In the News and What Not…

I remind you that I am technically on a “blogger break“, but spoiled you with some cutting and amusing blog posts as an early summer treat.Thus, this is a link post when I usually hate link posts, but, hey, gotta spread that PageRank love before Facebook trending renders all this hard “work” obsolete.

To that end, VICE Sports published my reported feature that looked up close at the Olympic Stadium deal in London. Basically, it was bad (the deal, not my reporting), and, after a thorough examination, may be worse than reported. What’s funny for me is the fact-checking brigade: as someone who sent FOI requests to lots of places in London, I am well aware of the complex web of legal entities behind the stadium. I also aware that “London” can mean many different things because I hounded police departments all over that town/area/region/metropolis.

Basically, writing a reported feature for a savvy and sophisticated audience in London (the metropolitan area) and also general interest Americans is tough because we speak a similar language with nuanced differences. When I reported on the stadium scandal in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, I faced the same deal: lots of sub-municipalities and local governments were also involved, but I said “Monterrey” because the layreader will get it and I wanted my cousins to slide into my DMs and send me angry emails. Which they did.

I will say this though: thank God for the “mute” feature on Twitter.

In other news, I spoke with the good folks at In The Open Field, a lovely, up-and-coming soccer site, about The Night of the Virgin. You can read the short Q & A by clicking here. The novel is already 18% funded with 20 days to go, but early backers help in a big way: you help my project climb up onto the first or second page of the “publishing” tag in Kick Starter, and that helps a lot. Right now, Kick Starter has only funneled about $200 to the cause and my project doesn’t appear for any of the “publishing” pages for active projects, which is peculiar and odd, but Kick Starter has been kind to me in the past so I’m not really sweating it. Yet.

To the already backers, you are amazing. To the possible backers, I know that, like me, you wait for payday to look at your monthly budget and discretionary income, and you just have to ask: is that how you are always going to live your boring life? Just this once, can’t you pledge money you haven’t yet earned for a good cause? This novel will not happen by magic, people. Ben Franklin may have fed you some decent financial advice, but also was a slave owner who disliked German immigrants for no good reason. Take what he said about $ with a grain of salt.

And that’s why you should back my project this very minute by clicking here and pledging! All major credit cards accepted!

What if Donald Trump Bought Your Soccer Club?

Lots of people hate Americans. As an American, I always like to think that, like, Americans are a diverse group of people with different tastes, political beliefs, and values (to an extent). Thus, you can hate some of us, but not all of us. Still, people hate Americans. And I can kinda understand why.

Look at what Hicks & Gillett did to Liverpool. Or the Glazers to United. Sadly, the American businessmen who go abroad and look to personally profit off a nice, juicy, large business with big revenue streams are precisely the last person you would ever want anywhere near anything you care about in anyway. I would not let the Glazers dogsit my dog for two hours. A lot of bad things can happen in 120 minutes, after all.

And then I thought of an absolute nightmare. Continue reading “What if Donald Trump Bought Your Soccer Club?” »

The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King

Many years ago, I wrote this piece on Dirk Kuyt for this odd thing called a “soccer blog” and that many people named “the Run of Play.” The premise was simple: Dirk Kuyt, then at Liverpool, was really slow, but worked really hard, and scored ugly goals from time to time. This was back in 2009. Kuyt was a stark contrast to Liverpool’s other striker at the time, Fernando “El Nino” Torres, who ran like the wind and scored goals with the same ease as you and I blink.

Yet seven years later, things have flipped. Continue reading “The Champions League Final and the Boy Who Would Be King” »

Friends, enemies, shifting alliances – please give me your money. Right now.

I really loved the year 2013. It was a great time for me. My wife got her papers and could finally come to the US and live with me. She also brought along my two stepchildren who have grown into beautiful, amazing, brilliant individuals who inspire me every day.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, I successfully Kickstarted a nonfiction book on the history of Real Madrid & Barcelona. A year before the Kickstarter, I acted as my own literary agent and “queried” the idea to some publishers in the US and even the UK. I actually got some decent responses and one face-to-face meeting. However, nobody pulled the trigger. I kinda sorta felt like a conspiracy: I was “liked” to death. Like, why are people so kind but then unwilling to pay me? My sister, a recovering TV producer (and mother), explained being “liked to death” is uber common in both LA and elsewhere. It happens. A lot.

Thus,  one full (wasted) year after my idea, we Kickstarted, you supported me, you got your rewards, you were elated, and, two months later, I found out that Sid “Mother Fucking” Lowe was writing on the same topic. Understand that I write “Mother Fucking” as a compliment – Sid is boss. He is badass. He researches like an academic and interviews in that classic bipolar Oprah fashion that is 50% your best friend and 50% jaded civil rights attorney in a deposition. He gets access without selling out. He churns out more columns AND match recaps in a single day than I do in a month. I found out about Lowe’s project on a WSC forum, and thought: fuck me. Fuck me hard. Continue reading “Friends, enemies, shifting alliances – please give me your money. Right now.” »

Blogger Summer Break Edition

Leicester has just pulled off a fairy tale season in the EPL. Real Madrid has chased Barcelona to the finish line in La Liga and a date with Atletico in the UCL final lingers. Everyday, you come to this site, click refresh, nothing new appears, and you violently shake your iPhone or PC monitor. You are desperate for my thoughts on why Harry “Fleet-footed Kane” and “Not Racist” Vardy will bravely lead the line as England bravely wins the Euros in the bravest manner possible.

You need me, but I don’t need you. Time for a summer break, so sorry you content-greedy people who take advantage of me. Yes, I will still freelance a bit, but things will go dark here. Very, very dark. The lights will come on again in August or September, depending on my mood. You may (as in “you have permission”) follow me on Twitter. I do feel pity from time-to-time, so I shall concede you that one wish. You can also check out my GoodReads author page.

Until then, enjoy this piece on Mexico’s 2004 Copa America squad for FourFourTwo.

A Little Bit of a Peptalk

Everybody is writing about the Champions League, but I still have my two cents to give. In particular, Pep Guardiola, my arch nemesis (as a Madrid fan), has come under criticism that is both unjust and kinda ridiculous. Of course, Pep does not get along with every single player ever, insists on a certain aesthetic to his teams, and has not won every single trophy ever.

Still, despite his flaws, he’s a damn good manager. But let’s go past the hot hair in written form you’ve read (skimmed) elsewhere, and look at the issues a bit closer. Continue reading “A Little Bit of a Peptalk” »

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” »