If you are here, it is because of a mis-indexed search engine keyword or you like reading about soccer. If you like reading about soccer, then you should subscribe to XI Quarterly, a fine North American publication. For under $50, you get four glorious issues in print and in digital format (via Zinio). I am a subscriber and the ‘zine jumps off my iPad’s screen. It is a pleasure to read and gorgeously designed.
The USMNT announced the home stadium locations for the remaining World Cup qualifiers. The selected locations are Seattle, Salt Lake, Kansas City, and Columbus. I’m not going to name names, but lots of folks were happy with the selection for a simple reason: these cities don’t have as sizable a Latino population as other places, and thus the US could “enjoy a true home field advantage.” The insinuation, based on past games, is that a game in Florida or California would sell out a larger venue, but attract first or second-generation Latinos with split loyalties who don’t support the Red, White, & Blue. I ask – is that true? And, even if so, is that a good idea in the big picture of things?
In the book “Is There No Place on Earth For Me,” author Susan Sheehan narrates a year in the life of Sylvia Frumkin, a brilliant young woman diagnosed with schizophrenia. Frumkin’s intelligence butts heads both with her own limitations, but also society’s. No single mental institution can address all her symptoms at once, so she floats from place to place. Sheehan’s story underlies an important point: why does our society waste the life of a talented young woman like Frumkin? Why can’t we recast at least one corner of the Earth to fit her needs?
Despite the USMNT surviving a PR black eye, a blizzard, and Costa Rica, larger problems remain. Technical two-footed and ball-playing midfielders ask the same question of United States soccer as Frumkin of the world: is there no place for me?
As an American, I am proud of many aspects of my country. Freedom. Liberty. These are the overused and hollow terms used by others to explain why we swell with pride at the sound of the Star Spangled Banner. However, I have a much clearer view. I know exactly why I love my country. Unpaid labor. Inefficient management. Arcane rules.
Yes, I am proud of my country because of the NCAA. Nothing makes more sense than forcing talented 18 year old men and women to perform labor for free, as opposed to wages. The best part of this situation is that you then can selectively enforce the ban on under-the-table payments, and a bureaucracy is born!
Tactics. Injuries. Luck. I tried to make sense of the US loss to Jamaica in Kingston, but this was the best I could come up with. I promise no Beach Boys if the US advances on the last game away to Antigua.
I know that I’ve made one too many ‘Merica jokes on twitter and alienated many of you with my “splitallegiances” posts at Fox Soccer. However, I assure that I have white skin, blue blood courses my veins, and that blood when exposed to air turns red. Thus, I am American. Emphasis on the last three syllables. Thus, I frequently turn my gaze to our plucky national team.
The universe is a cruel and unpredictable place. Do you know who David Wangerin was? You should. He wrote the Bible on the history of American soccer that nobody at MLS wants you to know about. Yes, soccer predates MLS. It even predates the allegedly “doomed to fail” NASL. He inspired me to write about soccer. He even inspired a particular post on the KC Spurs. David passed away a few weeks ago after battling an illness. The world is a web of interconnecting threads. A cold chill blows through the hole where his line used to tie us together. Rest In Peace.