With no live games going on across the vast majority of the world right now, it feels good to at least watch soccer of some kind.
Below are trailers and explainers on 10 movies which differ vastly. From serious documentaries to comedies, we have you covered. There’s something for everyone in the list below. Trust me.
In no particular order, let’s take a look at which soccer movies are essential viewing.
Asif Kapadia, the director of Senna, has produced the best-ever documentary on Diego Armando Maradona. There have been plenty of films which have detailed one of the greatest players in the history of the game but this is just stunning. Kapadia had hundreds of hours of never before seen footage and this docudrama focuses on Maradona’s tumultuous spell at Napoli when he delivered to Serie A titles and was beloved by Neapolitans across the globe. But, like most things in his life, his genius on the pitch got him into trouble off it. Watch this. You will not regret it. One of the great soccer movies ever made.
Escape to Victory
Pele. Check. Bobby Moore. Check. Michael Caine. Check. Sylvester Stallone. Check. Need I say more? Perhaps the greatest soccer movie in history. Escape to Victory (which is known officially as Victory) is set in France during the Second World War and focuses on a team of star players playing against the German army amid the background of (you guessed it) an escape. Stallone’s antics as star goalkeeper, Pele’s bicycle kick and a rallying cry from Caine are just some of the great moments from this classic movie.
Brian Clough is perhaps the greatest manager England has ever produced. He won two European Cups with Nottingham Forest and league titles with Forest and rivals Derby County and did it all while making everyone laugh. This movie, starring Michael Sheen, focuses on his infamous 44-day spell in charge of Leeds United. Sabotage, player revolts and tremendous team talks. Just like the outspoken genius that was Brian Clough, this is top-notch entertainment.
We Must Go
An incredible documentary on Bob Bradley taking charge of the Egyptian national team after being fired by the USMNT in 2011. Amid the uprising against the government in Egypt, the Port Said massacre and huge unrest, people were united by one thing: Egypt reaching the 2014 World Cup for the first time in 24 years. This story about Bradley and his young team coming so close to their goal is emotional, dramatic and full of poignant moments. A reminder that Bradley, the current LAFC head coach, is the bravest coach in American soccer history.
Bend it Like Beckham
Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra star as aspiring young female players in London as their team, against all the odds, prove they belong. A truly uplifting movie as curling free kicks like David Beckham’s famed right foot is still the main aim for every young English girl and boy growing up.
She’s the Man
Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum star in this comedy about high school soccer as Bynes pretends she is a boy to play on the varsity team but there is plenty of drama along the way. Another inspirational story about women proving antiquated attitudes are no longer welcome in the beautiful game.
Mike Bassett: England manager
Think of every single British soccer cliche you can. Okay? Put that in a movie with plenty of British comedy actors and it is hilarious. Not one of the most intellectual soccer movies out there but Ricky Tomlinson (who plays Mike Bassett) plays the part perfectly. Who would be the manager of England!?
Kicking and Screaming
Will Ferrell is a rising figure in the soccer world as part-owner at LAFC and this movie is a lovely crossover between his comedy genius and his love for the game. Coaching a team of underdogs which includes his young son, Ferrell transforms into a coach who is consumed by the game. Was this the inspiration for Ted Lasso?
The tragic story of the 1958 Munch Air Disaster is told in a compelling and gripping manner, as Manchester United’s famous Busby Babes are still revered to this day. One of the greatest teams English soccer has ever seen, the plane carrying United home from their European Cup clash at Partizan Belgrade crashed in Munich, Germany over a stop. Star players perished as the grief was felt by the entire soccer world.
One Night in Turin
Every single England fan out there will tell you they should have won the World Cup in 1990. Paul Gascogine’s tears. Gary Lineker’s goals. More penalty kick heartache. This was typical England. Set against the backdrop of hooliganism on the rise in England once again, Sir Bobby Robson led his unfancied Three Lions squad to the brink of their first World Cup final since 1966.
We asked our writers to lay out the main talking points for the Nov. 10 final in Washington state.
So, Toronto v. Seattle again. MLS won’t tell you they hate it, but the league almost certainly wanted LAFC and Atlanta in this spot, xyeah? What’s your level of interest for the final besides the inherent attraction that comes from it being the last match until Spring?
Joe Prince-Wright: I’m like 8/10 intrigued. Toronto and Seattle have provided two very tight and chippy finals in the past. Seems like there’s some bad blood between these teams and add to that an incredible atmosphere at a sold out CenturyLink Field, it should be intense on the pitch and off of it. Also, it’s tough not to focus on Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore for Toronto. With the decline of the USMNT in recent seasons, they’ve taken a lot of stick traveling around MLS from disgruntled U.S. fans. If they deliver a second MLS Cup in three years with Toronto, their moves back to MLS can be deemed a success even if things haven’t been going well on the international stage.
Nick Mendola: There were so many reasons to love the idea of LAFC-Atlanta, with weapons like Carlos Vela, Pity Martinez, Diego Rossi, and a now in-form Ezequiel Barco trying to outdo each other while big names Bob Bradley and Frank De Boer match tactical wits. I also think Atlanta would’ve traveled very well to make a riotous (in a good way) atmosphere even wilder. But… I like this rematch. In terms of tactics, Vanney-Schmetzer should be just as fun for neutrals as Bradley-De Boer, and the USMNT-heavy lineups will make for proper industry and added emotion. Plus, it’s Canada against the U.S. sandwiched between the two nations dueling in high-tension CONCACAF Nations League matches.
I also really like the contrast of the quality dual national goalkeepers, with Quentin Westberg playing his entire career in France before taking Alex Bono’s job in Toronto and Seattle backstop Stefan Frei moving from Switzerland youth player to American college and MLS star.
Kyle Bonn: They definitely wanted LAFC v. Atlanta, which would have been awesome. Now it’ll still be fun, but way more meh.
Joel Soria: I’m moderately interested in this final, mainly because we saw this matchup in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017, respectively. If this were a Champions League Final, then repetition would be much easier to digest. But MLS is supposed to be based around parity, and this has no inklings of that.
MLS has shown a home-field advantage that perhaps no other top flight can boast, for lack of a better word. Whose loss was more surprising, LAFC or Atlanta?
Joe Prince-Wright: Hmmm, I want to say LAFC because they were so damn good during the regular season. But they did ease off in the final months and you always sensed they had an early playoff exit in them. For whatever reason, Bob Bradley’s side looked like they were feeling the pressure and the weight of finishing off an incredible season in style was too much. I’d actually vouch for Atlanta being the bigger shock. Frank de Boer’s side finished the season so well and in front of that huge, fired-up crowd they start so well. But fair play to TFC, they dug deep and delivered when it mattered most. ATL’s decision to start an injured Josef Martinez backfired spectacularly and kind of summed up their season. FDB turned it around in the end, but it was far from smooth for the reigning champs.
Nick Mendola: Atlanta, mostly because Toronto was without Jozy Altidore and started Wednesday’s match like the game plan was, “Just play a high line against an electric team and let ’em go back to the final.” Bob Bradley’s LAFC was fantastic, but was bidding to go to their first final. There’s something to be said for going somewhere you haven’t been before, and the three other semifinalists had all won the MLS Cup over the past three seasons. I’m more surprised that Bob Bradley was out-foxed than Frank de Boer’s failure, for what it’s worth.
Kyle Bonn: Atlanta’s was more surprising because they made uncharacteristic mistakes. LAFC always felt like it was on the verge of a disappointment despite all the excitement and positivity surrounding that team. With Atlanta, they really felt like they had figured things out, but suddenly made insane defensive mistakes and misses in front of net uncharacteristic of that team, especially at home.
Joel Soria: LAFC’s without a single doubt. What was destined to be the greatest season put together by any team in the league’s history ended in sheer disappointment at home, inches away from a final. Hard pill to swallow.
Seattle righteously deserved their win while TFC looked very sloppy aside from two impeccable moments from Benezet and DeLeon. How heavy favorites should Seattle be at home?
Joe Prince-Wright: Very heavy. They have so many attacking talents and Toronto have had injury issues to deal with all season long. Seattle should win this by two or three goals, but we all know how crazy and unpredictable MLS can be. I actually think playing away suits TFC. They can sit back, soak up pressure and rely on the talent they have in attack from Pozuelo and Alitdore, if he’s fit to play.
Nick Mendola: Are Omar Gonzalez and Jozy Altidore fit and ready to start? If that’s the case, I think I like the idea of Gonzalez, Laurent Ciman, and the stellar Chris Mavinga combining to make this a much closer match than any are suspecting at the moment and Altidore giving Seattle fits at the back. That said, Altidore’s health is the bane of both TFC and the USMNT over the past two seasons, so Seattle should be considered as comfortable under pressure as David Lee Roth in the bridge of “Panama.”
Kyle Bonn: Quite heavy. In fact I think Toronto is nearly +300 in some places. Anything can happen in this crazy league and Toronto is good enough to win a one-off game like this clearly, but Seattle should win.
Joel Soria: Sure, they’re favorites, but the topic should be approached cautiously. This is MLS, anything can happen. CenturyLink Field is not immune to the disease.
What’s the top story line, or two, for this final?
Joe Prince-Wright: Redemption for Michael Bradley? He’s quietly been plugging away since Couva and he’s still in the USMNT but as we mentioned, for many he will always be the scapegoat for why the USA didn’t reach the 2018 World Cup. Bradley lifting the MLS Cup trophy with the captains armband on would be oh-so-sweet for his family, especially after LAFC’s failure to reach the final.
Nick Mendola: Toronto’s Alejandro Pozuelo and Seattle’s Nico Lodeiro are kindred spirits in that they had fits and starts outside of MLS but are megawatt talents in this league. Tell me which one plays better on Nov. 10 and I probably tell you your MLS champion. And I agree with my NBC teammates about Bradley carrying intrigue: The American legend has been fine but just that the past two seasons after spending his first four years with Toronto FC as an absolute game dominator. A title here would be very redemptive.
Kyle Bonn: The top storyline here is a number of U.S. internationals going at it for MLS glory. LAFC v. Atlanta wouldn’t have featured this kind of battle. Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley against Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan. I’m excited to see how they do going up against one another.
Joel Soria: Seattle wins an MLS Cup in front of their massive fan base.
Rapid fire. Who would you rather have, assuming full health: Jordan Morris or Jozy Altidore? Nico Lodeiro or Alejandro Pozuelo? Michael Bradley or Cristian Roldan?
Joe Prince-Wright: Altidore, Lodeiro, Bradley
Nick Mendola: Altidore, Pozuelo, Bradley
Kyle Bonn: Altidore, Lodeiro, Bradley
Joel Soria: Altidore, Lodeiro, Roldan
Either Brian Schmetzer or Greg Vanney will have two MLS Cup titles after Nov. 10. Both, seemingly, don’t get a ton of credit for what they’ve accomplished? If it came down to the better coach, who are you picking to win?
Joe Prince-Wright: Vanney. I like Schmetzer a lot, and he’s proven to be a very good tactician over the past few years. That said, if it’s a tight, scrappy game, as we expect, then Vanney seems to be able to organize his teams better defensively for these one-off occasions.
Nick Mendola: Schmetzer’s story is wonderful enough that I despite choosing between the two, but what Vanney has done to stabilize an organization (Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment) which was a bonafide stranger to success is remarkable. Now TFC has a title and is going for two just a few months after the Toronto Raptors claimed an NBA crown. It might sound nuts, but Vanney’s stewardship started it all (as did the purchase of Sebastian Giovinco, but I digress).
Kyle Bonn: Schmetzer has done an unbelievable job with the Sounders in what can only be described as a less than ideal circumstance to begin his first MLS head coaching job. You never want to be the guy after the guy (just ask David Moyes), yet Schmetzer has excelled despite following Sigi Schmid. I think he’s the guy, even though Vanney might be one of the more underrated coaches in the league.
Joel Soria: This is tough, mostly because neither are known for being overly tactically astute coaches. If I had to choose, I’d go with Schmetzer because of his positive demeanor and penchant to win.
Finally, MLS is still gonna MLS, as Andy might say, but this league has grown so much and the trajectory stills feels upward. What’s your state of the league? What’s the best and worst of it?
Joe Prince-Wright: I think MLS is exactly where it should be. Nothing more. Nothing less. There has been some incredible growth in recent years, with Atlanta, Cincinnati and LAFC arriving, plus new stadiums for Minnesota United and the Chicago Fire moving downtown all positives. But with Wayne Rooney and Bastian Schweinsteiger gone and Zlatan Ibrahimovic likely to follow them, where are the next superstar signings coming from? That may be a good thing, as clubs will focus on recruiting young players smartly from Europe and South America, but there’s still a need to attract the world superstars coming towards the end of their careers. Let’s not kid ourselves otherwise.
From a managerial perspective, the league is very strong with a core of American coaches proving their worth (Bradley, Schmetzer, Vanney and Jim Curtin to name a few) and Matias Almeyda, Frank de Boer, Dome Torrent and Guillermo Barros Schelotto all faring well in their first full seasons in MLS. Teams are more interesting tactically and there is now more of a global feel within MLS. With Nashville, Austin, St. Louis, Miami CF and Sacramento all arriving in the coming years via expansion, these are exciting times. But more must be done to improve the fortunes of some of the MLS originals in the Columbus Crew, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution and Chicago Fire (who have set the wheels in motion) plus the likes of the Montreal Impact and Houston Dynamo need some TLC. MLS can now build from a position of strength, but the direction the league is going in with regards to big-name player purchases and making sure the spotlight is evenly spread across every franchise is perhaps more unbalanced than it has ever been.
Nick Mendola: The league has grown in quality, no doubt, but two major issues remain for it to take the next steps toward being a next level league. First, the top-end, well-paid stars are great but you cannot expect people to really rate a league when Liga MX is so much deeper due to better pay for guys 14-18 on the match day roster. Second, our country is gigantic and about to take its closed-door system and slam it shut on no more than 30-32 markets. That is insane, this league is never going pro-rel without a FIFA mandate (Heck, I bet many European leagues wouldn’t institute pro-rel if they started today because, well money). But try telling major league media markets like Phoenix, Detroit, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, even Buffalo that they’re never dancing on the center stage.
Kyle Bonn: The growth is there, it’s impossible to ignore. I’m still concerned about the overall skill level of the league even after all these years – it doesn’t look good when Zlatan and Rooney both look done in Europe, and come over to MLS and completely dominate the league despite clear weaknesses (have you seen Zlatan try to run?). That to me is a bad sign. The pay structure of the league still lends itself to a few top-tier stars that dominate the otherwise mediocre talent across the landscape. Still, the league is growing in popularity and exposure, and youth development, and that’s always a positive. The next step is growing the base-level talent, not just investing in brand name stars. I think it’ll come…the base of the league is stronger than it’s ever been.
Joel Soria: From Zlatan (let’s see if he returns) to Vela, from LAFC to Atlanta United, there are a lot of positives going for MLS, at least from a marketing and quality standpoint. My doubts are in the league’s strategies and methods behind their never-ending expansion process. Cincinnati, Nashville, Miami, Sacramento and Saint Louis are great additions, but no one wants a 35-team league. The approach needs to be pragmatic and less reflective of what has already been done by other major sports leagues in the U.S. It’s worth noting, however, that it might be too late to dial in damage control.
After a record-setting season, the 2019 MLS Supporters’ Shield winners hosted Seattle with many expecting a big win en-route to hosting MLS Cup final.
But after taking the lead LAFC coughed up two goals in four first half minutes and never quite recovered.
“In terms of our attacking play, it’s pretty simple. I don’t think that tonight we were good enough,” Bradley said post-game. “As disappointed as we all are, we have not been a team once that came in and said, ‘Well look what they did.’ No. It’s our responsibility to try to take control of the game, to make the right decisions to make the right plays, when balls turn-over get those kind of reactions where we can control moments and continue to attack. We love trying to play that way and tonight we tried over and over, but still, when all is said is done, we weren’t good enough.”
LAFC’s historic exploits in the 2019 regular season will be remembered for a very long time as Bradley’s side, led by record-breaking goalscorer Carlos Vela, were unstoppable all season long.
But for their second-straight season as a club, LAFC came up short in the playoffs at home.
That’s something Bradley will look at closely over the offseason but in all honesty, LAFC were that good this season that one bad day at the office can be overlooked.
Seattle put in a near perfect away display and LAFC didn’t turn up in their biggest game of the season. That will frustrate Bradley and his players but this LAFC team still deserves its spot as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, teams in MLS history.
Yes, they will not be MLS Cup champions this season, but over the last eight months they’ve been sublime. They will give them little solace over the next few days and weeks, but Bradley’s project at LAFC is one of the most impressive in league history.
The final step is winning some major silverware. That is the only thing left to achieve for LAFC.
Bradley criticized Salazar’s line of questioning, asking “Who asked those questions?” before telling the reporter twice to “Get lost” and walking away from the interview.
It was an ornery and unnecessary response from a respected coach who’s usually able to control himself. Maybe it’s all the LAFC black that’s made him embrace some sort of villain role, but it wasn’t cool.
Unfortunately for Bradley, a USMNT legend coming off an incredible season, Salazar brought the “#receipts.”
Bradley himself asked those questions of Vela’s big game acumen, and Salazar was simply inviting the coach to say his star had answered all doubters.
It was a grooved pitch down the heart of the plate. And Bradley threw his bat at the pitcher.
'Who asked those questions?' – Bob Bradley, last night
LOS ANGELES (AP) Bob Bradley rocks in his chair under the sizzling Southern California sun and gives an exaggerated New Jersey shoulder shrug. The Los Angeles FC coach can use his entire body to make a point, and he’s emphasizing what’s actually important about individual accolades, such as being named Major League Soccer’s Coach of the Year for the third time.
“Individual awards are recognition of the team,” Bradley said, naming LAFC general manager John Thorrington and “everybody else I get a chance to work with every day.”
“I think we’ve created a good environment,” he added. “I think we challenge each other every day. The most important part is you create an environment where people enjoy what they’re doing. Everybody feels part of it. Players know when they show up every day that there’s been a lot of thought that goes into what we do, and the culture that we’re trying to build. For me, it’s only recognition of all that.”
To Bradley, this sport is not about awards. It’s only partly about championships, even when LAFC is about to start a potential three-game run at its first MLS Cup title with the biggest game in franchise history on Thursday night against the LA Galaxy.
Instead, it’s about building a team that vigorously pursues excellence, never reaching perfection and never stopping. With Bradley telling the story, the mundane day-to-day work of professional soccer is an epic quest that probably won’t be completed, but should always be embraced.
“Look, trophies become part of that, but it’s about football,” Bradley said. “It’s something the fans can see. Every time you step on the field, there’s something real there. There’s something different there. There’s something that if you watch, you want to come back and see again.”
Bradley has been trying to build that ideal team for the past 25 years, ever since his decade in charge of the Princeton men’s soccer program propelled him around the world on a coaching odyssey including stops in MLS and with national teams in the U.S. and Egypt, followed by professional sides in Norway, France and Britain.
His latest stop has arguably brought him closer to perfection than ever before. A lifetime of coaching knowledge has combined with LAFC’s eager ownership, smart player selection, a beautiful stadium and an already robust fan culture to create something spectacular in record time.
Bradley will be honored with the Sigi Schmid Coach of the Year Award on Wednesday after guiding a 2-year-old franchise to the best regular season in league history. LAFC (21-4-9) reached the MLS records for points (72), goals (85) and goal differential (plus-48) while dazzling the continent with an aggressive, cohesive brand of soccer.
Less than three years after the first American coach in Premiership history was fired by Swansea after just 11 games, he sits atop MLS with one of the best teams ever assembled. Bradley rejects any notion of I-told-you-so satisfaction after his abrupt dismissal at the Welsh club in December 2016, although he is clearly confident he could have succeeded with more time to implement his ideas.
“They’re so far in the rear-view mirror,” Bradley said of all his past stops. “Every day brings you that new challenge. You enjoy that part, you feel good about it, and I believe in the way I do things. I love to engage the people around me to bring something out of them, and hopefully in doing that, they can bring more out of me.”
Deep into his second year in charge at LAFC, his players have grown accustomed to Bradley’s style. The same coach who designed the sophisticated offense that allowed Carlos Vela to score an MLS-record 34 goals also nags his players to clean up after themselves when they eat at the LAFC training complex, believing that sloppiness at the lunch table can translate into imprecision on the field.
“It’s not the bigger picture with him,” defender Steven Beitashour said. “It’s so minuscule. It’s the smallest little details. … It all correlates to the game. It’s all about just trying to improve, and not showing up just to be here. There’s so many individuals that I’m not going to mention that improved so much, that I would never have thought could be at the level they are, unless they were under his system. He sees everything.”
And on Thursday night, Bradley will lead LAFC into its Banc of California Stadium for a one-game Western Conference semifinal against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy. The sixth chapter of the already sizzling El Trafico rivalry is the rivals’ first postseason meeting.
For all its success, Bradley’s team has never beaten its closest rival. Along with three exciting draws, the Galaxy have won two of the clubs’ five matchups, including Ibrahimovic’s electrifying two-goal MLS debut last year in the first El Trafico.
While Bradley greets this matchup with excitement – “It had to be the Galaxy,” he said – he would never hold his work hostage to a single day’s result, even if others might try.
“The champion of the league is determined by MLS Cup, and we’re one of the teams with a chance,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about. But everything else we’ve done, the way we keep trying to do it into the future, none of that changes.”