Interviews with smart soccer people


Howler editor George Quraishi interviews soccer journalists, managers, players, and activists. Dummy is about everything except what happened on the field last week: the business, politics, history, personalities, and social issues that touch the world’s favorite game.

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DEcember 08, 2017


Last week, George went down to the Nike Friendlies outside of Bradenton to watch the U-17 U.S. boys lose to the Netherlands by a score of five to one. More successful was the trio of interviews he conducted with people who run various aspects of the USSF’s scouting and development operation. If you want to better understand the current landscape of how our country goes about turning 12 year-old-boys into players for the senior national team, today’s episode is a great place to start. Guests are Aloys Wijnker (director of boys development academy), Tony Lepore (director of talent identification), and Nico Romeijn (director of coaching education).

DEcember 01, 2017


Last week, an uproar by gamers over the new Star Wars video game may have reduced EA Sports’s stock value by $3 billion. The crux of the issue was that in order to unlock certain aspects of the game—characters like Darth Vader, for instance—players would have to spend weeks playing the game or pay thousands of dollars in microtransactions. But microtransactions, also known as “loot boxes,” have been a feature of EA’s FIFA franchise for years, and is credited with boosting the company’s profits by hundreds of millions of dollars. George discusses all of this with Jamin Warren, founder of the excellent video game arts and culture company Kill Screen.

November 22, 2017


Ken Bensinger of Buzzfeed spent last week in a Brooklyn courtroom observing an absolutely BANANAS case against three senior South American soccer executives who are at the center of the huge FIFA trial. There were tears on the stand. Not one but two death threats IN THE COURTROOM. A suicide in Argentina hours after a huge revelation. And a murder that may be linked to testimony. George and Ken also discuss the possibility that Nike and Fox Sports could become involved as the trial continues.

November 16, 2017


The US men’s national team drew 1–1 with Portugal on Tuesday in the first of many meaningless friendlies in the team’s near future. George and Travis Clark of Top Drawer Soccer discuss some of the young players who are getting their first chances with the national team, including McKennie, Tyler Adams, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Ethan Horvath, Josh Sargent, and (maybe) Jonathan Gonzalez.

November 09, 2017


George speaks with three candidates for U.S. Soccer president—Paul Lapointe, Steve Gans, and Kyle Martino—and dives deep on the answers they supplied to a 13-item questionnaire that we asked all candidates to complete. (We recommend you check that out before listening, but you’ll definitely be able to follow along without doing so.)

november 01, 2017

UCLA law professor Steven Bank is back to discuss today’s hearing in a Brooklyn courtroom as the NASL seeks an injunction against the U.S. Soccer Federation’s decision to re-classify the league as division three. We learned some new things, including details about Soccer United Marketing’s relationship with both MLS and the USSF as well as where the judge might be leaning in this case.

October 27, 2017


Qatar recently announced that it will begin to reform the Kafala labor system that keeps migrant workers essentially powerless in the face of abuse. James Dorsey joins the pod to discuss what this means, why it came about, and the role of geopolitics and the World Cup in sparking this change.

October 20, 2017


Today, two very emotional interviews about the prospect (possibility? probability?) that Anthony Precourt, owner of the Columbus Crew since 2013, will move the team to Austin, Texas. First, George speaks with lifelong Crew supporter Morgan Hughes. Then he discusses the possible relocation with Josh Jackson, a member of MLS to Austin.

october 12, 2017


Howler editor George Quraishi is joined by Bobby Warshaw and Cole Grossman (former player for Real Salt Lake and Stabaek) to work through the USMNT’s loss to Trinidad and failure to make the World Cup. They discuss the short- and long-term failings of the US Soccer Federation and how they could be fixed. There is some foul language in this episode.

OCTOBER 5, 2017


Clarence Goodson was a center back for the U.S. men’s national team during two World Cup qualifying cycles. He joins to discuss his compatriots trying to make it to Russia, his career, his work with the MLS players union and why he built a 5-aside soccer court at his old elementary school.



The U.S. Soccer Federation recently demoted the North American Soccer League from division two to division three status, and now the NASL is suing the USSF not only over this designation but over the governing body’s right to designate pro leagues at all. UCLA law professor Steven Bank joins to discuss the suit.

September 22, 2017
How did a Columbia econ professor become the most powerful American in world soccer? Noah Davis discusses his profile of Sunil Gulati from the new issue of Howler. Then, La Familia is possibly the most hateful and violent ultras group in the world. They have been known to attack fans and even members of their own club, Beitar Jerusalem, and they are proud to call their team Israel’s “most racist.” And in July of last year, 64 members were arrested in a massive sting operation by Israeli police. Sam Patters joins to discuss his feature on La Familia.

SEPTEMBER 14, 2017
When Martin Jacobson became the coach of soccer team at Martin Luther King Jr. High in Manhattan just over 20 years ago, the program was a disaster. So how has he won 15 city-wide championships in that time? Actually, that’s the least interesting question you can put to the recovered heroin addict, Hepatitis C survivor, and man who has taken in transformed the lives of hundreds of kids from the U.S., Africa, the Caribbean, and South America. It’s really a remarkable story—and it’s subject of a new documentary film that will be premiering at a festival in New York. More information.

September 01, 2017
First up, Mapate Diop discusses his article on Red Bull, PSG, MLS and the phenomenon of soccer as branded content, a simultaneously simple and profound way of viewing modern soccer. Then, Michael Krumholtz on Costa Rica and Vancouver Whitecaps winger Christian Bolaños, who at 33 has enjoyed a late-career resurgence. Costa Rica plays the US tonight in an important World Cup qualifier.

August 25, 2017


Four 10-minute interviews on four stories from whatahowler.com this week:

1. How Target’s switch from NASCAR to soccer sponsorships could help transform the American game (with Amadi Thiam)

2. Why ultras from Bayern Munich and many other Bundesliga clubs have declared “war” on the German football federation (with Travis Timmons)

3. Chelsea and England striker Eni Aluko claims she has been blackballed from international soccer after complaining about treatment by the Three Lions coaching staff (with James Bridget Gordon)

4. Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup may lead to increased scrutiny of the country’s decades-long occupation of Western Sahara (with Aubrey Bloomfield)

August 18, 2017


On Tuesday, Top Drawer Soccer staff writer and Howler contributor announced that he’s leaving the industry altogether. So George called him up to talk about why he got into sportswriting, the forces that are shaping the industry, and why the lack of investment by major outlets is bad for all soccer fans.

August 11, 2017


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.

july 20, 2017

George Best was one of the game’s greatest players and also one of its most confounding. He had 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.

JUNE 28, 2017

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.

JUNE 16, 2017

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.

June 9, 2017

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.