It’s another big soccer weekend ahead with Real Madrid-Barcelona; Liverpool-Man City; Leeds-Arsenal; the MLS, NWSL and Liga MX playoffs; Union Berlin-Dortmund; and Bayern Munich-Freiburg. But first we’ll have our Friday Newsletter. Feel free below to ask your probing, thoughtful and/or amusing questions about any soccer topic, and I’ll answer the best ones tomorrow. Thank you!
The latest pod discussion with Chris Wittyngham mentioned that it is unlikely that Julie Ertz and Sam Mewis will return to the national team. I've heard that hinted at elsewhere, but there never are any details provided. Ertz is now a mom and Mewis has an injury that doesn't seem to be improving. Are you hearing that neither is ever going to play soccer again at all - club or national team? Can you provide any more details on either of them?
And perhaps an article for the future if Ertz truly is done at age 30 - a look back on how good and invaluable she was. Despite getting some credit, it feels like she was somewhat underated and got few international accolades (never nominated for the Balloon d'Or!?! even in 2019 when she won the 2019 US player of the year over 'Pinoe). I'd also love for you to have her on your podcast sometime.
What’s holding up more info on the 2023 MLS/Apple+ deal? The price point is critical to success. When is the optimal time for the league to announce the package specifics?
More and more European clubs, as you have pointed out, are being funded by oligarchs and nation-states, creating a striking imbalance between payrolls. Do you know a stats nerd who could calculate the most efficient teams? What I mean by that is: which teams in Europe (or just the Premier League) get the most points per game per dollar (or euro)?
MLS playoffs on Monday night!? Don’t they know that’s D&D night?
On the pod, you mentioned Sam Mewis not being back for World Cup 2023. Is it due to her injury? She had arthroscopic knee surgery in 2021 that was supposed to keep her out just 6-8 weeks. It was much longer than that, then she played 2 games in spring 2022 for KC Current and shut down again. Any additional insight?
Like many American sports fans I wish that some of our sports incorporated rules from international soccer, in particular the concept of relegation so that teams would not “tank” and unintentionally intentionally lose games to get better draft picks. Are there any rules/concepts from American sports that you wish were incorporated into international soccer leagues?
For example: In Overtime using the NHL’s Overtime rules where there are fewer players playing than during normal time, using MLB’s substitution rules where everyone is eligible to sub (not 5 players only) but once you are out you are out, adopting MLB’s sartorial rules and requiring managers and coaches to wear uniforms on the sidelines or any other American rules that you wish were in international soccer?
Any plan on a Wrexham deep-dive since you gave love to Lasso/Richmond?!
It seems very optimistic to imagine the Paulsons selling the Portland Timbers & Thorns during this offseason. But what are the odds of a sale happening in the next 365 days?
Have you watched AFC Wrexham? If so, what are your thoughts?
Who’s more in the hot seat, Andonovsky or Berhalter?
Of the Serie A, Bundesliga, Ligue 1, and the EPL, which do you think is the most likely to end up with a surprise winner this season?
Why hasn’t a single one of the recent Chelsea managers thought to put Mount in the middle and Pulisic on the wing with any regularity? Those two are not mutually exclusive and Mount is not a winger. Said differently, if you had to choose who is more impactful, Loftus Cheek or Pulisic, are we seriously questioning that?
Grant - as fun as it’s been to watch Leeds under JM, have you been scratching your head as much as me about whether a sound set of tactics really exists under the organized chaos? Not only is it physically unsustainable as you guys discussed, but they are completely lost when they have possession. Seriously, watch when they need to string a couple passes together. That part is hard to watch…
What’s more outrageous? $150+ for a custom US Jersey? Or $150+ to complete a World Cup Panini album?
I like watching Chelsea games. It pains me how rarely I see Pulisic on the field. It feels like his talent is being wasted. Can you address what his feasible options are, how long is contract is, any speculation of what he must be feeling?￼
After reading the Jermaine Jones interview: To what extent does US Soccer expect the U-19 or other age-group coaches to adopt the senior USMNT's style of play? For example, if Coach Jones has the U-19 players to form a counterattacking team, would US Soccer say, "No, no Jermaine, the senior team builds out of the back. If the senior team is going to succeed, we need you to select and develop U-19s who have the strengths that match the senior team's style of play."
I'm asking because Gregg Berhalter is criticized for insisting on a playing style that does not suit the player pool, and he cannot buy the right players as if USMNT was a club. But on the other hand, US Soccer can use the youth development pipeline to elevate--if not purchase--a certain type of player. Perhaps US Soccer has a style in mind for the whole pyramid, one that transcends the tenure of a single USMNT coach?
Any chance Vlatko will be replaced before the World Cup?
How do you think Barca will survive financially (if they do) after missing the knockout stage? They seem to be running out of "levers" at this point.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup ticket resale opened/closed in August. According to FIFA's website: "FIFA Ticketing will process a refund to the original ticket purchaser of the prescribed amount less the resale fee within thirty (30) working days following the end of the resale window".
It has been well over 30 working days and refunds have not been received...
When will we receive our refunds?
Note: I read a comment on twitter that since the resale portal reopened -and will stay open until December 18 - means that FIFA will only refund tickets resold on their portal in …. January 2023?
How sleazy is that?
Another question related to the pod... How did you interpret Vicky Cogevina Reynal's response to your question about her opinion on what is happening with the Spanish women's team? She said the federation is acting in the best interest of players and a men's team would never ask for the removal of a coach. My interpretation was that she was siding with the federation, but she was also trying to be careful in how she responded calling it a very delicate situation.
If this is too narrow of a question (focusing on the response in the pod), perhaps a more broadly focused question is preferable: How are federations, players, and media in world soccer viewing the Spanish women's players' stance? It seems like the US players and media are siding with the Spanish players, but what about elsewhere in the world?
MLS attendance has hit 10 million for the first time. How does that compare (or not) to other leagues?
What are reasonable expectations for Arsenal?
The change in manager at Chelsea seems to reflect two very different philosophies: The very prescribed role for each player making them accountable as individuals to the manager; And the "Total Football" approach that makes players responsible to each other and relies on players' enjoyment of the game to produce results. Am I simplifying too much?
With the controversial world cup approaching, how have you found your more "independent" journalistic status changes your ability to cover it? Have you spoken to other journalists (off the record) about hurdles they are encountering that you have not (or vice versa)? Is there a big change in the broader approach after lessons were learned (rather late) about how sportswashing helped Putin maintain control and advance his violent and dangerous goals after the 2018 World Cup?
Have you thought about doing an in depth story on MLS Next Pro? It seems it was rushed to market. How will it’s competition with USL play out?
A lot of the discussion stemming from the Yates report has focused on the environment at the professional level and it seems that the details about Dames and his behavior at his youth club, Eclipse Select SC, hasn't received the attention it deserves. What can those in leadership positions with Chicago area clubs do to ensure Dames divests his interest in youth soccer and is not allowed to continue as owner of Eclipse Select SC? Can anything be done at the state or national level to force him out of youth soccer?
I know there are mixed opinions about him, but wonder whether John Brooks should be a USMNT selection. You have to think a guy with over 200 Bundesliga games and previous USMNT experience (including several goals) has something to offer that ought to be considered.
Question: I'm a massive soccer fan. I also like think of myself as some who keeps up on politics and human rights issues. (Yes, you'd call me a progressive). However, I was shocked years back when Qatar was awarded the 2026 WC. At that time my shock was no so much about the human rights issues but the "bribery" and behind-closed-doors deals. I'm not naive. I know it goes on...everywhere...with every WC... but this was beyond the corrupt. I was pissed. Then they moved it to the winter to placate Qatar and the entire club calendar was altered. More pissed. Then stories trickled out (from you and others) about the human rights abuses with slave or abusive labor (choose your label). I was more pissed. Then we were reminded of how women, minorities and the LGBTQ community are treated in Qatar. Then you put out recent stories about the continuing problems in Qatar. And then I read Howler Mag's wonderful editorial on not watching/boycotting the WC.
I've kind of had it Grant. And now we start seeing the promos for Qatar and the WC. It's sickening....like "nothing to see here....enjoy the matches...." I know you have to cover the WC.
On some level, I'll be boycotting this WC. To what extent I don't know yet. I just really can't get into it. (Berhalter's player selections aren't helping either)
Other than venting, i'm not sure what my question is but i'm curious, will you have be having mixed feelings covering this "event?" Are there others you're aware of in the industry (TV...reporters) like yourself who are conflicted?
What are the odds that Messi joins MLS next summer?