Monthly Archives: June 2018

This Should Be Your World Cup Team

The Case for El Albiceleste

Cheering for Lionel Messi and Argentina is the only sensible move for the World Cup. You can’t change my mind.

The World Cup, which starts Thursday, has lots of great storylines, but only one team you can cheer for, because of one player.

If asking a generational superstar to foist spare-parts teammates on his back and drag them up a seemingly insurmountable summit to avoid humiliation before everyone feels like he’s about to ride into the sunset feels like déjà vu, watch re-runs of the Warriors parade from Tuesday (and also Argentina’s opening game of Group Play against Iceland on Saturday at 4 p.m.).

This situation requires a heroic effort from Messi, making him the perfect protagonist. He’s arguably the greatest footballer ever, and yet rooting for him doesn’t come with the stigma of being a front-runner. He’s never won a single title with the national team, but he’s had the heartbreaking moments of near-victory: World Cup final loss in 2014, back-to-back Copa America finals losses the next two years. This year, Argentina nearly missed the World Cup for the first time since 1970, but then Messi saved the day with a hat trick (of course).

Plus, he comes conscience free! He never did an excruciating TV special to declare he was taking his talents to South … Korea.

If you tell Steve from work you’re pulling for La Albiceleste (The White-and-Blue Sky), he might give you a hard time, but don’t worry, he’s just projecting insecurities. Seriously, though, evaluate […]


How to watch the World Cup without the U.S.

The Red, White, and World Cup Blues

Without the United States, without the red-white-and-blue face-paint, without the bond of shared experience, you might be thinking the World Cup won’t be much fun to watch this year. I’m here to tell you that couldn’t be further from the truth.

First, though, I should say that I hear your disappointment about the US Men’s National team, because missing the tournament is worsened by the team itself causing this. There’s no selection committee to blame, just one of the worst performances in the squad’s history on a warm October night against Trinidad and Tobago. But now you have two options: Pout and leave the TV off or embrace one of the world’s greatest sporting events and allow yourself the chance to realize maybe, just maybe, it’s OK the US didn’t make it.

Soccer’s quadrennial crown jewel kicks off in Russia on Thursday with the hosts playing Saudi Arabia at 11 a.m. Eastern. While you might not have much invested in either of those two teams, it will feature our first look at how Vladimir Putin’s government will stage this tournament at a time when the global community’s relationship with the country seem more fraught than ever.

The intrigue on the field might be even thicker, with all-time greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo playing with their legacies on the line, with Egyptian megastar Mohamed Salah poised to break out, with the question swirling about who can take down the mighty Germans and with so many more […]


King’s Court

There’s been a basketball-related cloud hanging over this entire NBA Finals, and I’m not talking about the fact that we all already know who will win.

It showed up for the first time in full force last night as the series shifted to Cleveland and Quicken Loans Arena filled to the brim with wine-and-gold jerseys. Underneath the glamor and glee projected by the arena and those jamming the streets outside simmered a fear that’s about to boil. The prodigal son, the best basketball player ever — don’t @ me — might leave them again.

With the Warriors almost certainly assured victory, LeBron James’ future is the most pressing question for Clevelanders and NBA fans and will be the feature story for the offseason, the most entertaining part of the NBA calendar. Don’t get it twisted: LeBron might stay. It’s possible. But futility in the Finals, apparent miscommunication with owner Dan Gilbert and consistent upheaval on the court and in the executive suite seem to point to his likely exit.

This leaves Clevelanders in an awkward situation and creates a fascinating dynamic that Quicken Loans Arena showcases every night, because LeBron puts not just the team on his back like Atlas but parts of the city as well.

When LeBron returned in 2014, the city forecasted hundreds of millions of dollars generated long-term because of him. Last year, one Harvard study found that, within a mile of his home court in Cleveland and Miami, the number of restaurants and bars increased by 13.7 percent and […]

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