Posts Tagged ‘ CONCACAF ’

Mexico Home Shirt World Cup 1998

mexico-team

The Mexican National Team of the 1990s was quite strong. After missing the 1990 World Cup due to using overage players at the 1988 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, Mexico made both the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and won the 1993, 1996 and 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cups.

blanco

Focusing on the road to France, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying was marked by draws, with Mexico and the United States only winning of four of ten matches. El Tri won four and drew six to top the Hex table and were placed in a section with Holland, Belgium and South Korea. The competition started brightly as Mexico beat South Korea 3-1 in the opener. Draws followed against Belgium and the Netherlands but it was enough as Mexico moved on to the Round of 16 as the second placed team behind Holland. Germany was next up and Luis Hernandez opened the scoring just after halftime. However Die Mannschaft came back as Klinsmann equalized with 15 minutes to go and Bierhoff finished off the CONCACAF reps with only minutes remaining. (Match highlights)

mexico-shirtEl Tri strode onto the field in a very distinctive shirt, made by ABA Sport, who had taken over for Umbro and were followed by Atletica. I couldn’t find much about the company but did stumble across a facebook page, which has images of the many shirts the Mexican company has produced.

The shirt, also worn at the 1996 and 1998 Gold Cups, was mainly green with a white collar and cuffs, edged with red. In research for this post I learned that a dark red used to be main color for the Mexican home shirts rather than the green I was accustomed to. This switch was made in the late 50s and continues today. The main feature of the shirt was the Aztec tribal design that was shadow printed into the shirt. This video has a nice close up of the design and production elements.

luis-hernandez

The shirt certainly divides opinion. While some find it garish, the writers at Complex ranked it #6 in their greatest shirts of all time, going as far as to say,

For a collector of retro kits, this is either your grail or an image from your nightmares. If you can get your hands on one of these, you’ve just bought yourself a conversation starter for every single social event you wear this out to.

I love it because it is a one off shirt with historical references. My wife picked up a knock off on a missionary trip to Mexico. She wore it from time to time until it was stolen at a laundromat. Such is life. Don’t know if I could ever own one as a US fan but still a great design.

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Additional Resources

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

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Summer of Soccer–Copa America Centenario

As I looked ahead to the summer of 2016, I just couldn’t believe all the soccer would be on. The addition of the Copa America Centenario and the expanded Euros created a month of wall to wall coverage that surpassed even the World Cup in terms of soccer coverage.

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I’ll admit that the Copa America does not make my radar. I caught bits and pieces last year, even watching the Final in the locker room at Silverbacks Park after a Reserves game. This year I was looking forward to possibly going to a game in Orlando but was defeated by time and money (and to be honest, matchups). I made it a point to watch all of the US games as this would be a good test of how the Stars and Stripes matched up against superior South American competition.

US v Colombia

I chose to not go to the AO Atlanta event at Red Brick and played homefield advantage at Rose and Crown. Met some Terminus Legion members there and had a good time despite the result. The game was over early and the fear of not making it out of the group started creeping to the surface.

Mexico v Uruguay

Crazy game with the ten men of Uruguay taking it to El Tri. In the end, Rafa Marquez put Mexico in front and a third was added to put a period on an entertaining match.

US v Costa Rica

Headed to Rose and Crown again. The US got an early goal and put the match away before halftime. Jurgen stayed with the same line up and the team pressured Los Ticos, creating lots of chances.

US v Paraguay

After watching England v Russia at the Righteous Room I went to Fado Buckhead for the AO ATL event. Getting there early allowed me to get in the door, with Terminus Legion setting up on the roof right next to a reserved area for an engagement party. Cannot imagine what they thought as fans kept filling the rooftop and going mental with the US goal and Yedlin red card.

Brazil v Peru

After playing with the TL team in the Sons of Pitches Supporters League, I made the short trip to Bottle Rocket in Castleberry Hill. Watched the first half with the Castleberry Hill Athletic Club and then headed home for the second half. After missing the dramatic events of the previous nightcaps (Chile’s late late PK and Costa Rica stunning Colombia) I watched all the way to the end. My reward: seeing Brazil getting absolutely screwed.

US v Ecuador

With kickoff at 9pm and me being old, I stayed close to home at Rose and Crown. Ran into some of the ATL Evertonians, met up with frequent pod guest JR Francis and met some new soccer fans. The US played well and with the second goal I relaxed. Bad idea as Ecuador pulled one back and made things nervous at the end.

Mexico v Chile

When I showed up at the bar after watching a Georgia Revolution game, it was 2-0 to Chile at halftime. Over the next 45 minutes I didn’t know if it was fatigue or alcohol or something else influencing my vision as El Tri were eviscerated.

US v Argentina

After a rough weekend I stayed home and watched the game on the couch. This also allowed me to engage the twittersphere. Hot takes ahoy! I was upset that we lost (though not surprised) but was really pissed at the lineup choices. Yes Jurgen was forced to make changes but I would have not made those changes. The game was over early and just had to be endured.

Argentina v Chile

I headed to Fado Buckhead to meet up with the Terminus Legion gang to watch the Copa America Centenario Final. I was surprised to find the bar full of fans of each team and, as the teams walked out for the national anthems, tension was in the air. The game was standard South American fare—fouling, whining, handbags and occasional skill. The referee was front and center with several questionable decisions. I spent most of the match talking with fans because the conversation was much better than the game. Once normal time was over I left, knowing that I could get home before penalties. Sure enough, kicks from the spot were required and when Messi missed his, I thought only Romero can save him now. No chance. While Messi will end his career without an international trophy, no one can deny his greatness.

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This was a special tournament, a celebration of soccer in the Americas. A few memorable moments dotted the event but don’t see this edition living long in the memory. US Soccer is posturing to reshape international events in this hemisphere and I hope their efforts do not come to fruition. Each region needs a quadrennial competition to showcase the teams and bring the festival to different parts of the continents. But money talks so see everyone in 2019 or 2020.

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Confederation Combination and World Cup Expansion

At the recent FIFA meetings, the possibility of a 40 team World Cup was raised and fellow soccer fan/on field adversary Ben Dettmar had to poke the bear on facebook. His post raised two issues: an expanded World Cup and a combined soccer confederation including all of the Americas.

Let me take the second issue first. A combined CONCACAF (41) + CONMEBOL (10) would be similar in size to UEFA, so a western hemisphere bi annual or quadrennial competition (prefer the latter) to replace the Copa America and Gold Cup and an expanded qualifying series make sense. The Gold Cup is relatively recent so it’s passing would not be that big of a deal but the Copa America is one of the first international competitions with a hundred years of history. Suppose life moves on but that did occur to me. Plus how would you qualify for the tournament? That makes the quadrennial option much more plausible and would put the Americas on a similar international cycle as Europe.

For listeners of the World Football Phone In, Tim Vickery has made the case several times about the merits of the South American home and away qualifying cycle. Teams earn their way by playing everyone. He is also of the opinion that the minnows are strengthened by playing the big boys every cycle. I agree with the first, not sure on the second. South America is perfectly set up for a merit based qualifying system due to having ten countries whereas other confederations have too many members to make this feasible.

But a combined confederation raises the issue of travel. Canada draws Chile and that’s 5300 miles one way. Costs and travel time could hamper this endeavor, especially for smaller nations. Ben brought up the comparison of Kazakhstan to Iceland being of a similar distance so even Europe has travel issues. Putting travel to one side, if the two confederations were to combine, there should be some sort of tiered system similar to CONCACAF. Imagine a double hex final round with the top six to eight progressing to the World Cup and really interesting games like Mexico v Brazil or US v Argentina. Something to think about.

Again, this is an interesting idea and a fun hypothetical exercise but not a must for me. A combined confederation has pros and cons but not enough pros to undo over 100 years of history, organization and unique football culture. I did not even think about the impact on the club game because for me that is a non-starter due to logistics and CONCACAF teams having almost no shot at the FIFA Club World Moneygrab.

As for the expanded World Cup, I admit I’m totally against it. However, I took some time to look at the history of place allocation and other factors to create a more informed opinion.

From 1950 to 1970, it was a 16 team competition that catered to South America and Europe. In 1966 CONCACAF was guaranteed one spot and only in 1970 did African and Asian teams avoid an inter-continental playoff to qualify. These three areas were only allotted three spots total until 1982, when the tournament grew to 24 teams and CONCACAF, CAF and AFC were granted two spots each. Africa gained a spot in 1994 and the enlarged field of 32 in 1998 saw the following distribution:

  • Europe (UEFA): 15 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier France, while the other 14 places were contested by 49 teams.
  • South America (CONMEBOL): 5 places, one of which went to automatic qualifier Brazil, while the other 4 places were contested by 9 teams.
  • North, Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF): 3 places, contested by 30 teams.
  • Africa (CAF): 5 places, contested by 38 teams.
  • Asia (AFC): 3.5 places, contested by 36 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from OFC).
  • Oceania (OFC): .5 place, contested by 10 teams. The winner of the 0.5 place would advance to the intercontinental play-offs (against a team from AFC).

This has been the approximate make-up of the tournament, with the values dependent on hosting countries. Europe contributing almost half the teams is quite interesting. Yes the continent has a history of success and top level teams but I considered the distribution of teams based on population and found this:

Places % of WC % of pop
UEFA 13 41% 10%
CONMEBOL 5.5 17% 6%
CONCACAF 3.5 11% 8%
AFC 4.5 14% 60%
CAF 5 16% 16%
OFC 0.5 2% 1%
32 100%

Ben raised the issues of more participation for underserved regions of the world as a consideration for a bigger tournament. Don’t disagree with his idea but seems like the matter could be solved by tweaking the allocation of the 32 places rather than having more people at the party. I mean if I was Asia, I would be asking some questions of Europe and South America, especially if evaluating from a population perspective.

A 40 team tournament doesn’t make sense from a logistical perspective. First you start with size of each group. Either an unwieldy ten groups of four or an awkward eight groups of five. Either way, every day would have to be a quadruple header to get the extra games to keep the tournament around 30 days long.

Then how do you determine the round of 16? 10 group winners and 6 best second placed teams? But imagine finishing second in a group and progressing. Plus the Group Stage draw the December ahead of the World Cup would have a huge impact on possible success. Ben suggested eight groups with the top team going through and 2 and 3 playing a 1 game e to see who makes it. Gives an incentive to win group and also means last place team will usually have a shot still by the 4th game! But what about the group winners would have to sit around for a week while this goes on?

A footballing festival of about a month every four years seems about right. Any more than that, it becomes on par with the playoff series of American sports. That many games for that long of a period during the Group Stage could lead to World Cup fatigue. In addition, a larger World Cup would further narrow the nations that could host this event (unless FIFA moves to a pan-continent hosting plan), which wouldn’t be fair to developing soccer countries.

I gave the concept of a 40 team World Cup a shot but 32 is a great number. Thirty days of excitement, drama and excellence is ideal, and I just think the distribution of places should be tweaked. It’s almost impossible to determine the 32 best teams anyway so each continent trims it down via qualification and let the party begin. My basic tenet is more is not better. The recent hubbub around the expanded Euros should be kept in mind but we’ll see if this is a one off or a trend. So FIFA concentrate on internal corruption and leave the World Cup alone.

Strip Club–Floater Edition

DC United entered the 1997 season as the defending MLS Cup and US Open Cup champions.  Bruce Arena refreshed the squad with a couple of players, most notably Scott Garlick and Roy Wegerle.  Jaime Moreno was the leading scorer in a team that included Harkes, Agoos, Williams, Sanneh and Etcheverry.

jaime-moreno-1997

The team finished the regular season with the Supporters Shield and had a chance at four trophies.  After dispatching the New Revolution and the Columbus Crew, United met the Colorado Rapids in the 1997 MLS Cup Final. The Rapids were the fourth seed out of the West and goals on either side of halftime had United cruising, but the visitors pulled one back with 15 minutes to go.  DC was able to grind out the rest of the match and retained their MLS Cup crown.

dcunited_1997

Days later, DC United played the Dallas Burn in the US Open Cup Final.  After a scoreless 120 minutes played in very cold conditions, the match went to penalties.  Dallas went first, converted all five, and won 5-3 as Diaz Arce missed for United.  (Great recap here from FC Dallas). The Domestic Treble was gone.

On the International front, DC United competed in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.  The club met United Petrotrin FC from Trinidad and Tobago and beat them 1-0 to advance.  Their opponent in the Semi Finals was the LA Galaxy and LA got a little bit of revenge from the MLS Cup defeat the previous year, winning 1-0 on an early Cobi Jones goal.
dc united third shirt

One of my previous posts looked at the inaugural home shirt for DC United and for their second season the club kept the same home and away jerseys but added a third jersey.  The color scheme for this alternate shirt was very patriotic and could have been a throwaway from the kit design for the US in the 1994 World Cup.  The badge was sublimated throughout on the shirt accented by three stripes.  The Columbus Crew used the same template.

columbus-97-away

I picked up the shirt at an adidas outlet store and it was a size too big.  The fashion of the time was loose fitting but I definitely did not make a wise decision.  It was like a soccer themed sail on my skinny frame so I didn’t wear it very often.  Obviously I didn’t have the player issue and the fabric was much different than the home and away shirts, being much more polyester based and not breathing well. This shirt was another victim of my periodic kit purges but I think the design could be re-introduced.

dc-united-uniforms-thru-2008-731x1024

MatchDay Memory–Summer 2013 Part Two: International Competitions

As for televised games, Mid-Michigan United had great turnouts for the USMNT qualifiers against Jamaica, Panama and Honduras.  The Americans secured all nine points and are all but assured of a spot at World Cup 2014.  Jozy Altidore reclaimed his spot as the top forward and the defense held firm, only giving up one goal in 270 minutes.

Next up was the Confederations Cup, and my interaction with the competition was spotty at best.  Tried to check in on matches and watch highlights when I could.  The Final was the Spain versus Brazil game that the world had been anticipating for four years.  And it wasn’t even close.  Spain got thrashed.  Bayern, Chelsea, Italy and now Brazil have shown the way to defeating the Spanish/Barca system—an athletic team with fitness and organization.  Of course there were huge momentum swings—David Luiz saving Pedro’s goal in the first half, an early goal from Fred in the second half and Ramos’ missed penalty.  All those world class forwards and you let a center back take the kick?  By the way Ramos needs to go back to right back.  He’s not awesome in the middle and Arbeloa is lost and truly the weakest link.

Just before the European club season kicked off, the Gold Cup wrapped up.  I admit at the outset I was not interested at all.  The US sent a B team to a second rate competition in substandard region.  I got together with a couple of MMU guys and watched the last group game against Costa Rica.  Brek Shea scored his first international goal as the Stars and Stripes finished the group stage with maximum points.  The next game I took in was the semi-final against Honduras.  A solid performance took the Klinsmannschaft to the final against surprise package Panama, who dispatched a struggling Mexico.  I was only to catch the first half of Final, due to an over 30 game.  That was awful 45 minutes.  In the end the US won and now have at least half a chance of playing in the 2017 Confederations Cup.

The National Team got a lot out of the competition.  They were able develop the player pool, reintegrate Donovan into the team and get Jurgen a piece of silverware.  With the squad all but in the World Cup and with Mexico struggling, the US is back on top in the region.  Everything now should be developing a balanced team that can progress from the group and have a legitimate shot to do damage in the knockout.  Again it will be down to the draw.

Old Futbol Buffet–On to the HEX

Due to work, I could only watch the second half of two games from Europe.

Croatia 2  Wales 0

I tuned in to the match as they showed highlights of the first half.  Comical goal for Croatia as a poor back from a Welsh defender put the GK under pressure.  His clearance hit off Mandzukic and he rolled it in for the opener.  Memories of Paul Robinson from years ago.

In the second half Croatia was all over Wales.  Lewis Price did all he could but eventually Eduardo knocked in the second after the visitors couldn’t clear the ball.  The Welsh tried to get back into the match, with Bale going on several “lung bursting” runs, but no dice.

Spain 1  France 1

The second half started with Spain knocking the ball around, looking dangerous and searching for the killer second goal.  A missed PK by Fabregas in the first half allowed the French to stay close and eventually they turned everything around, with Benzema and Ribery leading the attack the rest of the team completely shutting down the Spanish.  Torres looked awful.

As they tried to close out the game, Cazorla lost it in the corner.  A loose pass from Les Bleus in transition gave the Spanish the ball, but Juanfran (on for the injured Arbeloa) got a little too fancy, lost the ball, and Ribery drove at the goal and crossed in for Giroud who directed the ball into the back of the net.

Graham Hunter still thinks La Furia Roja will win the group but the match revealed some of the weakness of the team’s personnel and tactics.  Everything to play for in March.

Couple of other notes from Europe . . .

As I was trying to stay on top of everything, twitter was buzzing as Sweden came back from 4-0 to tie Germany. Ze Germans were cruising after an hour and then the fireworks.  Christoph at An Old International enjoyed the first two thirds of the match as Germany’s dynamic produced startling results.  But what happened after that?  He points to the defensive frailties that have plagued the team for the last couple of years, using matches against Ukraine, Switzerland and France as reference points.  Plus there was the Italy game last summer, where the Azzurri were organized in defense and clinical in attack.  Germany are still one of the top teams for 2014 but can this generation win before the window closes?

Nathan Motz’s summary of the Portugal v Northern Ireland game (1-1) for Portugoal.net generated a voluminous comment thread with fans throwing out excuses and optimism and player suggestions.  A common theme is to add Danny to the mix as a means of unlocking opposing defenses.  Have to say they need something.  Right now the Portuguese are just not scoring enough and I worry that another slip up may let Israel in to the playoff position.

Moving on to South America . . .

Tim Vickery summed up where things stand in South America qualifying for ESPN FC.  Basically Messi is coming into his own; Uruguay is slipping while Ecuador is rising; Venezuela have a chance at making their first World Cup; and all nations are still in with a shout. Have to disagree on that last one.

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USMNT 3  Guatemala 1

I wasn’t expecting much for this match as both teams only needed a draw to advance.  But then Ruiz scored five minutes in for Guatemala and the blue match paper was well and truly lit.  The US took hold of the game and battered the visitors into submission with three goals before half time.  Johnson and Zusi switched flanks, Bradley was all over the place and the team had an edge to it.  Only have a couple of concerns.  Feel that Williams is just a touch too slow in his decision making.  Could cost them against better opposition.  Bocanegra was restored to the middle and while he did a decent job throughout the match, his lack of pace was exposed on the opener.

The second half was more of what I expected, as the tempo really came to a crawl.  Once I determined that there wasn’t going to be much action, I chatted it up with some of my fellow soccer Mid Michigan United supporters that came out.

Introducing a new blog segment, What We Learned.

  • Shawna has interesting views on our Caribbean neighbors.
  • She really wants everyone to try hot yoga.
  • She doesn’t think Chelsea is the same without Drogba.

 

  • As for Josanna, she is Bohemian.
  • She can work while watching soccer.  Something I fail to do no matter how hard I try.
  • She is playing real soccer this session at Soccer Zone as opposed to the fake soccer she played last session when I was on her team.

Paolo Bandini recapped the game for the Guardian from a deafening Livestrong Park.  He commented on Klinsmann’s first 14 months in charge, noting there is much to be done but having Bradley back in the squad is a big boost.

Grant Wahl focused on Eddie Johnson’s return the National Team for SI.com.  A surprising choice at the outset, the current Seattle Sounder played every minute and had two goals, none more important than the last minute winner in Antigua on Friday night.  Played more of a left mid, he gives depth to the team and will also push the projected starters—Donovan and Shea.

Old Futbol Buffet–Jozy Who?

Heading into Antigua match the US was without Fabian Johnson (flu) Edgar Castillo (foot), Landon Donovan (knee), Brek Shea (abdominal strain) and Jose Torres (foot).  Plus Klinsmann did not pick Jozy Altidore.  The SI Soccer Roundtable panel on 10/11 discussed these issues, with Grant Wahl feeling that now is not the time to be sending messages to players, rather now is the time to qualify for the next round.

Jeff Carlisle looked at Altidore’s omission for ESPN FC, with Klinsmann being clear to the media that he has not been happy with Jozy’s performances during his tenure.  I agree.  I’ve been saying since his introduction to the team that his first touch is poor and his link up play with his teammates is very spotty, all aspects that Carlisle, Klinsmann, Altidore and others identify.  Carlisle also mentions that despite his poor play for the National Team, he should still be in the squad, stating “That’s not to say Altidore should be starting, but omitting him entirely seems a step too far.”

Due to a poker party at my house (read poor planning) I missed the game against Antigua and Barbuda.  I was planning to stay away from the score and watch the replay Saturday night, but finally said screw it.  Eddie Johnson made his mark on his return to the team, validating Klinsmann’s decision to not call in Jozy.  The US secured three points with a 2-1 win on the road in less than perfect conditions and now just require a draw on Tuesday against Guatemala.

Ridge Mahoney of Soccer America did player ratings after the match, with rough scores for Gomez and the center back paring of Goodson and Cameron.  Grant Wahl also shared his thoughts on the game for SI.com.  Johnson saved the proverbial bacon but Grant stated that the US should do better against CONCACAF opposition and that there may be possible regression under Klinsmann.  He did make mention of the impact made by MLS players on the match, including Johnson, Gordon and Zusi.

Looking to South America, I watched highlights from Argentina/Uruguay and Colombia/Paraguay.

Argentina won 3-0 with goals of exceptional quality.  The second was the result of incisive interplay which left Aguero wide open to tap in.  The third was just wrong.  After several blistering free kicks against Real Madrid in the opening weeks of the season, Messi hit a grass cutter that put the game beyond reach.

Colombia kicked Paraguay to the curb 2-0 as Falcao broke a defender’s ankle for the first and schooled a stretched defense for the second.  The result keeps Colombians third but gives them some breathing room above Uruguay

Tim Vickery recapped Friday’s matches for the BBC while looking ahead to Tuesday.  Venezuela could take a big step towards qualifying for their first World Cup if they can get a result in Ecuador.  Meanwhile, early leaders Chile and Uruguay are in free fall.

Circling back to Europe, Andy Brassell saw Capello’s men strike early and frustrate Portugal for ESPN FC, citing that control did not equal creation and Nani did not do enough with his time on the ball.  Plus there is problem up top as Postiga is probably not the player to lead the line.  For the hosts, they were well organized and look to make strides under their Italian coach after a disappointing Euros.

Graham Hunter examined the absence of Mata from the Spanish squad ahead of the two qualifiers.  Like Altidore for the US, it seems strange that the player is not even in the squad.  Mata has been sparkling for Chelsea and surely should be included as an impact sub if things got tricky.  I will be interesting to see his status next spring.  If he remains out in the cold, the situation may become very tense. (Then Spain go out and spank Belarus 4-0.)

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Articles and Podcasts

A fellow soccer player in my area, Peter Alegi, wrote a post about the rise of the bookzine for the blog Football is Coming Home.  Examples would be the Blizzard, XI Quarterly and Howler.  When Jonathan Wilson started promoting the Blizzard on World Football Phone In and the Guardian and other outlets, I was like, Of course.  This medium provides depth and substance to subjects without the pressure of deadlines or the demands of writing an entire book.  Peter’s quote from Matthew Taylor noting the “literaturization of soccer” is spot on.  Wilson’s Inverting the Pyramid is perfect example of this, as Wilson examined tactics and how that aspect of soccer influence culture and vice versa in a way that goes beyond the typical soccer magazine or blog.

I have read snippets for XI Quarterly and Howler and have been impressed.  As soon as I get through my current pile of books (Barca, La Roja, and Bloody Confused), I plan to order the issues and get caught up. By the way, the books Peter mentions are fantastic reads and I would highly recommend those and (shameless plug) those listed on my Recommend Reading page.

In the same vein, Aaron Stollar had Howler Magazine’s Mark Kirby and XI Quarterly’s David Keyes on The Big Question podcast to chat about their genesis of each project, influences on their publications and the future of soccer coverage in this country.  Great listen as this country develops its own way of looking at the game.

Rediscovered the site True Colours Football Kits in my travels around the web this week.  John Devlin posted his Football Kit Five Point Plan, which is filled with common sense, meaning that there is no way it will be instituted.  His suggestions including making the life of the jersey at least two years and wearing the home kit as much as possible.  Good read.

Another article I came across was teams sticking to a one dimensional tactic.  James Sanderson spent some time for Football Speak exploring whether a team should devote itself to one style of playing whether that be long ball/route one or the tika taka of FC Barcelona and Spain.  He used the example of Barca in the last two Champions League semis in which they were defeated—Inter in 2010 and Chelsea in 2012.  Desperately needing a goal, the Blaugrana were met by organized buses that thwarted their progression.  Surely they should have a plan B, but they didn’t and still don’t.  James does mention the quandary, If you try to integrate a plan B, you may seriously weaken the fantastic play A.  He also spends some time playing pretend manager—would you rather play against a flexible team, using both current Manchester teams as examples, or an one trick pony?  Does make you think.

Finally, legendary soccer writer Brian Glanville was on the United We Stand pod to talk about Manchester United past, present and future.  Great stories about the Busby Babes were shared as well as comments on Sir Alex, the Glazer’s and the fan experience at Old Trafford.