The Friday Funblast — July 16th, 2021

The FC drew Columbus, then drew the ire of its fanbase with visa and vaccine nonsense. There hasn't been this much drama revolving around a trip to Canada since your one friend with a DUI couldn't go to that bachelor party in Windsor. Anyway, onward!

DREW LIVE CREW

I’m going to be honest, last Friday was the angriest I’ve walked out of a sporting event in a long time. I sat the next morning and tried to recall a time where I’ve been more upset on the stroll from my perch in the Bailey down to the gate (a surprisingly easy experience, compared to the human cow pen the rest of the stadium looks like at Full Time — the team is gonna have to seriously consider having some post-game entertainment or a DJ dismissing people to the exits by section like it’s some awful fucking wedding with a buffet line). Sure, I’ve been to my share of losses and bad games, but this was one of those outcomes that just infuriates you to your very core — they should have won the fucking game, and they let a wounded and shorthanded (in the literalist sense of the word) team come back to snatch drawness from the jaws of victory. The only thing that came to mind was walking out of the arena in St. Louis after that dickhead from Wisconsin drained a corner-3 to beat Xavier in the 2nd round of the NCAAs a few years back. Xavier was, by every metric they have, the better team — and with two really good guards, they could’ve absolutely made a ton of noise in the tournament. But instead, there was the latest in the long-line of forgettable white dudes from Wisconsin standing there with his hand in the air as his jump shot hit net to end the game. Sadness lasted a nanosecond and then anger took over, much like Friday.

There’s a lot that can be written about Friday’s match — and much of it has been written. It reveals, simultaneously, how far The FC has come and how far The FC still has to go. Start with the positive, though — it’s an objectively good sign that we’ve reached the point of being angry about draws and aren’t still in the “Well, at least we didn’t lose!” phase. Part of that, undoubtedly, has to do with the number of players Columbus was missing, but the other part reflects that the team is playing better and creating some actual expectations. That’s good. Whether Kevin Wallace and I will admit it or not, when we’re angry at Jaap losing it means, deep down, we believe the team could be winning. On the downside? When Columbus scored their 2nd goal of the match, it meant that beating them would require FCC to do something it has never done under Jaap Stam: Score 3 goals. As crazy as it is to think about, the FC has never scored more than 2 goals under Jaap. Watching this team play on offense is like watching an NFL team play with a backup quarterback — you might be good for 2 scores, but you’re also gonna give up a cheap one on a turnover and then you gotta pray your defense can hold them scoreless the rest of the time. The last time The FC scored 3 goals in one match was July of 2019, where they scored 3 for interim manager Yoann Damet. That was also the last time they won in front of a home crowd. That’s disappointing, no matter how you slice it — and it would’ve been nice for The FC to break both of those streaks on Friday. Alas, we wait another week.

BLAME CANADA

Did anyone else find themselves wondering this week if we were back in the fucking USL?

The gross incompetence of Major League Soccer was on full display this week, as The FC was apparently given less than a week of notice that their game this weekend would be played in Montreal, Canada (as opposed to Florida, where the rest of Canada has been hanging out while were awaiting their government to join us in the “Covid? What Covid? There is no war in Ba Sing Se!” outlook on life). If you’ve ever attempted to travel internationally, the very thought of trying to arrange such a thing should have brought about a chuckle. Now multiply the difficulty by 18 + a full coaching staff and traveling contingent for a professional soccer team. Social media documented several players rushing to New York in order to sort out visa issues (because, fun fact, you can’t apply for a visa to go to Canada until you have a reason to be there beyond recreational travel — a visa is not like a baked potato, you can’t throw it in the oven right now and have it ready just in case you get hungry later). The good news is that, apparently, every player was able to get their travel situation sorted out, meaning that Brenner now has exactly as many travel visas as he does goals scored on the season.

The bigger issue for me with this match is that, apparently (and I say “apparently” because there’s been zero fucking transparency on this issue from the league — which is saying something), Canada will not allow anyone to cross the border who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.

(An aside — I am a full supporter of the vaccine. Full stop. I think you’re a fucking moron if you don’t get it. Vaccine hesitancy is the latest in a line of problems in this country caused by dipshits who haven’t taken a science class since they were 17 thinking they can do a little bit of reading and understand complex issues of microbiology, virology, climatology, or literally any word ending in -ology that isn’t “bracketology.” And it’s absolutely fucking wild that there’s no self-awareness to this stupidity. If you have to call your kids / grandkids / nephews to help set up your goddman smart TV, maybe that’s fucking sign that you lack the time and intellectual capacity to understand how a fucking mRNA vaccine works. Bottom line: get the fucking vaccine.)

I debated Grayson Chalmers from the post on this issue this week and I’m told I took a little bit of flack for it some places. Let me be clear, I fully respect the Canadian government’s ability to regulate its own matters of state. I fully respect that they are trying to do what they think is best to protect their people. Having said that, the fairness of sports depends on the same rules being followed everywhere a game or a match is played. If a player (we’ll call him “Jeff Kamrin”) is eligible to play and be rostered in Cincinnati, New York or Portland, that player needs to be eligible to play and be rostered in every match. You can’t have rostering rules changing from match to match dependent on what city a match is played in. Imagine if some racist state decided to pass a requirement that only citizens of the United States or valid permanent residents could compete in sporting events. Would you really expect MLS to play games there, knowing teams would have to leave all their international starters behind? Absolutely fucking not. It would be lacking in basic fairness and give an enormous advantage to teams with majority American / Green Card rosters. It would reduce the games to a fucking sham, because the rules would be different there than anywhere else. That’s my only point with Canada here. They cannot offer an environment where the rules are the same as they are everywhere else — and until they can, they shouldn’t hold fucking games.

COLUMBUS TIFO-GATE

Churn-and-burn media outlet SB Nation’s Columbus workhouse branch “Massive Report” dropped a new article this week chronicling the “Tifo that Wasn’t” for the Crew’s home opener at LowerMyBills.com field (using the incredible headline "#TIFOSWEAT always gets the job done" -- fucking what? The article is literally about them failing to get a tifo done, you fucking muppets). I know, much like fantasy football teams, absolutely no one wants to hear about your fucking SG — but there was a nugget of information buried in the story that caught my eye. The story coming out of the first match was that there were “issues with the rigging” (the stuff used to hoist tifos above the crowd) that led everyone to view what was happening as a safety concern. Fair enough. I know that was a concern here in Cincinnati as well, which is why the SGs made sure there was adequate time to test the equipment and make sure it was working. If Columbus got to the stadium and found out the equipment wasn’t working right, wasn’t installed right, or something like that, the responsible thing to do is call the tifo off. No issues. I mean, I could clown them for having part of their tifo ruined because they painted it outside (how the fuck does the oldest soccer club in MLS not have an indoor paint space?), but I won’t do that.

But, in this new article, it turns out that the issue was the tifo began to tear when they hoisted it on the rigging. El. Fucking Oh. Fucking El.

A quick lesson in physics — if you put 2 empty paint buckets in each of your hand, you’ll be able to lift them quite easily. If you put 2 full paint buckets in each hand, it’s gonna be a bit of a workout to lift them both. That’s because the paint inside the bucket is kinda heavy. Now — follow me here — it doesn’t STOP being heavy because you move it from the bucket onto, say, a giant fucking sheet of fabric that you’re planning on displaying in a fucking soccer stadium. Which is exactly what happened here: the Nordickheads made a giant tifo covered in paint and didn’t realize how fucking heavy it would be and how much stress that would cause when you attempt to lift in the goddamn air. And, it did exactly what Very Heavy™ things do when you pull on them from the very top and expose them to gravity: it ripped to shreds.

The incredible thing here is that Columbus supporters somehow managed to spin this as a “safety problem” with the rigging and avoid owning up to their own incompetence on this matter. It’s a level of PR ju jitsu reserved for Iraqi Defense Ministers and/or Cincinnati City Councilmembers. Looking on the bright side, though — their previous tifo efforts have been hot fucking garbage, so they probably saved themselves another artistic self-own by tossing this project into the bin and blaming the dog for eating their homework.

CANADIAN PREDICTIONS, EH?

It’s impossible to predict this match, because we still have absolutely no fucking clue who is going to be in the 18 for The FC. I’m hearing that we’ll be without 3-4 players — one of which is a starter and the other being a key reserve. Not good.

We own Montreal, but there are limits on the deed. 3-1 Impact.

Alright, that’s it for this week. Until next time — Vaccines forever. Canada never. See you motherfuckers in the thunderdome!