Interesting match. Tottenham Hotspur hosted Liverpool on Sunday, went down by two goals, but played some pretty good football en route to a frustrating, but still strangely encouraging, 2-1 home loss. The result was bad, but there were some pretty good performances overall, and while I won’t speak for all fans, I left this match feeling a lot better about Tottenham’s trajectory than I did going in.
For today’s theme, we’re sticking to sports — specifically the XFL, which is set to have its third reboot next year when it emerges from the ashes of COVID-19 to once again position itself as the bad boy of American football. What’s interesting about it is that while there are a few teams and franchises that carry over from its 2020 incarnation, the XFL is once again trying to reimagine itself with new teams, new cities.
The overall look of the brand, however, continues in that outdated mid-Aughties graphic design style. And those logos — whoo boy do we have takes about them. So let’s do that in time-tested Carty Free style by using them in a player ratings theme.
Here are your Tottenham Hotspur player ratings to the theme of revamped XFL team logos.
5 stars: St. Louis Battlehawks
I have no complaints here. Battlehawks is a pretty bad-ass name for a sports franchise. Lots of teams have hawks mascots, they’re pretty fierce birds. Now imagine hawks with friggin’ SWORDS. The logo is also excellent — no actual birds in sight, just a big-ass claymore and some wings, so maybe the “hawks” part is a metaphor? Either way: bitchin’. Five stars.
Unfortunately, no Tottenham players were (quite) as good as a team named the Battlehawks.
4.5 stars: San Antonio Brahmas
I’m a little distressed that in this case “Brahmas” are bulls (technically “brahmans” y’all) and not the Hindu god of creation, but that’s a pretty sweet looking bull logo so I’ll let it pass. It’s also one omitted letter away from the San Antonio Brahms, and someone in the fan base needs to start showing up to matches with ginormous beards and speaking in German.
Yves Bissouma (Community - 4.0): THERE’S the Bissouma we thought we were buying this summer from Brighton. Steady on the ball, solid tackling, and vastly improved Patterning (tm).
Dejan Kulusevski (Community - 4.0): Deki comes on after a two month absence and within two minutes has an assist. What a guy. The offense just clicks with him, and without him... doesn’t.
4 stars: Houston Roughnecks
“Roughnecks” is a pretty iffy name for a sports team, though I understand its connotation as referring to people who engage in serious manual labor and that jives with the overall blue collar working person’s vibe. But really, I just love that the logo evokes the old Houston Oilers franchise, which was one of the great now-defunct NFL logos.
Rodrigo Bentancur (Community - 4.0): Another solid performance, though slightly down from the highs of the Marseille win. I like that he’s getting forward, but I’d also like him to get just a touch better with his final ball.
Ivan Perisic (Community - 3.5): Not a perfect performance playing up top alongside Kane — his final ball was a little off and he looked like he hadn’t played there in a while. But he smacked the woodwork twice and it’s clear the instinct, if not the execution, was still there.
Harry Kane (Community - 4.0): That’s the kind of Harry Kane goal you expect from him where he pops up out of nowhere to head it home. Also hit the woodwork. A solid effort and it’s not hard to think that with his usual offensive compatriots with him the whole game he might have had more than one.
Antonio Conte (Community - 3.5): I don’t have any real complaints about how Conte set up this match, considering who he had available. Spurs certainly weren’t playing rope-a-dope int he first half and looked quite effective despite the loss.
3.5 stars: Seattle Sea Dragons
In 2020, Seattle’s XFL franchise was just the Dragons, and the logo looked a lot fiercer. Apparently COVID just shoved everything into the water offshore? Sea Dragons is fine, it’s appropriate for Seattle, but I get a serious House Velaryon vibe from this logo when compared to the old one, like yes yes we know you have dragons, but they’re puny water dragons now and don’t forget you owe fealty to the Targaryens.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (Community - 3.5): Another workman-like effort from General Ho. Tested the keeper once and was industrious but less involved offensively.
Matt Doherty (Community - 3.5): Added some extra oomph in the attack when Spurs were chasing the match late, and earned a hockey assist for Kane.
Emerson Royal (Community - 2.5): Imma die on this hill. This was an above average performance, and I’d go as far as to say one of Emerson’s better matches for Spurs. Despite the weird cross to nowhere, he was solid defensively, provided some crucial ball progression on the right side, and was quite good with his passing in the middle and upper third. Also had two crucial tackles on Darwin Nunez that saved big chances. Yeah, he’s not great on offense, but focusing just on that minimizes the smaller things that he does do well. He gets way too much shit from Spurs fans, including from me.
3 stars: Vegas Vipers
Yawn. Eminently forgettable in all possible ways.
Ben Davies (Community - 3.0): Lost in space on Liverpool’s first goal, but a fairly good defensive performance against a full-strength (and at times frightening) Liverpool attack.
Clement Lenglet (Community - 3.0): I like Clement in the center, and I think Conte’s system is designed to protect whoever’s there. Got beat once in first half but did well to recover as well as possible. Fired an open header over the bar.
Hugo Lloris (Community - 3.0): Basically rooted for both goals, but had a few good stops as well.
Ryan Sessegnon (Community - 3.0): Did well in several battles against Trent Alexander-Arnold and also earned a penalty that wasn’t called. But his decision making in the final third left a lot to be desired. Got the “hockey assist” when Perisic smacked the bar.
2.5 stars: DC Defenders
What a stupid mascot, and an even worse logo. Defenders? What are you defending? That logo looks like what happens when an intern has no idea how to graphically depict something as anodyne as “Defender.” And since this is an American football team, that 3-4 defensive set better be rock-solid every season or the memes write themselves.
Eric Dier (Community - 2.0): Properly pilloried for the shambolic back header that led to Liverpool’s second goal, but other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Actually, he wasn’t awful apart from that. Fired a header on goal and had some good interceptions. But he’s better in the center.
2 stars: Orlando Guardians
Guardians, like Defenders, is a bad mascot, and it’s somehow made worse by plopping a generic K-State wildcat head on it. Like, I get it — the Guardians used to be a NYC franchise so the big cat heads might have referenced the stone lions outside the library. But it’s not NYC anymore, it’s Orlando. Is the XFL Guardians franchise so valuable that the big cat head needs to survive a move to central Florida? You couldn’t have picked something else? Without that context, why are Guardians big cats? I have five cats, they don’t guard shit. Bad name, bad logo, bad context. This is dumb.
I didn’t think any Tottenham players were this poor.
1 star: Arlington Renegades
Easily the most phoned-in XFL logo, and it didn’t have to be that way. In 2020, they were the Dallas Renegades and had an interesting (if weirdly dated) logo of an angry masked dude with red eyes. And this had promise! There were definitely Star Wars tie-ins to the blue-skinned, red-eyed bounty hunter Cad Bane. Hell, Cad would’ve made a pretty friggin’ spectacular mascot (licensing issues aside) for the Renegades. Instead, Arlington fans get... [checks notes] a long R. I’m preemptively embarrassed for this franchise.
No Tottenham Hotspur players were as bad as the Arlington Not-Cad Banes.
Tom Carroll Memorial Non-Rating