Daniel Alarcón

In Praise of Nil-Nil: Mexico and Brazil Show How It's Done
June 18, 2014

Brazil vs. Mexico may have finished 0-0, but it was anything but boring.

The Neutral
June 09, 2012

This is what I like about the Euros: the tournament is an opportunity to watch soccer as an absolute neutral. I like many players (Xavi, Robin Van Persie, Mezut Ozil), dislike others (Arjen Robben, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo), but have nothing really invested in their success or failure. I’m certain I’ll enjoy watching Ozil do well now that he’s not wearing a Real Madrid jersey, and doesn’t have a petty tyrant as coach.

Daniel Alarcón’s Best and Worst
July 08, 2010

Best Player: In the first half of the tournament, I was very impressed with Argentina’s Lionel Messi, which is why I’m so dismayed by the talk that his goalless World Cup was somehow on the same level with Cristiano Ronaldo’s or Wayne Rooney’s disappointing performances. Granted, I’m a fan, and I won’t claim to be unbiased, but focusing on the fact that Messi didn’t score betrays a rather narrow understanding of an elite player’s impact on a game.

Hand of God II
July 03, 2010

I lived in Ghana back in 1998, so their match against Uruguay was a real threat to my usual pan-Latin American approach to World Cup soccer fandom. I respect their game, and adore the country. I felt uncomfortable rooting against them, and I would’ve supported them against any team besides the U.S. or a Latin American side. Like everyone else, I was hoping to see an African side go through, and who knows what this marvelous, hard-working team might have accomplished with a healthy Michael Essien in the midfield.

How To Beat Brazil
June 28, 2010

You play soccer. You have a team, some decent players. You’re ambitious. Good for you. Now, attempt the following: When the whistle blows and the match begins, jog around the pitch slowly, laconically, grinning the entire time. Your body language should express an indifference to the game itself. In fact, let your opponent control the pace, let them have possession, let them think they’re in charge. When you do get the ball, pass it around a little, just to see how it feels. Isn’t the stadium pretty under the lights? Smile. Mostly, though, wait. Be patient.

Peru Wins!
June 24, 2010

Peru hasn’t won a major tournament in nearly thirty years. We last qualified for a World Cup in 1982, and didn’t make it out of the group stage. Since then, with the exception of a few instances of magic, watching the national side has been a kind of ritualized despair. We—players and fans—start each game hoping not to lose. During this last qualifying campaign, our players drew with Brazil at home and celebrated with so much booze and so many prostitutes, you’d think they’d actually won something (or that they were French).

Related to Pride, Close to Desire
June 19, 2010

In November 2008, on a Sunday afternoon in Buenos Aires, I happened upon one of those mini-riots peculiar to the moments immediately before or immediately after any first division soccer match. I was walking in a neighborhood by one of the larger train stations, when a train arrived from the vast outer suburbs of the capital, releasing a horde of young fans dressed in red—partisans of Independiente, if memory serves.

My Father’s Game
June 19, 2010

Like most, if not all boys growing up in 1950s Arequipa, Peru, my father Renato was obsessed with fútbol; unlike many of his peers, he was as passionate about calling the game as he was about playing it. He went to the stadium every Sunday with my grandfather, and, at halftime, he would wander toward the press box, peek in, and try to overhear the commentary. The radio men impressed him; they were never at a loss for words.