Hungover Dispatches from America: US Soccer Legal Troubles Edition

Futfanatico asked unreliable correspondent GonzoBra, a former court beat reporter for a small town daily, to cover the legal dispute brewing between US Soccer and the women’s team. As per usual, his reporting was untimely, factually incorrect, and offensive. We have edited out most of the offensive parts, but left the grammatical errors because they enhance the entertainment value of this piece. If any.

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When my editor Elliott cold-pitched me to write about the US Soccer vs. USWNT legal dispute, a lot of thoughts ran through my mind. First, how much cash can I milk from this cheap-ass motherfucker? Second, would I have to fly to some backwaters country like Canada? Third, like seriously how much money can I drab from this commission? Once I got satisfactory answers for the first and third question, I wasn’t really too worried about number two. It dawned on me that the legal dispute was happening here in America, so I could rely on my staple cheap-as-hell and alcoholic-as-water pilsners to keep me loaded and dangerous.

I also had some airline miles on a credit card to use for domestic flights because we all know accounts payable departments reimburse your expenses as quickly as Pirlo sprints. So what could go wrong? Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from America: US Soccer Legal Troubles Edition” »

Maxi and Elliott Proudly Present: The Ben in Lasers Podcast

For too many years, US soccer has been on the tipping point of becoming great. As more and more Americans follow the beautiful game and ponder profound questions like “What EPL team do British Ex-Pats think I should support” or our personal favorite “Why are we firing Jurgen Klinsmann today”, some voices have been left behind. US soccer fandom as a nascent institution has the chance to be a multicultural “tossed salad” of fans, or….white people from Austin who claim to have invented (or laughably “perfected”) the breakfast taco will forever ruin it. There is no middle ground.

Thus, after months of “false dawn” advertising where Maxi and I used Twitter as part of our brilliant PC campaign and to test the waters, we have decided to record a proper podcast. Of course, this presented a myriad of important and salient issues like 1) How the fuck do you record a podcast, 2) How the fuck do you upload a podcast, and, most importantly, 3) How do you get Maxi’s deep husky voice to sound less Barry White sexy so listeners will focus on the actual content? Continue reading “Maxi and Elliott Proudly Present: The Ben in Lasers Podcast” »

A Somewhat Modest Proposal for the USMNT

Let’s not shit ourselves: the US loss to Guatemala was bad both in terms of the result but also how bad the US played. But let’s also not forget that: most US fans have detested Jurgen Klinsmann since 2012. Nothing’s changed, but bad results increase the volume of the echo chamber.

Still, before sharpening your pitchfork and joining the “ax him now” people, a few thoughts. Spoiler: you will be offended and disagree with all of them. Continue reading “A Somewhat Modest Proposal for the USMNT” »

Ask An American Soccer Fan: The AO Rally

In case you missed the joyous news, “Rog” aka Roger Bennett of the Men In Blazers will be at the AO (American Outlaws) rally before the USMNT plays Guatemala on Friday night. He will remind you that soccer is about to get big, give you two-minute summaries of every game in the latest Premier League “fixture”, and you will thank and love him for it. However, not all is well. In case you forgot, Noah Davis penned an investigative feature for Fusion last year on how sexism has started to appear at AO gatherings. Elaine Teng of The New Republic went to BlazerCon last Fall and observed that the MiB podcast enthusiasts are not a particularly diverse group.

Luckily, we were able to track down a few eye witnesses who went to BlazerCon and plan on attending the AO rally featuring Rog. We are incredibly jealous, but maintained our professional composure to ask them point blank: did you see a diversity problem at BlazerCon? Continue reading “Ask An American Soccer Fan: The AO Rally” »

The Juiciest Nuggets from the Brand Spanking New USWNT Lawsuit

It’s sad when people don’t get along. US Soccer preemptively sued the USWNT. Sigh. Why? Because of this question: does a Memorandum of Understanding they’ve been using since 2013 count as a CBA? As background, USWNT changed the lawfirm that represents them, and the new attorney in town would like to tear up the MOU and negotiate more generous bonuses with the Rio Olympics in mind (probably). US soccer is pissed.

I don’t care to cast judgment on either parties. Those who want more greenbacks to stack shall seek them. Those already in possession of a stack shall fight to keep them. I do, though, realize you don’t have time (or the patience) to read a 200 plus page complaint. Thus, I present the highlights. Continue reading “The Juiciest Nuggets from the Brand Spanking New USWNT Lawsuit” »

Jurgen, Interrupted

Back in October 2012, I noted a pretty common observation for the Guardian: US fans largely disliked Jurgen Klinsmann. In a sense, his early public statements about playing proactive soccer set unrealistic expectations given both the playing pool and his own tactical abilities. However, you never get a coaching job by saying “I will play drab, counterattacking football with no striker” unless you are Jose Mourinho. What’s so funny is that in every other country, a large segment of fans always actively dislike their coach. The US has been an exception the past several years because up until now most US fans were also fans of MLS and the USMNT coaches came from MLS. They were “our guys” so we knew their limits, but also their positives.

This post is not a subtle “save Jurgen” or “fire Jurgen” post, but rather another look at big picture issues. And there are plenty. Continue reading “Jurgen, Interrupted” »

Junito: Heading for Greatness

So, in case you missed it, US Soccer recently settled a lawsuit by banning the heading of the ball by U10 clubs and restricting headers to “in practice only” for U12 youth teams. Lots of folks have chimed in on this. Not surprisingly, well-paid current and former pro soccer players who have not had their lives or careers derailed by concussions are against the ban. Some even claim the solution is to teach proper technique on headers, not ban the practice.

On the other hand, lots of scientific evidence seems to indicate that the brain is very much still forming at that age and repetitive heading of the ball can have deleterious health consequences. While former soccer players normally don’t suffer from the same scary issues as, say, former NFLers, this could possibly explain why Pele has predicted every single country will win the World Cup and, say, about two really rough decades of Diego Maradona’s life. Most importantly, the lawsuit compared soccer not to concussion-city American football, but other sports like softball, tennis, and basketball.

My take on this issue may surprise you. And, of course, it involves Junito. Continue reading “Junito: Heading for Greatness” »

Your Totally Not Sponsored Daily Fantasy Futbol Tips!

Remember a few years ago when I wrote that long diatribe about why I hate fantasy sports? Well, to be honest, I lied. I was riding high on a counterculture trip; I was in a standoffish mood. I knew that you liked fantasy sports before me, so I played down my own interest. That way instead of getting “early adapter” street cred, I could salvage my ego with some contrarianism. I am sorry. In all truth, I love daily fantasy sports.

And who doesn’t need more fantasy in their daily life? Continue reading “Your Totally Not Sponsored Daily Fantasy Futbol Tips!” »

The True Conundrum of US Soccer

The US lost to Mexico, and to many American fans it hurts. I get this. After we under-performed at the recent Gold Cup, fans see a string of bad results. They want to hold either the coach or the coach’s boss accountable. I also get that.  Right now, the debate has nicely diverged into two camps: those who blame the Coach, and those who blame the players. For the second group, they claim the US lacks elite players who are in-form and simply couldn’t stack up with Mexico’s players. On the US team, a single player, Fabian Johnson, plays on a Champions League team. Conversely, Mexico’s roster was stacked with players on teams that regularly qualify for Europe’s top competition.

I don’t want to regress into this debate, though. I also don’t care for the “compared to Bradley” line of historical revisionism that also includes a nice bit of cherry-picking. Let’s all take a breath at look at the big picture. Continue reading “The True Conundrum of US Soccer” »

Ask An American Soccer Fan: CONCACAF Cup

October 10 at the Rose Bowl in California, the US and Mexico will square off as recent Gold Cup champions in a single playoff game. At stake is a berth in the Confederations Cup, the “prep” summer tournament held a year before the World Cup. That means both North American teams will be fighting for a summer trip to Russia in 2017.

We asked US fans to break down just how excited they are at this monumental opportunity. Continue reading “Ask An American Soccer Fan: CONCACAF Cup” »