MLS Expansion Franchise Behind The Scenes Scoopfest

Friends, I am honored to have been invited to exclusive meetings with the executive team behind the newest and arguably most successful MLS expansion franchise in recent history. In fact, the meetings and interviews went so well, and were so long and insightful, I was able to use the quotes to fill an entire article.

And this is that article.

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The Necessity of Genius

I wrote about Antonio Conte a few months back. Basically, his courage in benching underperforming players and introducing a new tactical system impressed me. Then, The Guardian ran a profile of him with an interview from an assistant. The details divulged kinda ruined my enchantment, to be honest. And some things made more sense.

First, he seems like a task master. LVG style, he stops training session games to talk with players and tell them where to stand. Secondly, his training sessions go on and on and on. That’s pretty Mou style. While I think Conte should lead Chelsea to a title this year, is he just benefiting from no European soccer (ala Leicester last year) and will he burn out his Starting XI ala Mourinho’s last time at Chelsea? Continue reading “The Necessity of Genius” »

Enter the Arena

I don’t care to link to any of the folks who are clasping at the Honduras game as proof that Bruce Arena is an elite coach and the USMNT is now back on track. I’m not sure the USMNT was ever that far off track – the opening schedule was brutal and the loss of Clint Dempsey was huge. Still, I’m no Jurgen apologist. I thought he should have been let go immediately after the 2014 World Cup. If anything, Arena’s nice opening step points to Sunil Gulati running off Jurgen at an ideal juncture: he gave Arena months to get to know the player pool and game plan.

Still, there’s one big problem: will Sunil finally grow up and not extend Bruce’s contract after we qualify for Russia 2018?

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Nou Campy

Last Wednesday, FC Barcelona beat PSG in the second leg at home in the Camp Nou to advance in the Champions League. Barca features three of the soccer’s best attacking players – Messi, Neymar, and Suarez – and, before the first game, they were expected to advance past the Parisians. Then, Barca went and lost the first leg by four goals. That was bad. Very bad.

Yet they won the second 6-1 and the Camp Nou erupted. Still, some questions have to be asked.

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Counting on Conte

One of the best parts about sports is that, within a certain frame of assumptions, we can enjoy a heavy dose of unpredictability. Last season, nobody, not even a super computer with all the world’s knowledge and really really nice spreadsheet tech with dope algorithms could have predicted Leicester’s title.

This season, the EPL has returned to the same old contenders, but I’m still blown away by how Chelsea has turned things around. Continue reading “Counting on Conte” »

A Decay in the Art of Trash-talking

One of my favorite football pathologies is when a team is losing and fans observe that no player is yelling during games, and complain about a “lack of leadership.” The three assumptions behind this argument: (1) Leadership is atomic and individualized, (2) Leadership is the same as yelling, and (3) Leadership enjoys a causal, not correlative, relationship with results, all make me chuckle.

Yet I don’t want to laugh. I do want to wax, old timer lament style, on a decay in modern sport and the gift of gab. I, refer, to the poetic and oral tradition of “talking shit.” Continue reading “A Decay in the Art of Trash-talking” »

An Open Letter Thanking Tim Howard for His Commitment to the USMNT

Dear Tim,

I am Elliott, the father of two young children, and I am very appreciative of the fact that you, as an athlete, realize how important a role model athletes can be. Athletes teach young children – and society – that if you are going to rock a sweet manpurse (I am not being sarcastic), you need to be sure it’s a designer label and not some knockoff. Your Instagram never betrayed me on that issue. Your clutches are the Louis Vitton stuff of legends.

But you’ve also taught my children another important lesson. And I’m very grateful for this second one too. Continue reading “An Open Letter Thanking Tim Howard for His Commitment to the USMNT” »