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” »

Watching Mou’s Madrid Unraveled From Afar

I still play FIFA 13 while sipping a fine glass of red wine, a melancholic gloom hanging over my head as my thumbs grow numb from the iPad slide-rule pass finger motions. I always play what is either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-1-1: Higuain gets the nod ahead of Benzema with Ozil underneath, Di Maria wide right, Ronaldo on the left, and Khedira and Alonso shielding the back four. I know that this team didn’t win the coveted Decima, but they did reach numerous Champions League semifinals and enjoy the best La Liga season for Madrid ever.

And they are no more. Continue reading “Watching Mou’s Madrid Unraveled From Afar” »

The Midseason Manager Replacement

We all saw the end for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and even suspected Rafa’s demise at Madrid. The Blues’ form was so poor that they hovered near the relegation zone. They lacked solidity in defense and decisiveness in attack. Meanwhile, at Madrid, the merengues played decently enough, but always seemed to trip over their own two feet when approaching the Barca juggernaut.

Yet, the question remains, do midseason manager changes ever make sense? Or turn out for the better? And what would it do for Manchester United? Continue reading “The Midseason Manager Replacement” »

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” »

The Sadness and Darkness of Entropy, or “The Inevitable Decline of Fernando Torres & Falcao”

This may shock you, but, for a time, Fernando Torres played soccer exceptionally well. Even before he signed for Liverpool FC and rocked the back of nets in England, he scored some absolute screamers as a youth for Atletico de Madrid and became known as Barcelona’s bogeyman. He became a Champion of Europe with Spain in 2008 and then won a World Cup. However, on a cold winter’s day in January of 2011, Liverpool sold him for a fortune for Chelsky.

And he’s never been the same. Continue reading “The Sadness and Darkness of Entropy, or “The Inevitable Decline of Fernando Torres & Falcao”” »

And on the 90th Day God said: “Bale Shall Score”….

Haley’s comet passing. Blood moons. Summer solstice. For some incredibly momentous happenings, the usual currency of days, weeks, and months is an ineffective measure of time. Time is and always has been relative. Our own values and prejudices taint it. For example, the ancient Aztec calendar, known colloquially as the “Eagle Stone”, measured years in 18 months of 20 days. By that measure, Gareth Bale would have gone over four months between goals for Real Madrid, not three.

But I’m not here to mock. I’m here to celebrate. Continue reading “And on the 90th Day God said: “Bale Shall Score”….” »

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 Benitez Bad Aftertaste Clasico Recap

I have no agenda against Rafa Benitez. Yes, I have pointed fun at his website, one dollar eBook, and zonal marking system and he did coach Liverpool, but I also recall his successful years at Valencia and think he’s a decent man. Still, a 0-4 loss at home in El Clasico to Barcelona is a pretty bad start to his tenure: not quite 0-5 at the Camp Nou, but pretty bad.

And more than a few things stand out. Continue reading “The Benitez Bad Aftertaste Clasico Recap” »

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” »