I’ve looked around the American soccer landscape for months and have been discouraged. The same content rehashed, cut, and diced a dozen different ways. I can certainly list who I consider the biggest offenders, but what’s the point. Fake Sigi apparently shares my feelings, recently posting a block quote from Hipster Runoff. A choice quote:
I am not a writer. I am not a blogger. I am a content farmer.
I’ve almost been there; it does get hard to keep doing this day after day. Looking around and seeing what qualifies as “good”; envious of others success. It’s a vicious cycle. It’s a race I’m not committed to winning, not at the expense of keeping the rest of my life in order.
To disagree with the Hipster Runoff post referenced above, I’m not going to believe a word. I’m certainly not the eternal optimist. I’m not known for my sunny disposition. I can focus on the stuff that drives me crazy, but even I reach a time when I need to put up or shut up. I instantly thought of letter that the writer E.B. White wrote in 1973 that I’ve had open for over three weeks. The closing paragraph sums it up quite nicely:
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
I’m going to leave the content to others and write for me. I’m going to wind the clock.
Needing a bit of good news today, I was surprised to see it came from a very unlikely source from the Crew’s past. David Testo was a forward who played 33 games, scoring a goal and registering four assists for the Crew in 2004 and 2005. He was a more technical player on the incredibly hard to watch 2004/05 Columbus teams. Today, he also announced that he’s gay.
I have had friends who have struggled with coming out publicly. They have had to hide a part of themselves to fit in and I’ve seen the toll it takes. This is part of who they are and it’s exhausting to always be on guard. Being a professional athlete in the public eye, Testo felt the same way:
Living the life of a professional athelete and being gay is incredibly hard. It’s like carrying around a secret, carrying around baggage, just never allowing to be yourself and it’s incredibly energy draining.
I am impressed that he felt confident enough to come out publicly. It’s an incredibly hard decision to make and it takes strong personal courage and the backing of family, friends, and teammates. I am glad that he has that support structure. I also hope that his decision may help those struggling with their sexuality. Despite great advances in gay rights in recent years, it is often still extremely hard to be gay.
On the field, he has spent the last five years in lower leagues with two years in Vancouver and three in Montreal until being released last month. It’s a stretch to think he will get another chance in MLS, but he has already made his mark on the sport. That is the more impressive legacy.
I haven’t gotten to watch too much of the World Cup. I have gotten to see the U.S. matches and the parts of the odd match. A full time job and a three month old takes up quite a bit of time. I do consider myself fortunate to have seen New Zealand tie Italy. I barely remember any of the action, but the image of Mark Paston enjoying the game of his life will stick with me.
I rarely see professional athletes bask in the moment as it happens. Keeping extreme focus is difficult and any little smile may be the first sign of weakness. Paston knew he was playing in the biggest game and had just stopped cold another Italian shot. Instead of barking out orders and arranging the defense, he chose to smile.
There are plenty of good writers breaking down the World Cup. Getting behind the scenes with the team or breaking down possible lineups. You could spend all day reading top quality writing about the US, but I suggest if you only have time for one, you check out Jonathan Wilson’s take on tomorrow’s US v. Slovenia game.
He is familiar with the US, but knows Eastern European soccer like no other. His style is direct and he gets the point across. He also has a flair for breaking down the tactical edges for either teams:
The probability is that the center will be crowded on Friday, with all eight midfielders and possibly Dedic battling in the same space. It’s likely to be attritional and unpleasant, a battle of will as much as ability. There won’t be any sweeping 20-pass flurries or brilliant slaloming dribbles; aesthetes should probably turn away. Art, though, comes in many guises, and just because it isn’t beautiful doesn’t mean it isn’t soccer.
It looks like US fans are in for a nail-biting game pitting two fairly evenly matched teams. The kind that one spark of ingenuity (i.e. Torres in midfield?) will make the difference. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing.
I saw on facebook earlier that this Sunday there is an event at Jimmy V’s (912 S High Street) to meet up with some of the old staff of Claddagh.
This event is to thank our friends formerly of Claddagh Irish Pub for their hard work and dedication. The management and staff of Claddagh made for a warm and welcoming place for everyone that walked through the door. Join us for this celebration to thank those who have served us throughout the years and wish them good luck in all their future endeavors!
Sounds like a good way to pay up on those offers of a round of beer or (and?) Irish whiskey.
Craig McConville stopped by the comments earlier to offer his perspective:
I thank all the wonderful people who have sat at the bar, donated scarfs and made me feel useful over the past few years. I know this will lead to a better soccer pub somewhere. Its the community of fans and friends that makes a pub, not the 4 walls. Cheers to everyone! I wouldn’t trade a second of it for anything and the support everyone has shown is overwhelming.
That is something I can get behind. Cheers Craig, I will buy you a beer (or Irish Whiskey) the next time we meet.
As promised, I did get a chance to ask a former Claddagh employee to talk about Saturday’s events. Many know Marcia from the pub, she knew all of the regulars. She was always quick with a drink, an order, or a laugh. She was nice enough to respond to my questions and I was able to confirm much of what I wrote earlier. Craig and much of the staff felt compelled to quit after the most recent friction with Claddagh corporate.
In preparation for the event, the corporate offices brought in several general managers and pub management staff to help out. I didn’t happen to see any of them that morning and Marcia noted that they asked 30 minutes before kickoff if Craig wanted any help, but he declined. By that point the place was already filled and there wasn’t much that already wasn’t being done by the regular staff.
I remember talking to Craig for just a minute around this time, it was obvious he was very busy with the many duties of manager. At that time it was making sure the beer lines were orderly and tracking down underage patrons. I did not see him stop for more than 10 seconds as he made his way amongst the crowd. Marcia said that Claddagh’s corporate management pulled Craig aside and wanted to talk to him before the game. He declined because he wanted to keep running the event rather than take a meeting.
Post match, as many patrons, including me started heading home, Craig and some of the staff took a short break. This, according to Marcia, is apparently when the corporate manager pulled Craig out to the patio and reprimanded him in front of the other managers and even some customers. It was made clear to Craig that he had not done a good enough job by underestimating the crowd, running understaffed, and declining help from the visiting management staff. Craig chose to quit as he would either continue to be second guessed or even dismissed.
As for the rest of the staff I won’t even try to sum up the disgust that the staff felt after Craig left. Marcia put it best when asked by corporate if she was quitting after the general manager and assistant manager Monty just quit, “I told him that I was tired of corporate treating people like shit and I left too and then the whole bar staff left. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!”
There is a few of the regular staff left. They have moved the GM from Claddagh Polaris to the Brewery District some staff that walked out are getting calls to come back, but Marcia also said that she, Craig, Monty and a couple other bar staff have been told to never step foot in the Claddagh again. The corporate line is that every event will go on as scheduled and within 6 months everything will be back to normal. I find that impossible to believe. The regulars that made the place home are ready to collect the scarfs that line the walls. Others have already commented they won’t be coming back as it stands now. There is nothing that will make me go back there.
I have nothing but thanks to offer Craig, Monty, Jeff, Wendy, and the countless other staff that have treated me so well at the old Claddagh. I also have many thanks to Marcia for sharing what led up to what I see as the end of the premier soccer bar in the city.