Outside the box: Soccer in a time of Covid

With no FC Dallas game this weekend, here’s a special weekend edition of our look at the wider world of soccer and the weird things happening in it.

We often wondered if a big TV deal would be voided during the pandemic with the absence of play for a couple of months. That didn’t come but the Premier League tore up its $695m three year deal with Chinese streaming service PPTV this week.

Before the pandemic even began, the broadcaster’s owners Suning – who also own Inter Milan – failed to make a scheduled payment of $212m in February. Sports business analysts have speculated that the defaulted payment is a tactic Chinese businesses often employ to renegotiate newly-agreed deals.

Maybe they should follow MLS’s lead and try to make some money back with a ropey tournament at Disney World!

Making Money

If you’re unaware of the situation at Wigan Athletic, the Latics were sold to a Hong Kong-based investment fund in June. Less than a month later the owners decided they would not make the promised investment leaving Wigan in administration with a points deduction that would relegate them to League One.

Wigan were left trying to raise close to $1m to ensure the team could start the 2020/21 season. Part of that included goalkeeper Jamie Jones auctioning his winners medal from the last time the Latics were in League One.

Classy gesture by the fan to give Jones his medal back. That’s the only medal Jones has won as a professional, so definitely something important for him and his family.

On Your Own

The 3,000 fans allowed at FC Dallas is slowly becoming a new normal – albeit temporarily – although that’s not the case in most places. One England fans decided he still wanted to follow the Three Lions to Iceland this week.

Chad Thomas booked his flight and went through a mandatory five-day quarantine at a rental apartment in Reykjavik in order to watch the game through a fence. Thomas, surrounded by a few dozen Iceland fans on the outside, got to enjoy one moment in England’s 1-0 win.

In Need of a Czech Up

Our own Czech hero Zdenek “Kobra” Ondrasek can’t play for his national team right now with all the COVID-related restrictions on travel but apparently nor can his team-mates.

The Czech Republic had to take a step I’ve never heard of and call up a whole new roster for Monday’s game against Scotland after a member of their technical staff tested positive for COVID-19.

Only two players – Roman Hubnik and Stanislav Tecl – of the 24 have been able to remain with the squad. For 36-year-old defender Hubnik, Monday will likely be his first game for the national team since Euro 2016. Tecl hasn’t featured for two years and will make only his sixth appearance among a roster mostly comprised of uncapped players.

On Friday the Czech authorities announced the UEFA Nations League tie would be postponed, although UEFA instead ordered they call up a new roster rather than force any further delays.

Home Field Advantage

We extensively covered the challenges FC Dallas had to deal with through the COVID-enforced break from Zoom sessions with players at home to trying to find suitable parks for them to kick a ball around in. If you need a reminder, Nico Mendez wrote a fantastic piece on how the training staff had to think on their feet to keep FCD players prepared.

Northwich Victoria coach Steve Wilkes improvised with a small training session in his back yard. The BBC covered a few good stories as the 2020/21 FA Cup began last weekend with the Extra Preliminary Round.

Cup Heroes Come in All Shapes and Sizes

From those first FA Cup ties came a winning goal with a great story attached. Kieran Amos had been out of soccer for eight years, hitting 300lbs as the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.

While many of us put on a few quarantine pounds, Amos decided to shed some with a change in diet and starting running with his brother Cameron. Close to 100lbs later, Amos overcame the ankle injury that originally put him out of soccer to sign with non-league club Sawbridgeworth Town. Here’s the fairytale ending.

Concacaffeinated

Our good friend Jon Arnold has been delivering a regular dose of Concacaf for a few years. Since leaving Goal.com and stepping away from FC Dallas coverage, Jon has started a newsletter to make sure we’re keeping up with all things Concacaf.

Great, but why is that important now? Jon gave a great breakdown of Concacaf finally doing away with the bizarre allocation in the Gold Cup that was designed to prevent the US and Mexico from meeting before the final. The inaugural draw for the Gold Cup takes place later this month, and you can read all about that here.

A Whole New Game

It seems like everyone has had their say on Declan Rice’s career. From the tug-of-war between England and Ireland to whether he should stay at West Ham or Leave.

WWE wrestler Triple H is the latest for some bizarre reason.

The Game is known for hitting people with sledgehammers and befriending the late great Lemmy of Motorhead. I guess the former should be a clue that he has a secret passion for the Hammers in pleading with Rice to stay in London’s East End

Details Matter

It’s been 20 years since Major League Soccer accepted that ties are just part of this game we all love and stopped using extra time and penalties to determine winners in the regular season.

DC United’s social media manager apparently didn’t get the memo as United beat the New York Red Bulls deep in stoppage time on Wednesday night.

Aldo All The Scoring

It’s been an odd start to life for Mazatlan FC, formerly Monarcas Morelia. Their official founding came in the middle of a pandemic and their slow start of one win in eight games was made all the worse during a 3-1 loss to America on Wednesday.

You’ve seen goals where the camera couldn’t keep up with a surprise shot but Aldo Rocha scored an own goal so bad the cameras missed it. TUDN put out this clip that shows the aftermath including a replay. The fact that it takes 35 seconds to even show the goal just goes to show how unexpected the bizarre pass back was.

What’s On

We finish up an international window, only for the European leagues to return! There’s also rivalry week in MLS which is seemingly carrying over into USL League One and Championship, and NWSL.

Next Saturday has a pretty cool slate of games with Liverpool v Leeds in the Premier League on big boy NBC, shortly followed by a Portland v Seattle rivalry in NWSL on CBS. Capping off the day is an FC Dallas/North Texas SC double!

Monday, September 7:
1:45pm – Netherlands v Italy (UEFA Nations League) – TUDN / ESPN+

Tuesday, September 8:
1:45pm – France v Croatia (UEFA Nations League) – ESPN+
1:45pm – Denmark v England (UEFA Nations League) – ESPN2
8:00pm – Austin Bold v FC Tulsa (USL-C) – ESPN+
9:00pm – Chivas v Queretaro (Liga MX) – Telemundo

Wednesday, September 9:
4:00pm – NY Red Bulls II v Philadelphia Union II (USL-C) – ESPN+
7:00pm – Minnesota United v FC Dallas (MLS) – TXA21 / ESPN+ / FCDallas.com/stream
9:00pm – Santos Laguna v Pumas UNAM (Liga MX) – FOX Deportes

Thursday, September 10:
2:00pm – Lens v PSG (Ligue 1) – beIN SPORTS
6:00pm – North Carolina FC v Memphis 901 (USL-C) – ESPN+
9:00pm – Seattle Sounders v SJ Earthquakes (MLS) – ESPN+

Friday, September 11:
1:45pm – W*tford v Middlesbrough (EFL Championship) – ESPN+
2:00pm – Bordeaux v Lyon (Ligue 1) – beIN SPORTS
6:00pm – NC Courage v Houston Dash (NWSL) – Twitch
9:30pm – Phoenix Rising v Las Vegas Lights (USL-C) – ESPN+

Saturday, September 12:
6:30am – Fulham v Arsenal (EPL) – NBCSN
8:30am – Nurnburg v RB Leipzig (DFB Pokal) – ESPN Deportes
9:00am – West Ham v Newcastle Utd (EPL) – NBCSN
11:30am – Liverpool v Leeds Utd (EPL) – NBC
2:30pm – Portland Thorns v OL Reign (NWSL) – CBS
6:30pm – Orlando City v Inter Miami (MLS) – UniMas
7:30pm – FC Dallas v Houston Dynamo (MLS) – TXA21 / ESPN+ / FCDallas.com/stream
9:30pm – FC Tucson v North Texas SC (USL-1) – ESPN+

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