Opening Weekend at the World Cup with a West Ham spin . . .

It was a mixed bag of results over the weekend for the West Ham players participating in the World Cup.

Guillermo Franco (still technically under contract to West Ham for 2 more weeks) led the line for Mexico in the tournament’s opening game.  Though he did not score a goal for ‘El Tri’ in it’s 1-1 draw against host nation South Africa, Franco started and played for 73 minutes, exhibiting the same aerial ability and intelligent runs he made for West Ham during the last Premier League season.  A very skillful and technical player, it is a shame that his contract is not being renewed for the upcoming season.  Franco and Carlton Cole had a understanding partnership up top that unfortunately was undermined by Cole’s knee injury from which he never really recovered.  Isolated on offense due to the lack of West Ham’s striking options, Franco was able to provide decent hold up play, but he always required another forward to play with to be effective.  Here’s hoping that Avram Grant and the Davids will be able to find an able and equally cheap replacement.

Jonathan Spector did not contribute to the United States’ tie against England.  Once one of the leading contenders for either fullback spot, Spector lost his place to Steve Cherundolo on the right, and with the return of Oguchi Onyewu had Carlos Bocanegra slide out to take his spot on the left.  Though the U.S. defense still looked shaky against a potent English side, the solid result probably means that the current lineup will continue, barring injury.  Watching Spector get beat repeatedly for West Ham didn’t inspire much of an argument for his national team inclusion, and Cherundolo’s emergence and subsequent offensive thrashing of James Milner relegated Spector to a bench player.  He is probably more suited to such a role, as he is able to provide cover along the whole defensive line, without being a great player at any one spot.

Saturday was a disastrous day for West Ham players on the England team.  Robert Green’s “Hand of Clod” goal is now internationally infamous, while Matthew Upson saw his chances of playing further reduced by Fabio Capello’s management decisions.

Adding to blunders by David Seaman in the 2002 World Cup and Scott Carson in Euro 2008, Green’s heartache at least did not result in a crucial defeat for his team.  To his credit, Green recovered to play a very solid game, including an important stop on a goal-bound effort by Jozy Altidore.  Afterwards, Green welcomed all blame placed upon him, and vowed to not let it further effect his play.  It remains to be seen if Capello will continue with Green in goal, or whether the manager will turn to David James (who’s exploits have earned him the nickname ‘Calamity’ James) or internationally inexperienced Joe Hart.

Speaking of Green’s save on Jozy Altidore, it is important to note that the defender who was out-muscled and out-paced by the American’s outstanding run was Jamie Carragher.

This would be a reflection of Matthew Upson’s standing in the pecking order of England’s fullbacks.  Though he was considered to start alongside John Terry due to Rio Ferdinand’s injury, Upson was instead relegated to the bench in favor of Ledley King.  When King was withdrawn at halftime due to an abductor injury, Fabio Capello chose Carragher to replace him instead of Upson.  Carragher proceeded to get booked and looked seriously off the pace during the game, which leads to questions of whether Upson will start next to Terry against Algeria in the next match.  Either way, it was a disappointing weekend for the English Hammers.


~ by ar_sage on June 14, 2010.

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