For the last six months, I’ve felt a burden on my shoulders. The burden to be a voice where none other exists. There has always been a self-imposed burden, of course, of being a stats and tactics-oriented writer on the Colorado Rapids, for the simple reason that nobody else would do it if I didn’t. But the burdens grew a little in 2017.
Between March and May of this year, two important local soccer outlets quietly ceased production. Current of Colorado, Patrick Shea’s longtime website covering all things Colorado, mostly died. I say mostly, because the site is still up, and is occasionally updated with an eclectic mish-mosh of soccer projects around the US that interest Patrick. But their local soccer coverage has waned considerably.
And in May, local soccer podcast Flakoglost ceased its operations. Now, other than Burgundy Wave and sometimes the Voice of C38 podcast,* nobody is covering local soccer.
Flakoglost began in 2015 as a podcast covering Colorado soccer. Hosts Jose Bueno, Richard Terry, and Todd Brossart met while playing indoor soccer and rooting for the USMNT with American Outlaws back in 2011. They created one of the most bizarre, entertaining, eclectic, and opinionated podcasts on soccer you’d ever heard. You could reasonably expect any given podcast to meander from mocking Richard Terry’s mild-to-medium alcoholism, to insulting Don Garber’s intellectual inconsistency and moral flexibility, to complaining about the woeful state of the Rapids, to out-and-out ranting and raving about the injustice of American soccer’s lack of a promotion/relegation system.
It was madness. It was beautiful. It is history.
There were some amazing highlights over the two year run of the podcast.
Like the many times the pod began with a Richard Terry anecdote about a poor decision he had made at the Three Lions or the British Bulldog Pub under the influence of alcohol. Todd Brossart would spend a solid ten minutes needling and skewering Richard Terry about the various stupid things he had done the night before, while Terry would repeatedly reply, “Did I?” I personally count it as a great compliment that Terry, after an 8am to 9pm bender one night, tried to put the moves on my wife, while I was standing next to her. Which Terry A) did not remember and B) profusely apologized for the next day, unnecessarily of course. If not for the podcast, I’m not sure Terry would have any record of a significant portion of his Saturday activities.
Another favorite moment for me was Jose Bueno triumphantly describing his trip in October of 2015 to the Rose Bowl, to watch the USMNT fall in epic fashion to Mexico, 3-2, in a playoff to determine who would go to the Confederations Cup in Russia in 2016. Looking back, it was a prescient and foreshadowing moment for US Soccer. At the time, we believed CONCACAF was sure to send Mexico and the USA and a random Central American team to Russia. Oh, the days of innocence. Bueno, an El Tri fan, described the scene and expressed the excitement of the day wonderfully.
And then, there’s Todd. Todd when in podcast mode is equal parts comedian, giddy fanboy, and lunatic prophet. His comedy generally came in the form of either harassing Terry or abusing some of the shadier characters in Western hemisphere football, and it was deeply needed. Although Men in Blazers and Total Soccer Show have given Sepp Blatter and Jack Warner and Chuck Blazer a solid ribbing from time to time, none could launch profanity and innuendo upon those bottom-feeding soccer politicians the way Todd could. Todd clearly enjoyed and understood the finer points of the game, too, but he withheld his erudition from tactics and technique because, well, as he told me, “We don’t do in-depth analysis or tactical talk because it’s boring. It’s interesting to a point, but every other podcast is doing that. That’s not our thing.”
Todd’s true calling, though, and one that eventually became the signature ethos of the Flakoglost pod, is as one of the most passionate and educated advocates for promotion and relegation in the American system. While folks like Ted Westervelt and Ben Fast have set up shop on social media as aggressive proponents of an open pyramid for US soccer, they have also established reputations as acerbic and hard-to-reason with.
Brossart’s approach to promoting pro/rel was two-fold. First, he was openly critical of the things in Major League Soccer than genuinely annoyed MLS fans too. MLS’ byzantine and illogical allocation order; the blind draw that assigned Jermaine Jones to New England in 2014; the ongoing farce that is the David Beckham Miami expansion franchise (or should I have written “David Beckham Miami expansion franchise”?); the sloppy and incomprehensible jumble at the top of the pyramid between the NASL, MLS, and USL. All of it was picked apart and duly criticized by Brossart in a way that was both brutally honest and totally fair.
Second, Flakoglost turned their attention to lower league soccer in Colorado and around the nation, as they used their microphones to promote, report, and interview GMs and coaches in the US third and fourth tier. Their evangelism went full-blown tent revival/traveling preacher from October 2016 to March of 2017 as Brossart, Terry, and Bueno hit the road to experience the best of amateur soccer around the US. Flakoglost reported on the explosion of popularity that had occurred at raucous Detroit City FC, and the struggles of NASL upstart/train-wreck Rayo OKC. They interviewed Liviu Bird of Kitsap Pumas SC, and the GMs of FC Boulder, Kingston Stockade, Low Country United, and the Atlanta Silverbacks.
The show could bounce from garrulous to incredulous to deadly serious in a just a 45 minute span. What united the three hosts was a simple passion for the game of soccer, and desire to express one of soccer’s great struggles - that the soul of the a team belongs to its fans, while the body of the sport resides in ticket sales, marketing departments, and corporate sponsorships.
Todd, Jose, and Richard wanted to see America embrace a more soulful soccer, while being less concerned about the high-falutin’ trappings of a modern stadium experience. Soccer, as refracted through the analytical lens of Flakoglost, is more about smoke bombs, and less about Dippin’ Dots ™.
The guys on the pod also wedded football with another of the critical elements that propel it forward: beer. One of my other favorite memories was being a guest on the show for the first time. Flakoglost had rented the back room at Prost Brewery in Denver, and recorded three back-to-back-to-back hour long sessions with a rotating cast of miscreants, lunatics, drunks, and soccer fans standing three deep to listen, and howl, and jeer. When it was my turn at the tail end of the evening, the other Rapids pundit I was to banter with didn’t show up, so instead I was paired up along with a rail-thin Indian fellow who was hammered out of his gourd on Kölsch. I rambled on about the poor personnel decisions of the Rapids in the recent season. This guy explained how he got involved with the Rapids because he got really drunk at the British Bulldog one time and a bunch of guys put him on the bus to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. I love football, and the skinny guy loved Boddingtons. That, in a nutshell, is a pretty perfect representation of the essence of Flakoglost.
Flakoglost covered the local game with zest, too; a local game that I honestly wouldn’t have ever heard of without them. Flakoglost’s coverage of Harpos FC and Azteca and FC Denver and FC Boulder introduced me to those teams, and brought me out to theirsgames.
But now, the sun has set on Flakoglost’s time on this earth. The boys put out their final pod on May 15th, 2017. A few weeks later, they announced on their twitter feed a sweet and simple goodbye. Regarding the podcast itself, itunes only retains the final 10 installments. The old website is, lamentably, toast.
Todd reflected on pulling the plug on Flakoglost thusly:
“Not staying involved in the ongoing soccer discussion has been somewhat bittersweet. It’s been a relief however. It was a grind to put so much effort into something on a weekly basis…(I’m sure) you can relate with the Wave.”
I asked the three what was next for them in their soccer lives, and got something of a collective “I dunno.” Richard Terry, who was always the resident Rapids expert on the pod, remains a legendary and besotted Centennial 38 mainstay; you’ll see him on the South Terrace for sure in 2018. Jose Bueno and Todd Brossard have essentially dropped the Rapids. Between their regularly poor play over the past four seasons, their silly, headline-grabbing moves, and the overly corporate atmosphere, it just didn’t feel *right* for them anymore, and I can’t say I blame them. But the two of them are both still deeply committed to local Colorado soccer. They’ve taken to organizing a supporters group for Harpos FC, Das Borrachos (@dasborrachos on twitter), continuing to walk the walk of supporting lower league football.
So I’ll do my best to take up the yoke of supporting and promoting local soccer to the best of my ability. I’m really not as funny as Todd, or as erudite when it comes to knowing every NPSL or UPSL team from here to Maine. I don’t know as much about Liga MX as Jose. And I can’t nearly drink as much in a month as Richard Terry can drink in a day. Nevertheless, I have the same love for local soccer as the guys from Flakoglost, and I’ll cover it as best as I can. I offer that as a gift to the soccer gods, as well as this eulogy to Flakoglost. It was the best drunken rambling wreck of a pro/rel podcast there ever was.
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* An earlier version of this article forgot to mention that C38 covers local soccer too. Sorry! All local coverage is good local coverage, and we at the Wave are always big fans of the crew at Voice of C38.