Lionel Messi

Charts: Messi and RVP are Having Brilliantly Efficient World Cups. Michael Bradley, Not So Much.
June 27, 2014

Which players squeezing the most goals out of the least effort, and who's working hardest for the least glory

How I Got My Soccer-Hating Son to Watch the World Cup
June 10, 2014

Step one: Let him believe Michael Bradley is "Captain America."

Live, From 2012, It’s The Best Essays From 2011!
October 05, 2012

The Best American book series is valuable, but needs to be saved from its own outdatedness.

George Carlin's Lost Soccer Routine
July 13, 2010

George Carlin (RIP) used to do a bit about America's unwillingness to leave Vietnam, despite the certainty of defeat. Imitating the heads of the US military he would say, "Pull out? Doesn't sound manly to me, Bill. I say leave it in there and get the job done!" Carlin, who would have made a great grammar teacher, loved to play with language and to discuss language choices. He famously riffed on Stuff, Dirty Words, Airplane Safety, and Baseball and Football.

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.

Best of the Web, AM Edition
June 30, 2010

Nike's Cup-conquering culture For Lionel Messi, is context all that matters? FIFA's disgraceful "code of ethics" Martin Samuel: "when it comes to football, English players are not very bright" Should England look to youth? Who should Jewish Americans now root for? How Spain's madcap sports media sees their team now

Is Maradona's Madness Working?
June 29, 2010

As the World Cup began, Diego Maradona was a figure of absurdity and fun—a perverse and lunatic figure, his ego as bloated as his abdomen. On the sidelines, bearded and animated as he was during his days of cocaine and Castro, he wore two huge wristwatches at once. He forced his hotel to rebuild his suite to include a bidet. He had lost, in qualifying, to Bolivia, and favored an absurd strategy that committed everything to attack, a sugared-up video game kind of football.

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).

Maradona is Smarter Than You Think
June 22, 2010

Well, maybe he is. The contrast between Argentina and France or England is total and not simply because Argentina are winning and a winning team tends to be a happier team. Nevertheless, keeping the players contented—and unified—helps too. And here Maradona has, I think, done well. All but one of his outfield players has now played a part in the tournament and the man who hasn't, Ariel Garcé, is, well, Ariel Garcé: Of the lesser lights who made the plane instead, Ariel Garcé has become symbolic of Maradona's unconventional approach.