The Really Not So Super League

Everybody has a million-and-one-ways to improve MLS. Many of these proposals can be reduced to the film Field of Dreams as envisioned by Scrooge McDuck: if you spend money on wages and transfers, more and better players will come. Well no shit. This past winter, MLS’ financial reticence was magnified by the number of deals done between European clubs and the Chinese Super League.

Allegedly thanks to state support via a new and overly generous TV deal, the CSL is awash in cash and clubs spent tens of millions to sign kinda-sorta-decent players like Ramires and Jackson Martinez and even Alex Teixeira. But is everything as it seems? Continue reading “The Really Not So Super League” »

Manchester United Comfortably Beats a Decent Team

No, your eyes do not deceive you. Yesterday, Manchester United played at Old Trafford and went head-to-head with the Pep Guardiola castaway player reclamation project aka Barney Ronay’s beautiful dark twisted fantasy aka Stoke City. Manchester United score goals and won.

This surprised many. Continue reading “Manchester United Comfortably Beats a Decent Team” »

The Midseason Manager Replacement

We all saw the end for Jose Mourinho at Chelsea and even suspected Rafa’s demise at Madrid. The Blues’ form was so poor that they hovered near the relegation zone. They lacked solidity in defense and decisiveness in attack. Meanwhile, at Madrid, the merengues played decently enough, but always seemed to trip over their own two feet when approaching the Barca juggernaut.

Yet, the question remains, do midseason manager changes ever make sense? Or turn out for the better? And what would it do for Manchester United? Continue reading “The Midseason Manager Replacement” »

Liverpool FC: More than a Committee of Issues

I’m a big fan of Guardian columnist Barney Ronay. Yes, his last names sounds uncomfortably similar to Rooney, but nobody’s perfect. Still, his most recent column on Liverpool FC with the angle that “committee results in incoherent plan and bad signings” struck me as a bit off the mark. In sum, two much bigger picture issues cloud the horizon for the Scousers. Continue reading “Liverpool FC: More than a Committee of Issues” »

Leicester City and the Little Things

This past week, I watched Leicester City play soccer. I had read and heard quite a bit about them. They are successful at football. Despite barely avoiding relegation and not re-signing Esteban Cambiasso, they’d led the league at various times this past season. People say the new EPL TV deal means smaller clubs can now offer big wages to keep their established EPL stars, messing up the established hierarchy.

So I saw them play Aston Villa to a 1:1 draw. And what stuck out to me were the two posts of Leicester’s own goal. Continue reading “Leicester City and the Little Things” »

The Disappearing Star Centerback Prodigy

The dodo. The dinosaurs. Why do all the really cool animals have to disappear off the face of the Earth? Sadly, soccer reflects this reality. For at least half a decade, a position on the pitch has been neglected like no other: centerback. Here’s a thought experiment. Right now, name a young star center back. Okay, easy you say. Thiago Silva. Okay, now name another.

Hard, isn’t it? Continue reading “The Disappearing Star Centerback Prodigy” »

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” »

The Sadness and Darkness of Entropy, or “The Inevitable Decline of Fernando Torres & Falcao”

This may shock you, but, for a time, Fernando Torres played soccer exceptionally well. Even before he signed for Liverpool FC and rocked the back of nets in England, he scored some absolute screamers as a youth for Atletico de Madrid and became known as Barcelona’s bogeyman. He became a Champion of Europe with Spain in 2008 and then won a World Cup. However, on a cold winter’s day in January of 2011, Liverpool sold him for a fortune for Chelsky.

And he’s never been the same. Continue reading “The Sadness and Darkness of Entropy, or “The Inevitable Decline of Fernando Torres & Falcao”” »

And on the 90th Day God said: “Bale Shall Score”….

Haley’s comet passing. Blood moons. Summer solstice. For some incredibly momentous happenings, the usual currency of days, weeks, and months is an ineffective measure of time. Time is and always has been relative. Our own values and prejudices taint it. For example, the ancient Aztec calendar, known colloquially as the “Eagle Stone”, measured years in 18 months of 20 days. By that measure, Gareth Bale would have gone over four months between goals for Real Madrid, not three.

But I’m not here to mock. I’m here to celebrate. Continue reading “And on the 90th Day God said: “Bale Shall Score”….” »

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” »