Review of Paul Lake’s I’m Not Really Here

Hello.

I apologize for the lack of posts.  I’ve started taking classes again and I’ve also been lucky enough to have some of my writing published on other outlets such as ESPN’s Soccernet.  I’m extremely proud to say that Mark at ESPNSoccernet entrusted me with a review copy of Paul Lake’s excellent and absorbing new autobiography I’m Not Really Here.  I enjoyed the book and I’m very excited with the response and feedback the review has generated.  Paul Lake, himself, made my year by graciously Tweeting a thank-you!  It can be read here.

This is an excerpt:

“Lake, a native Mancunian and lifelong City fan, chronicles his meteoric rise through City’s youth team ranks as the book provides a panoramic cross-section of English football culture in the late 80s/early90s in a behind-the-scenes manner that is as revealing as it is entertaining. Lake is an able, affable raconteur and eyewitness to memorable events like City’s joyous promotion to the First Division in 1989, the international football scene as a member of England’s Under-21s and reserves in the shadow of World Cup 1990 and, finally, the inaugural season of the Premier League in 1992. Along the way, Lake shares everything from boot-room banter to boardroom intrigue and encounters big-name personalities ranging from Sir Alex Ferguson to Paul Gascoigne”

Please take a moment to visit ESPN and read the entire piece.

Unrelated-

The Arsenal memories of the past few weeks, save for their somehow decent Champions League form, have been too painful to even rattle the keys and rant about.  I think Arteta has been brilliant, Mertesacker a little muddled etc.  I saw Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain play a tantalizing half for England’s Under-21s in an international friendly, but I’m not sure what he’ll be able to add in the Premier League this season.

No comment on the city of Manchester’s vulgar display of top of the table power…yet.

I have more to say on Serie A and La Liga, so please leave a comment if you like checking-in here to read my disorganized thoughts and ramblings on the beautiful game.  It would help to know you’re out there.

Cheers

Posted in English soccer, History of the game | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Arsenal, Arsenal…

A few quick thoughts before the big Arsenal/Udinese Champions League qualifier this afternoon:

  • I’m really curious to see who Arsene Wenger sends out as his starting XI for this match. I don’t expect wholesale changes, but I’d be extremely surprised if the line-up was essentially the same as it was against Newcastle.  I hope to see a glimpse of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.   I’d also like to see Tomas Rosicky be an influential figure in an Arsenal match for once.  I understand the man has been snakebitten with injuries, bad luck and the misfortune of having to compete with Nasri, Fabregas, Arshavin, Wilshere et.al, but if ever there were a crucial time for him to have an impact–it would without question be today.
  • I finally watched the Newcastle match last night and I don’t think Arsenal looked as bad and/or lost as people on Twitter and elsewhere were insinuating.  Sure, form, tactics, lineups and everything else got overshadowed by the long-awaited denouement of the seemingly interminable saga Fabregas saga and the silliness that erupted between Joey Barton and Gervinho.  I do place a lot of blame on the official for not taking firm control of that match in the second half when it was obvious to everyone around the world that it was about go off at any moment  It seemed as if Andrei Arshavin looked more motivated and inspired than he did at the beginning of last season and a strong August from him could prove to be pivotal for the Gunners as they try to ride out the roiling transfer window storms into September without losing too much ground.  I liked what I saw from Gervinho on and around the ball, but it looks like his other antics will cost him a few matches, which will disrupt his ability to build chemistry etc.
  • I can only just say that I’m glad the Fabregas saga is finally over.  I think he’s an incredible player and he’s carried himself with class throughout this whole unfortunate mess.  As a Gunners fan, I’ll miss him and I’ve loved watching him develop into a special players these past few years.  I was actually moved by his respect for and tribute to Arsene Wenger, of whom he said the following:I’ll never have enough words to thank him for all he’s done for me,” he said. “I’ll never forget him…”If today I am here with you then it’s greatly due to him. I can’t express my admiration for him strongly enough. I owe it to him that I am here.”
  • As tired as I am of this story, it was heartening to see the genuine emotional bond shared between Fabregas and Wenger.  I also admire how much Cesc praised Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey, essentially anointing them leaders in the wake of his departure, which leads me to Samir Nasri…
  • Cesc Fabregas wanting to return to play with his close friends and international teammates in his hometown Barcelona side that is in the midst of a special championship clogged run that may never be equaled is one thing; Samir Nasri greedily sulking his way out the door to Manchester is another.  I thought Nasri quit on Arsenal towards the end of last season and while Fabregas is leaving to assume his position in something special and unique, Nasri seems to be motivated purely by money (especially as Fabregas is actually getting paid less to join Barca).  Why wouldn’t Nasri relish and want to seize the opportunity to fully emerge from Fabregas’s shadow and become the dominant creative force on a club that contends on all fronts every year?  Disappointing…
  • Arsene Wenger has come perilously close to resembling a suave King Lear the past few weeks.
  • Read an excellent piece by Adam Digby on the similarities between Udinese and Arsenal.  I loved watching Udinese last year, but I had no idea Francesco Guidolin respected and consciously sought to emulate the “Arsenal model.”  I also find it interesting that Wenger and Guidolin both managed Monaco at one point in their careers.  Great stuff!
  • Read another excellent piece this morning by Michael Cox that examines the Arsenal/Udinese match-up from a tactical standpoint.
  • Finally, a mind-blowing, must-read Goal.com editorial that suggests the arrival of Fabregas in Barcelona may be the catalyst for the next great evolution in football tactics!

photo via Getty from Goal.com

I expect Arsenal to come out swinging and really inflict some damage to Udinese in their home stadium, but I do expect these matches to be exciting and close.

Game on!

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Hallo Bundesliga!

Where did the summer go?  And FWIW, DC summers are indeed soggy, muggy miserable affairs, but damn…I remember whining about the end of the European campaign after the Champions League final like it was 5 minutes ago.

I spent a lot of time with surprisingly persistent projects at work, writing book reviews and working on writing for other outlets, so if you were starting to follow this site and were disappointed by the lack of upkeep/posts–I apologize and I assure you that during the season I’ll be writing as much as humanly possible.

I got to see Borussia Dortmund kick off their Bundesliga title-defense in emphatic fashion as they thrashed Hamburg 3-1 in a match that wasn’t as close as the score might indicate.  People on Twitter, and I think Phil Schoen might even have whispered this around the edges so that Ray didn’t bludgeon him on global television, were starting to question/wonder if Dortmund might just be suitable competition for Barca this year in Europe.  Dortmund looked like a bruising, expertly constructed machine already in mid-season form and it was even more impressive that they looked so strong and assured without Nuri Sahin, an important catalyst in their side last season who was sold to Real Madrid, and their injured trigger-man Lucas Barrios.  Dortmund’s passing was rhythmic and lethal as they swarmed Hamburg’s penalty area pretty much at will.  I also like the framework and philosophy with which they seem to be building this squad — i.e. grooming and cultivating young talent within an expressive framework, while ignoring the overpriced, superfluous Bendtner90210s of the world.  I’m very excited to see what this side adds to the Champions League.

On Saturday, I watched Schalke 04 get humiliated by Stuttgart and the only thing I can really say about it is wow–Jermaine Jones looked like a completely different player than the tempestuous, vaguely explosive midfielder who showed flashes of brilliance for the USMNT during the Gold Cup this summer.   Not that he was the reason Schalke lost or looked so poor, but I was really hoping/expecting to see more from him.  Stuttgart put together some nice stretches of play and certainly look capable of surpassing their bottom of the table finish last season.

I watched a little of Bayern’s match on Sunday via ESPN3 and it was fairly dreadful.  Didn’t even stick around to catch the howler heard ’round the world.

It was great to see at least one European league commence play and restore the lazy equilibrium of my Saturday mornings.  I like the Bundesliga and I hope to post more about it.

Stay tuned for some EPL previews, rants and jokes.

It’s good to be back!

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One for American Football — Tribute to Randy Moss

I remember at some point during Randy Moss’s epic, jaw-dropping 17 TD rookie season Willie D said “he’s the next Jerry Rice.”  I also remember laughing derisively, thinking there is only one Jerry Rice (of whom his wife said once said “he runs in his sleep”).  But in reality, the one and only thing Rice ever had over Moss was his legendary, fanatical work ethic.  In terms of raw athletic talent Randy Moss had no equal at Wide Receiver or any other position.  He is the most graceful and athletic receiver in the history of the NFL.  The way he used his body to get in position and grab jump balls in the end-zone reminded me of a stylish NBA center ala Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Hakeem Olajuwon.  It was an amazing sight to see and it’s sad writing all of this in past tense.   Everything Moss did on the field seemed fluid, stylish, effortless — not one bit of wasted or extraneous motion, as he floated furiously past hundreds of hapless defensive backs, or soared over their shoulders like a falcon.  The Thanksgiving day game in his rookie season where he immolated Jerry’s Cowboys in Texas Stadium stands as a vulgar, awe-inspiring display of athletic power as well as a towering testament of spite (Moss has reportedly always held a grudge against the Cowboys for not drafting him) and swagger.

The word swagger is used far too much in the current American lexicon, particular in relation to sports.  It truly fits only a few modern athletes, none more so than Randy Moss.  As brilliantly unique and stylish as we was on the field, he was just as brilliantly unique and strangely stylish (in a fascinating way) off it.  Just as Martin Sheen’s character in The Departed remarked of Mark Walhberg’s Sgt. Dignam “He has a style all his own and I’m afraid we just have to get used to it,” Moss seemed to be a pure, perfect expression of that exact same ethos, ie. making people bend to his style.  He gave us the immortal phrase “straight cash, homey” in his thick, inimitable West Virginia drawl (living next door to that state most of my life, I’ve never heard one comparable).  He had the sickest beard in NFL history and probably the best hair.  I’ve seen at least 2 NFL Films clips of him warming up on the sidelines to T.I (an MC I don’t even like) that make you make you want to strap on a helmet and blitz your boss, your wife, your kids et.al.  According to people who’ve interviewed him, Moss is a germ freak who won’t touch doorknobs and professes to not have any friends.  He comes off as an intensely proud, self-made man; the kind of man who would tell Sports Illustrated that he doesn’t “need new people” and that “you don’t show people your pain” which is why the Patriots’ (an organization he obviously let his guard down and grew to love) unwillingness to sign him to a long-term deal last year caused this carefully cultivated facade to crack and long concealed emotions and vulnerabilities came pouring out in astonishingly naked press conferences and interviews whose stark, unfettered honesty were so over the top they reminded me of — but far surpassed, due to the unquestioned strength of their reality — wrestling promos.

My wife really, really wishes he’d never done this one, as the utter awesomeness of “axe myself the questions” seems to always tumble out of my mouth at random, inopportune  times.  All kidding aside, these interviews were fascinating and painful to watch.  Their reality so alien, compelling and unrecognizable compared to the neverending streams of gibberish and cliches that typically constitute American sports interviews.  Sadly, they overshadowed anything Moss was able to do on the field, save for one last one-handed masterpiece over Darrelle “one year legend” Revis

Seeing a lost, vulnerable swagger-less Randy Moss going through the motions on a terrible Tennessee Titans team at the end of season was sad.  The fact that it will be the last we ever see of him is a travesty and I really can’t think of a more abject end to such a great player’s career.

His chemistry with Tom Brady in 2007 was sell-your-soul-at-the-crossroads level magical and I doubt that we’ll see something that devastating or special ever again.  When Moss got shipped out of New England last year, I actually heard pundits say: “Well, New England never won the Super Bowl with him.”  I mean, people that stupid shouldn’t even be allowed to watch football, let alone comment on it (h/t to Jon Wilson for that line).  That Patriots team went 18-1 and was one miraculous, implausible helmet catch away from a stunning, extraordinary achievement that would’ve made them all instant legends…there is no way on Earth they could’ve been in position to do that without Randy Moss just as there’s no conceivable way to blame him for their ultimate failure.  I hear this type of idiocy bubbling up again in the wake of his retirement where people like Mike Florio and others are actually questioning about his Hall-of-Fame status out loud.  It’s mind-boggling.   Yeah, he quit on the Raiders.  So has everyone else that’s played for them since Jon Gruden left.  The only person who hasn’t quit on the Raiders in the last decade is the only person who should.  But to even wonder about Moss’s rightful place in Canton is pathetic and ridiculous.

I’m going to sign off with one of the most badass commercials ever made.  Thanks for the memories and entertainment.  The NFL just got a lot less exciting.  You will be missed.

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2011 Women’s World Cup: an elegy

First and foremost, this Women’s World Cup tournament has been a pleasure to watch and the quality and level of play has been nothing short of brilliant.  The final showcase between the tireless, technical juggernaut that is Japan and the inspiring grit, tenacity, athleticism and physicality of the U.S. squad is a fitting showcase for two very different styles and approaches that have come to define the entire competition.

Japan caught my attention early on with their mechanical, merciless 4-0 thrashing of Mexico in a group stage match that truthfully was far more lopsided than the score would indicate.   Japan’s possession oriented style has been garnering comparisons to Barcelona, as their midfield has dictated the pace and tempo of matches in a masterfully metronomic way with precise short passing.   According to ESPN’s Michelle Smith, Japan will head into the finals with an impressive tournament high (and very Barca-esque) 76.8 pass completion percentage.

Their quarterfinal match-up against a wobbly German side (a side that seemed unable to handle the pressure of defending their crown in front of their rabid, demanding fans) saw Japan play with an intensity and mental toughness that never wavered over the course of 120 terrifyingly tense minutes.   Homare Sawa, hat-trick scourge of Mexico, struck again with beautiful service to substitute Karina Maruyama whose fresh legs allowed her to blaze past the German backline and score the only goal of the match in the 108th minute.  I thought Japan carried large stretches of play during this match and earned a honest, well-deserved result.  This match was a thriller and easily ranks as my second favorite match of the tournament.

The Japanese steadied themselves after an uncharacteristic early blunder by the exceeding excellent Sawa who gifted a strong Swedish side an early 1-0 lead.  Sweden wouldn’t score again and Sawa made up for her unforced error by scoring the go ahead goal in the 60th minute.

The U.S. team came into the World Cup with high expectations amid a persistent narrative of redemption and reclamation stoked by the American media, even though their qualification campaign was hard-fought, shaky and uneven.  Like the Germans, the Americans are expected to go to the finals and win World Cups. Period.  There is no consolation prize or feel good factor for these women if they ‘just’ place strong and, unlike the Germans, this particular U.S. squad has thrived under the pressure and weight of those lofty expectations.   The U.S. played well in the group stages with a 3-0 shellacking of an overwhelmed Colombian side being their most memorable and complete performance.

The match against Brazil is hard to put in words without resorting to the trusty, ever-bountiful store of sports writing cliches.  It truly had everything you could possibly want in an athletic event.  In his chapter on the 1986 Men’s World Cup in Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano wrote of “matches that made your hair stand on end” and this U.S. v. Brazil quarterfinal fits squarely and proudly in that same lineage.  Emotion, technical skill, creativity and beauty (Marta’s goal in extra time seemed to defy physics and logic), bad breaks (the own goal which put Brazil at early disadvantage), questionable refereeing decisions, mental toughness, playacting, stellar goalkeeping, and, finally—the cross heard around the world in the waning seconds of extra time.  The ball that Megan Rapinoe sent into the box for Abby Wambach was so gorgeous, so inch-perfect and sublime that even after about 300 views…it still seems implausible, like you something daydream about, something you wish would or could happen.  Abby Wambach’s aerial physicality is startling.  The velocity, accuracy and power with which she headed home that equaliser was stunning, as was the bullet she scored in the semis.  The American penalty takers were clinical and composed and Hope Solo took care of the rest.

I was only able to see the 2nd half of the U.S. v. France and the French side were dominant in the early stages until Pia Sundhage inserted Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe (pretty amazed she didn’t start, even though she has been absolutely deadly as a substitute) into the match, wherein they immediately became catalysts who propelled to the U.S. into the finals, playing major roles in both late goals, the second of which Morgan scored in dramatic fashion.  France played a stylish, attractive attacking soccer that was beautiful to watch (their demolition of Canada in the group stages stands out) and they deserve kudos and recognition for it.

The one part of the U.S. team that has been subpar is the midfield, which is the unquestioned strength of the Japanese side.  The U.S. has been very strong in both boxes (defending and finishing).  If the American midfielders don’t raise their level of play, Japan will be able to control the ball and be patient in setting up their attack.  Japan have been deadly with their free kicks and have consistently punished teams with intricate set-pieces.  If the U.S. are able to win their fair share of possession, then they should be able to utilize their considerable size advantage and superior cutting edge in front of goal .  Abby Wambach has been virtually indefensible in the air throughout the entire competition and she will wreak absolute havoc on this undersized Japanese side with proper service. But will the possession, passing lanes and space be there?

It’s match time and I’ll be sad to see this World Cup end.  Bravo ladies!

Posted in International Soccer | Leave a comment

Soccer: gnawing at the fragile psyche of the American sports punditocracy (rant)

Photo by Getty


Teeth gnash at flecks of grey matter prompting paranoid spittle to fly as negative nonsense spuriously spouts forth…the beauty, excitement and rightful attention paid to the Women’s World Cup has brought them to the brink.

Witness this past Sunday after the miraculous end of the grinding, hair-raising, emotional marathon that was the U.S. v. Brazil World Cup Quarterfinal match on a last second equaliser that’s cobra strike suddenness and importance was rivaled only by the art with which it was constructed – archetypal American sports journo hack nonpareil John Feinsten could be found on Washington Post Live, practicing a particular form of American neurosis, I like to call Preemptive Pettiness ™.  Here’s the transcript of that masterpiece of condescenscion:

Feinstein: I was watching CC Sabathia.

Carter: Ok, great, that’s awesome.

Wise: Really?

Feinstein: Yeah, because it’s a real sport.

Wise: Stop.

Carter: Are you serious? Stop. Don’t.

Feinstein: I’ve said this before.

Wise: That’s chauvinist.

Feinstein: No, I feel the same way about men’s soccer. You cannot call something….

Carter: Oh, stop.

Feinstein: Can I finish my sentence?

Carter: No.

Feinstein: You can’t call something a real sport if you don’t decide it by playing the sport. If you ended Stanley Cup….

Carter: So it’s just penalty kicks?

Feinstein: Yes.

Carter: Nooooo.

Where to even begin…Let’s start with his pathetic dismissive “Soccer!? What is this soccer you speak of?  I was doing something vitally unique and important. (ie. watching an overweight guy stand on a pile of dirt and throw a ball.)  Leave aside for a moment the fact that Sabathia will pitch more than 30 times this summer – whereas the Women’s World Cup, powered on these shores by a narrow, navel-gazing U.S. centric narrative (something hacks usually devour) of redemption, happens every 4 years – C.C. Sabbathia is an athletic marvel only in the minds of doughy, middle-aged white men nationwide.  He is the ultimate object of projection/patron saint of the pudgy, uniformly unathletic sports writer guild.  The emphatic invocation of Sabathia is instructive for myriad reasons and offers a key insight into the wounded, paranoid psyche of writers of Feinstein’ era.  Even Feinstein’s blunt, desperate tone drips with panic: I WAS WATCHING C.C. SABATHIA! Weren’t you?  Weren’t you? Why weren’t you watching? WHY?”…starts wailing and pounding his fists on the ground.

Here's who you should've been watching

People like Feinstein, Jim Rome, George Will et.al hate and fear soccer so much because their beloved baseball is basically dwindling down to the bare bottom, burning embers of a dull toothless blaze no matter how they much bellow and bluster.  Franklin Foer and others have noticed the intrinsic, irrational link between baseball and soccer’s biggest, loudest most gleeful detractors in the United States.  They fear, rightfully so, that baseball may die-off drastically and disappear from the front pages when they do, as there will be no one left to mythologize massively unmythical people like Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens.  I can already hear them gathering outside my window, the gale force goblins shrieking “But Baseball is MORE popular then EVER.  TOTAL Attendance has NEVER been HIGHER. WHAT ME WORRY. …DON’T LOOK behind that CURTAIN.”  Pundits and major league brass chant those things with such fierce, to-the-letter-uniformity and repetitiveness that to me it seems blatant that part of the reason for its militant repetition is so that the people uttering it actually keep believing it themselves as they seek to pound and promulgate their slogans into the public psyche.

First, Major League Baseball’s season is filled with over a thousand games and even if every game drew around 8,000 people a night the total attendance number at the end will always look large and overly impressive, which is, of course, why they always yell about it from the top of their lungs.  But the reality of it is anytime I ever accidentally see some MLB highlights, unless the game is being played in New York, Boston, Chicago or St. Louis, the sheer amount of empty seats in MLB parks are far more eye-catching and interesting than anything taking place on the field.  If you ever see a Florida Marlins highlight, it’s actually a challenge locating the spectators.   I spent a few hallucinatory minutes last summer actually pondering whether the Marlins were playing to an empty house.  But as long as that total attendance number stays relatively high, which it always will due to the sheer overkill length and breadth of baseball’s season, they can ignore the pictures of semi-deserted ballparks screamed through the highlights every night and assert that the game is still as popular as ever.

The second and final reason (there really doesn’t need to be another after the Ivan Drago-esuq brutality contained in the following) that the bluster of MLB brass and outmoded, anachronistic sports journo hacks is increasingly empty and exceedingly panic laced comes from an article called “How Would You Fix the World Series” that Tom Verducci wrote for Sports Illustrated a few years back where he made the astonishing and hilariously kryptonic (to the aforementioned pundit shrieks and Jedi-Mind Tricks) assertion that Fox pushed back the start times of their World Series games because they and their affiliates did better business at 7:30pm with 15 year-old re-runs of Seinfeld.  Game almost over, Feinstein et.al.   It should be noted that Verducci is not immune to practicing the Jedi-Mind Tricks inherent in convincing people that baseball is in FINE shape.  Here he is outlining the embarrassing comparative carnage in the wake of the TV ratings debacle that was the 2008 World Series:

“MORE PEOPLE watched the NBA Finals, according to Nielsen ratings, than the World Series, the first time that had happened since a popular fellow named Michael Jordan was winning the last of his championships in 1998. More people—29% more—watched a football game between Penn State and Ohio State than the rain-delayed Game 3, which was the least-watched World Series game on record. Overall World Series viewership dropped 17% from the previous worst-rated Series (2006, St. Louis versus Detroit), 21% from last year (Boston versus Colorado) and 47% from the high-water mark of Fox Series telecasts since 2000 (2004, Boston versus St. Louis). The World Series audience has been cut by more than half since the expanded playoff format began in 1995.”

Sounds pretty grim, yet closer to the reality that most people not writing daily columns about the Yankees recognize.  Yet astonishingly Verducci channels his inner Obi-Wan and tells us this isn’t the devastating proof of baseball’s rapid descent into obsolescence we were looking for in the very next sentence which reads: “Is baseball in trouble? Not even close. On the contrary”

That’s the type of space-time continuum bending, logic defying wizardry they employ when reality intrudes as it does ever more frequently.  Baseball’s salvation in this country will be in its general popularity with America’s growing Caribbean and Latino population, but if and when they get bored with it, not having had the opportunity to internalize the century of myth-making and folklore around the game, it will recede even further into the background.  Also, these children play video games, too, and I firmly believe that rapid fire, ever-more sophisticated, quick cut video games, symptomatic of the hyper-digitized, instantaneous environment that the millenial generation in America has grown up within, has helped erode and diminish baseball’s appeal–its slowness ever more alien to children used to staggering levels of stimulation and instant gratification.

The narrative that soccer is not and will never be big here is as empty and riddled with holes as the narrative that baseball is stronger than ever.  The MLS is (really) thriving and expanding, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.  The US national teams are growing ever more prominent and influential.  The EPL is registering great ratings on FSC, which prompted ESPN to obtain broadcast rights.  I spent Boxing Day in a bar on the South Side of Pittsburgh filled with Premiere League addicts.  La Liga is gathering momentum and again ESPN is there, slowly but surely integrating the Primera into their growing soccer coverage.  I went to a packed, rowdy bar in Silver Spring, MD to watch the Champions League final between Barca and United where the room was evenly split in allegiance between the two global behemoths.  My experience is nowhere near unique as the pundits would have you believe.

Yet the Feinsteins of the world ignore not one but two strands of objective reality as they downplay and denigrate soccer’s strength in America.  The latest, most galling example of this disconnect is SI’s decision not to put the Women’s National Team on their cover after their heart-stopping victory against Brazil in favor of Derek Jeter getting his 3000th hit.  This disconnect functions on a few separate levels — the first is the fact that the prestige of the 3000 hit milestone lives on largely and almost exclusively in the bubble of the sports punditocracy and they insist, again, by the sheer belligerence of their repetition that YOU should and must value it in the same manner they do.  Other than the genuine excitement of the guy who caught the ball, I’ve not heard ONE single person talk about Jeter’s milestone as a baseball achievement (the fan’s decision to not sell the ball was indeed a hot topic) that was not paid to do so on television or radio, and I live in a large, metropolitan city and work at university that represents a huge cross-section of American society.  Crickets.  Yet all anybody could talk about on the Metro, at lunch, after meetings etc. was Abby Wambach’s goal.  I heard more people talk about Marta than Jeter’s hit, but SI decided to stay in their bubble and bludgeon people with something they didn’t seem to really want.

But what really drives people like Feinstein and Rome to redlining levels of trite and spite while practicing their Preemptive Pettiness is no matter how much they rant and rail against the Beautiful Game–deep down inside they know that kids in their neighborhood are already far more likely to be pretending they are Lionel Messi, Chicharito and Landon Donovan than Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia and Ryan Howard when they play outside after school.

U.S. Women’s Soccer legends Brandi Chastain and Mia Hamm, who Michael Wilbon referred to as “perhaps the most important athlete of the past 15 years,” have already established themselves as heroes and role models for female athletes in America further solidifying soccer’s foothold here, while this current team is smashing even more barriers and gaining hearts, minds and respect as athletes with no qualifiers needed and I apologize for not writing about them to the degree that they fully deserve in this post.  I had to get this off my chest.  More on the World Cup finals soon.

Posted in International Soccer, Major League Soccer | 1 Comment

The Ball is Round

Lots of exciting things to share and talk about…

First and foremost, I’m amazed to write the following words — but — joining Twitter for the sake of Wedontknowitasfootball has turned out to be a great experience, as I’ve discovered a ton of people doing incredibly interesting and exciting writing on soccer all over the world and I want to share what I’ve found with anyone reading this who might not be aware of some of these websites.

  • In Bed With Maradona is an excellent site that views the Beautiful Game from beautifully obtuse, original and exquisite angles.  Football all over the world is covered in an exceedingly literate and fun, yes fun, manner.  I’m also very, very proud and excited to say that the good folks over there published a piece that I wrote about the United Soccer Association!  Here’s another interesting American themed piece they published recently called “Soccer in the Deep South.”  The editors and writers at IBWM are doing phenomenal work.  Please tune in!
  • One of my favorite discoveries has definitely been the fantastic French Football Weekly blog and podcast.  FFW features fluid, accessibly in-depth writing about Ligue 1 that makes me insanely jealous that I don’t get to see many matches from France’s top-flight.  Recent FFW posts I’ve really enjoyed are “The Mysterious Marvin Martin: ‘Little Xavi’” about the emergence of Sochaux’s midfield assist machine and “‘Allez the Lads!’ – Newcastle United’s French Revolution” which examines the Magpies recent foraging forays into French Football.  The guys who write this blog are passionate about spreading the Ligue 1 gospel and they deserve our support, for sure.  One of FFW’s writers, Jonathan, also writes a Ligue 1 blog for Sky Sports called “Le Gossip.”
  • Staying with French Football for a moment, the Equaliser, as part of its 1980’s Month festivities, has a typically stellar post titled “Le Carre’ Magique” which celebrates the glorious midfield engine that propelled the legendary 1982 French National Team to the World Cup semifinals and on through to their triumph in the 1984 European Championship.
  • The Swiss Rambler put together a dizzying, comprehensive and fascinating look at Palermo’s business model.  I wrote about Palermo a lot season and I truly hope they remain competitive and exciting.  One of the most shocking results in Serie A last season, in my estimation, was Catania’s 4-0 destruction of Palermo in the second Derby di Sicilia.
  • Finally, Gingers for Limpar provides us bewildered, confused Gunners fans a kaleidoscopic view of North London’s finest (?) including this monumental, epic season review.

That’s just a sampling of the bounteous and exciting summer reading I’ve been treated to thus far!

I promise to have some new content of my own soon.  I have hours worth of recorded FA Cup history to catch-up on and post about.  Also, some fun with the transfer window and a review of Gabriel Kuhn’s Soccer vs. the State should be up very soon.

Please stay tuned.

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