Over the years, Kartik Krishnaiyer has established himself as one of the preeminent voices in American soccer. Never short of an opinion, Krishnaiyer is an encyclopedia of knowledge, traveling across the southeastern United States to watch the game at all levels.
Here’s our interview with the senior writer for World Soccer Talk, to give readers and listeners more insight into the man:
Christopher Harris (CH): What does USSF and Klinsmann need to change to increase the number of Americans coming through the system in order to be world beaters?
Kartik Krishnaiyer (KK): Start with how we identify and train players at a young age. I could go on and on with this topic but will say until we blow up the “pay to play” model at the youth level, we aren’t going to improve as vastly as we can. The United States COULD have competed for a World Cup victory by 2018 had Carlos Queiroz’s vision been fully implemented. Instead the “pay to play” youth system remained in place and the USSF can only do so much to work around it. The organizational structure provided by the USSF at the youth level is better than ever, but again until the system is overhauled it will never reach its potential. But the economic interests are too great to ever expect a change.
CH: You’ve had a rich history in working in politics as well as soccer. Given that you’ve consulted and worked for the Democrats in a large number of their campaigns, what Premier League best resembles the party?
KK: This only applies to Florida : Coventry City – once glorious, now fallen into financial ruin and continued losses. The color blue also seals the deal.
But seriously, I know you want a current Premier League club so it’s easy – Newcastle. Florida Democrats last won the Governorship in a balanced state back in 1994. Since then Democrats have basically carried the state FOUR times in Presidential elections. The party has the worst record in state elections since 2000 of any political party east of the Mississippi River. The party runs through staff like Newcastle runs through managers. Politicians ultimately perform better as Independents and Republicans (Like Charlie Crist) than as Democrats, much like Damien Duff, Scott Parker, Joey Barton, Jermaine Jenas, James Milner and so many others were far better players away from Newcastle than with the Magpies. Ultimately, like Newcastle, they have high expectations but after the season or the election, supporters are busy pointing fingers and making excuses. Like Newcastle, they have mastered making losing and internal drama an art form.
CH: I know you’re a huge Beatle fans. What’s your favorite album of theirs?
KK: Tough one. It’s probably between Revolver for the varied content including George’s contributions and Abbey Road. Let’s go with Abbey Road because the medley is truly a work of art. Revolver and Rubber Soul are fairly similar albums. Why not Sgt. Pepper? I love Pepper as I do all Beatles albums but it is not my favorite. The worst Beatles album? Beatles for Sale, which reflected a tired fab four forced to crank out an album. Most underrated album? I’d honestly say that is Let it Be without the Phil Spector musical interludes…Paul McCartney worked with EMI to release Let it Be Naked in 2002 or 2003. I highly recommend it.
CH: What’s the most fascinating fact about you that would surprise listeners and readers?
KK: I spend at least one hour a day on Wikipedia looking up totally random things. I mean random in someways though most have some historical background.
CH: Who are your favorite authors and writers from the world of football?
KK: David Goldblatt, the late David Wangerin and Simon Kuper.
CH: Do you agree or disagree with the statement that most soccer fans living in America are better informed and knowledgeable about world soccer than the typical English fan living in the UK?
KK: YES! So often when I travel to the UK, I think I am entering a football nirvana. Then, I interact with the people whose level of knowledge and analysis makes Alan Shearer look informed. Seriously, when I am forced to watch Andy Gray for any real “analysis,” you know the coverage is bad. The fans reflect that and the lazy stereotyping of the tabloids. The Guardian and Telegraph readers aren’t that widespread sadly, so the less informed fans seem to dominate the conversation.
CH: Tell us about the About.com project that you’re working on.
KK: It’s a Premier League site at About.com which will focus on the teams throughout the rest of the league outside the “big 6.” About has launched individual sites (or is in the process of launching) for the clubs labeled by Swiss Ramble as the “Sky 6” (Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea, LFC, Man City, Man United).
CH: Where can readers find your other writings outside of soccer?
KK: The Florida Squeeze is my political website which covers some other topics as well including occasionally Florida pro soccer. You can find it at www.thefloridasqueeze.com
CH: Over the years, you’ve been spot on with your predictions and analysis which you’ve taken a lot of heat for during those times, but many of your prognostications have come true in the end. What’s been your best prediction, and which one did you get woefully wrong?
KK: Honestly, I have too many predictions to recall which were the best and which went horribly wrong. One I recall was on the eve of the League Cup Final in 2011 predicting Arsenal would not win any trophies that season and finish 4th in the league. At the time it appeared they could win multiple trophies but their season came undone pretty quickly. On the same front, my worst prediction of recent years may have been that RVP would be a headache for Sir Alex and Arsenal would come out ahead after buying Giroud and Cazorla. Maybe long-term the Gunners win, but United won a title and gave Sir Alex a winner thanks in large part to the RVP signing. The irony of that signing is Welbeck became expendable and now of course is playing with Wenger and Arsenal, so I think long-term the Gunners certainly won but short term I was dead wrong.
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