What is this?

It’s a newsletter about a sport no one really knows that much about. Here’s a GIF of Johan Cruyff doing a Cruyff turn:

If you had to pick a single forefather of modern soccer, it would be the wiry, floppy-haired guy in the orange, playing for the Oranje. As a player, Cruyff led the way for the Dutch and Ajax teams that defined the 1970s. As a manager, Cruyff laid the groundwork for the club, Barcelona, which has defined the 21st century.

When you watch a game, your eye follows the ball; of course it does. But you’re missing almost all of the action. “When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball 3 minutes on average,” Cruyff said. “So, the most important thing is: what do you do during those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball.”

I don’t have enough eyes or brains or computer know-how to watch all 22 players in every match, but think of this as an ongoing effort — using numbers, reporting, thinking from other sports — to get our arms around a game with an almost-incomprehensible scope.

Who are you?

I’m a writer and an editor (and a former Division One soccer player). That final descriptor is so far in the past and its subject so washed that the specific fact can no longer live outside the confines of parentheses. Anyway, I’ve spent the past two-and-a-half years working as a senior editor at The Ringer, where I doubled as the site’s soccer columnist and co-host of a podcast called “Ringer FC.” I also wore an ugly scarf and “a statement jacket” and predicted that Germany, who won the 2014 World Cup, would not make it out of their group at the 2018 World Cup:

Unfortunately, only one of these things is true: 1) Germany did not get out of their group, 2) I placed a bet on that prediction, single-handedly destroyed the global gambling industry, and re-distributed all of my winnings in the form of a planet-wide Universal Basic Income.

If you’re familiar with my work and have enjoyed it, hi! If you’re familiar with my work and have hated it, I love you. And if you’ve never heard of me before, here’s a collection of some of my favorite stuff.

Who is this for?

Anyone who’s remotely curious about what’s happening in the soccer world -- my mom, the disgruntled New York Jets fan looking to add another crushing disappointment to his/her life (*looks in mirror*), the devoted gossip-monger who wants to know who all of these people taking photos with Julia Roberts are, the person with a subscription to Arsenal Fan TV, or the person who actually works for Arsenal.

How often will it come out?

All subscribers get the weekly Tuesday newsletter. As of March 1, all paid subscribers also get the big Friday newsletter (think “everything you need to know about soccer” this week), plus additional content, like mailbags, immediate reactions to games, player profiles, interviews, maybe some archival cardigan research, possibly some audio content!

So, if any of that sounds remotely intriguing, give it a shot and subscribe. Tell your family members! Tell a stranger! Tell your friends! Tell your enemies!

Whoever you are: Thanks, as always, for reading.

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Demystifying soccer -- one shot, and one sweater, at a time.