Hungover Dispatches from Htown: Messi Walks on Water Edition

Futfanatico is closed for the summer as per usual. In fact, the only editor is not even in the United States of America: how dare him! Thus, this random dispatch from GonzoBro is even less edited and less relevant than ever, yet we need pageviews so here goes.

I.

“On assignment” means one thing to baller freelancers like me: watching adult films on the company dime late at night while staying in some roach-infested Howard Johnson motel in the crummy neighborhood of a somewhat major metropolitan area. That fact may creep you out, but honesty and fidelity to truth at all costs are the trademark of GonzoBra.

Every time you see a byline at The Guardian like “Tom Dart in Dallas“, I think: how many Debbie films did this guy catch between flights during his cursory three-hour stay at a Day’s Inn? “On assignment” means “on our” means stags will be stags roaming the wild and its always ever so much fun and glamorous and they don’t serve peanuts in coach anymore and you have zero space to rest your elbows but you are paid to travel hence travel is suddenly fun.

Yet this odd thing happened: Lionel Fucking Messi and the the Argentinian national team came to play a game vs. the US in my own backyard: Houston. On Assignment suddenly meant zero travel, just futbol. Of course, the codo mofos at Futfanatico couldn’t land me press credentials. Should I bother? Could I cook up some content to get paid to pay back a relative who stopped talking to me a few months ago?

The Heavens answered, shouted, cried out: HELL YEAH. SMy wife of all people insisted we attend the Argentina-US match…but not actually pay to enter the stadium. I had no clue what this bonita broad was cooking, but I lapped it up and was ready for whatever whenever. Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from Htown: Messi Walks on Water Edition” »

Some Lighthearted Soccer Linkery

Friends, I am on a blogger break, remember? Me neither. Nevertheless, the capitalist freelancer in me has sold some prose to wonderful soccer content producers. You should visit their sites, turn off your AdBlock plus, and just download anything that shows up on your PC and/or enter your credit card numbers and any national personal ID number as well. Continue reading “Some Lighthearted Soccer Linkery” »

Requiem for a Team

When Florentino Perez hired Zinedine Zidane as manager, the prevailing narrative was simple: he had messed up the hiring of Rafa Benitez in the summer, and Zizou would play the part of the Di Stefano “player-coach” who filled in coaching gaps. Instead, he’s showed a touch of Del Bosque: a manager with a gift for managing egos and clear tactical ideas plus a bit of game-planning.

Which is why he will be fired much too soon by Real Madrid. Continue reading “Requiem for a Team” »

MLS, Liga MX, and Theory vs. Practice

Everybody wants to talk about TV viewership and make unflattering comparisons between MLS and any other league. As a fan of MLS, I know intimately well both the current challenges, the flaws of the league, and just how far the league has come in the last decade and how much more work is left to do. However, the people who paint Liga MX as some paradise and paradigm to follow are perhaps misguided.

Yes, a bit more flair and technical play in MLS would be fun. However, I honestly dislike split seasons and, in many ways, lots of general public interest and money prop up and gloss over the problems in Liga MX. And these are problems MLS should not ignore or try to replicate. Continue reading “MLS, Liga MX, and Theory vs. Practice” »

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. Continue reading “In the News and What Not…” »

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.