Written by Will Parchman

The kind folks over at thumbstickathletes.com, which is exactly what you think it is, decided to have a bit of fun with some footage from Rocket League, the best soccer-demolition derby simulator ever made. And it is appropriately fantastic.

We’ve got Cantor, Schoen, Hudson (HE LITERALLY DISPERSES HIS ATOMS INSIDE HIS BODY), and a Brit completely losing his mind. Right, you’ll probably want to watch this again.

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Written by Will Parchman

UNC

The sun is setting on college soccer’s influence on U.S. soccer. It’s a long, slow descent, but it’s already happening in fairly significant numbers among U20 Men’s National Team players. I examined what that looks like earlier this year, but for the sake of ease, here’s a graph of the number of U20 World Cup players culled from college rosters over the past 20 years.

It is dropping. Significantly.

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Written by Will Parchman

vidal

Juventus essentially made Arturo Vidal the best midfielder in the world. The blank canvas Serie A provided allowed Vidal to experiment. During Vidal’s time in Turin from 2011-2015, Juve won the league every single year. Domestically, it also won two Supercopas, a Copa Italia.

What Juve allowed Vidal more than anything was breathing room. There’s no question Vidal played his own (mammoth) part in elevating The Old Lady, but there’s a certain kind of comfort engendered by dominance. Vidal could lapse a bit, play his box-to-box role and nobody would notice the small gaps.

Now his coach is Pep Guardiola. And Pep Guardiola notices the small gaps.

Vidal’s day in Bayern Munich’s 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend was, on paper, very good. He completed 86 percent of his 64 passes, went 6-7 on his long balls and had a team-leading six tackles and four interceptions. But those old habits crept back in as Bayern asserted its dominance and the game flailed away from Leverkusen.

Guardiola is an exacting manager, which has either engendered his players to him or driven a wedge between them. Serie A is a more methodical league than Germany, and where Antonio Conte allowed him to linger in the midfield while the ball came to him, he’s got a different manager on his back now. Regardless of the scoreboard. Pep is essentially reforming Vidal in his image.

This helps explain Guardiola’s neuroses when it comes to tactical discipline. It is never enough. Vidal will learn that in time. Meanwhile, he’ll have to stay switched on more. Crazy thing to say about arguably the world’s most complete midfielder, isn’t it?

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Written by Will Parchman

doholis

It’s back. Oh by glory it’s back.

The TDS College Goal of the Year is that glorious time each week we set aside to gawk awkwardly at the finest choice cuts the college game has to offer. From swinging volleys to 40-yard thunderplonkers to bike-to-header-to-bike combinations (this happened), we’ll break down the best of the best from the previous week on a weekly basis here. And that all starts now.

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Written by Will Parchman

carl robinson

MLS is making strides in player identification and development. Whatever you may feel about the speed at which it’s doing this, things are better now than they were a few years ago, and a few years before that, and on we go.

But if you look at the numbers, those strides are primarily concentrated in clusters. MLS (and specifically our academy, college and club system) has done yeoman’s work developing holding midfielders, defenders, keepers and, in smaller numbers, strikers for the next level. If the USMNT is anything, it’s a mirror reflecting the player pool as a whole. And at each of those positions the U.S. has generated a player worthy of distinction.

The area where the U.S. system has not succeeded, however, is with attacking midfielders.

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Written by Will Parchman

xavi

That kid with the curls and the captain’s band? His name is Xavi Simons. You may want to tuck that name away for later.

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Written by Will Parchman

imago 18820574

You may remember, way back in August, one Kevin De Bruyne made a remarkably declarative statement about his future, at least for this season. Manchester City, that physical embodiment of a walking checkbook, pestered Wolfsburg about a De Bruyne sale to the point that he was eventually asked about it at the Sport-Bild Awards in Hamburg on Aug. 17. That was, for the calendar challenged, less than two weeks ago.

In bold, no less!

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Written by Will Parchman

rooroo

Manchester United sidestepped the ignominy of the Europa League by smashing Club Brugge 4-0 on Wednesday to earn a spot in the group stage of the 2015-16 Champions League. Bully for you, massive club with hundreds of millions of fans and an endless transfer kitty and a massive stadium and vigorous home support and lovable homegrown players like Memphis Depay and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Everyone loves rooting for the upstarts.

Wayne Rooney, who you might’ve thought was actually a shepherd’s pie, scored a hat trick to prove that he is, in fact, a human and very much alive. To prove this (as we must), I have all three goals for you, right here.

That’s one spicy meat-a-ball (rimshot).

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Written by Will Parchman

USMNTBS081011205

On Monday night, U.S. Soccer unleashed its newest twin initiatives: an eligibility calendar switch and new small-sided standards for U6-U12 players. While the latter is interesting in its own right, the most talking point-rich of the two is most certainly the former.

Here’s the biggest talking point from U.S. Soccer’s release.

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Written by Will Parchman

akmd

Almost a year ago, we published an Akron Best XI that might, some holy day, convene for a brilliant flash of light in a charity match or something. It will almost certainly never happen, but we here at The 91st Minute are dreamers. And this is a dream worth holding.

Once that XI came out, we heard occasional but consistent rumbles about a contender taking bare-knuckle hacks at a hanging pig in a meat locker not so far off in the distance. Could there be a current alumni XI that could press this Akron team? One LA Galaxy defender certainly thought so.

Ask and ye shall receive.

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