Written by Will Parchman

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In 1991, Oliver Stone’s generally well-received JFK reopened the public door to the darkest corners of our neurosis on the eponymous president’s death. Through the course of the movie, main character Jim Garrison – played by Kevin Costner before he walked off the deep end – is gradually consumed by the murder conspiracies that continue to dart in and out of the mist.

He’s never quite able to grab hold of them. In his final speech to jurors, Garrison famously asserts that the conspiracy burns up the wick to the head of the candle, to the White House and the Pentagon. Despite Garrison’s relatively coherent arguments to this point – suspicions around the autopsy, ballistic inconsistencies – the courthouse gasps. Some chuckle incredulously.

It’s such a fantastical leap to get from where he was to where he finished. Despite the fact that he might’ve been exploring in the right neighborhood, he never built a bridge to that idea. We couldn’t follow him. The mere idea that Lyndon Johnson was somehow implicated? That triggered the public conspiracy catch, and now you’re gone. He’s lost you.

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Written by Travis Clark

The second weekend of NWSL action is in the books, as a big year for the league and women’s soccer picks up steam ahead of this year’s World Cup.

One of the big winners over the past weekend was the Washington Spirit, which picked up the full points at home against the defending champions FC Kansas City. While the U.S. Women’s World Cup stars carry the headlines and are playing until May, it was former Penn State star Christine Nairn who keyed the Spirit’s win with a pair of great goals.

After the hosts went behind 1-0, Nairn blasted home the equalizer from distance. Crystal Dunn’s second half goal edged Washington out in front shortly after the break, and Nairn curled home a nice free kick to round out the scoring in a 3-1 win.

GIFs of Nairn’s goals are after the jump, with the full game highlights above.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Earlier this week, the Professional Footballers Association released its list of six nominees for its prestigious Footballer of the Year award. Notably, there were two Chelsea players on the list in Eden Hazard and Diego Costa. Manchester United’s David De Gea was the only keeper to make the cut.

Puzzling. When Chelsea and United meet on Saturday, De Gea won’t even be the best keeper on the field.

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Written by Will Parchman

bolkiah

On the face of it, Faiq Bolkiah looks like any other up-and-coming English Premier League youth prospect. His profile on Chelsea’s website shows a taut-faced U18 player, his bio clocking in at an innocuous 39 words.

Faiq Bolkiah is originally from Brunei and was at Southampton and Reading before moving to Chelsea in January 2014. He’s an attacking player who predominantly plays wide-right or wide-left and likes to cut inside to create and score goals.

A source told TopDrawerSoccer.com this week that U.S. U17 coach Richie Williams took a recent trip to London to scout an unidentified “Chelsea winger.” Bolkiah is of Bruneian heritage but was born in Los Angeles, is a Chelsea winger and was born in 1998, making him age eligible for the new U17 cycle starting later this year. Williams may well be looking at someone else on his trip, but there’s a good chance it’s Bolkiah.

If the story ended there, we could toss Bolkiah’s name onto the heap with the rest of the promising string of dual-nationals and move on. But it doesn’t, primarily because of Bolkiah’s family. His uncle is the Sultan of Brunei, one of the richest men on the planet (in 2008 Forbes reported his net worth at $20 billion). And according to Vanity Fair, his father, Prince Jefri of Brunei, has “probably gone through more cash than any other human being on Earth.” Prince Jefri might be the most notoriously lavish playboy in modern history. And his son could soon be in an American national team jersey.

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Written by Will Parchman

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By most global benchmarks, the U.S. Soccer-run Development Academy is still a toddler taking its first precarious steps. When the academy was founded in 2007, there were only 13 MLS teams fronting academies. Considering Chivas USA dissolved as a professional entity last year and will pixelate into nothingness on the academy level in a few months, that means 40 percent of the DA’s MLS academies by the 2015-16 season were founded after the already nascent league played its first match.

So in that sense, we know comparisons with more well-established leagues are tough. Which is why, when we look at MLS academy prospects as a percentage of total MLS rosters here in a second, we won’t be doing a direct comparison to their English Premier League counterpart.

But, as always, we should use a fine-toothed comb to see if things can be better. And they can be better.

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Written by Will Parchman

It happened. Jordan Morris, all 20 years of him, scored his first U.S. national team goal on Wednesday in his first career start. That it was against Mexico only upped the stakes for one of America’s most impressive rising stars.

Morris’ second-half strike gave the U.S. a decisive lead in a game that turned into the most iconic scoreline in American soccer: 2-0 over Mexico. Morris collected a rapid-fire carom at the top of the box and settled with a preternaturally calm touch before blasting underneath the keeper. With the goal, Morris joined some illustrious company. Before Morris, there were five U.S. national team players who scored their first international goals against Mexico: Josh Wolff, Jimmy Conrad, Jozy Altidore, Michael Orozco and Landon Donovan. Add Morris to that list.

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Written by Will Parchman

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On a rainy weekday in February 2008, Hamburg chairman Bernd Hoffmann, board member Katja Kraus and then-director of football Dietmar Beiersdorfer traveled to Mainz to meet with the team’s boisterous head coach. He’d led Mainz to their first ever appearance in the Bundesliga and a somewhat shocking qualification campaign for the UEFA Cup in 2005. While Mainz had been relegated in 2007, the man’s gathering reputation followed him everywhere. He was a hot commodity.

His name was Jurgen Klopp. And the decision those men ultimately made set two clubs on wildly divergent paths.

Hamburg, of course, did not sign Klopp. In actual fact, it was Klopp who ultimately decided not to sign with Hamburg. This fascinating note from Uli Hesse’s story earlier this month lays it out.

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Written by Will Parchman

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OK. Maybe not half of Europe. But at least a third.

The third annual International Champions Cup (officially the 2015 International Champions Cup North America Presented by Guinness, if your gag reflex isn’t easily triggered) is coming back Stateside this summer. There are 17 matches in sum to take in, and the full roster was released on Wednesday. This is what that looks like.

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Written by Will Parchman

ohno

Yes, braying public, I know Throwback Tuesday is not a thing. But if we all make the internet what it is through a collective mash-up of arbitrary memes, Seinfeld gifs and cats (so many cats), then we can put Throwback onto literally anything. Tuesday wins.

The 2015 U20 World Cup is now less than two months away. Despite needing a do-or-die playoff in qualifying to reach the stage, the Americans were rewarded with one of the easiest groups of the tournament: Ukraine, host New Zealand and Myanmar, which is making its first ever appearance on the stage. The conversation isn’t simply about survival and advancement anymore. It’s about winning the group outright.

The last time the U20s were on this stage was a different story. Entirely.

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Written by The 91st

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The ballyhooed U.S.-Mexico match is nearly here. North America’s premier rivalry’s taken some dovetailing twists and turns over the course of its life span, most notably since the turn of the century. In 2002, the U.S. memorably dumped Mexico out of the World Cup via that famed dos-a-cero scoreline. Seven years later, Mexico managed a crushing 5-0 win over the stunned Americans in the Gold Cup final.

In between those two high watermarks, chaos. Take a look at our own special in-house graphic detailing the history of the rivalry in technicolor. The history may belong to Mexico, but of late it’s been a far more even battle than most might realize.

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