Articles filed under News
Cosmos Executive Director Joe Fraga talks exclusively with TIAS about relaunching his childhood club
Three Brits, three famous men swoop in and buy the rights to the Cosmos. Now they just have to figure out what to do with what is probably still the most famous American soccer club in history. Some of today’s most famous Mad Men go to town. They hold interviews, not for employees as much as focus groups, all while keeping the secret.
Unlike starting a new business with new products, the Cosmos come on the scene with a trans-Atlantic tanker’s worth of baggage, both blessings and challenges. Surely they need to find someone who understands all of that, can make sense of it in today’s American soccer landscape, and provide the leadership necessary to get it off the ground.
Enter Executive Director Joe Fraga, a local man, original Cosmos fan, who was there when Giants Stadium was packed full and has been waiting inside the vacuum ever since. His first questions to the new Cosmos brass were pretty close to everybody’s questions.
Earlier, we heard from Terry Byrne about the MLS franchise and stadium goals of the club, for which they say all the finances are set. If all goes according to plan, they will be the 20th MLS franchise in 2013 with a soccer specific stadium to call their own in Queens. Which all sounds lovely, but what is it right now? That’s where Fraga comes in, charged with getting the grassroots efforts off the ground and keeping the soccer credibility on pace with the marketing.
It’s only been three months, but that’s an eternity in today’s new cycle. Will youth academies, club partnerships, corporate and community outreach, and forth-coming “inspirational games” be enough to sate fans all the way to 2013 and MLS? Click HERE for the full story…
Terry Byrne talks exclusively with TIAS about the relaunch of the New York Cosmos (and that book about his buddy)
This is what we know. The New York Cosmos are back with intentions on being the 20th MLS franchise in 2013. It’s run by famous industry names like Paul Kemsley, Terry Byrne, and famed advertising executive Carl Johnson, as well as more locally entrenched talent like Giovanni Savarese and Joe Fraga. They got Pele as the honorary president. They purchased Copa NYC (soon to be called Cosmos Copa), a citywide amateur World Cup of sorts. They’ve obviously got some money, not just because of the ownership group’s personal assets, but because they launched youth academy teams in New York and Los Angeles, both of which will be free to players. They have a partnership with Blau Weiss Gottschee, the most historic of the city’s elite youth clubs. They launched a branded ball and kit, produced by Umbro, which signed on as kit and equipment sponsor. They have a website, a Twitter account, a Youtube, Flickr, and Facebook page. They have as of yet, however, no men’s team, professional, amateur, or otherwise.
But for a club with no men’s team, no MLS franchise for at least a couple more years, it sure seems like everyone is talking (or complaining) about the Cosmos… Click HERE for the full story…
Filip Bondy’s new book on the USMNT will get better with age
I almost put it down after the forward. In his 300-page book Chasing The Game (out now from De Capa Press), which interlaces player profiles and men’s national team history with expanded game reports from the recently completed World Cup Qualifying cycle, Filip Bondy makes one thing abundantly clear: this book is not for soccer fans.
Instead of the behind-the-scenes narratives or in-the-field reporting that the best non-fiction books bring to sate all potential audiences, Bondy delivers patchwork profiles for only the most popular (and obvious) players and game reports painted over with bits of colorful scene-setting. There’s no sense of narrative or narrator, and for a fan of the game and team (the person you would think this book is written for) there is very little new information, very few new quotes or insights, and absolutely no surprises.
It does do what newspapers do best: write down history in a simple and straightforward way. Bondy has a wonderful USA Today or Sports Illustrated pull-out section to prepare the mainstream American sports audience for the World Cup, but at 300 pages, he has a boring book. At least for a few years. Click HERE for the full story…
Did I just learn why the negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement are so contentious? Did I find out just how disrespected the Vietnam league is? Or did I discover that MLS doesn’t think he’s worth it? There is plenty to learn from the professional path taken by Lee Nguyen, but at present, all I have are questions.
Talking to Nguyen back in November of last year it seemed certain he would be playing in a MLS uniform in 2010. Once high school player of the year and college freshman of the year, as recently as last fall Arsenal had nice things to say about the 23-year-old Texan who played within the national team system at almost every level. He’s spent time at PSV Eindhoven, Randers FC, and HAGL in Vietnam. In an environment where nearly every talented young American player runs from MLS to foreign countries for better competition and compensation, here is a guy who wants to come back home. Done and done, right? So why am I waking him up at 6:45 AM in Vietnam—Lee thankfully awake from the half-day time change and jet lag before his new season starts at the end of the month? Click HERE for the full story…
TIAS’s Senior Hair Band Correspondent scores world exclusive with the Group of Death
If you were one of the lucky few who snagged a t-shirt in Seattle during the Supporters Summit, than you might know the Group of Death. For the rest of you, it’s merely the hardest group, with the toughest teams, pooled together in one group during the World Cup draw–which goes down today at Noon, setting off a full day of wholly unique soccer events in New York…
Which brings us back to the Group of Death–not the group, but the band. The vagabond heavy metal band of soccer loving, hairspray abusing, face painting leather freaks that tours once every four years. Talk to them and it’s, “awesome this,” “melt off that” to the point where the music becomes the least of your problems when trying to glean any sort of information out of them. Or at least that was my experience with the band of misfits-doesn’t-even-get-it-close. The Group of Death. Why they wanted to do an interview with TIAS, I’ll never know. Should I feel proud? Ashamed? Or scared about just how easy it is to find me?
And on Friday, it will be very easy to find me, as it’s one of those great days to live in New York. World Cup draw at the international bar or restaurant of your choice from Noon-3. At 4pm I’ll be at Niketown NY to finish up my first on-camera work during Live With Landon, a streaming event broadcast live on Facebook. Then straight from there to Nevada Smiths for the opening night of GoD’s world tour, which I think is called ‘GoD Help Us’.
Somewhere while sitting down with the four members of the Group of Death, between their music making me self conscious and their juggling causing my ears to bleed, I was able to get in a few questions and three separate confrontations. Click HERE for the full story…
QUICK PROGRAMMING NOTES:
TIAS, Du Nord, The Original Winger, Soccer By Ives, and The Offside Rules will be hosting a party Friday night 9pm in downtown Seattle at Kell’s Irish Pub (FYI - bar charges $5 cover, which is not going to us). It’s a true soccer bar I’m told, should be a good time. Won’t you join us?
New Podcast Coming To iTunes: WaitingForGaetjens.com
Hear me butcher first and last names and attempt to make co-host Greg Lalas laugh as he tries to bring serious analysis to the world of American soccer. We’re looking towards a weekly schedule to begin after a special week of several run-up shows revolving around MLS Cup. Those few shows will also be downloadable at MLSnet.com. The plan is to pull in the best guests we can and keep it entertaining and informative. Please check it out–RSL GM Garth Lagerway joins us tomorrow–and let us know who you would like to see on the guest list. We’ll get it right next time.
Now back to regularly scheduled programming already in progress…
I can’t remember the last time I put up a player interview on the site, but I’ve been fascinated with Lee Nguyen for awhile now. And then over a stretch of one month this fall the 23-year-old attacker went from Vietnam superstar to Arsenal trainee to FC Dallas off-season practice attendee. Curious, I went looking for some info, but found few answers. Here’s this kid living large over in Vietnam, cover of GQ, etc, etc. But we never hear much about him Stateside. We can’t begin to pronounce his Vietnamese club team and know nothing of his life in the far East, which is entirely different from every American soccer player, maybe in history.
On the phone the Texas native with Vietnamese roots sounds like his fellow Texan Clint Dempsey–that rough southern drawl lazy on the crackling cell phone satellites…
Want improvement? A century ago as America’s eastern cities overpopulated it was, “Go west, young man.” For soccer a century later the trumpet sounds the same. Only going west means tracking back to the previous western frontier. In mainland Europe. Or at least that’s what Simon Kuper believes and writes in his and economist Stefan Szymanski’s new book, Soccernomics.
I transcribed the entire interview, and he didn’t say it once. Maybe it’s the American wife and three American kids. Maybe it was living in Palo Alto as a kid or Boston as a young man. Maybe it’s why he wrote a new chapter (NFL v EPL) and had the book edited and printed specifically for an American audience. But not once in my hour-long conversation with Kuper did he use the word football. I don’t think that means anything, but it was nice.
The PR take-away is that it’s Moneyball for soccer, but has it come too late? Can soccer even compete with baseball when it comes to statistical break down? It’s surely tempting fodder for those for whom soccer is religion and those who see sport as science. But those two will always fight. And while it will instigate and educate, Soccernomics can also ring all too true for the pragmatic few who can subtract passion from reality and who have been cursing the fiscal and emotional insanity of professional (Western European) soccer for years. But no matter your take-away, at least it’s not another book about some strange and historic season of Anytown FC.
Kuper and Szymanski set out in late 2007 to write a different kind of soccer book, to change the discussion, to surprise with data. On the day of the book’s American release, Kuper took time over the phone from Paris to discuss the book, the reaction to it, and what it means for American soccer. Click HERE for the full story…
foreign failure (and a blind date) nets New York DC a soccer film festival
What almost started in London, only to become a gift to New York, is now taking the show on the road with the second installment of the Kicking & Screening soccer film festival in Washington, DC, October 15-18. With three new films that were not shown in NYC, the DC edition still includes Les Yeux dans les Bleus, but adds in a personal favorite, Sons of Sakhnin United, the cult classic Victory, and The Big Green.
After the jump, an edited version of the story behind the film festival, originally published in May. Click HERE for the full story…
If there was ever a sheen on David Beckham for the American soccer fan with a Y chromosome, if he was initially given a pass, if anybody believed anything he said, well, that patina is gone. Beckham can still build urban soccer fields and set up summer camps and buy a MLS franchise, but you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
“Senator,” someone needs to tell him, “You’re no Jack Kennedy.” Not that it would do any good.
Grant Wahl discusses his new book, The Beckham Experiment, out now from Crown
Why do book reviews have to be summaries of the book? I never got that. I understand it but don’t get it. I do get jacket blurbs, though. Those few sentences of praise on the back of a book–I’m always curious what names are there and what they say.
“Through the prismatic window of its most famous player, Wahl masterfully traces every intersection, follows every turn through the disjointed world of American soccer’s season on the brink… of what exactly is the lasting question.”
“There’s your jacket cover blurb” I wrote in sappy jest to Grant Wahl, when he asked my opinion of his book this past Spring. It was a joke—as if I’d be chosen over Foer, Deford, and other famous writers who praise the book on its back cover. But I have gotten to know Grant a bit over the four years I’ve been producing TIAS (Wahl was my first in-depth interview as I began to position TIAS as place where soccer journalism, not just the sport, was a topic of discussion). So after signing my life away, I was able to procure one of the first galley copies of the book back in May. And before the mainstream got its grubby hands on him, Grant talked his publisher into allowing him to speak to me before the deluge of requests. Click HERE for the full story…