The Third Shift

A vagabond who's made his home in the Pacific Northwest.


sometimes i just lay down on the floor when i can’t handle shit. soccer players, they’re just like us


(Source: shuaitou, via theworldsgame)

American exceptionalism falls flat when it walks onto a soccer pitch.

In a nice feature piece in the New York Times on United States men’s national team coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann, there is this bit from Bruce Arena, who occupies a dual role as former USMNT coach and Klinsmann foil for a journalist looking for “balance” in a piece on the current holder of the seat:

Bruce Arena, who coaches the Los Angeles Galaxy, told me recently that instead of trying to get American soccer to mimic European culture, U.S. Soccer officials should simply look inward. Italy’s team is coached by an Italian and has a core of players who play in Italy, Arena pointed out. Spain has a Spanish coach and players primarily based in Spain. Germany is led by a German coach and mostly features players on German teams.

“I believe an American should be coaching the national team,” says Arena, who led the national team for eight years. “I think the majority of the national team should come out of Major League Soccer. The people that run our governing body think we need to copy what everyone else does, when in reality, our solutions will ultimately come from our culture.

“Come on,” he says. “We can’t copy what Brazil does or Germany does or England does. When we get it right, it’s going to be because the solutions are right here. We have the best sports facilities in the world. Why can’t we trust in that?”

Arena is probably uniquely qualified to have this view, as the squad he led to a surprise finish in the quarters in 2002 was probably validation. (The squad he had that flamed out in the group stages four years later, well…) But when we talk about solutions for the American development (or lack of it) in soccer, we need to talk about what the countries who do what Arena says — draw from their own leagues a majority of the time, hire coaches solely from the country’s ranks — because Arena is making an apples-to-apples comparison. 

(One can argue it’s in his interest to agitate for a uniquely American solution — Arena’s career path from collegiate coach to US youth team coach to MLS coach to USMNT HC and back to MLS is a testament to and shining example of what the problem is, which I’m about to get into.)

Part of the excitement among the fan base for Jurgen Klinsmann’s arrival at the U.S. Soccer Federation was based on this trenchant analysis after Bob Bradley’s US team lost to Ghana in the Round of 16 in 2010, where he basically said we’re doing it wrong: soccer being a middle-class sport, dominated at youth levels by traveling teams and college teams, set us back before we could even get going.

(Relying on collegiate athletics to refine the pros of the future is a problem for all manner of American professional leagues, save baseball and hockey [the latter obviously being Canadian]. Soccer merely puts it in starker relief.)

It is absurdity on its face to accept Arena’s comparison, because the way the American youth pipeline for soccer works puts it far behind countries like Spain, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Argentina & Brazil where professional teams develop players at the youngest ages. Rising stars in world football are talked about making breakthroughs at the ages of 19, 20, 21. At that point, most American players are getting out of college and entering MLS. There are certainly exceptions (Donovan, Altidore, Michael Bradley)  American soccer players reach their potential much later and have less time to exploit it to the fullest. It is no coincidence that the most lasting contribution of the USA to world soccer is its goalkeepers — they generally reach their primes later and can keep going well into their late thirties at high levels.

Facilities and sport science only get you so far before you have to look at the pyramid and how you instruct the next generation to play. That wall was dinged by Arena’s 2006 team. Bob Bradley’s 2010 team managed to avoid it in South Africa for a time because of Donovan’s excellence against Algeria and the flub heard around the world by England’s Rob Green. But Bradley Sr.’s 2011 Gold Cup squad hit that wall head-on against Mexico, where the physical conditioning of the US team reached its limit against Mexico’s more talented and tactically aware team in the final. I still have difficulty believing that game was only a 4-2 defeat. It felt worse than that, and it’s probably why Sunil Gulati fired Bradley Sr. afterward. 

(This conditioning over technique is coming home to roost with the women’s team, too, as the rest of the world caught up with the women bolstered by Title IX into soccer and who won two World Cups on those advantages.)

This is why Jurgen Klinsmann has a contract until 2018 (noting that all contracts aren’t always worth the paper they are printed on), because while American soccer is on the rise as a domestic sport, it is broken as far as competing internationally goes. It will remain so until the USSF gets its shit together. That means MLS teams need to develop their own players before the NCAA gets to them and the instruction at those academies needs to be the best it can offer. 

Otherwise, we will be recruiting dual-nationals until the end of time because they are the only ones receiving serious instruction at the time one needs it to be remotely world class in the sport, relying on them and the next Landon Donovan or Clint Dempsey to pull us out of trouble instead of creating a pool deep enough where we don’t have to rely on one or two stars.

There is no way forward until the USSF upends the entire structure — and it’s in part why I’m not terribly concerned about how far the 2014 edition of the USMNT goes this year in Brazil. We still have a lot of catching up to do. Drawing on our unique culture means stagnation.


Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores his FOURTH goal of the day against England. From an overhead bicycle kick. From 30 yards away.

Good Lord, that’s just so fantastic it’s almost a shame it was scored in a friendly.

(Source: michael-danger, via pitchinvasion)

the new, really depressing reality of being a Liverpool F.C. fan.

It’s setting in after realizing the owners’ refusal to go any higher than £4 million for Clint Dempsey resulted in him going to Spurs for £6 million.

We’re broke, and we’re not good at being broke. We have to learn how to operate on a much lower budget. (Apologies for the dumb trope of referring to one’s rooting interest as “we,” but I find it more effective as a writing tool in this case.)

We’re paying for the British Player Tax Dalglish and Comolli happily spent when buying up Carroll, Henderson, Adam, and Downing. Jose Enrique and Luis Suarez have arguably been worth what was paid for them. LFC are banking that it might bring £18 mil or so from Carroll if he eventually wants to stay in East London and the Hammers stay up, but that’s still a loss. Adam was sold at a two mil loss to Stoke and I’m still surprised he was wanted. Henderson and Downing have no value after being acquired for completely stupid transfer fees.

Aside from the occasional buying of a player like Fabio Borini or Joe Allen, LFC are now going to have to lean on the academy — we’ll learn what the kids are made of, which is good — and figure out how to add good players on the cheap. It’s godsmacking how well David Moyes does in the market despite Everton’s well-documented financial trouble, and it’s clear LFC will have to imitate its closest rival in this way.

@SoccerByIves: Andres Iniesta wins UEFA player of the season. Cristiano Ronaldo is Not impressed.

Ronaldo has that face on almost all the time. McKayla Maroney probably owes him royalties.

Post from @SoccerByIves on Twitter (via Scope)

Liverpool transfer news: Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea is a target and Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing could be sold to raise funds - Mirror Online

Several reasons why the Mirror is throwing shit to the wall and seeing if it sticks:

  • Romelu Lukaku is on loan at West Brom. Sturridge is one of two recognized strikers in the squad, the other being Fernando Torres. Ask a Chelsea fan if s/he wants Torres to be the only forward on the roster with the transfer deadline this week.
  • If Brendan Rodgers thinks he’ll get 15 million pounds from the sales of Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing combined, he’s crazy.
  • Given some of Sturridge’s brain locks last season (Chelsea fans I follow on Twitter would get livid with his ball-hogging), I doubt he’d play well with Luis Suarez. 
  • Clint Dempsey would probably be a better fit with this LFC team in a starting XI.
  • Even if Sturridge was sold and Chelsea money-whipped Hulk or Edinson Cavani in, they’d need another striker.

This is so not happening.

Fearless Raheem Sterling shows Liverpool the face of their future | Richard Williams | Football | The Guardian

Joe Allen, Seb Coates, Luis Suarez, and Fabio Borini were big bright spots for the Reds today, but Raheem Sterling is the dude every Liverpool fan wants to see. He merited a starting spot after his work against Hearts in the Europa League on Thursday and already looks a brighter, smarter option on the left than Stewart Downing has in over a year.

a completely uneducated 2012-13 Premier League prediction tallywhacker.


  1. Manchester City - really only in trouble if Kompany is hurt for any length of time
  2. Manchester United - SAF is buying because he can. I don’t view Kagawa combined with either Cleverley or Carrick as solving the CM issue that’s been staring him in the face. $34 mil for RvP and his one good season at 29 is a bit much.
  3. Arsenal - still solidly 3rd place to me. Turning van Persie into $34 million is good business if they can get another midfielder and a defender before the window closes.
  4. Liverpool - if, and only IF, they hold on to Daniel Agger. They have no chance of CL qualification if Jamie Carragher is making any meaningful appearances in defense but the preseason views of Brendan Rodgers’ style have been positive and one club cannot hit the post that many times again, right?
  5. Chelsea - John Terry is your smartest CB and also an athletic liability. Love the attackers, not sure you’re strong enough on defense with all those quality attack minded players. If it melds together, Chelsea could go all the up to 2nd, if not, di Matteo out by Christmas.
  6. Newcastle - No major changes but the Geordies can’t sneak up on anyone like last year. Remarkable they’ve not been raided.
  7. Tottenham - BUY A GODDAMNED STRIKER FFS. Like the AVB as manager, like Vertonghen and Sigurdsson moves, but who’s finishing? Defoe?
  8. Everton - I would actually put them in the fight for a CL spot if they started better in the first half of the season.
  9. Swansea City - Michael Laudrup’s bought some good players for cheap and most of the squad is unchanged. The Liberty Stadium will remain a fortress; I I think the Swans can do better on their away form this time.
  10. Aston Villa - Paul Lambert’s flexibility will make a huge difference.
  11. West Brom - Steve Clarke is a first-year head coach, sure, but I think he will get more of these things right than wrong because Roy Hodgson left enough in the cupboard right.
  12. Fulham - love Jol, like the team in general, not sure who’s scoring the goals for them this year since Dempsey’s on his way out (hopefully to Anfield!)
  13. Norwich City - generally the same squad, new manager, lotta defensive players from last season gone (mostly to Leicester, apparently). Want them to stay up because Chris Hughton deserves his shot without interference. 
  14. Stoke City - they do what they do and they do it well. Won’t be any fun to watch.
  15. QPR - They’ll flirt with relegation but they’ve bought too many decent (if unspectacular) players to get dropped.
  16. Sunderland - Again, I want to know who’s scoring and they looked dreadful after the initial Martin O’Neill swoon. Here’s your potential unexpected relegation candidate.
  17. West Ham - Sadly, they’re the only promoted team I have staying up because Big Sam’s practicality will save them. Hammers vs. Potters shouldn’t be televised.
  18. Reading - like the signing of Danny Guthrie in midfield, like Pogrebynak up front if he can follow through and score. They could sneak out and stay alive if any of the teams in 13-17 really bite the bit.
  19. Wigan - you can only dance on the head of a pin for so long.
  20. Southampton - waging a lot on lower-level players. Think they’ll do a Blackpool: they’ll go back down, but they’ll be fun to watch.


Dirk’s own brand of football…

Miss you, Dirk. Best junk footballer.


Go Timbers, beat Chivas!


‎”The only way Pirlo’s penalty could have been better is if he’d had a cigarette in his mouth while taking it.”

Goddamn Andrea Pirlo, what a fucking cheeky genius bastard. Football will be worse off when he retires. May he have at least two more years in Serie A and a spot on Italy’s squad should they qualify for Brazil in 2014. 

As for England: that Montolivo miss made it worse because it gave England hope. It’s not the despair that kills, it’s the hope.

(via emmanuelnegro)

Yeah, that’s me and Cobi Jones. Full writeup on the Fox Soccer Mobile Party Viewing to come after today’s Euros on TWG.

thanks to the generosity of a friend who won four free tickets…

…I’ll be enjoying Monday’s Spain-Croatia match on the Fox Soccer party bus when it comes to Portland.

Photos and a write-up for The World’s Game are likely.

Thanks to bubbaprog, we have proof DEUCE is a fan of WWE. I mean, that’s a People’s Eyebrow that would bring a tear to the Rock’s eye, jabronis.

(via Oh yes. RT @edsbs Clint Dempsey’s bitchpleaseface right now: STRONG.)

Fixed. theme by Andrew McCarthy