The African Cup of Nations is one of my favorite international soccer tournaments, and this story on Just-Football.com hits on all the reasons why.
AFCON might not be the most technically sound, skilled or well-run tournament in the world, but it never fails to entertain.
More than any other continental showpiece, it routinely comes up with the type of human stories that can blow you away. See: Zambia in 2012. And read the story linked above on Ivory Coast goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, for years a scapegoat as CIV always tripped itself up at the last hurdle and, on Sunday, an unlikely, championship-winning hero.
- Sid Lowe is at it again, first capturing the disorienting agelessness of Cristiano Ronaldo at 30 for ESPNFC then wrapping up a remarkable Madrid derby for the Guardian.
- Prost Amerika has put together a three-part series with the Sounders’ new general manager and president of soccer. All three sections — here are parts one, two and three — are worth your time.
- A rule of thumb: Any time Brian Phillips writes on soccer, it’s likely to reappear in this space. His Grantland story on Steven Gerrard isn’t his longest work but touches on the place of local heroes in an increasingly globalized sports landscape.
- More from the AFCON, as Nick Ames was at the Equatorial Guinea-Ghana semifinal for the Guardian for the tournament’s ugliest scenes.
- Brian Straus catches Jurgen Klinsmann and the USMNT at the crossroads for Sports Illustrated.
- Also for SI, Grant Wahl wades into the murky world of FIFA politics and breaks down the implications for U.S. Soccer’s supporter for Sepp Blatter challenger Prince Ali Bin Al Hussein.