2013: The Soccer Year in Datelines and Recommended Reading (Part 2)
My look back at the moments and stories of 2013 in American soccer began with Part I.
Here’s Part 2, which touches on the second half of the year that included the CONCACAF Gold Cup, Clint Dempsey’s shock return to MLS, Mario Balotelli gracing the cover of SI magazine, the wild end to the hex and so much more.
BAINBRIDGE ISLAND, Wash., July 3 — As more Americans embrace soccer, I’ve enjoyed following my own retired parents’ growing immersion in the game, a process I finally write about during our annual 4th of July week vacation in the Pacific Northwest.
PORTLAND, Ore., July 9 — The long Gold Cup adventure begins with the U.S. dismantling Belize. The journey will take us from Portland to Salt Lake City to Hartford, Conn., to Baltimore, Dallas and Chicago. Anytime you can go to Portland it’s a treat, though, plus I get the chance to sit down for the first time with Timbers coach Caleb Porter.
SALT LAKE CITY, July 12 — After our Fox Sports meeting the night before USA-Cuba in the Gold Cup, Gus Johnson is initially skeptical when I say he should join us at the American Outlaws night-before party in town. “Gus, this will give you street cred with U.S. soccer fans,” I tell him. “You mean to get street cred I have to hang with a bunch of white people?” jokes Gus, who’s game. It turns out to be an enormous success, and AO gives Gus an honorary membership.
CHICAGO, July 28 — A day after Eddie Johnson provides a glimpse behind the curtain with him, the U.S. rides a Brek Shea goal to a 1-0 victory over Panama in the Gold Cup final. The final has emotional extremes, from Landon Donovan sealing his return to the national team to Stuart Holden suffering another long-term injury.
Other July stories that I’ll remember:
Brian Phillips on Donovan.
Brian Sciaretta, the tireless tracker of Yanks Abroad, on Julian Green.
From the video vault, the MLS All-Stars fantastic old-school rap video.
WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 — Early August is when top European teams invade the U.S. for their preseason camps, highlighted this year by the Guinness International Champions Cup. Chelsea manager José Mourinho is in fine form for our sit-down in the nation’s capital.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla., Aug. 6 — A year after I started trying to land a Mario Balotelli interview, the most interesting man in the world, soccer variety, gives an entire morning to SI for a photo shoot with Jeffrey Salter and a lengthy interview with me. The result is one of my favorite SI covers of all time.
SEATTLE, Aug. 25 — Clint Dempsey makes his home debut for the Seattle Sounders a couple weeks after making what I would consider the most surprising transfer in MLS history, including a rollicking cloak-and-dagger story of how it happened.
Other August stories that I’ll remember:
Luke O’Brien went to Rome for this excellent piece on Michael Bradley.
Speaking of Roma, Brian Straus did a terrific feature on the club’s American owner, James Pallotta.
Joshua Mayers is one of the top local beat writers in MLS, and he traveled to Texas for this feature on Clint Dempsey.
Brian Phillips had me in tears with this retrospective on the notorious 2002 USMNT photo shoot.
Colorado goalie Clint Irwin on the economic realities of being a pro soccer player in the U.S.
Steven Goff on Arsenal (and potentially U.S.) prospect Gedion Zelalem.
Jason Sudeikis as Ted Lasso:
SAN JOSE, Costa Rica, Sept. 6 — The amusing U.S.-Costa Rica soccer rivalry, post-SnowClásico, gets the treatment it deserves from Keith Olbermann.
Meanwhile, I have my first sit-down with emerging forward Aron Jóhannsson. But Costa Rica turns out to be its usual house of horrors for the U.S., which loses Michael Bradley to a freak injury in warm-ups—and then loses the game 3-1.
COLUMBUS, Ohio, Sept. 10 — In another “Dos a Cero” for the ages, the U.S. thumps archrival Mexico and qualifies for World Cup 2014 with two games to spare.
CAIRO, Sept. 13 — Less than three days after the U.S. secures its World Cup bid, Bob Bradley sits down with me in Cairo for the first of several long interviews for an SI magazine story on his remarkable tenure as the coach of the Egyptian national team.
DOHA, Qatar, Sept. 18 — For an SI story that will appear in 2014, I parachute into Qatar for the first time, conducting interviews, visiting the site of the 2022 World Cup final and witnessing what a falcon store looks like.
Other September stories that I’ll remember:
Pete Pattisson’s reporting on the treatment of Nepalese migrant workers in Qatar is jaw-dropping (including the video).
Sam Borden on the challenges of building a World Cup stadium in the middle of the Amazon is especially pertinent after the U.S. draws a game in Manaus.
Kyle McCarthy on U.S. soccer player development.
Brian Straus on Columbus as the home of Dos a Cero.