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Football/Soccer

Ageless Dani

My treason was tested. Argentina contra Brazil. The final before the final. Afterward, my match notes were all scribbles about Dani Alves.

How at 36, is this man running, harrying, sombrero-ing, and no look passing Brazil into Copa America glory?

What type of protein shakes is he drinking?

What type of ice bath does he run?

Is cross-fit still a thing?

Even as he’s aged, Alves hasn’t restructured his game much. He plays less matches per season, but he’s still the zip-line fullback playing on the wire.

His few appearances last year in PSG’s midfield wasn’t an attempt to move away from the demands of a modern right-back. It was about being team player, because Tuchel’s midfield hard drive was empty.

I’ve learned it’s not wise to judge a man by his instagram account. Dani is no James Milner. But he must be doing push-ups and eating his spinach everyday.

You don’t win 40 trophies without doing so.

Categories
Football/Soccer

Copa America 2019: Puget Sound and Googling the Unknown.

I thought I knew it all.

I don’t carry a doctorate in world football, but I was confident I’d recognize every player in Uruguay’s starting 11.

Not so.

So who did I Google?

Diego Laxalt – The left back is currently at AC Milan. Though I didn’t hear his name mentioned once on podcasts this past Serie A season. Curiously, he’s also listed as an attacking midfielder on Wikipedia. Will he fit in with new Milan coach Marco Giampaolo’s tactical plans next season?

Fernando Muslera – Galatasaray’s #1. The former Lazio keeper looks so young I think every match is his debut.

Nahitan Nández – The Uruguayan number 8 is at Boca Juniors. Rumored (if you believe the internet) to want a move to Leeds to play under Bielsa.

Lastly Telemundo’s man of the match: Nicolás Lodeiro.

My first thought was Mexico – Liga MX. He’s got to be pulling up his socks for PUMAs or America, and I just never noticed. Or maybe Spain. A solid mid table La Liga side. Villarreal or Sociedad.

No.

“Nico” as he’s known on MLSsoccer.com slips on his shin-pads each week for the Seattle Sounders.

His playing resume reads like a gap year itinerary: Nacional, Ajax, Botafogo, Corinthians and Boca Juniors, all before dying his hair blonde and sailing in to Puget Sound.

An MLS player dictating a Copa America match? Doubtful any Copa America preview pieces predicted that.

Nice of football to again remind me, I don’t know it all.

Categories
Football/Soccer

Copa America 2019: A Hypnotic Pass

James Rodriguez is a hypnotist. At this point in the match, he’s floating where ever he likes. He receives the ball a few yards from the touchline, just behind the midfield stripe. Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni, bends forward, shouting for someone to close him down.

Too late.

James already snapped the picture. Now his head is down. His left foot sweeps through the ball. There’s a pop. A thump of kangaroo leather and synthetic plastic colliding. The ball blazes across the pitch, wind wrapped, minimum back spin. The Nike swoosh smiles up at the Salvador sky.

In the end the diagonal ball takes out 8 Argentinian players within two, three seconds. Yes, Roger Martinez still needed to produce a tight outside of the foot dribble, followed by a golazo to complete the move. But James’ diagonal ball was the instigator.

The diagonal ball is a basic, but lethal tactic. It hypnotizes defenses, turning defenders into ball watchers. But then the ball snaps it’s it fingers. The spell is broken, and your goalkeeper is picking the ball out of his own net.

Categories
Football/Soccer

Copa America 2019: Brazilian Betrayal

I confess. It’s betrayal. Though Brazilian, I’m hoping Argentina win this edition of the Copa America.

I don’t live near the Tríplice Fronteira (Triple Frontier). I’m not pissed at Tite, or disillusioned with Brazil playing grinding, backhoe football.

My only reason for supporting Argentina?

Leo Messi.

I’m tired of the doubters. Exhausted of the skeptics.

Beings of the universe – Leo Messi is the greatest player of all time.

If the 600 + goals, 5 Ballon d’ors, 4 European Cups and a clutch of corny Pepsi commercials doesn’t convince, maybe a Copa America win on Brazilian soil will.

I admit, I’m not sure how far my treason will stretch.

A Brazil – Argentina final would certainly test my resolve. But Messi raising South America’s most prestigious trophy may at last lower the doubting voices.

Forgive me.