Slightly Outdated and Esoteric South American Soccer FactCheck

Being a fan of soccer requires a healthy knowledge of geography. Unless you are Fox Soccer Argentina. In March, the Copa Libertadores, the South American equivalent of the Champions League, was in full swing. San Lorenzo of Argentina traveled to Ecuador to play Independiente del Valle. Afterwards, some San Lorenzo players got angry and trashed the dressing room. I know, a total shocker – violence in South American soccer.  Jamas!

Things, though, were much more interesting online, where Fox Soccer had seriously trouble locating the Estadio Atahualpa. Continue reading “Slightly Outdated and Esoteric South American Soccer FactCheck” »

An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships

It’s this weird thing about writing regularly about soccer and/or operating a website: every four years, my email inbox gets flooded with countless offers to synergize brands by mutually adding value and enhancing identity. Did you just understand the second half of that sentence?

I didn’t. But, I’m happy to say, I am totally 100% game to do whatever this summer. Continue reading “An Open Letter to Potential World Cup Brand Partnerships” »

A Linguistic Guide to the World Cup

Speaking English and Spanish, I’m a bit spoiled. At least in terms of international travel. English is basically the “Lingua Franca” of our era, so almost every country has people that speak it. Also, Spanish can help you navigate two continents plus the Iberian peninsula. Still, not all are so fortunate. Thus, I compiled this easy reference foreign language guide for the World Cup.

In sum, I looked at the languages spoken by each team that qualified. I then broke down those languages and what you need to know about them. My goal was to create something useful to fans traveling to the tournament and hoping to mingle. I failed, but had fun doing it. Enjoy. Continue reading “A Linguistic Guide to the World Cup” »

The True Importance of Winning?

In the latest issue of The Classical, there’s some pretty words written about losing. In particular, the NBA has stories from the 2000′s about teams that couldn’t win a ring but earned critical acclaim. I speak, of course, of the Chris Webber Sacramento Kings and the Steve Nash Phoenix Suns. These teams both were fun to watch – the Suns tried to score in six seconds each possession, and relied on the delicious pick-and-rolls of Nash and Amare Stoudemire. The Kings, meanwhile, enjoyed solid guard play from first Jason Williams and then Mike Bibby, while Chris Webber’s soft hands freely spread the ball around.

Neither team won a title, but both won fans hearts. Are there any soccer teams in the same vein? Yes. Here they are: Continue reading “The True Importance of Winning?” »

Landon Donovan’s Omission & a Series of Increasingly Bizarre Analogies

Landon Donovan is not going to the World Cup. As taking a sabbatical and playing a bit role in qualifying, the US coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, has decided the all-time leading goalscorer is past it. Rather, to use Klinsmann’s own terms, there are players who are a little bit ahead of him at the moment.

That’s fine. Players age. Players get replaced by younger players. However, nobody has privy, insider information to Jurgen’s thought process. Instead, the soccerverse is polluted by analogies to past player omissions. Some say that the call is like when Jurgen left a certain Kuranyi striker off the German squad in 2006. Others recall when Pep Guardiola shipped off an aging and uninspired Ronaldinho upon arriving at FC Barcelona.

These analogies and comparisons are fine – they are the bread and butter of soccer writing. But they also have a clearly defined limit. They are a bit, shall we say, yawnable. Thus, here are some analogies to break the bubble, to help you cope with Landon playing in MLS, not Brazil.
Continue reading “Landon Donovan’s Omission & a Series of Increasingly Bizarre Analogies” »

Real Madrid v. Atletico Recap: Tactical Indeterminacy Revisited

The game is over. Real Madrid has won La Decima. Allegedly, Sergio Ramos has not dropped the trophy. Thus, as per the actual game, there’s not a lot to write home about. Atletico defended with numbers and score off a setpiece/goalie error. Madrid switched formations (pushing Ronaldo up as a striker and Di Maria wide as a winger) and then made some key positive subs (Isco for Khedira, Marcelo for Coentrao) to turn the momentum, tie the game, and dominate in extra time.

But still, Atletico had a wonderful season. They won La Liga. They reached the Champions League final. They sold Falcao last summer, yet only improved. If they sell Diego Costa this summer and improve by the same increment, they will win every trophy imaginable (and probably some made up ones). Yet just how has Atletico done it?

Many have ideas. They are almost all at odds. Continue reading “Real Madrid v. Atletico Recap: Tactical Indeterminacy Revisited” »

Every World Cup Article Ever: Third World Country Scams Tourists

Did you read the latest fuss about the World Cup in Brazil? Well, apparently the City of Rio is having problems with an aging taxi fleet operated by private businessman. Basically, many fear that the meters on many taxis are out of date and can be easily manipulated, thus gauging tourists. Thus, many taxis will be using maps of zones that, in theory, should help tourists by setting prices.

Aside from the philosophical objection to a government “fixing prices”, there’s a practical problem: the maps are confusing, especially if one considers that many tourists won’t speak Portuguese. However, there’s an even bigger problem, and that’s the media coverage.

Here’s why. Continue reading “Every World Cup Article Ever: Third World Country Scams Tourists” »

Compromising Pictures of Billy Haisley Explain his Distaste for MLS

Our award-wanking coverage of Deadspin’s MLS coverage has reached a new low. For those with memory problems, MLS season was about to kick off when, boom, Deadspin dropped a kinda long-ish article about why fans should not bother caring. I wrote a point-by-point response and, of course, the soft-skinned, over-internetted MLS clique responded with rage. What hurt most was not the core thesis of Billy’s argument, that MLS is a clear notch below La Liga, but the conclusion that it was therefore unwatchtable.

Still, Billy kept hammering away. MLS got all excited and announced another Southeast expansion team without a soccer-specific stadium (read: Atlanta). Bam, Billy hit the keyboards to churn out an ATL franchise take down. Again, the arguments had solid bases, but the tone…well, the tone was a bit over the top. Folks wondered – why does somebody have an axe to grind with little old MLS? What’s Billy’s deal? Did his mother attend Miami Fusion matches instead of holding him as a baby?

Then, some pictures surfaced. And now everything makes sense. Continue reading “Compromising Pictures of Billy Haisley Explain his Distaste for MLS” »

Real Madrid’s History Revisited

Atletico is campeon. Long live Atletico. If you’re a Real Madrid fan, you’re used to losing La Liga by now. FC Barcelona has been off the charts the last decade, so we’ve been happy with Copitas del Rey and good Champions League showings (and the occasional SuperCup). This year, we all know that the big game still looms: this Saturday, the chance at La Decima. For non-Spanish speakers, “La Decima” means “The Decima.”

I’ve had the pleasure of writing some historical summaries/snippets for SoccerPro this past week and the series will run until Friday. It deals with Real Madrid’s past and present. Here’s Part I and Part II. Enjoy.

Some Real Sober Reflections

The Carlo era is a success. By that, I mean he has equaled Jose Mourinho’s trophy haul in his first and third seasons at Madrid (He won the King’s Cup the first year and SuperCup the third). At first glance, Carlo has Madrid playing slightly more attacking, offensive soccer. The team has reached the Champions League final and made the race for La Liga interesting until the last month.

However, a close look that some other things have stayed the same. Continue reading “Some Real Sober Reflections” »