Soccer Jam

The year is 2004. Zinedine Zidane has just announced his retirement from Les Bleus and international football. Instead, he wants to focus on his club career at Real Madrid and also try to play professional ping pong, which was his dad’s greatest dream for him. Sadly, though, Zizou’s serve lacks the spin and precision for him to advance past the semifinals at any of the major pro ping pong (PPP) tournaments.

At the same time, trouble brews in the galaxy. An Intergalactic Amusement Park complete with non-rolling coasters and wheels not  named after Ferris Bueler is having serious attendance problems. The place is named Seven Flags after some famous clone-ware related battle and resulting truce, but nobody can remember the exact details. All they know is that attendance has dropped precipitously. Even with 20% discounts on season passes and free meals (chicken tenders and fries) for kids ages 6-10 on Tuesdays, folks fail to turn up.

Thus, the nefarious Seven Flags CEO, Mr. HammSwindler, devises a dastardly plot: he sends his minions, the PotLucks, to Earth. Continue reading “Soccer Jam” »

Tactics Talk: Pellegrini’s Positional Dilemma for Sterling

What is it about City? Andy Johnson. Shaun Wright-Phillips. Jimmy Milner. The Eastlands is where promising English wingers go to collect paychecks and place their development in stasis. Still, hope, or rather “self-delusion”, springs eternal. This past summer Raheem Sterling raised a fuss, called in sick, and forced his move to Manchester City. Still, key questions remain unanswered.

For a player who has never scored more than ten goals in a season, City paid over thirty million pounds. That’s a hefty price tag. Can Sterling live up to it? Unlike Johnson, SWP, and Milner, Sterling has at least performed pretty well for England and shown a great soccer brain to match his dazzling speed. Still, a lot will depend on Chilsean coach Manuel Pellegrini. We are to ask and analyze: where will Raheem fit in at Pellegrini’s 4-2-2-2? Continue reading “Tactics Talk: Pellegrini’s Positional Dilemma for Sterling” »

New, Snazzy eBook for your Summer Enjoyment

Every year, I gather up my ten favorite pieces of soccer writing and deliver them to you at a delightful price of one dollar. This year, I kinda sorta maybe procrastinated, but, in reality, it was all a ploy to whet your appetite for my writing. I am 145% sexier and more readable in eInk format, Scout’s honor. Thus, the 2014 edition “Best Of” comes out in two weeks, for one buck, and you can preorder it at Amazon here.

Of course, if you don’t want the book, that’s fine also. I’ll just send your comments here to Spam, block you on Twitter, kick you out of my Subreddit, and we can both go on our respective ways through this rocking journey of life. No hard feelings, at least on your part. I’m sure you won’t bear me any grudges. Seriously, buy the book and help us all get Junito a new pair of electric algo colored Nike Preds for the Fall Season. Don’t you Sepp Blatter on me now after all your cherubic promises……

Editor’s note: no stool was softened in the crafting of this post. 

The Perpetual Midlevel Management Crisis at Real Madrid

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Affluent European soccer team comes agonizingly close to winning two major trophies but falls just short! Equally affluent rival claims both! Oh soccer, you bizarrely wonderful world. Sport has always been torn in two directions: the idealists and the pragmatists. Some care about how a team plays, does it attack, will it win, while others care only about results. The two often come together, but not always.

Thus, when a team plays well but doesn’t win, what’s a club to do? If you’re Real Madrid, the answer is simple: sharpen your axes. Continue reading “The Perpetual Midlevel Management Crisis at Real Madrid” »

How Old is Too Old?

Bayern Munich has enjoyed a wonderful Bundesliga season to date. They’re top of the league despite an embarrassing loss to 2nd place Wolfsburg. They are also favorites to advance in their Champions League tie, despite tying the first-leg 0-0. However, for fans of beautiful soccer, not all is well in Munich. Why? Because of midfield. That’s why. And what hurts the most is that the players at fault are beloved, world-class veterans.

I speak, of course, of the Spaniard and the pig farmer. Continue reading “How Old is Too Old?” »

Find my writing at these great sites……

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been pretty busy. I have a wife and two kids. I have a full time job. Thus, due to time constraints, Futfanatico is now officially a once-a-week blog. I say this because I hate it when a blog or site just disappears with no explanation. I also refuse to alter the long-ish style and oddness of my posts here – I could try and write two-paragraph, snappy, sarcastic responses to the daily news, but that’s what Dirty Tackle is for.  Another pet peeve for me is when a crazy good site just turns into a link mini-post mill. Thus, for the record, I will be writing here once a week original posts not found elsewhere.

However, the biggest factor in my drop in time is that I have been writing elsewhere. Therefore, about once a month, I will post links to that writing. If you want to know about my writing elsewhere a bit quicker, follow me on twitter. Continue reading “Find my writing at these great sites……” »

Top Secret Meeting of the Liverpool FC Transfer Committee

In the darkest of places, in an abandoned mine well below the depths of Moria, in a hole so deep you can hear the echoes from past Chinese New Year celebrations, lurks the cave…and the “committee.” Kinda. In truth, the cave is not a cave, but rather a series of caves, a maze of blackness so black it sucks in light, chews it up, and doesn’t bother to spit it out. If you’ve ever been lost in an IKEA around closing time, you know the full scale of absolute terror felt in a seemingly never ending labyrinth. You could fit at least two and a half IKEAs in this cave complex, if not 3.

And In this vast expanse of cold air, stalagmites, stalactites, mineral water and leather chairs, a table sits. And at this table sits the committee. Continue reading “Top Secret Meeting of the Liverpool FC Transfer Committee” »

The Dirty Tackle Blog is No More….

Free Darko. The Run of Play. The list of blogs worth reading shrinks every year. For six glorious years, Brooks Peck wrote irreverent and clever posts for the “Dirty Tackle” blog at Yahoo. In fact, I can recall the time before it was a Yahoo sports blog. I was very jealous of Brook’s neat WordPress theme and ability to digest and publish obscure soccer news before anybody else.

I was honored to write for Dirty Tackle about the bleak, last year of Raul Gonzalez’s career while in Germany at Schalke. As per DT style, the narrative form was a satirical diary, an exaggerated take on the possible inner person and workings of a player who we will never personally know, but upon whom we project certain characteristics and traits based on brief moments in time. Continue reading “The Dirty Tackle Blog is No More….” »

Struggles of EPL teams in Europe are wholly unprecedented and lead to thoughtful root-and-branch analyses

Oh, hello there. Dearest reader, I am going to write this post in first to second person. Why? Intimacy. Or at least the feeling of intimacy. You see, sometimes this cold, cold world of soccer journalism can feel foreign, icy, chilly, remote. Writers sometimes without a name or credit pen words where subjects precede verbs that are then followed by objects, with an adverb or adjective here or there. They talk about clubs and you ask yourself whether plural groups should be represented by singular or plural conjugations of verbs but it just gets a little stale. A bit old. A little not spicy. A bit trite.

But not today, Dearest reader (may I call you “Dearie”?). Today, just you and me, share a secret. Continue reading “Struggles of EPL teams in Europe are wholly unprecedented and lead to thoughtful root-and-branch analyses” »

Soccer Spanish Revisited: Totti’s Clever Little Cucharita

For those who missed it, Francesco Totti scored a lovely goal vs. Manchester City in the Champions League. He ran onto a beautifully waited through-ball and delicately chipped the ball over Joe Hart. In Spanish, there are several terms for “chip.” Many say cucharita, which literally means “little spoon.” I’ve been told the Italian term is the same. In Mexico, it’s common to say picadita, which means “to chip” with a shovel. Others use the term globito, which means little balloon. Totti’s goal is a great example, and also a ray of light for every player over 35 – don’t sign up for that AARP membership just yet.

Elliott’s eBook, An Illustrated Guide to Soccer & Spanish, is available for $3.99 at Amazon, iTunes, & Barnes & Noble.