Dec 2, 2017
MLS has winnowed its expansion possibilities down to four - Nashville, Detroit, Cincinnati, and Sacramento. I don’t know who the league will pick, but I know who I’m rooting for.
Nov 25, 2017
Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, John Brooks. They’re young, they’re playing in the Bundesliga, and they are the future of the U.S. Men’s National Team. Soccer Insider looks mostly at McKennie, the newest of the three to be anointed as one of American soccer’s building blocks, but the German league is still functioning as the big leagues for young American stars, and it’s nice to see several players flourishing there.
Nov 18, 2017
This week at Soccer Insider, it’s time to look at what’s going on in the MLS Conference Finals, both of which match a heavy favorite against a team that was a surprise to make it this far.
Nov 11, 2017
The UEFA Nations League is replacing meaningless friendlies, so I suppose I shouldn’t be too hard on it - but when it comes to CONCACAF, it’s going to be the latest in a long string of meaningless tournaments. I’m tired of meaningless tournaments. Less is more.
Nov 4, 2017
At the Star Tribune this week, I wrote about how the MLS playoffs need to be shorter, and that the best way to do this is get away from the two-legged conference semifinals and finals. Happily, the slot editor put an Animal Farm reference in the headline “Two legs aren’t better in the MLS playoffs.” I’m pleased with how that went.
Oct 28, 2017
MLS wanted to be different, when it came to its relationship with fans. It wanted to be special. But if it’s gonna be different and special, it can’t move teams like every other American league - which is precisely what it’s doing with the threats to move the Columbus Crew to Austin, TX.
Oct 21, 2017
We don’t have a focused youth soccer system in the USA. USYS, AYSO, US Club Soccer, the U.S. Soccer Development Academies, high school and college - so many teams, so many pathways, it’s all so very confusing. Other countries have more focused systems than this, cutthroat professionally-run youth academies that identify the best of the best and spit out the rest.
Oct 14, 2017
In the aftermath of the USA’s abject failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, almost every commentator said some version of the following:
- American soccer is broken.
- American soccer needs a better plan.
- Germany (sometimes Belgium was thrown in too) reinvented itself; we need something like that.
For Soccer Insider this week, I tried to address this; just copying Germany is too simple of an answer. The USA is starting from farther behind, and needs many more changes before it can start making German-style changes.
Oct 7, 2017
It’s hard to do justice to an entire season in one short column, but that’s what I tried to do with my NWSL playoffs preview for the Star Tribune.
Sep 30, 2017
The U.S. Men’s National Team has a lot to play for this weekend. There’s a berth in the World Cup, sure, but it means more than that - it’s nothing less than the opportunity for several coaches and players to secure - or destroy - their legacies.
Sep 23, 2017
Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, the World Cup its ownself - Qatar is using its oil riches to buy up the soccer world. Soccer needs to decide whether that cash is worth it.
Sep 16, 2017
The Champions League started this week, and Real Madrid has to be the favorite for the third straight year. We cannot talk about the Champions League without talking about Real; Soccer Insider is a recap of where they, and Europe, are at right now.
Sep 7, 2017
Soccer Insider today is about Atlanta United, yes, but also about what the future of MLS might look like. It’s going to involve more money and bigger stadiums and ambitious clubs - precisely what Atlanta looks like, and Seattle, and Orlando City and New York City and Toronto and Los Angeles FC and so on and so forth.
Sep 2, 2017
If you are a fan of a European soccer team, you’ve just survived Transfer Madness 2017, in which every player on every team could move to another team (Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City, usually) for an impossible sum of money. It’s exhausting.
National teams don’t have that problem, which is why the USMNT - in some ways - is the best possible team to follow.
Aug 26, 2017
Soccer Insider this week is a history lesson - well, more of a DYK? kind of column. Did You Know, soccer fans, that MLS was just one of three leagues that might have been sanctioned as America’s first-division league?
Aug 19, 2017
Back when I started watching soccer, Serie A was pretty much THE thing. The idea of another team going to Italy and winning a game seemed ludicrous; Real Madrid might do it, or Bayern Munich, but certainly no one else.
Now, though, Italy - Juventus aside - is a league full of also-rans. The Rome and Milan clubs are all struggling, as is the rest of the league. Which leads directly to the question: What happened to Serie A?
Aug 12, 2017
The headline on my 2017-18 Premier League Preview at the Star Tribune was Last Manchester Standing, which I don’t think can be improved upon.
Short version of my predictions, for future reference.
At The Top
- Manchester United
- Manchester City
- Tottenham Hotspur
- Brighton and Hove Albion
- Huddersfield Town
- Swansea City
Aug 5, 2017
Right now the Premier League has three uber-rich teams - Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City - and four merely very rich teams, in Arsenal, Everton, Liverpool, and Tottenham. In some ways, the latter four are all trying to make the same leap that Manchester United made (oil wealth, the basis for Chelsea and Manchester City’s riches, being less replicable). Soccer Insider this week looks at how United got where they are, and how the other four are trying to make it happen for themselves too.
Jul 29, 2017
Every year, summer in the soccer world is proof that the world’s gone mad, thanks to ridiculous transfer fees. This has been happening every summer for as long as I can remember; I recognize that writing a column complaining about the soccer market is veering towards hackiness.
BUT. I still can’t believe what’s happening this year, highlighted by what’s going on at AS Monaco. This is a club with a very rich owner, that made the Champions League semifinals and won the Ligue 1 title, that is seeing most of its squad depart this summer for even richer clubs. How can this be good for the game? How can this be sustainable?
Jul 22, 2017
Liga MX, the most-watched soccer league in America, kicks off its season this weekend. At Soccer Insider, I tried to explain the league, as it tries to make inroads in the English-speaking American market as well.
Jul 15, 2017
Soccer insider today tries to connect the dots between Florent Malouda and French Guiana, goofy soccer rules, and the oddity that some commentators call the “no hands in soccer” rule “un-American.”
Jul 8, 2017
May 13 - FIFA is terrible, but won’t change - not unless it somehow stops making money.
May 20 - Nobody talks about the downsides of the pro/rel system - the punishments are unlimited.
May 27 - Maybe the manager carousel isn’t such a terrible thing after all.
June 3 - A look at the Champions League final.
June 17 - Please don’t expand the World Cup to 48 teams, FIFA - it’ll kill all the fun.
June 24 - Every transfer saga ever, in one post.
July 1 - Why does the Gold Cup even exist any more?
July 8 - The Gold Cup night in 1998 when the USA, for the only time, beat Brazil.
Jun 10, 2017
Why the scarves, anyway? Soccer Insider tries to explain - and defend.
May 6, 2017
This week at Soccer Insider: the back three is all the rage in soccer, thanks to Chelsea’s continued success (and others’ continued experimentation) with the setup.
Apr 29, 2017
Soccer Insider this week is a quick look at Tottenham Hotspur, which is in the thick of the title race again this year - but hasn’t won the league since 1961. In some ways, Spurs are the most Minnesotan of all the Premier League teams.