Blog Archives

#SavingTheCrew and U.S. Soccer

After a year of hell, the state of soccer in Columbus–and the United States–is back on track.

This time, when Crew fans chant that #HellIsReal, it’s a good thing.

We’re ready, FC Cincinnati.

Beginning this morning, reports were pouring in essentially stating the Columbus Crew–the original Black & Gold in MLS–will be #saved.

Actually, my mom tipped me off this morning via text while I was working on an unsuspecting Friday.

A mom who loves soccer and lives in Columbus? The best damn mom in the land! 

In a joint statement, the Columbus Partnership, Jimmy Haslam, and Dr. Pete Edwards, the Crews’ team doctor, stated: “While there are many details to be worked out, our alliance is working diligently and collaboratively with [MLS] to keep the Crew in its community. We are very excited about the quiet but deliberate progress that has been made to date and will keep the community updated as this process moves forward.”

-Jeff Carlisle, ESPN U.S. soccer correspondent

A rumored downtown stadium is also in the mix.

Major props to Ohio Attorney Mike DeWine and Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein for their legal work to #SaveTheCrew. And the major part–well, all of it–for this legal effort by Mr. DeWine and Mr. Klein is the Modell Law, which basically created a window for local investors to make a reasonable offer to keep the Crew in Columbus.

Quite poetic and perfect that the owner of the Cleveland Browns will be keeping the Crew in its hometown, isn’t it?

My favorite reaction today from a Cleveland Browns perspective is that Jimmy Haslam was thinking, “If I can’t find a good kicker, then I’ll just buy a professional soccer team.”

That was well played.

Deep down in my heart, I knew the Columbus Crew would somehow stay in Columbus. What did Joe Dirt say? “You can’t have no in your heart.” And now Columbus is reenergized to reclaim its rightful place as THE soccer capital of the United States, both on the pitch and in the stands (plus on Twitter).

After failing to qualify for the thrilling 2018 World Cup, the USMNT experienced an identity crisis, among other things. With the Crew staying in Columbus–the soccer capital of the United States–American soccer and the under-construction national team has a burgeoning identity rooted in the inspiring passion and relentless dedication of its fans.

Incredible.

The next step is revealing a sophisticated, creative and surprising tactical identity. That is still in the TBD-phase as the pursuit for a new head coach continues.

With the spotlight shining brightly on Columbus, the national media will now be forced to take note that goalkeeper Zack Steffen, defensive midfielder (and frequent USMNT captain) Wil Trapp and forward Gyasi Zardes make up the spine of the new USMNT. They come courtesy of the Columbus Crew. Just to be clear. And let’s also not forget that if an American is chosen as the next USMNT head coach, it will be the detail-minded Columbus Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter.

It’s not surprising that when U.S. soccer started to plot against the Columbus Crew behind closed doors that its national team suffered similarly along a parallel path. It worked in opposite fashion in the early part of this century with Dos-a-Cero when U.S. soccer and MLS celebrated the country’s first soccer-specific stadium and all the talent that Crew Stadium was home to.

Time for the pendulum to swing back in the right direction and for the new Crew front office to be inspired by Lamar Hunt’s winning legacy. Lamar Hunt can rest a little easier in Heaven tonight.

The Crew is being saved. Imagine what could happen to the USMNT if they begin embracing Columbus again with everything–and everyone–its capital city has to offer.

P.S. For good measure: 

C-R-E-W, f*$! you, Precourt, we SAVED THE CREW!

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FIFA Bids Farewell to Tradition in 2022

Image result for Gianni Infantino

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

With the 2018 FIFA World Cup coming to a close this weekend–third place on Saturday and the final on Sunday–people are already starting to look to the next World Cup in Qatar.

You know, that soccer-rich culture crazy hot Middle Eastern country that surely has at least one soccer ball within its borders.

While I am not a fan of people immediately dismissing the moment for the future, there was news that broke today that was eye-opening. FIFA President Gianni Infantino (Swiss) confirmed that said World Cup in Qatar four years from now will be November 21-December 18. And in announcing the unorthodox schedule for a tournament meant to be played in June and July, Mr. Infantino added this remark.

“Leagues around the world have been informed already, and of course they will have to adapt.”

“…of course they will have to adapt” is quite the statement to make regarding a host country whose bid process was a bit shady, to say the least. The perception looked like a cash grab by FIFA and Qatar with accusations of corruption in the voting process.

Having traveled to Qatar years back, it’s a nice country and I’m glad I stayed the night, having taken in its burgeoning skyline. It’s sort of a mini Dubai–the new Dubai–to a restrained extent. But when other soccer-rich countries and cultures lost the bid for 2022, that seemed a bit odd.

And now the FIFA president has the gall to speak down to the world’s top soccer leagues–steeped in storied history and tradition, as well as world-class talent–to force them to adapt?

FIFA should have adapted to the traditional needs of the World Cup and its participating coaches and players in awarding the tournament for 2022. Particularly given the historical fallout via corruption charges waged against former FIFA President Sepp Blatter (Swiss) and Co. in 2015 and FIFA officials concerning the Qatar bid, FIFA has yet to earn back the benefit of the doubt in cases like the 2022 bid.

FYI – The road of redemption for FIFA will be long and weighed down in a myriad of heated debates. And it doesn’t help that this road for FIFA is being built to travel through Qatar in November and December.

P.S. Liquor is heavily restricted in Qatar. Well, at least soccer fans aren’t famously known for drinking an alcoholic beverage or two, in a stadium or a pub, when watching the beautiful game…

P.P.S. One unresolved issue still under review is whether the 2022 FIFA World Cup will include 48 teams. No, no and no. It may be time for a competitive marketplace of alternative governing bodies to emerge to challenge FIFA and its endless train of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas as conducted by the Swiss. Perhaps it’s fitting this type of news broke on Friday the 13th. 

Argentina Finally Arrived (AFA)

This is a peek into at what peak-Argentina can look like in the 2018 FIFA World Cup with its superstar Lionel Messi running on all cylinders.

(Click Play–“Watch this video on YouTube” because of FIFA TV stuff–return to Jimmy’s Daily Planet)

Lionel Messi’s Argentina pulled off a necessary 2-1 win against Nigeria today to advance out of Group D with top-finisher Croatia. While more impressive than its first two games, Argentina has a steep mountain to climb when they play tournament favorite France in the round of 16.

Will this same intensity continue for Messi and his teammates? Will France overwhelm an Argentinian squad that looks like it’s barely hanging on?

One thing’s for certain: France vs. Argentina will be a blockbuster match with stars everywhere.

The Different Goals in the World Cup

Championships give Cristiano Ronaldo the edge over Lionel Messi as the greatest of all time

(Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images)

What makes a World Cup legacy?

When Spain won the 2010 World Cup whilst executing a transplant version of the famed total football tactics of the Dutch against the Dutch in the final–a surreal case of the body snatchers indeed–coupled with the parallel success of Barcelona at the club level, it became clear that Spain was the soccer capital of the world.

This impressive achievement was stylistic and generational.

Thus far in the 2018 World Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo has scored four goals in two games, which includes the game-winning goal in Portugal’s 1-nil win today against Morocco, while Lionel Messi hasn’t registered a goal or assist after 90 minutes against Iceland in the group stage. Both Ronaldo and Messi, for instance, are world-class soccer players and generational icons. The point is whether Ronaldo is genuinely tipping the scale in his favor in real-time in his rivalry with Messi for best player in the world because he’s scored/scoring more goals than his Argentine counterpart on soccer’s biggest stage?

If the 2018 World Cup ends up tipping the scales in this heated debate–this premise being a whole other debate–will goals or style of play weigh heavier in defining the (proposed) best player of his generation?

Either way, Messi will have his shot(s) tomorrow to add some goals to his tournament résumé and for his country, as well as some weight to his side of the scale.