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Good soccer reads #3

Posted on by & filed under Blog, Good soccer reads.

An article in this week’s New York Times discussed the amazing turn-around at Sporting KC. Before the current ownership bought the team in 2006, author Joel Petterson writes that the then-Wizards ”ranked last in the league in almost every popularity category, from average attendance to merchandise revenue.” And, according to then former player and current assistant coach Kerry Zavagnin, “The showers were clogged up, so if you weren’t one of the first five guys, you’d be standing in a half a foot of water because the drainage system was so bad. We had rats, mice, and every other kind of visitor you could imagine.”

Things have changed massively today. “Season ticket sales have increased from 600 to over 10,000 in the past five years. Merchandise sales in 2012 have already topped $1 million – a far cry from 2006, when the Wizards earned only $30,000 in merchandise sales for the whole year.”  This turn-around was also discussed in the most recent Pitch Invasion podcast in an interview with Sporting Kansas City CEO Robb Heineman.

Going back in time a bit, the CONCACAF website featured a story this week about New York Hungaria SC, the first US team to win a match on Mexican soil.

When FC Dallas defeated host Pumas UNAM (1-0) in a CONCACAF Champions League encounter at Mexico City’s Estadio Olímpico Universitario on August 17, 2011, it was the first time that a club from the United States won a confederation tournament match in Mexico since 1963.

The last (and also the first) team to achieve this historic feat on Mexican soil was New York Hungaria SC, which defeated CD Oro, 3-2, during the first-leg of the 1963 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup opening round at Guadalajara’s Estadio El Pedregal in front of a crowd of 35,000 spectators (March 18, 1963).

More and more American players these days find themselves playing full-time in Mexico. One of those is Herculez Gomez. The story of the Mexican-American forward was detailed this week by Ives Galcarep of Fox Sports. As Galcarep notes, the last 28 months have been an incredible turn-around for Gomez. 28 months ago, Gomez drove his Saturn around his hometown of Las Vegas, contemplating retirement after spending time with several MLS teams. A move to Mexico has revived his career, and his wheels:

He has traded in his Saturn for an Audi SUV and new Camaro, and rather than waiting for the phone to ring for a job opportunity, Gomez heads into the summer a safe bet to attract attention on the transfer market. He could also spend the summer wearing a USA uniform in World Cup qualifying.

Richard Farley and Graham MacAree wrote this week about the way that Opta calculates possession. It’s not what you would expect. Writes Farley:

I’ve always assumed this is like a chess clock. When one team controls the ball, you hit a button that sends their dials turning. When the other fully regains possession, you hit a button. One clock stops. The other starts running. Those in between moments? They’re governed by one rule: Until possession changes, don’t touch anything.

That, apparently has nothing to do with Opta’s calculations. In fact, Graham’s research suggests Opta doesn’t even run a clock, which may be why they never report possession in terms of time. Instead, the relation between reported possession and total passes suggests Opta just uses passes. As Graham found out, if you take a team’s pass attempts a divide it by the game’s total attempted passes, you have Opta’s possession stat.

Debbie Rademacher was recently inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. Speaking to the New York Times, Rademacher said, “It’s an honor, for sure. Growing up, I thought I was the only Jewish girl playing sports. … Most of the other Jewish boys played tennis and the girls did ballet … and tennis.” Rademacher began playing in Massachusetts and was part of the 1991 US team that won the women’s World Cup that year.

Finally,  the former New York Jets offensive lineman Trevor Pryce wrote an incredibly reflective piece about life in retirement. His struggles to find purpose in his life these days include the following:

Now I find myself in music chat rooms arguing the validity of Frank Zappa versus the Mars Volta. (If the others only knew Walkingpnumonia was the screen name for a former All-Pro football player and not some Oberlin College student trying to find his place in the world.) I wrote a book. I set sail on the picturesque and calming waters of Bodymore, Murdaland. And when I’m in dire straits, I do what any 8-year-old does; I kick a soccer ball against the garage hoping somebody feels sorry and says, “Hey, want to play?”

Maybe someone should connect Pryor and Sporting Kansas City? Who wouldn’t want to see this 290 pound lineman try out for an MLS team?


2 Responses to “Good soccer reads #3”

  1. Schuyler

    I have a pair of the original Wizards shorts. When I wear them to pick up games, the older guys and I have a good laugh.

  2. Murfmensch

    Nota Bene: Sporting KC’s first name was the “Kansas City Wiz”.

    One year, their slogan was “You gotta go!”


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