Ted Lasso is back and better than ever

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There are many reasons that “Ted Lasso” garnered a record 20 Emmy nominations last week — and it’s back Friday (July 23) and firing on all cylinders.

That’s good news for fans (including yours truly) who’ve been waiting for the Jason Sudeikis comedy to return, ever since it premiered almost a year ago to widespread acclaim, transporting viewers into a world of rah-rah heart and soul and good, old-fashioned humor.

It’s all on display in the Season 2 opener. Feelgood Ted Lasso (Sudeikis), the folksy American college football coach transplanted to England, is still coaching his much-improved AFC Richmond team, aided by Coach Beard (Brendan Hunt) and their assistant, Nathan (Nick Mohammed).

Back too are reformed team owner Rebecca (Hannah Waddingham) and Keeley (Juno Temple), still dating angry, retired soccer star Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein, also a series writer), who’s now coaching an under-9 girls soccer team in West London and directing his aggression toward his wide-eyed young charges. Jeremy Swift returns as Leslie Higgins, the team’s put-upon director of football operations, who seems to have gained a bit more of respect from his colleagues this time around (though he still manages to step in it time and again).

The snappy writing and winning performances, by all concerned, are on display in the opening episode, in which a tragic mishap with the team’s canine mascot, Earl, takes its toll on star player Dani “Football is Life!” Rojas (Cristo Fernandez) — which, in turn, introduces the season’s newest character, no-nonsense sports psychologist Sharon Fieldstone (Sarah Niles). The episode is rife with clever lines (Ted: “There’s two buttons I never like to hit: panic and snooze,” or “I’m more stumped than Paul Bunyan’s local forest”), and even the Jets — yes, those Jets, who play in MetLife Stadium — take a ribbing. Episode 2 revisits the saga of arrogant ex-AFC Richmond star Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) who’s appearing on the UK reality show “Lust Conquers All” for “his profile.” It’s handled in clever fashion.

Sudeikis, who snared three Emmy nods — one for Best Actor in a Comedy and two others for writing (along with the show itself) — is in top form as the good-natured Ted, whose homespun philosophy often manifests itself in unintentionally wicked humor — and who sees only the good in every situation, however untenable. Emmy nominees Temple, Waddingham, Goldstein, Hunt (also a series co-writer), Swift and Mohammed testify to the strength of the supporting cast — a deep, talented bench that would thoroughly impress the enthusiastic Ted Lasso.

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