ten words or less #41

mourinho rides callejon

callejón is content to be josé mourinho's "human segway".

I literally had to flip a coin to decide which picture would end up as the headlining selection for this week’s post. It was a dead heat between the eventual winner entitled José Rides Forward and Beckham Budweiser Ballin’. Each is awesome in their own right for various reasons. But I’m glad Mourinho won out though: just look how intensely he’s riding José Callejón, like an overdressed Portuguese jockey in the Kentucky Derby. The ride also must have proven inspirational for Callejón, as he bagged a brace in the very next game out for the Spaniards.

Picture of the week honors? Fate chose wisely.

Are Spain slipping, or is del Bosque losing the plot? - zonalmarking.net

Dear family members: here’s what I want for Christmas. – soccerbible.com

Marketing gone bad… so bad it could literally hurt. – football-shirts.co.uk

Which unnamed DP will be the recipient of this money? – kckrs.com

So what if it’s Nike’s old commercial in reverse. Brilliant. – grantland.com
(…props to my boy Marc for digging this out)

Marouane Fellaini: The Human Chia Pet. – FHM.com

Anybody else feel like booking a trip to Buenos Aires? - hotelbocajuniors.com

The tactics behind this week’s super entertaining Barça-Milan match. – zonalmarking.net

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risk and reward

Looking at the latest Premier League Form Guide, I should feel really good about Tottenham’s season thus far.

Tottenham Celebrating

though everything seems just peachy at the lane right now, i can't help but feel a little nervous about the rest of the season.

Monday’s 2-0 victory over Villa was Spurs’ eighth in their last nine — the only blip being the 2-2 draw against high-flying Newcastle back in October — with only Manchester City performing better during the same spell. They’re currently sitting third in the table, three points ahead of Chelsea, Liverpool and the hated scum of Arsenal with a game in hand.

Unlike last season, Premier League goals haven’t been hard to find and they’re coming from all corners of the pitch. Eight players have contributed to their 23 league goals thus far, hopefully indicating that their over reliance on Rafa van der Vaart to bag all of them is waning.

That said, the Dutchman has also been on form and — perhaps more importantly — happy so far this campaign, and is still leading the pack with six tallies to his name. Luka Modrić has seemingly put his summer transfer saga behind him and is again playing with the excellence that first attracted Chelsea’s envious eyes. Gareth Bale looks to have finally found the sparkling form that made him one of the most dangerous attackers on the planet at the beginning of last season. Aaron Lennon’s return from injury has seen him playing well too, with a brilliant and confident strike against Fulham to show for it. Defoe is looking content (so far) to be the super sub the club needs to provide a spark off the bench.

Not only that, but all of the major summer signings have turned out to be well worth the money spent. Adebayor is settled and provides the class tha’s been missing up front since Berbatov departed for greener pastures. Back from a few loan spells, young Kyle Walker has impressed at right back and even earned “Man of the Match” honors on his full England debut. Brad Friedel must know the location of the mythical fountain of youth, as the “wiser” presence in goal has been a massive upgrade from the gaffe-prone Gomes. And then there’s the work-horse defensive midfielder we’ve long been looking for,  Scott Parker combines intelligent distribution with crunching tackling to shore up Tottenham’s midfield.

In short, as a Spurs fan, I have a lot to be happy about.

So why is it that, a third of the way into the 2011-2012 Premier League season, I’m still feeling so uneasy about the rest of the campaign?

If you haven’t watched them play much yet, you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now. But after looking at their impressive string of results a little more closely, there are a few things that are concerning.

Aside from the wins over Liverpool, Arsenal and Aston Villa, most of Tottenham’s victories have hardly looked dominating. Though it’s great to see them show impressively against the big guns, their susceptibility to look disinterested against the so-called “lesser sides” has me worried. This trend of struggling where they should succeed was a large part of the reason they missed out on 4th last season, and I’m concerned that this trend is bleeding into this season as well.

In most games, Spurs have spells where they do look like the world-beaters every Yiddo knows they can be: controlling possession, executing lightning quick counterattacks, and showing impressive flashes of skill and swagger. But those bright spells are always balanced out by periods of apathetic, unconvincing or downright chaotic play. Even in Monday’s dominating win, Aston Villa had several missed opportunities (two involving ex-Spur Darren Bent) that were the result of absolutely horrid defending.

At times, I think caving to Rafa’s demands of playing in a central, support-striker role is at fault for the periods of erratic defending. If Redknapp is planning on playing van der Vaart and Adebayor at the same time, it means they have to play a 4-4-2 that leaves the backline a bit more exposed. This is especially risky in a counterattack-oriented offense like Tottenham’s: just look at how much room Scott Parker has to cover all on his own when everyone bounds forward.

Sure, leaving Rafa to play where he likes has yielded a number of… benefits. The least of which is a happy Rafa (which probably equals a happier locker room too), and the most obvious of which is the team’s impressive string of results. But it’s also van der Vaart’s demand that has been the root of the sides defensive fragility.

So let’s imagine for a second that Harry hadn’t caved and continued to play Rafa wide right. Though it would be at the expense of Lennon, playing Adebayor as a single striker opens up space in the line-up for a second holding midfielder who could stay at home on the breaks that tend to leave us susceptible to a counter-attack ourselves. Sandro hanging back to cover a streaking Walker or provide cover in front of the back four would allow Parker to move forward and create… or Parker for Sandro.

I’m not saying this is something we should be doing permanently. But it is an option that allows Harry to fit most of his offensive big guns on the field without leaving the defense shorthanded — something that will be key when we eventually face one of the more talented clubs again. And a little unpredictability never hurt anyone either.

Luckily, those moments of lost focus and mistakes do seem to be on a bit of a decline in the last few matches. Without a doubt, the side starting to gel together has a lot to do with that.

In fact, Redknapp has trotted out the exact same starting line-up in each of the last three matches. Consistency being the theme of this stretch, Harry also only looked to Defoe and Sandro as subs in those matches too. Looking back to the Liverpool match when their run of good form began, the manager’s only deviated from that line-up by one player in all of those other matches… and that leads to my other big concern.

the crowded tottenham hotspur bench

these guys can't be all that happy with spending so much time on the bench this season. what happens if spurs need to lean on them?

While it’s great to see an established First XI that are comfortable playing with each other, you can’t help but wonder how the rest of the squad players are taking it. We know Pav and dos Santos are aiming to leave in January, and it’s safe to assume that Kranjčar still would prefer to move on, especially considering his early season form. Sandro was a revelation last season, yet he hasn’t been offered much more than 15 minute cameos at the end of most match. And that’s ignoring the host of other first-teammers and up-and-commers that are probably itching for some face time.

Miraculously, we haven’t had much of a need for squad player so far. A majority of Tottenham’s stars have managed to avoid the training room for most of the season to this point. Conventional wisdom tells us that won’t continue.

So with the rest of the squad short on match sharpness, would Spurs be able to cope with the loss of a Bale, Parker, Modrić or Adebayor? I’m all for building team cohesion and allowing players to develop on-field understandings, but I just can’t shake the feeling that Harry’s lack of squad rotation might negatively affect the side when the injury bug does eventually bite.

I’m holding out hope that Redknapp’s just been biding his time to rotate the squad, and next weekend’s fixture against an inconsistent West Brom side does seem the perfect opportunity.

Tottenham's Kranjcar and Danny Rose

growing mustaches for cancer "awareness" will only keep niko and rose distracted from their lack of playing time for so long.

Why not give Assou-Ekotto or Walker a break to make way for Ćorluka or Rose respectively? Walker in particular, since the kid has literally been running his legs off for both Spurs and England lately. Scott Parker could also use the rest, considering the well-equipped Sandro more than ready to stand in. I’m even down to let Gio or Pav have a run out: if either shines, it could potentially net some additional transfer dollars in January… double bonus!

Honestly though, my knack for pessimism is probably the only thing that’s really shining through here. I should really quit my bitching, right?

The blowout losses to the Manchester sides seems like ages ago, and Spurs really have been pretty impressive this season. The boys look more than capable of competing for the Champions League places this season, not to mention their main competition (Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal) for those spots look prime for the picking.

Yes, the system Redknapp’s currently employing is paying dividends, but this also isn’t exactly the hardest portion of this season’s schedule. And I know that many of those squad players glued to the Premier League sidelines are getting minutes in the Europa League, but you and I both know that the quality of opposition in those matches pales in comparison to the Premier League.

I’m really happy with Tottenham, this year. I am. It would just put me at ease, moving forward, if Harry could show me these risky decisions are backed up by some a solid “Plan B”.

an open letter to sepp blatter

sepp blatter

blatter's racism remarks are just the latest in a long line of major gaffes by the fifa president.

Mr. Sepp Blatter
FIFA-Strasse 20,
P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland

Mr. Blatter:

I am writing with regards to your recent off-color remarks during an interview with CNN World Sport on November 16th, 2011. Considering all of the outrage that you’ve faced since it’s publication, I’m sure you know which remarks to which I’m referring. But just in case you’ve forgotten (as is probable with any 75-year-old man), or if any of the public that read this aren’t yet aware, I’ve quoted you below:

I would deny [that there is racism on the pitch]. There is no racism, there is maybe one of the players towards another, he has a word or a gesture which is not the correct one. But also the one who is affected by that, he should say that this is a game. We are in a game, and at the end of the game, we shake hands, and this can happen, because we have worked so hard against racism and discrimination. And on the field of play sometimes you say something that is not very correct, but then at the end of the game, the game is over and you have the next game where you can behave better.

Judging by those statements, you obviously haven’t been paying attention to the game you claim to govern and protect.

only potty mouths would cover their blab hole during matches.

If you had, you would have noticed that your sport’s most popular league currently has two ongoing investigations into on-field incidents of racism involving several very high profile players. If neither of those incidents ring a bell, perhaps you’ll recall an incident during last season’s much hyped series of Clásicos where Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets called Real Madrid’s Marcelo a monkey. And in case you hadn’t noticed, all of these incidents occurred on the pitch, which is pretty contradictory to your statements above.

Still not convinced that racism still exists on your hallowed professional pitches? In both Busquets’ and Terry’s alleged abuses, the accused both covered their mouths while speaking. I don’t know about you, but I only cover my mouth when I don’t want anyone to see what I’m saying. With these star players keenly aware that a million cameras are pointing at them, why else would they cover up what they were saying?

On top of that, you seemed shocked that everyone — and I do mean everyone — was so offended by your comments. It’s like you thought, “If Sepp deems it true, it is true!” But, instead of apologizing gracefully and owning up to your callous remarks, you swatted them to the side and threw up a picture of you and a racial minority, as if to say, “See it’s okay that I said that because I’m friends with a black guy!”

To be honest, we all should have expected this from you. After all, you are the same guy that suggested that women’s soccer’s would be more popular if the ladies would sport some shorts that hugged their rear-ends a bit tighter. You’re also the same guy that said John Terry’s adulterous life choices would have been celebrated if only he were in Latin America instead of Europe. And considering you didn’t think FIFA had a crisis on it’s hands when it was exposed that Executive Committee members were accepting bribes in exchange for their World Cup bid votes, we really shouldn’t have expected you to think racism was an issue anymore either.

Take a look around you, Sepp: your house is clearly out of order. Corruption runs rampant at nearly every level of your organization. FIFA effectively raped and pillaged South Korea and South Africa during the last two World Cups, leaving each country saddled with massive debt for unusable stadiums as you mandated tax loopholes that enabled you and your cronies to pocket more of the profits. The next tournament looks to be more of the same, assuming Brazil are even capable of pulling off all of the required preparations in time to host the damn thing.

fifa's motto should be weighing heavily on sepp's mind right now.With all of that in mind, it’s time to leave the game, Mr. Blatter. You’re stranglehold on world football has been too long, and it’s time to allow someone else to come in and clean up your mess. The sport needs a new direction, and you’re clearly not capable of providing the necessary leadership.

Disgracefully, gracefully, I don’t really care how you go. Just go. Hell, I’d be fine for you just to retire away to your native Swiss hills or the Caymans or somewhere else where you and your dirty money can be shielded by friendly bank privacy laws… we’ll just be glad to be rid of you. If you have any respect for the game you’ve been “serving” for so long, you know deep down that your resignation is — like FIFA’s slogan — “for the good of the game”.

Time’s up, old man.

D.J. Switzer
wrong side of the pond

a big dose of “aww”

As a married man that has yet to have his first kid, sometimes I feel like I’m constantly feeling pressure to start making babies.

angry feyenoord baby

while i want my eventual offspring to be a fan of football, THIS type of child fan might be a bit over the top.

My high school friends are starting to have kids, as are a few from college. There must be something in the water at work, as there at minimum five pregnant ladies wandering around the office right now. And anytime I bring up my wife around any of the lot, they feel it necessary to let me know that I’m effectively “on deck”. Hell, when we got a puppy a while back, my mother-in-law told us we should have had a baby instead.

It’s not that I don’t want to have kids, I just don’t want them yet. Considering that’s it’s a tiny miracle that I’m actually able to make it to work each day on time, it would be safe to say that I’m maybe not quite mature enough for that kind of responsibility yet.

Thankfully, my lovely wife has agreed to postpone having children, for a little while at least. I convinced her it’s so we can enjoy each other’s company sans-children, take some trips, etc. However — and perhaps more importantly — by delaying having a baby, I’ll still have the energy to get up and watch early morning soccer matches each weekend. Also thankfully, my wife very rarely reads my posts.

So, imagine my surprise this morning that, while I’m reading through my normal morning blogroll, I found myself thinking I wanted to have a kid of my own.

But, not just any kid. I want this kid:

How freaking awesome is he?!?! He knows damn near every player’s name, and he’s what, 6 or 7 at the most? And not only does he know their names, but he’s genuinely having his mind blown by seeing his Spanish heroes. That’s not to mention that he’s not even Spanish: he’s actually Costa Rican! I doubt there are more than a handful of 6-year-old grommets in the entirety of the US that can name half of the USMNT players on site, let alone the players from another country.

For those concerned that the poor little guy’s hopes were crushed because most of La Furia Roja passed him by despite his ear-splitting screams (I’m sure Carlos Puyol’s ears are still ringing after he decided to quickly bypass the youngster), worry not. As this linked video shows at the 3:08 mark, he was actually able meet a few of the stars. But that wasn’t enough for this young fanatic, as he was even so bold as to pet Fernando Torres’ magnificent blonde mop!

What… a… badass!

Now, I am perfectly aware I can’t have this particular kid. I’m sure his parents would certainly balk at the idea, not to mention the whole language barrier thing that might prove a tad problematic as well. So that leaves me only to hope that my eventual child will be half as awesome as this footy-obsessed toddler.

Sadly, that’s also making a big assumption that I won’t smother him/her so much with soccer that they end up hating the sport and preferring that disgusting gridiron variety just to spite me.

ten words or less #40

a.c. milan's antonio cassano

i left a get well card for cassano at the italian embassy. i sure hope he gets it.

I spent a majority of last week in the Nation’s Capital for my real world job’s annual company meeting, and to be honest, I’m completely worn out from it still. While capping off the event by partying into the wee hours of the night at the gorgeous Italian Embassy was a blast, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a small practice pitch on the facility grounds. Though considering the trouble that Serie A clubs have just trying to find the funds to build the desperately needed new grounds back home, perhaps it was a bit foolish of me to expect anything different in their small enclave in D.C.

Luckily, I found these links below to be of sufficient quality to fill my footy void.

Your owner cares only when you vote with your wallet. – twistedblood.co.uk

MLS latest attendance figures = Progress! – examiner.com

Bromley’s QR code haircuts: as stupid as they sound. – kickette.com

There’s no reading in football. – dirtytackle.net

My thoughts on Manchester United’s leaked 2012-2013 kits: Gag. – footballshirtculture.com
(the equally gagging away kit is here)

Qatar 2022: now featuring 100% less promised air conditioning. – soccernet.com

Retro-ish 20th anniversary Umbro Speciali’s? Yes please. – kckrs.com

This is why there are no African David Silva’s. – inbedwithmaradona.com

brek’s big break

If you were to ask any knowledgeable US Men’s National Team fan who they think the next “big thing” is for the national team, there’s a pretty good chance their response will be a young man by the name of Brek Shea.

fc dallas winger brek shea

shea's month with arsenal could be huge. emphasis on could.

The lanky, bleach blond winger has been one of the few bright spots in Jürgen Klinsmann’s short tenure at the helm of the USMNT. Shea has logged consistently solid performances for both club and country this season, and consequently, he’s received the lions share of the recent fan and media attention that had previously been reserved for Juan Agudelo and Jozy Altidore. Rumor is he’s even being tracked by some of Europe’s big boys.

For the most part, I’ve jumped on Shea’s bandwagon too. He’s quick for a kid of his size and strength, and is capable of taking part in an intelligent build up and executing the crafty flick here and there. He can play anywhere on the left flank, and seems to relish having the ball at his feel while he makes (sometimes overly) confident runs at defenders. His combination of speed, size and skill have even seen him go as far as to be labeled as the “American Gareth Bale” by at least one overly zealous writer. That said, he’s still a rough product that needs some development to unleash all of his potential.

But Brek’s potential is still considered of high enough quality to open up some doors this MLS off-season. At the urging of the Jürgs, the next “it” thing in US soccer has landed himself an enticing opportunity: a month-long training stint under the tutelage of Arsène Wenger at Arsenal.

As you could probably guess, this is a really good thing for Shea, MLS and US Soccer. First and foremost, Wenger is famous for his ability to bring out the best in young, talented players. Brek will almost certainly improve in small space situations through the training (after all, this is Arsenal we’re talking about), and hopefully he’ll gain some valuable insight by picking the brains of the Gunners’ big name stars.

Whether a month is enough time for the Frenchman to make a drastic impact on his development remains questionable, but he’ll still undoubtedly benefit from the drastically more competitive/intense training environment present at the Arsenal’s Colney training complex. Even greater dividends could be paid if he’s able to get the nod in a reserve match or two.

So while I’m elated for the guy, I can’t help but wonder why it was Arsenal where Shea landed. Yes, Arsenal are a “big” club with “top” players that looks nice on a press release. Yes, their manager is renown for unearthing diamonds in the rough. And yes, I know he’s going to get excellent training with the Gunners.

But, for those who do claim that Shea is the American version of Bale — a comparison I find a bit overblown for a number of reasons —  where he’ll bomb up the left side of the pitch, scoring and providing world-class service, I just don’t think that’s Arsenal’s developmental forté.

Why? Quick, name me the last great winger that came out of Arsène Wenger’s squad.

Andrei Arshavin has looked more a flash in the pan than legend in the making. I hope you weren’t thinking Theo Walcott, seeing as he’s a self-professed center forward. Samir Nasri would be a good answer, but he played his best football for the Gunners while filling in through the middle during Fàbregas’ absence last year. You really have to stretch all the way back to Robert Pirès back in 2000-2006 before you get to the last world-class winger that called the Emirates/Highbury home.

Truth be told, Wenger’s teams usually employs inverted wingers. These guys generally aren’t pushing all the way down the touchline and trying to get off a cross, but instead they like to cut in from the flank towards the center. If precedent tells us anything, Arsene’s influence on the impressionable Shea will likely cause him to pinch inside a bit more frequently too.

usmnt's brek shea

could shea landing at arsenal be an indication of the type of winger that klinsmann wants him to be for the USMNT?

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, and it certainly wouldn’t hurt for Brek to hone this area of his game too. It’s just not entirely Bale-esque if you ask me… but then again, maybe that’s the point.

Is this a clue as to how Klinsmann is trying to shape our national team? Are we moving away from the traditional American 4-4-2 with wide wingers, and moving towards a more modern 4-3-3 with an interchangeable front three?

If we were really aiming to hone Brek in the Bale fashion, you would think we would have sent him somewhere that normally utilizes traditional wide wingers. If he had gone to Spurs, he could have learned from playing under Bale himself and Lennon. At Liverpool, he could have worked with Henderson and Downing. Or if he went to train with Manchester United, he could have been tutored by Nani, Park, Valencia and Young. Wouldn’t those players be better templates to mold a young player on that was going to be utilized on the wings of the pitch than with the inside cutters at Arsenal?

Of course, it is entirely possible that I’m reading way too much into this. Maybe Shea ending up in North London had more due to with being a random opportunity, a personal relationship that Klinsmann has with Arsenal’s management, or (more likely) the handy work of agents rather than a handpicked club that will sculpt Brek into a particular type of player.

Perhaps this is actually more of a trial than Arsenal are actually letting on at this point. The Gunners aren’t exactly a team with size, and you could see a use for Shea in Wenger’s side if he can develop properly. Assuming Arsenal are sizing up a potential move for the FC Dallas winger, you can understand MLS’s willingness to risk injury to Shea in a training arrangement. Considering they just inked Brek to a three-year extension earlier this season, his price tag should be significantly higher.

Let’s be honest though, we don’t really know all of the inner workings of why Shea is going to Arsenal, nor do we have any guarantees that the experience will be a gigantic boost to his abilities. All we can do is speculate and hope for the best… and maybe Arsène forcing him to get a haircut.

umbro x new york cosmos

There was a package of awesome sitting on the front stoop when I got home from work last Friday.

I knew it would be there. Like an impatient twelve-year-old before Christmas, I’d been tracking the package on UPS’s website hourly for at least the previous day and a half. Knowing it had been sitting there since around 1:30pm ate me alive at the office, and I spent the better half of my Friday afternoon debating feigning illness so I could leave work to race home and retrieve it earlier.

well, look what we have here.

Suffice to say, this just wasn’t any package.

Back at the beginning of October, the newest addition to the New York Cosmos “Tailored by Umbro” line — a smart-looking green away strip — was just starting to pop up around the blogosphere. My longstanding obsession with the Umbro x Cosmos partnership is well documented, so it’s not that surprising that my ogling and drooling continued with the latest rendition of the Cosmos iconic kits. So just as I did when all of their other gear dropped, I made mention of it on Twitter:

So while that tweet was standard procedure for me, what wasn’t was receiving a response about it directly from @Umbro_USA.

Not only had Umbro replied to one my tweets, but they also made mention of possibly providing me a freaking free sample of their uber-amazing Cosmos line?!?! Saying that I was stoked would be a gross understatement.

A few anxious weeks transpired after, with some exchanged PM’s and emails providing my size and the other items from the Cosmos range that I fancied. I was told they couldn’t make any promises on what would come, but I should expect something to show soon. It all felt so surreal: could this really be happening to me?

My minuscule fears of an elaborate Twitter trolling were allayed when my contact forwarded me the shipping number early last week. Within three agonizingly long business days, the package for which I had so eagerly awaited finally made its way to my front door. And its contents were quite the sight to behold:

OOOOOOMMMMMMMGGGGG… umbro made it rain!

Umbro bestowed upon me a cornucopia of Cosmos swag so amazing, I could hardly believe my eyes. All three of their jerseys were included — the iconic remake of the white home kit, the still unreleased green away shirt I mentioned in that devine tweet, and my personal favorite, the bad ass jersey from the Cosmos Blackout line — along with a logo t-shirt and the team hoody. I’ve got to be honest: if they had promised me they were sending this much at the beginning, I doubt I would have belied them and probably would have dismissed further discourse as spam.

i love that the cosmos have stuck with their retro badge thus far, and hope they continue to do so if they land MLS franchise #20.

As it turns out, this was actually the first time I had seen any of the Umbro x Cosmos line in person, and the thing that immediately stood out about the jerseys is how light and comfortable their fabric felt after pulling them on. Unlike your standard polyester based, sweat-wicking jersey, the tailored shirts feel more like a cross between a stone-washed t-shirt and a really light towel. An odd comparison for sure, but it’s definitely a plus. While I can’t vouch for how the material would perform in match conditions, they are extremely comfortable to simply wear around.

surprisingly, the jerseys don’t feel like your average jersey. and that’s not a bad thing.

Ignoring the fabrics’ feeling, it’s really in the visual department that these Tailored by Umbro masterpieces impress. Each provides a modern, updated look that embodies the style and panache of the legendary NASL side. Simplicity is the name of the game when it comes to Umbro (a design preference I share with them), though it’s the Manchester-based company’s attention to detail that makes them one of my favorite kit manufacturers.

this is the piping on the inside of the blackout jersey collar. nobody will ever see it, but it’s little details like this that make me gush.

the hoodie’s zipper has their diamond silhouette in it… it’s the little things.

This detail-oriented approach has been a hallmark of Umbro’s recent renaissance in product design, and has been balanced with brilliant marketing efforts that pay just as much attention to the little things. I’ve been particularly impressed with the Umbro Blog and the Kasabian England away kit launch as innovative ways they keep in touch with their core target market, but their other efforts deserve recognition too.  Shoot, just using the phrase “Tailored by Umbro” is a great marketing ploy: it not only tells the consumer they can buy a shirt that fits just right, it also gives the impression that you’re buying a product of higher quality. Genius stuff, really.

oh, that jersey has been tailored to my size? i better buy it then.

So all in all, while I was obviously ecstatic about the anonymous benevolence of our all-seeing Umbro Twitter overlords for selfish reasons (find me someone who doesn’t love free stuff, and you’ve also found a liar), I was also all geeked out because this amazing experience made me feel like “one of the big boys” in the world of football blogging.

Over the years, I’ve read new gear review unboxing posts on all the major blogs with envious eyes. Those guys seem so damn lucky: not only do they get write about soccer for a living, but they also have the manufacturers sending them freshest boots and gear to try out a gratis in exchange for some publicity and page views.

But thanks to Umbro — and their marketing partner Offside Media — I now know the euphoria and excitement those other established bloggers must experience every time they do an unboxing. And it gives me the opportunity to undertake nerdy photo editing projects like the shot to the right.

@Umbro_USA, you were able to squizz way, way more than a sample my friend. If it hasn’t come your way yet, I’m sure you’ve got a big wave of awesome karma heading your direction.

UPDATE: Just in case you want to see more of the Umbro x Cosmos line, I’ve posted all of my unboxing photos on the WSOTP facebook page.