The Friday Funblast: Only the Second Week of Preseason
Welcome back to another BRAND NEW edition of th Funblast™! They turned the stadium lights on for reals last night, Acosta made his training debut after a weird running fox tweet, and we're inching ever closer to the start of this brand new season.
But we begin with some old friends this week...
The FC opened its 2021 preseason by taking a giant “L” in a scrimmage with one-time minor league rival Louisville City. The match, which wasn’t streamed and for which absolutely no details were released on the FCC side of the aisle, ended 3-0 to the visitors. Details later emerged that, perhaps, the FC was just viewing it as an opportunity to let people get a run in and break a sweat, but it still doesn’t take away the sting you feel, on first glance, when you see the other side won while playing a 15-year-old and the fucking equipment manager. Fortunately, the fanbase reacted in a calm and rational – oh, who the fuck am I kidding? There was a goddamn meltdown online about this, including from the Post’s own doomsayer Kevin Wallace.
Look, following preseason soccer is a lot like watching “The Phantom Menace” – it’s a disjointed experience, kind of a fucking chore to watch, and in most cases, not at all necessary to understand what happens going forward (and, if your preseason game is being announced by former FC Cincy PA guy John Horton, you’ll also get the occasional racist accent too). This is actually the case in just about every sport. You know what the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ preseason record was last year? Trick question; they cancelled the pre-season last year, but you probably spent a second trying to remember if Tom Brady played any preseason games last summer. Does anyone know, off the top of their head, what FCC’s preseason record was last year? Or how about the MLS Cup Champions? Anybody? Of course not, because knowing that would be some Rain Man shit and because it means absolutely fucking nothing when it comes to predicting how the season is gonna go. They don’t hand out silverwear for winning the preseason (but, if they did, you can bet Cincy Shirts would hop in with a hasty celebration tee looking to make a fucking buck).
If you dig down even a fucking inch into this game, you’d realize how utterly devoid of meaning it truly was. Missing from the game lineup entirely: Brenner, Acosta, Amaya, Locadia. Just about everyone else played a half or less than a half. And, it’s probably worth noting that this was five (5) days into fucking training for FC Cincinnati. Is there ever a situation where losing to Loisville City is appropriate? No. That’s common sense. Your goal when playing Lucy is to beat the everliving shit out of them ever single goddamn time. You never want them to forget that they’re the losers still hanging out in the one-stoplight town where they went to high school while we’re the rich big brother, eating Kobe Beef and doing rails off of strippers in the city that is Major League Soccer. Letting them score on us, to say nothing of winning against us, allows their fanbase to feel a sense of joy they are otherwise denied playing empty-stadium matches in places like Richmond or Hartford. It’s absolutely fucking unacceptable to lose this game from that standpoint. But in terms of what this game says about this FCC team? Eh. Who cares. As we said on twitter, wake us when the starters are getting minutes and we still look bad.
Which is going to be never. Good vibes only right now.
BUILDING BRIDGES WITH NASH
Shifting gears from an actual rivalry to an invented one, the internet exploded earlier this week with a sudden surge of interest in picking a “Derby Name” for the forthcoming FC Cincinnati – Nashville SC tilt that will serve as the kickoff to The FC’s 2021 campaign. A couple dozen heinously bad suggestions later (my favorite being “The Battle of Greater Appalachia” – which sounds like some barroom trivia bullshit about some useless Civil War “battle” that was fought 150 years after the South surrendered because word never got to some fucking holler in Kentucky and their local militia randomly attacked a fucking mailman in the name of the Confederacy), accusations started flying of “gatekeeping” behavior by the SGs. All of this, presumably, because people had the gall to suggest pumping the brakes on picking a name for this game.
Setting aside the idea of who gets to pick what name (but, on that note, can we at least agree that if you’re gonna create a name that has the initials BOGA, at least find a way to make BOFA to set up some quality internet humor with clueless sports writers – not Andrew Wiebe though), we’re clearly skipping over a crucial step in this process – asking “Is this game actually a fucking rivalry?”
Permit me to answer my own question: Fuck No.
Usually in a sports rivalry, there’s some reason at the base level for two cities / teams / fanbases / schools to dislike one another. It could be two major metropolitan areas (Boston & New York) with two storied baseball clubs who have played games for over a century with both sides developing a mutual dislike for another. It could be two NFL clubs like Washington & Dallas, arguing over whether it’s worse to have an overtly racist mascot or a mascot that symbolizes an idealized, yet super racist, time in American history. Or it could be two colleges like Iowa and Iowa State, where I assume the dislike comes from a disagreement on how many ears of corn it’s proper to stick up your own asshole before church on a Sunday. Here in Cincinnati, we have an authentic and real rivalry with the Columbus Crew. This rivalry between Columbus and Cincinnati predates soccer and has threads throughout the history of the two cities. It includes the simmering dislike between Bearcats fans and Ohio State fans, the political favoritism shown by Columbus to itself at the expense of places like Cincinnati, and a whole host of other things that made hating the soccer team super fucking easy (anyone remember “We think Cincinnati is a great market for the Crew?” Fuck off).
Nashville, though? Where’s the mutual hatred here. Don’t get me wrong, Nashville as a city fucking sucks. It’s a place where people go for a Bachelor / Bachelorette party when they’ve got one dickhead in the wedding party who is too cheap to pay for a flight to Vegas. The music scene consists entirely of people who couldn’t get to the televised audition stage of “American Idol” all cranking out shitty country covers in the bars (true story: I was at a bar in Nashville where a group of drunks shouted “PLAY COPPERHEAD ROAD” at some D- cover band for 2 straight hours, only to pool their money at the end of the night, producing close to $350, to bribe the band to play an absolutely awful fucking rendition of it at last call) as people get drunk on well booze and bud light. It’s famous for exactly two fucking things and two things only: being a place where it’s impossible to find breakfast for under $30 and endlessly overpromising / underdelivering on how hot their stupid fucking chicken is. It’s the only city I’ve ever been to where the strip clubs have metal folding chairs and where you’re guaranteed, at some point in the night, to see two women in a fistfight in any bar you go to. But the emotions I feel about Nashville are apathy and disgust, not “hatred.”
So why is this a “rivalry” so fierce that it demands a name be given to it before a single game is played? Is it simply because of geographic proximity? Spoiler alert: Depending on where in the Cincinnati area you live, Chicago might actually be closer to you than Nashville. Or are we still mad that Nashville jumped us in the MLS Expansion Queue? We shouldn’t be, because that’s fucking dumb – and, as it turns out, maybe we’d have been better off letting Nashville go first for everything. Then they could have entered MLS first and gotten their skulls fucked in while we took our time, hired a GM, avoided signing Fanendo Adi, etc. The only compelling reason for there to be a rivalry between Nashville SC and FC Cincinnati is because their 10-15 fans online are kind of fucking annoying and do dipshit stuff like printing a tifo at Kinkos depicting a grown man’s ass and selling out to payday lenders in order to finance their SGs. That’s it, though – it’s just their fucking fans. And, by making this a rivalry, you’re acknowledging that you hate the Denzell’s of the world so goddamn much that you’re willing to play their stupid “notice me senpai” game like a fucking dweeb. They don’t deserve that kind of attention or satisfaction.
Besides, deep down, you know that weird shit is gonna happen that results in the aforementioned Louisville City getting in to fucking MLS, and it would be a shame if we were already shacked up with our redneck buddies down south when Lucy became available.
DAD, IT’S SCARF WEEK…
I posed the question on twitter, but is there any better week in the FC Cincinnati “offseason” (other than irregularly scheduled player signing day) than Scarf Week? It’s a legitimately stupid fucking tradition that we’ve so thoroughly Americanized that I’m surprised each order doesn’t come with a side of onion rings. The “football scarf” literally existed just to show your team colors while keeping your neck warm at a winter sport; here in Cincinnati, it’s a “we’re all friends and not competing (but we’re totally competing)” quasi-fashion week where half the offerings aren’t actually even fucking scarves.
You should definitely appreciate it, though – because when you look around the rest of the league at what passes for supporters’ scarves, a lot of them are just heinously bad (though, special shout to when RSL came to town and their away crew were all rocking Polygamy Themed gear). On the other hand, in Cincinnati, if you want to go to the game draped in a 99 cent ramen packet themed scarf featuring a cartoon lion and a bowl of noodles shaped like Nippert Stadium, we’ve got you covered. Like many aspects of fan culture surrounding The FC, we really don’t have a volume dial that goes lower than 8 or 9. In this case, it makes things a little more ridiculous, and that’s a great fucking thing.
THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE CINCINNATI BEARCATS MENS BASKETBALL TEAM
It’s called “This is Where I Leave You.”
Alright, that’s all for this week from our corner of the Interwebs. Acosta forever. Adi never. Buy a scarf and show your commitment to the cause. Otherwise, see you motherfuckers in the thunderdome.