Here's a continued look at my favorite listens about the football you play with your feet in the podcasting world. For part one, click here. Three, two, one, and some miscellanea.
All of these can be found on itunes, except TWFP, which is on SoundCloud.
3) Total Soccer Show
You might not know about this one. You should.
Darrell Grove and Tyler Rockwell
played for the USL Richmond Kickers live in Virginia (note: I'm an idiot. They talk about the kickers a lot, and talk about weekend warrior soccer a lot. I conflated the two.) And now they podcast out of the Virginia/DC area. This show is great because it really covers everything in the normative soccer world. On any given show, they might cover the FIFA scandal, the UEFA Champions League, the Bundesliga, the EPL, MLS, American youth soccer, and the whereabouts of Freddie Adu. As former players, they have a good head for tactics. As hipster goofballs, they also keep things light and move things along.
These guys are dedicated to the gig. I think they've got regular Johnny lunchpail day jobs, but Grove and Rockwell seemingly watch the lion's share of soccer matches that make it on TV in a given week, and they're scraping together the show on donations, which are kindly acknowledged on their podcast. It's kind of a plucky-underdog feel-good story pod. Like the movie ‘Rudy'. But, uh, with guys recording twice a week in an office park in Alexandria or something.
This is also one of the best pods on the USMNT I've found. It's just so smart about what a player *should* be doing in a situation, and what they're doing, or how a coach *might* have decided to do something, but instead did this other thing. This might be the best pure tactics show on itunes.
2) Men In Blazers Podcast
You probably know this podcast. You might love it. You might hate it. Right, then.
If you don't know it: picture two limey Brits who've spent far too much time soaking in the American cultural experience from Mork and Mindy to Cubs games at Wrigley Field. Then, imagine they are speedballing an ongoing Monty Python skit with English Premier League rundowns mixed with offbeat poetic soliloquies on the meaning of life, hair loss, and the movies of John Hughes. I mean, it's weird, and some people probably think it's too clever by a half. Apparently, I'm not that clever, because I find it hysterical.
Rog Bennett and Michael Davies are equal parts capable of saying things that will make you laugh till you're breathless or weep quietly in the car. They've discussed racism in world soccer and the corruption of FIFA with real aplomb. They were also promoting and hyping the Women's World Cup months before anyone else, and with interviews and analysis that elevated the women's game to it's proper place alongside the men's. That, as we say in Judaism, is a mitzvah. Rog writes paeans to the best games of the weekend that can be absolutely beautiful, even though they occasionally remind me of that season when ABC let Dennis Miller be the color commentator on Monday Night Football: a person needed to know Nietzsche and Chekov and the Battle of Hastings and the dollar menu at Hardee's and the traditions of Egyptian sun gods to get all the jokes.
They get great interviews and ask great questions. Asking a musician what it's like to play FIFA 14 and have your own song come on; asking what EPL kit is the most popular on the set of ‘Walking Dead'; these are great questions. Finally, Rog and Davo are soccer fans, and they don't forget it. I truly believe that, as I live and die with the Colorado Rapids, so do these blokes with their beloved Everton and Chelsea. And that's appreciated, because as much as dispassionate analysis is interesting, mournful commiseration is more meaningful to hear about as a fan, in the long run.
Note that MLS gets a much smaller share of the pod's overall interest than the EPL, and at that, it's mostly just Davo's adopted NYCFC. Now that NBC, who produces the pod, is no longer covering Major League Soccer, that's to be expected. Still, I enjoy listening to this pod immensely.
1) Dummy: the Howler Podcast
Howler is a newish quarterly American soccer magazine that you need to subscribe to right now. Do it. I'll wait.
Their podcast, hosted by George Quraishi with Danny Karbassiyoon and David Goldblatt is phenomenal: it is comprehensive and thoughtful and sometimes even lyrical. These guys are kick ass writers and journalists, first of all, so they want to paint a picture or capture the moment, and they do. They also aren't often bound to conventional soccer talk: who won the game, and how. I mean, sometimes they'll do that. But they're just as likely to describe the problem of La Liga TV contracts, or the experience of being an American fan at the US-Mexico in Azteca. Or to explain in painstaking detail the immense levels of scum and filth in the deepest pits of the FIFA-Qatar 2022 deal. Or East End Shed Man. Or Forest Green Rovers hummus wraps and all-vegetarian fare in the English fourth division. It's fantastic. If you're into that.
There's no rhyme or reason to who or what they cover. Of course the big names and teams are going to get stories: the UCL final, FC Barcelona, the ongoing saga of Mourinho at Chelsea. But MLS could get a nod, followed by the national team of Bhutan, and then something about referee corruption in the Copa Libertadores. It's great because it's about soccer, anywhere and everywhere. And the credentials to have that discussion are real: David Goldblatt literally wrote the book on world soccer.
They ask bigger questions about fairness and balance and the corrosive effects of money on the game; but not in a slipshod, half-assed way. When David Goldblatt criticizes the Oyston family for gutting and destroying Blackpool FC, you feel it, as a fan, and you understand that he loves the game and wants to protect it and it's fans from harm. These guys are professional-grade journalists, so honestly, on this list of best podcast, they nearly have an insurmountable advantage. I hope Dummy stays this good for a long long time.
NR) The Rapids Podcast
The Rapids podcast get no ranking. Mostly, it isn't worth listening too. Remember what I said about Extratime Radio doing boring player interviews full of meaningless PR blather? Yeah, that's pretty much every episode of the Rapids podcast, bookended with Richard Fleming struggling to find new and creative ways to say something somewhat positive about the Rapids latest loss. Conor Mcgahee is also somewhat uninteresting, occasionally thoughtful, and sometimes irritating.
Listen, I don't blame Fleming at all. He has the impossible task of trying to say something that won't royally piss off the Rapids front office, but also vaguely acknowledges to fans that another soul-crushing 1-0 home loss is a real problem. Still, I've heard Fleming say that the team ‘wasn't good enough in the final third' a dozen times. That's true. But we also don't get into the final third enough. We don't get in front of goal/zone 14 enough. We don't play attractive, up-tempo, pretty passing soccer, or lock-down defense enough. Our coach makes a fistful of mistakes every game and every fan loses their shit about it in real time on twitter. And yet, because he'd get fired, Fleming knows he can only say some things and mostly not others.
Still, occasionally, this pod is worth a listen, if only because it's the only pod that is exclusively about the Rapids last game, and their next game. I check in whenever Pablo Mastroeni is interviewed just to see if he's going to tell it like it is and say something interesting. He hasn't yet. Dillon Serna and Dom Badji are pretty joyous when they've been on. Drew Moor is a decent interview too, and occasionally says something interesting. I'll keep this pod in my cue and give it about 5 minutes every so often. Once in awhile I'll glean something I can use in an article.
NR) TWFP The World Football Podcast on Soundcloud
Raphael Geller and some friends host this brand new podcast about soccer and world politics. They've only done three pods: one on soccer in Syria during the civil war, one on the future of Barcelona if Catalonia successfully secedes from Spain, and one on football in Palestine. I liked the first couple, and these guys are covering football from a different angle entirely. So if you're in the market and adventurous, give it a whirl.
That's it. Do you have a podcast you love that I omitted? Let me know in the comments...