99 Friendship Episode 58

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · October 17th, 2017 · No comments

5 + 8 = 13! So episode 58 of 99 Friendship is very nearly a perfect tribute to the once and future NWSL champion captain, the immortal number 12, Christine Sinclair. It would have been better for everybody if the Portland Thorns won the NWSL championship last week, but that league doesn’t play by our rules or, indeed, the rules of any generally-recognized organizing body.

We recorded this on Saturday afternoon, after the NWSL final but before the party at Portland’s stadium, which among many other things featured Thorns fans and players chanting in honour of the Alex Morgan trade. We probably would have done a whole episode just on that. So it’s probably just as well we missed it, since actually many things happened this week!

On this week’s show:

  • Let’s face it, the main thing that happened was the NWSL championship. It featured an indisputably ugly trophy and what some people are calling an ugly game that I enjoyed very much. Agricultural soccer is sort of my thing, and there’s a wider soccer-political point that I probably could have got a thousand-word blog post out of but instead spend 15 seconds of podcast time on. But we discuss lots of things, and Carolyn (a true red Thorns fan) is very, very happy.

  • On the Foreign Desk, we bring bad news from Erin McLeod in Sweden, good news from Sophie Schmidt and Shannon Woeller in Germany, and questionable news from Jaclyn Sawicki in Japan.

  • On the College Desk, we bring Jessie Fleming highlights and a couple of lists. The Foreign Desk is undoubtedly better than the College Desk.

  • Swiss Olympic Women’s Curling Trials happened. And then, unreasonably quickly, they concluded. We take some time to boggle at this.

  • What I’m afraid Carolyn and I insist on continuing to call The Sexy Man Curling Calendar has just been released for 2018. I am very excited because St. Albert native Marc Kennedy takes the honoured position of Sexiest Man, which is only correct. You’d expect Carolyn to be excited because there are will be many shirtless studs, but alas, this year’s selection is decidedly… mixed. And not in the way that would have been exciting.

    The bright side is that, even if you aren’t sold on the sexiness, most of them are raising money for great charitable causes. And two of them are raising money to change the lightbulbs in their home curling rink. And you’ll never guess which two.

  • On a meta note, I also made, and cut, probably the two dirtiest jokes I have ever committed to a podcast recording. One was quite near the beginning and the other quite near the end. Let’s see if you can spot the lacunae!

99 Friendship Episode 57

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · October 12th, 2017 · No comments

Ben is both still sick and still harried, so once again you get a late podcast overtaken by events, accompanied by a totally mailed-in post summarizing all the action! At least the NWSL final hasn’t happened yet, and at least we’re still super witty and entertaining, so sit down and enjoy!

On this week’s stunning episode:

  • The NWSL semifinals took place last weekend and we spend the first half of the show breaking them down. And by “them,” I mean the Portland Thorns – Orlando Pride game. We are both feeling thorny, Carolyn because she is an actual legitimate Portland Thorns fan, and me because Portland is the only team left with a Canadian who actually plays. Said Canadian, a precocious young prospect by the name of Christine Sinclair, scored a goal having been left as pretty much the only person in her half of the stadium for a while. She also should have had another one earlier, way before garbage time, but she was incorrectly ruled out offside. So ha!

  • Sabrina D’Angelo’s North Carolina Courage also won, but they don’t play Sabrina D’Angelo anymore so does anybody actually care?

  • UCLA, with Jessie Fleming and occasionally now Kennedy Faulknor, failed to beat the Wildcats.

  • In curling news, uh, our analysis was made slightly obsolete by the fact that the bonspiels we’re talking about hadn’t ended when we recorded this. I drop a trademark Awkward Opening Line about Rachel Homan and you get to wait fifteen minutes for me to explain what it means, and then the actual explanation itself takes five more minutes. But Rachel won her tournament, so our uncomfortably non-ironic Rachel Homan fandom is intensifying. Having assured you that John Morris is going to win his title event, the DIRECT HORIZONTAL DRILLING FALL CLASSIC, the actual winner of the Golden Eggplant was Rui Liu, who I brushed past without comment, in a final against Kevin Koe, who I absolutely promised you was going to lose his quarter-final so he didn’t have to work Monday. But Brad Gushue won in Toronto so that’s okay then.

  • Also, Thomas Ulsrud’s curling pants.

99 Friendship Episode 56

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · October 4th, 2017 · No comments

Ben is feeling unwell so he hopes you will forgive an even-more-perfunctory than usual summary post for the latest episode of 99 Friendship.

This week!

  • We discuss all the continents in women’s soccer. Yes, all the continents. Yes, all the continents.
  • Apparently Canadians don’t play abroad much anymore, but we catch you up on what there is to catch you up on. Sophie Schmidt faced Amy Pietrangelo and Shannon Woeller in the Canadian German Derby on recording day, and we couldn’t watch it, but we do tell you about it!
  • Jaclyn Sawicki might not get relegated!
  • There are other types of drama!
  • Words pass our lips related to curling.

99 Friendship Episode 55

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · September 29th, 2017 · No comments

Yes it’s, um, Friday, and you know what that means: a brand new episode of 99 Friendship!

Sorry for the long delay. Last week I was inna woods and obviously unable to record. But this past week we recorded on time and I’ve been plain too busy to edit. As a result, your half-hour of Carolyn and Ben delight was unconscionably delayed. But episode 55 has arrived at last, just in time for Carolyn and I to get together and record episode 56.

On this week’s fast-obsolete show, we have a potpourri of potent sporting potables. Yes, it was a stretch where nothing much happened, the NWSL was on international break and then it was boring, but we get to catch up on some wider topics. The University of Nevada women’s soccer team was hilarious. FIFA’s announcement of THE BEST’s finalists was even more hilarious than that. One of the candidates for president of the United States Soccer Federation has some ideas that others consider hilarious but I am a little non-ironically into. Sarah Stratigakis scored a goal on which the defending was hilarious. And we shoot the breeze about Olympic curling, of course, which has the potential to not be hilarious at all.

Follow 99 Friendship on Twitter!

By the way, you should now be able to find 99 Friendship on the iTunes Podcasts list! iTunes fixed the issue which prevented me from adding the podcast previously, and in adding it I incidentally figured out why 99 Friendship culturally appropriated the Two Fat Bastards feeds when I consciously tried to make it not do that. Unfortunately I don’t think that’s something I can easily go back and fix…

Anyway, in addition to iTunes, 99 Friendship should be found in many fine podcast aggregators. I use CastBox for Android, and it looks lovely over there.

99 Friendship Episode 54

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · September 13th, 2017 · No comments

On this week’s 99 Friendship:

  • Holy macaroni, that ancient Twitter header that we only just stopped using on our Twitter account is finally relevant! Not only did Jaclyn Sawicki (right) score last week but she made her first Japanese first division start this past weekend, while Amy Pietrangelo (left) is not only starting but scoring in the Frauen-Bundesliga! It’s a great time to be a Canadian soccer fan.
  • But we don’t start talking about that of course, we start by talking about sexy curlers.
  • Elsewhere, in less inspiring corners of the Canadian women’s soccer world, Christine Sinclair is scoring and Stephanie Labbé is taking a leave of absence for the rest of the season. We hope she does okay.
  • French woso makes me crazy. Why is the one who doesn’t really know French trying to look up French woso? Look don’t nitpick us.
  • Val Sweeting, Canada’s princess, won the season-opening event in the Sportsnet Pinty’s Fake News Bonspiel Sextet, while Chelsea Carey, Canada’s something-else, got to the final of the Sportsnet Pinty’s Fake News Second Division Bonspiel. There was man curling as well but nobody cares because Alberta didn’t do brilliantly. Kevin Koe is transparently only doing this to golf.
  • Finally, we comment more on the physical appearances of professional athletes.

Sorry about episode 54 being so late. But rest assured, episode 55 will be even later, as half of the team will be wandering around the woods in the rain feeling sorry for himself all week. Normal service will resume whenever it does.

99 Friendship Episode 53

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · September 5th, 2017 · No comments

Maybe it’s because I was trying not to fall asleep on Carolyn’s air mattress while recording this, maybe it’s because I feel weirdly unwell now and am bitter, maybe it was the lack of woso news and the broso madness and the hapless rambling I inflicted upon poor Carolyn for 20 of the 28 minutes in this episode, anyway, this is one of my least favourite 99 Friendships ever! Listen out of morbid curiousity! It’s only the second episode Carolyn and I did while actually in the same room, which proves that millennials should go outside to talk to each other less, and hang out on the Internet more!

In this week’s word-packed show:

  • Mormons are nice. Yes. Yes it’s one of those sorts of filler episodes.

  • The only actual women’s soccer news of the week comes out of Japan, where honourary-friend-of-the-show Jaclyn Sawicki finally made an extremely stylish debut with her new club!

  • We talk about some other things? Briefly?

  • There was a mixed doubles tournament in Winnipeg featuring a fabulously dodgy webstream, which should have given us plenty of delightful #content. Unfortunately the tournament was still ongoing while we recorded this because we are idiots. (Chelsea Carey and Colin Hodgson, of Alberta, won.)

  • We end the episode by looking at old Newfoundland Tankard results. Spoiler: Brad Gushue won. Also spoiler: boy the Newfoundland curling authorities sure gave Brad Gushue every chance to win they possibly could.

Hyping Handsome Bowties

By Benjamin Massey · August 31st, 2017 · No comments

Tony Lewis/FC Edmonton

In a century of international futility Canadian men’s soccer has had more cautionary tales than fairy tales. Hanson Boakai, the 20-year-old former FC Edmonton homegrown phenom, should have been the latter and is now the former.

Having become the youngest player in NASL history and dazzled most prominently against Montreal in the 2014 Voyageurs Cup, Boakai left Edmonton at the end of autumn 2015. For all his talents he had not become a regular starter, but the Eddies made an unsuccessful offer to keep him. He trained with notable European clubs, and in November of that year Duane Rollins called a move to Toronto FC “close to done.” It never got there. Despite many rumours he didn’t land for another eight months and when he did it was after a fall.

Joining Swedish third-division side Landskrona in July 2016, Boakai played less than two hours over four appearances and left in November. Since then he has been the Littlest Hobo. In January he trialed with Albanian champions Skenderbeu but no contract resulted. He trained with Lebanese club Nejmeh and got a kit number and again did not sign. Caronnese, of Italy’s Serie D, announced his signing but didn’t deign to spell his name correctly. Thanks to trouble with his residence paperwork, Boakai allegedly was close to joining CS U Craiova’s second team, which would put him in the Romanian third division. This deal has not closed; until tomorrow he’ll just keep moving on.

It’s not often you say this about a soccer player but he should have stayed in Edmonton, which while not La Liga is surely to Christ not Lebanon. Even under supposedly anti-creative coach Colin Miller, on artificial turf, before indifferent crowds, and burdened by youthful weakness, Boakai won a rep at Clarke Stadium. We clamoured for him to star on the youth teams, where he hardly played but looked good when he did. We insisted Benito Floro give him a look on the senior squad which, technically, happened, Boakai participating in a camp in October 2014. The Edmonton Journal called him a potential “Canadian Messi,” and that is still quoted abroad. After leaving FC Edmonton everyone expected Boakai to ascend the soccer pyramid. The idea that he would go down was unthinkable, yet here we are.

Never write off a kid with talent, but he has more mileage than the US Air Force. If his career winds up a success it’ll be the greatest comeback since the Resurrection. This is a player who has been viewed by dozens of coaches from a multitude of cultures on three continents, and many of them saw something, but not enough to be worth the bother.

What happened? Obviously it isn’t his natural talent that keeps him from sticking in semi-pro Scandinavia. No, I mean that: obviously it isn’t. Did you see this kid, back when he used to play? A world in which, on skill alone, Erik Hurtado prospers and Hanson Boakai can’t get a contract does not exist.

Paperwork hurts him. Boakai was born in the Republic of Guinea and his parents are Liberian. He has played official youth competitions for Canada so presumably his passport is settled, but when trying to get a work permit (not always easy for a Canadian without EU residency), bothersome bureaucratic bologna brought by small-African-village-migrant upbringings can make life even worse. Stars and big clubs can batter through such obstacles with cash and prestige; Serie D teams, and the players they attract, less so.

Then again, Boakai actually did get his contract in semi-pro Sweden, and actually did play, and actually couldn’t get much action. Reportedly, the company which sponsored Boakai’s contract at Landskrona backed out. That sounds bad. FC Edmonton, community-minded but not a soup kitchen, claimed FIFA-mandated compensation for a player they developed, invested in, made the reputation of, and lost. But that’s not unique and not that expensive. So what happened? Well it’s 2017 and this is a thinkpiece so here’s the boilerplate: it was we, the people. We did this to Hanson Boakai. We hyped him up too far. Remember that “Canadian Messi” remark? Boakai himself has referenced it with what can only be called an insufficient level of self-aware irony. What seems like it should be a personal responsibility in fact rests on all our shoulders, for making him what he is.

Of course, upon examination, the theory is ridiculous. First off, what you’d expect from a kid who has been convinced he is God’s gift to cansoc is that he is so secure in his superiority that he dogs it in training, and that is one thing I have not heard about Boakai. He has his foibles but work rate is not one. Indeed, as a little kid who faces frequent abuse from larger veteran pros, his ability to take and avoid a licking was a prominent asset. He was no theoretician, he had put in the work and could handle clumsier adversaries.

Other Canadians have become aware of hyper-flattering nicknames and if they haven’t met our hopes (because Canadian soccer players never do unless they are Christine Sinclair) they also haven’t flamed out. Prospects do become tubby and useless in their early 20s and retire young or go to League1 Ontario, but generally the attitude that allows that to happen is incompatible, in today’s competitive fitness-focused world, with becoming a professional in the first place.

Second off, what hype?! Have you walked around Canadian soccer lately? Alphonso Davies, a wunderkind in a bigger media market and at a higher level than Boakai, with a more impressive physique, superior statistics for club and country, and a life story that appeals even more directly to cansoc’s sensitivities, is enormously well-known by diehards from Halifax to Port Hardy. The Canadian Soccer Association ranks him beside Atiba Hutchinson and behind only Christine Sinclair in their advertising.

But among casual fans in Vancouver, people who go to a couple games a year and consider themselves Whitecaps fans but “not like those Southsiders, whoa, my buddy got a couple tickets in their section and we had to stand all game,” it’s not the same. They know him, remember him, but struggle for detail. He is not Connor McDavid. He is a blur on a field whose precocious powers are recognized but not obsessed over. He can walk down the streets here, which a hockey player as average as a Ryan Kesler finds difficult.

Boakai’s hype was below Davies’s. Among civilians he is behind even Jessie Fleming and Deanne Rose in name value. If that much praise ruined him, he was doomed regardless. The sort of love Boakai got would not overwhelm a strong junior hockey player. Soccer is catching on in Canada but it doesn’t come close to attracting the obsessive attention that hockey… Jesus, that curling enjoys in large parts of the country.

Yet we soccer fans possess a strange self-consciousness about openly praising our young men, and for that matter our young women. We can’t get too enthusiastic, because it might all be a dream. Not only in the sense of “Jessie might blow out her knee while playing for UCLA because when has that ever happened HAW HAW,” but there’s an idea that our promotion is part of the problem. We few fanatics convince our kids that they are stars, and the rest is doom.

I do not say that it is impossible for our praise to go to a player’s head. On the contrary, I know that it has happened. But our community’s praise doesn’t get you a good table at a crowded restaurant, let alone freighters of cocaine and women. We hardly exist in the real world. There are people philosophically incapable of sustaining the pressures of professional sport, and if the Voyageurs forum is swelling your head you’re one.

However, there’s a curious flip side. The Internet age has made a commonplace of seemingly-informed profiles provided by nothing more than thorough Googling; hey, this site hosts a couple. But these analyses can be influential. As a former Vancouver Whitecaps fan I remember well the excitement when we found that midfielder Davide Chiumiento was supposedly known—by whom we never discovered—as “the Swiss Ronaldinho.” This was not only fan buzz but got mainstream traction. When Chiumiento arrived in time for the 2010 USSF D2 playoffs he was fat and bored, and his short MLS career was more potential than realization. But we knew that former fans of his had thought he was something special, and were ever-so-slightly but importantly biased in his favour. What’s more, we weren’t wrong: Chiumiento may or may not have been worth it, but he possessed an undeniable spark that made him beautiful in a way that transcended how many points he helped the Whitecaps win. Take them in broad strokes and such fan assessments contain a lot of truth.

Boakai’s “Canadian Messi” title has followed him to Romania. Obviously such plaudits won’t carry a career on but they can make a difference, elevate someone above other unknown trialists. Though Boakai himself may not pan out, if he does it’ll be because some serious club is willing to take a chance on him despite the complications, and Boakai does enough to exploit that chance. We fans are almost impotent in that process. But if our hype convinces some otherwise-indifferent manager to view Hanson’s highlight tape, we could actually do something positive. Just yesterday FC Edmonton announced the signing of midfielder Abraham Dukuly who, they tell us unabashedly, is “a special 1-on-1 player with great instincts that draws comparisons to former Academy graduate and FC Edmonton player Hanson Boakai.” Quite right.

Sometimes good prospects bust. It’s lousy if your team needs them, and ours does. But in Canadian soccer the deficiencies are inborn. The 300 of us who care do not have the power to create them. On the other hand, we can do a minuscule but non-zero amount of good. Do not forfeit the pleasure of promoting a young player you love. If it ruins the kid, he was never going to make it anyway. And it is our positive duty to promote those who we think are worth it, even when we fear we may be wrong.

99 Friendship Episode 52

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · August 29th, 2017 · No comments

  • In a week of NWSL action… not much happened of note to you and me. Kailen Sheridan got a clean sheet. I forget what Allysha Chapman’s name is. It’s a scorcher.

  • In a week of NCAA women’s soccer action, the most notable event by far was that goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx may have made her NCAA debut by playing about 17 minutes of defense against West Point. It was more likely a recordkeeping mistake but it’s still a possibility that gives us much joy.

  • Erin McLeod, Ella Masar, and Jenna Hellstrom helped FC Rosengard defeat Linköpings in the final of the Swedish Cup. Yes, Jenna Hellstrom actually did help, starting and going the 90 minutes. We are pretty hyped about that. We are also pretty hyped about how horrible the Swedish Cup actually looks.

  • Okay obviously we talk about curling quite a lot. We’re outraged by the Fake News Curling Draft, which was nowhere near as awesome as fantasy draft last week. Parts of it were still okay, but only parts. As always Curling Canada should put us in charge of everything.

  • But that wasn’t as bad as a special rule the curling authorities put into place for this tournament, which let John Epping beat the Sweet and made me use up all my profanity for a whole episode in fifteen seconds.

  • But that wasn’t as bad as this commercial, of which I present the extended cut.

  • And even that wasn’t as bad as Ben Hebert.

By the way, sorry about worse sound quality than usual, there were technical problems on Carolyn’s end. Yes I am throwing my podcast buddy straight under the bus.

99 Friendship Episode 51 CURLING FANTASY SPECIAL!

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · August 23rd, 2017 · No comments

Yes I know it’s Wednesday. But this was worth the wait. We have one of the most special episodes of 99 Friendship ever: the 50-minute Curling Fantasy Spectacular!

But don’t worry, woso fans, we love you. Yes, this is a super-curling episode, but there’s actually a solid 20 minutes of soccer!

  • NCAA season is underway! Jessie Fleming is already a meme again, as well as the Muscle Milk Student-Athlete of the Week! Is it just me or does that sound indefinably inappropriate for an underage woman? Also Vital Katz, Sarah Stratigakis, and Deanne Rose have walked straight into college and started doin’ work.

  • Because we recorded a day later than usual, we learned that the United States – Canada second friendly on November 12 will be in San Jose, California, or as Carolyn and I are going to call it “San Francisco.” Enjoy the three minutes where we basically talk about our upcoming California vacation!

  • Another week in the NWSL happened!

  • The Universiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaade is happening in Taiwan and I get frustrated with their website! Carolyn wants to play pool!

  • FIFA announced its shortlist for THE BEST and, while Marta is somehow not on it, Carli Lloyd is there to represent the “inexplicable famous person from the Americas” vote. We talk about this. Yes this gives me an excuse to use the Carli Lloyd Theme for the third episode in a row.

Anyway, the reason this became an hour-long special is that we found out the Everest Curling Challenge, the late-August kickoff to the curling season about which I had previously been so cynical, is actually a mixed event with drafted teams. The skips pick teams of two men and two women and we get to experience enormous drama! Also Val Sweeting is in it now! So we did a fantasy draft. Yes this was so much fun.

Our rules, by the way, based off what we know about the tournament and what we made up was:

  • each skip drafts his or her own three players, serpentine, in the order Carolyn came up with

  • you can’t have two members of the same unmixed quints team on the same mixed quads team

  • everyone throws boy-girl-boy-girl, but you’re not limited by position so you can put Mark Nichols at lead or whatever and you can sweep in any rules-legal manner

  • as a necessary mid-draft rules patch, you can’t snooker one of the other teams by drafting players such that the next team to draft wouldn’t have any players eligible given the rules above

So what happened?!

  • We invent the field of “fantasy curling strategy!” Load up your thirds in the early rounds! Nobody needs scrubbers in the first round, take your third! But sometimes it’s late in the day and you need to pick Best Harnden Available.

  • We ignore the field of “fantasy curling strategy” in favour of principles like “John Epping seems like he wants to play with nice people” and “Brad Jacobs can fuck off!”

  • By the way, Fantasy Team John Epping actually turns out to be pretty good somehow! So maybe niceness pays off! On the other hand, Brad Jacobs’ team is ridiculous and Chelsea Carey’s team goes off the rails instantly.

  • Also, since Carolyn and I pick girl-boy, I only have one Alberta rink to play with and I get a little too excited about sincerely trying to get Kevin Koe a competitive team, right now to being really disappointed I couldn’t get him Dawn McEwen. (I’m so traumatized by this that later in the podcast I confuse her with Lisa Weagle in an uneditable way!)

  • Neither of us have any idea who John Epping’s guys are. That’s another piece of good fantasy curling strategy, don’t get stuck with an Epping.

  • Last, but absolutely not least, Carolyn turns Team Jennifer Jones into the greatest thing in the history of human communication. And if you last 43 minutes you can hear Carolyn and me talking ourselves into it.

Then we talk about more curling at the end. This is my favourite episode since the amwosolit episode. Please listen to it all.

99 Friendship Episode 50

By Carolyn Duthie and Benjamin Massey · August 14th, 2017 · No comments

Whether you missed us or not, we’re back! Yes, at long last, episode number 50 of Canada’s favourite women’s soccer/curling podcast, 99 Friendship, is upon you like Carli Lloyd upon the injured list.

On this week’s fabulous, long-prepared episode:

  • Remember the Canada Games? Okay, you have no excuse to have forgotten, they ended last weekend. But the women’s soccer portion ended ages ago and we have some extremely scattered thoughts and memories which, given that you are listening to a show hosted by an Alberta fan and a Quebec fan, naturally focus primarily upon British Columbia.

  • I’m not even going to pretend we fully recap the past three weekends of NWSL action. We do, however, briefly recap the past weekend, and even-more-briefly recap the history of NWSL discipline!

  • In honour of Canada’s CIS athletes doing very respectably against ostensibly-superior teams, we try and fail to say “Universiade.

  • It’s ’90s night at the Houston Dash! Or rather it was ’90s night at the Houston Dash, then after we recorded it actually happened and Carli Lloyd allegedly broke herself. Also, we spend a lot of time making fun of Carli Lloyd, which would be uncomfortably ironic in light of her injury if, y’know,
    it wasn’t Carli Lloyd and she didn’t melodramatically exaggerate an alleged curb-stomping from Melissa Tancredi at the 2012 Olympics or we’d ever forgiven her. Anyway the point is that we talk about the ’90s. Only one of the members of this podcast is old enough to have a clear memory of all the ’90s. So naturally it’s the other one who actually remembers more ’90s stuff.

  • Finally, lest this sound like too much of a good thing, we end on our recurring feature when we have like five minutes of show left to fill, Carolyn’s Canwoho Corner, where she laughs about what ridiculous thing Hockey Canada has done with the world’s second-best women’s hockey program this time.