Sunday, September 28, 2008

How the Mighty, Etc.

In the wake of Arsenal's 1:2 loss to Hull City (not to mention Barca's loss to Numancia, Roma's Champions League loss to Cluj, the 2:5 hiding Sexy Jurgen's gang took not long ago...), how's that inevitable European SuperLeague sounding?

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tearful Reminiscences of Empire

Sure, I'm kind of a sucker for sports nostalgia and history. But Yankees nostalgia? That's like looking back fondly on the heyday of Standard Oil.

Great Moments in Hudsonia

"Franck cannot believe it...and his daughter needs to be slapped."

—commentator Ray Hudson, as Bayern Munich's off-duty Franck Ribery glumly watches Bayern's 2:5 home loss to Werder...with his toddler daughter applauding at his side.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Everything Is Going According to Plan

American soccer fans keep constant vigil, waiting for signs that their beloved USA is creeping toward the moment when it casts off history's shackles and becomes a Great Footballing Nation. Generally, this watchful stance is expressed in excitement over new club youth-development schemes, national team performances ("we beat Guatemala again!"; "we almost played well in a friendly against a European team!"; "we fucking own Mexico, dude"; "...almost certain to qualify for 2010..."; " team in the hemisphere!"; etc.), excitement over Yanqui players signing contracts with Belgian clubs, that sort of thing. The particularly masochistic monitor MLS attendance figures on a week-to-week basis. Those who prefer the long view bide their time, waiting for various immigrant groups to deliver their demographic payload—there are, one hears, many promising young Bosnian-Americans on the way up.

But let's look at it a different way. In the last eight years, we've had:

—A tainted presidential election;

—A head of state who rests his authority on a weird cult of personality;

—A concerted, and in no way covert, effort to establish a de facto one-party political system;

—A couple of horrendously expensive, mismanaged, inconclusive (on a good day) wars;

—A few natural disasters that left major cities in Third World shambles;

—A full-tilt, debt-driven meltdown of the financial system;

—And I'm sure I'm forgetting something.

Lily-livered good-government types will look on this as a litany of woe. Soccer fans should rejoice. If this keeps up, we'll be the next Argentina in no time, churning under-fed creative midfielders out of our villas miserias by the score. As someone once said, poverty is good for nothing—except for football. And what else do you need? Health care?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Violence Porn

I will admit that, as keen a football fan as I may be, I would not ordinarily seek out the YouTube highlights of Manchester United v. Middlesboro in the Carling Cup. But when I read Sir Alex's strident condemnation of the foul inflicted on his young Brazilian player, I, well, you know. Had to see it. Not proud, etc. And it is, indeed, a pretty fuckin' atrocious play: not suitable for children or other impressionable minds, which makes it highly ironic that it happened at Old Trafford.


So Landon Donovan may go to Bayern Munich, eh? My trusty volume of Wikipedia informs me that Bayern's current squad includes Luca Toni, Lukas Podolski and Miroslav Klose at forward, with attacking midfielders such as Franck Ribery and Ze Roberto.

Where does Landon fit in all this?

Thursday, September 18, 2008


A non-football note: one of the finest writers from my hometown passed away this morning. James Crumley—in addition to propping up the bar at Charlie B's tavern and providing gruff advice to younger people so foolish as to desire careers in the Literary Arts—wrote one of the best first sentences in all of modern American crime fiction. And here, in memoriam, it is:

"When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."

The Last Good Kiss, 1978

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've Got a Terrible Case of Anorthosis!

The great thing about the Cypriot side's 0-0 result yesterday—aside from the fact that it may well have marked the first Champions League point for a club that has existed in a state of exile from its home city for nearly 40 years—is that it came against Werder Bremen. I hate Werder Bremen...and I don't know why. An irrational thing, hate. I have only two working theories as to the roots of my distaste for a club which has, so far as I can tell, nothing to do with anything I care about or even pretend to care about:

1) Its squad includes the loathsome Torsten Frings, who everyone knows is an unindicted war criminal who should be living under an assumed name in rural Uruguay;

2) The club has used the hated Comic Sans font for the player names on the back of its kit.

Of the two offenses against good taste, I would say Number Two is by far the more serious. Players come and players go. The use of Comic Sans stands as an indelible attack on civilization.

This Will Work Perfectly

So, thus far Liverpool are playing not-very-good football, and yet have not suffered a single bad result in seven competitive fixtures. With just eight and a half months to go, I see that formula holding up really well.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Premature Schadenfreude Alert

Not that I'm excited about the prospect of a global financial meltdown and a Second Great Depression, but how awesome is it that Manchester United's shirt sponsor looks like it will be the next to implode? As I just read on the Blogs:

The message is loud and clear: AIG is toast.

The Weevils could well be running around with shirts that say PANIC! next week. On the other hand, Liverpool is sponsored by a company that sells alcohol, and is thus perfectly positioned for a severe worldwide economic crisis.

Forza Famagusta

This fantastic piece on the Champions League's obscurities, aside from its own merits, took me back: to the days when I would burrow into two- and three-week-old British newspapers that somehow washed ashore in the University of Montana's crypt-like Mansfield Library. This was before John McCain invented the Internet (or, as we called them on their advent, "The Wires"), and European football existed on the same approximate American consciousness level as Bhutanese politics. (Not like today, as the game nears French-politics-level, with Cristiano Ronaldo in the Carla Bruni role.) In those sepia-toned days of yore, I would always look out for Amy Lawrence, because I thought her writing some of the freshest, and her columnist photo one of the fittest, if you know what I mean. Eighty-five years later, it's good to see that she's still on her game.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Season of the Witch

Not to make light of the Congo witchcraft stadium tragedy, but an unreconstructed, irresponsible part of my soul harbors the feeling that the American soccer scene would be a lot more interesting if it involved fewer die-cut suburbanoids and more fetish-wielding sorcerers. Just an opinion.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Two-one, two-one, two-one, two-one....

A pair of ridiculous goals. Man United wearing fey white uniforms, maybe so Berbatov doesn't get confused. Alex Ferguson, reminded by Liverpool fans that when it comes to his florid mug, one need never mock alone. All quite a good time, really.

Good to see the traditional Big Four taking shape. Chelsea. Liverpool. Arsenal. Hull City. There are your Champions League entrants for 2009.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Daniel the Red covers The Stooges:

Inspiring Words

"There are a lot of them that will not be here next year, so they need to perform in order to find a new club."

—Portland Timbers manager Gavin Wilkinson, on his players' final match of the season.

Twenty-nine matches played. Seven wins. Is Wilkinson going to be here next year?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Croatia Reinvents the Beautiful Game

Eureka! It turns out that if no one plays defense, football becomes a very high-scoring affair.

All credit to Theo Walcott's very cool finishing (and even some credit to Wayne Rooney for his), but Christ on a unicycle, there was just no marking at all. The aftermath will no doubt result in a long national emotional crisis in Croatia, which will only be resolved by the Ninth Balkan War in 2034. The really great thing, however, is that this kind of result cues England-Can-Win-It-All hysteria, which naturally sets up the horrendous (yet inevitable) mental breakdown of 2010 to perfection.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Hard to know what to make of one of the best clubs in Major League Soccer being beaten—make that thrashed—by mighty mighty Joe Public Football Club. Then again, maybe it's not.