Episodes

Why you shouldn't worry about $$ in the Prem  

George thought that Kevin McCauley’s season preview for SB Nation, titled “How to Enjoy the Premier League without Worrying About the Money,” was the most provocative and enjoyable piece he’s read ahead of the new English season. So he called him up to discuss the ideas in his argument and maybe even become a convert to Kevin’s way of thinking.

A look back at the Gold Cup with Brad Friedel  

After the U.S. beat Jamaica to win the Gold Cup trophy, Bobby and George revisit their discussion on fringe USMNT players and who seems likely to make the 2018 World Cup roster. (Hint: Jordan Morris helped his case, Matt Hedges not so much.) Then Brad Friedel joins to discuss the Gold Cup and answer some questions specifically about the goalkeeping position—should Arena settle on a clear starter (and how did that work with Friedel and Kasey Keller?), and what sort of special challenges does a former goalkeeper face when transitioning to become the head coach of a team? 

(Warning: There is at least one instance of adult language in this episode when Bobby drops an F bomb to describe Jordan Morris’s speed.)

George Best’s life and legacy  

George Best was one of the game’s greatest players and also one of its most confounding. He had the dribbling skills to rival Leo Messi, a public image that paved the for David Beckham, and an addiction to alcohol that was allowed to go unchecked in the 1960s and ’70s and ultimately led to his early death. This week, George interviews Daniel Gordon, the director of a 30 for 30 documentary that premieres tonight on ESPN at 8:30 pm. Gordon also made the 30 for 30 about the Hillsborough disaster and “The Game of Their Lives,” about the North Korean soccer team at the 1966 World Cup. 

Note: There is a bit of offensive language toward the end when George recounts his dad’s own George Best story.

If we had to pick the U.S. World Cup squad today  

With the U.S. and Mexico taking B teams into the Gold Cup, we’re thinking that the most interesting way to watch the tournament might be as a way to project next summer’s World Cup fringe roster spots. So today, Bobby, Jeb, and George select the players they think are most likely to make the team, dividing them into three categories: locks, probablies, and maybes. They agree on 20 names, and then each chooses a different set of three players for the final spots.

We want to see what you think of our choices, and who your picks would be—let us know by filling out this form: fifa.wtf/2sLJACz.

Goldblatt on the Garcia Report  

George and David discuss the Garcia Report. Even though it contained no revelations that will stop the World Cup from taking place in Russia and Qatar, it still revealed plenty of bad behavior by soccer officials, and it provides quite a few clues about FIFA’s immediate future.

Speaking with the director of “The Soccer Ball Phone”  

This week, we released a short parody called “The Soccer Ball Phone” starring Sarah Silverman, Jack Black, Will Arnett, Alexi Lalas, and a few other very funny people. (We’re been promoting it pretty hard, but if you haven’t seen it, or want to ready George’s note about how it came together, go here.) This week on Dummy, George talks to Kovert Creative partner Joe Assad, who wrote and directed the short and also happens to be a new partner in Howler. We often get requests to talk about the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into running the mag, so if you’re interested about Howler as a business and where it’s headed, this episode is for you.

Bobby and George on USA vs Trinidad and Tobago  

George and Bobby discuss last night’s game between the U.S. national team and Trinidad and try to answer a few questions:

-Which players are emerging as Bruce Arena’s automatic picks?
-Who should be playing between Altidore, Dempsey, and Wood?
-Michael Bradley or Kellyn Acosta?
-How will Mexico attack the U.S. back line of Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks, and Villafaña?
-Why is Villafaña only getting his first caps now, at the age of 27?

Bobby was running out to catch a plane to Mexico City, so they taped a short segment near the end in which they analyze the build-up to the first U.S. goal. This is for Bobby’s podcast “The Play” but you’ll probably enjoy it too.

They Hanged a Monkey (AUDIO FIXED)  

*If you have Dummy set to autodownload, listen to this version and delete the previous one—we had a few audio issues that have now been corrected.

This week, Hartlepool United unveiled a new crest, and the designer of that crest, Mick Watson, joins the pod to discuss what makes for good (and bad) soccer badge design. He also explains the grotesque reason that the club’s mascot is named H’Angus the Monkey (readers of the mag may recall that the man who played H’Angus was elected—and then reelected—mayor of Hartlepool in the 1990s).

The excellent Kicking and Screening Film Festival is June 6-9 in Manhattan. Use the code KS2017 to save on tickets at kickingandscreening.com.

And thanks to today’s sponsor, soccerpro.com, where you can save 10% on gear with the code HOWLER20.

Too excited about the US U-20s with Brian Dunseth  

After a pair of matches, the US U-20s currently lead Group E at the world championship in South Korea, and they've already played their two toughest opponents. Today I speak with Brian Dunseth, who called the match for Fox Sports this morning and was himself a prominent member of the US U-20 team back in the day (many, many years ago, as in not quite before the internet but almost). We evaluate the first two games (a 3–3 draw with Ecuador and the 1–0 victory over Senegal; follow those links for highlights), and look ahead to the final group match against Saudi Arabia and a likely knockout-round match-up with New Zealand. We also talk about what we can really learn from players at this age—Josh Sargent, 17, is tied for the tournament's top scorer—and what it means for the team and American soccer than some of our best eligible internationals, like Christian Pulisic, aren't on the squad.

How FIFA became Assad’s collaborator  

Steve Fainaru’s new feature for ESPN on the Syrian national team reveals how the Syrian government has targeted athletes for murder (38 soccer players and counting) and turned Team Syria into a mouthpiece in support of Bashar al-Assad. Steve joins Dummy to discuss the peril faced by players who choose to speak out and boycott the team and FIFA’s cowardly response to the crisis. You can read Steve’s story here.

This week’s sponsor is SoccerPro. Save 10% on your order with the code HOWLER19.

The Dirty Tackle podcast goes studs up into your eardrums  

Last year, Dirty Tackle joined up with whatahowler.com, and now the dudes have their own hilarious podcast. In this episode of Dummy, George and Dirty Tackle impresario Brooks Peck talk about why players in Europe are funnier than those in America, why covering FIFA will never be boring, and how Brooks came to own a pink Palermo jersey. Also: Does Zlatan feel empathy? Is Bastian Schweinsteiger bored? And Gigi Buffon has kind grandpa eyes, don't you think?

How Cristiano’s game has changed  

Is it just me (George), or has Cristiano Ronaldo subtly changed the way he plays? The data, provided by our friend Oliver at OPTA, backs him up: Cristiano’s goals in the Champions League have been coming from closer and closer to the goal over the last few years. I discuss this with Jeb Brovsky, who talks about Ronaldo’s transformation from inverted winger to center forward. We also talk about the first leg of the Monaco-Juventus semifinal and what a Real Madrid-Juventus final could look like (hint: Marcelo vs. Dani Alves). Yes please.

Dummy is sponsored by soccerpro.com. Use code HOWLER18 at checkout for free shipping on orders of $50 or more. You'll be helping Howler and patronizing a long-time friend of the mag.

The 2017 MLS Salary Release Party  

On Tuesday, the MLS Players Union made its annual release of league-wide player salary information, which revealed that 28 players make more than a million dollars per year… and none of them play for the league’s best team, FC Dallas. Jeb Brovsky and George sit down to navel-gaze/discuss.

Then, Tim Froh joins to talk about his story in the Guardian about the lack of diversity among Major League Soccer head coaches. Froh argues that the uniformity in background fosters a sort of group-think among the men who coach MLS teams, and perhaps an ingrained hesitation to extend opportunities to people who are different. Could this be a clue as to why FC Dallas has been so successful graduating its academy players to the first team?

Save 15% on a subscription to Howler with the code ILISTEN.

Mountain of Fire and Miracles FC w/ Goldblatt  

David Goldblatt just got back from Nigeria, where he watched A LOT of soccer, including Lagos’s entry in the Nigerian top flight, Mountain of Fire and Miracles FC. He and George also talk about the Madrid vs. Munich Champions League quarterfinal and disagree about whether we should start using instant replay to officiate soccer matches. And he weighs in on the CANUSAMEX 2026 and offers a more hopeful verdict than either George or Jamil could come up with last week.

Next, George interviews Austin da Luz of North Carolina FC about his initiative Playing for Pride. He and a bunch of other professional players have pledged to donate small amounts for each match they play in order to support the Human Rights Campaign’s fight to extend equal rights to LGBQT people. You can support Playing for Pride here.

CANUSAMEX ’26 and the future of the World Cup  

Jamil Chade is a sports business journalist for O Estado de Saõ Paulo who is based in Switzerland, where he covers FIFA and the IOC. On this episode he chats with George about the internal politics that make the joint North American WC bid for 2026 likely to succeed, and what the changes it entails mean for FIFA and for the future of the World Cup.

Check out The Goalmouth, our five-minute daily morning podcast.

Do soccer stats pit quantity vs. quality?  

After Minnesota United’s Jeb Brovsky wrote about the shortcomings of statistical analysis for whatahowler.com two weeks ago, our friend Oliver Miller-Farrell emailed George and Bobby to say that while Jeb wasn't wrong, he might have been “stats-abused.” (Oliver works for Opta in New York.) So on today’s episode, Jeb and Oliver join Bobby and George to talk about how we quantify soccer and soccer players and how statistical analysis can benefit teams and fans.

This week’s episode is a co-production of Dummy and The Play.

Save 15% on a Howler subscription with the code ILISTEN.

Arena averts Hexit  

George and Bobby discuss the U.S.’s 6–0 win over Honduras and 1–1 tie with Panama. George gives his ideal starting back four; Bobby disagrees. Is there any way to avoid a dreary game when Bradley and Jones are paired together in the midfield? And how could some of the missing players—specifically Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood, Sacha Klejstan, Benny Feilhaber, and DeAndre Yedlin—fit into this team?

Then Jake Walerius joins to discuss American soccer culture. He says that England’s obsession with its national sport is a way for Brits to grapple with the decline of their nation’s status in the world. Baseball, football, and basketball have similar cultural heft in the United States. But American soccer fans, he argues, are still negotiating over the meaning of our own story.

This is the essay Jake wrote on the subject for fansided.com.

Meet Cyril the Swan, outlaw mascot  

Jeff Maysh wrote one of Howler’s best-loved stories, about the West Ham fan who heckled his way onto the field for his favorite team in a pre-season friendly back in 1994. Now he’s back to discuss his latest story for Howler, about an equally colorful character: Cyril the Swan and the man behind the beak. Cyril may have helped save Swansea City when it was on the brink of dropping out of professional football in the late 1990s, and his antics made him a bonafide celebrity. Then he was arrested.

Ryu Voelkel’s astonishing soccer photos  

Like the best players in the world, Ryu Voelkel sees soccer differently than most people. But unlike those players, who often struggle to describe how they do what they do, the genius of Ryu’s vision is evident in his photographs, which have been a staple in Howler since our very first issue. I spoke with him this week for our Dummy podcast and asked him to describe how he captures incredible images time after time.

Check out Ryu’s work from the latest issue in this post at whatahowler.com. You can also pick up a copy of the Spring 2017 issue to see it in print. And we currently have two of Ryu’s photos available for purchase in the Howler Art Shop, framed or unframed.

OMG Barcelona  

This week George chats with his friend Karl Taro Greenfeld, a journalist, novelist, and now TV writer (for the show Ray Donovan). They talk about yesterday’s ridiculous Barcelona-PSG match, why Karl loves LigaMX, the ascendancy of Russian hooligans, and the short story Karl wrote in the new issue of Howler.

Here is a link to George’s piece for the Washington Post on U.S. Soccer’s new anthem policy.

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