A few days from now, Team USA will face the Netherlands in the World Cup’s round of 16 — which makes now the perfect time to read Rosecrans Baldwin’s elegy for his late friend Lars, a soccer obsessive who held the Dutch concept of totaalvoetbal above all else. A beautiful life, enhanced by the beautiful game.

It was controlled chaos—unpredictable to opponents, thrilling for fans. But it demanded a lot, Lars would explain, for the men at work, with players flying in and out of positions. First of all, everyone on the field needed to be attuned to what everyone else was doing. Also, they needed to be able to play any position at any time, and play it tough. Also, they needed to run and run, just run nonstop.