Amazing Yanks Abroad Post Unlike Any Other

I am nothing, if not a skank of the clickbait variety. The other day while reviewing soccer “key words” that are popular on the Google, I noticed that Monday mornings quite a few Americans look for “yanks abroad.” At first, I failed to see the soccer connection. I figured some warm-blooded bros were looking for, ahem, some “poorly acted independent films of the ten-minute variety.”

But when I Googled “Yanks abroad”, I found something else: Americans care about how American soccer players play when not in the US. Except, of course, for one major gap. Continue reading “Amazing Yanks Abroad Post Unlike Any Other” »

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” »

The Flaws of a Fallen Angel Narrative

Sporps writing today. Bloody hell. In February, SB Nation published and then deleted a detailed feature on Brian Holtzclaw, the cop convicted of several counts of rape. The story suffered from a fatal flaw: the desire to humanize a serial rapist and abuser of public trust by detailing the convicted rapist’s past sporting accomplishments. The attempts to a) possibly explain his atrocious actions and/or b) cast doubt on his guilty were less than half-hearted – they were insulting to anyone with a brain. Of course his family doesn’t think he’s guilty. Lots of athletes suffer injuries, and concussions, and don’t get drafted by the NFL, and don’t prey sexually on the weak under the color of law.

Yet this got me thinking more generally about sports writing, reporting, and a recent feature on Adam Johnson. Continue reading “The Flaws of a Fallen Angel Narrative” »

The Fine Art of Failure

A few months ago, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek guide to freelancing for the online world. Jokes and utter lies aside, I offered tips on how to identify and win over the gatekeepers for most sites, the folks known as editors. Executive summary: use Twitter and email *tactfully. Since then, lots of other folks have chimed in on the conversation. Most of these people are/have been/will be much more successful than me.

For the record, I freelance part-time and enjoy a day job serving impoverished, at risk communities in Houston. My income from freelancery is not insignificant, and I’m writing here about why things you have read elsewhere about the game of writing for cold hard cash just may be lies. Filthy, dirty lies. Continue reading “The Fine Art of Failure” »

Rubber Stamped?

In case you missed it, the State of California and the feds are investigating whether artificial turf is safe. For those not in the know, many versions of turf use thousands if not millions of tiny little rubber balls (from recycled tires) to create a grass-like bounce and cushion. Arguably, these little pellets are carcinogens that may be dangerous both to skin-contact and if inhaled.

They are also a pain when they get in your cleats and you track them into the house. However, the State of California has already investigated rubber ball turf (my fav moniker) twice. Here are the results. Continue reading “Rubber Stamped?” »

Ball and Foot: My Own Nicaraguan Tale

In case you missed it, Remezcla had a pretty dope story about a young American heading to Nicaragua and helping out with a nonprofit in Granada that uses soccer as tool for social change. The story reminded me about my own tale and the joys of living in Nicaragua, raising my two young kids in Managua, and working for Casa Alianza Nicaragua.

More importantly, I recalled that about three years ago I filed a short story on said life experiences for XI Quarterly, the seriously dope soccer quarterly founded by Tom Dunmore that due to a major printing error and contract dispute went belly up after only two issues. I have the utmost respect for Tom (and David) and harbor no bad feelings towards either, but I am publishing the story here so it sees the light of day. Enjoy! Continue reading “Ball and Foot: My Own Nicaraguan Tale” »

MLS and the Final Frontier: Eyeballs From Afar

The 2015 MLS Cup featured two well coached and pretty well constructed teams that played attacking soccer. The game was decided in part by a goalkeeper blunder and a ref mistake, but, news flash, this crap happens in Europe and during World Cups. Just ask any England fan about Clint Dempsey’s goal in 2010. Or Frank Lampard’s non-goal vs. Germany that same tournament.

Still, though, one thing about the recent MLS Cup cannot be debated: TV ratings stunk. I won’t dissect the numbers, but will look at the big picture issues. They are both scary and heartening. Continue reading “MLS and the Final Frontier: Eyeballs From Afar” »

Properly Classifying Liga MX Club Owners

The Guardian recently ran a neat article on investors flocking to European soccer clubs. Basically, Sean Ingle noted that foreign investors (often Americans) are taking a hard look at English clubs. Are the clubs overvalued? Undervalued? Should the investors go for an active approach aka own-and-control, or a passive aka minority stake? Is this a long-term or short-term strategy?

I wish things were like this in Liga MX. Instead, Brian Phillips’ “Billionaire test” article from several years ago more accurately describes club owners South of the border. Mexican clubs are bought by super rich Mexicans for two reasons: advertisement or vanity. However, I’ve decided to further subcategorize. Continue reading “Properly Classifying Liga MX Club Owners” »

A Prayer for the Stool of Luke Shaw

Privilege envelopes us all. Take you, for example. The other day you sat down, pulled out your smartphone, and began to nonchalantly peruse both Youtube videos and Facebook posts. About five minutes later, you stood up, pulled up your pants, put your phone in your pocket, and washed your hands. Soft as a mother’s hug, warm as freshly baked biscuits, malleable as play doh, your stool had just oozed out of your anus with the subtly of a secondary character in a Franzen novel. And you barely noticed.

Awash in pictures of friend’s new babies and adorable animal videos, you remained impervious to the privilege of having soft stool and the ease with which said soft stool exits the orifice between your legs. Not everybody is so lucky. In fact, I bet Manchester United young starlet Luke Shaw would kill to swap places with you. But you can help. Continue reading “A Prayer for the Stool of Luke Shaw” »

MLS Stadia Updatery

As you know, I am your favorite contributor to VICE Sports. Please note that I can no longer refer to it as “VICE Deportes” anymore because that site actually exists and, no, my soccer stadium writing is too boring for those hip folks from Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula who speak-a-the-Spanish. But not for you. In addition to being handsome, rugged, ruggedly handsome, and handsomely rugged, you loved my contributions because I did quite a bit of research in those MLS stadium posts for VICE. Since their publication, though, major developments have happened. At least in Minnesota and Miami.

Here’s the big story(ies). Continue reading “MLS Stadia Updatery” »