وزارد او دا وستساد
VIZITOR TO THE VESTSIDE
an
American blog of Iranian dissent

Emperor's Last Stand

If you stayed up late the other night you could've seen what was labeled 'The Access of Evil" matchup between North Korea and Iran on the soccer pitch. At the helm is the squad's first Iranian-American head coach, the charming and effervescent Afshin Ghotbi, who's suddenly been thrust into the precarious position of re-righting the screwy course the team has been on lately.

Back at France '98 when the USA and Iran paired up one crisp summer evening in Lyon, a young Afshin Ghotbi was also coaching on the sidelines as an assistant -- but for Team USA,not Team Melli. Didn't matter to the throngs of tongs in thongs in Vestvood celebrating our asses off.

Ghotbi arrived in California as a kid in the late seventies, growing up in Glendale then riding a scholarship to play futbol at UCLA, getting a degree in Electrical Engineering along the way. Before the USA gig his big break was as an assistant with the LA Galaxy, which was then a novelty with novel-readers like Arash Noamuz. Suddnely out of nowhere he got a major head coaching opportunity at Tehran's legendary club Persepolis, leading them to a title in his first (and only) season.

Afshin is one of the few Iranian-Americans who's been able to successfully cross the divide as someone unapologetically proud of both his American status and his Iranian roots, identifying ultimately as a citizen of this earth . Like a true Persian  he's noted for being cosmopolitan and tech-savvy: introducing MacBooks into the workforce in Tehran, while chatting up world peace with The New York Times.

He's got one more game to salvage his squad's chances to qualify for next summer's FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Check it out Wednesday morning live on FSC at 7pm ET. Ghotbi's buddy, local radio host Mehran Molkara of KIRN 670am, will be present in the broadcast booth too.

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