The Case for Kamara

In case you missed the so-called “Decision Day” of MLS games this past weekend, a player named Kei Kamara scored a goal. All agree twas a nice goal of the finest variety, one worthy of celebration. Of course, players have shown emotion and excitement after the scoring of a goal for time eternal. And since Roger Milla danced for Cameroon in the World Cup, the rhythmic movement of one’s body has long been part and parcel of said celebrations.

Yet Kei Kamara got wrongly punished. Continue reading “The Case for Kamara” »

The Best Soccer Narratives I Could Possibly Fathom Not Hearing Ever Again

Yesterday, Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United played Liverpool in Liverpool. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. Of course, some nil nil draws can be exciting games, pulsating affairs that draw deserved “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd. This was not one of them. Over 90 minutes, Liverpool created two chances: a quick snapshot that David DeGea palmed away to the right, and speculative curler from distance that DeGea palmed away to his left.

In between, a lot of nothing happened. Continue reading “The Best Soccer Narratives I Could Possibly Fathom Not Hearing Ever Again” »

On Any of Shay Given’s Sundays

We at Futfanatico are beyond delighted to give you exclusive coverage of the newest Olivier Stone film, “On Any of Shay Given’s Sundays.” This epic sports drama revolves around an aging coach and goalkeeper tandem that battle the rabid fans, fervent media, meddling female owners, and their own self doubt. It is based on the English Premiere League, but was not officially sanctioned.

I. “THE” Inspirational Speech Monologue

[Old white man paces around locker room full of young soccer players in various states of dress and undress.] I’m not quite sure what to say really. We are mere minutes from the biggest thermonuclear world war of our lives, and it all comes down to today. [Pauses to soak in brilliance of own words. Says a few of them silently to self. Nods in agreement.] We either uncrumble as a team, we mend like two pieces of jello that are left side by side over a period of 30 minutes – or we unmend. We crumble. Like two pieces of jello left in separate containers. [Shots of players in locker room.] In the fridge. O-v-e-r-n-i-g-h-t. [Pauses to glance around room] We gotta mend guys – inch for inch, kick for kick, tackle for tackle. Or we are done. [Pulls hands out of pocket to gesture. Puts hands back in pocket]. We are in Hell; and we can stick around, get our asses handed to us, or…we can fight our way to the upper place, the not Hell. [Player has towel draped over head]. We can jump out of Hell, but we have to do it together. Inch for inch. Jump for jump. [Pulls right hand out of pocket. Gestures. Puts hand back in pocket] I’d love to do it for you, but it’s not going to happen. I’m too young in the tooth. [Pulls left hand out of pocket. Opens mouth. Feels upper palate with index and forefinger. Puts hand back in pocket] I look around; I see these young guys on thousand pound a week wages, driving fancy cars, and I think – do they get it? [Pulls hands out of pockets. Unbuttons the top two buttons of dress shirt.] I…I can’t be in your shoes. And you don’t want to be in mine. I’m a mess. I’m old. I’m middle aged and have ran off everybody who ever loved me. [Star winger gently toys with skull cap] I burned through cash after getting addicted to online poker. I Believe it or not [Pulls hands out of pockets. Clasps hands. Unclasps hands. Puts hands back in pocket] As of late…I can’t…I can’t stand to see my own face in the mirror. The widow’s peak. The gray hairs. The untrimmed nose hairs. The gray hairs in the widow’s peak. The grayer hairs coming out of my nostrils. I…I’ve hit rock bottom. [Pulls hands out of pockets. Puts face in hands. Puts hands back in pockets] I… I still play Pokemon Go. [Central defender opens mouth in shock] When you get a bit older in life, like, say, 29, you start to lose things. [Pauses. Looks down. Takes right hand out of pocket. Scratches back of head. Looks at fingers. Thinks "white snow."] That’s…it’s just a part of life. [Star winger in skull cap slowly nods head "no"] You have to get old to realize that. [Other central defender chews on gum, possibly Bubbalicious] You realize…life is a game of inches, and kicks, but also brotherhood. In the game of football, or life, the margin for error is tiny. Like, really small. [Star winger in skull cap slowly nods "yes" for a few seconds, then starts to nod "no" again. Licks lips] A half second slow to shoot, and it’s blocked. The chance goes begging. [Holding midfielder in tight white under shirt looks down at own chest; notices nipples are erect] You forget to pay child support for a decade in another country, and suddenly you find yourself in jail without a passport. Inches. Kicks. Mistakes. Brotherhood. [Coughs and then clears throat] But I’m still here. I’m here because I’m willing to fight, to kick, to push on for that inch. [Shouts of support] Because that inch is more than inch. That inch is the first inch in a series of inches, with inches all around us. Think about that. You. Me. Inches. [Slow hand clap starts; star winger in skull cap refuses to join] Now. Gentlemen. What we you gonna do? [Assistant coach picks nose] I mean, what are we gonna do? [Shouts] ARE WE GONNA KICK FOR THOSE INCHES??? Continue reading “On Any of Shay Given’s Sundays” »

Bradley’s Journey has Begun

Less than a week after my “Guide to Getting that European Coaching Gig” post, and Bob Bradley has been hired by Swansea City of the EPL. Mere coincidence? No clue. Honestly, Bob’s brother Steve, who is now doing PR for Toronto FC, followed me on Twitter and we had some pretty awesome, candid, and foul-mouthed exchanges.

Basically, more people read you than you think. If you are penning a profile that will shit on a coach or player, odds are likely they will read it. It’s a small world, after all. Continue reading “Bradley’s Journey has Begun” »

The Key to Successfully Coaching in Europe

Quite a few American players have enjoyed modest success in Europe. However, no American coach has yet to coach a first division team in one of Europe’s top leagues. Serie A? No. Bundesliga? Nein. La Liga? Nunca. Thus, we have to ask: what do American coaches lack? Mastery of tactics? Man-management? Opportunity?

All the above may be true. But, after years of careful study, I’ve found another explanation. Continue reading “The Key to Successfully Coaching in Europe” »

Mow – Ring – Yo?!?!?!

Jose has hit his first soft patch as coach at United. Of course, this means he’s incompetent and should be sacked tomorrow. Or, at least, he feels that’s what we the media are suggesting. Thus far, his pressers have been tame by Jose standards, but, as per usual, he has blamed his players (though reservedly so), the referee(s), and the prior coach. Basically, everybody but himself.

And yet this is what you get when Mou comes to town. As a Real Madrid fan, I know this too well. Continue reading “Mow – Ring – Yo?!?!?!” »

The Rapinoe Debate is Not Even a Debate

There is a saying in Spanish: Dime con quien andas, diras quien eres. “Tell me who you are with, and you will tell me who you are.” As you are aware, lots of athletes are protesting racial discrimination by doing various things during the national anthem. Some raise their first. Some kneel. These are silent protests that do not impede the ability of any person to go about their daily lives: nobody is running to the streets, flipping cop cars, or setting stores on fire.

Yet, people are upset. At a recent USWNT game, star player Megan Rapinoe kneeled in solidarity with people of color and other protestors. Continue reading “The Rapinoe Debate is Not Even a Debate” »

Edson Cavani and Greatness by Contrast

What do you think about Uruguayan striker Edson Cavani? Yeah, I have no clue either. In general, we soccer fans like our greatness as our oatmeal: consistent throughout. Cavani, though, is perhaps the least consistent consistently great striker in Europe. He’s scored goals by the boatloads for his club teams in Italy and France, and also a few big ones for Uruguay.

Still, one can’t get over a sinking sensation when you watch him play: does this guy know what he’s doing? Continue reading “Edson Cavani and Greatness by Contrast” »

The Absolutely Essential Manchester Derby Recap…

…Is so not happening at this site. I know you have loved your Pep on X player features, your Pep vs. Mou columns, and your contrarian “media overblows Y aspect of derby” takes. Still, I shall indulge you. Here is a brief summary of the Manchester derby: two teams from Manchester played soccer. They both fielded eleven players and kicked a ball for a combined ninety minutes plus change.

There. Now, onto important matters: Chicharito and Messi. And what they have in common. Continue reading “The Absolutely Essential Manchester Derby Recap…” »