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De’s Nuggets: The Dutch philosopher finds beauty in the unfairness of it all

Frank de Boer opines on this beautiful game that is sometimes unfair. And that’s why it’s beautiful? Something like that...

MLS: FC Dallas at Atlanta United FC Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Frank de Boer got real deep on Saturday following another disappointing home loss for Atlanta United. While speaking to the media after the match, de Boer spoke positively about Ezequiel Barco’s progression as a player, and negatively about the time-wasting tactics from FC Dallas. He also pointed out Atlanta needs to take fewer silly risks—cough, cough, ridiculously ill-timed LGP slide tackle, cough, cough—that result in counterattacking opportunities for the opponent.

What interested me most though were the moments when de Boer’s comments turned philosophical:

Sometimes, soccer is unfair, and maybe, it was like that today for us, but that’s why the game is so beautiful. Not always the best team wins, but again, if we play like this with the intensity and quality we showed on the field, the points will come for sure.


I think everything we did well and sometimes it’s not fair, but in the end, it makes the game beautiful.

Indeed, the beautiful game is not always fair, and so it’s often the uncertainty and mystery that comes with every opening whistle that attracts us diehard soccer fans. You never know what you’re going to see. A handball here, a red card there, and what the casinos might have predicted as a sure thing can quickly become a bad beat.

Another great Dutch philosopher, Erasmus, once said, “Human affairs are so obscure and various that nothing can be clearly known.” Like any human endeavor worth pursuing, soccer is unpredictable. And it would be boring as hell if it weren’t.

Over the course of a long season, however, the best teams do tend to rise to the top of the table. It’s why some DSS writers view the Supporters’ Shield, not the MLS Cup, as the true measure of a champion. (Not me, I love the uncertainty and the big, dumb, loveable Americanness of the MLS Cup Playoffs.)

Regardless, I still think as the season progresses, Atlanta United will begin to climb the table as their individual quality shines through and the team finds its new identity under FdB. Just on the offensive front, we’ve seen improvement throughout season when it comes to producing quality scoring opportunities:

They’re creating chances, which unless you’re the 2018 version of Josef Martinez, is all you can really hope to do in a sport as capricious as soccer.

I know that’s not what most Atlanta fans want to hear, as many of you are instead feeling like another all-world Dutchman, James van der Beek:

And Erasmus might respond with, “Time takes away the grief of men.” I urge all Five Stripes fans to heed these words, at least for a little while longer. Who knows, if we just give FdB a little more time despite the uncertainty, we might start to see something beautiful emerge this season.