Jamaica v United States - World Cup Qualifer

Look, an anti-soccer sermon! What, is it 1992 again?


We reached a point somewhere along our grassy-pitch way that these anti-soccer sermons are just amusing.

Whereas I once just shook my head and moved along, now I feel a bit sorry for the dinosaurs who cannot see their own extinction. I mostly just pat them on their silly and fearful heads, figuratively so, and move on.

(I have long stopped defending soccer in any passionate way; I mostly just say “You like what you like, I’ll happily do the same.” Mostly. But since it’s meatless Monday, and that always puts me in a mood … )

Seriously, I could live 1,000 years and not fully understand why anyone devotes time, energy and effort to telling the rest of us why we should not like something.  Truth is, these dated and toxic discharges of anti-soccer venom aren’t for soccer fans. This is the fearful, anti-change faction of the Baby Boomer set, writing with wounded monotony in newspapers for the only people who still read newspapers: other Baby Boomers who like to believe that 1982 might just happen all over again. Good times!

With informed content providers, this kind of thing crumbled not long after the Berlin Wall. But not for Matt Zencey of the Philadelphia Inquirer, apparently.

Ever notice these things almost always come from an older, white, male baseball lovers?  Hmmmm.  Changing world … Evolving likes and dislikes in our own, wonderful country … Baseball as metaphor for “good old days syndrome.”  … Yes! There is something there.

At any rate, Zencey’s work checked all the usual boxes:

Vast over-generalization. Check.

Factual inaccuracy. (Usually in the lack of goals, assertions that scoreless draws are far more frequent than they are. Never mind the data, my man. Carry on.)

Helpful suggestions of rule changes. Check.

Sophomoric sarcasm disguised as actual description of the game. Yup …

The teams run around for an hour and a half and if the fans are lucky, their team may – hold your breath! – score a goal or two.

Zing! Good one, dude!

Other ignorant, America-centric ideas on how to improve a sport that’s doing just fine in almost every corner of the world (including our own, I say). Got it.

Ridiculously dated references to hooliganism and tragedy (like Andres Escobar’s horrible death), obtusely uninterested in the reality that every sport comes attached to a few darker elements. Check.

Zencey did provide some nod to the game’s continued growth and popularity. That represents some improvement, at least, from the typical exercise in convenient oblivion.

Still, it hit most of the usual tone-deaf notes. (He did miss the old “enlarging the goal” tender, a staple of the 1970s era helpful suggestions from American newspaper sporties.)

Should I mention quickly that all this was written after a very entertaining match at sold-out PPL Park in the man’s hometown, where the Union fell to Sporting Kansas City? A match the former Philly Inquirer editorial board member failed to attend. (Too bad, too. It honestly was quite a match.) That fact wasn’t lost on the Brotherly Game site that went to whuppin’ on Zencey.

I suppose the only thing more cliché than anti-soccer rants is … yes, guys like me who point out the nincompoopery of it all. But, so long as I’m at it, I have one more thing to say:

By the way, dude … soccer will be around in this country far, far longer than your newspaper industry in its current incarnation. But you probably know that.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.