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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

 
Just when we thought the Premier League script writers could not outdo themselves in terms of the blend of vengeance, ambition, redemption, and humiliation they produce to trump the occasional lack of tactics, organization, and team play, they go and outstrip themselves. Chelsea host Arsenal this weekend. That would be 17th place Chelsea Football Club, which has limped lame and impotently through the most lackluster title defence since the Paleolithic ages. Their small squad, once seen as a sign of Jose Mourinho’s confidence and strength, now seems like an albatross preventing change and snuffing options.  

Enter Arsene Wenger. Mourinho’s longest standing foe. A man who has never beaten Jose in league play. Whose teams have failed to score in their last four league encounters with Chelsea. One would think this is his time. His moment. You can almost hear the off-stage command to deliver the back-breaker. “Finish Him!”

But not so fast… The midweek Champions League matches flipped the narrative on its head. Arsenal were full on Arsenally, slumping to ignoble defeat at Dinamo Zagreb. And in an eerie echo of the Chanukah story, plucky little Chelsea made their dwindling reserve of oil burn for eight crazy nights by battering Maccabi Tel Aviv. So which side has confidence entering this game? Which manager carries the upper hand?  

This is the closest we will get to a Premier League re-enactment of Cary Grant and Martin Landau fighting it out to the death on top of Mount Rushmore (Spoiler Alert). Who will win? “Neutrals” is always the answer.

Regardless of who wins, we will recap the game tie-flip by tie-flip on The MEN IN BLAZERS SHOW, Monday, Sept. 21 at 11 p.m. on NBCSN. This week, we’re joined by very special guests, and World Cup Champions, Abby Wambach and Sydney Leroux. We could not be more thrilled to welcome two of our heroes to the Panic Room. And we’d like to thank Rabbi Kyle Martino for presiding over our Rosh Hashanah special last week, and teaching us how to tie a quadruple Windsor. Because of the holiday, we had to shoot the episode before last weekend’s matches. You can watch the episode in its entirety HERE.

Corduroy is Coming,  
Rog @rogbennett

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

PS. We send our best to Luke Shaw after his devastating injury and wish him a speedy return to the superlative form he has displayed this season. THIS piece from the excellent Barney Ronay is a good read on the road to recovery. #Courage
 


I. BlazerCon

We are honored to announce several members of the World Cup Champion USWNT will join us at BlazerCon in Brooklyn Nov. 13 and 14. Becky Sauerbrunn, Ali Krieger and Heather O’Reilly (HAOOOOO) will discuss their magical summer, as well as the future of U.S. Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League. They join a glut of Premier League thinkers, including the league’s Adam Silver equivalent, Richard Scudamore, and the leaders of Manchester City, Liverpool and Southampton. Another addition to the BlazerCon roster: AFC Bournemouth chairman, Jeff Mostyn. Rog interviewed Jeff for his latest Premier League Download film [Watch It HERE]. He is a remarkable gent and will speak about the club’s meteoric rise from the bottom of League 2 to the Premier League. #WeTheCherries

We are thrilled how many GFOPs are coming to BlazerCon from across the country. If you are reading this and have not bought your ticket, we would love you to come. Tickets are available HERE. Please keep your suggestions about the event coming. And a big thanks to GFOP and artist Alvar Sirlin for the below image.
 


II. EA Sports FIFA Cover Contest

EA Sports FIFA 16 will be released Sept. 22. If you don’t already have the Tingling, THIS commercial featuring Lionel Messi, Sergio Kun Aguero, Alex Morgan, Kobe Bryant and more should do the trick.

On last week’s Pod, we asked you to look into the future, have a bite of pie, and design your best FIFA 17 cover. Send us your entries via email or on social media using the hashtag #MiBFIFACover. We have EA Sports FIFA 16 Limited-Edition Men in Blazers Packs to give away to our 10 favorite entries. A few of the early leaders in the clubhouse below. Thanks to GFOPs @ClubMasterBryan and @MartyMerc.
 


III. Football in the White House Rose Garden

The Reagan Library has been in the news quite a bit recently. Not only did it host a Presidential debate, the library also unearthed a piece of American soccer history. It comes from 1983, 11 years after the game officially became America’s Sport of the Future. The library released THIS VIDEO of President Reagan welcoming short-lived NASL side “Team America” to the Rose Garden. Bob Lifton was Team America’s president and owner. We asked him to tell us a little more about the visit.

Bob Writes: I met with President Reagan alone in the Oval Office for about a half hour before the presentation in order to fill him on on the team and its program and objectives. During the meeting, I was not sure he was fully retaining what I told him so that when we arrived at the Rose Garden for the presentation I was nervous about whether he would he would address us as a soccer team or confuse us with some other sport. But as the video shows, he came through beautifully.

Bob wrote a book that includes more on Team America and their visit to the White House. It’s available HERE.

And to quote the President of the United States of America. “Soccer, as you know, is a worldwide sport. But it has been increasing in popularity here in America by leaps and bounds in the past few years.”


IV. Vest Advice From Our Tailors at Freemans

This issue’s style question for our tailors at Freemans Sporting Club in New York City comes via GFOP Patrick Cummings of Portland. Patrick was groomed to believe one of the unbreakable rules of dress is to never, ever wear a three-piece suit. But his anti-vest upbringing was recently put to the test while thumbing through a fall style guide. He glimpsed a gentleman in an unconstructed wool sports coat over a tattersall vest and simple shirt/tie comb. His reaction…

Patrick Writes: It looked quite sharp, and led me to wonder: Have I been wrong to completely write off the vest as a potential piece of my wardrobe? Or does this only look good because it is being worn by a devastatingly handsome model who looks vaguely like Aaron Ramsey? When is or isn't it appropriate to wear a vest?

Freemans Managing Director Kent Kilroe Writes: Practicality. Versatility. Humility. Three words that describe when it’s appropriate to wear a three piece suit. A vest adds another layer of clothing to your suit, so unless you’re doing a weight-cut in an attempt to entice Floyd Mayweather out of retirement (please don’t), then limit your three piece look to Fall/Winter. Next, be smart and choose a solid grey or navy. This allows you to go full metal jacket, convert to a classic two piece, wear the vest with a pair of jeans or the jacket with a pair of chinos.  

Most importantly, be humble. Peacocks are best viewed in the zoo. Don’t accessorize your three piece suit with a pocket watch, avoid a “splashy” paisley pattern on your vest lining and don’t assume a Nucky Thompson air of superiority that you think befits a three piece suit. Chalky White was much cooler anyway. Lastly, don’t overthink it. If you want to go full Travolta and rock a white three piece suit with a black shirt and no tie, then I say: Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em


VI. #PieDontLie

Video Evidence straight from the Panic Room that no two pies taste exactly alike. After all, it’s science. WATCH HERE


VII. #PatchAtThePark

This issue’s #PatchAtThePark submissions come from the NWSL semi-final between the Seattle Reign and the Washington Spirit; the University of Tennessee’s home American football opener against Oklahoma at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville #RockyTop; and Rosh Hashanah services.

But our favorite comes from the GFOP who helped inspire the hashtag #PatchAtThePark: Portland’s Dave Pawlik. You can read about his very impressive resume of grounds visited HERE. Dave is currently in the middle of another European soccer sojourn that’s included stops in West Ham, Watford, and Leicester (see below). This year Dave and his brother are also visiting Spain, where the itinerary includes Seville, Valencia, Getafe, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
 


VIII. A Suboptimal Strategy for Naming Your Child

Rog’s strategy for negotiating baby names with Mrs. B is no secret. Start with something outlandish, and slowly work your way to something more reasonable. It’s a war of attrition. By the time you get to the name you really want, your partner will likely acquiesce. It turns out, Rog isn’t the only person employing this suboptimal strategy. GFOP Jeremy Lance is the father of twin girls. His wife had already selected the name Lina for one of the girls after her grandmother. It was incumbent on Jeremy to come up with a name for her sister.

Jeremy Writes: I had a plan. I first suggested a random French family name, Octavia. Then I went with a bunch of unisex names that I knew my wife would hate. It wore her down as I threw name after name at her, knowing that she would hate every one of them. Finally, I was ready to make my move. "What about Chelsea?" I said. "Ok, I can live with that." And like that my wife agreed to name one of our daughters after my favorite soccer club.


IX. A GBOP Is Born, And His Name Shall Be Called Arlo

Speaking of baby names, we recently received a Raven from Julie Almendral and Mitch Goldman. We met the couple in Austin while communing with GFOPs at SXSW in March. At the time, Julie was eight-and-a-half months pregnant and asked Davo for potential names for a boy. He proudly proclaimed the child be named Gianfranco Zola. Roughly five weeks after our visit, the couple welcomed a beautiful baby boy. The name they decided on: Arlo. As they say in Texas, Mazel Tov.

 
 

X. Literary XI

In the last issue of the Raven, inspired by a an email from GFOP Johnny Wright, we called for you to send us your Literary XI with a promise of a patch for our favorite. The winner: GFOP Jeff Lewis, who plays this 3-5-2:

GK John Updike - Another in the long line of Americans who are brilliant with their hands; he can distribute the ball majestically.
LB Heinrich Boll - The stolid face of the post-war German style. Tough to beat one-on-one.
CB Raymond Carver - Another American. Big and burly, a classic stopper. Great short passes out of the back. And he is dangerous with his head on set-pieces. Known for playing drunk, though.
RB Thomas Bernhard - The Austrian has endless energy, like a paragraph with no end.
LM Yukio Mishima - He can seamlessly do it all, attack, defend, and intimidate the ref; refuses to leave pitch when red-carded.
DM Charles Dickens - Sees the other team's attacks before they happen; knows just where to be to cut off the crucial last pass.
DM Dostoevsky - The Russian master and midfield hard man inspires dread in opposing attackers, weary of his proclivity for punishing tackles.
AM Jorge Luis Borges - The creative Argentine is the best passer in the game; though often overlooked for the big prizes, he seems to be out of this world. Also has blinding speed.
RM Italo Calvino - Like Borges, the Italian has incredible vision on the field, and can be a crafty defender, as if leading attackers into places they never thought possible.
CF Albert Camus - Plays every game as if his mother just died before kick-off and he wants to honor her.
CF Stefan Zweig - Amazing technical ability. Plays like a man on the run from dark forces.

SUBS: James Joyce, Marcel Proust, Julio Cortazar - All three have talent to spare, but managers have a difficult time understanding their creativity and knowing where to fit them in the line-up. Always a thrill to see them come on the pitch.

Well played, Jeff. We also loved this suggestion from GFOP Jay Parker: “I could also see JK Rowling at right-back (in a sort of Meghan Klingenberg role) and might suggest finding a spot for the mercurial talents of Jennifer Egan as a come-on-in-the-60th-minute-not-do-anything-but-hit-a-penalty-shot-to-win kind of role.” We maintain we’d love to see Toni Morrison in the side.


XI. Courage

An amazing piece of news from GFOP Nick Bascle, whose son, Liam, has been battling cancer. Last week, a MRI showed no signs of the tumor that forced the Bascles to relocate from their home in Phoenix to Boston for treatment several months ago. The next step for Liam: radiation. Liam, Nick and Sarah Bascle remain in our thoughts. You can stay up to date on Liam’s progress via the Bascle’s blog.  He is a hero of ours and Courage personified.
 


XII. Three Questions with Charlie is a Red

Last season, while watching YouTube channel FullTimeDevils, we came across THIS VIDEO. It’s 1:14 of astute football analysis that’s inspired a slew of our favorite sayings and hashtags. #Outpassioned #11BestFriends #AshleyYang. We were blown away by young Charlie Wallwork’s (aka @CharlieIsARed) poise and delivery, and immediately invited him to break down United with us on the Pod [LISTEN HERE]. Since then, Charlie has gone on to become a junior report for Manchester United, interviewing the likes of Mike Smalling. In this edition of Three Questions, we catch up with the next Arlo White to take the temperature on the Red Half of Manchester and talk about his burgeoning broadcasting career.

MiB: Positives: Third place. Solid at the back. Great win against Liverpool. Negatives: Some dodgy offensive performances. Luke Shaw's injury. A Champions League loss to PSV. Sort us out. What is the mood in Manchester right now?

Charlie: Optimistic but sad.

Sad especially for Luke Shaw after his terrible injury against PSV. He has really been one of our best players since the start of the season. The support on Twitter for him has been massive and it has been wonderful to see all his teammates tweet their support as well. I feel that through this adversity the team will get stronger though.

Yet optimistic at the same time. The win against Liverpool and the way we played at PSV is beginning to show that we are going in the right direction as a team. We played some of our best offensive game so far this year at PSV and lost. It's a funny old game.

MiB: A lot of debate over who plays where in the United XI. If Charlie is a Red was LVG, who is your XI and how do you line them up?

Charlie: My Team would be a 4-2-1-3 formation.

Goalkeeper: David de Gea. In my opinion the best goalkeeper in the world and I'm so glad he's signed for another four years.

Back Four: Shaw (Rojo in his absence), Blind, Smalling and Darmian. At the start of the season there was talk that our defence was a weakness, however these four have performed brilliantly in the first games of the season, deserving to remain unchanged game after game.

Midfield: Schneiderlin (to protect the defence) and Schweinsteiger to boss the play.I would have Mata in a free roaming role behind a front three.

Up Front: It's not been tried yet by LVG, but I would love to see Memphis, Rooney and Martial alternating in offence, keeping defenders on their toes. I think Rooney will bring the best out of the two new signings.

On the Bench: I would have Young, Fellaini and Herrera, who all have something different so are able to change the dynamic of a game should the score not be going in our favour.

MiB: Of the new acquisitions, who is your favorite?

Charlie: This is a tough one. They are all good and I like them all for different reasons. Since I have to choose one, it has to be Bastian Schweinsteiger so far. A true leader who bosses the midfield and does the basic things exceptionally well. The thing I admire most is that for a player who has won everything in the game he still shows so much passion and openly shows his excitement in winning games and playing for Man Utd. This inspires me.

MiB: You've actually started working for the club as a junior reporter, even getting to interview the likes of Chris Smalling. How do you prepare for these interviews? What's the secret to a great interview?

Charlie: Interviewing players from my favourite team Manchester United, is my dream come true.

I try to follow a rule when thinking of questions. I need to be factual and knowledgeable because of my age to be taken seriously, but also interesting and funny.

I research each player and watch endless videos looking for interesting things to ask about. Since players must get asked the same type of question over and over again I trying to find something unique but also interesting from a young person’s point of view.

I can also get away with a bit of banter because of my age. I recently managed to make Manchester United and England's Chris Smalling pull a funny face on camera copying one of his teammates Phil Jones. I bet Arlo White hasn't managed that!

MiB: If you could interview one person, who would it be?

Charlie: Sorry, I really can't choose between two people.

My favourite player is Ronaldo but I think I would be too starstruck to even speak. I would also love to interview Sir Alex, the stories that man must be able to tell would be insane.

MiB: Give us your prediction for the United season. Where do they finish?

Charlie: I think United will finish second place in the EPL, particularly if Chelsea continue to play the way they have in the first five games of the season. Unfortunately the blue half of Manchester are the team to beat this year.

In the Champions League we will get through the group stages and the first knockout round of 16, but I am not sure of how far we will go beyond that.

MiB: Most of the people we interview are a little older than you. A little more jaded by life. We always ask them for a piece of life advice, something they've learned. Now we'd like to ask you.

Charlie: I have always watched and read everything soccer-related I could but was scared of using social media on the Internet. Then a chance meeting with a United fan channel called FullTimeDevils changed all of that. Leaving a United vs. City derby match I was asked to give my thoughts on the game. The video went viral and, hey, one year later I was interviewing United first-teamers for MUTV. So my advice is simply - don't be scared of trying something you want to do.


XIII. Passing Time in the CPOS

Here’s what every NFL quarterback would look like bald View Here
Ryan Adams covers Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" Listen Here
Lady Edith would “like a life” in the Downton Abbey season 6 trailer Watch Here
Jason Statham is going to kick some one-hour TV-Drama ass on Viva La Madness #HairHero Read Here


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

Fueled by an adoration of Netflix’s “Narcos”, Rog is reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “News of a Kidnapping.” It is a journalistic retelling of the summer Pablo Escobar terrorized a nation by kidnapping dignitaries and holding them hostage to prevent the government from extraditing him to the United States. It reads like a thriller but is regrettably all too real and all the more horrific for it. This is a gut wrenching book about what it is like to live in captivity and hopelessness. A national hell.


XV. "Plumb our Annals”

You can watch entire episodes of our crap television show on our NBCsports.com page. Video highlights of the show are available HERE. And digital extras, including our After the Pies interviews, are available 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.
 

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 relive Everton's 3 - 1 win over Chelsea in El Blazerico and United's second half offensive explosion against Liverpool. Author and Arsenal fan James Dashner guests. LISTEN HERE
GOOD READS
 
Why more Britons are taking U.S. soccer scholarships. Owen Amos reports for the BBC. READ HERE

On Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez’s Premier League rise and the death of his father. By The Guardian’s Paul DoyleREAD HERE

No equipment. No funding. The suspicion of national authorities. The challenges facing a those who’ve formed a women’s national football team in the Sudan. Tom Little reports for The Guardian. READ HERE

An Australian blogger’s take on a former rugby player’s NFL debut. NFL, Australia’s sport of the future since 2015. Micah Peters for USA Today. READ HERE

A remarkable piece of storytelling about an ice cream truck war (yes, that’s right) in Oregon. By David Wolman and Julian Smith for Epic Magazine. 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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