Costa Rica Pummels the U.S. and Puts World Cup Qualifying in Doubt

November 20, 2016

“The defense was a shambles. The midfield had little presence. The attack, such as it was, just spun and sputtered. How bad was it? It is difficult to know where to start. There was no fluidity from the United States national team here on Tuesday night against Costa Rica. No flow, no rhythm, no concentrated push, either early or late. There was no sturdiness or stoutness or resilience in a game that felt critical. There was no creativity.” NY Times

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‘It Is America. But I Want to Play in Mexico.’

November 11, 2016

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“EL PASO, Tex. — Night fell and the thick, heavy air was cut by a sharp, chilling breeze, the sort of West Texas wind that made it feel as if the whole city had a fever. Was it hot out, or cold? The children on the field at Pico Norte Park, which is little more than a bumpy, narrow strip of grass lined for soccer, wore uniforms and quickly broke a sweat; the parents ringing the sideline wore jeans and sleeves as they watched and cheered and occasionally shivered.” NY Times


The Five Months in Mexico That Shaped Pep Guardiola’s Philosophy

October 20, 2016

“It was as they were whiling away one of those long, sultry evenings cooped up in the comfortable surroundings of the Hotel Lucerna in Culiacán, Mexico, that Pep Guardiola outlined to Ángel Morales his vision of the perfect goal. Over the course of their five months in northwest Mexico, Guardiola, who would become the greatest soccer coach of his generation, and Morales, a journeyman playmaker from Argentina, spent hours together, eating, relaxing, talking. A decade later, though, it is that one thought, that purest distillation of Guardiola’s philosophy, that has stayed with Morales.” NY Times


Lazio Inches Closer to an Italian Soccer Title … From 1915

July 23, 2016

“Lazio is closing in on the Italian soccer championship. The championship of 1915. Prompted by a petition signed by 30,000 Lazio fans, a committee of the Italian soccer federation is set to recommend that Lazio be declared co-champions of a tournament that concluded more than 100 years ago.” NY Times


Sister of French Soccer Star Antoine Griezmann Recalls Terror of Paris Attacks

July 8, 2016

“Maud Griezmann walked into the concert hall and looked around. It was a little before 9 p.m. on Nov. 13 at the Bataclan in Paris, and she admired the grand stage. She looked at the growing crowd. She watched, for a few moments, as a man at the souvenir stand sorted T-shirts and posters and CDs for the band Eagles of Death Metal, which was just about to begin its set. Then Ms. Griezmann looked quickly at her phone. Her brother Antoine Griezmann is a star forward for France’s national soccer team, and he was playing that night at the Stade de France, just outside the city limits. It was an exhibition match against Germany. The game and the concert were scheduled to start around the same time. Ms. Griezmann put her phone away. She wanted to listen to the music.” NY Times


Toxic psyche clouds Argentina as team hits mental breaking point

June 27, 2016

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“Argentina has more psychologists per capita than any country in the world—one can’t go out in Buenos Aires without meeting bunches of them—and not a single one of them can fix the toxic psyche of its national team. The latest example came on Sunday, when Lionel Messi and an Argentina team that had lorded over the Copa América Centenario failed to seal the deal again and came away losers in another final. The third straight major final in as many years, to be exact, this time to Chile on penalty kicks after a 0–0 tie. And whether or not Messi follows through on his stunning words that he’s probably retiring from the national team at 29, his drastic response is only a manifestation of a larger psychosis surrounding this team.” SI
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Second straight Copa America win solidifies Chile as one of world’s elite
“Claudio Bravo dropped to his knees in the corner of MetLife Stadium, raising his arms toward the sky as his teammates swarmed the field behind him, then shifted quickly in his direction. The team arrived to greet the goalkeeper in that corner, jumping and hugging and yelling in a joyous mass, all while stadium workers began to erect the the stage upon which they would celebrate. In the mass of hardware and fencing, the workers inadvertently pinned Chile’s team in its own corner.” SI
Lionel Messi and Argentina Miss Again as Chile Wins Copa América
Lionel Messi had the collar of his shirt pulled up to his nose. With his eyes peeking out just over the fabric, he watched a nightmare unfold. Argentina and Chile had played 120 minutes of ruthless, scoreless soccer on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. Penalty kicks would be needed to decide the winner of the 45th Copa América. Up stepped Messi, widely regarded as the best player in the world, to take the first shot for Argentina, and he missed, sending the ball sailing over the crossbar and into the crowd. Moments later, he watched as Francisco Silva of Chile buried a shot inside the left post to give his team a 4-2 shootout win. All of the Argentine players hung their heads near the center circle as the Chileans erupted in celebration. But Messi took a slow, solitary walk across the grass and took a seat on the far end of his team’s bench.” NY Times


Chile Soccer Team Strengthened by Forays Away From Home

June 23, 2016

“Regardless of what happens when Chile plays Colombia on Wednesday night, one thing is plain: The world now knows that Chile’s soccer team is for real. Fresh off a 7-0 thrashing of Mexico, arguably the best team in the North American region, Chile has used this month’s Copa América Centenario to erase any doubts over its emergence as a power player from South America. While few doubted the quality of Chile’s current roster, flecked as it is with talent from Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, there still was a sense that Chile’s best moments had always occurred on home soil, or close to it. Chile advanced to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and it entered this summer’s Copa América as the defending champion, a title won when it hosted last year’s tournament. The country’s best moment at a World Cup came in 1962, also a tournament played at home.” NY Times