Category: USA

Islands | The pan-Pacific soccer paradise

Far from defying convention, soccer on the Hawaiian Islands is mainstream, with a year-round youth soccer schedule and active adult leagues, including the Women’s Island Soccer Association (see Michael Tsai, “Can the Pan-Pacific Soccer Tourney Deliver?Honolulu Advertiser, Feb 18). Such grassroots strength—for additional background, see our report of 7 Jun 06—has helped lure the Pan-Pacific Soccer Championships, which starts Feb 20. (Feb 19)

Fields | A new place to play in Little Haiti

Miami, Feb 9 | A cultural renaissance in Miami’s La Petite Haiti (Little Haiti), the most populous Haitian neighborhood outside the Caribbean nation, continues as a community complex and soccer park conceived 10 years ago come to fruition.

A series of soccer games on 3 May will conclude two days of inaugural events, including an art exhibition at the nine-acre site at Northeast Second Avenue and 59th Street.

History | Soccer fields, for King and Atlanta, lent space to move ‘beyond Vietnam’

Atlanta, Feb 5 | His work in ministry, as a public speaker and as face of the American civil rights movement prevented him from developing strong sporting enthusiasms, but at least once in his career Martin Luther King Jr. stepped onto a soccer field.

Metaphorically, King’s strides on the Sacramento State pitch in Oct 1967 point toward soccer as a place of social change in America of the civil rights era.

USA | Tide of comment swells after challenge to ‘soccerphobes’

Soccer bashers and advocates for soccer often take on roles in the United States resembling bickering marriage partners, rehearsing old lines and grievances in a zero-sum debate in which the game acquires the capacity to corrupt or to save. Guardian Unlimited writer Steven Wells (see 31 Oct 07) compiles a roster of the sport’s critics, including some unexpected voices from academia, and adds an important observation often missing in the meaningless discussion over whether soccer will displace American games (“The Truth the Soccerphobes Refuse to Face,” Jan 17). (Jan 22)

Women’s football | Hope Solo earns our truth-telling award

Jan 1 | The first recipient of a new award for truth-telling in world football is Hope Solo, who stood tall in goal for the U.S. national team at the Women’s World Cup and again when defending her version of truth after a bizarre goalkeeper switch before a Sept 27 semifinal versus Brazil.

Media | The stoning of Steven (w/ podcast)

Unable by temperament and conviction to create a “conventional” sports report, Steven Wells has built a Web 2.0 following by trusting his punk-poet instincts and inducing an irony-challenged foamy slaver among his American and UK readership. With 40-minute podcast.

‘The feel of the game’ | On the streets, Charlotte participants experience football as sole force

Charlotte, North Carolina | Given the rigors of a night-shift job, Ron “Pop” Miller sometimes would sleep until the last possible moment before practices preceding the Homeless World Cup. Physical conditioning, fatigue and poor nutrition all posed obstacles for Miller’s participation in the fifth homeless tournament between Jul 29 and Aug 4 in Copenhagen. Further, Miller found himself learning a new game that some teammates from Central America had been playing much of their lives.

Playing against boys | Professional league in waiting, competitive instincts still burn for U.S. women

Atlanta, Aug 24 | Nel Hayes, who competed during the Women’s United Soccer Association’s three seasons as Nel Fettig, can be said to have grown up in the “early phase” of the American women’s soccer boom.

Now with a four-month-old daughter, Lily, of her own, Hayes speaks in our Aug 21 podcast of the prescient tactical awareness of girls in the Atlanta Youth Soccer Association, of which she is executive director.

Historically black and proud | At Spelman, women’s soccer pushes beyond expectation

Atlanta, Aug 23 | As soccer tacticians do, Spelman College coach Philmore George speaks of building a team from the back, using combination play to instill belief in the collective.

It makes sense, therefore, that the co-captains in George’s fourth season, which begins Sept 1, are defenders: seniors Ashley Hamilton and Rabiah “Rabi” Jamar. Together they not only have led the Spelman Jaguars from the back but the spread of women’s soccer into new territories in America’s fragmented demographic.

Cross of distinction | Cruz Azul’s visit to Atlanta offers another cultural intersection

Atlanta, Jul 25 | Much of soccer culture in the United States remains hidden, but matches such as the Jul 28 Copa Amistad between the Atlanta Silverbacks and Cruz Azul cast light on the place of the sport in everyday lives of Latinos.

Will Ramí­rez, publisher of Estadio, a Spanish-language sports weekly based in Tucker, Georgia, describes in our Jul 24 podcast how he and many of the 425,000 Hispanics in the Atlanta area remain linked to soccer despite, or because of, displacement. Also joining us are Silverbacks owner Boris Jerkunica and Los Angeles Times writer Sam Quinones.

Carson’s next guest | Beckham’s posh brand of football has vanguard to follow

We have offered our two cents—at current exchange rates, slightly less than one pence—on David Beckham‘s touchdown (bad metaphor?) in the United States. The article appears in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Sunday “@issue” section.

Streets paved with soccer | Atlanta-birthed grassroots program teaches game and life in ‘Soccer 101’

We are grateful for the biweekly indulgence, from the north Atlanta studios of WGSR, of speaking to soccer-impassioned people about soccer. Today we feature Soccer in the Streets, part of the streetfootballworld network of some 80 football-based social-development initiatives aimed at communal and personal transformation.

We brake for commercials | Soccer spectacle fits seamlessly in America’s land of make-believe

Multibillionaire Philip Anschutz, owner of three Major League Soccer teams, has seized on football as a consumable, offering it to the American public in packaged, market-tested form devoid of any native countercultural quality.

Such practice is in keeping with what Umberto Eco and isolated voices from the past, such as Britain’s suffragettes, have noticed about male spectator sport: that it is a cultural neurosis “for which there is neither a reasonable explanation nor an effective cure.”

Back to Brownsville | Chronicling a soccer team, and a sister city, skilled at border crossing

In our inaugural podcast, Texas writer Oscar Casares discusses his Nov 06 profile of the 2006 Texas state soccer champion Porter High School of Brownsville.

We wonder why the Dallas Cowboys, and not soccer, feature in his short stories and hear how a border culture, up to 98 percent Latino in places, may have helped foster Porter players’ resolve in facing up to racist taunts.

The year of Speedy Gonzales | In 2006 Texas final, Brownsville’s Cowboys produced outsider’s art

The Porter High School Cowboys’ soccer season ended prematurely this year, in a regional quarterfinal playoff to Brownsville rivals Rivera.

By defeating Coppell in the 2006 final, the school, however, will always lay claim to having become the first team from the Rio Grande Valley, in any sport, to have won a state championship competing among Texas’ largest high schools (class 5A). They also validated, in the face of prejudice, their existence as straddlers of culture and language.

Villains, for a moment | New York Times’ Fugee tale exposes soccer-challenged Southerners to public ire

Clarkston, Georgia | In the first few lines of a 6,000-word article by Warren St. John, readers of the Jan 21 New York Times—even those glancing casually at copies at supermarket checkouts—learned Clarkston Mayor Lee Swaney‘s feelings about soccer and, by extension, about the nicely kitted team of refugees who wanted to play in his town.

But they may have been misled by a convenient stereotype and should have been treated to a tale without villains.

Importing Real football | Beckham adds his share to U.S. trade imbalance

Carson, California, Jan 22 | The bridge metaphor has become prominent with the Los Angeles Galaxy’s signing of David Beckham from Real Madrid. “David is truly the only individual that can build the bridge between soccer in America and the rest of the world,” says Timothy Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Galaxy.

Such brainless marketing patter deservedly sinks into the well of words that has accumulated about this player transfer of global insignificance.

Ahmet Ertegun and Lamar Hunt | Adding spice, foreign and domestic, to American soccer

Istanbul, Dec 20 | New York Times popular-music critic Jon Pareles refers in the opening paragraph of his appreciation to the “sheer improbability” of Ahmet Ertegün‘s career.

A reading of Ertegün’s life, even a superficial reading, demonstrates the often covert international influences on seemingly indigenous American art forms—on soul music and rhythm and blues, in Ertegün’s case—and on American soccer. The late Lamar Hunt, too, sought to bring the international spice of football to the U.S. sportscape.

Pinny lanes | On the margins and in the barrens, soccer gains a foothold

Deblois, Maine | In the part of the state that Mainers call Down East, soccer has flourished along with a bumper crop of wild blueberries.

Football’s island charm | Brian Ching, Oahu and how Hawai‘i gained a World Cup spot

Haleiwa, Hawai‘i | Our fascination with football on islands continues, this time with good reason. Brian Ching has become the first Hawaiian to suit up for the U.S. national team and appears certain to appear in the World Cup finals in Germany.

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