Tuesday, December 30, 2014

DeAndre's Leap Across the Pond

   This past weekend the deal to send the 21 year old American Right-Back to the Tottenham Hotspurs was officially completed after he received his UK work permit.

DeAndre Yedlin (21) 2014 World Cup - Brazil (via: Goal)
After an impressive World Cup performance, DeAndre Yedlin turned many heads from some of the bigger clubs in Europe. Many transfer rumors circulated amongst the trendy football media, but on Saturday morning the deal was official, sending the Seattle Sounder to one of the top Premier League teams, the Spurs.

Yedlin's blistering pace is something that sparked many eyes during the World Cup in Brazil. He bombed down the right flank like many of the best full backs in the world. The experience he gained is second to none, guarding players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard among many other top stars.

This is a big jump for DeAndre but many can agree that it is a bigger leap for US Soccer. He already is a fan favorite from many American Outlaws as well as MLS supporters across the nation. Although he is highly lauded in the states, he is going to have to prove himself in the harsh, critically football-enthused UK. A feat that many US players have shrunk in, while few have made their permanent marks. Names like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, and the recently retired Landon Donovan come to mind. Does DeAndre Yedlin have what it takes?

DeAndre signs with the Tottenham Hotspurs (Aug. 13, 2014)
Currently Tottenham have a solid group of young defenders across the board. At right-back, Yedlin would have to compete for an active role against the "Kyles". Kyle Walker, a young British full back who has held much promise for England but also has been hampered by multiple injuries. He shares many of the same qualities that DeAndre possesses. Especially, in the pace department. The 24 year old has enough experience in the Premier League to serve as a great mentor and challenger for the young American. The other right-back is Kyle Naughton (28) who has proven to be a decent back up for Walker in his absence. In the last year, his value has gone up due to solid play at his position. Although Naughton is reliable, Tottenham might be more inclined to develop their youthful defensive core in search for a true starter in the future.

The task of "breaking in" to this talented line up can prove to be testing for DeAndre, but with his youth and hunger he can truly become America's next big thing.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Please, & "Tank" You.

   Over many years of gold and glory, draft picks have been anything but an issue for the Los Angeles Lakers. Now, it is a new era.

These last three seasons for the Lakers have been filled with record breaking statistics but for the wrong reasons. Some of these include the worst loss in franchise history, worst start to a season, and longest losing streak (to name a few). Simple to say, it's been UGLY.

In desperate times like these, what is a franchise to do?

The answer is TANK, and TANK hard because they have nothing else to play for.

There are many devout Laker fans who feel strong pride for their team, and rightfully so. Although this is justifiable, I would love to hear someone tell me what they are playing for. A spot in the playoffs? No, it can't be, especially in one of the strongest conferences in all of American sports (arguably).

Now let's assume they don't make the playoffs, which I'm sorry to say, is going to happen. What's the next best thing? Maybe getting the 11th spot in the Wild West? That is of no value what so ever.

This is where the philosophy of "tanking" has it's logic. As many NBA followers know, if Los Angeles doesn't finish in the top 5 worst this season their pick automatically goes to the Phoenix Suns. This is the consequence of perhaps one of the worst trades in the teams franchise, where they acquired the all so fragile, Steve Nash.

If that doesn't give you anymore reason to buy into tanking then I don't know what will.

Maybe here's something that might.

"I hope the Lakers lose every game because if you're going to lose, lose. 
And I'm serious." said Magic Johnson; who then took his rant to Twitter, tweeting, "I don't want the team to finish in the middle of the pack and get a 10th-14th pick because that won't do us any good."

Even a Laker legend is in tune with his senses about the Lakers' poor string of seasons. That's coming from a guy who gave LA some of it's most succesful years, in a tragically short cut career.

As much as it might hurt to watch your team lose and lose a lot, in the long run it can pay off to build a dynasty of players that Los Angeles is all so used to. A winning one.

On the down side, we all wanted to see Kobe Bryant go out on a successful outro but as his game is diminishing so is the team. Unfortunately it won't be a storybook ending for him, but with tanking there is a bright future for the Lakers.