Every World Cup Article Ever: Stupid Animal Predicts Result

No, there will be no Piers Morgan joke. Too easy. But I will write about similar slimy entity: the amoeba. A amoeba, of course, is a protozoa that lacks a definite shape and also no brain, just a nucleus. Amoebas aren’t cute. They aren’t cuddly. They just float around, digest, and reproduce asexually (booooring).

And that’s why they’re the perfect entity to make World Cup predictions. Continue reading “Every World Cup Article Ever: Stupid Animal Predicts Result” »

Some Hot & Spicy Mexican Content

Don’t you just love stereotypes? I’m half-Mexican and fair-skinned, which has given me a unique window to know what white folks think of Mexicans and vice-versa. The general consensus is that Mexican Coke is better than American Coke, and that people can’t even agree to disagree about the rest but I can dance salsa quite well as long as it’s not with your daughter.

Luckily, I’ve gotten in touch with both my “roots” quite recently. Continue reading “Some Hot & Spicy Mexican Content” »

Friendly Ire: Past USMNT Near Misses

Life isn’t all sunny days and lollipops. Sometimes, it rains on our parade. Sometimes, a player for the US national team doesn’t get that ticket to the World Cup. Here are a few stunning displays in either friendlies or World Cup qualifying by US players that didn’t add up to a tournament invitation.

Shed a tear for these poor guys. So close, yet so far. Continue reading “Friendly Ire: Past USMNT Near Misses” »

Qatar 2022: Will FIFA Learn Anything from the Australian Open Debacle?

FIFA has awarded the World Cup to Qatar in 2022. Newsflash: Qatar is a pretty hot country. This past summer, Ecuadorian striker Chucho Benitez died from heart failure shortly after signing and playing for a Qatari club. Many construction workers have died toiling away in the heat. Qatar is a “subtropical dry, hot desert climate.” Summer temperatures can reach up to and over 40 degrees Celsius, which translates to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, during June, the average temperature is 105 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s little rain and little cloud-cover.

As part of its bid, Qatar included some stadiums with magical floating roofs (ahem, “solar clouds”) that looked like spaceships and, surprise surprise, are impossible to actually build. FIFA has promised that the Qatar World Cup will be during the winter. But, then again, FIFA has promised to combat corruption and Sepp Blatter is perpetually running for office “one last time.” For this post, I operated on the assumption that the tournament will happen in the summer and scoured FIFA’s website for an extreme weather policy.

The results were not pleasant. Continue reading “Qatar 2022: Will FIFA Learn Anything from the Australian Open Debacle?” »

Totally Random List of Former Sporting KC/KC Wizards/KC Wiz Strikers

At long last, Sporting KC has reached the MLS Cup final. They’ve been a regular contender these past few years but pretty much always fell to the Houston Dynamo. During the past three years, though, the team has experienced a pretty constant shift in personnel. In part, that’s the reality of pro sports, especially in MLS with a pretty rigid salary cap. In part, they’ve also done good business: fans will miss Roger Espinoza and Kei Kamara, but Sporting KC at least sold them while their value was high.

The two key goals thus far for Sporting KC, defeating New England and Houston, have come from guys not even on the roster two years ago: Argentine Claudio Bieler and Englishman Dom Dwyer. Can you say turnover? Yessir. It seems like Peter Vermes relishes blowing up his team each summer, turning budding prospects into benchwarmers (albeit sometimes injuries play a role). Still, Sporting KC has not always bought well, and certainly not always sold high.

Here’s a list of past strikers to have donned the blue of Kansas City. Continue reading “Totally Random List of Former Sporting KC/KC Wizards/KC Wiz Strikers” »

An Apology to Mainstream Media on Behalf of Richard Whittall (And Me)

Sometimes, the mainstream media is wrong. For example, a columnist at ESPN recently went on a posh vacation to Qatar. Surprise surprise, upon his return, he wrote a pretty bland, half-assed defense of Qatar. He had written quite movingly about the death of an Espanyol player years ago, but, like, the death of dozens of immigrant workers was brushed off as blogger chatter.

I actually wouldn’t mind to see a defense of Qatar. However, you need some stats. For example, the remittances from Qatar to Nepal (from migrant laborers) probably help out quite a bit. Also, there are probably some respectable employers in Qatar who don’t abuse the visa system. The problem is not defending Qatar. The problem is pretty shoddy journalism with vague assertions. Kudos to ESPN for taking it down.

A brownie point for a retraction. A hollow victory, no? However, sometimes, to a blogger’s chagrin, mainstream media is right. Continue reading “An Apology to Mainstream Media on Behalf of Richard Whittall (And Me)” »

North American Soccer Narratives: Mexico and the US

For the last fifty years, Mexicans and Americans have lied to ourselves. At least about soccer. That is to say, we’ve constructed elaborate narratives to explain, gloss over, and/or glorify the sport at home. In the US, the story is simple: between the fall of the NASL and the rise of MLS, soccer ceased to exist. Many MLS teams are even loath to acknowledge any traces of the NASL. For every Seattle Sounders, a team like KC rebrands and forgets about, say, their title win as the Spurs. The NASL was popular and attracted top talent, but fell by its own weight. Thus, America “was not a soccer country.” That is the current self-serving narrative.

In Mexico, the story is the opposite. Many fans of the Mexican League point to the 70′s, 80′s, and even early 90′s as a Golden Era for the game. The story goes like this: Mexico was a single sport nation with rising income, and thus could afford to pay star players to stay at home. Mexico could even afford expensive imports from South America. Club America’s golden era was the 1980′s, when they won five league titles including three-in-a-row from 1983-85. For Cruz Azul, their peak was the 1970′s, when they won six championships in a single decade. Chivas’ top era was even earlier, with their only sustained run of titles coming near the end of the 1950′s and the early 1960′s. Thus, Mexican soccer had great teams that went on fantastic runs in decades past. Or so the narrative goes.

But both these narratives fall to pieces when faced with reality. Continue reading “North American Soccer Narratives: Mexico and the US” »

eBook Preview #8 – The Beginning

Real Madrid fell a single goal short in their comeback attempt vs. Dortmund. Barcelona got smoked at home by Munich. All glory is fleeting. But fans of both clubs can glance back at 100 years of history to conjure up fond memories and look forwards to a future of trophies. Thanks to my Kickstarter backers, I had the pleasure of researching, writing, and now publishing a book on the first hundred years of this rivalry. The eBook, Real Madrid and Barcleona: the Making of a Rivalry, officially goes on sale May 6, 2013.

In the meantime, enjoy the book’s introduction (also in PDF at the end). Continue reading “eBook Preview #8 – The Beginning” »

eBook Preview #7 – Regime Team Who?

Want to bring up a bad taste in the mouth of a Real Madrid fan? All you need to know is a term and a song. The word is “regime team.” The song is “Asi….asi….asi gana el Madrid.” [That's....that's....that's how Madrid wins]. Both bring to mind a very dark chapter in Real Madrid’s history: the rule of General Francisco Franco over Spain. Many have painted the club and the dictator as tied at the hip during the 1950′s and 1960′s.

However, a closer look reveals a much more complex tale. Continue reading “eBook Preview #7 – Regime Team Who?” »

eBook Preview #6: Which is Mightier – the Mind or the Foot?

In the 1970′s, Spain amended its oriundo law to allow clubs to field two foreign born players-a-piece. FC Barcelona immediately benefited by signing Dutch all-star Johan Cruyff. In his first season, they beat rivals Real Madrid 5-0 and won La Liga. More importantly, he embraced left-leaning Catalan politics and even bestowed a Catalan name upon his son. He was the perfect mix of athletic prowess and political consciousness.

However, his tenure as coach decades later just may have been even more impressive. Continue reading “eBook Preview #6: Which is Mightier – the Mind or the Foot?” »