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” »

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.” »

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” »

Celebrating Johan Cruyff the Asshole

Lots of smart and knowledgeable people have chimed in on Johan Cruyff, the Dutch soccer legend who recently passed away. Yet, as pointed out by Brian Phillips on Twitter, nobody has noted or observed or come to grips with the fact he was an asshole. Like all geniuses, Cruyff was difficult to work with as a player, a coach, and even an executive. He had ideas, the ideas were black and white, and you were with Cruyff or against him. When I saw Cruyff was an asshole, it is a compliment. Lots of people are assholes and forgotten, but to truly be an asshole and beloved is arguably the pinnacle of humanity.

Everybody loved Cruyff except the people who he detested and criticized constantly, and even they left flowers at his homage at the Camp Nou. Continue reading “Celebrating Johan Cruyff the Asshole” »

Where have all the Enganches gone?

The above picture recently surfaced of now retired Juan Roman Riquelme with Leo Messi and Javier Mascherano and Riquelme’s son. Arguably, Riquelme was one of the last enganches to excel in Europe and possibly the world. Of course, you ask, what exactly is an enganche?

Allow me to explain. Continue reading “Where have all the Enganches gone?” »

Q & A: Silky Johnson Explains Why Every Player You Ever Loved In Fact Sucks

Every now and then, we at Futfanatico land a huge interview about futbol with an unexpected celebrity. Once we got Slavoj Zizek to predict a World Cup final. Another time, Jean Baudrillard turned his piercing gaze to American celebrity fans of Arsenal. While Rolling Stone barely nicked us to that Chapo interview, we are delighted to welcome Silky Johnson, the greatest hater in the history of hating.

Silky, a professional hater who makes your ex’s bae look like a bubbling cauldron of optimism, will now brutally and flippantly degrade every player you have ever adored. Continue reading “Q & A: Silky Johnson Explains Why Every Player You Ever Loved In Fact Sucks” »

The Disappearing Star Centerback Prodigy

The dodo. The dinosaurs. Why do all the really cool animals have to disappear off the face of the Earth? Sadly, soccer reflects this reality. For at least half a decade, a position on the pitch has been neglected like no other: centerback. Here’s a thought experiment. Right now, name a young star center back. Okay, easy you say. Thiago Silva. Okay, now name another.

Hard, isn’t it? Continue reading “The Disappearing Star Centerback Prodigy” »

Everything you need to know about “that” 12 second FC Barcelona VINE

I am aware that many of you read this fine blog on eInk Kindles and cellphones. Thus, you can’t always see Vines or GIFs. Thus, here is a link to the FCB Vine we will be dissecting today. Please take a moment to see said VINE. Did you? Excellent.

Now allow me to paint the most vivid of pictures. Continue reading “Everything you need to know about “that” 12 second FC Barcelona VINE” »

SoccErotica: Peeping Tom Busqy Edition

Oh, hello again dearest readers. If you recall from the last edition in this series, there’s nothing sexier online than writing in the second person. Wait, what’s that you say? Hmmm. Adolescent vampires in high school? Well, yes, I suppose with the right facial structure, they could be sexier than the second person in online writing. Sorry, come again? Ummmm, well, sure, listicles of images of shirtless soccer players may be some people’s cup of joe I guess. I concede both those concepts may be erotic for some. However, I am about to write some soccerotica second person for the entire world.

You see, during last Saturday’s Clasico, people missed something. Something big. Your eyes filled with pleasure, but you didn’t know why. As SoccerErotica (TM) poet laureate, I will now put your feelings into the neatest of words, the finest of sentences, the paragraphiest of paragraphs. And our journey begins (and ends) with Sergio Busquets. Continue reading “SoccErotica: Peeping Tom Busqy Edition” »

The Not Looking So Clasico Clasico

Sigh. The last five years have been pretty dreamy. No, not in the sense Real Madrid has won title after title. Rather, we’ve at least been close to winning title after title. We’ve been a respectable second place. After the depths of the Galactico era, this was a nice relief. Capello, Schuster and Mou coached teams to titles. More importantly, under Mou, Madrid started to sign and field coherent teams with strong player at every position. The Zidane y Pavon policy was discarded.

Then Carlo took over, let the horses run wild, and things got really fun. Continue reading “The Not Looking So Clasico Clasico” »