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Bolton 0, Fulham 0: Making a point

14 August 2010

Had Jake and I known we possessed such control over future outcomes, we would have named the blog “Seven-Goal Thriller.” As it is, my Cottagers got the road point I wanted, in typically mediocre fashion.

Full disclosure: I didn’t see any of the game. Remember the blog’s prologue, where I mentioned that I miss some Fulham games that aren’t on TV due to child-related activities? Today was one of those days, with swim lessons and a trip to a local orchard for Peach Fest (sadly, Peachfist wasn’t playing there) taking the place of some illegal stream. Soccernet says Bolton were the better side even though the stats slightly favor Fulham, but as Soccernet recaps are about as accurate as exiting polling in Iranian elections, I’m not going to try to draw any conclusions from the write-up.

Instead, here are a few idle thoughts in the aftermath of the season opener:

1) Young David Stockdale deputized for the slightly injured (and increasingly pissed-off) Mark Schwarzer and is reported to have made several fine saves to keep the clean sheet. Fulham has been grooming Stockdale, one of their few homegrown senior team candidates, for awhile and seeing him deliver with real bullets flying is an interesting development. It is doubtful that Fulham will feel comfortable selling Schwarzer to Arsenal and riding Stockdale for 37 more matches, but if they think Stockdale can perform to this kind of level semi-regularly, it *could* impact who the club brings in to platoon with him. That, in turn, could free up precious dollars to land Craig Bellamy or some other City castoff.

2) Clint Dempsey was Fulham’s only sub, which means he’s very much in the rotation but still hasn’t reclaimed the place in the starting XI that he lost with his knee injury midway through last season. You don’t want to read too much into one game, but I’m very doubtful fair Clinton will be OK with being a supersub when there was reported interest from a bunch of suitors this summer after he had a fine World Cup. I can’t see Dempsey getting moved in this window that closes at the end of the month — Fulham just don’t have the kind of quality depth to cast him off at this point — but it makes you wonder how many feathers will be ruffled before the January window and what that could mean for Dempsey’s career at the Cottage.

3) In live action (at least in photos), Fulham’s sort-of-garish new away strip is not as bad looking as I feared it would be.

A little like a sexier-looking Hamburg, but effective.

I still wish they had gone with charcoal shorts and red socks, but this is a pretty distinct look for the league and still features the beautiful ruby red as the primary color. And, hey, at least we’re not Everton.

Isn't heeeeeee pretty in pinnnnnnnk?

4) From a U.S. soccer standpoint as well as a Fulham fan, today worked out great. Stuart Holden was almost the hero for Bolton, rocking the left post with 12 minutes left. Holden, had he been fully healthy, likely would have been a major option for the US this summer in South Africa, and if he can get settled in as an attacking midfielder for a Premiership side, that gives the U.S. another viable midfield option heading into next year’s Gold Cup, which will determine the CONCACAF rep for the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil.

I’ll be back later with some thoughts on the rest of the results around the Prem, but a point on the road in the opener? Definitely a case of substance over style. I’ll take it. 36 or so to go until safety!

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