Thursday, February 26, 2009

Interview with Jeff Larentowicz

Jeff Larentowicz, a former All-American at Brown University and now a perennial starter with the New England Revolution, was nice enough to sit down with me(aka exchange emails) and answer some questions this past week. Over the past 3 years, Jeff has played in 82 regular season games for the Revs, starting 75, and has scored 8 goals along with dishing out 7 assists. He and Shalrie Joseph form one of the best center midfield tandems in the league, and Jeff is truly one of the most underrated players in Major League Soccer. Check out the my interview with him below and an interesting video interview conducted by Chris Albright (Courtesy of RevsTV) at the bottom of the post.

1. After suffering an injury to your ankle in the season finale last year, how has the road to recovery been and how are you feeling fitness-wise at this point?

The ankle injury at the end of last year was a real set-back and probably the worst injury of my life. I sprained every ligament in my ankle and tore the main ligament on the outside. I spent my off-season at home in the Philadelphia area and rehabbed there with a former trainer of the 76ers. At this point the ankle is still not yet 100% but as the team trains more I'll be more accustomed to dealing with the pain.

2. How is preseason going so far? What is the itinerary leading up to the opener on March 21st?

So far preseason is going well. It's a shame that we have to spend so much time in indoor facilities but the team is looking pretty good. Probably one of the most unfamiliar groups I've seen since being in NE with tons of new faces and guys with 1-2 years of experience, but it's a work in progress. We leave for Austin, Texas Monday the 23rd and we're there for about a week. Once we get back we're only home for two days before leaving for North Carolina. We'll be there for about 10 days and that will lead us straight into the season opener in San Jose.

3. What are your top 3 movies of all time?

Categorizing movies and music for me is tough because interests and tastes change with my moods. But ones that I will always go back to are Caddyshack (I was a caddy for 4-5 years growing up, a bit of nostalgia there), anything Wes Anderson, anything involving Bill Murray and any movie directed by Stanley Kurbrick. As for documentaries, Hoop Dreams will always be at the top of my list.

4. What are your favorite TV shows at the moment, or that are constantly in the DVD player?

The Wire, The Sopranos and The Office (BBC) -- those are the three I own and will continue to watch.

5. What artists/songs are currently playing non-stop on your Ipod?

Non-stop on my iPod at the moment are Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, recently Wilco, and via Pandora on my phone I'd have to say my Gangstarr or Raekwon stations.

6. I saw you did some cooking lately with some of your teammates, who was the best chef?

We went to the Four Seasons on Valentine's Day to be introduced to the chef's there and get a sneak peak into their work. Other than it being a great experience to hear them talk about food and pick their brains, it was also fun to make a bit ourselves. But the best I'd have to say is Matt Reis. He makes a mean chili.

7. After being taken 45th in the Supplemental draft in 2005, you broke through with the first team in 2006; Are there any young, unknown players on the Revs that you could see emerging this year like you did in your second season?

There are a few that I can see being contributers to the team this year like I was in my second year, most likely Chris Tierney who saw time last season. He's similar to me in that he wasn't the most highly touted player coming out of school but has confidence in himself and has show he can compete at the level.

8. In your MLS player profile, it says that you were named one of Boston's "Most Wanted Singles" by Boston Magazine. Any comments?

Comments: none. Advice: thanks, but no thanks.

9. Having been taken in the Supplemental Draft yourself and gaining experience in the MLS reserve league, what are your feelings on the MLS abandoning both? Do you think it will enable young college players to try and make the team of their choice, or will it discourage and make it more difficult for them to break into MLS?

With the league cutting roster size and eliminating the reserve league it's going to be extremely difficult for young players to be given a proper chance in the MLS. If I had been a rookie at the start of this season I wouldn't have even been given the oppotunity, my career wouldn't exist. I think it's a shame because ultimately the league put the reserve division in place to foster the young talent (most usually American college grads) but neglected to follow up on creating an atmosphere of professionalism within those games to make it worth while. Speaking from my own experience, I showed up to those games and introduced myself to half of the players I'd be playing with that day because we had never met. We were forced to call in local players to help us fill roster spots which is incredibly unprofessional. It's really just a microcosm of the catch-22 that is the MLS. The people in charge and the public are looking for a high-quality product that will give our country legitimacy world-wide and draw foreign talent. But those at the top do not expand rosters to handle the "squad" needed to make a reserve league feasible, nor do they pay the players enough to say, "yeah it's ok to be on the reserve team for two years and develop as a player because you're financially stable which allows you to sharpen your game in the hopes of making it to the highest level within your organization". It's a giant ball of wax that (unfortunately was influenced by current world-wide economic climate) continues to move in the opposite direction. For the young players coming in now it's going to be tough, and for the hopeful, undiscovered talent in the college ranks the possibilities in the US just got a lot smaller.

10. With your contract being up at the end of the year, do you have any European ambitions or will you most likely stay within MLS?

With my contract being up at the end of the year my thoughts and aspirations concerning my location aren't set in stone. What is set in stone is my desire to be rewarded and compensated for the work that I've done and will hopefully continue to do where ever I find myself.

11. What stadium (other than home at Gilette) do you enjoy playing at most in the MLS? Why?

Other than playing at home I enjoy playing in 2 or 3 other stadiums. First is RFK. The atmosphere is always great because their fans are raucous, reek of booze and make it feel like a game should. Plus, I always have a good bit of family there because it's fairly close to home. The other is Columbus. I'm not sure what it is but the surface is always great and because of the style of stadium it really takes you back. I don't know what it is but it always feels good walking in there. Lastly is Toyota Park. Last season was shocking for me there but it's one place that (other than location) I can say that the league and the local financiers in Chicago got it right. Always loud, close to the fans, good surface.

11. What actress/ singer/ model is popping in your mind these days? I think I'd have to go with Jessica Alba and Marissa Miller.

Natalie Portman and Shannyn Sossamon are always at the top, but recently Ginnifer Goodwin has caught my eye. And I thought I was a blonde guy.

12. And finally, red hair, a gift or a curse?

Red hair is neither a gift nor a curse.


K'naan - ABC's

Check out the video for "ABC's" from K'naan off of his new album "Troubador". I had seen a couple of his songs posted on Okayplayer but had skipped over them; That was my bad. Thanks to Christian for giving me the heads up. Who says hip hop is dead, now you just have to a look a little harder for the good stuff.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Eric Licaj on Aston Villa's UEFA Cup Roster

In a surprising development, little-known American defender Eric Lichaj has been named to Aston Villa's UEFA Cup roster for their game against CSKA Moscow tomorrow. Although it is unlikely that the former Tarheel will see the field, it is another positive step in the right direction after signing an extension this past year. Lichaj, only 20 years old and a regular for Villa's reserves, could still have a bright future with the US if he continues to develop.


U-20 Roster for CONCACAF Qualifying

Check out the roster below for the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship, starting on March 6th in Trinidad and Tobago. Some notable players include Jorge Flores (pictured above), Bryan Arguez, Brek Shea, Jared Jeffrey, and Anthony Wallace. Not as many big name as last time (Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore), but hopefully this qualifying tournament along with U-20 World Cup in Egypt will help us identify a few future stars for the senior team. Check out the press release here for the full explanation of Aaron Mund's status with the team.

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. Birthdate
Agbossoumonde, Gale D 6-2 185 11/17/91
Arguez, Bryan M 6-2 175 01/13/89
Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Cruz, Danny M 5-8 180 01/03/90
Houston Dynamo
Davies, Kyle D 5-10 160 04/11/89
Southampton FC (England)
Duka, Dilly M 5-9 160 09/15/89
Rutgers University
Flores, Jorge D 5-11 150 09/16/89
Chivas USA
Garza, Sam F 5-10 165 10/17/89
University of Denver
Jeffrey, Jared M 5-10 160 06/14/90
Club Brugge (Belgium)
Johnson, Sean GK 6-4 220 05/31/89
University of Central Florida
Lambo, Josh GK 6-0 205 11/19/90
FC Dallas
Marosevic, Peri F 5-9 160 05/05/89
FC Dallas
Maund, Aaron* D 6-2 175 09/19/90
Notre Dame
Okugo, Amobi D 5-11 165 03/13/91
San Juan Lightning Crew
Ownby, Brian M 5-11 160 07/16/90
University of Virginia
Perk, Brian GK 5-11 180 07/21/89
Shea, Brek M 6-3 180 02/28/90
FC Dallas
Schuler, Billy F 5-11 155 04/27/90
Taylor, Tony F 6-0 175 07/13/89
Jacksonville University
Wallace, Anthony D 5-11 165 01/26/89
FC Dallas
Williams, Sheanon D 5-11 165 03/17/90
*Pending FIFA approval


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spector and Simek Earn Starts

In a sign of progress for some of the Americans playing abroad, Frankie Simek went the full 90 for Sheffield Wednesday in a 2-0 win and Jonathan Spector (pictured above) started and went 85 minutes in a 2-1 loss for West Ham. Bradley has to be pleased that his defensive depth is starting to get back to its appropriate level. Also nice to see Maurice Edu at least making the bench for Rangers.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Kid Cudi - Day 'N' Nite (plus remix)

Check out the video for "Day 'N' Nite" from Kanye West protege, Kid Cudi. The song is the lead single off of his upcoming album "Man on the Moon: The Gaurdians". Haven't heard much from him, but this single coupled with an endorsement from Kanye makes me excited to hear his album. If you want a more uptempo version complete with lots of hot girls in the video, check out the Crookers remix after the jump.


US Youth Development, Part 4

Here is Part 4 of the ESPN series by Jeff Carlisle discussing youth player development in the US. This piece focuses on the cost of playing in the Development Academy and the attempts made by USSF and the clubs involved to reduce that financial burden. Check out this post for the links to the first 3 installments.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Simek and Feilhaber Back to Playing

This can only bode well for the US, as Frankie Simek (pictured above) and Benny Feilhaber both participated in games for their respective clubs this past week. Simek with the Sheffield Wednesday reserves and Benny with AGF Aarhus in a preseason friendly. If they can get healthy and fit, it will only add more depth to the US midfield and defense.


Asher Roth - I Love College (Official Video)

Official video for "I Love College" from Asher Roth. Hopefully this starts getting him a healthy buzz and backs it with a solid album. Check here and here for songs by him I previously posted.


LA Galaxy Wins First Game at PPC

LA Galaxy won their semi-final game at the Pan-Pacific Championship (AKA a couple preseason games) behind goals from Edson Buddle and Jovan Kirovski. Only saw a little of the game, but a back line of Eddie Lewis, Omar Gonzalez, Tony Sanneh, and Sean Franklin definitely sounds a lot more promising than the crap they put out last year. Check the highlights above; Buddle has a nice little strike with the left.