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MiB is driven by a belief that Soccer is America's Sport of the Future.
As it has been since 1972.
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Hail! GFOP

 
I write with patriotic fingers aquiver. After a week that has seen the United States win 3 games on 3 continents in 3 days -- at the Women’s World Cup, the U-20 World Cup, and perhaps most seismically of all, a “Friendly” against the Germans -- this Raven flies at you with a renewed sense of self and a cocksure belief that the Summer of 2015 is just a dry run for how Summer 2018 will feel. #Invincible

Certain U.S. players etched their faces in a hypothetical soccer mountainside this week. Megan Rapinoe. Rubio Rubin. Bobby Wood. These are heady days to be a United States football fan. THIS made me contemplate a higher power. THIS made me wet myself. And THIS made me stop feeling anything below the waist. This weekend will determine once and for all whether the rest of the world is just throwing games because Loretta Lynch scares the Crap out of them. Yes, even you, Germany.  

Tonight, our Women grapple with highly-touted Sweden [8 p.m. ET on Network FOX], the mob who now run with ex-U.S. coach Pia Sundhage, whose press conference instigation ability has been marked at Mourinho-esque levels. Tab Ramos’ valiant U-20s will emerge from a New Zealand tunnel alongside Serbia [12:30 a.m. ET Sunday on FOX Sports 1], a team that came from behind against Hungary with just ten men. #Pray4Gedion

As for our gents. They gird their loins for Gold Cup skirmishes with blood pumping now that Jurgen has poked every detractor on the sizeable anti-JK bandwagon in the eye. This is going to be one odd Gold Cup when you consider the whole purpose of the tournament was to provide opportunities for Chuck Blazer to pay cat rent.

Irrespective. Bring it on. This quasi-American is so full of hope this week, even Kid Rock lyrics are starting to make sense to me.

In this newsletter:
  • A former Chelsea player goes unrecognized by football fans while on an Amtrak train in the U.S. The story, as told by a GFOP.
  • A Miami Vice-themed style inquiry. Our response includes the words “thrift shop chic.”
  • And Three Questions with JP Dellacamera, the 2015 Women’s World Cup commentator who’s called some of the most important moments in U.S. football history.

Take That Gloria,
Rog @rogbennett

On behalf of
MiB: @meninblazers
“Positive” Davo: @embassydavies
Producer JW: @JonoWilly
Producer Lexi: @lexitan
 

I. American States United Victory Kits

Only a handful of our limited-edition American States United Victory Kits remain. Each kit contains a snapback and scarf, lovingly crafted by the GFOPs at Mitchell & Ness. Just one game into the USWNT’s World Cup-winning campaign, there is still time to order and receive this tasty gear before the July 5 final. Order HERE. And thanks to all GFOPs, like ‏@MichelleLiuCee, who've posted pics via social media.
 


II. Luc Longley Pod Special

Our first true love is football. But Men in Blazers enjoys dalliances with many traditional American sports, especially basketball. Over the years, we’ve developed an affinity for several hoops cult-heroes, from Rod Strickland to God Shammgod. One of those we most admire: Luc Longley. The three-time NBA champion’s journey from Australia to Chicago is a remarkable tale. With the NBA Finals in full swing, Luc joined us via phone from his home in southern Australia to talk about Michael Jordan’s locker room persona, what he learned from Phil Jackson, and the pain of playing after a scorpion stung his bum. The amiable Aussie was a remarkable interview. He also handed out some heavy life advice. Listen to our interview with Luc HERE.  
 


III. Running with The Bulls

Despite the lack of Premier League football, you won’t be spared from Men in Blazers television this summer. In July, we head to Spain to cover Running of the Bulls for Esquire Network. We are looking for GFOPs who’ve run with the Bulls to speak with us about their experience on camera. If you live near the Crap Part of SoHo, have run with the bulls, are willing to speak to us about it, send a RAVEN.


IV. Matt Lucas Extended Video Interview

Matt Lucas is one of Men in Blazers’ comedy heroes, appearing in a litany of extremely optimal films and television shows, from “Little Britain” to “Bridesmaids.” This week, the massive Arsenal fan became only the second person to kiss Rog in the Panic Room. Don’t be jealous, Josh Duhamel.
 
 
When Matt wasn’t planting his lips on Rog’s pate, he spoke about his recent self-induced football hiatus, Arsene Wenger’s future, and why he believes Mathieu Flamini is “urbane.” In addition to our Pod interview, an extended (almost 50 minutes) video version is available HERE. Matt’s show Pompidou, which has a theme tune that rivals ours, is now on Netflix.


V. Former Chelsea and Barca Man, Undercover in America

America has long been footballers' summer vacation destination of choice. It provides a degree of anonymity they don’t enjoy in many parts of the world. And while the game is growing by leaps and bounds in the country we love, plenty of players still stroll about relatively unnoticed. A perfect example came this week via Raven.

GFOP John Trujillo Writes: Heading southward on Amtrak’s Vermonter I was pleasantly surprised to find Eidur Gudjohnsen of Chelsea, Barcelona, and most recently Bolton fame sitting across the way in the cafe car. No one recognized him but me. As a gooner how could I forget the face of the man who helped send us out of the champions league in 2004? Anyhow, the stars aligned when two USWNT fans boarded the train in New Jersey and sat right across from him, oblivious to his presence. I imagine Davo would have bowed, at least.
 


VI. Jack Warner Calls John Oliver "Comedian Fool"

Just when we thought Jack Warner couldn’t get more FIFAy. The former vice president of football’s Enron equivalent, who cited an article from The Onion in response to the U.S. Justice Department’s corruption investigation, has blown our minds yet again. This time while responding to THIS brilliant John Oliver video, in which the Last Week Tonight host called on Warner start snitching. We’ll just go ahead and leave Warner’s response video right HERE. That soundtrack, though.  


VII. Miami Vice’s Unsung Style Heroes

GFOP Gabriel Goffman Writes: I recently accepted a job in Miami and to prepare myself I have been keenly watching Miami vice episodes. As the job requires upgrade in a uniform, I would love to take inspiration from this late eighties classic and hear your suggestions. Obviously, Crockett had an area of white linen unconstructed jackets. However, as a klutz and someone not accustomed to the Miami Heat, I am worried these suits will be covered in coffee stains and sweat. While I do own some seersucker, I feel that's too Southern for the Miami vibe. What do you suggest?

Rog Writes: Mazeltov on the new job. Miami Vice holds all of life’s answers. Crockett and Tubbs is a hard style to commit to for the average man. The real lasting look that came out of this series was spawned by loveable sidekicks Zito and Switek, who, in my estimation, stole every scene they were in with their thrift store chic. Here, Here, and Here.
 


VIII. Patch at the … Tonys

We’ve received some amazing #PatchAtThePark pics over the past two weeks: USA vs. Australia, Germany vs. USA, Oklahoma City FC vs. Austin Aztex. Keep them coming. One of our favorites was from MiB live show producer, John Johnson, who snapped a patch at the Tony Awards where his production “Skylight” won Best Revival of a Play. John will forever be the only reason the words "Men in Blazers" and "Tony Award-winning" are ever used in the same sentence. Congrats.
 


IX. Well-Moisturized Rob Lowe

New York Magazine editors review Rob Lowe’s new skin-care line. READ HERE. We plan to stockpile cases of it.


X. Three Questions with JP Dellacamera

When it comes to American football broadcasters, few have seen as much as JP Dellacamera. From Paul Caligiuri's "Shot Heard Around the World," which qualified the U.S. for Italia '90, to Brandi Chastain’s World Cup-winning penalty in the 1999 Final against China, he has witnessed and provided the commentary for American soccer history. In all, he’s covered 12 World Cups, eight men’s and four women’s. We’re surprised he wasn’t on the mic during the USA’s famous 1-0 victory over England in 1950.

This summer, we hope JP is again the voice that accompanies American victory. He’s one of FOX’s play-by-play announcers at the Women’s World Cup. In this edition of Three Questions, we ask about his game preparation, his initial impressions of this USWNT, and his favorite call of all-time.  

MiB: You have called some of the most memorable moments in U.S. Soccer history. Does one moment stand out for you?

JP: The Caligiuri goal and the Chastain penalty kick were two of my greatest moments and memories in broadcasting. Whenever I do a speaking engagement, I always mention both historic moments. For the men, the Caliguiri goal was probably a billion dollar goal if you think about it.  The USA had not qualified for a World Cup in 40 years, and after that goal, they have not missed a World Cup since.  Add to that equation, the new sponsorships, the USA friendlies, television contracts, and the launch of Major League Soccer and it's easy to see how much money and exposure was generated on the men’s side, and it all started with that goal in Trinidad.

For the women, the Chastain goal highlighted a month of great exposure, both in stadiums and on television. To this day, in the history of women’s sports, no event has topped the television rating of that epic final in Pasadena. That USA team generated interest from male and female fans and brought in several new sponsors. Mia Hamm was a household name with boys and men of all ages proudly wearing her jersey.

I am thrilled to be linked with those two great moments. Both goals, and the magnitude of those goals will be remembered forever.

MiB: Give us a sense of how you study and prepare to call a game?

JP: All play by play commentators study in their own way. We all do charts and it seems like no two charts look alike. Tough to say how you study for one game or how much time on one game. A good example is here at the Women's World Cup in Canada. It seems like we have not stopped studying.  There were 4 training sessions on Sunday and 4 press conferences. Our group was able to attend 3 of those with our day going from noon till about 8 pm. After that, I still had a couple of hours of notes before having to shut everything down around 1:30 am. It's all part of the job, so no complaints here.

MiB: Who is your broadcasting inspiration/hero?

JP: If I had to pick one person, I would say Brent Musburger. As a play by play person, I learned a lot from him. Musberger, to me, mastered the art of painting the biggest picture with the fewest words. He had a sense for the drama of the event. Knowing when to speak and how is an art, but so is laying out during big moments. Make the dramatic call, then let the pictures tell the story. That's what I took from Brent.

MiB: You saw that Australia game in person, what was your impression of the USWNT?

JP: The USA played a decent first game, or in other words, played well enough to win.  That performance was okay for a first game. It will not win you a final, or a semi final for that matter. On the plus side, there were terrific performances from Megan Rapinoe and Hope Solo, and the team was able to give a few minutes to Alex Morgan.  The team needs to step it up against a better opponent when they face a more desperate Sweden team on Friday. If they are going to win this World Cup, they will need to get more goals from their top strikers.


XI. To Live and Dine in LA

Food is rarely the first thing we think of when focusing on a city’s history. Unless that food is pie. And the city is in England. But this weekend, GFOPs in Los Angeles have the opportunity to explore the city’s culinary past via a new book and exhibit at Los Angeles Public Library’s Central Library. “To Live and Dine in LA,” spearheaded by the remarkable Josh Kun, features rare first-edition menus from landmark LA eateries, including Bob's Big Boy, The Brown Derby, and Perino's. More information HERE.


XII. A Book for Your Library, If You Still Read

Allen Iverson’s career was drenched in narrative. Rog used to drive to Philadelphia’s First Union Center to watch watch the point guard out of Georgetown weave at light speed through the lane and fearlessly take on the big boys down low. Iverson’s brand at the time was about authenticity, staying true to himself and refusing to conform. In the new book “Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson,” Kent Babb reveals Iverson’s darker side. The book includes brutal tales of violence, alcoholism and pigheadedness. It shows there is a thin line between being authentic and being stubborn, cold-hearted, selfish and self-destructive. This is not just a book for basketball fans, but for anyone interested in the human cost of our need to make myths, praise sporting idols and disconnect their image from their reality.


XIII. A Poem To Gird Your Loins

As another season of Game Of Thrones comes to an end we must always remember, nothing burns like the cold.

“Fire and Ice”
By Robert Frost

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.


XIV. "Plumb our Annals”

In this edition’s pod from the past, we hop in The George Michael Sports Machine and travel back almost exactly one year ago. Destination: the Crap Part Of Rio. We spent last June broadcasting from The General Bob Ley’s Panic Room and covering the other World Cup. A year later, and we are happy to say The Von Trapps has officially, according to Wikipedia, become an unofficial USMNT nickname. Listen to our first Pod from Brazil HERE.

Our entire pod archive is available HERE. If you prefer the Cliffs Notes version, check out "Men in Blazers. Unbuttoned: Now That's What I Call Sub-Optimal,” Vol. I (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play) and Vol. II - The Best of 2014 (iTunes, Amazon, Google Play). The albums are the least objectionable of our football "analysis," Ravens and interviews.

You can access all MiB-related content (videos, pods and articles) by visiting www.nbcsports.com/mib.
 

Please forward this to your football curious friends. Let's see if we can bring them over to the dark side. The Ian Darke Side.


“We should be careful / Of each other, we should be kind / While there is still time.”
-Philip Larkin
 

    

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PODCAST
 
In this week's podcast, Rog and Davo break down the USWNT's 3-1 win over Australia, the Von Trapps' seven-goal thriller in Amsterdam, and an electric Champions League Final. Actor, comedian, writer and Arsenal fan Matt Lucas guests. LISTEN HERE
 
GOOD READS
 
An oral history of the USMNT at the 1990 World Cup in Italy by Les Carpenter for The Guardian. READ HERE

How Seville's Europa League success can offer a blueprint for mid-level Premier League teams, by the Liverpool Echo’s Neil Jones. READ HERE

The BBC’s Nick Bryant on the myth that Americans don’t like football. READ HERE

What your Premier League-related Instagram images and Twitter pictures mean to brands that sponsor clubs, by Yahsa Spong for SportTechie. READ HERE  

 
ABOUT

Michael Davies and Roger Bennett believe that soccer is America’s Sport of the Future. As it has been since 1972. Visit MeninBlazers.com, “Like” us on Facebook, follow the show on Twitter and Instagram, or email us at MeninBlazers@gmail.com.
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