We covered the best podcasts, numbers 9 through 5, on Thursday. Today, my top four soccer podcasts in all of 2016.
Last Year: Ranked #1
Dummy is the podcast of Howler Magazine editor George Quiraishi, and, like a lot of pods on this list, has gone through a change of late. It used to be George and a pair of co-hosts like former Arsenal player Danny Karbasiyoon, MLS journeyman Bobby Warshaw, or ‘The Ball is Round’ author David Goldblatt running down the quirky stories and delving into the details. Often, Dummy is interested in the seedy underbelly of soccer, like shady Sheikhs buying up English clubs, FIFA scammery, or interviewing Mina Kimes on the questionable business structure of multi-level marketing corporation Advocare (*cough* ponzi scheme *cough cough*), a major MLS sponsor. And it was fantastic, particularly Bobby Warshaw, who can tell you about life inside an MLS or USL locker room or what players think of their coach better than basically anyone.
Lately, Dummy has been shifting towards just pure interviews with Quiraishi and soccer people, which is still good, but I miss Bobby and David and George bantering about Forest Green Rovers or whether the Euros expanded structure is just good fun or a straight-up cash grab. Still, Dummy gets great guests and is a good listen.
Last year: NR
Do you want just five to seven minutes of essential soccer news, every morning? Do you want it from a wide swath of global soccer, representing the most intriguing stories from both Europe and North America, and occasionally elsewhere? Goalmouth.
ESPN FC and other soccer news programs are, basically, low-brow glances at the same five players and same five teams - Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Pogba, Rooney; Man U, Arsenal, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern. Goalmouth will go a little deeper and a little farther, and has a better sense that MLS, for an American fan *should* get a better place at the table than the Portuguese league. Brooks Peck, Taylor Rockwell, Daryl Grove, and George Quraishi do the daily honors, and each hosts a longer podcast that earned top marks on this list.
Goalmouth is only a few months old, but I’ve started every morning with it for the past month, and I’ve never been disappointed.
2. Extratime Radio
Last year: Ranked #4
The ‘official’ podcast of MLS is the best source of around-the-horn MLS news, trends, and opinions. Hosted by Andrew Wiebe along with co-hosts Matt Doyle, David Gass, and sometime fill-ins Calen Carr and Ben Baer, these guys unpack the games you just saw and preview the week to come during MLS season, and do it well. They are professional and prepared, and only occasionally wander into hot-take sports radio land.
Matt Doyle has taught me as much about tactics as reading a dozen books on soccer, and Andrew Wiebe is really good at keeping the show moving along. They handle transactions and hand out midseason awards and get good interviews. And even though they are the ‘official’ pod of MLS, will still take out a big stick and whack a coach or a player for a bonehead move, like they way the crew excoriated Oscar Pareja for taking a perfectly solid FC Dallas system and messing with it right before their playoff game in Seattle.
This podcast was ranked lower last year, when ETR tried to be Pardon the Interruption way, way too much. The show has ditched the ‘create an artificial debate’ portion of the show, and the quality of the program has been duly noted. I literally never miss an episode of ETR.
1. Total Soccer Show
Last Year: Ranked #3
Going from twice a week to (usually) five days a week, TSS has become the best football/soccer pod I listen to, without any doubt. The sheer range of hosts Taylor Rockwell and Darryl Grove is unbelievable: one day they’re breaking down the tactics in ‘El Classico’ between Real Madrid and Barcelona, and the next it’s a conversation about the best formation for high school soccer. They talk MLS and Bundesliga and EPL and FIFA World Cup qualifiers; they know all the coaches; they run a ‘scouting network’ made up of loyal listeners that charts the progress of literally hundreds of U23 players around the world.
They even have a spot for whimsy. An occasional series placing famous characters, real or from fiction, into a ‘best XI’ format is always good listening. The ‘Best XI’ Star Wars was genius. The ‘Best XI’ of US presidents was, somehow, even nerdier than the Star Wars one.
Taylor and Daryl know the game and they are prepared and they’re witty and they banter and they’re funny and they get great interviews. I love this pod so much, I made a voluntary contribution to become a ‘subscriber’, and I bought the TSS t-shirt, because I really, really want this show to exist forever, and can’t fathom drive time without these two dudes on my radio. Of all the podcasts on this list, it is literally the only one for which I don’t have a suggestion of something to improve or a better way to do things. Keep on doing what you’re doing, TSS.
That’s my list. What’s on yours? Do you have a podcast on soccer you like? Share in the comments below.