The Tuesday XI: Mother Russia Edition

We couldn’t finish our coverage of the USMNT’s game against Russia without also giving you a squad full of the best Russian names and faces an oil oligarch can buy. We’ve lined them up in the kind of 4-3-3 where we expect a level of play from each according to his or her ability, and divy up chances to each according to his or her needs.

Kandinsky’s diagram of a set piece.

GK – Wassily Kandinsky – A master of the game’s geometry, he derives meaning from the chaos of the game around him to always arrive at the right point to make the save.

LB – Catherine the Great – Keeps an iron grip on the homefront while pursuing an aggressive expansion strategy into enemy territory.

LCB – Ivan Drago – Dropped from the squad after his controversial “I fight for me! For me!” comments, management eventually decided they couldn’t keep the most perfectly trained athlete ever away from the team.

RCB – Vladimir Putin – Hell, he’s done everything else.

RB – Garry Kasparov – Is constantly thinking so far ahead of his opposite attacker that he’s already taken the ball and crossed it for an assist by the time they realize they don’t have it anymore.

Pajitnov putting in time in the film room.

Regista – Alexey Pajitnov – The inventor of Tetris excels at squeezing passes into tight spaces to his midfield colleagues, and at clearing his team’s defensive lines by knocking long passes to the flanks.

LCM – Yuri Gargarin – Excels at getting into space before anyone else.

RCM – Zangief – This Street Fighter may look big and bruising, but he’s also got a mean 360 spin to go through defenders.

LW – Sergei Kravinoff – Spider-Man’s old foe Kraven the Hunter combines a poacher’s instinct for pouncing on chances will all the superhuman size, speed and strength that mysterious jungle potion can buy.

CF – Mikhail Baryshnikov – Central defenders who overlook the 5’6” forward because of his stature will find themselves ouvert up in no time as he jetés past them to get on the end of his teammate’s passé.

RW – Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov – Coaches have found that it’s best to just give him a completely free role; he’s just going to neglect defensive duties as beneath him anyway.

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The Tuesday Ten: Hearts on Fire Edition

Tomorrow the USMNT faces Russia, where calling soccer a “commie pinko sport” is a compliment. Here are ten possible scenarios for how this game could play out. 

1. The “I Can Change, You Can Change, Everybody Can Change” Scenario
Despite suffering a severe emotional blow when noted Russian giant Andrey Arshavin murders Claudio Reyna shortly before the match kicks off, the U.S. refuses to give up despite surrendering two early goals and emerges victorious on a diving Michael Bradley header with seconds left on the clock. The Russian fans are so moved by the courage of the performance, that Putin agrees to let the U.S. host the 2018 World Cup.

2. The “Never Get Involved In A Land War in Asia” Scenario
The U.S. takes an extremely proactive approach, pinning the Russians back with their possession and ball circulation. But the backline sits deep to nullify the Russians’ pace, supply lines get thinned, and moves break down as they crash against the Russian defense, leaving the overextended Grand Armée vulnerable to counters.

3. The “Gentlemen, You Can’t Fight in Here, This Is the War Room” Scenario
With the game tied 1-1 at the half, Vladimir Putin marches into the U.S. locker room and tells the team that the stadium has been rigged with its own Doomsday Device, a series of explosives set to detonate and kill everyone inside if the U.S. wins the game. Unfortunately, Herculez Gomez was in the bathroom during this discussion, and it’s he who gets the winner minutes from time, ensuring the team’s destruction.

4. The “Kitchen Debate” Scenario
Klinsmann and Fabio Capello spend the entire game arguing on the sidelines about the merits of their particular systems, oddly enough in a model American kitchen that’s been set up on the sideline. Capello wins the argument when he catches Jurgen trying to phone Jogi Low during halftime. Capello then bangs his shoe on the podium, and no one is really sure why.

5. The “How About a Nice Game of Chess?” Scenario
Realizing the futility and pointlessness of playing a mid-November friendly, even against a historic geopolitical rival, Jurgen Klinsmann decides that the only winning move is not to play and refuses to allow his team to take the field.

6. The “Space Race” Scenario
Capello has been waiting for this moment, a meaningless friendly in the middle of November, to unveil his newest and most brilliant tactical scheme. It blows the Americans away, propelling the Russians to a 4-0 win that wasn’t even that close. America, terrified that every one of their opponents will soon begin playing the same way, pumps billions of dollars into U.S. Soccer’s budget so the USMNT can catch up with the rest of the world.

7. The “Red Dawn” Scenario
The U.S. team has just begun its first training session when a plane passes low overhead, dropping twelve men on parachutes. The Russian XI and Capello land and immediately start playing the Americans, who without proper warm-ups being dropping like flies. In the end, Nick Rimando and a ragtag team of Gatt’s and Gyau’s hold off the Soviet…err…Russian advances, snatching a late winner on a rifled shot from Juan Agudelo.

8. The “What a Country!” Scenario
Russian defensive midfielder Igor Denisov rakes his studs across the back of Jermaine Jones’ calf, picking up a foolish yellow card minutes into the second half. As he jogs by, he tells a struggling-to-get-up Jones that “In Soviet Russia, opponent recklessly fouls you!”

9. The “Proxy War” Scenario
Instead of taking the field themselves, the U.S. and Russia send out teams from South Korea and Vietnam, respectively, to play the game in their stead.

10. The “Shaken, Not Stirred” Scenario
While the bus to the stadium is delayed in traffic, double agent Timmy Chandler sneaks into the seat behind Tim Howard and attempts to garrote him. After a knock-down, drag out brawl, Howard and Carlos Bocanegra successfully throw Chandler through one of the bus windows and onto a passing Zaporozhet. Klinsmann, seeing no hope of getting the bus to the stadium on time, commandeers a tank and drives it through the streets, clearing a path for the bus.

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The Tuesday XI: Expect You To Die Edition

This week’s Tuesday XI recognizes that there are far more important things to discuss than today’s U.S. presidential election: This Friday’s impending stateside release of Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond movie. Bond films are big deals here at our site, mostly because we’re always looking for an excuse to wear our tuxedos to the movie theater. In honor of the movie, we’ve put together a squad made up of some of bond’s most memorable villains.

GK – Auric Goldfinger – Goldfinger knows the value of a clean sheet: his master plan, the irradiation of Fort Knox’s gold supply with a nuclear bomb, is all about denying others their wealth to increase the value of his own.

Libero – Ernst Stavro Blofield – Prefers to scheme in the back of the action, but is nonetheless capable of launching overwhelming attacks when the occasion calls for it.

LB – Red Grant – This SPECTRE agent with a poor grasp of wine pairings has plenty of experience battling in tight quarters along the sidelines.

CB – Jaws – Despite his size, smaller opponents are still occasionally able to get the better of him in aerial battles:

CB – Oddjob – Communication can be a bit of an issue in the back since neither of our center backs ever speak, but they make up for it with their imposing statures and fearsome physicality.

RB – Max Zorin – Has molded himself into a fearsome competitor by virtue of his Nazi steroids and inexorable Christopher Walken-ness.

LCM – Xenia Onatopp – Always strong in the tackle, more than one opposing playmaker has met at an end at her powerful legs.

CM – Dr. No – His teammates never could understand his habit of wearing his shirt with collar popped and starched.

RCM – Le Chiffre – A cool and calculating player who’s nonetheless capable of some real Vinnie Jones-level brutality when it comes down to it.

CF – Francisco (There’s a trivia answer for you) Scaramanga – The Man with the Golden Boot never misses, needing just one chance to put his opponents down for good.

CF – Emilio Largo – Depth perception can be a bit of a problem for him, but he’s used to being the Number Two option on a team such as this.

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The Tuesday Ten: Playoffs? We’re Talking About Playoffs? Edition

Today’s Tuesday Ten offers you ten quick-hitting predictions for the MLS Cup playoffs.

Eastern Conference

1. Sporting KC – Kei Kamara and C.J. Sapong will celebrate the MLS Cup-winning goal by recreating the entire six-minute Evolution of Dance, then immediately announce their retirement.

2. DC United – In the second leg in New York, Dwayne de Rosario will limp onto the field, score with his first two touches, and inspire his team to victory, Willis Reed-style.

In here, Kenny goes just where I tell him to.

3. New York Red Bulls – The D.C. leg of the Red Bulls-United tie will be called off when La Barra Brava supporters bombard Thierry Henry with Playstation controllers as he prepares to take a corner kick. Henry, undeterred, tries to plug one into Kenny Cooper to see if it will work.

4. Chicago Fire – Sherjill McDonald will score three straight goals for the Fire, then have his next shot burn Tally Hall’s hands off before setting the net ablaze.

5. Houston Dynamo –  Houston may score from a set piece.

Western Conference

6. San Jose Earthquakes – San Jose won’t bother traveling to L.A. or Vancouver for the first leg of their semifinal, figuring they were just going to leave it til late anyway.

7. Real Salt Lake – Desperate for a full-strength back line in the face of Seattle’s potent strikeforce, Jason Kreis will have the RSL medical staff scrap the injured Jamison Olave and Chris Schuler and reuse the parts to build a single healthy central defender to pair with Nat Borchers.

You are getting sleepy…you are not about to take the field in the playoffs where you always underachieve…

8. Seattle Sounders – Sigi Schmid will hire a hypnotist to convince Eddie Johnson and Fredy Montero that they’re playing in the Open Cup semi-final, not the playoffs.

9. L.A. Galaxy – The remaining parts from the Olave-Schuler infusion will be traded for allocation money to L.A., where they’re reassembled into broken-footed, hamstring-tweaked defender who can play alongside Omar Gonzalez while A.J. De La Garza recovers.

10. Vancouver Whitecaps – Much to the disappointment of Jay DeMerit’s mullet, Vancouver probably won’t win the Cup.

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The Tuesday Ten: Settling This Like Men Edition

Being Americans, we’ve been hearing a lot recently, albeit tangentially, about some kinds of debates or something that have been going on around these parts. Here at The Other 87, we’re not much for talking out our differences. It sounds kind of boring to be honest, and that’s why we settle editorial disagreements via a complex system that combines tic-tac-toe and the Joust event from American Gladiators.

With that in mind (somewhere towards the back, tucked between the bits that are trying to work out the seeding possibilities in the Eastern Conference and those that are wondering what’s for dinner tonight) we present to you ten hot topics in the world of soccer, along with the methods by which we’d like them to be settled.

Looks like someone’s been practicing.

1. Who’s the better player, Neymar or Messi? 
Pele and Maradona will debate this over the course of 15 rounds of three minutes each. Bare-knuckle.

2. Who should have hosted the 2022 World Cup, Qatar or the USA? 
We’ll settle this with a two-on-two match between celebrity sponsors of the bids: Pep Guardiola and Zinedine Zidane vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Spike Lee. Ohh well.

3. Who will win the World Cup in 2014, Spain or the field? 
Spain selects Xavi as its spiritual and philosophical champion. Unfortunately, the contest is arm-wrestling, and the field’s contender is Brazil’s Hulk.

4. Who is hotter is more famous, Alex Morgan or Hope Solo? 
Whoever can devise a shorter chain linking them to Kevin Bacon wins.

5. Who is hotter was the bigger catch for their adopted league, David Beckham or Alessandro Del Piero? 
Only one option here: A walk-off, judged by David Bowie.

6. The short-passing, possession style vs. a direct, long-ball game? 
Johan Cruyff and the ghost of Charles Reep will have a staring contest. This one could take a while.

7. Who’s the best US midfielder? Michael Bradley vs. the Field
They’ll play king of the hill on the tallest, rustiest jungle gym we can find.

Error. Error.

8. Who’s had a better career? Frank Lampard or Steven Gerrard? 
We were going to let the men themselves decide this with a good, old-fashioned game of FIFA, but we only brought one controller, so they couldn’t play together.

9. Financial fair play laws vs. the status quo
We’ll decide this by entering Karl Marx and Rich Uncle Pennybags into the World Beard and Mustache Championships.

10. Who’s the better talking head: Eric Wynalda or Alexi Lalas? 
Alright, maybe we will let them talk this one out. But in a small padded room, far from any cameras or microphones, until they come to an agreement for themselves.

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The Tuesday XI: Brute Squad Edition

If you’ve been on the Internet at any point in the last month, you probably already know that this year marks the 25th anniversary of The Princess Bride. To mark the occasion, we’re joining all the other websites out there that are bowing to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of Putrescence with our own, Princess Bride-themed XI.

GK – Count Rugen – Deformed hands and a penchant for torture? Sounds like a goalkeeper to me.

SW – Humperdinck – This master tracker will follow the opposition the length and breadth of the field, but prefers to attack the ball with numbers rather than solo.

LCB – Valerie – A late sub for the Grandson, who was scratched due to illness. Her scrappiness and persistence give headaches to even the best attackers.

RCB – R.O.U.S. – He may be a dirty, ugly player, but he’s got a mean tackle in him.

CDM – Vizzini –  The diminutive Sicilian has a unique understanding of space (“Never get involved in a land war in Asia”) and an unshakable self-confidence that partially makes up for his somewhat ponderous thought process. The idea that he could make a bad decision on the pitch is inconceivable.

LCM – Impressive Clergyman – Weawwy excels in his cawwiwewo wole, whewe he wuns back and fowth to dewivew the baww to ouw fowwawds.

RCM – Buttercup – Gallops up and down the pitch, but occasionally runs into trouble when she goes too far afield and ends up surrounded by the opposition.

CAM – Miracle Max – Delivers unbelievable passes to his forwards, but rarely joins the attack himself, preferring to let others have the fun of storming the castle.

LW – Inigo Montoya – The first third of the most devastating trio of filmic attackers this side of Han, Luke and Chewie. His crossing from the left side isn’t a strength, but it’s only because he knows something the defenders don’t, namely, that he is not left-footed.

CF – Fezzik – It’s not his fault being the biggest and the strongest; he doesn’t even exercise. Not as good in one-on-one situations, but he can occupy as many as half a dozen defenders while holding the ball up.

RW – Westley – Fast, strong, smart and skilled, can play on either side or through the middle, and keeps going through any injury, even being mostly dead? With a player like this, there’s only one thing to say: As you wish.

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The Tuesday Ten: Monumental Edition

In honor of Zinedine Zidane’s new monument outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris, we bring you ten more somewhat less-than-glorious images from the beautiful game that need to be cast in bronze. 

1. I’d love for future civilizations to dig this bad boy up:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. And while we’re on the subject of great German goalkeepers, maybe they can put this next to it, if only as something for visiting Americans to deface:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. He is all that is man:

 

 

 

 

 

4. And so is he. It’s a little blurry, but you get the idea:

 

 

 

 

 

5. Liverpool really should look into this one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Surely there’s already one of this somewhere:

 

 

 

 

 

7. The degree of difficulty for this image of Rashidi Yekini is high, but the finished product would be well worth it:

 

 

 

 

 

8. Not all great soccer moments happen on the field:

 

 

 

 

 

9. Going back to the Zidane statue, if it’s violence they’re after:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. But if they’re really trying to compose a monument to defeat, may I make a suggestion:

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The Tuesday XI: Has-Beens Edition

We forgot to run this squad of 80’s action heroes last month when the Expendables sequel hit theaters. Luckily, if the movie proves one thing, it’s that it’s never too late to get these has-beens out on the field of play. Here we’ve lined them up in a suitably old-fashioned W-M formation, just as God and Herbert Chapman intended.

And before you can ask, we didn’t forget Indiana Jones. It was just too much awesome for one team at one time. 

GK – James Dalton – There’s no one better to protect the net than Patrick Swayze’s Ph.D.-packing bouncer from Road House. Like all goalie’s, he’s equal parts Zen and completely insane.

LCB – Ivan Drago – Sure he’s a towering presence and impossibly strong, but did you know he could do this?

CB – Apollo Creed – The Count of Monte Fisto uses his excellent communication abilities to marshal the two bruisers on either side of him and his superior foot speed to clean up their mistakes.

RCB – Clubber Lang – We’ve got one prediction for opposing forwards facing off against Clubber: Pain.

LDM – John McClane – There’s no one better at single-handedly disrupting the best-laid plans of German terrorist robbers, rogue Marines, or opposing playmakers.

RDM – Frank Dux – Sure he uses the same move over and over both to score goals and make clearances, by who’s complaining when it works so well?

LAM – John Rambo – Makes sure this squad’s never outgunned going forward.

RAM – James Tiberius Kirk – Sure he’s a little old, even for this group, but someone has to captain this merry band of lone wolves and I work alone-rs together, and Kirk did good work in the 80s, at least every other game.

LW – Snake Plissken – Depth perception can be a bit of a problem for him, but he specializes in the kinds of stoppage-time scores that make fans’ hearts explode.

CF – Major Alan “Dutch” Schafer – A classic, hulking target forward, Dutch is a natural leader who works to get others involved and has a Predator’s instinct for poaching goals.

RW – “Mad” Max Rockatansky – Outpaces and outmuscles defenders when he does have the ball, but is also a master of the dummy run to draw attention away from the real threat.

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The Tuesday Ten: Jurgen’s Bright Idea Edition

We here at The Other 87 like to fancy ourselves a collection of tactical whiz kids, and so when we say that this week’s Tuesday Ten is a collection of ten possible scenarios Jurgen Klinsmann is considering as he looks to turn the tide back against the Reggae Boyz tonight, you can be sure that you’ll see at least of couple of these bright ideas on the pitch.

  1. While seeking to combat the problem of poor ball movement among his midfield diamond, JK realizes that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and so removes Herculez Gomez in favor of Jose Torres, who will play in the center of the midfield diamond, allowing the ball to move through rather than just along the sides.
  1. After realizing that Barcelona are pretty good and it seems to work for them, JK inserts yet another center midfielder onto the pitch by removing Clarence Goodson and replacing him with Danny Williams in order to move Mo Edu into the backline next to the CM-certified Geoff Cameron.
  1. Williams, left, with Dempsey.

    To help Clint Dempsey get the ball in dangerous positions, JK removes Gomez and plays Danny Williams and his youthful legs as the designated Deuce transport, responsible for carrying Dempsey and his bass-fishing fitness levels around the field and putting him down just in time for the ball to arrive.

  1. Amputates Kyle Beckerman’s foot at the ankle to prevent future unfortunate deflections, correctly surmising that it can’t really hurt his mobility too much.
  1. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before this strategy comes to fruition, JK works with Jozy to adjust the levels of the camouflage he was wearing Friday to better match the field in Columbus.
  1. JK determines that the critical missing ingredient Friday was the natural goal-scoring instincts of Michael Orozco Fiscal.
  1. JK again decides that the tendency of Fabian Johnson to both attack and defend in the same game is a luxury the team can’t afford, and shackles him once more to Tim Howard’s left goalpost.
  1. Jurgen’s next motivational speaker?

    JK takes his motivational tactics/mind games to a new level by suggesting that if Landon Donovan really loved his team and his country, he would have had his hamstring amputated, Ronnie Lott-style, in order to be ready to play against Jamaica.

  1. Frustrated at his midfield’s inability to solve the Kobayashi Maru of retaining possession when every possible easy outlet is just as likely to give the ball away as you are, JK pulls them all and starts Graham Zusi by himself as the only central midfield.
  2. JK says screw it and lets the team start trying on set pieces again.
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The Tuesday XI: Lost Boys Edition

Today we celebrate the return of the school year by thinking of the children. Not just any children, but badass ones – the kids we all wanted to be when we grew up. Some of them might have aged and become either a best-selling author/religious cult leader or a 41-year-old pinch runner or Batman (briefly) or Robin Williams, but each of them did their best work in their childhood or early teenage years.

(We wanted to include Calvin on the team, but we couldn’t interest him in the idea of organized sports.)

GK – Sloth – Our net-minder is the biggest kid of all from one of the biggest kid movies of all. Physically imposing and impossibly strong, he rallies his defense with his trademark cry:

LB – Tom Sawyer – By the time he’s done with them, opposing forwards will be convinced it’s in their best interests to score into their own goal.

LCB –  Encyclopedia Brown – In the heat of the moment, no one can tell just how he manages to save the day (and a sure goal) by exploiting an opponent’s mistake, but when he explains it in the locker room afterwards it always seems glaringly obvious.

I will not give them a legitimate and very painful reason to fall down.
I will not give them a legitimate and very painful reason to fall down. I will not give them a legitimate and very painful reason to fall down. I will not give them a legitimate and very painful reason to fall down.

RCB – Bart Simpson – Opposing personalities balance one another out in our back line. Bart was once banned for six games for blindsiding an opponent who was free on goal with a skateboard.

RB – Huckleberry Finn – Idle, lawless, vulgar and bad, he nonetheless always seems to stumble into the right play.

LCDM – Ender Wiggin – No matter how inventive your playmaker’s moment of brilliance may be, he’s already anticipated and defeated it. The enemy’s gate is down.

RCDM – Dick Grayson – Sure he’s moved on from his Robin days, and been replaced by somewhere between four and eleven different people, but he’s got loads of experience working next to someone who knows everything the enemy is going to do.

LW – Edgar Frog – More tools and harebrained schemes than anyone else on the field. Particularly loves going up against teams that aim to suck the life out of a game.

No all-time team of “What if this or that American athlete had played soccer?” is complete without Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez.

CAM – Benny the Jet Rodriguez – Strong and fast. He can score seemingly at will, hits passes hundreds of feet that drop in beautifully right where he was aiming, and always comes through in the clutch. Benny’s so great I just spent ten minutes browsing for PF Flyers to buy.

RW – Short Round – More moves and harebrained schemes than anyone else on the field. Particularly loves going up against teams that aim to rip the life out of a game.

CF – Peter Pan – Dominant in the air when he’s not chasing shadows in his efforts to get through the opposing defense.

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