Category Archives: World Football

AFC Wimbledon Means Nothing in America

The romanticism with which Englishmen approach the AFC Wimbledon story does not bear scrutiny. It is the tale of a jilted lover, a spurned advance, then cruelly fashioned into a dagger to the heart. Ripping one’s soul and essence from the body and transporting it to a foreign land. What remain are ashes. Nothing shall be built upon these foundations for a thousand years. Or so they thought. Because from those very ashes – and it is no metaphorical exaggeration (well alright, perhaps a little) – nothing short of a miraculous phoenix-like football club was born.

In the wake of the Dons’ unceremonious move to Milton Keynes, the fans and supporters of this dead club rallied and persevered to ensure local football would be their legacy to the area, and those that followed. Whether they ever anticipated such a meteoric rise is debatable, yet inconsequential. AFC Wimbledon are here, they are staying and they are now, heroically, once more football league.

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The Yin and Yang of El Clásico

Football is a game of balance. The pitch is divided in equal halves; teams of equal number attack and defend in a positional tug of war, which returns to the centre after every goal. At the end of a match one team wins, one loses (or if not, then they share the points). In order to play there is a basic physical requirement to keep upright (or as Ray Wilkins succinctly puts it: ‘Stay on Your Feet!’), without which the game becomes meaningless. Last night’s Champion’s League semi-final between Barcelona and Real Madrid was a game that reminds us of balance; that ‘for every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction’. For every scintillating match that can be played, there is always an abomination waiting around the corner.

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Southern Drawl: NASL Kicks Off with Focus on Southeastern US

Atlanta Silverbacks captain Lucas Paulini (left)

Atlanta Silverbacks captain Lucas Paulini (left)

Saturday night marked the opening of the new North American Soccer League, re-launched, re-branded and re-positioned as the second tier of professional soccer for the US. The league features eight teams, half of which are based in the southeastern states (Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa Bay & Carolina), offering the area a chance of repairing its, perhaps unfair, poor reputation for soccer-supporting.

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The Walking Man: Julio Cesar

gutted

Sometimes the game is simple. It can be stripped bare to its base components. Sometimes it just hurts to lose a game. Julio Cesar felt this so viscerally on Wednesday night that all he could do was apologize to his teammates and fans, then trudge off into the night, back home. He walked past his car, through the departing fans, with only his thoughts for company.

I would eloquently describe this as being ‘gutted’. And in a basic way, I know just how Cesar felt. As I’m sure does anyone who has ever played a game in which they were so personally committed that to lose felt like abject failure. Or, something approaching that for a while. And to suspect you had some hand in that failure? Thoroughly disconsolate.

That’s why I enjoy hearing of reactions to that feeling like Cesar’s ‘stroll of shame’. Sometimes I don’t want to hear the carefully rehearsed answers about ‘giving it our best shot’, or ‘manning up’. Sometimes I just want to see a player look like they got punched in the stomach when they lose, just like I do.

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