You’re Welcome Hollywood: The Search for America’s Defining Soccer Movie
I am absolutely fascinated by the way baseball has engrained itself not just into our sporting culture, but into our popular culture as well. This past weekend the movie Moneyball came out, and like so many other Americans I was in line to see it. The funny thing about this is that I do not even like baseball, but for whatever reason I love baseball movies. Major League, Bad News Bears, A League of Their Own, Field of Dreams and several more have become part of our daily culture. “There’s no crying in baseball!” resonates with people in a way that Goal: The Dream Begins or Ladybugs could only dream of. It is due to this, that partway through Moneyball, I realized that if soccer is ever going to make it in America –whatever that means– there must be a defining soccer movie.
However, beyond an array of documentaries, the pickings of American soccer movies are slim as neither The Big Green nor Air Bud: World Pup screams “defining movie.” Then it hit me like a fastball to the crotch: remakes! Take something that has been done, slightly alter it, put in younger actors, and switch sports and we could have the first of many defining American soccer movies. So, for the next few weeks, or at least until I get bored with this premise, I will be taking great American sports movies and reimagining them as soccer films, in hopes of discovering the defining American soccer movies.
You’re welcome Hollywood.
First Up: 1989’s Major League
The Original Plot: The new owner of the Cleveland Indians decides that she wants to tank the season so that she can move the team to Miami. In her plot, she fields a team of sorry has-beens, and young never-will-bees. Eventually, after some struggles, the team comes together and wins their division.
The Remake: In our soccer remake, the part of the Cleveland Indians will be played by the New England Revolution. The plot will unfold like this: the old owner of the New England Revolution decides that he wants to destroy the team, so that he can just dissolve them and focus on his far more important, and profitable, American football team. In his plot, he fields a team of sorry has-beens and young never-will-bees. Eventually, after some struggles, the team comes together and wins MLS Cup.
And It Shall Be Called: Major League Soccer
This stuff just writes itself! Now that we have a basic plot outline for our remake, we need to look at how to alter our baseball players into proper movie footballers.
Character: Lou Brown Position in Original: Manager Position in Remake: Manager Portrayed By: James Gammon
In Major League, Lou Brown is a tire salesman who has managed the Toledo Mud Hens for the last 30 years. He has a good relationship with Jake Taylor, and a willingness to try out young players like Hayes and Vaughn, while integrating older players into his lineup. This character plot remains entirely the same, so it pretty much makes Lou Brown into the American Sir Alex Ferguson. However, in our remake, before his job he works as a yacht club repairman, who formerly managed the Cape Cod Crusaders of the PDL until their dissolution.
Defining Moment: Upon finding out that the owners plan was to dissolve the club, he pulls out a life-size cardboard cutout of the owner –we’ll call him Rob Craft– and says that for each point the team earns he will remove one piece of clothing. This makes for an awkward ending where a life-size cardboard cutout of Rob Craft is sitting in nothing more than a g-string and some pasties.
Character: Jake Taylor Position in Original: Catcher Position in Remake: Center back Portrayed By: Tom Berenger
In Major League, Jake Taylor was the heart of the team, the leader, the older states man. As a catcher with bad knees, Jake was struggling playing ball in a questionable Mexican league. He immediately took a role as the leader that the team needed. In the Remake, Jake Taylor will again be the aging heart of the team. At the beginning of our version he will have been playing in the questionable Mexican sixth division. The bad knees will remain intact –so to speak– as will the primary story revolving around Jake
Defining Moment: Jake is the last penalty taker on the inevitable penalty shootout against New York –it has to be New York– in the championship game. The shot must be retaken three time, before he nails his shot in the upper corner and crumples to the ground under his bad knees.
Character: Rick Vaughn Position in Original: Pitcher Position in Remake: Striker Portrayed By: Charlie Sheen
Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn is perhaps the defining character of Major League. To this day when The Troggs’ “Wild Thing” plays, if you lived at all in the 80s, you think of Charlie Sheen, in thick-rimmed glasses, approaching the mound. Vaughn was a wild man; after all, he rode a motorcycle, but at the beginning of the film he could not hit the broadside of a barn with a pitch. Now rechristened as Ricardo Vega, because like Jurgen Klinsmann we need a Latin influence, we follow the same tropes as far as someone who has been released from prison to play with the team. In the remake, Vega makes elusive runs, has a rocket launcher for a leg, but cannot hit anything on target.
Defining Moment: As the fourth penalty taker, where his team has hit three and the opponents have missed one, Ricky steps up to the spot against a keeper who earlier in the film he chocked a penalty against — New York keeper Clu Haywood—and lightly chips the ball down the center as Haywood leaps to the side.
Character: Willie Mays Hayes Position in Original:Centerfield Position in Remake: Striker Portrayed By: Wesley Snipes
Willie Mays Hayes was a speed demon who was never invited to training camp, but worked his way onto the team. Hayes had plans to break Major League Baseball’s all-time steals record, and had the arrogant attitude of a superstar. Upon his arrival at camp, he told everyone that he “runs like Hayes, hits like Mays”. Unfortunately, he had a lot of speed, but not much else. Reimagined as Willie Lionel Edison, he now “run like Lionel, score like Pele” (Edison is Pele’s birth name, though I’m sure actual script writers will come up with something better here). Willie is faster than anyone else on the field, but has no first touch.
Defining Moment: In the first game of the season, Willie tells the opposing central defender that he has bought several pairs of boots to hang up on his wall for every goal he scores. The defender asks if he is going to be able to score with his shoes untied. As Willie looks down, the defenders move the line up just before a long ball is sent to Willie who is caught about four yards offside.
Character: Pedro Cerrano Position in Original: Leftfield Position in Remake: Goalie Portrayed By: Dennis Haysbert
Cerrano was the hulking power hitter, who could not hit a curve ball. Over the course of the film we see that he practices voodoo in order to help him with this problem. Later he goes on to become POTUS. Let’s start with this, Cerrano was cool, but was also crazy, which in my estimation makes him the perfect keeper. In our remake Cerrano can stop any shot from distance, but is incapable of stopping anything from within the 18, hence the voodoo.
Defining Moment: In our climactic penalty shootout with New York, Cerrano has giving up the first three penalties, Cerrano steps off to the side and says, “I stick up for you Jobu. You no help me now … I say fuck you Jobu. I do it myself!” then steps up and makes the stop.
Character: Eddie Harris Position in Original: Pitcher Position in Remake: Winger Portrayed By: Chelcie Ross
Eddie Harris is an oft forgotten, yet hilarious character from Major League. He is an older pitcher, very savvy, but also a bit of a cheat. Harris doctors his pitches in able to continue competing with the younger pitchers. In addition, he is very cynical towards every player, especially Cerrano. Transformed onto the pitch, Harris is now a former US International who is assigned to the team via the allocation order. Harris is incredibly unhappy to be placed with the team, but happy that he still gets to play. In order to keep playing, he flops in the box to get an advantage on offense, and anytime someone has any sort of advantage on him, which is often, he has no problem delivering a well-timed kick to various places, pulling shirts and short, or delivering questionable tackles to “even the field.”
Defining Moment: When Vega notices a clear flop from Harris, which earns Harris a yellow card and cost the team points in a stretch run of the season, he confronts him after the game. Harris turns to Vega and says, “I haven’t got moves like you, kid. I have to do anything I can. Someday you will too.”
Character: Roger Dorn Position in Original: Third base Position in Remake: Midfielder Portrayed By: Corbin Bernsen
Roger Dorn was a third baseman who signed a big contract, but was not nearly as good as he thought he was. Regardless of his several shortcoming, he wouldn’t do any work to get better or to help the team. He spent most of his practice time sitting in a lawn chair, pointing out holes in his contract that allowed him to get out of training. Reimagined, he is now a British Designated Player…enough said.
Defining Moment: During a defensive drill, Dorn tells the team manager that as a world class player his contract says he doesn’t have to participate in anything that he deems unnecessary.
Sounds like a hit! Let’s get going Hollywood! I expect this one out in time for Awards Season.