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” »

The Not Surprising Lack of Solidarity in US Soccer

Five percent. Look like a big number? It’s not. When you go out to eat, you probably tip double or even quadruple that figure. However, US Soccer and MLS balk at that number. What is that number? It’s the nominally low part of any transfer fee that should be paid to any of the player’s prior youth clubs (actually a smaller percentage based on years the player was at the club). For example, Bastian Schweinsteiger recently went from Bayern to United for about nine million euros. One of his old clubs is set to get 38,000 euros.

This is not an astronomical figure. Which is why it’s so funny MLS and US Soccer have colluded to never pay it ever. Continue reading “The Not Surprising Lack of Solidarity in US Soccer” »

The USMNT Gold Cup Recap: Red White & Blue’d

The US national team finished 4th place at the Gold Cup, the regional championships for CONCACAF. This is pretty sad. However, what’s more irksome is the prevalence of circular logic and ad hominem attack in the classic debate on the line between the responsibility of a coach as compared to players.

Allow me to elucidate. Continue reading “The USMNT Gold Cup Recap: Red White & Blue’d” »

Hungover Dispatches from Canada: Women’s World Cup Edition

Futfanatico reminds you that Elliott Turner is still on injured reserve, thus we relied on unreliable correspondent GonzoBra to cover the Women’s World Cup in Canada. 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.


“On assignment”, you lovely phrase, we meet again! After what happened last summer at the dude’s World Cup in Brazil, I’m shocked no major media player has contracted my excellent reporting abroad services, but genius is seldom appreciated in its own time. At least I got this gig. And as last you may recall, in January I got stuck covering the MLS draft in January, but really spilled the beans on the soccer reporter circle cliques and also embarassed some dudes who owe me stickers for IndieGogo campaigns. Continue reading “Hungover Dispatches from Canada: Women’s World Cup Edition” »

Absolutely essential Women’s World Cup Op-Ed(s) on Hope Solo and turf and weird scheduling from trusted dude who does not follow soccer or women’s sports

Futfanatico’s editorial board notes that Elliott Turner is on injured reserve, so we got this guest column from an anonymous but totally respected “Sports Dude” who has a nationally syndicated radio show. Thus, you can trust everything written here. 

Hey there, sports fans. I know that I don’t normally speak, write, or care for soccer or Women’s sports. However, I decided to take a break from my morning radio phone-in show and other writing commitments to pen this super op-ed on some topics that have been getting lots of Google clicks recently and thus are important and worthy of my carefully worded and reasoned thoughts.

I speak, of course, of the Women’s World Cup. More specifically, warm up your brains and put on your thinking caps for my super hot takes on the Hope Solo issue, the turf dispute, and the weird scheduling of elimination rounds. Continue reading “Absolutely essential Women’s World Cup Op-Ed(s) on Hope Solo and turf and weird scheduling from trusted dude who does not follow soccer or women’s sports” »

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)” »