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.¬†

Admittedly Belated Soccer Blog Summer Update #7443

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” »

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” »

Junito: Navigating Chutes & Ladders

My writing on Junito has grown intermittent the last few years, but rest assured, he continues to play footy at a high level on a regular basis. It has not been all smooth sailing. Yes, for the first few years after joining a soccer club, Junito loved to go to practice on weekdays. His energy reaffirmed our belief that he really likes soccer. However, another explanation lurked beneath the surface. At our last residence, we lived in a rougher part of town where he had few friends his own age, he could not run around outside unsupervised, and we had no game console. Thus, he was cooped up inside with no video game relief. Practice was an escape.

Flash forward two years. We live in a nicer neighborhood. Kids the same age as Junito flock around and form friendships. We even got a Wii, if only to allow his dad to assert MarioKart dominance on the SNES and N64 throwback levels. Junito continues to thrive at soccer and this year has started every single game for his club team. There’s just one problem: is his heart really in it? Continue reading “Junito: Navigating Chutes & Ladders” »

Clasico Recap: A Tale of Two Halves Edition

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” »

Junito: the Other Side of the Story

Every three to four months, the online media/writing world will produce a personal story about one of its own: a writer. The story will have one of two angles: either the writer admits that he or she can only afford writing because they come from a wealthy, privileged background, or he or she will talk about stepping away from a stressful but lucrative professional career to focus on family and becoming a writer for the job’s flexibility.

I have no beef with either of these stories: they are first-person narratives about personal growth. When done well, they’re like a 21st century It’s a Wonderful Life. Folks realize that family is important, especially when compared to the diminishing returns of wealth maximization via hours at the office. Still, they’re a bit solipsistic, a bit self-centered. Nobody dares to ask: what about other members of the family? How do they feel? Luckily, Real Madrid’s future greatest player ever Junito, an 8 year old whose dad recently changed jobs, has penned these slightly edited thoughts: Continue reading “Junito: the Other Side of the Story” »

The Crumbling, Decling Empire Clasico Recap Edition

During last Saturday’s clasico, my twitter feed was curiously silent. Was I in shock after the first half? Was I silently exuberant during the second? No and no. I was driving across Houston to my son’s game and then at a Halloween gathering. Thanks to Dishworld and BeIN Sports, I could watch the game later. Thus, I carefully avoided the excellent Guardian cellphone app, Facebook, Twitter, and incoming text messages and WhatsApp messages from the known entities.

Miraculously, I watched the game at midnight Saturday night and still didn’t know the score. However, the storyline and start were predictable. Continue reading “The Crumbling, Decling Empire Clasico Recap Edition” »

Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico

The furling eyebrow. The non-abrasive press conferences. The jovial laugh. Carlo Ancelotti is definitively not Jose Mourinho. Thanks in large part to signings, he’s re-made the Real Madrid roster into an attacking 4-3-3 with little regard for, say, defending. Gone is the counter-attacking 4-2-3-1, the crossfield switches of Xabi Alonso, the darting runs of Di Maria, the lackadaisical drifting of Ozil.

Also gone, perhaps for the better, is the animosity for FC Barcelona. Continue reading “Cool Carlo and the Non-Clasico Clasico” »