And with a key flow chart that makes sense of things? Continue reading “The State of the Union” »
Hello, friends. Earlier today I had some fun on Twitter. Jason Davis aka “The Soccer Eagle” (El Soccer Aguila for our friends who speak Spanish) announced that he was adopting Spurs as his EPL club for the season. I chimed in that Harry Kane scored most of his goals off crosses and was not a particularly amazing dribbler.
And then came the waves of Spurs tweets. Continue reading “Kane and Able?” »
Nothing plagues the sports world like the “next” label. In chess, every talented American player is the next Bobby Fischer. In soccer, Neymar is the “next Pele” and Messi is the “next Maradona.” Fans cling to nationalities as predictors of success and prototypical molds.
Which is why EPL clubs continue to sign Spanish strikers. Continue reading “The Next Nino Torres” »
I wrote about Antonio Conte a few months back. Basically, his courage in benching underperforming players and introducing a new tactical system impressed me. Then, The Guardian ran a profile of him with an interview from an assistant. The details divulged kinda ruined my enchantment, to be honest. And some things made more sense.
First, he seems like a task master. LVG style, he stops training session games to talk with players and tell them where to stand. Secondly, his training sessions go on and on and on. That’s pretty Mou style. While I think Conte should lead Chelsea to a title this year, is he just benefiting from no European soccer (ala Leicester last year) and will he burn out his Starting XI ala Mourinho’s last time at Chelsea? Continue reading “The Necessity of Genius” »
I don’t care to link to any of the folks who are clasping at the Honduras game as proof that Bruce Arena is an elite coach and the USMNT is now back on track. I’m not sure the USMNT was ever that far off track – the opening schedule was brutal and the loss of Clint Dempsey was huge. Still, I’m no Jurgen apologist. I thought he should have been let go immediately after the 2014 World Cup. If anything, Arena’s nice opening step points to Sunil Gulati running off Jurgen at an ideal juncture: he gave Arena months to get to know the player pool and game plan.
Still, there’s one big problem: will Sunil finally grow up and not extend Bruce’s contract after we qualify for Russia 2018?
As an avid fan of soccer who has played and coached at various levels, I am a keen student of what is reported by the always trustworthy British sports dailies. In particular, I read with a discerning eye about managers. I ask myself: how do they manage so well?
And how can I imitate them?
Last Wednesday, FC Barcelona beat PSG in the second leg at home in the Camp Nou to advance in the Champions League. Barca features three of the soccer’s best attacking players – Messi, Neymar, and Suarez – and, before the first game, they were expected to advance past the Parisians. Then, Barca went and lost the first leg by four goals. That was bad. Very bad.
Yet they won the second 6-1 and the Camp Nou erupted. Still, some questions have to be asked.
One of the best parts about sports is that, within a certain frame of assumptions, we can enjoy a heavy dose of unpredictability. Last season, nobody, not even a super computer with all the world’s knowledge and really really nice spreadsheet tech with dope algorithms could have predicted Leicester’s title.
This season, the EPL has returned to the same old contenders, but I’m still blown away by how Chelsea has turned things around. Continue reading “Counting on Conte” »
One of my favorite football pathologies is when a team is losing and fans observe that no player is yelling during games, and complain about a “lack of leadership.” The three assumptions behind this argument: (1) Leadership is atomic and individualized, (2) Leadership is the same as yelling, and (3) Leadership enjoys a causal, not correlative, relationship with results, all make me chuckle.
Yet I don’t want to laugh. I do want to wax, old timer lament style, on a decay in modern sport and the gift of gab. I, refer, to the poetic and oral tradition of “talking shit.” Continue reading “A Decay in the Art of Trash-talking” »
I am Elliott, the father of two young children, and I am very appreciative of the fact that you, as an athlete, realize how important a role model athletes can be. Athletes teach young children – and society – that if you are going to rock a sweet manpurse (I am not being sarcastic), you need to be sure it’s a designer label and not some knockoff. Your Instagram never betrayed me on that issue. Your clutches are the Louis Vitton stuff of legends.
But you’ve also taught my children another important lesson. And I’m very grateful for this second one too. Continue reading “An Open Letter Thanking Tim Howard for His Commitment to the USMNT” »