Why European Soccer Stars Are Playing in the United States | Crooked Media
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July 26, 2022
Why European Soccer Stars Are Playing in the United States

In This Episode

Jason is joined by Jamel Johnson (Air Buds podcast) to help explain what it’s like to hang with celebrities at the ESPYs in Hollywood. Later, Jason & Jamel talk to Max Bretos — play-by-play announcer for LAFC — to unpack the state of Major League Soccer (with a look towards the 2022 World Cup) after Gareth Bale & Giogio Chellini made their debuts in LA.




Jason Concepcion: Hello and welcome to Takeline. I am joined again today by one of the funniest to ever do it, one of the greatest to ever do it. One of my favorites out there is a stand up and the co-host of the Airbuds podcast is Jamel Johnson. You can find him every place where you don’t expect to find him, but the shit is going down and today he’s here. We will also be talking to Max Bretos, play by play announcer for Los Angeles Football Club. He will be here to talk to us about MLS, state of MLS, state of play, AFC after two big European signings. But first, let’s talk about let’s talk about Jamel Johnson first. Let’s welcome Jamel. Jamel, how are you?


Jamel Johnson: Ooooo ooooh.


Jason Concepcion: And as I was saying in the intro, you’re always at a place where. No one expects to find you there. The bat cave?


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. The last time you saw me was the laundromat. The next time you see me, I’ll be on the moon.


Jason Concepcion: I’m on my. I’m on my Instagram. And I see you. You know, just like. Cheesin out on my on my timeline with Dikembe Mutombo, at the ESPY’s among others.


Jamel Johnson: Totally forgot how to what to do with my hands in photos.


Jason Concepcion: Talk to us about the ESPY’s what’s what’s going on with the ESPY’s one of the most one of those interesting events of the summer.


Jamel Johnson: Also becoming a classic L.A. event.


Jason Concepcion: It is.


Jamel Johnson: You know, I mean, I know they they did it in New York one of the covid years. And I bet it wasn’t as fun as when it happens in L.A..


Jason Concepcion: The vibe is not right. Plus, the ESPN office, you know, there’s there’s the big L.A. office here. And when they have it, you just walk from L.A. live from the from the building right to the to the to the place.


Jamel Johnson: So, you know, every few years, you know, they hire a bunch of comics to write on the Spurs. And I know one of those comics very well. And then I get to pretend that I was a writer as well. And that is what happened this year. Shout out to my guy Rob Haze slid me the plus one. I went it was in Hollywood at the Dolby Theater which was a little weird because it was hot as hell and the red carpet was essentially just on the street. They just had this they just had Madame Tussaud’s blocked off. And you had the kind of enter from the street. I saw Von Miller sweating his ass off, you know, and I mean, it was pretty cool. And I never think I’m going to act like this when I get to an event like this. But then once I find out there’s free drinks.


Jason Concepcion: Hey, there it is.


Jamel Johnson: I kind of activate. I kinda two drinks, and I’ll ask any person in the world for a photo.


Jason Concepcion: Tell us who you got photos with, because I want to hear it from your voice. It’s just amazing. Again, with Jamel, you never know what you’re going to find when he pops up on your timeline. You just never know what it’s going to be.


Jamel Johnson: Okay, here’s who I got. Doug Egbert. Egbert. Egert. Sam Rockwell from St. Peters.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah yeah.


Jamel Johnson: You remember, old boy. I invited him to come play basketball at the Glendale YMCA. He seemed mildly interested. Doug, if you’ve got an Instagram, get at me. Who else did I get a photo with? Dikembe Mutombo.


Jason Concepcion: That was amazing.


Jamel Johnson: Come on. Probably the one of the bigger, like, icons, like people who don’t understand sports.


Jason Concepcion: You know who that man is? Yeah. You know who that man is? Did he speak at all? What’s the voice like in person?


Jamel Johnson: I mean, it’s pretty chill. It’s not as gravelly in real life. But he did do the wag. I didn’t ask him. He did it on his own. He did it on his own. He did not want to take the photo, but he did the wag on his own. And we all loved it. Got a photo with him. Jacob Amrani, the official injury attorney of the Los Angeles Lakers. That’s a big get.


Jason Concepcion: That man’s faces are on billboards all across Los Angeles.


Jamel Johnson: If you live in L.A., you know, call Jacob. And he responded to the DM when I tagged him in the photo, gave me a couple thumbs up.


Jason Concepcion: What’d he say?


Jamel Johnson: Just two thumbs up. Jacob hit me with a couple thumbs up. Ugh. Rebecca Lobo. I told–


Jamel Johnson: Oh.


Jamel Johnson: Rebecca Lobo I’ve been a fan since they did that episode of Martin. Remember, they had the the 96 women’s team?


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Jamel Johnson: She also did not want to take the photo. But once I said Martin, she was like, all right, he’s. He’s with us. He’s a real live ally, you know what I’m saying? Got a picture with the head coach, Sean McVay.


Jason Concepcion: Woo!


Jamel Johnson: I saw Sean McVay. He was talking to his agent. I said, Sir, ya’ll can get that money later.


Jason Concepcion: What was he saying to his agent? And was he doing it in that like in that Sean McVay? Very, very intense kind of cadence.


Jamel Johnson: He was talking to him close, so I couldn’t really hear what he was saying, but he was right up on him. And I said, Sir, excuse me, you can get back to that paper. Mr. McVay, I just want to say I’m really glad you got out of D.C. You did the right thing. Seems like things are going all right.


Jason Concepcion: It does. It does.


Jamel Johnson: It took a lot for me to not mention Campbell Soup. He probably would have got mad if I mentioned the Campbell’s Soup ad, which I do think is very funny. Who else did I get? Oh, Chris Berman. I saw Chris Berman. I saw Chris Berman at the pool. Chris Berman was sitting by the pool with a blue moon. He was drinking the blue moon in the can man.


Jason Concepcion: He was throwing that blue moon back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back, back.


Jamel Johnson: Whoop! Yeah, it was crazy. Oh, that was the craziest one.


Jason Concepcion: What was it? What’s that? What’s that like? What’s it interaction with Berman like?


Jamel Johnson: Honestly, really chill. He was, like, talking to, like, his daughter or somebody. All these ESPN, all of the like the like ESPN legends have hot daughters. You heard it here first.


Jason Concepcion: You heard it here first. Breaking news.


Jamel Johnson: He’s doing that and he’s just calling in his mad late. You know, I don’t know how long Chris Berman is allowed to be out. I know his schedule is changing over the years. Didn’t he just retire?


Jason Concepcion: He does things here and there, doesn’t he? Right. Yeah. Like once a week he’s got that, like the.


Jamel Johnson: Two minute drill.


Jason Concepcion: He has a two minute drill where he just they just wheel them in and he just does his thing and then wheel them out.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. So I’m like, I don’t know what, but he was like, you know, it was like it was like 1230 at the Blue Moon. Is. Did you mean it? He looked like he was doing I mean, I.


Jason Concepcion: Don’t think I’ve ever seen him. Obviously, I’ve never seen him in person. So I’ve never seen him stages hell.


Jamel Johnson: Big as hell, just a large man. I did. He played for the Giants in the fifties or something. He looks that size.


Jason Concepcion: The series is funny, right? Because, you know, I in various conversations as the Spurs were going on various group chats, you know, you’re ripping on the Spurs. It’s a little weird to watch Steph Curry up there being a roast comic.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah, Steph was I mean, when he came out holding the drink, I was like, rookie movement.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, you can’t do that.


Jamel Johnson: That drink is going to distract you. What you should have, they should have really went all the way in. They should have had a stool out there. Get him.


Jason Concepcion: A stool.


Jamel Johnson: Get him a stool. You walk out with the drink, you put your drink down.


Jason Concepcion: Mike, understand?


Jamel Johnson: You put the drink on the stand, then you say all the mean stuff and then you take a drink when the people are supposed to laugh. Duh. It’s a little. It’s supposed to be a visual cue. He was really trying to drink this drink. Come on, man, you’re this your first set? You ain’t ready to actually drink the drink. You got to get a few more road hours before you drink it.


Jason Concepcion: At the same time. What? I. I will never beg on the spot for real. Because, as you said, we just know so many people who have gotten a bag of for profit. Come on. It’s important. It’s an important not only, as you said, is it an important like actual LA calendar cultural event at this point? Like, it’s an actual thing, but it’s it’s it’s important. For the economic fabric of the comedy community here in Los Angeles. It is putting it puts meals on the table and has been for some time.


Jamel Johnson: Been covering a few months rent year by year. It’s been covering them SAG dues. We need that. We need this job on the comedy calendar, for sure. And I am begging for a position at 2023. I also forgot that we saw Klay Thompson. Klay Thompson came out and I asked him where he got his boat from. I didn’t get a picture with him, but I was just like, Where did you get the boat from? And he gave me a pound, but he didn’t like, you know, he didn’t stop. I also think he was wearing women’s sunglasses. I think that was just for the flair.


Jason Concepcion: You heard it here first, folks. All right. Up next, Max Bretos.


Jason Concepcion: It’s a big soccer summer here at Takeline. Fresh off the signings of European stars Gareth Bale and Giorgio Chiellini, which is I. My brain still can’t process him. Wearing LFC gear though, I am watching him play the first place Los Angeles Football Club is poised for another long MLS run. They’ve they’re already crushing the Western Conference in the league in general bye points and it’s it could become a rout here folks with the addition of this talent there’s no better time to welcome Max Bretos. Play by play announcer for LAFC, host of the Soccer OG Podcast to help us just level set with the state of American soccer and professional American soccer here as we head towards the World Cup in Balmy Qatar in 2022, Max, welcome to Takeline.


Max Bretos: We talking Qatar too?


Jason Concepcion: Well say well let’s talk everything you want to talk women’s heroes to you. That’s I mean it’s been great.


Max Bretos: Oh, man. I missed the games on the weekend. I did watch Thursday and Friday’s games and Thursday’s was very good. But I will I will say this, it is a good way to start because I agree with you 100%, because I was broadcasting the LFC game and it’s very hard to get used to the Gareth Bale in particular, although both of them, Gareth Bale in that jersey and I think it’s going to take a while. I kept looking at it. I go, I mean, it looks great, but it’s still so weird. But it’s, it’s and you know, obviously seeing the goal and seen him celebrating with that shirt, it felt like it was a movie.


Jamel Johnson: I thought it was weird that they when they announced him during Old Trafford go and they dumped water on him like he had played.


Max Bretos: I wasn’t that odd. That’s something I’ve never seen before. I’ve never even felt like like if this happened ten years ago, this big star from Europe would have come and someone threw water on him. He probably turned around and go, Who are you? Yeah, that’s it. Deal’s off. But was it. It just. It they just rolled right into it. And and in that moment, it felt like it was a baptism, literally of Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: The team and of course Gareth has a is already paying back the trust shown in him by LFC scored his first goal in his second appearance against sporting Kansas City. Describe the goal to us. What was the what was the energy like on the goal?


Max Bretos: There was a there was obviously an anticipation when he came in and I felt like seeing how he played in the first game and how so how sharp and locked in. He appeared that it was a really good chance using the scored yesterday and it was you almost had a second one, but there was this energy there. But the one thing that I think that stood out was the sporting Kansas City fans cheered the goal.


Jason Concepcion: They did.


Max Bretos: Because it was loud. So I just think that they were I mean, obviously, they want to see their team. I think they were just cheering as a reaction to seeing something, you know, singing something that’s going to go viral, seeing something that they could say they saw that they could pass on to their friends. So I was in the stadium when Gareth Bale scored because it’s going to have some lasting power, but that’s what stood out. And so it was it was a very visceral.


Jamel Johnson: You can feel it. Everybody in America is like, Oh, we got another one. This feels bigger than all right. You know, the the kind of past the prime signings. How long do you think Bale is going to stay around? What do you think his role looks like for the rest of this season with the team as well?


Max Bretos: Well, we when we first signed, we were going it’s going to be six months, it’s going to be six months. And then he’s going to find another adventure. And then once he was at the press conference, you go, oh, it’s going to be 18 months. We can have an 18 month deal. And I could see him playing after the World Cup. And then he started talking about the Euros and preparing for it. And now I feel it’s. Two and a half years, I think maybe more, because he just looks really happy. I can I can understand it because we’ve seen it with Carlos Vela. They’re very similar in the sense they were. They were a bit maligned and some of their European adventures, they needed a change of scenery and a place where they could be comfortable, where they get a family. And they really do feel like a family environment there. And there’s an escape is a bit about coming to L.A. where you’re, you know, all that stuff you hear, you don’t get recognized all the time. Well, that’s going be hard for Bale, but Val has lived it, and I think Gareth Bale has seen that and said, I want that to where I can play my football. I can live in a city like L.A. because he wants he he’s enjoying living in the city, from what we’re hearing. He he wants to be here. He wants to be immersed into it. He wants to experience Hollywood and the South Bay and Malibu and all that stuff. And there’s a lot of there’s a lot to it. So it seems just from this first two weeks seems very comfortable that I would I would set the line at two and a half years. I kind of want to go I’m going to go over.


Jamel Johnson: I can’t wait to see Gareth Bale at Carl’s Jr.


Max Bretos: In the line it at In and Out. Sitting in his car for an hour.


Jason Concepcion: You mentioned him maligned. First of all, I want to say as an Arsenal supporter and a New York Red Bulls supporter, because they signed Terry on their season ten. This is hard. It’s it’s difficult for me to talk about it. You were Tottenham Star.


Max Bretos: You started as a Red Bulls fan when Terry Henry. And you’re still a Red Bulls fan.


Jason Concepcion: I still I still follow them.


Max Bretos: That’s that’s great. But that shows you the power of the player.


Jason Concepcion: It was. And let me tell you, those years were extremely frustrating. But Terry put in some work not to derail this conversation, but Terry put in some work, scored some wonderful goals that you could put in the real with some of the goals that he scored over in Europe over those years. And I think we’re going to see the same thing from Bale at only age 33. You mentioned, you know, how much international footballers love coming here in the summertime, the off season. And, you know, from everything we’ve heard about Bale. He’s a he’s a different guy than a lot of. The international footballing superstars. More low key kind of likes to just do very normal things. And he did kind of get run out on a rail from Real Madrid for various reasons that we don’t need to go into. Give us some insight into like how you mentioned it seems like he’s enjoying it here. What kind of guy is what what kind of person?


Max Bretos: Well, we all got to see it with with with getting doused with water. The fact that he got off a plane and went straight to the game, watch the whole game and share that moment with his teammates. And then was at training the next day because generally when these big high profile players and I want to generalize yeah they come here and it’s a process and they’re kind of the forbidden fruit you get to see him here, a glimpse. And obviously, David Beckham was the first one. And I love the Terry Henry angle because he seems in line with the Gareth Bale, Carlos Vela example where he came in and he enjoyed it. And I’m not saying Zlatan or or Beckham did it, but there was a price. I mean, David Beckham is this untouchable? You know, you see a glimpse and then he’ll play after being here in a month. And then he had a great career. But it was it didn’t feel as organic. And Zlatan did come and play, but there was always this like, I’m Zlatan, there’s the rest of the team. Even though they got results, it didn’t feel that way. And I don’t take the shop, the galaxy because as an LFC supporter, of course, respect for that club and because of Beckham and Zlatan is Bale.


Jason Concepcion: Helped build that helped build this league here in this country helped build the awareness of this league to where it is today and very important signing.


Max Bretos: So and like Sebastian Giovinco when he came, there was a while yet to get used to seeing him. David Villa It’s like we didn’t see him at all. I mean also David Villa, Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, we didn’t see these guys, so.


Jamel Johnson: Shout out to Robbie Keane. Let’s not forget.


Max Bretos: Robbie Keane did. Robbie Keane falls in that mold with Bale and Henry where they came in and kind of got into the team fabric immediately. But, and I don’t want to pick on the other example of players because I don’t think they’re supposed to blend in right away. It’s supposed to be a few weeks where we’re calibrated to feeling it’s supposed to be a month before you see them play so well.


Jason Concepcion: It’s interesting, right, because this is the exact opposite kind of conversation. About bail than the one that was kind of being had in the Spanish press about him, which was he’s apart from the team. He’s not part of the fabric of of the royal fandom. You know, he’s he seems to hold himself apart. What’s his problem, that kind of thing. And now we’re kind of we’re flipping it.


Max Bretos: And I bought into that and I kind of vilified him a little bit because I like this guy. He’s he is not in love with the game. Yeah, I said it. I feel like I always have to go up to and apologize, but it’s still too early. But we bought into it because how could he not get into this Real Madrid? But he didn’t. I in hindsight, I kind of respect the fact that he’s like, I’m not going to be held hostage. Right? I have this contract. You play me. And then when he went to Spurs on that loan, I mean, he got results. So he still he still had.


Jason Concepcion: 11 goals in 20 appearances is pretty freaking good.


Max Bretos: Yeah. So I mean, there you go. So I think when you look at that whole story, you know, Gareth Bale kind of detached, but Real Madrid didn’t do them any favors the way they handled it. So it’s a lesson for me to not believe too much of what you hear. And it’s it’s also a lesson like we see it with so many athletes. This wasn’t right for me. Maybe this is so early. Returns show that Gareth Bale in this forum is is enjoying it. But every every image we saw like we’re at the pre game or at training, it’s not he’s here and everyone is over there. He is part of that team. He is having conversations with everyone. He knows everybody’s name. I saw it with my own eyes. So it’s a it seems like a good fit. Real Madrid wasn’t out, not at the end.


Jamel Johnson: Who should we be looking out for? You know, for for a name, for the novice, for the guys just tuning in because they heard Bale’s come in. Who else on LFC? Like, who else is like the key players? I know Chucho is a guy who sticks out to me, but like, who is like the the the key players that the common the commenter might not know.


Max Bretos: I would encourage people to watch the two Ecuadorean guys they have three now but Kiki Palacios the left back who was 12th and Jose Fuentes who wears the 20. These two came over three years ago and they were a hot mess. They were the deer in the headlights. They looked fish out of water the year after they got a little better. And this year it’s all clicked into place. They’re comfortable. They’re hitting their targets end. Left backs are obviously rare. I mean, they’re an incredible asset. So cheeky Palacios is going to end up well when you’re a fullback who could defend and cross the ball and has that athletic pace, he whether it’s with AFC or with a different club, he’s going to be a name. People will learn. And seafood is the one that’s kind of come on because I see him now and you see a midfielder who can do everything. So it’s when you go to LFC, it’s Villa Bale, Killiney. Chico gets the goals. That’s good. But it’s those two guys. Everyone chips in, everyone really chips in. It’s a proper team. But I think Jose Cifuentes is one you want to keep an eye on. And Diego Palacios, because they’re going places and Sifuentes is the way he’s going. I think he starts the opening game for Ecuador in the World Cup. So I think it’s the first game of the World Cup. So he is he’s on a rocket ship. He’s played so well, he scores goals. He gets it from long range. He is strong, he has left. Let someone compared him to Weston Mckennie like yeah I see it. And he’s, he’s just gotten so much better year to year.


Jason Concepcion: Having been around this league. Now I’m just reflecting on my own experience, you know, coming in as a fan 12 years ago now. And can you describe like where how the culture of the game, the environment, the energy around stadiums has changed? I mean, specifically LFC. For anyone who is. Visiting L.A. Is interested about soccer. Once it’s it. It’s an incredible time. It’s in the soccer culture in l.a. is fantastic, and it’s just you’re going to have a good time. But just describe how much it’s evolved over the last decade or so.


Max Bretos: Well, actually, let’s. What we should do is let’s put a menu together of what people should do when they come to L.A..


Jamel Johnson: Bacon wrapped hot dog.


Max Bretos: Bacon wrapped hot dog, go see an LFC game. I tell people, go check if there’s anything playing at the Hollywood Bowl. which is seasonal. People say go to the Santa Monica Pier. Don’t go to the Santa Monica pier.


Jason Concepcion: No, no, no.


Max Bretos: Don’t.


Jamel Johnson: Go see a movie screening at Hollywood Forever.


Max Bretos: There you go. Oh, brilliant, brilliant. Take a hike in Palos Verdes. Go look at those cliffs. There’s so much that you could do. And I think a LFC game would be a nice frame around there. But to answer your question, Jason, it’s the the supporter culture is the thing that’s grown the most. You know, we go to games and there’ll be football stadiums and be like 3000 people. It’s 60, 70,000. And now the new stadiums have helped because it’s been fan friendly and the clubs have, you know, given the supporters power with everything and made, you know, a very valid part of, you know, almost giving that bringing them in the process of everything that they do, almost everything. And now we see, you know, when you’re invested in that near fan, you go to the games. And you travel for games, which is something we didn’t see. So, you know, some clubs are obviously doing a better job than others, but there’s enough clubs that are that can lean into a very sophisticated, engaged fan base. But it’s I think it’s empowering them is the key because I know LFC did that. I’m here. Philadelphia Union did that with Sons, a band, and they’ve come in there. But there’s a lot of clubs that have turned to the fans. So you are a part of this. You know, we’re going to we’re in a communicate with you when we make big decisions and they do that. And that, I think, allows the fans to come back and they feel it’s their part of it. So it’s it’s a good feeling.


Jamel Johnson: Okay. So in line with that, the MLS has gotten more talent over the years, a lot of talent from Central America. I feel like a lot of players from that good Costa Rica team, a couple of World Cups ago was in MLS and there’s always guys leaving like on their way up. Alma Owen Our man, Ricardo. Pepe just left. Pepe Excuse me, he just left and isn’t really in the rotation at Augsberg.


Max Bretos: Diego Rossi .


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. How do we how does MLS keep the talent here? Is it even possible? Well, the young talent.


Max Bretos: The young talent. I. I think there’s going to be a time where the young talent. Still it’s up to them they want to dip their Tony Europe. So I get that and the transfer fees are going up. I mean, the cartel, Pepe, is an offer you just couldn’t refuse. We never heard of a transfer fee for 20 million. 20 million. So I think clubs aren’t going to give these guys away anymore, which they may have. You know, I always remember Clint Dempsey was like a 4 million transfer, which is obscene. It’s obscene for a player of that level. So I think what you’re going to see is the clubs have money, but. Guys like Christian Pulisic 24/25 I some MLS clubs will approach him maybe in a year or two and give him a huge offer to come back like they did with Dempsey and maybe the same with Weston Mckennie or Sergino Dest. So some of these young players, I think it’s going to be cyclical. I don’t think they can stay here too much, but there’s always that pathway back. But Greg Burkhalter addressed it. You know, some of these young players go too early. So if there’s a cautionary tale out there in the he mentioned Bryan Reynolds and George Bello. Yeah. They go like maybe just stay in MLS until you get your feet underneath you. So they’re still going to go. To answer your question, Jamal, I just don’t think people are going to just kind of push them out the door because there’s money involved. They’re going to be more patient.


Jason Concepcion: The upside of some of this amazing young American talent moving on to European leagues is that. Our American men’s team looks to be, from my perspective, as not an expert. The most talent pack that we’ve ever seen. U.S. men’s national teams qualified for the 2022 World Cup. It’s their going to be probably the youngest team in the tournament. They the, you know, core of the team is guys like Pulisic, who is an impact player at Chelsea. Brendan Aaronson and Wilson Weston mckennie others. There’s a lot of good talent playing at top level European teams and really playing. What’s that impact like and what do you what do you think of U.S. has chances in this world, this World Cup?


Max Bretos: The yeah, it’s amazing what’s happened and just being able to get that coaching and great resources which, you know, a lot of MLS clubs are getting better at that, but you can’t compete with Chelsea, Juventus, Barcelona, even some of these Premier League teams like Leeds and now Crystal Palace with Chris Richards that they’re going to raise their stakes, they’re going to be playing against, you know, better players. On a weekly basis, they’re going to be playing against are they’re going to playing with better players. And that is that always is going to get you better. That’s a fast track, especially if you’re ready for it. But it’s it’s really remarkable to see that there was one or two guys and now you you just you were listing them off and you’re like, okay, I can still for real.


Jason Concepcion: I mean, you know, Chelsea, Barcelona, Juventus like these are elite elite clubs.


Max Bretos: Well and Brendan Aronson, you know, he was a it was a a very raw talent and he had high, you know, high ceiling. He goes to Red Bull, Salzburg, and then boom, a year later he’s at Leeds. Granted. And having an American coach there actually didn’t really help because he was being approached by Leeds before Jesse Marsch got there. And now he’s a $30 million player. So. Young kids here are taking notice of that. There’s like a conveyor belt of more of them that could follow that. So every day that goes by, a new name comes up. Some of them don’t hit it, but some have the talent. And that’s why it’s a good reason to watch. I mean, the under 20 some of these kids, Brendan’s brother Paxton or all the union guys Jack McGlynn they’re going to one of these guys are going to pan out to be make an even bigger impact on Christian Pulisic because it’s just so many guys and there’s money and the money. The money keeps up. These guys played soccer when they’re when they’re ten, 11, 12. Those formative years where we lost so many guys because they’re going to hear the story of Brendan Ahrens and a Christian Pulisic, and they go, Hmm, I like playing the sport. Maybe I’ll just stick around a little bit longer now. I’ll drive a Ferrari around West London.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, why not?


Max Bretos: But that looks where do I sign up?. It sounds a little better than Gareth Bale at Carl’s Junior, but just by a little bit.


Jamel Johnson: He’s going to. Come on, man. Gareth Bale is going to get his own taco truck.


Max Bretos: Can you imagine? It’s like I’ve I found my calling. I have a taco truck in in Gardena, and I’m just happy here.


Jamel Johnson: He did make work when he went to Spain and it seemed like, okay. Gareth Bale, the most Welsh man of all time. And he goes to Spain and is like he kind of adopted the swag. So I’m hoping two years from now he’s wearing, you know, the homies t shirts. He’s got a t shirt with the the clown, like a like those drama masks. You know what? Be right on. Yeah, it’s like he’s doing he’s at the car show up at the Rose Bowl. You know, he’s saying it’s going to be it’s.


Max Bretos: Going to be on the hydraulics just in the parking lot in Ocean Park going, yeah, I’m going to be like,.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah, yeah.


Max Bretos: My Chevelle in here and we’re going to listen to war. And he’s like. I’m going to that’s a great that’s a great visual. But you’re right, he absorbs it. And Wales is a very distinct place. Wales, Wales it’s, there’s a brotherhood and it’s, it’s a small place. So people are Yeah. Very familiar and they, they, they stick, they stick with each other. And to see that expand those those boundaries is he’s really embraced it.


Jamel Johnson: Shout out to Aaron Ramsey while we’re here we’re just talking Welsh things.


Jason Concepcion: Arsenal legend Aaron Ramsey.


Max Bretos: Wales, we get great famous Welsh men and women. Anthony Hopkins.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah.


Max Bretos: Tom Jones. I play rugby. It’s a cavalcade of great former Welsh rugby players.


Jason Concepcion: Catherine Zeta Jones.


Jamel Johnson: Hey now


Jason Concepcion: Which remember there was a, there was a period where that was a shock. It was like, wait. Welsh. Wow.


Max Bretos: She looked very she could have been Spanish or Latin American?


Jason Concepcion: Are you watching the women’s Euros at all? I’ve been I’ve been checking in on it, schedule permitting. And like every this is what happens to me, every international soccer cycle. Something about the desperation. Of English soccer. Of bring it home. The desire to bring it home. We got to bring it home. Just reels me in. And I’ll tell you what. These English women, I think they are going to bring it home. The next big next game is on Tuesday semifinals in England, Sweden, which I expect that England will win. They’ve been killing everybody. But I mean.


Max Bretos: Well, the one game I watch, they played Spain and I thought Spain got undone at the end. Unlucky with the equalizer. I thought it was a penalty. I thought it was going to be a foul on England, but they let it stand. It was a it was a marginal call. But still, I was impressed by Spain. But that’s I watched I watched some of the Germany game and a tad I did not watch France, Netherlands, because we’re working. But I’m with the thing about it and I’m going to watch the semis because as you said, you see England, Sweden and Germany, France. And that’s a draw because the tournament itself, I didn’t watch because the group stages, you kind of knew what was going to happen. Yeah, there was a few little surprises, but it’s all important to the women’s game that these tournaments get better because it’s I don’t draw fans. And that’s why this euro’s so important, because this is going to be the main foils for teams like the U.S.. To get, you know, to not run through the World Cup like they did the last two times. And I enjoy watching that. But I’d rather watch competitive games and that would mean that the US gets knocked off their perch. That’s probably the best thing for the women’s game right now. And the best candidates are coming from Europe because all those four semifinalists and out through Spain, Spain really impressed me. I want to I want to see more. They play beautifully. But these are teams that when the World Cup rolls around and I had Laurie Lindsay on my soccer podcast and she she hit me with this. This is the 2023 Women’s World Cup is going to be the biggest women’s sporting event ever. And I was like, I buy it. And it’s because of the width and breadth of these teams. So that’s why these semifinals going to be fantastic. And this is going to be a big building block for the for the women’s game. And, you know, you have the. The South American tournament, the coming bowl tournament going on. And there are some developments, although those countries aren’t going to be quite at this level. Obviously, Canada and USA played those. Canada is certainly at that level.


Jason Concepcion: That’s a growing.


Max Bretos: Yeah.


Jason Concepcion: But not even growing like a heated death rivalry already.


Max Bretos: It’s it’s great. So if you can I mean, if you get those five European teams, USA, Canada. Me. I mean, I don’t know what Japan. Japan’s kind of fallen off what they were when they won the World Cup in 2011. But if you can get like ten teams on that top line, that’s that’s going to be great for the women’s game.


Jamel Johnson: And you know, the U.S. is reloading. They’ve got a bunch of people getting ready to retire after a crazy run. My favorite thing about international soccer is that every match up feels like it’s rooted in, like, history class. Oh, yeah. It’s all like, Oh. France. Germany. Come on, man.


Jason Concepcion: This is some.


Jamel Johnson: They’ve been beefin for years.


Jason Concepcion: This is some alsace-lorraine shit. This is some, like.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah.


Max Bretos: Recreation of the Hanseatic wars.


Jason Concepcion: Yes. This is like Charlemagne. Shit. This goes back to that.


Jamel Johnson: Deep.


Max Bretos: It’s true. And by the way, that’s a, Jamel. That’s always an interesting part where the old guard moves out in the new players because the old guard doesn’t want to move out. But some people overstay their their window. Yeah. So they need to get pushed out a little bit because it’s a young person’s game, but someone struggling as well. I think Brazil. Brazil is a bit of a mess, but they were ahead. They had a MARTA. And Formica, they’ve been there forever. And Formica, I think I read this correctly and we were celebrating it. I was like, Are we at the Olympics? She goes, This is her seventh Olympics. Like, Go wait a minute. Did you say seven? There’s got to be a statute of limitations. I’d say four is plenty.


Jamel Johnson: She was on the roster. She was on the roster when she was 12, man.


Jason Concepcion: Max, you had one of the coolest careers in sports media. You worked at ESPN. You ghosted SportsCenter. You’re calling games for MLS. You know, people ask me all the time, how do you do? How did you get into this? I’m like, there’s no roadmap. I’m not really sure. But I’ll tell you what I did for you. Was there a roadmap? Was there a plan? How did you how did it happen?


Max Bretos: Well, I was pretty fortunate, but I tend to think of, you know, being at the right place at the right time, but you probably do a lot to put yourself in that position. And that was when Fox started. And, you know, soccer was I knew I wanted to get into this, but I didn’t jump in and say I want to be a broadcaster because where do you start? So, you know, the normal process is you you work in a small town as the sports director in, you know, Dubuque, Iowa or something. You do that for bad money. Oh, everyone. I worked at sports in or did that. I avoided that. And it was when I was working in a place, I lost my job. And then I was I was laid off. And the person who ran the company got I don’t want to leave you in the swinging in the wind, but where can I send you? You know, I have a lot of contacts and I go, I love sports. So they put me in touch with prime sports. So I went there, which become Fox Sports. And I would answer phone calls, make photocopies. A lot of kids still do that. And, you know, they don’t know. So now, you know, they do photocopies and know, fax, anything, you know. But it’s I did that. And then there was a Spanish language channel and I became the programmer scheduler. So we would and the other person that was in this is John Laguna, who is the Spanish programmer, and I was alongside him. And John Laguna now is like the top play by play guy at Fox Sports, Fox Deportes. So the Spanish language was starting and then they said, Let’s start an English one. So all these leagues needed English narration and we had a guy named John Wall. John Walls. Kevin Wall. A Chairman. Kevin Wall is a really lovely guy and he was doing all the games. So he was doing like 14 games a weekend. And, you know, he had a contract, so they were packing it on there. He’s like, I go, Do you need any help? I’d love to do. He goes, Yeah, do this Chilean game or an Argentine game. So I took it off his and I did it for free for a while. So I’d go into Sunday and I’d call the games, but this was no where else in the world is this happening? In this countries is happening where you’re going in and calling soccer games of the biggest eventually the biggest games because, you know, no, it wasn’t. People didn’t care. I mean, we most of the rights fees we had were free. Right. We just did. It was like an ad share or something, including the Premier League. So we had them and then it’s so much has changed. So it was very good timing that I got into that and I enjoyed the sport watching it in Spanish. So anything in English was bizarre. And I spoke to Derek Rae, who was like broadcasting at that time. He did a monday. Premier League game needed some Champions League, but it wasn’t on a lot and now it’s on everywhere and it’s very competitive. But that gave me a chance to learn on the job. I mean, it was I was there was you made a lot of mistakes, but you fix them on the next broadcast. I was happy with it.


Jason Concepcion: What was the thing you wish somebody had been like? Max, avoid doing this.


Max Bretos: I remember one time there was there was a game. I did a city game and it was two last place teams. And then I would I’d come out and go, hey, today Brescia 19th, that plays 20th place, let’s say, to worst teams in the league. And I’m sitting there and I’m like, I should have been told to maybe spin it a little differently because I just I hear TV’s turning off and why do I want to watch this?


Jason Concepcion: Right. Yeah.


Jamel Johnson: It would be like you were telling me to go to bed.


Jason Concepcion: Yeah, right.


Max Bretos: Go to bed. 19th and 20th. Nothing to see.


Jason Concepcion: What are you doing here? They’re paying me. What’s your problem?


Max Bretos: I wish someone came up to me. Don’t say that. I go. Okay, right. Let’s. Let’s talk it out a little bit. But just those little things that make a lot of sense that you would just come in without really thinking sometimes just reel it back a little bit with the humor. Probably would always help to.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah. Shout out to Dennis Miller. Oh, man. I just want to say a big shout out to you for just like you introduced me to soccer period when Fox Soccer was like really when I was still living in my parents house and they had the good cable man. Unreal. Every game, every country, it blew my mind. And the things haven’t been the same since I started paying my own bills. I’m not getting my Boca Juniors like I used to. That’s it, you know?


Max Bretos: That was a tough channel to get. But apparently it wasn’t that tough because I get these these stories and, you know, that means everything in the world that’s a mind blowing so that it hits me hard when you hear those things. But it’s yeah, that was hard know because we thought I didn’t think anyone was listening, but they were.


Jamel Johnson: I’m telling you, man, you was I would wake up to it. And then by the time yeah, by the time Leche came on, it was time to go to bed. It was just on all the time.


Max Bretos: You could have me have to phrase with context the time that Leche came on and.


Jamel Johnson: Yeah, yeah, that’s the look.


Max Bretos: Of another body. Body was always at the bottom. Body was always at the bottom. That sounds bad too. And it was like, I don’t know, Parma was great. Parma was it was, I think, a champion. It was a it was a good time. A lot of good players.


Jamel Johnson: Okay, let me I’m I saw something on your page. Ooh, speaking of, ah, Argentina and Balkan stuff. What the hell is going on, guys? Getting hit with fishes.


Max Bretos: So bizarre. So bizarre. Yeah, I just. That was. That’s a big game. So Boca River is the big Argentine rivalry. And the second one is racing independently, whose stadiums are two streets apart. It’s one of the famous shots. I love it. And you always get these what is it called? A drone shot. And you see the two stadiums are like two streets separating them. So I guess they’ve these players have had everything thrown at them. Maybe the guy was just thinking, let’s try something different. I was a bad fish. I was like it was like a small, like baitfish wasn’t even like a good fish.


Jason Concepcion: We’re not talking like a tuna or like a striper.


Max Bretos: Yeah, well, you know, they when they throw the octopus in those hockey games regardless. So that’s a legit animal. It’s like this sardine or something.


Jamel Johnson: Hit my man right in the mouth with a minnow.


Jason Concepcion: Max, finally a you know, my Red Bulls are languishing in fourth in the Eastern Conference doing okay. I did okay LFC is is cruisin at 45 points at this point 14 and 3/1 in the West. Any big predictions for this MLS season?


Max Bretos: It’s hard to see LFC, not their targets.


Jason Concepcion: I agree.


Max Bretos: I mean more so now with all these guys playing and they still have Brian Rodriguez coming back. I just look at the Western teams and I just don’t. Austin was tricky. That was the one team to beat LFC in their building. I just can’t see it lasting at the end. Now, the playoffs, anything can happen. And you know, Seattle is going to start getting it getting right and well, maybe Portland, maybe the Galaxy. I mean, I wouldn’t rule them out because they certainly do have ambition, but it’s going to be tricky with the roster that they have. But the East, I mean, there’s like there’s the cream rising to the top. NYC, AFC and Philly are really good teams and they keep winning in the Red Bulls may be hard pressed because they’re not as deep, but if they can stay healthy, they can keep up with those guys. So I think it’s going to be one of those five or six teams and I mean even the West, I mean, again, the playoffs. L AFC You’ve learned that in year one when they lose lost to real Salt Lake in the playoffs and they fell short in that magical 2019 year. But I just can’t see it. I mean, at least you can’t predict it. You can’t come up and say, Who’s going to come out of the West? Everyone has to say, AFC, you have to just based on form. You could say anything could happen in the playoffs. Look what’s going to happen. I don’t know. Then your answer is AFC. Yeah, and then I would. It’d be great to see New York City. AFC Well, I should say Toronto because I watched them on Saturday and it was phenomenal with the new Italians Bernardeschi and in Sydney they look great. So there’s a, there’s some good top teams. I hope that they the playoffs certainly benefit the underdogs. I just hope we maybe a good year with the heavyweights at the top there with the personalities because MLS could use that. I can tell.


Jason Concepcion: You. I think you could use that for sure. You know, the playoff system is. It’s a lot of who gets lucky. But I’m I agree the sport would it would be great to see that.


Max Bretos: If you got LAFC and New York City FC in California Stadium.


Jason Concepcion: That’d be fucking great.


Max Bretos: I’d say Toronto, but Canadian teams, for whatever reason, don’t excite the American public, which is a shame. I seen it in hockey and here, but that would be something spectacular as well. And I like to see someone firmly up on that. I’m not diminishing, Austin. Maybe that’s them. They’ve done a had a incredible year, but maybe one of the bigger clubs with the resources could maybe a joint AFC near the top. We’ll see.


Jamel Johnson: Come on, man. Bale scores, game winner at home, at the bank. And then they hold the confetti, hits the ground. He puts, he puts a pair of lokes on and rides off on a lowrider bike. Woooh


Max Bretos: You see him and Snoop just cruising the LBC.


Jamel Johnson: Kurupt


Jason Concepcion: Jerry West comes down from the owner’s box, gets on the back of his motorcycle, and they ride off.


Max Bretos: What an L.A what an LA moment. Jamel over under. How many Gareth Bale goals?


Jamel Johnson: This season?


Max Bretos: He already got one.


Jamel Johnson: This season, I’mma say ten.


Max Bretos: I think that’s the right number. I think he can get that.


Jason Concepcion: He is Max Bretos, the voice of LAFC, host of the Soccer OG podcast. Max, this was great. Thank you so much.


Max Bretos: Fantastic conversation. Great to join you guys.


Jason Concepcion: You’re the best, man. That’s it for us. Follow and subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. Don’t forget to subscribe to X Ray on YouTube for exclusive video clips from my pop culture series, which releases videos twice a week. Check it out. See you next time buh bye. Takeline is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Ryan Wallerson and Zuri Irvin. Our executive producers are myself and Sandy Girard. Engineering, editing and sound design by the great Sarah Dubalaska and the folks to Chapter four. And our theme music is produced by Brian Vasquez. Mia Kelman is on the Zoom for vibes, and the vibes are fantastic all the time.