January 2010

Getcha Popcorn Ready

Here at The Yanks Are Coming we generally refrain from previewing club soccer games, but this weekend’s matchup is so good and so relevant to USMNT fans that we had to issue a “heads up” at the very least. Let’s be honest, this matchup is so interesting for U.S.A. fans such as myself that it caused me to quote “misunderstood” NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens in the headline.

I’m writing of course about the hottest team in the English Premier League (and possibly all of soccer) taking on a lineup that will feature (arguably) the two of the best American players.

Everton v. Manchester City. 12:30 PM Eastern on Saturday. Watch it on Fox Soccer Channel if you get it. Stream it off the internet if you have to. Or do my favorite, head to a non-soccer sports bar and make them change one of the TV’s to FSC; they get the channel, the wait staff just doesn’t realize it until they get there. “I don’t think so, I mean I can try… yeah I’m searching here, I just – oh wait is this it? I guess we do get it, there ya go!” Note: In this situation once the game is painstakingly located, proper etiquette is to order one of their gimmicky “signature appeteezers” to go with your first round. But I digress.

The appeal of the Toffees taking on Man City at Goodison Park isn’t hard to see. I don’t need to break down tactics or try to sell anyone on some relatively obscure aspect of the game that they’re going to love once they realize it. This one’s pretty straightforward and should be fun to watch for anyone from a USMNT fan, to an England fan, to a Belgium fan (I got you, Vincent Kompany).

Blankcheckster City hasn’t lost a game since former Inter Milan manager Roberto Mancini took over for Mark Hughes almost a month ago. In fact they’ve only allowed one goal since Mancini took the helm. One look City’s corps of all-world strikers tells you how nasty this team could be if they can consistently play defense in addition to putting the ball in the net… and they’ve been doing both lately. Carlos Tevez is coming off a hat trick and has been scoring goals at such a clip for the past two months that if he keeps it up we’re going to be forced to slot him into “32 Players to Watch at The World Cup” and start making Alexander Ovechkin comparisons (the highest compliment I can give a goal scorer).

Meanwhile, a middling and injury addled Everton squad will look for their new player loan Landon Donovan to help boost their attack, probably from the right side of the midfield. Donovan started in his first game with the club and notched an assist against Arsenal at the Emirates, no small feat. And ever present in the Everton net, American keeper Tim Howard will have his gloves full with the likes of Tevez, Craig Bellamy, and insert name of badass target-striker here – Benjani, Roque Santa Cruz, etc. Not to mention talented midfielders Gareth Barry, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Martin Petrov, and Stephen Ireland… oh and Robinho’s always a threat to put one past Timmy if he’s sober and gets into the game (two big if’s).

So enjoy the match as the blue side of Manchester travels to the blue side of Liverpool and tries to retain their Champion’s League position at fourth in the table, while Everton tries to make something of their Premier League season and inch further away from the relegation spots and closer to another Europa League worthy finish. Enjoy Landon Donovan’s quality and creativity. Enjoy Tim Howard’s fiery leadership (and hopefully a glut of saves). And above all, enjoy Roberto Mancity’s.. uh Mancini’s silly looking Italian man-scarf.

Disclaimer: Given City’s form, this could be a blowout. That being said, Everton just drew with Arsenal in London and they tend to play their best at home in Goodison Park. Hopefully we’ll be treated to tightly contested fixture as Brits like Ross Cohen say.

Jon Levy