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” »
This past summer, Real Madrid fans were dumbstruck when Sergio Ramos said he wanted to play for Manchester United. At least the stupid ones were. You see, Sergio Ramos was in the middle of contract negotiations with Florentino Perez. Sergio has won every trophy imaginable, but here’s the dilemma: he is very close to 30 and in a few years may lose his pace. From the club’s perspective, a long-term deal and a pay raise were not warranted because his future production will probably decline. From the player’s perspective, his peak years are 28-32 and he has been a loyal (and successful) servant.
Thus, Sergio went public and said he wanted a move to Manchester United. Predictably, no such move materialized and instead he got a beefy new contract. Continue reading “The Most Sincere Manchester United Story this Transfer Window” »
Every year, some parent blogger writes about how other parents are pricks for pushing their kids to play sports competitively and care about winning. I know this because I myself have been there. Junito plays on an elite soccer team, and I’ve noticed a great irony in youth sports: the higher the level, the more humble the parents. Yet the opposite is true. Basically, once you’ve seen just how good other kids are at a sport, you realize you and your kids’ place in the pecking order.
This is in contrast to rec leagues, where parents brawls and ref insult dot the land. In their heads, their kids are stars who can only be stopped by bad refs and cheating kids. They are Mourinhos but 10% more violent. Still, here’s the dilemma: their mind is misguided, but is their heart? Is there anything more American than hating losing? Is there a line to be walked? Continue reading “Junito: The Importance of Winning” »
In the world of music, critics often lament a thing called “the sophomore slump.” Basically, a new band with a unique sounds enters the fray, generally kicks ass, and launches a debut album that blows our hair back Sir Alex-at-halftime style. Then comes the problem. The second album. Almost inevitably, with expectations lifted, novelty not a factor, and initial creative juices maxed out, the follow-up album passes muster but does not light our hearts aflame.
In soccer, I’ve been thinking a lot about the hardest season for a manager. No, not after a relegation dogfight. Rather, I speak of the one following a major trophy haul. And Jose Mourinho and Luis Enrique have their work cut out for them. Continue reading “Mourinho, Enrique, and the Sophomore Slump” »
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.
Oh hello, cherished readers. I know, I know. FIFA collapses. Women play soccer on turf. Aging South American target forward heads ball in goal. The headlines have come hard and fast this summer. All this time, you’ve held your breath and hoped upon hopes that somewhere in an office on the 50th story of a large, downtown Houston skyscraper, your favorite scribe would steal time from work and pen a wholly necessary op-ed on Hope Solo and why turf is to blame. Turf. Hope Solo. Hope Solo. Turf. I can’t be the only one who sees the connection?! Cause. Effect. Effect. Cause. Checkmate.
Alas, fate has intervened cruelly. I broke my leg in two places playing soccer in May. I needed surgery and, after the anesthesia wore off, I started thinking: where do pro athletes go when they have injuries? A black hole? Their twitters go silent. Their Instagrams collect dust. And I now know the answer: pain. Fucking, miserable, cosmically sucking pain. It saps your energy, your humor. I started to feel better in early June and thought – maybe rehab is worth some words? Well, I could write about stool softeners, commodes, trash bags and sitting showers, unerotic sponge baths and bedrashes, but, in reality, it’s something you have to experience for youself, man. Besides, all the credit goes to my beautiful wife. Thanks for everything, amorcita, especially cutting the Wilson tennis balls that are now on the bottom of my crutches. Continue reading “Admittedly Belated Soccer Blog Summer Update #7443” »
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” »
Just before the summer transfer rumor tradewinds pick up, another gust blows in another Spring rarity: the relegation savior. Every April across Europe, clubs at the bottom of the table claw, elbow, scratch, pull hair, and do anything and everything to avoid relegation. As if written in stone, the bottom three must take the drop. Clubs, fans, players, and owners get desperate. They clutch for any and all lifelines, yet with the transfer window closed since January, there’s only one: a new coach.
In comes a new coach and, sometimes, the team avoids relegation. But then what? Continue reading “The Relegation Savior Fallacy” »
Two minute cat videos. Listicles. Slideshows. You can dump on most of the content that the interwebs has to offer. In fact, I have done so repeteadly. However, at least a good listicle requires some creativity and snappy prose. A decent slideshow depends on the skill of the source content: photography and image editing. Yes, they are small nuggets of info packaged in an easy-to-consume format, but cereal bars are also packaged in a way that is easy to consume. Cereal bars are also not a full course meal. Do you hate cereal bars?
Still, my painfully stretched analogy cannot extend to defend a new kind of crap appearing on the webs: social media popularity counts that masquerade as “worth you’re fucking time.” Nevertheless, I dared to ask: which of this filth is the most popular by its own metric? Continue reading “Which Worthless Article on Soccer Clubs’ Social Media Popularity is Most Popular on Social Media?” »
Yesterday’s clasico was a tale of two halves. Or so say the headlines. In fact, many headlines refer to a game as a “tale of two halves.” Your cerebral self chuckles and thinks: no shit. Doesn’t every game of soccer consist of two halves? Isn’t that, like, kinda the fundamental rule and proportion of time? Could a headline be any less descriptive?
I used to agree with you. But, alas, you are wrong (and so was I). Continue reading “Clasico Recap: A Tale of Two Halves Edition” »