Articles filed under Around the World
an iconic resort, a maybe murderer, & the birth of top-flight football in Tijuana
by Eben Lehman
It took decades, but in the end it was just a short journey to find something seemingly so far away: the transcendent football experience. On a Sunday morning in April, soccer fan Dean Mitchell leaves his home in San Diego and heads south towards the border. The barren desert geography doesn’t change much between his home and Tijuana, Mexico, but nearly everything else brightens once he passes that wall, including Dean’s mood. Crossing the border on foot it takes literally one step to enter a completely different world – away from a soccer niche to a land hot with football fever.
After years following a revolving door of lower-division San Diego soccer franchises – the Nomads, the Flash, various iterations of the Sockers, holding out hope for a MLS expansion team – Tijuana is where Mitchell finally discovered his personal sports mecca. Within the domain of his football odyssey, the guarded international boundary is nothing more than an imaginary line. And anyway, Tijuana is a hell of a lot closer than Los Angeles where the closest two MLS teams preside. Click HERE for the full story…
from the outside, in — one man’s journey to the heart of India
by Ashwin Warrior
I came to Calcutta on a whim. Time off from school, traveling and volunteering in India—one version of the American collegiate dream. I chose Calcutta, the sprawling metropolis of over fifteen million people, on the recommendation of a friend. He said the city was unforgettable, that no matter what I was interested in, I could find it there.
Some focus on the extreme poverty; others the vibrant people and rich culture. No matter how you see it, India’s third largest city certainly has the power to overwhelm. Every square inch of the city is thick with life. In the streets, people, animals, and machines collide. Barefoot rickshaw pullers, emaciated and sweating, lean forward with grimaced faces straining for leverage to lug their passengers along the crowded roads. Just as they get going, their knees buckle inside legs skidding on heels to a halt; the traffic prevents their flow. They jockey for space with the men guiding bullock carts piled high with hay and brash young taxi drivers who speed and brake, speed and brake, down the narrow arteries crammed with centuries of transportation technology. To watch some of them operate in the chaos, is to experience the world’s best footballers bounce from defender to defender, filling open space but for a moment until it all shuts down. Click HERE for the full story…
“Pity comes too late, turn around and face your fate: An eternity of this before your eyes!”
Last Saturday’s draw felt like a win. Yesterday’s felt like a loss, which isn’t to take anything away from the unbelievable comeback orchestrated by the USMNT against Slovenia.
It’s just to say that when, after a wonderful date, a date that would go down as one of the best, a mask removed reveals scars. No matter the beauty underneath, it’s hard to get past the surface.
Blame it on the light. Click HERE for the full story…
I think even less than 24 hours after the game, you’ve read enough about USMNT v England. And really, if you’re reading this website, you don’t need someone else to tell you what you saw.
So simply here to help take you there…
Overheard in Rustenburg… “Don’t call it a comeback. Or a miracle. And don’t be satisfied with a tie. That’s what I keep telling myself. That’s what I want for U.S. Soccer.”
caught in the grip of the (soccer) city madness
A new Azteca. That’s what it felt like–the beehive atmosphere, the passion, the patriotism–albeit without the built-in American worry of being drenched with beer and who knows what else.
Though I’d take that worry for the game to have been U.S. v Mexico.
Photo story after the jump. Click HERE for the full story…
TEN DAYS IN JOHANNESBURG: SPECTACLE v REALITY
Foreign children run amok in the tiny square that sits out front of my hotel, ringed with upscale restaurants and shops, and within the security gates that make the Truman Show-ed blocks of the artificially perverse Melrose Arch in Johannesburg safe for such shenanigans. Outside the gates, the story is different, right?
Indeed sidewalks outside the malls, gated city blocks and security patrolled neighborhoods are as empty as the barrel of a gun before the trigger is pulled—the void created between extreme wealth and abject poverty as tangible as a duel at high noon in the old American West. But the fear only exists if you expect that the trouble is pointed at you. Every time for me a smile suffices in breaking the seal between tourist and resident. I mean, should I really not walk around? But I don’t dare test it, not when it seems all we hear Stateside about this country, this continent, is trouble and crime (hotel staff also strongly discourage any sort of walking outside of Melrose Arch or a few other hotel/retail/casino centers around town). So what you’re left with, without real effort, is a relatively inauthentic South African experience. All around me was a feeling that this is not real.
In the last few years, I’ve spoken with Frank Dell’apa, Ray Hudson, Grant Wahl, Ives Galarcep, Jack Bell, Bruce McGuire, Jeff Carlisle, Buzz Carrick, Mitch Peacock, Robert Abramowitz, Beau Dure, and others, but it’s been a while since I sat down with one of the flashlight bearers in this little wilderness to get their story.
Now that the soccer journalism transfer window appears to be closing in on the World Cup and a new MLS Season (there is going to be one, right?), I thought it meaningful to get back to basics.
With the USMNT playing in Amsterdam tomorrow, and what with my fascination by the life (I imagine) of an American living in Europe, writing a blog for an American audience, there was no one better to kick this series back into motion than Greg Seltzer, who brings the boys back home through his various outlets as a full-time soccer writer.
Yes, he does earn a living off internet soccer writing. Click HERE for the full story…
After hearing from a few people about the poor sound quality of the interviews on last week’s Waiting For Gaetjens podcast (sorry about that), I figured I’d transcribe the two interviews and post them here. I normally wouldn’t do this–I hate the whole, I write the same thing that I Twitter that I podcast that I Facebook, etc, etc, etc–but I think Hugo Salcedo in particular offers the most experienced knowledge of the movement of American youth players to Mexican club teams, while Goal.com’s Rene Leal, who spent time with Pachuca’s youth team, can shed light on the experience from a player’s perspective. And anyway, because no one actually heard what they said on the air, this is still new.
So how does the pipeline for players going from the U.S. to Mexico work? Will we see more movement? Will we see Americans without Mexican ancestry start heading south? Is this good for American soccer? Greg Lalas and I follow the path south to a system better prepared at present to accelerate the soccer education of American youth. 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…
Do FIFA and its international tournaments really make a difference for the countries that host them? Could they? Should they? And what responsibility must the host country take on? What if instead of leftover stadiums host nations received fully integrated, brand new transportation systems? Will that be what South Africa reaps beyond profits for those whose pockets are already full? What if they were left with a bigger and better trained security or police force?
South Africa will be the biggest, but also just the latest opportunity for FIFA to not just turn a profit but to do good by the African continent. So much has been written about the upcoming host nation and its preparedness for the World Cup. What is myth and what is truth?