04 Nov

Introducing ‘American Fútbol’, A Documentary

White Logo Black Background

Big news in the small world of The Third Kit. We’re moving house. This stale, sticky-floored party pad is getting its windows boarded up for the winter while we’re off to a shiny new villa with a Terracotta roof and marble countertops. Or so we hope.

Here’s the deal. Myself, Sam, and a tall Serbian guy who’s posted here once or twice have been cooking up a big project for the last six months or so. A dream project, if you will.

It is, to travel from the US to Brazil for the World Cup, stopping along the way to document different Latin American cultures through the lens of ‘fútbol’. Cool, no? We think so too. So we’re really going for it. But we need your help.

The documentary will be called American Fútbol. Clever, we know. But you can find everything you need to know about this project here:

http://americanfutbolmovie.com/

We will also continue blogging there, albeit a bit more seriously and mostly about ongoings in U.S. and Latin American soccer.

This might seem all very drastic, and it is. But I’ll put it this way. Four years ago, like many of us, The Third Kit was drunkenly conceived in a dorm room. It served as a way for us to explore soccer culture in the U.S. and join the lively conversation that is the online American soccersphere. At times, we’ve added things to that conversation, and others, not at all. But we’ve never had a focus. And now we do.

We believe the growing Latin culture in the United States is a vital part to our development as a soccer nation. So by going to these countries and exploring the roots of there passion for the game, we think can help define our own ‘football identity’ in the US.

This is obviously a very ambitious project. But we believe in it. And I hope we can make you believe in it too. So please follow us to our new site, and on this trip. Even if we can’t literally bring you with us, we promise to make your support well worth it.

 

02 Nov

Reform Not So Easy for CFB and Brazilian Football

Brazil, World Cup No Comments by Sam Mathius

When the World Cup comes to your country, the spotlight can raise the temperature significantly. In 2010, South Africa was dogged by frequent reports of poorly organized stadium projects, inadequate transportation infrastructure and even major human rights issues that saw poor residents pushed out of their homes on the outskirts of Johannesburg.

Now, it’s Brazil’s turn to loosen the collar.

At this past summer’s Confederations Cup, Brazilians took the streets by the millions to protest the status quo of corruption and poor spending habits within the government.

The most recent Kroll Global Fraud Report notes that 74 percent of Brazilian companies were impacted by at least one fraud incident in the last 12 months. It also says Brazil has an above average rate of managerial conflicts of interest.

Despite many of the issues that concerned Brazilians relating to non-sporting practices, football officials couldn’t help but note the correlation between Brazilian social constructs and the Brazilian football confederation (CBF). The CBF has a long list of corrupt dealings and questionable practices under its belt.

With the world’s attention squarely on Brazil, CBF officials have been vocal about turning the organization into a more sustainable, transparent body. But what does that exactly mean for the game and the domestic league itself?

Read more after the jump…

02 Nov

Ballon d’Or Shortlist: The South Americans

It’s English-less. It’s American-less. It’s Asian-less. No, it’s not a world championship salsa competition. It’s the 23-man Ballon d’Or Shortlist!

But the same guys who would rule at salsa dancing, they rule this one too. Sure there’s a Gareth Bale (probably dances like a princess), a Zlatan (bet he salsas like a tiger), a Franck Ribery (imagine him Mambo!), and Philip Lahm (what), but here’s a breakdown of the six South American stars duking it out on Sepp Blatter’s shiny dancefloor…

Radamel Falcao (Colombia)

El Tigre, kissing a dolphin.

“The Best No. 9 in the World”, there’s no doubt ‘El Tigre’ is a big reason Atlético Madrid and the La Selección de Colombia both accomplished great feats this year.

You could point to many of Falcao’s 41 goals in 51 overall appearances in 2012/13 as to why Atlético are in the Champions League and Colombia is going back to the World Cup for the first time in 16 years, as a seeded team no less.

If you look up “nose for goal in the dictionary”, you’d find of picture of Falcao’s nose.

But does his goal tally compete with the 62 and 75 of Ronaldo and Messi, respectively? Nope. And now, it’s all a bit awkward for the 27-year-old (or so we think!) as he’s playing in the French tax h(e)aven of Monaco in front of an average crowd of 8,000.

Read about the other nominees after the jump…

29 Oct

The Ballon d’Or Shortlist, in a skit

The Ballon d’Or shortlist came out today. Twenty-three players, 22 of which will all lose to Messi.

I thought this video from FIFA was pretty crap and a skit with all their names would be much cooler. Here goes…

“Ugh, Andres, did you hear what happened to Ibra?”, said Xavi.

“Oh, what kinda messi is he in now?”

“Got thrown in the lewandowski again for robben some silva-haired lady’s persie.”

“Jesus Cristiano! That guy is such a hazard.’

“You know we gotta go bale him out, right?

“¡Get the falcaoutta here!”

“Come on, we suarez we would.”

“I don’t know man, I gotta muller over. What if he goes on the lahm? He’s not exactly the bastian of obedience.”

“But he promised he wouldn’t mesut up again.”

“OK, but I’ll be franck, this is last time. And I don’t wanna hang out with him aneymar.”

“That’s fine. We can find some neuer friends. “

“Yaya! Like Edinson, he’s cute.”

“Andrea! Behave..”

“Ugh, you know I hate when you call me that..”

 

26 Oct

Liverpool’s Fancy Goal Party, in GIFS

Sorry, I’m going to let my obnoxious Liverpool fandom seep out a bit and leave these gifs right here…

Seriously, who in the EPL is better with the ball at his feet than this crazy Uruguayan??

From a clever reddit user: “I heard Suarez  nutmegged a mermaid once.” I laughed.

Spanish lesson: Cabezazo - A golazo, with the head.

And with this, Loco Luis completed his first hat trick of the season, which apparently come every 20.3 matches, if you cared.

Apparently on British TV, Matt La Tissier, master of outside the box magic, called this his goal of the season. Agree?

This 4-1 win over West Brom puts Liverpool on 20pts and in second behind Arsenal (22pts) and means next Saturday’s showdown between the two clubs (1:30pm EST) is this season’s biggest fixture so far. Goodie goodie.

I’m sure there will be a heated international video chat between myself, Sam, and Petar (he’s a Gunner) next weekend. Probably a good thing we are thousands of miles apart for this one.

(Cheers to FeintZebra for the gifs)

25 Oct

Sweeeet

“Now it’s about working towards citizenship and, hopefully after that, playing for the national team.”

- Diego Fagundez

23 Oct

Brazil Airfare = $ARM.00 + $LEG.00

Brazil, World Cup No Comments by Sam Mathius

Getting around Brazil next summer might set you back a few pennies, but sadly, Snoop Dogg will not be your pilot. The video above was just a trailer for a fantastic Academy Award nominated film*. Sorry for the confusion.

A report from Reuters stated Brazil has yet to decide if it will open its domestic airline routes to foreign partners during the World Cup. You know, that major tournament that’s eight months away.

Supposedly, Brazilian officials are unsure if domestic airlines can handle the 3.6 million rowdy football fans expected to get wasted off caipirinhas as they travel around Brazil next summer. Already, the infrastructure is lacking. A flight from Manaus – smack in the middle of the Amazon – to Porto Alegre in the south can take up to nine hours. Jesus H. Christ that’s a long time.

As if that wasn’t enough of a confidence boost for you prospective travelers, wait until you hear this little factoid Reuters provided:

Local newspapers reported this month that some airlines were charging more than $1,000 for the 50-minute flight between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro during the World Cup – more than some flights to New York.

OK, so maybe they will fix this situation and it will be easy and affordable to get around Brazil during the tournament come June. Let’s certainly hope so. But if they fail to figure out a solution, expect more of what was seen during the Confederations Cup: massive protests.  Disgruntled foreigners may even be tempted to join in as they too will feel the pain of Brazil’s lack of preparation for the World Cup.

* Citation needed

 

21 Oct

Pickup Your Pelada: NY Times on Kickabout Culture in Brazil

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“Football and women,” he said, “are the only two things we really love.” –  Hotel Doorman, Rio

Something tells me when I go to the World Cup next summer, it’s going to take an immense amount of arm-pulling to drag me back to the United States…

If there’s one thing you read and watch today, make it this New York Times video and feature on pickup soccer in Brazil.

It’s worth a read by anyone who’s ever thrown down a couple backpacks, beercans, or pieces of firewood (these are my go-tos) to make a pair of goals for a kick-around with some friends. Although pickup soccer is pickup soccer wherever you are in the world, in Brazil, it (or Pelada*, as it’s known there) all seems so exotic.

Think of this as a palette teaser for the football culture feast that will be next summer’s World Cup.

*Speaking of pelada, if you are aroused by the global ubiquity of pickup footie, check out the documentary ‘Pelada‘, the story of two college soccer players who travel the world experiencing the game from pickup pitch to pitch. Well worth a watch.

18 Oct

Hairy Herc Loves Tijuana

I found the American dream in Mexico.

Well said Herc.

And the dream continues in Tijuana, where last month Herc debuted for his 5th Mexican club in three years.

Down and out and rated total shit in Championship Manager  ’09, Gomez made a ballsy move from MLS to Puebla in 2010, and the rest is history. Ten goals in his first season propelled him to ‘hot property’ status, then came a World Cup roster spot, then a CONCACAF Champions League title with Santos Laguna.

Go on and scream “Take a look at me now!”, or fart, in the general direction of Kansas City as loud and proud as you want Herc, you’ve earned it.

Now with Xolos in Tijuana, ‘the club without borders’, he’s couldn’t be a more perfect fit. After a knee surgery that kept him out of USMNT contention, Herc made his debut late last month. Like a champ, he scored a hat trick. As a second half sub. What a jefe.

An American-born son to an El Tri-supporting Dad, I’d say Tijuana is the ideal location for Herc’s continued late career renaissance in his father’s homeland.

Xolos, who reached the quarterfinals of last year’s Copa Libertadores, are the embodiment of the growing Latin American soccer connection between the United States and Mexico. Like their mantra says, they’re breaking down the tall barrier that is the US-Mexican border, but in a footballing context.

In its young history in the Mexican top-flight, the Xolos have roped in a remarkable fan base from Southern California, as well as interest across the States. And this doesn’t just include Mexican-Americans, as Herc says. With academies planned in San Diego and Los Angeles, Xolos are building a bridge between these countries that both cultures need to cross.

On a seperate note, Herc couldn’t look more unlike the Mexican hairless dog that is a Xolo right now. Run a Schick through that gangly beard ‘mano! Debajo de eso eres muy guapo!

 

17 Oct

Mixed Emotions: The Hex by the numbers

I’m not going to lie. I thought the final matchday of Hex play was going to be a formality. And, in a way, it was. Mexico started and ended the day in a qualifying place, ready to go through to a playoff with New Zealand. Panama came into the final match needing a tough win they didn’t end up getting.

But simply comparing the tables from the start of Tuesday morning and the end of Tuesday night hardly tells the story of one of, if not the most exciting last few minutes of a Hex campaign ever.

What ensued will leave United States fans with mixed emotions. Mexico is still alive, which kind of sucks, but nothing feels better than having your rivals thank the living shit out of you.

After falling behind to Costa Rica, Mexico was on their way to a loss, as Panama scored to take a 2-1 lead against the United States, allowing the Panamanians to jump above El Tri in the standings. It set the stage for a stunning 92nd minute equalizer from Graham Zusi, essentially allowing Mexico to survive and scrap to fourth spot. It would have been the first time Mexico would be eliminated in the Hex format, which was introduced for the ’98 qualifying campaign.

Aaron Johánnsson’s winner just before time as Panama pushed for the victory was the nail in the coffin for Los Canaleros, who were looking to qualify for World Cup finals for the first time ever. What was an incredibly seismic day oddly ended up with the status quo in CONCACAF.

The Hex: Football’s best example of the chaos theory.

This was an unprecedented final stage of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. The 2014 Hex saw increased competition across the board and a confederation that appears to be strengthening from top to bottom. OR it could be defenses are improving, or offenses are getting worse. Spin it how you like.

This tournament saw the fewest multi-goal victories ever (8)  and the most modest overall goal tally (63) in its history.

Here’s another crazy stat: Teams have scored 3 or more goals in a single game on 42 occasions in all five Hex tournaments, combined. Only two of those instances happened in the last year. (Costa Rica 3-1 USA and USA 3-2 Panama)

A few more Hex numbers to crunch:

11 - point total for the fourth place finisher, lowest ever (Mexico)

0.7 – goals per game for Mexico, lowest ever for El Tri

6 - points won by opposing teams this year at Estadio Azteca

11 - points won be opposing teams all time at Estadio Azteca

-8 - goal differential for Jamaica, best ever for a last placed team

7 - games won by the USA, tied for most ever (’06 USA, ’06 Mexico, ’02 Costa Rica)

15 - goals scored by the United States, lowest ever by group winner