Soccer – The Most Important of Life’s Unimportant Things

September 21, 2006


by @ 9:34 am.
Filed under Media, Miscellany

So, I watched “Once In A Lifetime” last night. You know, the movie about the New York Cosmos that was in all the theaters this summer and did such boffo box office that a sequel about the Tampa Bay Rowdies is in the works?

Yeah, that one.

It was a hugely entertaining move, provided you were born sometime in the cusp of the Baby Boom and Generation X, are an American, and are an incurable soccerphile.

All of which, of course, I am.

I don’t mean to give a review of the movie, other than to say I liked it, but I just wanted to point out one scene, which, I feel fairly certain, must contain the single most absurd thing ever uttered by a human being since the dawn of civilization.

Giorgio Chinaglia is being interviewed. While a prolific goal scorer in his day, both in Italy and the NASL, Giorgio was a bit of a headcase, and comes off as somewhat the pompous ass in this film. Which is okay, apparently, with Giorgio. Fine. I can respect that. He’s brash, arrogant, opinionated and cocky. But he could score goals, so, that’s acceptable to most people.


There is a passage in the film where he discusses Pele. The fact that Giorgio Chinaglia even got to sit in the same locker room as Pele, much less play on the same field as the man, should be enough for him. Really. Giorgio was good, but Pele is Pele. But Chinaglia is so full of himself, even 30 years later, to have the unfettered gall to say the following: “Off the field . . . a lovable man. On the field though, yeah, I had some problems with him.”

Let’s be crystal clear here, kids. Giorgio Chinaglia, on film, preserved for posterity, is denigrating Pele’s skills as a soccer player. He goes on later to imply that Pele’s fault was that he played too close to the center of the field, where Giorgio wanted to be, and that had he played a little wider, they both would have scored more goals.

As the young people say these days:

Oh. My. God.

Chinaglia criticizes Pele. How can one even respond to such a thing? Well, let me try.

First off, clearly this film was mis-named. Instead of “Once In A Lifetime”, a better title would have been “Giorgio Chinaglia Is A Friggin’ Nutcase”.

Let us, if we can, explore some historical parallels to such an outrageous statement, to clarify the outrageousness a bit more.

The guy who invented the paper clip says of Thomas Edison, “Oh yeah, a lovely guy, but as an inventor, just a bit unoriginal.”

Lewis says of Clark: “He’s a sweetheart, but as an explorer, you know, not intrepid enough for me.”

Judas says of John: “Don’t get me wrong, terrific apostle, but I thought he lacked a bit in the loyalty department.”

Mark McGwire says of Hank Aaron: “Tremendous guy. Had trouble with the curve, though.”

Idi Amin says of Pol Pot: “Fun at parties, but jeez, the guy had a temper”.

Do you see what I’m getting at here, people?

It was invaluable for me to have seen this film. I can now measure all future ridiculous statements by what I will now call “The Chinaglia Index.” I have the boys at NASA crunching the numbers as we speak, to calibrate the index precisely, but suffice it to say, it will take an absurdity of epic proportions to score more than, say 1.2 Chinaglias.

Your normal internet message board poster might on average rate, say, .4 Chinaglias, because they aren’t really expected to know what they’re talking about, while, say, a candidate for president who criticizes his opponents veracity, while himself being a mighty sleazeball, might get as high 1.5 Chinaglias.

I can’t even imagine what kind of statement might get two Chinaglias.

One shivers at the very thought.

June 7, 2006


by @ 7:47 am.
Filed under Media, Miscellany

Those foolish, foolish lads over at The All American XI let me write the header this week.

So, in honor of the upcoming World Cup, I made up a list of the All American Celebrity XI.

As you can imagine, it took quite a while to come up with a full complement. Really, I had to stretch the definition of “fan” a time or two, as well, but did not (boy scout’s honor) lower myself to the level of just making things up.

You may find a few surprises, and you’ll pick up some really excellent trivia to wow your friends and co-workers with, as they ask you all about this crazy “world cup soccer thingy” going on this summer. Because, if you’re reading this, let’s face it, you are the only one who knows anything at all about soccer in your immediate circle.

Or, you could be my mom, I suppose, and reading just out of blind loyalty.

(Hi, Mom!)

June 5, 2006


by @ 11:40 am.
Filed under Media, World Cup

Speaking of NY Newspapers, the Daily News (much more my speed, as compared to the Old Gray Lady) has Filip Bondy over in Germany, blogging about the festivities.

Hier ist ein snippet:

Everybody smokes in Germany, then rubs the Smoke in your Face. I’ve been to Norway, Czech Republic, France, Italy, UK, you name it, I’ve never seen anything like this. These People are proving a Point. By the time I got to the Soccer Session, my Shirt and Pants were stinky for the Duration of the World Cup and I was coughing for the first 10 Minutes of Interviews.

Add Mr. Bondy to your World Cup “must read” list.


by @ 10:50 am.
Filed under Media, World Cup

Because I am undeniably a flyover state bumpkin yayhoo hickboy, I generally don’t have much use for the New York Times.

(Except the obituaries, which they have raised to an art form, much like Roger Ebert has done for movie reviews.)

But having said that, I have to tell you, those boys are gettin’ it done when it comes to World Cup coverage.

Take, for example, Jere Longman’s profile of Bruce Arena. You can’t do much better than that, sportswritingwise.

Tolle lege y’all.

May 28, 2006


by @ 7:01 pm.
Filed under Media, Miscellany

The brilliant but anonymous author of the Bruce’s Belly blog has really gone upper 90 with this post: Experience and Innocence – The New American Soccer Player.

May 3, 2006


by @ 10:14 am.
Filed under Media, Random Thoughts, The International Game, World Cup

Here’s an interesting phenomenon to keep your eyes on. Go to Google, and type “nike + metatarsal”, then do it once a week over the summer. Let’s see how the number of articles and webpages blaming Nike for Wayne Rooney’s broken foot increase in that time.

I’d like to be a fly on the wall at the offices of Nike’s law firm right now. Sweatin’ a little, are we, boys?

April 14, 2006


by @ 2:09 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game

If you don’t know anything about the history of English soccer for the last 40 years or so, this won’t mean much to you, but, if you do, stop what you’re doing and go watch this brilliant commercial for Carlsberg beer.

If you’re in the former category, just know that having a Sunday league referee give Jack Charlton a yellow card, after having to ask him his name, is like Hank Aaron getting tossed out of a slow-pitch church league game. And having Stuart Pearce, one of the fiercest defenders ever to play, get a call from his mum in the dressing room would be like, oh, Atilla the Hun getting grounded for not cleaning his room.

April 12, 2006


by @ 10:13 am.
Filed under Major League Soccer, Media, Stream Of Consciousness

With the lovely Cid failing to pass a late fitness test, middle daughter Bay came off the bench and accompanied me down to the Metroplex for the game. The Lovely Cid is listed as “probable” for the next home game in two weeks against Kansas City. 

Bay is a great traveling companion. She’s bright, funny, and only once-in-a-while breaks into whiny shrillness (I hope she’s not reading this). The poor girl already suffers for having me not only as a step-dad, but also as her 6th grade English teacher, so she possesses a great deal of patience as well. Her main reason for going to the game with me was, of course, to get away from her siblings, but when I told her we’d be hanging with The Inferno, and that she’d be required to stand and make lots of noise for 90 minutes, that’s when she was really sold on the idea.

Of course, no sooner did we get there than she latched on to Gina, Hannah, and all the girls of The Posse Assembled. It was as if she was embarrased to be seen with me . . . but no, that couldn’t be it. Could it?

You couldn’t possibly have wanted a more beautiful evening for soccer, by the way. Ideal.

The crowd was kind of thin, again. But as it turns out, every profssional sports team in Dallas was at home that night. Mavericks, Rangers, Stars, and even the AA farm team in Frisco. I’m surprised the Cowboys didn’t have an impromptou scrimmage as well. Oh, and added to all that was the NASCAR race. I’m surprised and gratified there was anybody there at all, frankly.

We fell behind again in the first half, which usually spells doom for us. But, after last week’s rare come-from-behind victory, I wasn’t all that worried. Hmmm . . . being a goal down, but not being worried . . . it felt strange, foreign. Otherworldly, one might say.

I could get used to it.

As for the goal itself, well, it was a deflected free kick by Chris Klein. I heard people say they couldn’t tell whether or not it deflected, but believe me, it was most surely a deflection. I mean, it had to have been; projectiles just don’t magically change direction like that for no reason.

Well, okay, in Dallas they sometimes do. At least that’s what the Warren Commission said.

But I digress.

We equalized before halftime, Cooper from Ruiz. Two assists in two weeks for Carlos. He said he’d get 20 goals this year, but if he keeps dishing up these beautiful assists like he’s done so far, I’d be happy with 20 of those. Wouldn’t you?

By the way, in case you’re not hip to this fact yet, Kenny Cooper is a monster. The man is just flat out good. He’s going to own this league. They’re going to have to call it Major League Cooper.

At the beginning of the second half, somebody in the inferno lit a smoke bomb. Not just any ol’ smoke bomb, but, like, the mother of all smoke bombs. This thing was on steroids. Bay was standing not five feet from me and I couldn’t see her. This, by the way, was not an aspect of the game she particularly enjoyed. We were walking back to the tailgate after the game and she says “Ahh, I can still taste that thing!” Me, I was jusssst outside the reach of the smoke, so I thought it was great. Heh.

The great Scotty Garlick took an immense amount of abuse from the Inferno, by the way. I loves the Scotty, so I didn’t really take part. Most of the things the Inferno chanted, well, I’m not absolutely sure they can be repeated in a family column such as this one. He took it like a champ, however.

Memo to Mr. Garlick: I love ya, man, but you just GOT to lose the mustache, okay? You look like an extra from “Viva Zapata”.

Willo got his first goal in hoops to give us the win late in the second half. Sweet.

Gee I think that just about wraps everything up for this we . . . Oh, OH, OHHHH! One more thing!

Quick Quiz: Who made the game winning assist against Chicago, AND made a game-saving clearance off the line in extra time against RSL? Hmmm? Give up?


Now, is everybody sitting down? Good.

I want you all to stand up, raise your right hand, and repeat after me: “Without Bobby Rhine, We Would NOT BE UNDEFEATED; Bobby Rhine is a great asset to our team”. I’ll just wait here for everyone to go ahead and do that.

Okay, some of you aren’t doing it . . . I’m waiting.





Thank you.

There. Don’t we all feel better?

(Was that okay, Gina?)

Back at the post-game tailgate, El Jefe (which, as we know, is Spanish for “The Jefe”), hooked up the mini-dish so we could all enjoy rooting against both teams in the Galaxy v Fire matchup. If only there was a way each of them could have ended up with a loss, it would have been the perfect evening.

A few hearty souls ventured to the Frisco IHOP after all was said and done for a late-night repast. The manager there was very accomodating. He gave us over an hour to visit with each other while we waited for our food.

A big thank you to Harlan, Mama Lisa, and Alan for giving Bay and I a place to crash. I had originally planned to make Bay drive us back home to Oklahoma that night, but then she rightly pointed out to me that she’s only 11, and probably unable to reach the pedals anyway. Which was a really good point. Like any good leader, I re-assessed the situation and we went with another option.

See you folks next week for the away game against the John Denver All-Stars.

March 16, 2004

Marc Connolly

by @ 10:16 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game, US National Team

A fine article by ESPN’s Marc Connolly on one of my favorite players.

February 21, 2004

John Charles, R.I.P.

by @ 9:25 pm.
Filed under Media, Miscellany, The International Game, Uncategorized

From The Sunday Express (UK). Notice especially the last line. An amazing life, and amazing legacy.

Sporting, political and personal tributes from across the world have flooded in for former Welsh football legend John Charles who has died, aged 72.

During his career, Charles played for Wales, Italian giants Juventus, Leeds United, Cardiff City and Roma and was known as “the Gentle Giant”.

Earlier this month, part of Charles’ right foot was amputated in Milan due to gangrene caused by circulation problems, a month after he underwent heart surgery.

Last weekend, he was flown to Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield. He died there at 4.30am, this Saturday morning.

Wales’ first minister Rhodri Morgan led the tributes to the “world legend” and said: “We have lost one of the greatest Welshmen of the 20th century.”

The 6ft 2ins, 13 stone legend had iconic status among Italians where he was “almost regarded as a saint” for his powerful, professional and above all gentle manner, never having been booked or sent off throughout his career.

July 12, 2003


by @ 2:14 pm.
Filed under Media, The International Game

The US v El Salvador Gold Cup Opener . . .

. . . is not televised!


Oh sure, it’s on closed circuit television, sure enough . . . thank you so much for that. I’m willing to bet good money there’s not an establishment within 300 miles of here carrying this game on CCTV. Yeesh.

Which means I’ll have to follow it on U.S. Soccer’s Matchtracker, which is a step below listening on radio (not that the match is on radio, either, I’m sure).

I shouldn’t complain, because it wasn’t too long ago that the idea of seeing televised soccer at all was a pipe dream. These are the salad days for the longsuffering American soccer lover, my friends, make no mistake about it. When I was kid I craved soccer coverage even more than I do now, and there was nothing. The only time you were going to see soccer was occasionally on PBS (Mario Machado doing English First Division games, Toby Charles doing Bundesliga games . . . ahh sweet memories), or perhaps the rare NASL broadcast. Maybe highlights of the World Cup final. Maybe.

So I really shouldn’t complain.


I shouldn’t, but I will.

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