008 – Chattanooga FC with Sheldon Grizzle

A scenario is playing out across the American soccer landscape. It’s synonymous to many of the cultural battles we’re seeing across society, and a plot worthy of place on the big screen. One where the people are pitted against capitalism. One where communities are pitted against corporations. And I unknowingly walked right into the middle of it, at the worst possible moment for those involved.

A year ago, when I started this podcast, I wanted to profile owners and GMs of teams from across the country. Thanks to my FC Dallas themed podcast, I had watched as a small NPSL team from Tennessee fought MLS side FC Dallas to a 1-1 draw in the preseason of 2018. So, I reached out.

That team is Chattanooga FC.

Little did I know that my reaching out to them coincided with them learning of the founding of a new team in Chattanooga, funded by owners outside of Tennessee, and who would be competing in a league higher in the US hierarchy than them. Not only that, but this new team had hired away the staff member I was attempting to interview.

Not surprisingly, I was asked to wait for an interview. Well, it’s been almost a year since then, and in that time Chattanooga FC has made national news for both its on-the-field and off-the-field triumphs! They’ve played international friendlies against elite teams from La Liga and Guatemala (and held their own, I might add). They’ve also run a wildly successful ownership campaign.

Recently, I was able to chat with Chattanooga FC co-founder and president, Sheldon Grizzle. What I learned from him was that despite all of the drama, the real story of Chattanooga FC is the community they’re building and the support that their community returns to them.

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

007 – Scouting Africa, with Sebastian Abbot, Author of The Away Game

Continuing our look at scouting, we move away from the US and across the Atlantic. But not to Europe. In this episode, we’re headed to Africa to take a look at a MASSIVE scouting effort that spanned the entire continent and was headed by the same scout credited for developing Lionel Messi. With the 2022 World Cup only 3 1/2 years away, you might find it interesting that this scouting effort was sponsored by none other than the controversial hosts of that tournament, Qatar.

The whole thing is chronicled in Sebastian Abbot’s book, The Away Game. The book begins on a dock in the war-torn Niger River delta, with soccer scouts being transferred between armed factions.  It then follows several players from Africa to Qatar and then on to their professional careers.

It’s a fascinating and compelling story that I just had to hear more about. Last year, my brother-in-law, Tristan Vick, and I interviewed Sebastian Abbot, to learn more about this scouting effort and the controversies that surround it.

Plus! Stay tuned at the end for a surprising update from Sebastian on some of the personalities in his book!

Get the book, here!


Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

006 – Talent Identification in the US with Scott Rezendes

You’re watching your favorite team and everything is going well, when all of a sudden the star player goes down injured. On comes the backup. No one had even heard of him until he was signed by your team, but now he’ll be called upon to fill a vital role in the squad.

So how did your team even know about him? In a world full of talented soccer players, how do teams find players to fill squad roles or players that play a very specific style that suits a manager?

The answer: scouts.

These are the people who make a living watching and evaluating players day in and day out in order to identify talent. I wanted to know more about what this talent identification process looks like here in the US. How do they find the right players for the right teams? What do they look for when they evaluate talent? Would Messi really be overlooked in the US?

I caught up with Scott Rezendes, co-founder of the new talent identification company The Soccer Syndicate, to get answers to these questions and more!

Scott has an impressive resume, featuring experiences like helping to start the MLS Players Association, heading up scouting operations for Peter Vermes at Sporting Kansas City, and even leading Oklahoma City Energy FC as their Technical Director.

Most recently, Scott and co-founder Matt Martin have started a scouting company called The Soccer Syndicate. It’s the first independent North American scouting network that supports professional and elite amateur clubs worldwide.

I learned so much from Scott and I hope that you do to!

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

005 – Jon Arnold: Soccer Journalism from an American Perspective

Last episode I talked with Karl Matchett to get the British perspective on soccer journalism. We learned what it is like to cover soccer in a country where it’s the top-dog in sports. However, while soccer is on the upswing back here in The States, it’s still a completely different environment where MLS is not only not the top-dog, it’s not even in the top 4 dogs.

You can see this gap in demand play out just by watching the local news sports cast. Every weekend you’ll see clips of NFL or NBA players being interviewed in the locker room by throngs of reporters. Almost every media outlet in the major markets has a full-time beat reporter for those sports, but very few have full-time soccer reporters.

The relative lack of demand (and resulting lack of coverage) creates a different dynamic to the job than you’d get covering it in the UK. I wanted to deep-dive with a reporter who navigates this US soccer landscape every day in order to find out how this difference in dynamics shakes out in the way the sport is covered.

Luckily for me, I know a full-time journalist who not only covers soccer in the US, but also in Mexico and Central America as well. BONUS!

In this episode, I ventured out of the suburbs and into the heart of Dallas to the Deep Ellum Brewing Company to chat with Jon Arnold (@ArnoldCommaJon) of Goal.com and the BBC’s “World Football Phone In”. Jon and I talked about covering MLS and LigaMX, teams limiting access to the media, how he wound up on a radio show heard around the world, and much, much, more.

004 – Karl Matchett: Soccer Journalism in the UK

When watching the match just isn’t enough, soccer fans turn to the media for news, features, and access to their favorite players and teams. We read prematch material, we watch Twitter feeds, we click on every transfer rumor, we read post-match material, we look for quotes from players and managers, and we listen to opinions to see if what we saw aligns with the thoughts of trusted experts.

Most of this information and content comes from journalists and pundits who make careers out of finding information and sharing it with fans.

If you’re like me, sometimes when you think of a sports reporter, you think of the old cliche of a man with a “press” card stuck in a reporter hat and a cigarette in his mouth waiting outside the baseball stadium to chat with a succinct and reticent player. We all know it’s not exactly like that anymore (if it ever was like that), and having gotten to know some soccer reporters through podcasting with FC Dallas, I thought I’d try and get to the bottom of what it’s actually like to do that job both here, and in the UK.

So, to help me tell the story, I reached out to a journalist who I found from my own consumption of soccer news and opinion (at This Is Anfield). He lives in the UK and either reports on or has reported on all of the major leagues in Europe. He even reported on MLS for a few seasons. His name is Karl Matchett.

I asked Karl about how he got started, the feelings towards MLS in the UK, his ups and downs, why he writes for multiple outlets, and much more.

You can find Karl on Twitter as @KarlMatchett

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

003 – Owning Bugeaters FC with Jonathan Collura

This is the next episode in my series where I talk to owners of lower-divisions sides.

Last episode I spoke to Damon Gochneaur who is in the process of becoming an owner by starting Denton Diablos FC.

This time, I met up with a more seasoned owner. He’s a businessman who lives in the Dallas area, so we sat down at The Thirsty Growler in The Colony, Tx for a pint (or 2) and a chat. He’s owned and been involved in lower-division teams in England with Alfreton Town and Bradford Park Avenue, California with Napa Valley 1839, and is now the owner of Bugeaters FC in Nebraska. His name, Jonathan Collura.

Jonathan shared the story of how he became an owner and what it’s like to own a team remotely. He also talked about what he’s trying to accomplish and what the challenges are in owning a lower-division team in the current US Soccer ecosystem. And of course, he filled me in on what, exactly, a “bugeater” is.

Jonathan is a wealth of knowledge and is very generous with his time. In fact, after we finished recording, he stuck around and talked with me for over an hour about soccer in the US and abroad.

Jonathan can be found on Twitter at @jonathancollura.

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

002 – Damon Gochneaur: Starting A Lower-Division Soccer Team

Most soccer fans that I know view team owners as distant, disconnected, rich investors or a large corporate ownership group whose only concern is earnings and profits. While this may be true for the largest clubs in the world, the truth is that the vast majority of soccer clubs are nowhere near that. Especially once you leave the bubble of “top-tier” leagues.

For the next few episodes, I’m going to talk to owners of lower-divisions sides who are in various stages of their club’s life and their ownership careers. I wanted to hear the stories of how they became owners, what are their motivations, their challenges, their surprises, and their successes.

If you’re anything like me, you get a lot of information from and exposure to top clubs in Europe and the MLS, but have only a vague understanding and awareness of lower-division American sides.

With leagues like the USL, USL D-III, PDL, NPSL, UPSL, and others, its a bit of a confusing, ever-changing landscape.

What I’ve learned over the past few weeks is that there are a lot of issues and holes in the United States soccer ecosystem, but there are also a lot of opportunities and people willing to invest their time and money to do their part in plugging those holes and solving those issues.

In this episode I spoke with Damon Gochneaur who, along with Michael Hitchcock are starting a club in Denton, Tx called Denton Diablos FC. They’re slated to start play in the spring of 2019, so they are just getting started.

Damon and I talked about the process of starting a soccer team, the importance of having the right partners and advisors, and everything he’s learned since deciding to become an owner.

Damon can be found on Twitter as @DamonGochneaur

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

001 – Mark Followill: 2018 World Cup From A Broadcaster’s Perspective

For the inaugural episode of the FC Nation Podcast, I wanted to take a look at the 2018 World Cup, but from a slightly different perspective. Most of us enjoyed what turned out to be a phenomenal tournament by watching it on TV. We all watched the stories that played out, but some folks got to give those stories voice, as it happened. One of those broadcasters was play-by-play announcer Mark Followill calling his first World Cup.

Mark is the TV voice of the Dallas Mavericks and FC Dallas and this year he teamed up with Warren Barton to call part of the World Cup for Fox. In our conversation, he told the story of his personal “Road to the World Cup,” his favorite moments from the games he called, his list of most compelling stories from the tournament, and his general thoughts on all the action. He also pulled back the curtain for us to give us a behind-the-scenes look at Fox’s coverage of the 2018 World Cup.

On an informational note, thanks to my involvement in the Dallas Soccer Show and being around FC Dallas, Mark and I know some of the same people.  In this episode he mentions “Carter”. For the reference of those not familiar with FC Dallas, Carter Baum is the team’s Digital Content Manager and a multi-time guest on the Dallas Soccer Show podcast.

Major thanks to Mark Followill for being so generous with his time and helping me share the stories of the beautiful game from a slightly different angle.

Mark can be found on Twitter as @MFollowill

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)

000 – Introduction

Welcome! I’m Dustin Nation and you’re listening to the FC Nation Podcast. I wanted to take a couple of minutes to introduce myself and tell you a little about this podcast and my vision for it (at least for right now, we’ll see where things take us over time).

So I guess we’ll start with me. As I said, my name is Dustin Nation and by day I’m a software developer in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. I’m a husband, and the proud dad of 3 ginger daughters. I’ve been an avid soccer fan since the early 2000’s but never having played it competitively myself. My first soccer love is Liverpool Football Club, insert your jokes or whatever, but one of my fondest memories that kind of instilled a deep love for the game is going to my buddies house to watch the 2005 Champions League final. He had no dog in the fight, but when Liverpool equalized, his mom had to come tell us to be quiet because we were celebrating so loudly. (Sorry Mrs. R). Watching that drama play out on the largest of stages, I came to fully realize what this game can provide to everyone involved from fans to players alike.

Fast forward 12 years and my brother-in-law, Tristan Vick, and I spend a ton of time talking about soccer and decide to start a podcast to bring others into our conversations and learn more from people that are smarter than us. And thus the Dallas Soccer Show was born. After over a year of doing that podcast together and interviewing everyone from journalists to players, I developed a love for the stories of things that you never really think about as a casual fan.

And that brings us to this podcast. Where as my other podcast focuses on the local Dallas MLS side, FC Dallas, this podcast will be more about the game in general. I want to focus on stories that make the game what it is for all of us involved, from the way us as fans watch and experience the games, to the development of the players, to the events that have changed the sport forever.

In order to maintain the highest level of preparedness for each episode, and in order to maintain a healthy work/life/podcast balance, I plan for this podcast to release episodes every 3-4 weeks on average.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and the stories we tell, and if you do, please subscribe in iTunes, leave a review, and share it on social media. The show’s twitter is @FCNationPod and my personal handle is @D_Naish.

Also, I have episodes planned for the next few months, but if you know of a story that I should try and share, please DM me at either of the aforementioned Twitter handles. I’d hate to miss out on a soccer story that needs to be shared!

Thanks for listening everyone! Cheers!

Music: Avicii – Fade Into Darkness (Instrumental Radio Mix)