in the history of football, with the transfer fee's in his career amassing a total of 87 million pounds. All this money has been paid for Anelka, and he's only scored more than 20 goals in a season two times. Let me repeat, the most paid for player in the history of the game has only scored more than 20 goals in a season twice, not to mention has been a distraction on almost every team he's played on.

When Anelka was at Arsenal in 1998 he had a great season and immediately wanted a raise in his salary. Anelka then did not try on the field causing fans to name him "Le Sulk." This prompted a record setting move to Real Madrid where he was later suspended for 45 days for refusing to train. Does this sound like the guy you want starting up front for your favorite team?

Even on the international level he's been less than spectacular.  Anelka has always been overshadowed by Thierry Henry, and when given his chance to play at the Euro 08 tournament he played an uninspired game against Romania, was substituted out, and didn't play for the rest of the tournament. 

Also, not to rub it in, but it was his penalty kick that was saved that gave Manchester United the Champions League title last season. 

To be fair, Anelka is obviously a talented player but I honestly feel that to be seemingly the most sought after player in the history of the game, he needs to show more on the field. I will be eagerly watching on Wednesday to see which Nicolas Anelka shows up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Premier League Capitalizes on Serie A Failure

Here is an article I submitted to the website Premiership Talk. Hopefully it will be published soon so I guess in reading this your getting a sneak preview.  I will be writing for the site in the future so be sure to check it out. 

The newest hero in Manchester, Federico Macheda, has made an immediate impact on his club, while at the same time exposing a flaw in the way Serie A does business. 

The Italian Macheda was born in Rome in 1991, and began playing for the youth squads of the Serie A club Lazio when he was 15. Macheda showed great promise and talent, however Italian soccer regulations state that a player is unable to sign a professional contract with a team until his 18th birthday. This rule did not make Macheda legally connected to Lazio in any way while he was playing for them. Shortly after his 16th birthday Macheda decided to make his talents to the Premier League, a league where regulations allow you to sign players from 16 years old and up. The Premier League had stolen a player away from Serie A because they allowed themselves to do it. 

In America leagues have age requirements, and they are followed by players because there is no competition. If the NFL says that you have to be a certain age to play, players will follow the rule because there are no other leagues to go play in. This does not happen in the world of soccer. If Serie A tells you that you are too young to play, there are countless other leagues such as the Premier League that would love to have you.

My view on sports has always been this: If you're good enough to play, you should be able to play. Of Macheda, Sir Alex Ferguson said, "He's only 17 years old but if you're good enough at this club, you'll play." I believe Serie A should change their regulations to the Premier League's and allow themselves to sign younger players. It would allow for younger players like Macheda to make an impact on clubs, and keep home grown talent in their native country.

The Serie A needs to look at the Premier League and realize that it's not everyday that you get an extremely talented 17 year old, and they shouldn't be limiting themselves on who can play.

Manchester United has certainly benefited from a failure in Italy.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Have You Seen This Goal?

In the 11th installment of Have You Seen This Goal, we have a second appearance from Fernando Torres, this time playing for Liverpool.

This goal was scored today in the Liverpool vs. Blackburn game in which Liverpool won 4-0.

In this goal, Torres takes a pass from Jamie Carragher off his chest, and essentially no looks a volley into the back of the net. Torres is number 6 in my Power Rankings, and with goals like this he could certainly move up the ladder.

the angle 25 seconds in is the best view

Is This Kid For Real?

Let's imagine this situation for a second. Your a 17 year old kid from Italy, playing for the most famous soccer team in the world. You get inserted into a game with your team down, and wind up scoring a remarkable goal to give your team the victory. Only in a dream right?

As many of you know, that's exactly what happened last week when Federico Macheda scored for Manchester United against Aston Villa, in United's 3-2 victory. 

The real question was however, What would Macheda do for an encore?

Your answer? How about score another game winner for Man United, this time within 61 seconds of entering the game. 

Manchester United played Sunderland today, and were tied 1-1 going into the 75th minute. That is when Macheda was inserted into the game, his second appearance of his career, and he deflected a Michael Carrick shot into the goal for his second goal of his career, and his second game winning goal of his career. 

The question now becomes, is this kid for real? Obviously he will not score a goal in his every appearance, but you have to like what you've seen so far from the kid. The first goal proves that he has the skills and the finishing ability to play at the Premier League level. The second goal showed his awareness on the field and finishing ability, as his deflection of the shot was no easy task. I would love to see the kid play more, and see if he has any speed or moves. 

Gotta love that the kid is Italian too!

Here is the goal from today's game:

What do you think? Is this kid the real deal, or just a 2 hit wonder?

Leave a comment and let us know!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Poll Result

To the question, "Who is the best goalkeeper in the world?"

32% said Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
28% said Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
23% said Edwin van der Sar (Manchester United)
11%  said  "Other"
4%   said Petr Cech (Chelsea)

Therefore the readers of Il Mondo di Calcio believe that Real Madrid and Spanish international Iker Casillas is the best goalkeeper in the world.

Thanks for voting and keep voting on the polls!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Quarterfinal Thoughts and Highlights

The first leg of the Quarterfinals of the Champions League tournament has completed. 

Manchester United Draw with Porto 2-2

I was very surprised that Porto played as well as they did, and Man United were actually lucky when they got a gift of a goal from Wayne Rooney. It is notoriously difficult to go into Porto and win, so all Man United fans should be worried. I gotta think that United will pull out a win in the second leg, but this tie won't be as easy as I thought.

Game Highlights

Arsenal and Villarreal Draw

Arsenal was boosted by the return of captain Cesc Fabregas, however his presence was not enough for a victory. Both goals in this game were amazing, with Marco Senna scoring from about 30 yards out for Real, and Adedbayor scoring a great bicycle kick goal that seemingly everyone is talking about. To me this game is really the only one that could go either way. Villarreal played this game without a lot of their starters, but at the same time Arsenal haven't played all of their best players either. I gotta think that Arsenal will find a way to win. 

Here are the full match highlights....

Barcelona DESTROY Bayern Munich

Who would have thought that a Quarterfinal matchup would be over within the first 45 minutes of the game? But thats exactly what happened when Barcelona scored 4 goals in the first half. When you watch the highlights of this game, it really is evident that Lionel Messi is the best player in the world. Messi, Eto'o, and Henry all scored in this game and they should be through to the next round.

Here are highlights...

Chelsea Grab a Victory Over Liverpool

Liverpool started this game out great, and the momentum from the past few weeks of great performances seemed to have carried over when Fernando Torres scored a goal early. However, some terrible marking on set pieces led to 2 goals for Chelsea, and Drogba added another one to make it 3-1 Chelsea. Liverpool hadn't lost at home in 14 months, and at this point I don't think there are going to be able to go into London and beat Chelsea by more than 2 goals. I think this game is decided as well...Chelsea will play Barcelona.

Game Highlights:

Some great games were played these past 2 days, with 2 games up in the air still, and 2 games pretty much decided. I think that if Man United can get past Porto, than I think the Man United vs. Barcelona matchup could really happen. 

Monday, April 6, 2009

Have You Seen This Goal?

Wolfsburg sits atop the Bundesliga standings this season, and a 5-1 thrashing against Bayern Munich shows just how good they can be. 

This goal by Grafite was the 5th goal scored that game, and has been featured on ESPN sportscenter...

This goal could be a candidate for goal of the year...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jozy States His Case

As I'm writing this Jozy Altidore has scored a goal for the United States against Trinidad and Tobago. 

A few months ago I wrote how I think the United States 3 best young players, Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, and Freddy Adu, should all be getting more playing time. 

Since that time Michael Bradley has become a fixture in the middle of the United States lineup, and his 2 goal performance against Mexico in February has certainly sealed his spot. 

However, Jozy and Freddy both have not seen much playing time as Bradley over the past few months. 

All this is hopefully about to change in regards to Altidore. Altidore was put into the game against El Salvador last Saturday and scored a nice goal. Today Altidore was put into the starting lineup and scored a goal. In my opinion Jozy makes a positive impact on the team each time he is out there. 

I understand that Jozy is the youngest player on the team but hopefully Altidore is included in the starting lineup more often from now on. 

UPDATE: Thank you to Jozy Altidore for further proving my point, as he has now scored a second great goal in this game. With 15 minutes remaining, perhaps a hat trick is on the way?

Second UPDATE: Wow. Just Wow. Jozy Altidore proves me correct once again and gets a hat trick. Please Bob Bradley, PLEASE, put in Jozy Altidore more often.