Hot or Not?
Tim Howard and Freddy Adu Make Same ASN List
The highly unscientific (but hopefully highly addictive) ASN Hot or Not list is always full of surprises, and this week's adjacency—Freddy Adu and Tim Howard—is no exception.
January 31, 2014
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THESE GUYS ARE HOT…
Like almost everyone outside of South Yorkshire, I have not yet seen Brek Shea play a full match for Barnsley. So I’m not going to definitively assert he’s in “fine form” or anything like that. In fact,this video is about as close as you are going to get to a highlights package of his loan stay so far. Nevertheless, after only three appearances for the bottom-of-the-table Championship side, Barnsley announced this week that it had extended its loan agreement with Shea until the end of April. Given the 23-year-old was featuring almost exclusively for the Stoke City reserves, steady playing time will no doubt improve the stock of the mercurial winger, who is prone to struggle when confidence is low. What about his performance though? Reports vary wildly and remain frustratingly inconclusive. See Brits, we’re not so different after all! For now, we’ll list Shea as “Hot” with a fairly lengthy disclaimer.
Easing his way back to a full return for Birmingham City, Will Packwood made his first league start of the season on Tuesday, playing 90 minutes in a 2-1 loss to Leicester City. Despite being unable to top the league-leading—and likely promotion-bound—Foxes, Packwood put in a promising shift and earned Man of the Match honors in the loss. Losers of three straight, the Blues will be depending on Packwood to keep pace in an above-average backline which has largely kept the club treading water. However, sitting only five points above the drop zone, the 20-year-old will need to be in top form going forward.
Good news on the injury front this week, as it was announced that both Josh Gatt and Stuart Holden are expected to make their on-field returns in the coming months. On Tuesday, Molde's website reported that Gatt, who suffered an ACL tear prior to the summer’s Gold Cup, was back with the team and would resume on-ball training in February, with the goal of returning to league action in late March.
…AND THEY ARE NOT
Given that this is a weekly column, a purely temporal exercise, fortunes often turn on a dime. One week’s “Hot” could be the following week's "not." Such is the case for Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard. Last season’s struggles (by Howard’s admittedly high standards) led to more than one whisper campaign regarding his future with the club as well as his own viability between the sticks for the U.S national team—thought to be the most iron-clad position within Jurgen Klinsmann’s roster. This season, he has bounced back with mostly excellent form for the Toffees. Currently Howard is second among EPL keepers with nine clean sheets recorded; while only Peter Cech and Wojciech Szczesny have allowed fewer goals in a comparable number of appearances. Everton’s mid-week fixture against red-hot Liverpool, however, was not one of his finer shifts. The Reds poured it on early with three first-half goals, eventually emerging from the much-anticipated Merseyside Derby with a resolute 4-0 win. Here’s a fairly in-depth look—from a keeper’s perspective—at Howard’s performance on the day. Suffice to say: positional discipline, a problem which led to several errors last season, looked to be culprit. Absolved on the opening goal, hesitation of the line and poor 1v1 technique no doubt helped sink the Blues. Howard’s chance for redemption comes against fellow American netminder Brad Guzan and Aston Villa on Saturday.
A transfer window tradition like no other is upon us once again, America: it’s Freddy Adu Watch 2014. Quiet since being released from Brazilian club Bahia, Adu turned up training with English Championship side Blackpool this week, sparking rumors that the 24-year-old could be making yet another move to yet another league. Unlikely to obtain a work permit to play in England, Adu has also reportedly garnered interest from Turkish clubs, where the playmaker had arguably his best season featuring for Rizespor in 2011. If you’re scoring along at home: a move would make it 10 clubs in 10 years for the well-traveled journeyman.
ASN Contributing Editor Josh Deaver is a former academic turned soccer obsessive. Follow him on Twitter already.