Mexico tops United States 3-2 in thrilling CONCACAF Cup

October 11, 2015

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“Paul Aguilar scored a goal for the ages to end a game for the ages. The Mexico defender, who had been a thorn in the U.S.’s left side all evening at a sold-out Rose Bowl, latched on to a high, speculative pass from Raúl Jiménez in the 118th minute and hit a thunderous volley past Brad Guzan and inside the left post. The strike lifted Mexico to a 3-2 extra time triumph in a gripping Confederations Cup playoff that will be remembered for as long as the Americans and El Tri play the sport. With a berth in the 2017 tournament at stake, players on both teams gave their all on a sweltering Pasadena evening. Mexico took the lead twice and the U.S. recovered and equalized twice. When substitute forward Bobby Wood—the hero of the friendly wins over the Netherlands and Germany—scored in the 108th minute, it seemed as if penalty kicks would be needed to end an epic affair. But Aguilar’s moment of brilliance highlighted the genuine difference in skill between the two sides and was a game-winner befitting the occasion.” SI

U.S. Fails to Keep Step With Mexico’s Lead
“Mexico defeated the United States, 3-2, on Saturday night in a game staged to decide which team would earn a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup, an eight-country tournament of dubious prestige that will take place in Russia, the site of the 2018 World Cup. Mexico’s winning goal was scored in spectacularly skillful fashion in the 118th minute, in the second half of overtime, as Paul Aguilar sprinted into the right side of the box, settled under a rapidly descending lob pass from Raul Jiménez and lashed a low, wicked volley inside the left post. The Mexican players scrambled to form a joyous pile near the corner flag. The Americans stood still, stunned.” NY Times

After Mexico loss, it’s time to consider Klinsmann’s suitability as U.S. coach
“I’ve been reading a good book lately. It’s called Das Reboot: How German Soccer Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World. The author, Raphael Honigstein, tells the story of how the Germans completely rethought their approach to talent development starting in the late 1990s, refined it even more in the early 2000s and reaped the ultimate reward by winning World Cup 2014. Jurgen Klinsmann is a central figure in the tale whose voice appears throughout the book. When the German federation has trouble finding a suitable coach in 2004, Klinsmann gets the job and shocks the traditional German system by bringing in his American fitness gurus and introducing a technocrat’s way of thinking when it comes to developing talent and exploring new ideas. In many ways, he’s like a McKinsey consultant for soccer.” SI (Video)

Soccer Godcast, Episode 5: U.S. vs. Mexico and the ugly side of patriotism
“The latest international break is upon us, and the American soccerverse is consumed by all things USA vs. Mexico. Being the upstanding Americans that they are, hosts Kevin Brown and Miriti Murungi discuss this weekend’s CONCACAF Cup showdown and the wonderfully reckless comments from Landon Donovan, who may or may not have suggested that it was time for Jurgen Klinsmann to be fired, should the United States lose on Saturday. Later, they discuss Elliot Turner’s story about the unfortunate parallels between the conversations surrounding the U.S.-Mexico rivalry and the ongoing American immigration debate, which sparks a conversation about the number of U.S. fans who use soccer as a flimsy excuse to be xenophobic in the name of patriotism, and whether an ideological gap may exist between various segments of the U.S. fanbase.” Fusion (Video)


The Unbearable Lightness of Klopp: What Liverpool’s New Manager Could Mean for the Premier League

October 11, 2015

“You know what the problem is? The problem is that Liverpool has no idea whether Liverpool is supposed to be fun. Jürgen Klopp, the club’s freshly unveiled new manager, is fun. Gegenpressing, the tiki-taka-on-MDMA playing style on whose groovy back he took Dortmund to consecutive Bundesliga championships in 2011 and 2012, is fun. The touchline repertoire of leaps, aerial punches, spins, and roundhouse kicks with which he air-guitars his teams to victory and rages against defeat is fun.” Grantland


Euro 2016 countdown – France

October 11, 2015

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“Les Bleus have plenty of talent at their disposal as they prepare to host next summer’s 24-team tournament. But their lack of competitive action makes it hard to judge their chances. France face the perennial problem of tournament hosts – they have played only friendly matches since their World Cup quarter-final defeat by Germany. But coach Didier Deschamps insists it is not a problem as, in the past year, France have played Spain, Belgium, Portugal and Brazil, with England, Germany, Holland and Russia lined up in the coming months.” World Soccer


Mane Garrincha: The Beethoven of Football

October 11, 2015

“The perfect prototype of the modern footballer is Cristiano Ronaldo; tall and imposing, hulking, well toned muscles that are regularly flexed for the cameras, endorsement deals due to dazzling Hollywood looks and a marketability due to a superficial charm or theatrics off the pitch. In the current football climate Mane Garrincha would not be looked at twice by companies that want to market their products, probably the equivalent of Dean Windass, he was that hideously deformed. Born with multiple defects that ruled him out of various potential moves to clubs who deemed him too far gone and incapable of producing anything worthwhile on a football pitch. How wrong they were because it was due to his deformed spine and a right leg bent outwards and a left leg half a dozen centimeters shorter bent inwards that allowed him to hook the ball in that special way that conjured those mazy dribbles that dazzled many fans.” Outside of the Boot


Inconvenient truths: Platini, Chung, and the lies at the heart of FIFA’s demise

October 11, 2015

“Business leaders often opt against telling straight, brutal truths. That’s the case for several reasons, one of which is that telling the straight, brutal truth doesn’t always serve immediate personal or business interests. Also, most people, unsurprisingly, don’t have death wishes. That’s why, odds are pretty good that you’ll never see your boss walk into the office and say, ‘Hey everyone, I’ve done bad, suspect things that compromise everything we do here. No authorities or enforcement officials know anything but I just wanted you to know the truth because the truth matters.’ Self-preservation instincts make sacrificing for truth difficult, particularly after one dedicates a significant amount of time toward cultivating valuable personal or business interests.” Fusion


Euro 2016 countdown – Czech Republic

October 11, 2015

“The Czechs made it through to the 2016 finals despite being drawn in a potentially difficult group with Holland, Turkey and Iceland. A team with few well-known stars, coach Pavel Vrba has moulded them into a side that is greater than the sum of its parts. Expectations were low at the start of the qualifying campaign but an injury-time winner in their opening game in Prague against Holland galvanised the side and they went on to win their opening four games, while their rivals struggled. The Czechs have an impressive record at the European Championship, winning (as Czechoslovakia) in 1976, reaching the Final in 1996, the semi-finals in 2004 and the quarter-finals in 2012. They have qualified for every tournament since 1996.” World Soccer