We appreciate very much all of the supportive comments and feedback we have received following our recent post on the future of XI Quarterly. Many helpful ideas, suggestions and offers of support were received, and we are working through these to consider how they might impact on the next steps we take. Please stay tuned for a further update in the near future, and thank you again for all your support of the publication.
As a reminder, issues one through three are still available to order for $15 each. Each features eleven original pieces on a single theme exploring North American soccer – issue one, Coming to America; issue two, Americans Abroad; and issue three, Futbol Americano.
Thank you again for your patience and support.
Dear XI Reader,
As you may have noticed, XI Quarterly has been eerily quiet of late. The publication, three issues into its run, has been facing major issues in recent months that we, XI’s editorial team, have been unable to resolve. Due to a major cashflow crisis, the production of issue four was halted as we searched for a resolution and asked whether it is realistic to continue XI as a print quarterly.
The publication’s crisis ultimately come down to both cash and the time of its small volunteer staff to work on the publication and generate revenue. Income has been short of anticipated amounts, even though we have spent thousands of collective man hours on all the administrative and editorial elements needed to create the publication. The cash that has come in has been spent carefully – XI hasn’t splurged on glossy paper or marketing campaigns, while its entire staff has been unpaid. However, print expenses – in part due to a major printing error with issue two – have come in unexpectedly high, and income lower than expected (modest as projections were).
As editors, creating the publication to the standard expected of it has been an enormously time consuming job done in our spare time, but one we are proud of with the quality produced in each issue. Yet this has left too little time for both promotion and attracting investment or sponsorship dollars that could have secured the publication’s future. This is a failure by us that causes us extreme dismay, as so many – from writers to copy editors to readers – have contributed to create what we do believe is an excellent publication.
We have in recent months spent considerable time debating the future of XI, in some ways perhaps reluctantly delaying facing the unpleasant situation XI is in and for our slowness in communicating with readers the issues behind the scenes, we do apologize. Quite frankly, the volume and the severity of the issues have overwhelmed us.
Currently, we do not have a positive solution to the situation and we have no choice but to plan to close down XI in the near future. As we face this, we invite you to share any thoughts by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We thank you for your support and patience, and apologize again for how long it has taken to communicate these issues to you.
In this week’s edition of Good Soccer Reads, compiled from the XI twitter feed, we highlight a new show on the American broadcast landscape, drinking the “hatorade,” a rare profile of Michael Bradley and more. If you want to receive the Good Soccer Reads e-mail digest weekly, be sure to subscribe now!
Charles Boehm | MLSsoccer.com | August 12, 2013
Big changes are coming to the U.S. soccer television landscape, perhaps none bigger than NBC’s broadcasting of the English Premier League starting this week, and the end of Fox Soccer Channel, in favor of multi-sport networks Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2. A network that has long been a player in soccer broadcasting, ESPN, has tried to appeal to the increasing appetites for the sport by beginning a daily highlights and analysis show, ESPN FC, which began this week. While these shows can’t provide everything to everybody, Charles Boehm examines the debut of the show, particularly from an MLS lens, and finds the program could grow into its own, but it may not yet be a go-to destination for soccer fanatics.
It would be some 25 minutes before MLS topics were broached, with Alexi Lalas and former New England Revolution coach Steve Nicol replacing Burley and Hislop for a debate about Dempsey’s move back to MLS. This lack of prime placement may disappoint current fans of the league but might also simply be a reflection of ESPN’s demographic research.
The EPL seems to be king in ESPN FC‘s world – as it is in many nations across the globe – with the biggest clubs in Spain, Italy and Germany following close behind. Burley, the former Scottish international, left viewers with no doubts about that status quo when he opined that “An American going back to the MLS is not a story” anywhere but here.
If the Worldwide Leader’s new offering can introduce MLS to viewers who tune in looking for European footy news first, it could benefit the league, but it may also reinforce the traditional paradigm which pushes North America’s top flight well down the priority list based on old ideas about where, why and how the planet’s best soccer can be found. A “Messi or Ronaldo” discussion came off as similarly formulaic, even with the use of a real-time Twitter poll which was one of several conscious nods to the sport’s newest and most interactive social media vehicle.
Read more on “Good Soccer Reads: Television debuts in America, tactics and finances in England” »
In this week’s edition of Good Soccer Reads, compiled from the XI twitter feed, we highlight players at both ends of MLS, an American who tried to resist soccer but now appreciates the numerous opportunities it has provided him, and more. If you want to receive the Good Soccer Reads e-mail digest weekly, be sure to subscribe now!
Clint Irwin | Pacific Standard | August 6, 2013
The story of Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin’s year is pretty remarkable. Going from a lower-league player to a late addition to the MLS squad, and then thrust into the limelight when the team’s starter suffered a broken arm and the second string ‘keeper did not look up for the task, Irwin has been one of the revelations of the season for his terrific play. But that story becomes all the more remarkable when reading this article, written by Irwin, about the struggles it took to get to the first flight. We all know that all pro athletes have to work hard and sacrifice to get to their vaunted positions, but how many pro athletes feel that making $35,000 is a big step up? As it turns out, maybe more soccer players than you might think.
ACTUAL LIFE IN THE minor leagues means moving back in with your parents or living in a house with more than a few teammates, working another job, taking on some coaching responsibilities, and not spending your money. Most pro athletes engage in a high-intensity, two- to three-hour workout and have the rest of the day to recover. Then they wake up and do it again. I did the three-hour workout—and then went to my desk job at noon, attempted to switch gears to normal work, then headed out at 6 p.m. to coach youth soccer. It’s asking a lot to reach optimal performance when you do this every day. For many players at that level, this is life. And if you get married and have to support a family, it’s basically time to retire.
Then there’s the off-season, when your contract doesn’t pay. Most guys coach. At the same time, if you want to move up to the next level, you need to put in the off-season work (hashtag “grind”). In the lower leagues, your season starts in April and is over in September or October. In MLS however, the season begins in January and continues until the end November. Players in the minor leagues are perpetually three months behind in development just based on this wrinkle. (Plus, everything else I’ve already mentioned.) If you aren’t doing something in that time, you’re falling behind. But, the options are limited. Playing with teenagers isn’t really helping you. You likely don’t live in a city with a healthy population of other pro soccer players (remember, you’ve moved back in with your parents). Instead, I played on my college roommate’s co-ed adult league team as a field player (I’m a goalkeeper) and played 6 a.m. pre-work pick up with my CEO’s middle-aged buddies. You can’t find MLS-level quality, so you do what you can. That was development for me.
Read more on “Good Soccer Reads: Happy to be in MLS, crossing boundaries, and getting in the family business” »
In this week’s edition of Good Soccer Reads, compiled from the XI twitter feed, we highlight the latest captain of the U.S. Men’s National Team, the measures owners will go to in order to elevate their club and personal reputations, and more. If you want to receive the Good Soccer Reads e-mail digest weekly, be sure to subscribe now!
Liam Daniel Pierce | Grantland | July 30, 2013
The United States Men’s National Team won the Gold Cup last weekend, capping off a tournament in which they dominated their opponents. One of the more unexpected decisions of USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann heading into the tournament was his decision to name veteran DaMarcus Beasley captain of the team, but the move seemed to pay off, as the team was successful and Beasley’s style of putting his head down and playing hard inspired his teammates. Liam Daniel Pierce discusses Beasley’s prospects for the World Cup next year, and whether DMB may have already had his swansong with the U.S.
Despite his age, Beasley is fast. It’s the physical manifestation of his desire to play; he wants to be everywhere on the field at once. While most players his age have clocked too many miles, Beasley has the benefit of not having worn down his motor. His play with the U.S. squad has been infrequent in the past four years. As for his club career — bouncing between PSV, Manchester City, Rangers, and Hanover — he’s spent a lot of it in the trainer’s room, recuperating from injury, or on the bench. He’s only now starting to make up for lost time at his club Puebla.
Beasley’s availability and willingness to play anywhere — as long as he was, you know, playing — might be his greatest asset. Last March, while looking for an adequate substitute for injured left backs Edgar Castillo and Fabian Johnson, Klinsmann began to reimagine Beasley’s role as a defender. According to Beasley, the conversation took “10 seconds,”and, knowing Beasley, it probably went something along the lines of:
Klinsmann: Beasley, I want you to …
Beasley: I’ll do it!
Read more on “Good Soccer Reads: Owners with issues, and countries before and after major tournaments” »
In this week’s edition of Good Soccer Reads, compiled from the XI twitter feed, we highlight the lifestyles of referees, opposing stories of strikers, and more. If you want to receive the Good Soccer Reads e-mail digest weekly, be sure to subscribe now!
Zac Lee Rigg | Sporting News | July 19, 2013
The MLS All-Star Game is coming up next week, and while it is an exhibition that pits a European team against the best of MLS, it also represents a highlight of sorts for the match officials involved. Hilario Grajeda has been selected to officiate this year’s All-Star Game, and Zac Lee Rigg spends a recent match in Los Angeles following Grajeda. Not only that, but Rigg peels back the curtain of the gameday experiences of refs, as well as the current framework organizing referees in the league.
At one point Major League Soccer had 272 referees in its pool. Now it has 21.
One of the first things Peter Walton, PRO general manger, did when hired in 2012 was trim the number working MLS games. The idea was to identify the most talented in the current crop and give them the necessary reps to develop.
In the 2012 season, U.S. Soccer handed over referee development and assignments to PRO, which works with U.S. Soccer, the Canadian Soccer Association and MLS.
Currently, PRO has nine full-time refs, 11 part-timers and one independent contractor (Kevin Stott, who is approaching his 250th MLS game and has World Cup experience). Over 40 assistants work MLS and U.S. Open Cup matches as well, and there are 10 fourth officials looking to join the referee pool.
U.S. Soccer still runs the referees for the lower leagues. The best ones join the Platinum Group, “which are 10 or 12 referees or assistant referees that have shown to have great promise,” Kennedy told Sporting News.
Since PRO is new, it has yet to cut any referees loose into the lower leagues. However, the 21-man pool is divided into four groups, based on performance reviews. The top group gets the biggest games. The bottom group sits out weekends.
Read more on “Good Soccer Reads: A Peak Behind the Whistle, and Soccer and Colonialism in the Estado Novo” »
Source: Emanuele Ferrari/Flickr
In XI issue three, Tom Marshall examines the rivalry between Mexican powerhouses Club America and Chivas, and in particular, the very different philosophical approaches each side has made in building their respective brands and rosters. Beyond the merely practical reasons for the distinct approaches, Marshall argues that the America-Chivas rivalry is also a broader distillation between the rivalry of Mexico City and the rest of the country at large. Read the excerpt of the article below and subscribe now to receive this and 10 other stories on “Futbol Americano” in XI issue three.
The specter of change in the “Mexicans only” policy is periodically raised, but [Chivas] is in a Catch-22 situation.
Talking with Chivas fans before a recent game in the Estadio Omnilife against Toluca in January, it’s obvious that the Mexican identity of the club is vital in separating it from others in Mexico and something supporters don’t want to see disappear, despite the relative lack of recent success.
Read more on “Issue three extract – Chilangos and Charros: Club America, Chivas, and Mexican Identity” »
Source: Terry Ross/Flickr
In XI issue three, Tom Dunmore recounts the rise of the Univision television network, which began in 1955 as a local Spanish-language station in San Antonio. In the decades since, the network has expanded to become a power in Spanish programming, as well as a ratings magnet in recent years. One of the ways the network became so successful was World Cup coverage – when English-language networks were slow to air the tournament, Univision controlled the broadcasts entirely in the United States. Read the excerpt of the article below and subscribe now to receive this and 10 other stories on “Futbol Americano” in XI issue three.
The first SIN broadcast of the World Cup takes place as the competition is held in Mexico. SIN station WXTV shows Mexico versus the Soviet Union in the competition’s opening game on 31 May at the Azteca in Mexico City. The New York Times reports that “The coverage by WXTV was not immune to the presence of electronic gremlins. For a while both Spanish and English commentaries were provided from a Paterson studio.”
Read more on “Issue three extract – Todos Estamos con Univision: How the World Cup Built a Network” »
Photo: Nationaal Archief/Flickr
In XI issue three, we recount the story of the first World Cup, in 1930, and the first American World Cup squad, which finished higher than any U.S. men’s team has in the eight decades since. From the origins of the team, to the players on the squad, and the game action, step back in time as we recount the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay from an American perspective. To get a taste, read the excerpt of the article below and subscribe now to receive this and 10 other stories on “Futbol Americano” in XI issue three.
7.13.30 – Estadio Gran Parque Central, Montevideo, Uruguay
United States 3 – 0 Belgium
U.S.: Douglas, Wood, Auld, McGhee, Patenaude, Gonsalves, Moorhouse, Brown, Gallagher, Tracy, Florie
A light snow fell at Estadio Gran Parque Central in the Uruguayan winter before the United States’ first-ever World Cup game kicked-off against Belgium. The Americans wore white jerseys and white shorts with horizontally striped red and blue socks. They carried an American flag onto the field and sang the Stein Song, a University of Maine fight song that had become a rousing popular hit nationally that year. Around 80 American fans braved the rainy conditions amidst a crowd of 18,000.
Used to playing in the wintry conditions of the Northeastern United States – the ASL season ran from the fall to the spring – the well-conditioned American team had little trouble playing around the puddles that dotted the field. Jimmy Douglas fended off some early Belgian forays, but after the Americans had settled their nerves, the U.S. took the lead in the 23rd minute when a thunderous strike by Gonsalves crashed off the crossbar to the feet of Bart McGhee, who struck the rebound past the Belgian goalkeeper. The U.S. doubled its lead shortly before half-time on a counter-attack, Patenaude stealing the ball and setting Florie up for the finish. Patenaude himself scored the final goal of the game as the Americans dominated play, heading home from a Moorhouse cross.
Read the rest of this article in issue three of XI: order now for $15 or subscribe and save!
In this week’s edition of Good Soccer Reads, compiled from the XI twitter feed, we highlight ownership of club and players, in very different forms, how youth development actually looks on the field, and more. If you want to receive the Good Soccer Reads e-mail digest weekly, be sure to subscribe now!
The Economist | July 13, 2013
So many of us follow soccer because it brings us pleasure, a distraction from the problems of the world. Is that a naïve perspective? On some level, probably. This article from The Economist counts the numerous ways in which owners of clubs can manipulate their situations for financial gain. Does it sound fantastical? If taken as one big con job, sure. But the article raises questions about the internal regulations of soccer ownership around the world. Sometimes, the dirty laundry is laid bare in isolated incidents, but as this article indicates, the problem could be far more prevalent than most of us believe.
A new football season approaches, and with it new players, overpriced replica kits and unsavoury club owners. If you are one of them, most observers will wrongly assume that you are laundering only your reputation, and that you are willing to lose millions on a philanthropic sporting folly to do so. That is too kind. Your new asset will not just help you wash your dirty money. It will make more of it too.
It is a good time to enter the football racket. Banks are less generous and sentimental about loans. Tax officials are less lenient, too, as Rangers, a big Glasgow club, discovered: it was forced into liquidation by tax arrears, afterwards being reconstituted under new ownership. But hard times mean clubs are desperate and going cheap. Set up a holding company (or a nest of them) in a discreet jurisdiction, as many owners do, and you have a money-laundering and embezzlement machine at your disposal. The authorities are unlikely to bother you
Read more on “Good Soccer Reads: Villainous owners, Italian co-ownership of players, and soccer’s outlaws” »