Friday, September 23, 2011

The FBM Happy Hour: The Week’s Best Stories (2-4-Links)

It’s Friday! Grab a drink! While you’re downing a beer or two you can also sip on a few of the week’s best stories we’ve stumbled upon.

* The Shin Guardian – A Treatise: The State of U.S. Soccer

“It is no secret that the US youth system has struggled to produce genuine global superstars in the sport and a team that can truly compete for the World Cup. Sure, we’ve had the recent emergences of Donovan and Dempsey. While they are great American players, they aren’t the type that can go to a top European team and dictate the game regardless of who the opponent may be. In a country of 300 million people where soccer is the fastest growing youth sport, you would think that we could produce at least one player that can bend a game to his will and dazzle audiences with style and flare. What Klinsmann, and maybe finally Gulati, realize is that this won’t happen until the youth system is overhauled. The biggest aspiration USMNT fans should have is not for the immediate results on the pitch, but for the long-term results that Klinsmann can bring about if he is successful in changing the youth system much like he did in Germany.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top 6 issues Klinsmann needs to address with American youth soccer.”
* Some more difficulties for supporters and a Major League Soccer club; this time in Colorado. Supporters and many season ticket holders were sealed off from parts of the stadium that they usually had access to. The thinking was to keep Mexican club Santos fans and Rapids fans separated, but, according to Rapids fans, the enforcement of rules was terrible uneven. Denver Post investigative reporter Eric Gorski has the story. * U-S-A!: A Conversation. Two sportswriters discuss the now and the future of American soccer on the brilliant site, Run Of Play.

* Leander Sch…. something… something… has an incredible article about the growth of supporters groups in MLS and the shift in marketing from soccer moms to these supporters. Who would ever think to cover the supporters’ side of the game?

“Over Major League Soccer’s 16-year history, hard-core fan groups like the Sons of Ben have grown from novelty, in places like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles and Chicago, to ubiquity, defining recent expansion markets such as Philadelphia and the Seattle Sounders, Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and Toronto FC. The fan groups, made up mostly of young, city-dwelling men who don’t yet have families, represent a considerable turnabout in MLS’s core demographic. In the early years, the league marketed itself to soccer moms from the suburbs, the polar opposite of the crowd that has now become the face of its fan base.

“I think the league evolved,” said MLS executive vice president Nelson Rodriguez. “The culture of the sport [itself] and the cultural relevance within the United States has evolved.” He concedes that MLS may have miscalculated its original marketing strategy. “We very well may have underestimated the potential of that [younger, male] demographic.”

* More from “Run of Play” (we told you they were brilliant)… Noah Davis “On Landon Donovan”.
“Donovan knows the glare. It’s been shining for more than a decade, after all. His thoughts extend well beyond the field, and he offers them. When the Americans traveled to Honduras during a coup in 2009, Donovan provided eloquent commentary on the situation while interviewed in a tunnel under Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano. This is unusual. In addition to being enormous physical specimens, we expect our athletes to be singularly focused on their sport. That’s the only way anyone could be this good. Donovan has a small frame, this sweet smile, and a liberal arts kid affect. He should be lining up against Middlebury or Pomona, but he’s freakishly talented, determined, and tougher than anyone assumes so the equipment guy irons on a No. 10, and he leads the Stars and Stripes against Mexico and Portugal.”
* Because, at the end of the day we’re U.S. fans at the core, we HATE Rafa Marquez and have no problem seeing him SUCK so much and FAIL so hard, Grant Wahl’s piece on him is awesome.

“At first it sounded like a joke. After being booed by the home fans whenever he touched the ball Wednesday night, after making hand gestures back at those jeering fans, after seeing his New York Red Bulls sink to new depths in a 3-1 loss to Salt Lake, New York defender Rafael Márquez could have raised his hand and accepted some responsibility for the biggest train wreck in Major League Soccer.
Instead he blamed his teammates.”
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"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
– Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

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