By Neil W. Blackmon
Another Champions League Tuesday and Chelsea have a 2-0 advantage early in the second half while a confident “Special One” has his Real Madrid side knotted nil-nil at the hour in Lyon. Analysis of those matches to follow but a couple of critical links and a call to arms in the meantime.
First, if you haven’t checked out the excellent investigative journalism done by The Shin Guardian in regard to Brazil 2014, where private sector corruption is threatening the infrastructure necessary to host the 2014 World Cup, please do so as soon as you are able. The third piece, posted today, explores the gross abuse and transparency issues surrounding stadium construction, and truly highlights the obstacles Brazil faces moving forward. What’s most scary is that they appear to be behind where South Africa was at this juncture in time and they don’t seem deeply concerned or worried. If you read this site in the World Cup build-up to 2010, you know that South Africa had many problems with its infrastructure and stadium development—the dark impact being increased gentrification and to some extent forced relocation of poor communities away from stadium sites. In the wake of Apartheid, those forced relocations were more than mildly troubling. Brazil has a different set, albeit equally troubling group of concerns and for the time being, things aren’t looking good. The question is when will mainstream media outlets begin to sniff out the corruption. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later, and that pieces like the series run by our friends at TSG accelerate that process.
Second, the CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament we at The Yanks Are Coming think matters a great deal more than many MLS writers believe it does, resumes this evening with Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew playing the first leg of their quarterfinal. Both are bidding to become the first MLS-based side to win the competition and secure entrance into the FIFA Club World Cup, a competition that would be a tremendous barometer for where MLS is in the global pecking order. Jeff Carlisle of ESPN has a terrific breakdown of a fixture that certainly seems to favor Real Salt Lake over an injury-plagued and rebuilt Columbus Crew side. We hope you’ll be watching.
Finally, as I wrote the other evening, it was fascinating after one half of ROUND OF SIXTEEN (yes, caps and bold for emphasis) Champion’s League football against Arsenal the other evening how many soccer writers of good repute began tweeting or suggesting in live gamecasts or chats that this version of Barcelona are the best team in the history of the game. Arsenal’s come-from-behind victory seems to have halted those discussions for the time being (as did Inter winning the Champions League last season, I would argue)—but the debate will drag on because of the beautiful style of football that Barca does play. As a blog with a couple of mathematically-inclined scientists as senior writers, one possible solution would be to create a mathematical formula that breaks down the question as to who is the greatest team of all-time. Sure, it’s a bit less fun than a pub debate, but if you had a mathematical study behind you, it is possible your pub debate arguments could be bolstered by empiricism, something that our Dr. Raf Crowley would surely appreciate. So whither a mathematical study? Well, Gordon Fleetwood of A Football Report has done one—and fortunately for your writer, it for the time being sides with his vote for greatest team ever assembled, AJAX of the early 1970’s, featuring the one and only Johan Cruyff and of course every Dutch ladies’ dream—Johnny Rep, who also happens to be one of the most devastating Pro Evolution Soccer players in history—seriously, give the ball to REK with Classic Netherlands—you will score. And before you do that, check out Gordon’s piece.
Okay—a bit of “promote the game” business—as you know, while the editorial offices are now in Atlanta, Georgia—The Yanks Are Coming was founded in Gainesville, Florida. For the time being, there is no American Outlaws Gainesville chapter, only an unofficial chapter with a Facebook page and attendant small following. We’ve decided it is time to change that, and so we’re calling our Gainesville readers to come out of the woodworks and make this happen. Three things to note:
– First, we have a pub to hold viewing parties at for friendlies and this summer’s Gold Cup. While some of us at TYAC will of course be attending those matches, we know not everyone can make the lengthy road trips and you’ll want a place to watch. After a year-plus of hoping our friends at Shabooms would come through, we’ve gone in a different direction, deciding on a new pub owned and operated by a friend of yours truly—Tall Paul’s Brew House. It is a new establishment that is fantastic on the inside, spacious, and will always have a terrific beer selection and footie on the television when time so demands it. When we become an official chapter, we will receive a banner from American Outlaws, which we will take to the pub for matches and if all things go as they should, we can hopefully help the new pub out by making it an Official US Soccer Bar—something that hosting an official American Outlaws group can surely help wit.
– Next, to become an official chapter requires 25 members who have paid dues and agreed to be a chapter together. That’s where you our readers in Gainesville come in. We need to make sure you’ve joined American Outlaws (you can do so at the site), paid your dues, and have made your intention to be part of the new chapter known to us at The Yanks Are Coming. You can do any of those things by e-mailing me or commenting below with your name and an affirmation that you are, in fact, a paid member of the American Outlaws. We truly hope you will join us.
– Lastly, doing so has obvious benefits—but most of all, it will help the large number of soccer fans in Gainesville get to know each other and increase community-building, which is an essential part of growing the game in this country. Road trips will be easier to organize and cheaper, happy hour events could be hosted, youth league teams could garner new assistants eager to help. All of these are positive reasons to join us.
Neil W. Blackmon is Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Yanks Are Coming. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can follow him on Twitter at @nwb_usmnt.