Friday Funblast — July 9, 2021

Today is the day: Hell is Real. But, before we get into that, we’ve got a week full of news and nonsense to recap. So, without further ado —

HOUSTON WE HAVE A DRAW

Anytime there is a non-loss for The FC it feels like something we should be celebrating, right? It feels odd though. It’s like being excited when your 2AM order at Taco Bell *isn’t* fucked up — on one hand, it’s objectively exciting that they gave you the right number of Cheesy Gordita Crunches and Crunchwraps, but on the other, it’s really more a sign of how fucking low the expectations are at the place.

There isn’t a lot to talk about with this match beyond the fact that it felt like a completely normal road draw for a soccer team. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen one of those. It had very little in common with the season opening draw to Nashville — which threatened to give you whiplash from how quickly we went from “WE MAY NEVER LOSE A GAME THIS SEASON” to “HOLY SHIT, CAN ANYONE PLAY FUCKING DEFENSE ON THIS TEAM?” They scored, we answered, and then not much really happened for the next 80+ minutes of game time. We had our chances, they had theirs, but at no point did you ever feel conceding a second goal was inevitable or feel it impossible The FC would score again to claim all three points.

Normal is progress for this team, and so it’s yet another week where I’ll happily concede that there is no need for more #JaapOut talk. This is a good thing.

His Dutch partner in the front office, however..

INTERNATIONAL SLOTS OF MYSTERY

The biggest off-field story for The FC this week centered on more drama over international roster spots. News broke on Wednesday that FC Cincinnati had sold an international roster spot to Portland for $100,000. This was a potentially decent bit of business, until you realized two important factors:

1.) FC Cincinnati had purchased that same slot from Portland, prior to the season, for $225,000.

2.) Portland took that $100,000 slot and sold it to Nashville ON THE SAME FUCKING DAY for $230,000.

So, if you’re keeping score, Portland has managed to make $355,000 on a single international slot simply by buying and selling it multiple times. They’re the functional equivalent of the dickheads buying houses in Oakley and Walnut Hills, throwing a fresh coat of paint on them, and selling them off to young trust fund couples (presumably the only way anyone under 35 affords a fucking house these days).

It should come as a shock to absolutely no one that my first emotional response to this was anger. If you look at all this on face value, it doesn't paint a great picture of The FC's front office — selling an asset at a ridiculously low price while another willing buyer was sitting out there waiting to pay a premium. It conjures images of a grandmother hauling boxes of rare baseball cards to Goodwill and just asking the man at the desk if they take “sports pictures” as donations. But, after a moment of reflection (big assist to the Apple Watch deciding to suggest that I “breathe” at that exact moment — the first time in history I took its annoying advice), it became pretty apparent what had happened. As the Post would later confirm on Thursday, this whole buyback had been pre-arranged by FC Cincinnati (who only needed the international slot until Maikel van der Werff obtained his green card).

This makes things marginally better — though, it’s worth noting, it isn’t a great sign when “FCC got fucking scammed again!” is a thought that immediately pops into your head in these circumstances. But, it’s still annoying to watch FC Cincinnati struggle, yet again, because of an inability to build a roster with a proper balance of domestic and foreign talent.

It also brings an issue squarely into focus that has been bothering me for a while — namely, the laughably small return we’re getting for these international spots. All of these maneuverings and machinations, we learned, were in anticipation of Maikel van der Werff getting his green card (which he apparently did). Van der Werff has played exactly zero (0) minutes of fucking soccer this season. The reason we didn’t have a spot for him otherwise was because we were also anticipating using international spots on:

1.) Tom Peterson — The dictionary definition of “replacement player,” he has played in 3 matches, two of which were the most lopsided defeats of the season. He hasn’t seen the field in over two months. And, be honest — you had completely forgotten this asshole was still on the team. He’s so fucking forgettable, you probably didn’t even notice I spelled his name wrong.

2.) Franko KovacevicWe documented his curious case last week (a player Hoffenheim gives so little of a shit about that they’re cool with him spending more time on a bench than fucking Forrest Gump). He’s using an international spot and providing minimal value.

3.) Kamohelo Mokotjo — Another player who hasn’t seen the field in over two months. When he was on the field earlier in the year, he looked slow and thoroughly average -- not exactly the words you want to hear describing a dude making a million goddamn dollars and occupying an international spot. They called this guy “The General,” but I wouldn’t buy fucking car insurance from him, to say nothing of following his lead on the soccer pitch (where he featured in the two worst defensive efforts of the season for the FC).

4.) Calvin Harris — Look, I get that Frankie Amaya was ready to roll as a decent MLS starter on Day 1, but it was instantly clear that Harris was no Amaya. He’s young, though, and on a Generation Adidas contract, so there are clearly reasons to hold onto him and see what develops. But, if you needed an international slot for a few months, why not just send this guy on loan? He could’ve gone down to the USL, got some work for a few months, and come back to Cincinnati in July when the roster clog cleaned up.

These are 4 players taking up international slots (and, in the case of Mokotjo, a shitload of cap space) while providing almost no value to the club. These four guys (along with VDW) are the reason The FC jumped through hoops and made themselves look like morons to stay in roster compliance. Other than Harris (because, again: young + Gen Adidas), is there a single one with the upside to be more than what they’ve shown thus far? Is there a single one you’d fucking miss if they weren’t around?

And I realized that my anger had little to do with buying and selling of international spots, it’s the reasons behind the buying and selling. It’s the players who we’re working so hard to keep on the roster despite no evidence suggesting they’re worth having around. All this, mind you, is without even getting into the silliness of Jurgen Locadia — who we kept in an international spot despite him being on such a severe minutes restriction that he had no hope of ever meaningfully contributing. It all leads back to Nijkamp’s roster build — his inability to scout domestic talent and his use of international player spots on marginal players continues to be an issue for this team.

And, this week, it made them look like fucking fools on a national stage. Will this be the moment where it finally “clicks” for him that this is a dumb fucking way to do business? Only time will tell.

JACKIN’ IT IN COLUMBUS

If you haven’t seen the latest “tradition” being added to Columbus Crew matches (which — let’s be honest, it’s fucking hysterical that the self-proclaimed “oldest club in MLS” had so few traditions to bring with them to their new stadium that they had to invent new ones), you need to stop what you’re doing and watch it. I’m posting the link below, do yourself a favor and watch all 6 seconds of this video as many times as is necessary to appreciate its glory:

Back? Good, because — holy shit.

There’s so much going on in this video that it’s hard to know exactly where to begin. You can start with the girl doing the jackhammering, who looks like she has strong opinions on what the best “New Found Glory” album is. She’s a walking fucking OSHA & CDC violation, wearing exactly 0 of the recommended combination of safety glasses, vibration-dampening gloves, safety boots, or ear protection — but she does manage to hit the camera with a totally bitchin’ tongue-out move, so she has that going for her.

Off to the right you’ve got this guy, who is just a goddamn legend. It’s like McLovin graduated with a finance degree and decided to move to Columbus to go work for Nationwide. I’d been told my entire life that it was impossible to look intense while wearing glasses, but fuck — those people never saw this fucking champ. Just look at the way he stares down at that power tool as it hammers away on the stage (already having broken through the brick). That’s the kind of fucking excitement a middle-aged white guy usually reserves for smacking a drive 250 in his company golf scramble or getting a mid-set “Tripping Billies” at the yearly Dave Matthews Band concert with his boys. This guy is fucking fired up to be on the stage and determined to match the energy of the jackhammer with every movement of his own arms.

Then, to the left, you’ve got the most underrated part of this faux collar trio. This guy manages to look both bro and ultra at the exact same time. He’s in full arm-flex from moment one and finishes the video looking like he’s begging to be photoshopped into a bad YouPorn video (you know the face I’m talking about here). He, like his accountant friend on the other side of the platform, is just fucking fired up to be so close to a woman jackhammering a stage floor. Which is really funny, because if you look at the crowd behind him, absolutely no one gives a shit about this entire performance.

The entire internet stopped what it was doing as soon as the video dropped to mercilessly clown on the club. And, you absolutely have to wonder — what the fuck did they think the reaction to this would be? They brought three stooges onto stage to cosplay as construction workers by jackhammering one single cinder block. At least Timber Joey has a full fucking log that he saws off during the course of a season. And he’s an actual fucking lumberjack — he owns a construction company and has competed in those lumberjack-events that always get broadcast when ESPN does their yearly “The Ocho” takeover.

This whole situation has made going to Columbus for a “Hell is Real” match a must-attend event. I absolutely need to see this bullshit in person before they retire it in the off-season to brainstorm a better “new” tradition for this old club. Hell, we successfully convinced Crew fans we were one of them when we burned that jersey — maybe we can find a way to sneak onto the Jackhammering crew too.

TWO WEEKENDS IN CINCINNATI

That’s how long this fucking dipshit spent in town before making a proclamation on twitter that the Teak’s location actually isn’t good. I’ll put his assessment right here just so that we can all bask in the wrongness of his take:

Fucking what?

For what it’s worth, I agree with him on his assessment of the Titan’s stadium having nothing around it that you would want to go to. Nashville is the absolute elite-tier of cities where the reputation for being fun vastly outweighs the actual ability to have fun in the city. The bars on Broadway (a whopping 0.7 miles away from the stadium) are cesspools filled with C- level country music cover bands and shitty people. When you aren’t fighting your way through armies of bridesmaids wearing sashes and penis necklaces, you’re inevitably waiting in endless lines for an overpriced bud light.

But, TQL Stadium? Fucking come on. You can kick a football to “The Pitch” across the street. You’re 1,500 feet from Taft’s Ale House and Sam Adams’ Taproom. You’re roughly 3,000 feet from Rhinegeist and Northern Row. Along the walk to any of these places, you’ll pass roughly two dozen restaurants and other bars to grab a drink or a bite to eat. There’s a fucking reason why Over the Rhine costs a fortune to live in and why there’s incessant development in the area. It’s fucking cool and stuffed to the gills with shit to do.

I understand most Nashville SC fans have the intelligence of a daytime talk show viewer, but I genuinely wonder what the fuck this guy did with his two weekends in Cincinnati? Did he spend them all up in Mason and just drive by the stadium once? Was he confused by the lack of pedal wagons and shitty angel wing murals and concluded that no one has fun in this town?

So, I’ll make this offer to “Uncle Mudd” — come down to the FCC / Nashville match later this year. Send me a DM, and your first beer is on me at one of these many places that “don’t exist” around TQL Stadium. And hey — bonus — we’ll actually be able to talk soccer over that drink because there won’t be some fucking chad on a stage screaming out a cover of “Copperhead Road” while we toast.

HELL IS MAKING ACCURATE PREDICTIONS

I nailed a prediction for a change, calling for the 1-1 draw last week before it became a reality.

This match feels like a trap prediction. Columbus is missing literally everyone to injury or international duty and will likely be starting a guy who they were only able to acquire yesterday because he’s an anti-vaxxing dipshit and wouldn’t be let back to Canada when Montreal returns.

Yet, the more I hear about how depleted Columbus is, the more I feel like this is just a giant trap to lure us into some false sense of expectations.

I refuse to play along. 2-2, FCC splits the points for Hell is Real.

THEY MADE A TV SHOW ABOUT TONIGHT’S FCC TIFO:

It’s called — ha, fuck off. You’ll see it later tonight.

Alright, that’s all for the Funblast this week. Enjoy the derby tonight. We took for granted what a full-stadium rivalry game sounded and felt like, and it was fucking taken from us last year. So, party twice as hard and sing twice as loud to make up for lost time. Gary forever. Crew Cat never. See you motherfuckers in the Thunderdome!