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?
Continue reading “Enter the Arena” »
As an avid fan of soccer who has played and coached at various levels, I am a keen student of what is reported by the always trustworthy British sports dailies. In particular, I read with a discerning eye about managers. I ask myself: how do they manage so well?
And how can I imitate them?
Continue reading “The Spuds’ Secret” »
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.
Continue reading “Nou Campy” »
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” »
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” »
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” »
Baseball used to have all the good curses. For decades, Cubs and Red Sox fans wallowed in misery, shaking their fists at phantoms and decrying the lack of a championship. And that’s not even mentioning the legend of Shoeless Joe Jackson whom, if I recall correctly, was decapitated and rode around on a horse (but sans a shoe on his left foot).
Luckily, as baseball has gone metric system and stats, soccer still has a few tales of wonder and hexes. I speak, of course, of the “Faux Bun.” Continue reading “The Curse of the Faux Bun” »
Christmas is all about love and family and yultide greetings and adorable bandanas on dogs and snow and giving gifts to others. Now that Christmas has passed, though, it’s time to revert to your selfish, materialist ways. And I have just the best auto-regalos for your stocking.
Of course, they revolve around football and smart writing. Continue reading “Belated Holiday Gifts You Deserve” »
A quiver empty of arrows. A bow broken in two. A string pulled too hard, too long. For years, we believe that in the battle of sports takes, that takes were a renewable source of energy, like coal in mountains or oil in deserts or those strawberry candies that always appear in glass jars in a grandmother’s house.
Now, we know better.
Or do we? Continue reading “The Center of the Sports Take Universe” »
As Alexander Pope wrote in his Essays on Criticism: “To err is human; to thirst, also quite commonplace.” For the last decade, fans of soccer have had our eye-balls assaulted by Cristiano Ronaldo. Basically, he is a dude that works out a lot, and wants everybody to know that he works out a lot. His skin is an unnatural orange presumably from over-tanning, he wears short shorts that would make a 1970′s NBA player blush, and he invents excuses to take off his shirt anytime a camera may be within five miles.
He has been mocked for his behavior. But I will now dive even deeper into this important, salient issue and raise two very profound points. Continue reading “Somber Reflections on the Thirstiest Picture of Cristiano Ronaldo on Social Media Yet” »