Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Five Things to Root For in the Champions League Final

—An earthquake.

—UEFA has the foresight to hire a panel of Chinese and Romanian judges to decide the diving competition between Didier Drogba and Cristiano Ronaldo.

—Petr Cech takes the field in a full suit of Medieval armor.

—Roman Abramovich starts a money-throwing fight with the entire Glazer family and buries them alive in Euros.

—The inevitable Wayne Rooney red card.

Beyond that, I can think of nothing else. Signed—

—Bitter as a rural Pennsylvanian:


Monday, April 28, 2008

Pinker than Palermo's Home Strip

At last, a real idea for affecting progressive social change within football. Enough of the milquetoast official "Let's Kick INSERT REACTIONARY TENDENCY Out of Football" campaigns. Time for real action. The Grauniad's Steven Wells—always worth a lookie—hits on the brilliant idea of just assuming all pro 'ballers "have it in for each other," if you see what I'm saying. This move, if undertaken by a working majority of fans, would simultaneously eliminate homophobia within the game and set up all kinds of hilarious scenarios involving pricey designer man-bags and spa treatments. Was I the only one who noticed that, during last week's Barcelona v. Man Utd match, only the players' aestheticians seemed to on their game? I have never seen a finer collection of sculptured eyebrows.

Strangely, Guardian readers do not appear to be reacting favo(u)rably to S. Wells' insight, to judge by the comment box.

P.S.: Wells quotes an ex-Juve paper-pusher to this effect: "There are no gays in football ... a homosexual cannot do the job of a footballer." Interesting. I would like to introduce this gentleman to the goalkeeper for my Albina Going Unicorns. Dangerous Dave could bury the man just inside the penalty area without hesitation—on a clean play, mind you—before offering him a ten-percent discount on his next hair dye.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shock of the New

I am stunned, stunned, STUNNED. I mean, color me a deep shade of stunned: Sir Alex Ferguson is whining. Paint me in your deepest, darkest variety of amazed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Lipstick on the Pig

"In practice this was all about the gently absorbing spectacle of two fine teams struggling to find their distinct and separate rhythms. And for the fact that, true to form, the game refused to conform to type. How refreshing to be reminded that at this rarefied level football can still be awkward, tense, even at times rather unsatisfying."

—Barney Ronay, in the Guardian, re: Barcelona v. Manchester United

A more charitable interpretation would be hard to find.

The World's Premier Club Competition!

For real? Leave aside the fact that three out of the final four teams in the "European" Champions League hail from the same country, giving the semi-finals the feel of your regularly scheduled Carling Cup plus a Very Special Guest who will appear to lecture the audience about UNICEF. It's more disappointing that four out of four are playing like sides battling to escape relegation from the Belgian First Division. As the grim display mounted by Barcelona and Manchester Bay Buccaneers wound down this afternoon, I found myself wishing John Arne Riise could run on to the pitch to add some zest to the proceedings.

Now we face the worst of all possible worlds: Chelsea and Manchester United hoofing it all the way to Moscow to play the finale. At least Roman Abramovich can host a sweet kegger at his dacha.


I have heard it argued that the romance, surprise and whimsy have been driven out of elite football by, y'know, the Corporations. Not if John Arne Riise has anything to say about it! The rocketing redhead's last-gasp own goal yesterday was remarkable for a number of reasons, particularly in that it was the sort of chance that professional strikers often fail to convert. On a philosophical level, it proved that life (or at least the Champions League) is fundamentally absurd and absent of coherent meaning, an arena of Nothing in which caprice rules. (If, for example, Avram Grant goes from washing socks or whatever he was doing before Mourinho was offed to managing the Champions of Europe, he will have this unthinkable and random occurrence to thank.) And even I, a diehard Liverpool fan for about 18 months or something, had to admit that it was sort of hilarious. You just don't see grown men doing that very often.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Commish Speaks!

Someone needs to tell MLSCzar Don Garber that a blog, like the one he just started is supposed to be a forum in which you sorta let loose, think on the fly, say what you mean, experiment a little. Not another opportunity to say the same thing you've been saying for 10 years in the PR-department-approved corporatospeak you always use. C'mon, Commish—where are those drunk party photos?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Falcon Crest Athletic

Courtesy the estimable blog Pitch Invasion, a report that the prospective owner of a small English club wants to change its name to "Harchester United", to match the fictional club in the soap opera Footballers' Wives.

I think this is a great idea. It worked wonders for FC Dallas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


As this report makes clear, the on-going ownership meltdown at Liverpool keeps fluctuating between tragedy and farce. It seems likely that someone, probably some sort of transnational oligarch with billions of what they call quid at his/her disposal, will have to bail the Reds out of their disastrous bondage to a pair of American idiots. In the meantime, said idiots seem hell-bent on reducing the club to splinters.

As Comrade Lenin once asked, What is to be done? As long as football clubs are set up as private entities (or, worse, traded on the stock markets, which value nothing but growth and, as America's major newspaper companies have discovered in recent years, deliver swift and vicious punishment when said growth doesn't meet their expectations), fans will see their beloved teams bought, sold and asset-stripped. Manchester United is now as much a debt sinkhole as a football club. Chelsea could collapse tomorrow if Roman Abramovich suffers a heart attack or one of the misadventures mysteriously common to successful post-Soviet entrepreneurs. The Premiership's weaker sisters are vulnerable to fire-sale emergencies and hostile takeovers. Meanwhile, the league's run-away success makes it likely that other competitions around Europe and the world will try to match the English model of massive private investment.

Not to come across all Black Bloc or anything, but I think the only solution is some form of collective ownership: substantive control exercised by fans. Barcelona and other Spanish clubs operate that way, as do the members of the Bundesliga, one of the best-run and most populist major sports leagues in the world. A plan for a fan takeover of Liverpool already surfaced in response to the year's troubles. It may not be going anywhere, but it speaks to the larger truth. It's time for fans of the game everywhere to get stuck in and demand a real say.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Perfect Mediocrity

The kind of gem only the great Du Nord can deliver: in its not very long and not nearly sufficiently sordid history, FC Dallas (ex-THE BURN) has (or as the English would insist, have) won 162 matches, lost 162 matches and drawn 47. By some small coincidence I always feel a small piece of my soul turn black and die when I accidentally watch FC Dallas.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

It Is Good to be the King

In the midst of everything else happening in the MegaHuge World of Football—Liverpool's simultaneous boardroom meltdown and plucky voyage to the English Champions League semifinals, Bayern Munich's stellar season with its new fantasy-league line-up, the march to Euro 08 and, of course, the New England Revolution's new teenage stars from Gambia (who knew?)—let's not ignore the big week in the life of Silvio Berlusconi. Of course, there's the small matter of possibly regaining Italy's premiership (that's the political kind). While the prospect of taking command of a major European nation would be enough for most men, Berlusconi also seems poised to make a big human-resources move: it looks like Ronaldhino will leave the employ of the Barcelona Collective to join Uncle Sil's Milan francheeeez-eh. The beautiful bucktoothed Brazilian is done drawing his paycheck from FCB's mass membership; instead, he'll get his circa $12M a year from the pockets of one Big Cheese. Insert Eduardo Galeano essay here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Monday, April 07, 2008


We interrupt our standard non-service to note that the new MLS franchise holders in Seattle chose to retain the city's glorious soccer tradition and call their new team "the Sounders." This means they rejected such previously mooted (is that a word?) possibilities as "Seattle Republic" and "Seattle Alliance," both of which sounded like the names of left-wing newspapers or gay bathhouses. ("Seattle Cooperative Commonwealth," "Seattle Monetary Union" and "Seattle Non-Aligned Movement" did not make the finalists' field.) The move comes after a reported onslaught of pressure from those well-known traditionalists, the fans of the currently extant Seattle Sounders—man, those 25 people must have stayed up nights setting up anonymous Hotmail accounts.

Meanwhile, down in Portland we look forward to our future archrivalry with the Yakima Reds.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Boing Boing

The opening weekend of Major League Soccer action, the traditional highlight of the American sporting calendar for over 100 years, saw plenty of goals. Even some very good goals. But how many came on second chances off 'keeper deflections? I counted at least a half-dozen in the highlight reel I YouTubed, including the first couple in the New England v. Houston revenge match, played before the legendary blue tarps of Foxboro Stadium: