MLS, Liga MX, and Theory vs. Practice

Everybody wants to talk about TV viewership and make unflattering comparisons between MLS and any other league. As a fan of MLS, I know intimately well both the current challenges, the flaws of the league, and just how far the league has come in the last decade and how much more work is left to do. However, the people who paint Liga MX as some paradise and paradigm to follow are perhaps misguided.

Yes, a bit more flair and technical play in MLS would be fun. However, I honestly dislike split seasons and, in many ways, lots of general public interest and money prop up and gloss over the problems in Liga MX. And these are problems MLS should not ignore or try to replicate. Continue reading “MLS, Liga MX, and Theory vs. Practice” »

A Room of One’s Own…All Expenses Paid

About a month ago, I published a reported feature at The Guardian about youth development in the US. A few weeks later, “Billy” Parchman published another excellent article on the topic for Howler Magazine. Basically, big picture, there are major issues with 1) Focus – technical development, and 2) Access – pay to play kinda shuts the door for many people.

In the US, parents want their kids to compete but also to win. This means that young kids start to learn tactics and play six-a-side much much too young. In the long-term, nobody but coaches (and parents!) with a hard-on gives a flying fuck about your U10 youth tournament in Beaumont. It’s nice and fun to win, but, if your goal is to produce a high caliber player, you need to first work on technical ability, technical ability, and technical ability.

The first-touch is the first step to success at a higher level. Continue reading “A Room of One’s Own…All Expenses Paid” »

Proposed New Salary Cap Exception Rules & Acronyms MLS Should Adopt

TAM. DP. MLS has some pretty good acronyms when it comes to toying around with that pillow-soft salary cap. Just over a week ago, NYCFC traded Andrew Jacobson for TAM. In a sense, the trades for TAM are the single entity equivalent of a European transfer fee – one team “trades” a player and gets cash to burn, in this case space outside of that pesky salary cap. Twitter alit with fans pretending that “TAM” was an actual last name, and it took all the restraint of an Odysseus-tied-to-the-mast for me to not order a NYCFC jersey with “TAM” on the back.

Still, I think MLS could raise its acronym game. Here’s how. Continue reading “Proposed New Salary Cap Exception Rules & Acronyms MLS Should Adopt” »

MLS Stadia Update: Compromise and Progress?

As you may recall, I’ve written for VICE Sports about that tangled world of sports and politics. Namely, I’ve looked at the efforts of new MLS franchises to get stadiums built and stick a hand in the taxpayer’s pot of cash. As you’d expect, I didn’t pull punches when looking at both MLS franchisees and local politicians. Using open record requests, I was able to shed some light on how and why the situations had seemingly stalled.

Now, I’m happy to report, things have changed. Here’s where and how. Continue reading “MLS Stadia Update: Compromise and Progress?” »

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” »

Barack Obama Destroys Hope of US Soccer World Cup Win (Singlehandedly)

I am such a bleeding heart liberal that I need regular blood transfusions to prevent cardiac arrest. I will defend LBJ’s “Model Cities” initiative to the end, and not so secretly took some delight upon hearing of the passing of Ronald Reagan. During the two terms of George W. Bush, I lived in Spain, Portugal, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua. If I spoke a third language other than Spanish and English, I probably would have moved to an even farther away country. Sadly, though, my Arabic and Mandarin Chinese are not so polished.

Thus, of course, I voted for Barack Obama and waited for him and government to immediately solve all of my life’s problems. And then he stabbed me in the back. Continue reading “Barack Obama Destroys Hope of US Soccer World Cup Win (Singlehandedly)” »

Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0

It’s only human for a human to get attached to a human. Or, rather, a group of humans. After several years of so-so futbol, Florentino Perez returned as President with grandiose promises. We knew he would splash the cash, but his signing of Jose Mourinho as coach was a masterstroke: new signings and tactics led to three consecutive semi-finals in the Champions League, each time the merengues knocking at the door of greatness. Yes, the Madrid media made Mou go crazy, but what was not to love about Di Maria, Alonso, Diego Lopez, Ozil, and others?

Then we entered the Carlo era. Of course, he had followed in Mou’s footsteps before, notably at Chelsea. He instituted a more offensive approach, the team won the Champions League, and, this summer, the last remains of the Mou era are being discarded. But why? Continue reading “Reflections on the Galacticos 3.0” »

Soccer Lynx: Open the Soccer Pod(Cast) Doors, Hal

Ahh, nothing is more relaxing than aural pleasure, no? Now that I have relocated to a major metropolitan area, each morning and evening I look forward to gridlock, accidents, folks changing lanes without turning on their signals, overturned cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and folks turning on signals and not changing lanes. What could be more blissful?

Luckily, my iPhone is regularly loaded with some lovely podcasts.Here they are: Continue reading “Soccer Lynx: Open the Soccer Pod(Cast) Doors, Hal” »

INITUM CALCITRO – the New eBook & How You Can Help

Time to let the cat out of the bag: a second eBook may soon be on the way. After the modest success of “An Illustrated Guide” and extensive talks with Erik Ebeling, the artist from said guide, I have decided to try and tackle a much more daunting topic: the first 100 years of history of Real Madrid & Barcelona. I’ve sketched the concept, done some research, and even put finger to keyboard on a few sections. However, there’s one tiny problem. Luckily, though, you can help.

Continue reading “INITUM CALCITRO – the New eBook & How You Can Help” »

Roja Directa – a Coming Post-Copyright Era of Game Streams & Clips?

The tides continue to turn against the copyright control freaks. At least in Europe. A brief recap of the RojaDirecta battle: First, RojaDirecta wins a Spanish legal court case. Second, the US government seizes the US domain of RojaDirecta. Third, RojaDirecta files a lawsuit to compel the US to return their domain.

Fourth, and hopefully lastly, the highest EU court issues a decision that undercuts the copyright holders. In a landmark decision, the Court upheld the right of a UK pub owner to broadcast a game from a cheaper foreign telecast. Basically, folks in the UK now unquestionably enjoy the legal right to watch free Digisport Romanian broadcasts of games on their Sopcast Player. Cool. Granted, some fear this will eventually lead to expensive pan-European rights. However, these critics overlook key arguments in the decision that may usher in a new era of “public rights.” Continue reading “Roja Directa – a Coming Post-Copyright Era of Game Streams & Clips?” »