Extended Dialogue Trying to Make Sense of a Team Winning a Trophy

Q: Are you trying to tell me that a soccer club based in England recently won a trophy that is awarded based on a points total after a 38 game season? Surely this has never happened before and cannot possibly be true.

A: Yes

Q: So, unlike, say, our perfectly meritocratic BCS Championship Series for college football, those zany Brits have a regular season but don’t have any playoff at the end or something similar? What is wrong with those mofos?

A: That is correct.

Q: So, if I am to take what you have said as true and then take what I read on the internet at face value – a dangerous proposition – this Leicester (mispronounced) City has accumulated a sum of points from both drawing and winning games for the prior nine months.

A: Yes. Continue reading “Extended Dialogue Trying to Make Sense of a Team Winning a Trophy” »

Amazing Yanks Abroad Post Unlike Any Other

I am nothing, if not a skank of the clickbait variety. The other day while reviewing soccer “key words” that are popular on the Google, I noticed that Monday mornings quite a few Americans look for “yanks abroad.” At first, I failed to see the soccer connection. I figured some warm-blooded bros were looking for, ahem, some “poorly acted independent films of the ten-minute variety.”

But when I Googled “Yanks abroad”, I found something else: Americans care about how American soccer players play when not in the US. Except, of course, for one major gap. Continue reading “Amazing Yanks Abroad Post Unlike Any Other” »

Folha Seca: The Arbitrary Importance of History

When researching and writing (and later “recording”) my first book, An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish, I looked closely at the history of the Spanish soccer term: chilena, which is “bicycle-kick” in English. Basically, a Spanish expat in Chile pulled off a bicycle kick near the start of the 20th century, it was reported, and the name caught fire. Still, how our society apportions credit for inventiveness kinda bugs me.

At the same time as the chilena came to be in South America, Josep Samitier starred for FC Barcelona in Spain. A continent away, he became known for his famous “lobster-kick”. What is a lobster-kick, you ask. Sadly, no video or even good still image of the lobster-kick exists. Based on a few bare-bones match reports, the move was similar to the “scorpion kick” of a certain loco goaltender for Colombia. Still, can we be sure Samitier did not invent the chilena? And what makes a kick “lobster” as opposed to “scorpion”? Continue reading “Folha Seca: The Arbitrary Importance of History” »

More Potshots at the FIFA Prosecutions

About a month ago, I penned a reported feature for VICE Sports about the FIFA prosecutions. Basically, I questioned the use of US resources to go after white collar criminals from other countries who, based on the legal theory of the case, only “hurt” a nonprofit that is organized in Switzerland. I came to the conclusion that the US government was only going after FIFA for (1) Publicity and (2) Money. That’s right – if you read all the available guilty pleas, those Defendants are forking over millions to the US Treasury.

Thus, it looks and smells like “For Profit” policing. But there’s even something more worrisome. Continue reading “More Potshots at the FIFA Prosecutions” »

A Room of One’s Own…All Expenses Paid

About a month ago, I published a reported feature at The Guardian about youth development in the US. A few weeks later, “Billy” Parchman published another excellent article on the topic for Howler Magazine. Basically, big picture, there are major issues with 1) Focus – technical development, and 2) Access – pay to play kinda shuts the door for many people.

In the US, parents want their kids to compete but also to win. This means that young kids start to learn tactics and play six-a-side much much too young. In the long-term, nobody but coaches (and parents!) with a hard-on gives a flying fuck about your U10 youth tournament in Beaumont. It’s nice and fun to win, but, if your goal is to produce a high caliber player, you need to first work on technical ability, technical ability, and technical ability.

The first-touch is the first step to success at a higher level. Continue reading “A Room of One’s Own…All Expenses Paid” »

Pulpo Fiction

In 2010, an octopus stole our hearts. I speak, of course, about Pulpo Paul, the aquarium-dweller with the clairvoyant tentacles who correctly guessed predicted foresaw the results of World Cup games. Sadly, that same year in October, Paul allegedly died. Other animals tried to fill the gap, but they were clearly imposters. The world needed Paul, not some Paul wannabe.

Yet, as is often the case, nobody ever saw the dead body of this particular celebrity. Thus, a sliver of hope remained. In a rundown motel in one of those dark and blind alleys of Las Vegas, could a room full of Elvis, Notorious, and Tupac watching cable TV also have enough space for an aquarium filled with Pulpo Paul? Celebrity-love is the strangest kind because we never know the celebrity in any meaningful way, yet they haunt our dreams and fill our waking hours with emotions.

And this happens even after their supposed death.

Continue reading “Pulpo Fiction” »

A Scientific Inquiry into the EPL Fandom of one Rapper “Drake”

Good evening, good sir or madam. As the foremost expert on North American celebrities who are also fans of teams in the EPL, I face a quandary. As you know, Leicester City sit atop the EPL standings to the delight of many and largely because their Italian coach throws the team pizza parties when not ordering the striker to not practice finishing.  You rightly ask: if this team is successful, then why has Drake, the Canadian rapper who constantly gets unexpectedly sexually assaulted (twerked upon sans consent) in music videos, not yet taken a picture with them?

Luckily, in pouring over results from a prior study, I believe that I have found the answer to said question. And learned quite a bit about Drake’s true allegiances. Continue reading “A Scientific Inquiry into the EPL Fandom of one Rapper “Drake”” »

SPONSORED: FIFA Turns a New Page with New Headquarters

Yes, I know. Sponsored posts are icky and make me feel sick to my stomach, but that annual server fees payment fast approaches. In large part, I blame my readers for having to resort to this crap. All of you had Adblock Plus and/or don’t click enough on the banner ads. None of that is my doing.

Thus, to keep the lights on, another Sponsored Post from FIFA. Continue reading “SPONSORED: FIFA Turns a New Page with New Headquarters” »

Junito: the Dreaded “Deboot” Edition

Junito, aka the chele chulo, who you have watched on this blog grow and learn to walk and kick a ball, is on the cusp of finally getting his US passport. And we know what that means: he is only nine years old, but will be eligible for the US youth national teams and maybe someday the senior team. Junito has now lived in the US for four years (almost), speaks fluent English, and is addicted to Minecraft but still finds time for Lego Star Wars. The inside joke around these parts was that I was crafting and molding Junito to be the savior of Real Madrid, the Nica-Mexi-American Messi who would restore balance to the force.

Now that he’s on the cusp of official Americanness, though, there’s one major problem: he has quit soccer. Continue reading “Junito: the Dreaded “Deboot” Edition” »

Mes que un desgracia

I’ve written a few times about the infamous “p chant” that was all the rage at Mexico games. Sadly, Spanish soccer stadiums are not so different. Instead, they often appear a teeming cauldron of prejudice – this is a land where players of African lineage still have to deal with monkey chants and it is the year 2016. No, not 1916. 2016. I will never forget the dignity and grace and humor of Dani Alves when eating a banana tossed at him, or the time Samuel Eto’o made fun of the not-so-subtle prejudices of the Spanish language by saying he will correr como negro (run like a black person) – an offensive allusion to the days of slavery.

So that’s why the above video shocked me. A handful of fans at the Camp Nou shouted “Maricon” at Cristiano Ronaldo during a moment of silence for recently departed Johan Cruyff. Continue reading “Mes que un desgracia” »