The Writer's Life: Film & Book Reviews, Observations, and Stories
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Category — Football

A Step Too Far?

It was fun listening to Brad Friedel being interviewed after the Tottenham match this past weekend, where he displayed his usual prowess in goal. Although still very American, his accent has shifted toward British, as you might expect after playing in England so many years. I personally think he’s one of the best twenty keepers of all time, though not many would agree with me. More interesting right now is the fact that Clint Dempsey has also joined Hotspur. Dempsey, of course, will never lose his Texas accent no matter how many years he plays in England. It will be hard for him, however, to find a place in a side that does not favor his sometimes ponderous style of play. He is nothing like Aaron Lennon or Gareth Bale and has never played for anyone like AVB. He will have to displace Adebayor and Defoe or ride the bench. The thing about Clint, though, is that he always proves his detractors wrong and never fails to rise to any new challenge presented to him. He makes the first team no matter who the manager happens to be or how unrelenting the expectations. I wouldn’t bet against him, but he’ll need to score goals from the off. I hope this isn’t a step too far. Klinsmann needs Dempsey to be match fit for World Cup qualifying matches.

September 4, 2012   Comments Off on A Step Too Far?

Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Jürgen Klinsmann’s football philosophy is meeting a severe test with the United States national team. There is a fatal flaw in his player pool he doesn’t seem to grasp. Klinsmann does not have enough players of international calibre to manage a match against solid opponents. They cannot both attack and defend in a seamless manner. I wonder how he will sort this out. His predecessors opted for a more conservative approach—to desperately defend and then counterattack with speed and purpose. This is not Klinsmann’s way. He believes in his own version of “total” football, but he doesn’t have the players to implement his vision. They are fun to watch, but will always lose to superior teams—and the fact is that most teams are superior to the United States and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. For the sake of United States soccer, I hope he succeeds, but the challenge is more difficult than he could possibly have imagined.

September 7, 2011   Comments Off on Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

George Klinsmann

Jürgen Klinsmann, his face alight with emotion, during the playing of the national anthem before his first game in charge of the national team. He looks like he spends his mornings running on the beach. Someone said he’s thinking of changing his name to George. God, what a man. Will he be able to change the composition and style of the national team as he did in Germany? You would imagine he could, but I suspect this is a much more difficult challenge. Looks like he’s up for it, though.

August 11, 2011   2 Comments


Ali Krieger, the American right back, plays for Frankfurt and after four years in Germany is now fluent in German. What did she have tattooed on her left forearm? Why, “Liebe,” of course.

July 14, 2011   Comments Off on Liebe

Today’s Quote

“For me, then and now, the question is, ‘What is success? It isn’t only about winning, but playing in a certain way.’”

—Kevin Keegan

June 25, 2011   Comments Off on Today’s Quote

No Longer Infallible

It’s obvious to anyone who follows football that Sir Alex, in his hubris, has finally caused Man U to implode. You can’t blame this on the American owners or the players. It is Ferguson himself who must accept responsibility for continuing with a roster and staff who were not up to competing with Arsenal or a resurgent Chelsea and Liverpool. That he managed to leverage his players this long and this far is a measure of his genius, but it would have been better had he taken a more objective view of the competition.

It’s not a bad way to end things. Let’s hope he does. His antics this year are not unlike those of a mad King Lear blinded by his own sense of self-importance. To me, withdrawing players from the club who sacked his son as manager was the low point and showed how terrifyingly petty he can be.

You are not infallible, Sir Alex. You no longer make purses out of sows’ ears. You’ll be lucky to finish in the top four. Get used to it.

March 8, 2011   Comments Off on No Longer Infallible

Space and Time (But Mostly Space)

The Guardian interviewed the incomparable Xavi, Spain and Barcelona’s baton-twilling, ball-controlling maestro (yeah, I said Xavi not Messi), and this is what he said about how he plays:

“Think quickly, look for spaces. That’s what I do: look for spaces. All day. I’m always looking. All day, all day. [Xavi starts gesturing as if he is looking around, swinging his head]. Here? No. There? No. People who haven’t played don’t always realise how hard that is. Space, space, space. It’s like being on the PlayStation. I think shit, the defender’s here, play it there. I see the space and pass. That’s what I do.”

He went on to characterize modern English football as a more refined version of the long ball and had this to say about Capello-coached teams. “Some teams can’t or don’t pass the ball. What are you playing for? What’s the point? That’s not football.”

I loved it. Honest and refreshing. It seems Xavi is as good with his mouth as he is with his feet.

February 11, 2011   Comments Off on Space and Time (But Mostly Space)


Man U would do well to buy Robbie Keane, but, of course, this is never going to happen. Robbie knows how to get the ball to Berbatov in dangerous positions. He would do the same for Rooney. He’s tireless in the role of recessed attacker. Better than Joe Cole. Better even than Rooney in this position. Like all the Irish, however, nothing comes easily for him. He has to prove himself again and again.

January 18, 2011   Comments Off on Robbie

Poor Arsène

It was nice to see how effectively Alex Ferguson organized and inspired his troops to stifle Arsenal in their 1 – 0 victory at home. It was pleasurable because Arsène Wenger makes such a lovely figure when frustrated. Something about being French, I guess. Such faces of anguished disgust. It has been said that when managing in France he once stopped the bus after a loss so that he could get out and throw up.

It was remarkably easy for United. Put Park on Nasri, let Ferdinand and Vidic out jump and outfox Chamakh, clog the passing lanes in the box, and counterattack with Rooney as point man, exploiting the gaps and holes in the Arsenal defense. It was United’s best performance of the year. Odd that few pundits enjoyed it. I found it enthralling—a boxing contest between two evenly matched opponents where one is wilier than the other and prevails through skill and intelligence. But then I’m a fan.

December 16, 2010   Comments Off on Poor Arsène


Mexico’s current hero thanking God for a goal.

November 28, 2010   Comments Off on Chicharito