I’m starting my new series of posts with a personal favorite show, the Total Soccer Show.
Full disclosure, I’m part of their scouting network, a series of supporters (we pay at least $5 a month) who also contribute reports on young players assigned to us. I’ve kept that separate from this blog out of respect for the show, and if you’re interested in knowing about my scouting reports, listen to the show and see if you can spot reports about Ronan Hale or Jack Storer of Birmingham City.
And now, my review.
My Early Exposure
I lucked out. When I was looking for more football podcasts and sort of stumbled across this one, the hosts were about to begin the crazy summer of Copa America and the Euros, covering literally every day. They were practically living in their studio, and I developed so much respect not only for the quality of the product, but also the commitment to consistent quality, rising to the occasion, that I knew I had to support the show to keep it going.
They’ve since gone to 5 days a week.
My very first episode was a Simpsons XI, where they each selected teams made up of characters from The Simpsons and explained why they made those selections. They’ve done a few shows like this since, including American Presidents, and recently, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
Since I’ve been listening, the hosts have been Taylor Rockwell and Daryl Grove, based out of Richmond, VA. They also do commentary for USL team Richmond Kickers, which I can only imagine is lovely. Daryl is originally from Brum, and Taylor is American. Taylor’s a Man U fan, and Daryl must have had a lovely morning today, watching his Wolves beat Liverpool 2-1.
Both are knowledgeable, professional, meticulous, and humorous. They make a point of keeping the podcast at a high standard, but they always have fun doing it. It’s also very clear that they’re friends, and they have a very comfortable rapport. Even though I’ve never met them in person, I think of them as my friends. The listener has no trouble imagining the whole thing as a conversation among pals, including the listener base.
As with much US-based content, there’s a significant amount of MLS coverage, with second focus going to Premier League, and then international football – namely the USMNT and USWNT. Much of the scouting network is made up of young American talent, at home or playing abroad, and listeners will feel confident that they’re not only staying up to date on American excellence today, but also the development of the stars of tomorrow.
Major tournaments of all types are covered, including South American, North American, European, and even African tournaments. They just did a special interview, and a whole episode dedicated to the African Cup of Nations. There hasn’t been anything much on the Asian front, apart from the usual musings about players going to China, but as I’m not especially interested in Asian football, this hasn’t caused me any concern. Apart from their interest in MLS, Taylor and Daryl’s coverage of the various leagues and tournaments has thus far mirrored my levels of interest in the various leagues and tournaments.
They also dedicate time to the Scouting Network, which spans many countries and leagues, including both male and female players. If you listen to the show and like it, I encourage you to join the scouting network. It’s a great way to focus your interest in youth development, and gives you a vested interest in supporting a young player.
It also gives you bragging rights if your player does well, and something to force your parents to listen to when they read out your report on the show.
As I said above, the show has gone to a five-days-a-week structure, making it one of my more regular podcasts. With 40-ish minute episodes, this is a glorious way to cover a lot of information in the football world nearly daily, not just focus on one league or one nation. It’s given them the scope to cover a lot of topics, and they also do emergency podcasts when something really big – like the firing of Klinsmann – happens after their recording, or on a day they wouldn’t normally record.
They did take some days off – understandably – during the holiday season, for illness and travel, and the really difficult weather in Virginia this winter. They’ve done what they can to limit lack of shows during these seasons, though, having one of them hold down the fort, doing interviews rather than not putting out any content at all, so at worst, you might have three episodes in a rough week, instead of five. Still way better than basically ALL other podcasts. The interviews are really interesting, too, from former players to people in the US leagues, from journalists experts on football merchandise. They know how to cover all kinds of topics.
I’ve mentioned the scouting network already, but subscribing at different levels will earn different rewards to pile on top of each other, like so many support schemes. I won’t list them all, as they’re available for consideration on the website, but they’ve got a promise to answer one question a month at the ten dollar level, and there’s even a promise to play their Wikipedia game at a higher commitment – that’s a lot of fun to listen to. I’ll explain in comments if someone asks.
You can also support the show by buying some merchandise. They have scarves and t-shirts, details on the website. It’s a small start, but a good start.
Finally, they do have some sponsors, so you’ll hear some advertising on the show. This is a turn-off for some people, but let me explain. They’ve got sponsors like Mack Weldon (apparel), Audible (like every other podcast), Blue Apron (food shipment services), Ruffneck Scarves (scarves), SeatGeek (event ticketing), and Futchi, which is a rebounder they talk about a lot on the show, and have posted videos of their usage of. They feature coupon codes, naturally, but they also talk about their experience with these things, so you know it’s something they use and like, and not just random paid advertising. The ads change, so they stay interesting and relevant.
Are you a TSS listener/supporter? Anything I missed you want to add? Anything you disagree with?
Also, if you have a podcast you want me to review, go ahead and let me know in the comments! I might be on my list (I’ll bump it forward), or I may not have listened yet, but I’m always looking for more football podcasts to try.