December 17, 2016
Some, ahem, unique holiday gifts (mostly games) for the soccer fan in your life
By Michael Lewis
Perhaps you will get an opportunity to pick up a "Bend Like Beckham" card in one of this unusual soccer games..
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
It's that time of the year again trying to figure out what to give you favorite soccer fan for Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa.
Is he or she bored with the "you be the manager or coach games?” Then you might be interested in these new and much more realistic games (these can be found as traditional board games -- you remember them? -- or as computer games).
Happy shopping and good luck finding them in the real world:
While the current version of the league vies for new and fresh ownership in new markets, this version of the game makes one yearn for the past. How many teams can you acquire and take full control of in the league without losing your fortune or your mind? This is a simple game that will bring you back to the league's nostalgic old days when it was the in-thing to do to own multiple soccer teams. The advanced version has rival soccer leagues has you try to drive them out of business. Now, this game is not to be confused with the Anti-MLS Monopoly game, in which owners try to divest their teams for the highest price.
The rules are quite simple. You try to emulate Manchester City and buy as many high-salaried players as possible. The player who accumulates the most stars without getting the dreaded "player dissension card" wins. If that sounds too easy, you might want to try to play the advanced version of the game where you finish in the standings is taken into account.
Hello all you amateur MLS capologists. Forget about just winning one MLS title. Can you do it multiple times while keeping your club under the salary cap and keeping up with the myriad of rules? Good luck. You will need the brains of an economist, a little help from the league office and some luck (especially if you're fortunate enough to pick up that special "Bend It Like Beckham" card, which allows you to skirt some of the salary cap issues.
You and your opponents are given the worst teams that a European league has to offer. Winning a championship is out of the question. Staying alive in the top tier is more realistic. In this unique set up, there is only one loser -- the demoted side. The rest of the survivors are called winners, more or less. Available in English Premiership, Italy Serie A, Spanish La Liga, French and German Bundesliga versions, but not in MLS.
Hide and Seek
As in you hide and the authorities seek. A cousin of the Relegation Zone game, you are trying to hide or cover up a big secret or scandal about your team. The team that lasts the longest and out of jail the most time is declared winner. These secrets can include a night club incident, a racial slur or taunt, a transfer payment made under the table, drugs or just a good, drugs old-fashioned sex scandal (and there are multiple options for this category, including getting caught in bed with a teammates' wife, the owner’s wife or a teammate or having been sexually assaulted by a coach from your past).
Let's Make A Deal (MLS version)
Match wits with MLS general managers in this popular game. How many trades and how quickly can you make and transform your club into MLS title contenders? But be forewarned: there are so many pitfalls along the way. You certainly want to avoid getting an "injured for the rest of the season" card after trading for a star. But you will be praying for a "special dispensation card" from the league to help your salary cap woes.
The irascible coach (that's former MetroStars and U.S. national coach Bora Milutinovic for the uniformed) with the overstuffed passport comes to your country looking for a coaching job with a number of potential suitors. Will it be for a national or club position? In the American version of this game, Bora could be traveling to Chicago to meet with U.S. Soccer officials or with the Chicago Fire. Or perhaps he is just visiting and will go to Soldier Field to watch the Chicago Bears take on all comers.
Minnows of the World Cup
Can you lead a small country into soccer's promised land? You have your choice of a tiny island in the Caribbean, a newly found nation in Africa, just about any Oceania side or a small European country such as Andorra or Luxembourg. If you're fortunate enough, perhaps you will be able to play at altitude and manage a rare home win or a tie against a favored side. If you lose too many games by wide margins, you could be fired midway through the game. If you're fortunate, perhaps you will draw a special secret "penalty kick card," which can use used at an important juncture of a close and vital match. It will take all of your wits and guile to get your country through. And if you don't, you will be fired immediately from your job.
Match your wits with the U.S. national team coach as he tries to get through the mine field that is called CONCACAF in one piece. Along the way, you must put up with horrible pitches, water-drenched fields (sometimes on purpose), cockroach-infested hotels and locker rooms with only cold showers, phone calls to players in the middle of the night and radio stations who set up shop with huge loud speakers at your hotel. At the game, you will hear more curses about you, your country and your mother than you can shake a stick at, plus the usual bags of urine, batteries and coins thrown at you during the nation anthem or walking out to the field prior to the match. The survivor -- err, winner -- gets a berth in the World Cup. The loser is immediately fired as coach.