Heaven is in the details: The 2015-16 Vancouver Whitecaps shirt

It was on sale.

I’d imagined I ordered a simple, white jersey. Another they all-look-the-same MLS shirt, brought to you by Adidas since 2004.

But a closer look revealed a delicate design, quiet even.

And unless you’re pulling the shirt over your head for Saturday morning pick-up, the small details are easily missed.

The shirt is both modern and retro. Harking back to the Whitecap’s NASL days, the tag below the collar reading: Since 1974.

“No that’s not the year I was born.” I explain to my teammates. It’s when the Vancouver Whitecaps were foun…oh never mind.

No. That’s not my birth year.

The club motto – Our all. Our honour. hides below the nape on the inside collar.

A perfect mental lift when playing indoor 5-aside, and all oxygen has escaped your lungs, but your team has no subs.

Our honOUR

The slogan reappears on the navy strip near the waist. Helpful again, when stricken with side stitch.

At the hip

Across the upper chest are the fade-to-blue-to-white jagged edges of the North Shore mountains. An homage to the local landscape. And yes, I googled “Mountains in Vancouver”.

The majestic North Shore peaks.

True kit aficionados know a classic shirt sponsor can unify the entire design.

See D.C. United’s all black VW shirts. Or Fiorentina’s Nintendo kit.

The Bell logo knits all the design elements together, and isn’t a too obnoxious plea for market share.

Kit diversity is missed when one brand sponsors a whole league. The styles become repetitive, homogeneous, dull.

Somehow the Vancouver Whitecaps 2015-2016 shirt escaped this fate.

Further reading: Graham Ruthven on kit designs and the MLS adidas partnership.


Quote

To reproach Hitchcock for specializing in suspense is to accuse him of being the least boring of filmmakers; it is also tantamount to blaming a lover who instead of concentrating on his own pleasure insists on sharing it with his partner. The nature of Hitchcock’s cinema is to absorb the audience so completely that the Arab viewer will forget to shell his peanuts, the Frenchman will ignore the girl in the next seat, the Italian will suspend his chain smoking, the compulsive cougher will refrain from coughing, and the Swedes will interrupt their love-making in the aisles.

– François Truffaut

From: Hitchcock/Truffaut (Revised Edition) by, François Truffaut

The introduction alone makes Hitchcock/Truffaut worthy of a place in your personal library. Plenty of ideas and tips to inspire writers and filmmakers alike.

What’s your number Scott McTominay?

It won’t be 39 next year.  Not after that Parc des Princes performance.

His PSG assignment? Take care of the boring stuff. The coffee orders. The midfield dish washing.

Partner with Fred in the center of midfield. Be his right sided wingman.

Jog east. Jog west. No ball watching.

Close PSG passing lanes to Mpappe and De Maria. Track Kehrer on corners.

Be a dart to cork on Veratti. Help Ashley Young double him up if he dawdles.

In possession, check to the ball between Di María in Mbappé. Turn and deliver the simple pass. You’re not Pirlo and you don’t have to be.

In transition, first time passes to Young or Dalot are required. Preferably, played into space, for them to run on to.

That’s the assignment. Humble midfield apprentice work.

But humble tasks completed with enthusiasm and excellence lift a team, and, individual reputations.

So what will your squad number be next year McTominay? The Spanish #4? The Argentine #5?

Because 39 no longer befits your stature.

Young Man Tadić

With Ajax you assume the entire team is constructed with 18 to 20 somethings. Maybe a few aging swans tucked in there, but mainly a prospects squad.

I curled my eyebrows and stroked my beard when I read in Nick Ames’s Guardian piece that Ajax’s number 10, Tadić, was 30. Hmmmm. 30? Really?

Funny. I curled my eyebrows and stroked my peach fuzz when I learned World Cup hero Zidane was only 26 when he lifted the golden football idol.

“Dude must be in his mid 30s” my buddies and I agreed.

At 30 though, Tadić is the ideal age to have witnessed Zidane’s finest pirouettes.

30 is the perfect age to have memorized Zidane’s signature and forge it over and over in the kitchen, and through to the backyard.

It’s the perfect age to have mastered it in 5-aside football courts in his native Serbia.

And the perfect age to have rehearsed it even more in Southampton training sessions.

30 is also the perfect age to muster the composure to pirouette past Casmiero and into Ajax legendom.

Zidane’s shadow looms eternal over the Beranbue, but Tadić left Madrid last night casting his own.

Tadic did admit Zidane was his idol and he watches clips of him constantly.

Futsal – The Adaptation Game

I have futsal on the mind.

A few passages from Alex Bellos’ book – Futebol The Brazilian Way of Life reminded me how futsal is a game of adaptation.

It’s manner of play certainly – the constant dribbles with the sole. Toe pokes to shoot, all marks of players adapting to futsal’s confined space. But this thread of adaptation exists in futsal’s origins too.

Alex Bellos explains how the challenges of nature and infrastructure created “drawing room” football:

The difficulty of maintaining full-sized grass football pitches in a tropical, developing country – the cost, the climate and the lack of urban space – has led to the sport being adapted to whichever terrain is available. The incessant modification of football is also the result of a society which is not hung up about changing rules.

Futsal also went through some peculiar rule experiments:

In some games, futsal players were not allowed to speak. Any utterance would result in a foul. Fans too, for a short period, were not allowed to make any noise. But the silliest rule stipulated that players were not allowed to play the ball while a hand was touching the floor. This meant that if someone was knocked over, or tripped up, he would avoid using his hand for support – since this would rule him out of play.

Futsal of yesteryear resembles backyard games you’d make up with your boys on a boring summer afternoon. A football version of Calvinball.

Even the most successful futsal region can be seen as an adaptive response to its circumstances.

The northern Brazilian state Ceará, dominated the Brazilian futsal scene for years, based on a lack of top flight, 11-a-side football:

A peculiarity of Brazilian futsal is the dominance of Ceará, a state in the northeast better known for untouched beaches, cowboys, Catholic pilgrims and droughts. It’s capital, Fortaleza, is the only one of Brazil’s eight largest cities that does not have at least two football teams that regularly play in the top division. Perhaps because of this, Ceará has put its energies into Futsal. Ceará is the state with the largest number of victories in futsal’s Brazil Cup. ‘I think futsal fitted us like a glove. The Cearenese is irreverent, he’s not interested in tactical systems, he likes messing about,’ adds Vicente Figueiredo. ‘Here people are more interested in futsal than football. All the big futsal clubs in Brazil always have a Cearenese in the team.’

Reading these few passages, it almost feels like futsal, not football, is Brazil’s national sport. The root elite Brazilian footballers grow from.

We’re Fans: Our Favorite Online Football Writing from 2018

Sure, you normally hit publish on this type of post in December. But I wanted to be sure no piece snuck in before 2018’s final seconds. Also, I procrastinated.

All three pieces are well written, but more so, they warped my football mind with new perspectives.

I hope they warp yours too.

Wright Thompson, The Greatest Game Never Played

Remember as a little kid, when adults would say read! It will take you to new worlds! Wright Thompson’s detailed descriptions make that true. He drops you off in Buenos Aires where the chaos of an eternal rivalry consumed the city.

You’ll hear rubber slugs whizz past, and smell the baking pizza from El Cuartito. But Wright also points out that Boca Juniors, caught up in the madness, missed one of the rarest opportunities in sport – a win-win.

Wright argues had Boca played and lost, they’d have a legitimate excuse to fall back on. Had they played and won? Legends. Forever legends.

Eusebio Di Francesco, The Smell of the Grass

I’m intrigued by professionals who are excellent in their work, but never wanted their jobs in the first place.

Through The Coaches Voice Di Francesco shares a first hand account of running from his calling, and how the smell of the pitch lured him into coaching.

Brian Phillips, World Cup 2018: France Advances Past a Cavani-less Uruguay

Never has a match report made me slam both fists on the dining room table and yell “Yeaaaahhhhhhhh.”

Then el profesor Alan Jacobs posted a snippet from Brian Phillips’ World Cup quarter-final match report.

The opening paragraph, which Alan dubbed “soccer and the impediments to success” is the most obvious, yet insightful explanation of soccer I’ve read.