I’m not sure how your corner of the globe has been lately, but I feel fairly certain that global warming is slowly converting the Ohio Valley region of North America into Southeast Malaysia. The humidity is hovering somewhere around 187%, temperatures are consistently in the mid-90’s, and the smog has been so thick the last few days I can eat it with a spoon.
What does this all mean for you readers? I rarely venture outside into this sauna-like weather, thus enabling me to unearth some interesting reads.
Plans to renovate Silverdome for soccer on track – freep.com
While I was surprised to see that there was still a movement to get Detroit — a.k.a. Zombieville, USA — back on professional soccer’s radar, I wasn’t surprised in the slightest to read that the group behind the MLS bid is Greek. During the half decade of my youth that I spent living in the the Motor City, and even during subsequent trips back to the area in my adult life, I always felt like a minority amongst all of the curly-black haired, Mediterranean, Greek, Armenian and Assyrian-americans that call the city home.
The Apostolopoulos family’s ambitious plan to convert the Silverdome into a soccer specific stadium is revolutionary to say the least, and in my eyes, the only way MLS could possibly survive in the modern wasteland that is Detroit. By turning the Silverdome into a two-level stadium — an open-air, soccer-specific stadium on top and an enclosed inner stadium/convention center on the bottom — is a great way to get make enough revenue to sustain a team.
I can appreciate the positives from recycling the existing structure to make that happen (think green!), but I doubt that a soccer stadium on its own would have enough draw to justify the costs to convert the Pontiac location. Even better, it prevents an MLS bid based on putting a team in the vicinity of downtown Detroit from arising and ultimately failing.
And if we wan’t to keep the talk about revolutionary soccer ideas in the States rolling, maybe we could begin with a way to re-kick-start the youth development initiative in this country…
A football revolution – ft.com
I know i’ve been harping about the growing importance of statistical analysis in soccer since the early days of the blog, and today that trend continues. This amazing piece by the Financial Times‘ Simon Kuper gives insight into the slow but inevitible adoption of the use of statistics by clubs in their management and transfer dealings. Data analysts on staff at clubs across europe are having an increasingly larger effect on the footballing decisions that are made both on and off the pitch. As the author endearingly calls them, the nerds are finally conquering the jocks in the world of sport.
What I want to know is, wouldn’t an investment by American youth clubs in this sort of analysis make sense? Using analytics to identify and hone the techniques of the best of the best in the academy youth clubs around the country would be nothing but a benefit for all of the involved parties:
- Professional clubs with academies could identify and nurture potential star players earlier.
- Unaffiliated youth academies using these techniques would likely produce players recruited by top college programs, thus making them the most attractive option for players looking for a new club.
- It could allow clubs to see who would be best to continue on from year to year and weed out players that hamper development on a wider scale.
- Eventually, this could produce better players for national team selection.
Ignoring that those are all speculative positives, I think it could have huge positive . Unfortunately, this would require hefty investment for clubs, requiring the hiring of data analysts that don’t work for cheap. Perhaps a joint effort by MLS clubs, the USSF and the clubs themselves could be developed to help spread the costs?
Hey, speaking of countries that are providing the appropriate amount of focus on youth coaching and development…
Chicharito’s backheel winner/Giovanni dos Santos chip – youtube.com
As an avid U.S. Men’s National Team fan, it’s an unwritten rule that I should hate Mexico. I still hate Rafa <arquez because of the no-handshake incident from a friendly way back in 2007. I despise their fans for the unacceptable way they treat our boys when we visit the already inhospitable Azteca, so much so that I want to throw bags of piss at their players the next time they visit Columbus Crew Stadium. I openly root for their team to lose at every opportunity. But then things like this keep happening…
It pains me so much to admit it, but right now, I actually love watching El Tri play. Find me a more in-form striker than Chicharito, and I’ll give you the keys to my car. Couple his persistent class (and in this case, ballsy) finishing with his almost innocent joyful personality, and it’s almost impossible not to like the guy. The rest of the Mexican attack is creative and fluid, a joy to watch when compared to the drab play from the Americans at the Gold Cup. And they produced in adverse circumstances to boot. So while I’m not saying that i’m switching allegiances or anything, i just want to admit that i’m feeling guilty for liking this Mexico team. Please forgive me.
I have other guilty soccer pleasures. too. Aside from Chicharito and Giovanni dos Santos, new soccer kits are a crippling weak point of mine…
Football kits: Premier League teams turn style into a cash cow – guardian.co.uk
Long have I been an admirer of the design side of the soccer world, and as has often been detailed in this space, my love for jerseys/kits falls near the top of the subcategory of football design. This time of year is especially rewarding in that respect, as teams often reveal their kits for the upcoming season around the middle of the summer. My eyes are nearly constantly glued to jersey blogs like http://www.footballshirtculture.com, who update us on fresh kit templates, new manufacturers and updated sponsors on the kits from clubs across europe.
But I rarely stop to think about the fact the club that i love only blesses me with a new kit to admire every year so that they can steal another $80 from me. I shelled out extra last year just to land the “Cup Sponsor” edition of Tottenham’s kit, just because I didn’t like their league sponsor. I’ll probably do the same for this year’s basic-white affair. Further analysis of this year’s kits for Spurs reveals a purple away and a black third kit. Do they really even need that third kit when nobody is going to clash with both purple and white? And to think that the Lillywhites have done that every season for six straight years!
All in all, this cycle of constant jersey replacement has started to put fans with holes in their pockets in a financial pickle. The article suggests that clubs might soon be limited to releasing a new kit once every two years, but I’m sure the ever-growing financial motivation of a new release money stream will keep clubs finding loopholes. Clubs looking to circumvent such rules only have to look at Arsenal: having used the same home kit two seasons in a row, they still managed to release a new away and third kits both seasons. Money trumps loyalty, no?
Another guilty pleasure of mine is art. Combine that with soccer and I’m damn near in heaven…
1982 Spain World Cup Posters – thebeautifulgear.com
So many great things happened in the world of football in 1982, the most important of which was my birth in the month of June. I’ve been told some other minor event was occurring that summer in Spain. To celebrate both my birth and a World Cup being hosted on the Iberian peninsula, a series of posters were commissioned.
In all seriousness though, I absolutely love the posters from Spain 1982. Not only did we have the fabulous tournament poster by surrealist Joan Miró (see to the right), but we also received bonus posters as each host city commissioned it’s own. What’s really makes them special though, is that each work of art is especially representative of the artistic style most prevalent in each city’s culture.
Abstract art’s spiritual home is Spain, and one of my favorites from the World Cup is worth highlighting. “Barcelona” by Antoni Tàpies is great not only because it perfectly embodies the Dua al Set movement that arose in Catalonia post WWII, but also because it was one of a group stylistic influences of modern grafiti artist (and personal favorite) Banksy.