Written by Will Parchman

HGs

The difference between jingoism and a nationalism that borders on the ethically dubious is a blurred line. In matters that expand beyond the personal, there is no particularly easy way to walk the beam between promoting the diverse universe of thought that comes with an open-arms immigration policy while also promoting the best interests of its citizens.

If there is any proof we have that the hand drawing this line is often palsied, look no further than the 2016 American presidential debates. Or yellings, maybe. We should call them yellings.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Who, you might be asking, is Charlie Stillitano?

We’ll start there. The New Jersey soccer power broker’s storied rise from Bob Bradley’s teammate at Princeton to arguably the most well-connected American soccer official in Europe is worth knowing. Grant Wahl profiled him last year, and the guy has stories. Jose Mourinho calls him, to this day, Mr. Zero Mistakes.

Most importantly to our story today, as the chairman of Relevant Sports, Stillitano organizes the Guinness International Champions Cup in the U.S. every summer. The blockbuster friendly tournament reels in a handful of top European clubs every year, each of which is running through its preseason paces Stateside. In 2014, 109,000 people packed into the Big House in Ann Arbor, which looked like this for a day for a Manchester United-Real Madrid friendly.

According to the Guardian, Stillitano was in London this week to speak with the Premier League’s legacy clubs: Arsenal, both Manchesters, Liverpool and Chelsea. The ICC was the biggest issue on the docket, but the crew also discussed other matters. Namely the Champions League. This is where things get hazy.

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Written by Will Parchman

vard

Should we knight Jamie Vardy now? I’m American and have no literal or figurative power to knight Jamie Vardy, but I’m thinking I’ll do it anyway. It might be with a french fry. We’ll see.

The point is that Leicester City just. keeps. winning. And Vardy just. keeps. scoring.

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Written by Will Parchman

yeds

Imagine for a moment you’re the director of football for a European club with an average of £10 million to spend every January. You have a team capable of competing for Europa League qualification every year via the most competitive top six in world soccer. And with the right coach, you may even sneak into the top four with a parcel of top class overachieving.

Your mandate is maddeningly simple: replace whatever world class talent you sell on with gems that’ve yet to hit their market peak and cultivate enough depth to get you through a physical season in the league. It’s the latter bullet point that causes the churn.

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Written by Will Parchman

Tales of Yaya Toure’s demise have been… exaggerated somewhat.

Manchester City looked every bit the title contender in their brutally effective 3-0 win over West Brom to close out the EPL’s opening weekend. Toure’s performance was the pick of the match, which included this stunning curler.

Toure’s numbers: 83-86 passing (96%) and two goals. This is insanity, and it should have the rest of the top four on high alert.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Are you a Leicester City fan? Did you survive the previous EPL season with your wits intact? Are you celebrating because the bottom half of the table looks like this with just a weekend left and relegation a mere memory?

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Written by Will Parchman

This season, Southampton went with a self-styled jersey as a holding pattern while it switched sponsors. Their adidas partnership doesn’t officially begin until the 2015-16 season, but as you can see, they’ve already been hard at work.

The club is doing this fake ad campaign about a “colour expert” surrounding the unveil of their first adidas unis, and. Well. It’s great. Have a look. One of the greatest moments of all? This. All of this.

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Written by Will Parchman

Crystal Palace have been remarkably coherent under new boss Alan Pardew, who was cast off from Newcastle and almost immediately turned Palace around. As a result, the South London club will not be relegated this season. So that’s something.

But the EPL is an eternal meat grinder where coaches don’t survive. They are simply in various stages of decomposition. Pardew is suddenly feeling the squeeze after Palace lost its fourth on the trot in a 2-1 decision against Manchester United at home over the weekend. And fans, those lovingly fickle fans, are already turning. It’s remarkable.

Yannick Bolasie, though, was having none of it. After Palace scored their lone goal against United, a bottle of uncertain provenance came flying from the stands. Without a moment’s hesitation, Bolasie wheeled on it and roundhoused the bottle into another dimension. Whether this was a nonplussed United fan or a Palace supporter caught up in a sudden vortex of joy, fear and anger, Bolasie is hero. Like Daredevil. Yannick Bolasie is Daredevil, is what I’m saying here.

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Written by Will Parchman

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Aston Villa is not a very good soccer team. In fact, they’re pretty bad, if you like watching players shoot balls at goals and score those shot balls at goals. Villa is dead last in the English Premier League in shots per game and thereby dead last in goals per game with an anemic 0.6. Seeing as goals are the ultimate determinate for your fate as a soccer team, these are not good numbers.

Villa isn’t all bad, of course. Its possession numbers are no great shakes, but they’re thoroughly middle of the road in the league: 10th in total passes, 10th in accurate short passes, 5th in accurate long balls. Zoom out to key passes, though, i.e. those that lead to shots, and yet again Villa is dead last in the league.

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Written by Will Parchman

It’s been nearly a year since Manchester United finally perched itself on a ridge and then flung itself off into oblivion. Just last April, United was scuffling through David Moyes’ final feverish days in charge of the flaming Viking funeral pyre that was the 2013-14 Premier League season. With dreams of Europe for ’14-15 fading like Moyes’ general relevance, United’s tailspin was nearing its nadir.

But, paradoxically, the Champions League campaign hadn’t been a total dumpster fire. United eased to a top finish in Group A with 14 points and no losses from six matches, and a how-in-the-hell-did-they-hang-on 3-2 aggregate win over Olympiacos set them up against mighty Bayern Munich in the final eight. Which is where, in a final push for international relevancy, the boxcar finally tipped off the tracks for Moyes.

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