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Arsenal play the whole America – The Untold Facebook Match Preview

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By our north American correspondent: Florian

Those who expected America to be the country of all the possibilities will be sadly disappointed. That’s because when you have a job you must go to work. If you don’t do that, the employer says you stop going there for good, and that’s a real bad thing because you don’t get to earn the money you would have needed to go see Arsenal playing.

They really don’t seem to like Arsenal up here for some reason – maybe they read too much into the Media reports. And those who expect people to have vacation, think again. You can only have vacation after you worked long enough – it’s not like you can get hired and go to see Arsenal the very next day. I told you people up here don’t know what’s good.

Maybe that’s why they placed the Arsenal matches far down in California. It’s not like that state is the richest in the whole U.S., with a reported 131 billionaires and thousands of millionaires in Silicon Valley alone, not to count the movie stars down in LA. No, they want to make it as hard for the people to get there as possible.

California can be typically reached via plane. Driving is half a day proposition at least, from the closest places like Las Vegas, places which typically don’t give a toss about the real football – as they have their own version of rugby, which they strangely called football, although handballs and hacking your opponent down are extremely frequent events. Next time, we’ll suggest bringing Stoke City, those guys will blend right in.

But back to Arsenal. It’s the first time in their history that they land in the land of Apple, Google, Facebook, and countless tech startups – whereas Sunday they will get to meet the second most popular team in Mexico, at a place near Hollywood (more on that some other time).

The closest they came was almost exactly two years ago, on July 26th 2014, when they crossed the Atlantic to New York to play the Red Bulls, at a time when Thierry Henry was still in their roster. Today is different though, as the MLS invited Arsenal to be counterparts to what is a regular annual event in all the other mainstream American sports – rugby (sorry, football) has it, baseball has it, basketball has it, heck, even hockey has it. The US Soccer Federation had to come up with something, and here it is. Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you the MLS All Star Game.

I mentioned Apple, Google, Facebook and there could be quite a few more companies worth noting. That doesn’t mean Arsenal will play those guys – no, as I said, America is not quite the land of all the possibilities. Arsenal will play true footballers, as before them did in order: the Tiny Totts in 2015, Bayern Munich in 2014, AS Roma in 2013, Chelsea in 2012, United in 2011 and 2010, Everton in 2009, West Ham United in 2008 (no State Aid back then yet), Celtic in 2007, Chelsea again in 2006, and Fulham in 2005. Since in America the most recent experience is the one that matters, I expect Arsenal to win. Losing will mean our squad is no good, half the players must be sold, and Arsene Wenger is no longer running for President.

MLS has got talent. They demonstrated it last year when they beat the Tinies 2-1. The immigrants were a big issue for TH, both goals coming from players that were born far away from the U.S. soil – David Villa and Kaká. Both will play this year’s game too, along with a few other familiar faces, like Andrea Pirlo, Giovanni Dos Santos, Clint Dempsey, Sebastian Giovinco and, yes, Didier Drogba. Walter will also remember Sacha Kljestan from his days at Anderlecht.

We don’t know yet who their manager is. Here is the whole roster, courtesy of Wikipedia (numbers are a surprise):

No. Country Position Player (Club)
  United States GK David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes)
  Jamaica GK Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
  United States DF Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
  United States DF Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United)
  Belgium DF Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact)
  United States DF Andrew Farrell (New England Revolution)
  England DF Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers)
  United States DF Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union)
  United States DF Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)
  Costa Rica DF Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
  United States MF Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake)
  Argentina MF Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas)
  Mexico MF Giovanni Dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
  United States MF Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids)
  Brazil MF Kaká (Orlando City SC)
  United States MF Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls)
  United States MF Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
  Italy MF Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC)
  United States MF Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)
  United States FW Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC)
  Ivory Coast FW Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact)
  Italy FW Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
  Canada FW Cyle Larin (Orlando City SC)
  Argentina FW Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)
  Spain FW David Villa (New York City FC)
  United States FW Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

On our side, things look really serious. Per is out, which means our defence is a no-show, as Kos is on vacation, and Gabriel cannot be relied upon. Mesut and Alexis are also missing, which means we don’t have midfield and attack either. That’s what a lot of experts here say. Check their Facebook comments to the Media posts if you don’t believe me. The rest of our squad is (this time most of them with numbers):

No. Country Position Player
2 France DF Mathieu Debuchy
3 England DF Kieran Gibbs
4 Germany DF Per Mertesacker*
5 Brazil DF Gabriel
10 England MF Jack Wilshere
13 Colombia GK David Ospina
14 England FW Theo Walcott
15 England MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
16 England DF Rob Holding
17 Nigeria FW Alex Iwobi
18 Spain DF Nacho Monreal
19 Spain MF Santi Cazorla
21 England DF Calum Chambers
24 Spain DF Héctor Bellerín
26 Argentina GK Emiliano Martínez
28 Costa Rica FW Joel Campbell
29 Switzerland MF Granit Xhaka
32 England FW Chuba Akpom
33 Czech Republic GK Petr Čech
34 France MF Francis Coquelin
35 Egypt MF Mohamed Elneny
37 Poland MF Krystian Bielik
54 France MF Jeff Reine-Adélaïde
59 England FW Chris Willock
  United States MF Gedion Zelalem

*Injured

The arena, Avaya Stadium, has 18,000 places, all seaters, and belongs to San Jose Earthquakes, the only MLS club in the area. The story around it says the Earthquakes were playing on too small a stadium, and they needed to compete with the big boys (Sounders, Timbers, Red Bulls and a few others), so they decided to build a larger place. In an effort to expand to a wide variety of audiences, they built the largest outdoor bar in North America so close to it that they had to build stands only on three sides, leaving the fourth side open. The double sided video scoreboard covers the missing stands somewhat. The good part is that the club built the stadium with their own money – the City of San Jose didn’t provide one cent.

The experts here are actually quite unimaginative. Most of them repost Media articles on Arsenal America’s Facebook page, and a lot of other experts comment about the squad needing two centre backs, Lacazette, Mahrez and “striker”. Strangely those words are never mentioned when they get face to face with Arsène Wenger. All they can say is “Thank you”. On the other hand, anyone having a positive opinion, for instance suggesting that the transfer window is still weeks away from closing, is being held hostage in discussions that last for days and end in penguin chess style. Yes, there is AAA here too.

But in a strange and borderline magic way, everyone, AKB or AAA, who survived the lottery put in place by the US Soccer Federation to distribute the match tickets, and found a way to squeeze in a few days of vacation (apparently having worked hard and long enough to warrant it, unlike the undersigned), is or has been packing their gear and taking it to San Jose, in their quest for seeing Arsenal playing in front of their eyes, being all supporters for a few days, forgetting about the differences of opinion, and enjoying the California Sun. As for me, I will enjoy the gorgeous Seattle summer (no, it’s not raining here these days), hoping that my DVR records the match correctly so I can watch it when I get back home.

COYG!

Possible line up (provided by Untold Office back in Blighty.

Cech / Ospina (Martinez)

Debuchy Coquelin Monreal Gibbs (Chambers, Holding, Bellerin)

Wilshere Granit (Bielik, Elneny)

Iwobi, Reine-Adelaide, Oxlade-Chamberlain  (Santi Cazolra?, Zelalem, Campbell, Willock)

Akpom (Walcott)

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41 comments to Arsenal play the whole America – The Untold Facebook Match Preview

  • WalterBroeckx

    Sorry to hear you couldn’t make it live to the game Florian.

    For Klesjtan yes I remember him from his days in Anderlecht. But not that much as I don’t follow domestic football over here that much.

    I see that Ciman is in the team. What a kicker he is. And not on the ball always…
    In the press in Belgium they also said that Van Damme was called up but I see you don’t mention him. Van Damme played in the PL for a few clubs with not much succes. I think he played for Southampton and Wolverhampton..
    He was added last minute it seems according to media reports in Belgium.
    Both played for Standard Liege and for those who follow us on our European trips might know and remember it. 2-3 win after being 2-0 down after barely 10 minutes or so.

  • Gord

    I’ve visited the San Francisco Bay area twice (as an adult). I believe that you could go to the subway and buy a ticket, and you could then ride the subway to the end of the line, stay on the subway and ride it to the other end, and again stay on and get off at your original station for some minimal fee. If you actually left the subway system at some point, you would need to buy another ticket to resume your trip, which added significantly to your trip. But it seemed a reasonable way to see a fair amount of country. Maybe this has changed?

    Visiting Berkeley (aka Bezerkley) is a nice thing to do. If you like nuclear, I think SLAC (Stanford Linear Accelerator Center) is a good place to visit. I don’t think there is much at Berkeley of a nuclear nature that ordinary people can visit. Some place in the Bay area is a really big airship hanger (big enough to get cloud formation in).

    There are a LOT of co-op businesses in the Berkeley area, where employees are almost all also owners. I think one of these is the largest cheese shop in California. CBC (equivalent of BBC) radio had a program about the co-op owner business.

    COYG!

  • colario

    Florin I don’t know any Romanian Arsenal supporters. I am wondering how it is you are.

    You are a bringer of bad news to me because I have introduced a Romanian friend to our great club and I have signed him up to receive Arsenal player (he doesn’t speak English) and I have been encouraging him to watch the games. From your piece I now realise it not going to be possible as it will be 3-4am viewing time here.

    On a more general note in my opinion these games are a nonsense and cheat the fans.

    Travelling 1000s of miles for a ‘show
    piece game’ and most of the star players the far away fans want to see not yet back in training. In my opinion it makes these games pointless.

  • porter

    Can’t help feeling that along with raising the profile of the club . I am sure that following the bad press that S.Kroenke has had over the Rams move , this is to improve his standing in California .
    On the whole it has to be seen as a pre season work out for the players but for it to be a successful sojourn into America it is important that we put on a good show . Two defeats for instance will not help with building the fan base and selling the merchandise which is at least half of the purpose of being there.

  • frank wilcox

    Stop your whining,I live in Las Vegas Nv.,I am in San Jose to support my Gunners!!
    I love the fact Arsenal have made a West coast swing,lots of Gooners out those way!!
    There is a lot more to the US than the east coast!!
    We love Arsenal,and will be back in London in March at the Emirates!!
    Thank you Arsenal for coming west,we wish you would every year!!

  • colario

    @ frank wilcox
    July 28, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    That puts me in my place 🙂 🙂

    I hope you enjoy the games.

  • Gord

    I guess the game is a bit over 2 hours away? Just a hair past the peak temperature time of the day. Accuweather says it is 28C there now, looking for a high of 29 (up here in Dawson Creek, we are expecting 28C for a high). WeatherUnderground says it is 31.6C there, and Weather.com says upgrade now (thank you, get rid of your javashit). Winds are calm. Weather.gov says it is 29C, which splits the difference.

    If you grok METAR, here you go:

    > METAR KSJC 282053Z 28007KT 10SM FEW060 FEW085 28/14 A2987 RMK AO2 SLP113 HZ FEW060 FU FEW085 T02830139 58016

    COYG!

  • Gord

    I see ThGuardian is going to have live commentary of the game, and they opened said channel about 8 minutes ago. Only one entry, Arsenal’s injury problems. Well, I think that sets the tone for their coverage, complain about Arsenal all game.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Our starting XI: Cech; Debuchy, Holding, Bielik, Gibbs; Coquelin, Elneny, Campbell, Wilshere, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Walcott

    Musing is that Coquelin is playing front of back 4.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    I wonder if Arsenal13 is coming by tonight?

  • WalterBroeckx

    If I can stay awake and my stream is working a match report will come on line for your breakfast (for those living in Europe) 🙂

  • Gord

    Glad to have you Walter. I’m writing code and reading TheGuardian commentary. I would hope Brickfields might be by to serenade us with jokes.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Almost at Kickoff, and TheGuardian feels the need to rub in the amount of experience some of the Arsenal players have. I think it is going to be one of those nights.

    Graham Parker there is a cup of strychnine (sp?) waiting for you somewhere.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    At 10 minutes, Campbell gets fouled in the box, and with no PGMO officiating, we get a penalty. None of the specified penalty takers on the field, Campbell takes the responsibility and puts it away. 1-0 to the Gunners!

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Walcott seems to be working well, from how I read Guardian output.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Guardian raising questions about Coquelin saying he went in studs up on a 50-50 with Acosta at 22 minutes.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Guardian again calling for discipline on Coquelin at 30 minutes.

    Bielik apparently did well against Drogba a little earlier.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    At 32 minutes, David Villa and Pirlo are withdrawn from play. Guardian figures it is because those players have another commitment soon.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Bielik neded a little treatment after tangling with Drogba. Good on you young man! I would imagine you have stories to tell. 🙂

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Drogba equalizes on halftime, I believe assisted by one of those darned Belgians. 🙂

    COYG!

  • Gord

    The Mirror also has commentary (I refuse to look at Telegraph any more).

    That goal for Drogba was his 16th against Arsenal.

    I guess TheMirror has a problem with Walcott. That is their half time story, what Walcott didn’t do.

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Second half starting, 5 changes for the Gunners. Bellerin for Debuchy. Chambers for Bielik, Monreal for Gibbs, Xhaka for Coquelin, Iwobi for Wilshire.

    COYG!

  • Porter

    Giovinco running it at the moment

  • Gord

    MLS made 2 changes midway through the first half, 8 changes at half time and at 58 minutes, they make another change. That’s 11.

    Come on Arsenal, another goal please!

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Thanks Porter, we need more data here. 🙂

    COYG!

  • Porter

    Xhaka has got a left foot poke on him.

  • Gord

    At 68 minutes, 4 more changes for Arsenal: Martinez for Cech, Reine-Adelaid for Oxlaide-Chamberlain, Zelalem for Elneny and Akpom for Walcott.

    COYG!

  • Menace

    Hiya Gord. Its early morning for Arsenal 13, though he might just pop up watching the back end of this match. I’m impressed with the Arsenal newbies (rookies). Theo just does not position himself like a poacher. He is always behind the defender rather than in front(between the ball & defender).

  • Gord

    More changes for MLS.

    Hi Menace. Arsenal13 is consistently positive, it is nice to see him commenting. Hopefully he will catch the end of the game.

    From reading Guardian/Mirror, it sure seemed like the young Gunners were doing okay for themselves.

    Now to get some more goals.

    COYG!

  • Porter

    Mainly a kids team on now.Tidy passing but not a real goal threat. Could get caught on the break.

  • Porter

    Youthful energy but a tad naive

  • Menace

    What a beauty!
    Monreal crosses to Akpom.

  • Porter

    Akpom makes it 2-1 getting where Theo doesn’t

  • Gord

    Guardian has just mentioned this game will go to penalties, if there is no winner in 90 minutes.

    I wonder how the youth are at penalties?

    COYG!

  • Gord

    Oops, darned time delay on commentaries.

    How to go Akpom, and Monreal!

    COYG!

  • Menace

    The kids play a wonderful game with a dependence on the defence being smart. They pass well but occasionally hold the ball too long. They seem fit & can run all night. MLS have quality players who can all pass & dribble. They have a good mix of youth & experience.

  • Menace

    Time to hit the sack. ‘Nite all.

  • Gord

    Good night Menace (et al?).

    Akpom got the MVP of the match from the MLS. Guardian said goodbye before trophies even presented.

    It sounds to me, like the youngsters did well tonight. On to Chivas!

  • Mick

    Holding (£1 million) is better than Stones (£50 million) on tonight’s showing. Terrific debut, completely unfazed, comfortable on the ball and cool as a cucumber.

  • Gord

    Oops, it’s happened again!

    From the Daily Star:

    > Sorry @MLS All-Stars, this is one north London team you couldn’t beat#ArsenalUSA

    Just like St.Totteringham’s Day, all over again. 🙂

  • Florian

    Colario, I just finished watching the recording, Walter was way too fast with the report so I saw the title before the match, and that took off all the possible nerves. To answer your question though, I saw Arsenal beating Parma in the CWC Final in 1994, courtesy of an Alan Smith strike. It was more about the game, as I had watched ManU before, and they just didn’t click with me. But Arsenal did, and then Arsene came as manager, Arsene who I had seen winning titles with Monaco and taking a self-imposed exile to Japan because of the Marseille machinations.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, I’ll try to be more gentle next time 😉