Good Monday morning friends, hope the social distancing hasn’t prevented you from enjoying some lovely spring weather. Well, OK maybe it’s been raining a lot but April showers bring May flowers, right?
MLS is out until June at the earliest and it seems reasonable to expect that even that is optimistic. Similar uncertainty exists for the other major North American sports leagues and some are wondering aloud whether leagues like the NBA and NHL will be able to finish up at all.
This has left us all scrounging for whatever sports fix we can.
On Sunday night that came in the form of ESPN’s latest installment of their 30 for 30 series and boy is it a whopper: a 10-part documentary focusing on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls team—the last of the great Bulls teams before the dynasty was broken up by ownership forces.
The show was originally set to release later in 2020 but ESPN, realizing they have nothing to show on their stations at the moment, wisely fast tracked it to air throughout April and May.
Personally I found it to be quite well done, although also not what I expected in parts. It supposedly only gets better from here so I look forward to seeing what subsequent installments have in store—the archival footage gathered over the course of the season, most of which has not been released before, is truly fascinating.
But this got me thinking. The 30 for 30 series has done some spectacular work but relatively little of it has had to do with soccer, the excellent documentary The Two Escobars aside. ESPN did do a special spin off of their flagship documentary series for the 2014 World Cup but none of these shorter films dealth with American soccer in any capacity.
So what do you all think are the greatest American soccer stories that have never been told for a mass audience?
The rise and fall of the NASL seems to be a good bet and I think you could do a single feature on the 1979 playoffs, won of course by the Vancouver Whitecaps.
In their run to the title the Caps beat teams with the following players: Carlos Alberto, Franz Beckenbauer, Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. Not too shabby, eh? Cruyff was even in his early 30s at the time, following a brief retirement spell—hardly a retirement league. The big names, the underdogs, the bad haircuts—this season typified the NASL (even in a post-Pele era).
This is the example of a story which I’m guessing most people associated with Vancouver football know but which remains a mystery to folks outside of it—all the makings of a perfect documentary. I’m available for hire whenever ESPN.
Otherwise, here are a few free ideas to the Wide World of Sports:
- The 2010 World Cup and the late winner scored by Landon Donovan against Algeria to send the USMNT through to the knockout stages, which is largely responsible (in my view) for an explosion of interest in men’s football in the U.S. and kicked off an unprecedented decade for the sport in the U.S.
- The frigid 2013 MLS Cup between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, which SKC nabbed in penalties.
- The equally cold 2010 MLS Cup final between FC Dallas and Colorado in Toronto, which the Rapids won on an own goal in extra time.
- Basically anything about David Beckham’s arrival to the league—perhaps over done but such an undeniably pivotal moment in the league’s history that I would watch the heck out of an oral history of it
- The life and death of the Brimstone Cup—MLS’ most absurd rivalry
- What the hell were the old MLS penalty shootouts. Tremendously entertaining, to be sure, but ... what was the thought process there. Is it bad I kind of want them back?
Chip in with your own suggestions in the comments. For now, I’ll leave you with a few links
Best of the Rest
Wayne Rooney, reflecting on his MLS experience, says owners “take advantage of players” with the trade system in the league and ... he isn’t wrong
Apparently the Caps are doing workouts remotely—with players still fiercely competing against each other
Some Reddit user did all 26 MLS teams’ jerseys in Animal Crossing and wow we’ve entered the weirdest timeline