Outside the Box: Pay days and blows to the head

North Texas SC lifts the USL-1 Championship trophy following the USL League One Final won by North Texas SC, October 19, 2019.(@CMARCHO | Craig Macho / 3rd Degree)

What a week! FC Dallas go to Seattle in a playoff game everyone really wrote off. Despite a hell of a fightback, a couple of sloppy goals consign the Huntsmen to a 4-3 loss in extra time. North Texas SC did leave local soccer fans delighted as they won the USL League One final 1-0 over John Harkes’ Greenville Triumph. NTX Rayados also did what they do best and beat Innocentes FC 7-0 in the US Open Cup qualifiers. If you’re not watching some level of live local soccer, you’re just doing it wrong!

Going back to NTX, it was a lot of fun hanging out on the field while the players and fans celebrated. There were a couple of really nice gestures by the team. If you go to FC Dallas games you may know my friend Rob. You might not know him as Rob with the impossible last name, you may know him as the goalkeeper guy, toadstool head, the mushroom man. This guy:

Rob gets in early to watch warm ups for every FC Dallas and North Texas SC game. His way of showing support is buying Jimmy Maurer’s exact gloves from West Coast Goalkeeping, and having a North Texas SC keepers jersey custom made since you can’t buy them (He was a hockey goalie so naturally leans towards GKs, even the away team!). Is it eccentric, absolutely. Is it appreciated, definitely. So when Arturo Rodriguez scores the winner in the USL League One final, the team runs the full length of the field to celebrate with Rob.

After the press conferences I figured I’d stop by the Hall of Fame club and the celebration for fans with the team. Rob’s standing there in one of the league champions shirts the team gave him, having been thrown up in the air as we all saw Barcelona do with Pep Guardiola so many times. It’s really cool to see this exciting team get the support it deserves and appreciate that support. I overheard Thomas Roberts say something to the effect of ‘I really appreciate that no matter which team I’m playing for, you’re always there.’

Think Before You Tweet

FC Dallas fans often talk about the coastal bias when it comes to the national level. Their case was only strengthened by FOX Soccer’s social media folks, who seemingly haven’t heard of US national team and MLS All Star defender Matthew James Hedges.

That goal wasn’t even Matty’s first goal this month, having scored against Sporting Kansas City on the 6th, or his first in the playoffs after notching against Portland last year. The f’ing legend has 23 goals in his career, scoring at least one regular season goal in each of his seven years as a pro. I’m even more impressed that the Tweet wasn’t deleted as quick as a Merritt Paulson rant on referees.

Veracruising To Victory

Down in Mexico, Veracruz players aren’t getting paid and made it very clear with what may have been a misguided protest in a Liga MX game with Tigres on Friday. The team refused to play the first three minutes of the game, during which time Tigres scored two goals. Tigres players claim they were told it would be one minute, which they just passed the ball around for. They even put the ball out for a throw at the end of that to force the Veracruz players into action.

Either way, Veracruz fans seemed to be the worst affected by the choice of protest. DMN contributor Jon Arnold wrote about it at Goal.com so get yourself educated on the situation of a team owned by a guy who makes Anthony Precourt seem like a nice chap.

Making A Stand

While there is unfortunately still racism on display in this country, we don’t see it in sport as some other nations. We saw England players racially abused by Bulgarian fans, Italian fans doing the same in Serie A games, but this weekend saw England’s FA Cup affected. The difference with the latter is that the sport reacted. Haringey Borough hosted Yeovil Town in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup. They play in North London, a stone’s throw from Tottenham. While Spurs play at White Hart Lane, Haringey’s stadium is actually on the road that Spurs’ ground is named after.

North London is full of people of Greek, Turkish, South Asian, and Caribbean descent. The first time I saw Haringey Borough play (around 2001) all eleven starting players were black. Yeovil, in the Southwest of England, couldn’t be much more different. If you’ve ever watched the movie Hot Fuzz, it was filmed 25 miles away and gave a very accurate depiction of the demographics of that area in terms of being full of old white people.

Coles Lane is a real non league stadium, when you’re behind the goal you can reach out and grab the goal net you’re that close sandwiched between the pitch and parking lot. Unfortunately when Yeovil won a penalty, a couple of the Glovers’ fans sunk to a level no fan ever should, and resorted to spitting, throwing objects, and making racially-charged comments about Borough keeper Valery Pajetet as well as one of the defenders. The hosts walked off and the referee abandoned the game. Both teams came out to greet the fans after and show their appreciation for the 99% of well behaved fans. The FA, usually the villains who punish teams like Haringey or make some meaningless gesture, ordered a replay and actually supported the Londoners’ stance against the racist abuse received.

It’s a great little club, and one I spent a good amount of time around while working in the game in England. I distinctly remember going there one year and the chairman Aki Achillea – who is still there – apologized that the bar was a temporary cabin only serving canned beer as the old one caught fire a couple of days earlier and would take a couple of weeks to fix up. Three years later I was back there and the same cabin served the same canned beer. It’s just one of those charming non-league places with real people putting work in to make a little into a lot. Good on them for standing up to racism and I hope they continue to rise.

No Denials Here

We know Jerry Jones doesn’t believe in the long term damage caused by traumatic brain injuries, but an FA-backed study has at least shown the sport of soccer does care about the effects on its players as it begins to react. Here in Dallas we saw the awful sight of FC Dallas’ Brandon Servania and NYCFC’s Anders Tinnerholm staggering around the pitch after a clash of heads. We’ve seen Post Concussion Syndrome claim the careers of the likes of Zac Loyd, Ugo Ihemelu, and Baky Soumare just in the local team. Plenty of older players, heading those real leather balls that got so heavy in the rain, have shown early signs of dementia.

Now that we have the studies, the game can react. The IFAB – soccer’s lawmakers – are reportedly discussing how to implement temporary substitutes so that inured players can be properly assessed for concussion symptoms without the pressure to get back in the game. Rugby has its “blood bin” similarly if a player requires patching up, they can be replaced for up to fifteen minutes. That time would give both the trainers and independent doctor time to examine the players without the risk of them just running back in like we saw against NYCFC.

The Future Is Assured

Keep the 2039 Women’s World Cup in mind. The USWNT will lift yet another World Cup with a new number 13 leading the way. Alex Morgan took to Twitter this week to announce that she, and LA Galaxy midfielder/husband Servando Carrasco, are expecting a baby girl early in 2020. Pair her up front with Sydney Leroux and Dom Dwyer’s four-month-old daughter and the cup’s in the bag!

Gent Me To The Game

Two Liverpool fans received a geography lesson after missing Liverpool’s 4-1 win over KRC Genk in the Champions League. The pair mentioned to a local in a bar that they were Reds fans getting a few drinks in before watching their side against the local team. The guy then regretted to inform them that they were in Gent rather than Genk. With the cities 90 miles apart, the Scouse duo didn’t have time to get to the game. The city’s name is Ghent to English-speakers, while its name is Gent to the local Flemish population. It’s an easy name to confuse when you’re looking at a big arrivals board in Brussels’ ridiculously busy central train station.

KAA Gent picked up on the story and offered the pair an invitation to their Europa League game but they weren’t able to extend the trip, so instead they get to finally see Genk play in January, when they travel back to Gent.

Improving The Game

We often talk about how to improve the sport, particularly when it comes to settling games where there has to be a winner. I’d love to see the old style MLS shootout make a return in the Open Cup or playoffs. Regular penalties are tilted far too much in favor of the attacker. British website JOE may have discovered something even better!

Former Republic of Ireland striker Jonathan Walters, ex-England cricketer Graeme Swann, and TV personality Chris Lloyd (playing on behalf of injured boxer Carl Frampton) took turns in a slip ‘n’ slide penalty shootout as part of a campaign with Stand Up To Cancer. Okay maybe not in pro games but this would be great as a fan thing!

Keep The Noise Down

Over in Germany, SC Freiburg are having a fun time building their new stadium. The Bundesliga club were just handed down a ruling by the Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg that they cannot play games after 8 PM in their future home after nearby residents complained about the potential for noise. They also have a similar restriction from 1-3 PM on Sundays since Germans are a little over the top when it comes to their defined quiet times. People have been taken to court for something as harmless as washing cars during these hours in some areas. A neighboring airport is under the same restriction, but as this tweet shows, the effect of the stadium may be a little overestimated given the distance to the closest residential areas, where the sound should be no louder than a bird chirping.

German clubs don’t have as much freedom with kick-off times as MLS enjoys. The league assigns specific times, of which four are now compromised including the only Monday timeslot in use in Bundesliga. It would also be a predicament should Freiburg qualify for the Europa League, since that involves midweek evenings. We’ll see what develops next.

What To Watch

Well this is definitely the longest Outside the Box ever so let’s follow it up with a few games starting with the NCAA Women and an all-Oklahoma game, you may even get to see Summer Chaffin, daughter of our good friend David of P1s4SoccerTalk fame.

The South Wales Derby takes place in the EFL Championship, and we’ve got MLS playoffs as well as the NWSL final.

Friday, October 25:
7:00PM – Oklahoma State v Oklahoma (NCAA-W) – ESPN+
9:00PM – Xolos v Veracruz (Liga MX) – FS2 / ESPN Deportes

Saturday, October 26:
6:30AM – Manchester City v Aston Villa (EPL) – NBCSN
8:30AM – Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga) – FS2 / TUDN
11:00AM – Inter Milan v Parma (Serie A) – ESPN+
8:00PM – Club America v Puebla (Liga MX) – TUDN / Univision

Sunday, October 27:
7:00AM – Swansea City v Cardiff City (EFL-C) – ESPN+
10:45AM – Ajax v Feyenoord (Eredivisie) – ESPN+
11:30AM – Liverpool v Tottenham (EPL) – NBC
12:00PM – Roma v AC Milan (Serie A) – ESPN+
3:00PM – PSG v Marseille (Ligue 1) – beIN SPORTS
3:00PM – USA v Senegal (U-17 World Cup) – FS1 / Telemundo
3:30PM – North Carolina Courage v Chicago Red Stars (NWSL Championship) – ESPN

Tuesday, October 29:
3:15PM – Barcelona v Real Valladolid (La Liga) – beIN SPORTS
9:00PM – LAFC/LA Galaxy v Seattle Sounders (MLS West Final) – ESPN

Wednesday, October 30:
2:30PM – Liverpool v Arsenal (Carabao Cup) – ESPN+
3:00PM – Juventus v Genoa (Serie A) – ESPN+
3:00PM – Chelsea v Manchester Utd (Carabao Cup) – ESPN+
6:00PM – USA v Japan (U-17 World Cup) – FS2 / NBC Universo
7:00PM – Atlanta/Philadelphia v Toronto FC (MLS East Final) – FS1
8:00PM – Pachuca v Monterrey (Liga MX) – TUDN

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