About D.J. Switzer

Soccer player, writer, fan, podcaster and enthusiast... in no particular order. Writing from an American footie fan's perspective at www.wrongsideofthepond.com from Cincinnati, USA.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 39

WSOTP - Blog - Season 2 Episode 39.fw

With no side relegated during the next to last round of the season in the Premier League, that means the race for the final drop spot remains a big talking point on this week’s #Pondcast. Listen in as D.J. and Jeremy go through the scenarios each of Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle need to stave off, as well as wax poetic on Steven Gerrard’s last game at Anfield. Also on this week’s episode are reflections on USL’s return to Cincinnati — from not only ourselves, but also listeners too — a look back at the second legs of the Champions League semifinals, and off the field issues overshadowing much needed wins for two MLS sides, and much more.

ALSO A FAVOR TO ASK: On next week’s podcast, the guys will be eulogizing their respective clubs’ seasons… and we want to hear your eulogies for your own clubs! Just as with any questions or topics you want us to cover next week, shoot your’s to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit us up on social media via links at the bottom of the page.

And of course, don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 38

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 38

The fates of two Premier League sides were decided this past weekend, with Burnley and QPR both officially relegated. And a similar fate awaits one more, but who that is — Sunderland, Hull City, maybe even Newcastle? — remains to be seen. And in Episode 38 of the #Pondcast, the guys delve into those sides and their remaining fixtures. Also on this week, our thoughts on the first legs of the Champions League semifinals, the upcoming FIFA elections, the first ever MLS New York City Derby (or whatever you want to call it), and much much more.

Have a question that you want to ask on next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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revealed: USL in Cincinnati

Featured

WSOTP - Blog - Cincinnati USL.fw

Late last night — or early this morning, depending on how you want to look at it — some seismic news shook the Cincinnati soccer scene. As revealed by good friend Chad Hollingsworth from Scratching the Pitch, a full-fledged professional soccer would be returning to the Queen City in the form of a new USL franchise.

No, this isn’t the long rumored move of the Dayton Dutch Lions to Cincinnati. Nor is it the USL PDL’s Cincinnati Dutch Lions stepping up a level in the ladder, either. I’ve also received confirmation that there is zero involvement from the already established Cincinnati Saints of the NPSL. This is a brand, spanking new club — admittedly with some loose ties to the Dutch Lions organization.

So who is this new club, where did they come from, and how this all come to be?

Word of a new USL franchise first came across my desk back in December of 2014, and I’ve been chasing information on it ever since. Admittedly, extruding any sort of information on the topic proved extremely difficult. Wrong paths were followed. Dead ends were discovered. Red herrings were hooked. But the wet weather of the last month has finally yielded spring flowers.

Let’s start with what we already know.

As Chad disclosed, the new Cincinnati USL club will be feature an ownership group fronted by Jeff Berding. He’s spent the last 17 years working for the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, currently holding the title of Director of Sales and Public Affairs.

Jeff’s ties to Cincinnati run deeper than just his role with the Bengals. He attended the same high school as myself, graduating from Cincinnati St. Xavier in 1985. Afterward, he attended Xavier University shortly thereafter. Berding also spent nearly five years as an elected official, serving as a Cincinnati City Councilman from 2005 to 20011.

As for his ties to soccer, Mr. Berding currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors of local youth soccer power, Kings-Hammer FC. For those who have followed the USL for some time, that club name may ring a very interesting bell. It’s the lovechild of a “joint-venture” between local youth side Hammer FC and former local USL Second Division franchise, the Cincinnati Kings. While that professional club may have gone belly up in 2009, the youth club has continued to thrive. Additionally, Berding’s LinkedIn profile indicated he’s also spent a spell on the sidelines as a youth coach for local parochial school St. Ursula Villa, too.

Also mentioned in the Scratching the Pitch article was another interesting soccer relationship: Berding served on the board of the Cincinnati Dutch Lions. More on that later.

While my sources confirmed the exact same information as what Chad wrote, aside from knowing that the team plans to begin play in Spring of 2016, that’s all we knew definitively about the prospects of USL coming to Cincinnati.

That wasn’t enough for me. So I, along with WSOTP Podcast partner Jeremy Lance, dug a bit deeper.

Continue reading

flying under the radar

Juventus striker Carlos TevezIt didn’t always used to be this way, Serie A.

Back in the 80’s and 90’s, the Italian top flight was legit. The ish, even. Many of the world’s best players — to name a handful, Maradona, Baggio, Weah, Maldini… even a quite young Totti — plied their trade in Italy. They played with clubs who were truly giants at the time, like Milan, Juventus, Inter, Lazio, Napoli and even Sampdoria. Starting with the 88/89 season, the league had at least one participant in the UEFA Cup/Champions League final in nine of the next 10 seasons. The Milan Derby was probably the most anticipated rivalry in the world footballing calendar. Serie A was rife with high wages, a wide following, glitz and glam — all the perks that came with being the recognized “best league in the world”.

But two decades on, we find a league that’s a shadow of its former self.

Pinpointing a single reason for its downfall would be impossible. Calciopoli, the match fixing scandal that rocked Italian football in 2006, is often pinned with much of the blame. That certainly didn’t help, but blaming it alone would be overly simplistic. Doing so ignores factors like crumbling stadia, a series of poor TV deals, decreasing fan interest, an increase in hooliganism, and even a (perhaps incorrect) stigma of an unattractive style of play — just to name a few.

And because of all of that, today we’re left with a league that gets a fraction of the attention that it once did, and plays out in a relative obscurity given its rich history.

And that’s a huge shame.

For one, things aren’t near as bad in Serie A as advertised. But secondly, a lack of attention on the league means that some really interesting stories are unfolding without getting the notice they should be due.

And one of those stories is Carlos Tevez. Continue reading

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 37

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 37

Since we last recorded, league champions have been crowned in the upper two levels of the English pyramid, and we took time in this week’s episode of the #Pondcast to discuss the incredible seasons by both favorites’ Chelsea and the underdogs’ AFC Bournemouth. But while the tops of the tables were interesting, the bottoms of them are even more fascinating. And while the bottom three may be locked in the Championship, there’s a lot left to be settled in the Premier League. There was, of course, still plenty of time left for the domestic side of things too — including a Crew collapse on the road, Montreal’s collapse in the CONCACAF Champions League — and our usual weekly segments.

Have a question that you want to ask on next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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the feast of insecurities

My friends over at the brand new Sixth Day Soccer are mostly Arsenal fans, and they wrote a detailed look into one of their supporters’ favorite annual traditions. As a Tottenham supporter, I felt the need to script my own reply after some banter-inspired prodding on Facebook. 

As a longtime Spurs fan, I’ve been conditioned to expecting the close of the season to be a bit uncomfortable.

Most of the time it’s depressing feelings that swell up due to the finality of Spurs again failing to meet our foolishly high expectations. And even when they do seem capable of actually reaching those lofty goals, a gut-wrenching fall from grace always seems to await just before the finish line. It’s tough not to be a realist in those situations, especially after seeing things play out following a similar pattern for majority of the last 20 years.

Luckily, I’ve always been an optimist, too. As such, I actively search out the bright spots in the dark clouds of each season’s close. Last year, it was Eriksen looking a capable creator. This season, it’s been Kane. And so long as I manage to plant those seeds of positivity during the gloomy stretch, it will normally yields hope for the following season in the early weeks of summer.

Unfortunately, Spurs’ easily-overlooked habit of under performing isn’t the only thing that makes the end of each season so aggravating for Tottenham supporters.

If there’s one thing that I truly loathe more than any other aspect of the end of each season, it’s “Saint Totteringham’s Day”.

Continue reading

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 36

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 36

Yeah, the EPL races are getting tighter and tighter — well, maybe not at the top of the bale — and we’ll be sure to get into those. There was also Champions League action near and afar, and that’s on the agenda for this #Pondcast, too. There’s plenty of Major League Soccer action for us to get into as well, and that’s where we’ll be spending most of our time on this week’s episode. So to really dial in on the domestic league action, we welcomed on domestic soccer aficionado and Sporting KC fan Mike McGrew, perhaps better known through his Twitter handle @CincySportingto talk all things MLS. Yes, you’ll get all the other usual segments you know and love too, and lots more.

If you have a question or topic for next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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ten words or less #109

While things on the writing front haven’t completely picked back up yet — I’ve had a few original pieces pop out of my brain recently — things on the design front have really picked up a bit. In addition to the recently announced Saints Matchday Poster project eating up gobs of my time, there’s also been work on the Women’s World Cup front too with at least one new shirt design and a Canada 2015 wall chart in progress too. So while I’m stoked to be working on all of that stuff, I wanted to apologize for the continued low output on the written side of things.

And as I normally do in these situations, I’ll attempt to bribe you to stick around a bit longer with some of my favorite links from the last week or so in the world of football. It’s working, right?

Other people think we’re worth following on Twitter! – northernpitch.com

Struggling with the end of the season? Here’s why. – theguardian.com

Heineken’s brilliant way to “watch” football at work. – docs.google.com

Serie A needs to do something to increase interest again. – football-italia.net

In case you wondered, “urban” USMNT looks like this. –  hypebeast.com

So far, exploding the Red Bulls front office has worked. – si.com

Ohhhhh… so it’s their fault you bit them. Got it.  – dirtytackle.net

“Brilliant arrogance” defined. – telegraph.co.uk

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!! – prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

Are Portland Thorns the first “real” club in women’s football? – theguardian.com

all hands on deck

EDIT: I wrote this article in the lead up to the first leg of the 2014/2015 CONCACAF Champions League final, before Montreal marched into the sold out Azteca and amazingly scrapped a 1-1 draw against Club América. But tonight, as the Impact prepare to now host that same Goliath in front of 61,000 of their own fans, this article rings even more true. Give it a read — and be sure to tune in tonight on Fox Sports 2 at 8pm ET. 

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re currently at a pretty busy point in the annual professional world soccer calendar.

The European leagues are wrapping up, with Champions soon to be crowned, those doomed to relegation set go down, and various promotion processes all around. The UEFA Champions League semifinalists will be set after today’s final quarterfinal match ups, and by June 6th we’ll know the Kings of Europe. Latin American leagues are now in full swing. International breaks sporadically dot the calendar too, offering friendlies and qualifiers alike.

And that’s just all of the stuff going down abroad. Domestically, the top three tiers of the American soccer pyramid are now in action. The fourth division will start within the next month. US Open Cup kicks off in the next few weeks, too. And for the most part, things are going really, really well. Average attendance is up in all three top leagues, expansion sides are making a huge splash, and TV viewership numbers are up as well. Plus, the USSF is actually paying attention to their own FA Cup for once — hooray!

But even with all of that progress, there’s still work to be done. Compared to the other “big four” sports leagues, attendance isn’t near as steady in our professional soccer leagues. And on the TV front, non-World Cup games still pale in comparison. All that considered, and it’s easy to say we’re clearly still in a transitional stage from fringe to popular sport.

So what am I getting at?

I’ve written before about how it’s on us — the American soccer fan — to drag this sport to where we want it to be. If we want American soccer to succeed, to gain mainstream acceptance, we need to do everything we can to promote the game to those who aren’t yet indoctrinated. Drag people to games in person and at pubs, promise them a beer if that’s what a takes.

And as it turns out, tonight is one of those nights where we need you to do some promotion with us.

Continue reading

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 35

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 35

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… there’s a lot of soccer to talk about this week, we’ve heard you say that on the Podcast around a million times.” Well, pardon us, but you’re going to hear it again. And really, it might be the most soccer we’ve ever tried to fit into one recording. We’ve got Premier League races, FA Cup shocks — including further professional trolling from Tim Sherwood — a very interesting round of MLS fixtures, a random international in USA-Mexico, plus the weekly Fantasy Update, Crap Football Watch and Winners & Wankers segments. And oh yeah, we did it all on a fancy new microphone set up thanks to friend of WSOTP, Adam Maloney. So we’ll be coming at you with “HD” sound… whatever that means.

Also, don’t forget to make our jobs easier by sending us your questions and topics to discuss on next week’s #Pondcast — the less content we have to come up with the better! You can reach us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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