Looking for a good read over the weekend? Consider some of the following soccer books to add to your library! The following book reviews come from past Soccer Journal issues. Thank you to Dr. Paul Nesselroade of Asbury University and Tim Schum for these reviews. Both are members of the Soccer Journal Editorial Board.
I Believe That We Will Win: The Path to a US Men’s World Cup Victory
Phil West, 2018
Phil West’s 2018 release is a medical “check-up” on the state of the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team (USMNT) after the bitter disappointment experienced last November. Just like any physical examination, it involved a thorough history, current assessment of health, and a bit of advice regarding future activities. While some may be inclined to label any recently published book about the USMNT a postmortem, West decidedly does not call in the coroner. However, neither does he issue a clean bill of health (despite what a face-value reading of the title might indicate). Instead, the reader is engaged in a reasonably objective and distinctly systematic “state-of-the-patient” analysis.
The history, depending upon the reader’s interest, might be too detailed for those with merely a casual interest in past events. Additionally, the usual systematic analysis is periodically punctuated with extended anecdotes from interviews and other exchanges with relevant personalities and performers. While these sidebars may be welcomed by some and merely tolerated by others, there is little doubt that USMNT followers will benefit greatly from this accessible and well-organized offering.
Bring the Noise: The Jürgen Klopp Story
Raphael Honigstein, 2018
Bring the Noise is an aptly named biography that chronicles the ups, downs, and ultimately undeniable ascension of Jürgen Klopp into the upper echelon of European club coaching. In crafting his account, Honigstein draws on numerous primary sources dating back to Jürgen’s childhood and early playing days, right up to his current appointment as Liverpool Football Club’s (LFC) manager, to paint a realistic and surprisingly detailed picture of the man as a player, coach, pundit, and person. Using a nonlinear storyline, Klopp’s enthusiastic, gregarious, sometimes moody and reactionary, but unquestionably charming psyche is pried open and authentically exposed for readers to see as numerous public as well as behindthe-scenes personal conversations—oftentimes raw and unfiltered—are recounted and analyzed. Readers who are primarily interested in Klopp’s life as LFC manager may be a bit disappointed as only a couple of chapters chronicle this most recent post in his coaching career. Nevertheless, if one is curious to know why “Klopp, Klopp is King of the Kop,” this book will go a long way toward explaining Kloppomania.
Black Pioneers of the North American Soccer League (1968-84)
Patrick Horne, 2019
Patrick Horne has assembled an encyclopedia devoted to an often-forgot segment of the North American Soccer League (NASL), the Black pioneers. The book is organized into a series of unnumbered chapters based on the geographical origin of the featured players and personalities. The chapters are periodically interspersed with special sections such as tributes and topical essays, which add to the larger context the book strives to reflect. The presentation style for each entry includes typical statistical information (teams, years, games, goals, assists) followed by a short essay (ranging from a brief paragraph to a few pages) reflecting some of the player’s more notable accomplishments, and is oftentimes supplemented with additional information reflecting personal interactions between the author and the featured athlete. Potential readers should not expect to find a storyline or narrative style, but rather a collection of entries documenting the role of Black players and others, like coaches and organizers (related to the inclusion of Black athletes) in the NASL. This work is significant (over 200 pages), extensive (over 50 names) and will serve as an important resource for anyone interested in the history and development of the North American game.
The History of Men’s Soccer at Colorado College: 1950-2015
Horst Fuchs Richardson & Helen Richardson, 2018
Want to discover what holistic soccer coaching is all about? Then perhaps the purchase of The History of Men’s Soccer at Colorado College: 1950-2015 might be in order.
Its 330 pages brim with the recollections of the 65-year Colorado College (CC) coach Horst Richardson and his wife Helen. Those memories are embellished and enhanced by the experiences of a host of former Tiger players. Organized chronologically, the book recounts seasonal highlights through both the eyes of the coach and his staff, the players and others who found themselves invested in the CC men’s program.
Some of the anecdotes are humorous, as when a couple of players pulled down Horst’s shorts while he addressed the team (he didn’t flinch but simply finished his talk and calmly pulled them up!). Some are poignant, as is the recounting of a favorite player’s later death on the day he was inducted into the Colorado College Athletic Hall of Fame.
Its Rocky Mountain location was instrumental in the development of unique relationships between the coach and his players, for, over time, unaffiliated CC teams were forced to travel hundreds of miles each season to find Division III competition. Whether in Horst’s VW bus, their own vehicles, or later on various modes of transportation, the squads’ relationships and memories were strengthened on such long trips. Not only did the usual seasonal journeys enhance the CC soccer experience but on several occasions the coach arranged team excursions to Europe, the Far East (China and Japan) as well as to Central and South America (Costa Rica and Brazil). In each instance the players’ on-field experiences were matched with itineraries that had extensive educational outcomes as well.
Also enduring is the long-term relationships that were established by the Richardson family with the players themselves. As an offshoot of that bonding, the coach was able to enlist support and helped establish a foundation that annually supplements the CC soccer team budget. Perhaps the book’s legacy to the soccer coaching community is how demanding coaching can be in terms of all that is entailed in the development of a soccer program. The resilience, perseverance, commitment and creativity of Horst Richardson, as recounted in this retrospective, contain lessons far beyond the normal coaching X’s and O’s.
Published in 2018, this book can be ordered online at www.horstandhelenbooks.com. All proceeds of the book sales accrue to the Boddington/ Richardson Endowment for Men’s Soccer at Colorado College.
Memoirs of a Soccer Vagabond
Ronald Maierhofer, 2018
Ronald Maierhofer’s book offers an opportunity to join him as he recounts his extensive journey through just about every aspect of the American amateur and professional soccer scene of the last 70 years. Readers will chronologically follow Maierhofer’s bobbing and weaving trail through his playing days (on clubs, collegiate teams, the US Men’s National Team, as well as several adult leagues) as well as his various coaching, administrating and even ownership experiences (Denver Avalanche of the MISL). This autobiographical work is far from a polished presentation; rather, it is an honest first-person description giving the reader an insider’s look at how our sport has developed over the years. Along the way, Maierhofer’s path intersects with several identifiable personalities—including Bruce Arena, Dave Sarachan, Kyle Rote Jr. and even the great Pelé. It is an interesting read for anyone wishing to walk a soccer mile in someone else’s cleats.