Written by Will Parchman

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The last most of us saw of Zack Steffen, he was breaking saucy Colombian hearts.

After a widely lauded freshman campaign at Maryland, Steffen eschewed MLS and penned a deal with Freiburg in the German Bundesliga in December 2014. A few months later, Freiburg dropped to the second tier, and Steffen was shrouded in its reserves anyway. If you thought you’d have a shot to actually watch Steffen play club ball, well, good luck.

Steffen resurfaced at the U20 World Cup in the summer of 2015, and he was easily the U.S.’s best player. He captained the back line and reached a career zenith when he saved a penalty against Colombia in the first knockout round that ultimately saved the match. The U.S. won. Statues of Steffen were spontaneously erected across the nation.

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Written by Will Parchman

Higuaíns

Travel back in time with me, if you will, to those halcyon days of May when a penalty kick ripped the Columbus Crew in half. Kei Kamara wanted to take a penalty in a match against the Impact. So did Federico Higuain. Most of the Crew wanted Higuain to take the kick. Higuain took the kick. Kamara was not happy. Kamara told the press he was not happy. It was a hilariously stupid mess.

Days later, Kamara was on the trading block, whisked off to New England for a king’s ransom in allocation cash and other considerations. Suddenly the Crew owned a free Designated Player slot, a ton of floating cash and a pressing need for a foundational striker.

So, clearly, they’re going to buy Gonzalo Higuain.

Descend with me, fair reader, into the glorious and awful-smelling caverns of the greatest stupid rumor of my career. This one was fired in kilns caked with a special brand of nonsense.

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Written by Will Parchman

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By the time the American U20s had released the full measure of their pent up frustration on Aruba, it was already far too late.

The U.S. began its 2015 U20 World Cup qualifying odyssey with a clunk and a thud. A ripping 90th minute equalizer from Andy Ruiz, an FC Dallas academy player deep in the bowels of its youth system, doomed the U.S. to a 1-1 draw with a poor Guatemala side. The U.S. then lost to a superior Panama team and that was the group. The U.S. did not even have a chance to play in the final for the CONCACAF crown. It finished a distant second. Behind Panama.

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Written by Will Parchman

conte

Way back on the first day of the Euro group stages, when France still seemed invulnerable and England clung to the wind-whipped rock of their hopes and everyone thought Austria was actually good, Italy more or less embarrassed Belgium.

If Italy’s Euro 23 was not wholly embarrassing, then it was unusually boring for an Italian side at a major tournament. Thiago Motta wore the No. 10 jersey. Dulled lights Eder and Giaccherini were supposed to bring attacking dynamism. Second tier Premier League striker henchman Graziano Pelle was the target man. Daniele De Rossi’s slowed ankles were supposed to kill off attacks. Most of the hinges were creaky, rusty, disabused.

And yet Italy had Antonio Conte, and that’s all that really mattered.

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Written by Will Parchman

Miami

Miami is sinking. Hissing fissures of bubbling water creep over manhole covers and failing pumps spew salt water over mangrove limbs and yards and asphalt. The state is trying to fix the problem with an increasingly modest set of measures, but geography will have its way. If the sea wants Miami, it will have her.

There is a great irony in Miami’s soccer present, that it is trying so hard to climb from a soggy grave while the city sinks around it. David Beckham’s Miami site has gone from the glamor of the waterfront to a charred, cracked lot in Overtown surrounded by chain link. They bought the land in March. Even if Beckham’s MLS project seems preordained, the prophecies are still vague about when, exactly, it will come to pass.

When Miami FC sprouted out of the salt in 2015, few noticed. And if they saw, they weren’t really looking.

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Written by Will Parchman

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The Copa America is dead in the ground, and aside from a purely ceremonial third place game against Colombia, we can finally move on with our soccer.

The tournament danced on both ends of the spectrum, giving us the best and worst of Jurgen Klinsmann, laying bare Michael Bradley’s most frustratingly stubborn traits alongside those of his midfield fleet-mates, presenting John Brooks as the best American player of the moment, revealing Clint Dempsey as an I’m-Not-Dead-Yet attacker for the ages, proving Chris Wondolowski-over-Jordan Morris was sad and puzzling. And most of all perhaps, giving us a sign that American soccer is both better and worse than you expected.

But now we move on toward 2018, an eye cocked toward Russia while CONCACAF takes its manic chops in World Cup qualifying. And in case you’d forgotten, the Americans still have work to do with two group matches before the Hex. And a not insignificant amount, either.

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Written by Will Parchman

yeds

DeAndre Yedlin had a fine Copa America. He wasn’t particularly great, but it was clear Sunderland was good to him in a positional defensive sense in the 2015-16 season, and his one real moment of madness involved a couple yellow cards and a sending off against Paraguay.

In the interim, he proved himself as a pretty good fullback who’s still somewhat naive defensively. But don’t forget those afterburners. He still has those.

The U.S. didn’t register a single shot in the 4-0 Copa America semifinal loss to Argentina, but Yedlin did do this thing. He chased down Messi in a flat foot race and broke up a breakaway. ‘Merica. In the absence of technical ability, we can run fast and jump high. This is what we do.

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Written by Will Parchman

brads

The Greeks had Oedipus and Andromache and Antigone and the English had Juliet and Othello and Macbeth and modern America has its Willy Loman. And Loman’s sad neuroses climbed onto the postmatch dais on Tuesday night and flailed about in plain view.

In the first act of Arthur Miller’s twisting American ride through modernity called Death of a Salesman, Loman, our interlocutor, attempts and fails to reconcile the soaring, perfect America he thinks he knows with the broken, imperfect America outside his door. Everything is fine because he can make it fine, because there is opportunity pouring from every open door and even the cracked ones. And if it isn’t fine, then there is always someone outside his bubble to blame.

This exchange between Loman, a failed salesman, and his wife is crushing in its completeness. You can see Loman’s failure arriving and he is either too delusional to accept it or too sad to face it.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Scouting is a funny thing. John Brooks has been an imperious defender for nigh on a full season now, and his form for Hertha Berlin this last season played no small part in the team’s ironclad back line that led it into the Europa League for 2016-17.

But it took a larger stage than that to catch the attention of some of the world’s big spenders. And it would seem Brooks has their ear now.

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Written by Will Parchman

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It took Andrea Pirlo 27 matches, but he finally found the mark for NYCFC last weekend. And boy was it a very Pirlo-y encounter.

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