Nathan Nipper

Dallas Texas

nipper.nathan@yahoo.com

Nathan Nipper grew up primarily in Arkansas and Dakar, Senegal.  He graduated from Ouachita Baptist University in 1999 with majors in history and communication and Regent University in 2002 with a master’s degree in communication.  He spent several years working as a television writer until 2010 when he began coaching soccer and teaching American history.  His varsity boys high school soccer team won back-to-back Texas private school state championships in 2013 and 2014.  In addition to his blog Total Football Cafe, he is a frequent contributor to World Soccer Talk.  He lives near Dallas – 4,754 miles from Stamford Bridge and 32 miles from Toyota Stadium – with his wife, daughter, and two sons.

Filtering by Tag: Don Garber

Total Football Café: International Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo Edition

Well, it’s been way too long since my last post.  The busyness of fall is creeping up on me, thus crowding out things that don’t pay the bills, fun things like this blog.  Funny how that works.  Anyways, I’m about to enter soccer coaching season so the blog cupboard of the Total Football Café may look increasingly bare in the coming weeks, but I’ll do my best to slap some posts together as often as possible.  I hope the semi-bare nature of the cupboard doesn’t drive you away altogether.

In the spirit of slapping posts together, herein are some thoughts on several topics that have kept the American soccer world buzzing during yet another international break.  By the way, I can’t remember international breaks being so close together.  I know time flies when you’re having fun, but didn’t we just have an international break? 

If we have to have international breaks, we might as well take the opportunity to brush up on world geography.

If we have to have international breaks, we might as well take the opportunity to brush up on world geography.

Recently the debate resurfaced about whether the EPL should play some regular season matches in the U.S. (in future seasons).  I don’t like this idea.  I like the simplicity of each EPL team playing every team in the league twice, one at home, one away.  In fact I look forward to the MLS being able to switch over to a similarly streamlined system.  A “39th game” played in the U.S. as part of the EPL fixture list would be a superfluous money-grab.  I really don’t like the idea, yet if they ever decide to do it, I’ll be one of the first hypocrites in line to buy a ticket.  As for a UEFA Champions League Final played in the U.S. someday, bring it on!

Thanks to their enthusiastic new owner Anthony Precourt, the Columbus Crew finally ditched their puzzling, quasi-Gap ad logo with the three hard-hat dudes for a new, more traditionally soccer-ish crest.  The change is long overdue, but a good one nonetheless.  For all the fanfare surrounding its launch, the new crest is, well, it’s a crest.  Very tasteful, and light years ahead of the hard-hat trio, but like most MLS club crests it’s ultimately rather bland.  But hey, the important thing here is enthusiastic ownership and renewed vigor for one of the league’s inaugural teams.

According to this helpful diagram of the new Crew crest, the outer rim is a "circle".  #themoreyouknow

According to this helpful diagram of the new Crew crest, the outer rim is a "circle".  #themoreyouknow

Like most U.S. soccer fans, I’m sad to see Landon Donovan retire.  He has been simply the best.  Yes, there may always be some “what ifs” related to his career – I really enjoyed watching him during his brief stints at Everton, for example, and would’ve liked to see him play some full seasons in the EPL – but I also really admire him for sticking it out in MLS.  It’s easy to forget that he was grinding it out for several seasons during the league’s pre-Beckham glitz era, when the stadiums were a lot emptier and the perks sparser.  So for all he did for the U.S. National Team, he’ll also be remembered as a pivotal star for MLS in establishing and growing the league.

I’m also sad to see Donovan retire because it seems too early.  When I saw him play in-person in the 2013 Gold Cup semifinal against Honduras, Donovan looked better than ever.  His was a commanding performance, with two goals and masterful passing in the U.S.’ 3-1 victory.  At that point I never imagined he wouldn’t be included on the U.S.’ 2014 World Cup roster, nor that he would retire from soccer just over a year later.  I still believe he could’ve been a difference-maker at the 2014 World Cup.  Imagine him coming on as a sub against Belgium in the final half hour.

Landon Donovan kicking tail and taking names in the 2013 Gold Cup semifinal.  It was awesome.

Landon Donovan kicking tail and taking names in the 2013 Gold Cup semifinal.  It was awesome.

During all of the farewell Donovan coverage leading to his final U.S. match against Ecuador, there were rumblings of Donovan writing an autobiography.  This is a fantastic idea and I hope it materializes.  If Donovan requires co-authoring, he should definitely consider J.R. Moehringer who co-wrote Open, Andre Agassi’s superb autobiography.  I can see Donovan’s frankness resulting in a similarly fascinating book.

Unfortunately, team USA looked pretty flat with Donovan (1-1 draw vs. Ecuador) and without him (1-1 draw last Tuesday vs. Honduras).  Between the friendlies, Jurgen Klinsmann renewed his rhetoric regarding his preference that U.S. National Team players challenge themselves in Europe’s elite leagues if possible.  He seems particularly disappointed about Clint Dempsey’s and Michael Bradley’s decision to return to MLS rather than tarry on the bench for their former European clubs.  Klinsmann’s been saying this for a while now, never mind the fact that he selected many MLS players for the World Cup squad over Americans playing in Europe.  I get why Klinsmann says these things and I like the way he continues challenging the status quo in U.S. soccer overall.  MLS commissioner Don Garber on the other hand is apparently fed up with Klinsmann’s opinion on the matter.  As he explained during a rather unusual mid-week conference call with reporters, Garber takes Klinsmann’s comments as slams against MLS.  I also understand Garber’s point of view and don’t blame him for trying to defend the league.  Overall, the Klinsmann/Garber tussle is positive for American soccer.  They’re both right.

It’s unlikely I’ll forget last week’s Klinsmann/Garber war of words anytime soon because I actually received a handwritten note from Garber on Friday thanking me for sending him a copy of my book!  It was a very classy gesture of him and I sincerely appreciate his taking the time to write.

Can Fabian Castillo lead FC Dallas to MLS Cup glory?  Yes, yes he can.

Can Fabian Castillo lead FC Dallas to MLS Cup glory?  Yes, yes he can.

FC Dallas has clinched their first MLS playoff appearance since 2011.  They booked their playoff spot with a 2-1 win over Landon Donovan and his LA Galaxy.  The winning goal by Fabian Castillo in the 87th minute was thrilling and on a very short list of the best FC Dallas moments I’ve ever experienced at Toyota Stadium.  Now that FCD’s in the playoffs, anything can happen.  Seattle and LA have the most points in the league, but neither will want to face Dallas in the postseason.  It should be a blast!

Total Football Café: Weak Blatter Edition

So this past Monday we learned FIFA Dictator, er, President, Sepp Blatter plans to run for a fifth term as FIFA prez, to which the entire soccer world exhaled an enormous sigh of joyous relief that we won’t have to endure a brand new president and with him/her the potential prevailing of common sense or the rooting out of corruption.  “My mission is not finished,” says Blatter, to which we can only assume he means sucking up every last crumb from every last Cindy Lou Who in every last vulnerable Whoville country left on the planet.  As long as there are countries left to fleece, he’ll be there to see the mission accomplished.

"My mission is not finished," says Sepp Blatter.

"My mission is not finished," says Sepp Blatter.

On Friday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said he would like MLS to be the world’s first league to test a video replay system for reviewing referee decisions during matches.  The system would likely entail coaches being able to challenge one or two calls per half.  MLS is the perfect league to test such a system – which has been way too long coming – because Americans love to see correct calls made, plus, MLS refs need all the help they can get (just ask DC United head coach Ben Olsen).

Every time this video replay debate arises in soccer circles, I’m always amazed how many pundits groan that the review process would take too long, ruin the flow of the match, etc., etc.  They also say it would be impossible to draw the line as far as which decisions to review.  I don’t understand this at all.  You simply review the decisions that have the biggest impact on a match’s outcome.  That means, red cards, PKs, maybe the occasional offside call.  I would like to see mandatory review of all decisions that occur in the box, but a coach’s challenge system would likely be sufficient.

MLS Commish Don Garber, smiling at the prospect of MLS showing the world that video replay can indeed work.

MLS Commish Don Garber, smiling at the prospect of MLS showing the world that video replay can indeed work.

Whenever someone objects to video replay in soccer, I simply point them to Thierry Henry’s “Hand of Gaul” assist on the extra time goal that sent France to World Cup 2010 instead of Ireland.  Ridiculous.  It is almost the year 2015 people, the time has come for video replay in world soccer.

Thierry Henry:  still the most popular player in Ireland.

Thierry Henry:  still the most popular player in Ireland.

Saturday was a good soccer day with news that Brek Shea had an assist in his loan debut for Birmingham City, Diego Costa continued burning up the EPL with his hat trick in Chelsea’s defeat of Swansea, and Blas Perez scored two in FC Dallas’ defeat of Vancouver.  I was at the FCD/Vancouver game last night – the atmosphere was terrific, with unusually mild fall-like temperatures and a hint of MLS playoffs in the air.  I was also excited to see Mauro Diaz get a longer run out in the second half.  His ball control and distribution are terrific and he could be a huge difference maker for FCD in the playoffs.

If you’ve thought about checking out my book Dallas ‘Til I Cry:  Learning to Love Major League Soccer but haven’t quite taken the plunge yet, all obstacles are being removed as the Kindle version is 50% off this week.  Hope you’ll check it out and recommend it to your soccer buddies!