|photo by Nabeel H||via PhotoRee|
Friday, July 10, 2015
Monday, June 15, 2015
It may not be on a par with Caitlyn Jenner, but I'm going through a womanly transition of my own. Up until last Monday, I had only ever watched 2 or 3 women's soccer games in their entirety, compared to the hundreds of men's games I've watched, discussed and written about. But we are all evolving and transforming (some more than others), so with the confluence of the Women's World Cup and my daughter being almost 9 and very excited about soccer (she has played since she was 4 and just finished her first competitive season of Club soccer with Fort Lauderdale Select), I have now watched 2 women’s games in the last week and parts of several others. And, I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed getting in touch with my feminine side of soccer.
Right away, I was surprised at how fast the speed of play was. It’s not as fast as a men’s game, nor would I expect it to be, but it was, indeed, faster than I remember. I was also a little surprised with the high level of skill, perhaps showing a bit of chauvinism there since there’s no reason a woman can’t be as skilled as a man if she were to practice the same amount. But before I’m pilloried for sexism, or worse, let me go on to say that I found myself so drawn into the games that I forgot it was “women’s” soccer and enjoyed it as just “soccer.” Quite frankly, in my mind, that’s the highest compliment I can give.
There were also some observations I was very pleased to make. For example, I didn’t see nearly as much diving as the men do. Nor did I see injury faking. When they were fouled they just got on with it. Of course, I do know that women are, indeed, capable of such chicanery – remember the Brazilian Erika in 2011? So, perhaps my sample size is still too small to draw any conclusions about diving or faking, but I was pleased with what I witnessed. Although, it must be said, Americans generally don’t engage in the dark arts nearly as much as other countries (I say proudly) so it stands to reason that the games I’ve watched, each involving Team USA, would contain fewer examples of such antics.
Also with respect to on-pitch behavior, it was almost surreal to me how placid the women players were after being fouled. There was none of the “how dare you?” or “I’m going to kick your ass for that.” Rather, as I said, they pretty much just got up and got on with it. As a former player who played a bit physically and wasn’t afraid to let someone know if I was unhappy with their reciprocal efforts, I’m not exactly sure how to feel about that. But, as a current, aged player who only fouls completely by accident and, even then, is overcome by remorse and spouts apologies, I do see the benefits.
The biggest difference I noticed with respect to the actual flow of the games was how much space there seemed to be for players out wide and how much time the player with the ball seemed to have before being closed down. Logically, perhaps both are due to the speed of the players themselves as they aren’t able to close down an attacker as quickly or cover as much ground as quickly. What that does, though, is make it all seem (to me) a little more thoughtful rather than nearly instinctive. I usually see in advance how the play is going to develop and rarely find myself surprised by a choice made by the player with the ball. It’s certainly not worse, it’s just different. It’s kind of like watching a good movie you’ve already seen before. And what I am coming to appreciate is that it’s just a different flavor of soccer. A little more vanilla but very tasty.
I can see myself growing into women’s international soccer as my daughter grows up. I stress international because I’m not sure I’ll every watch women’s club soccer. And before the stocks are measured for me please note that I don’t even watch MLS because there are only so many hours I can devote to my fandom and Liverpool plays a lot of games. But as much as I enjoyed the last couple of games, there was something else missing: the history and the familiarity. There have only been 6 women’s World Cups, dating back to 1991. By way of comparison, there have been 20 men’s World Cups (and would have been two more were it not for World War II), dating back to 1930. I grew up hearing about the magic of Pele and witnessing the marvels of Maradona. In contrast, I was graduating college during the first Women’s World Cup. I know every player on the men’s national team but only knew a handful of players on the women’s team. I could name several players on the majority of teams in the men’s World Cup but could only name Marta when it comes to the women’s. I turned on the England vs. Slovenia Euro qualifier today and knew every single English player and even a couple of Slovenians, but wouldn’t be able to name a single player on their women’s teams.
Maybe I’m a bad USA fan or, worse, maybe I really am chauvinistic when it comes to soccer. But, no, I don’t think so. I think I, like so many other soccer fans in every country around the world, am only now beginning to acquire a taste for the flavor of women’s soccer. I will, no doubt, learn more of their names and follow more of their careers and, inevitably, be more interested and vested in their future exploits. I will more consistently see it as “just soccer.” And for that, as much as anything else, I can thank my precious daughter.
This is farlieonfootie for June 16.
Monday, June 1, 2015
|photo by StewieD||via PhotoRee|
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Who will stay and who will go? Much has been written on the topic, but a few things stand out:
Balotelli just didn't work out and needs to be moved on. His style doesn't fit the current system and, despite flashes of brilliance, his frustration gets the better of him too often and his work rate barely registers at times. I still believe he is too often unfairly maligned, but his skill set is better suited for a different style of play.
Given that I was ready to write him off two years ago, along with most others, I can't believe I'm saying this but Henderson should be Gerrard's heir apparent to the Captaincy. The example of his work rate alone would be a fine contribution to that position, but his increasing ability to score and make the incisive pass puts him over the top. And with Gerrard gone next year, he won't have to captain sheepishly from the shadows.
Gerrard going to MLS is one of the blessings of this season. He was going to have to be more and more marginalized, so difficult for all parties when such a legend is involved. And the team can certainly use his wages for in in incoming talent.
Thursday, April 23, 2015
|photo by Zest-pk||via PhotoRee|
In which Scott waxes lyrically about the reds:
Historians may disagree, but I think Keats may have been a Liverpool fan. Still, despite his admonitions, I'm tempted to go to Lethe, hand in hand with the downy owl, sucking the ruby grape of Proserpine all the while. Such is the weeping cloud of melancholy that has fallen as quickly as Liverpool's Top 4 chances and FA Cup Dreams.
Thursday, March 12, 2015
|photo by extranoise||via PhotoRee|
Still, there are issues to resolve. For one, how does Rodgers rotate and rest players like Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, especially with the injury bug ravaging several key players like Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva? Getting bounced from the Europa League, after the sting passes, should actually be helpful to the long-term financial fitness of the club as fewer games and less travel bodes well for a strong finish and a coveted UCL place, with its monetary benefits.
Saturday, February 21, 2015
More to the point, it's been a while since Ed has written anything:
It’s been a while since I’ve written on Spurs, and a lot has happened. First and foremost, Harry Kane put us past Arsenal with two magnificent goals. Kane continues to play at a high level and pundits are wondering if this run is real or if he’s doomed to return to the norm or something below that. We shall see. Regardless, he seems to look like he knows how to play even if he’s not scoring, and Kane and Eriksen have become a terrific punch for Spurs.
The following week despite some good play int he first half, Spurs lost on a Mario Balotelli goal in the final minutes. What are the odds of that happening? Well, prior to his snatching the penalty kick ball out of the hands of his captain this week, Balotelli had about one goal for Liverpool, so I’d say the odds were pretty low. But to be fair, this shot was really just a tap in for Super Mario, so it would have been hard to mess it up. But what I liked most about this game was that Spurs seemed extremely annoyed and frustrated at the end of the game — as if they felt they should’ve won the game. I can’t recall seeing a Spurs team react like that to a loss against a big Club. Interesting, and I think a good sign. (On an unrelated note, I’m still not sure why Brendan Rodgers thought bringing this guy in was a good idea; clearly a desperate move by a desperate manager. But while Rodgers has Liverpool playing well with the return of Daniel Sturridge, it seems that the number of players he brought in that didn’t work out seems a luxury that only could be afforded the bigger clubs.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
That Tuesday's victory was achieved without the services of Raheem Sterling is another plus. And that super-sub Mario Balotelli provided the tap-in winner is the icing on the cake, post-goal scowl notwithstanding.
Friday, January 30, 2015
|photo by twob||via PhotoRee|
Thursday, January 22, 2015
|photo by Petteri Sulonen||via PhotoRee|
So is Louis Van Gaal the problem? Is his system so inflexible that it’s taking the joy out of United even though it’s resulting in wins?
According to the press, LVG has commented (or at least tried to comment — someone needs to send him a Rosetta Stone asap) that the team scores more from a 4-4-2 than his chosen 3-5-2, but that the team also doesn’t set up well in the former. I think he means that the defense isn’t too good, and that they don’t have a good enough midfield. I could have told him that before they dropped a ton of jingle on that loan deal for Falcao. But I also think that the 3-5-2 doesn’t help on either side of the ball. Is that okay to say? I mean, this isn’t David Moyes we are talking about. LVG may just be beyond criticism.