in review: MLS jersey week 2015

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WSOTP - Blog - MLS Jersey Week 2015

Maybe it’s just me, but it sure feels like the Major League Soccer off season is getting shorter and shorter every year.

It seems as if it was just days ago that we were watching the Galaxy hoist their fifth MLS Cup trophy. Perhaps that’s due to the near constant stream of news now pouring from the league during the winter months. Expansion rumors, CBA negotiations, seemingly an entire generation of US players migrating to North American shores, the Garber v Klinsmann storyline, a litany of drafts, both of New York City’s clubs trying to out-PR-disaster one another… it’s been non-stop. And with clubs winding down preseason training and the regular season now just days away from kicking off, it’s only going to get worse.

But one particular MLS custom that I look forward to most of all the stories that come out during the offseason is the annual Jersey Week. The league finally got around to announcing that the 3rd Annual Jersey Week will begin this coming Saturday, February 28.

Though it’s not really a “week” this year like has been in the past, and we’ll get into that shortly.

Unfamiliar with Jersey Week? Beginning two seasons ago MLS decreed that each club should debut at least one new kit per season, and they’re all supposed to debut them this week. Some clubs put zero effort into it, issuing a regular release to the press and dusting off their hands. Others go all out with reveal parties packed full of supporters and local celebrities. Regardless of how they’re presented though, the internet subsequently explodes with opinion/rant/hate soon after they’re revealed. It’s grand fun, particularly for a gearhead such as myself.

And just as was the case the last two seasons again — here are my 2013 and 2014 Jersey Week reviews — WSOTP is back again in 2015 to offer up my thoughts on every new kit debuted too.

Now, I had grand designs to do things a little bit differently this go around. Instead of doing one long post at the end of the week as I have in year’s past, I had hoped to review each day’s worth of releases the day they drop, updating the same article with my reactions as each new shirt was debuted. Of course, half of the shirts leaked out ahead of time this year, thus taking a little of the wind out of my sails. But even in the disappointment, I still plan on proceeding with the course I had decided on anyway. I’m no quitter. Be sure to check back nightly starting this Saturday for my hot takes on the shirts.

Anyway, to skip ahead to your club’s review (assuming it’s done), click on their name below:

WESTERN CONFERENCE EASTERN CONFERENCE
Colorado Rapids FC Dallas Chicago Fire Columbus Crew SC
Houston Dynamo LA Galaxy D.C. United Montreal Impact FC
Portland Timbers FC Real Salt Lake New England Revolution New York City FC
San Jose Earthquakes Seattle Sounders FC New York Red Bulls Orlando City SC (H) (A)
Sporting Kansas City Vancouver Whitecaps FC Philadelphia Union Toronto FC

Otherwise, feel free to scroll on through the entirety of the reviews to see how every club fared. And if you care to share your thoughts — or your thoughts on my thoughts — hit up the comments at the base of the article or holler at me on Twitter.

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longing for the good ‘ol days

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WSOTP - Blog - Anger.fw

The new US away kits officially dropped on Monday. It was impossible to miss, with images of the new blue-streaked shirts littered across social media by everyone from Nike, US Soccer, current mens and womens players to blogs, news agencies and randoms alike.

But if you weren’t paying that close of attention, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone had instead dropped an atom bomb on the USSF headquarters in Chicago, such was the negative reaction to yet another American soccer decision.

Whether or not it was a majority is up for debate, but it’s clear a sizable portion of the American fan base hated the jersey. Their ire seems to be pointed in multiple directions too, with Nike, US Soccer and even Sunil Gulati receiving poignant 140-character tirades since its official release. It was described as “ugly”, “effortless” and “unneeded”. Some were angry that it replaced the beloved “bomb pop” kit dawned by the US men in Brazil last summer — which, if you recall, also received a fair bit of scorn when it was first released.

Whether or not you like, I don’t really care. I’m a fan. But then again, it’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to our own. It’s all subjective anyway and it’s no skin off my back if you don’t like it.

But the outrage that followed the new kit release wasn’t an isolated incident.

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announcing: background noise fc

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Megaphone.fwWe’ve been recording the official Wrong Side of the Pond podcast for just over a year and a half now. In total, we’ve recorded sixty-six episodes and have amassed a healthy following which numbered just shy of 200 subscriptions after our last episode. And to be honest, we’re stoked with how far we’ve come. Recording has been a blast, and it’s opened quite a few doors for us.

And even though we’ve experienced all this growth, we obviously still want the podcast to continue to grow. Problem is, it’s still really easy for our own “Pondcast” to get drowned out by the cacophony of other soccer pods out there.

All the major American outlets have them — NBC with their Men in Blazers, ESPN with their ESPNFC, Major League Soccer’s ExtraTime Radio, most of the SB Nation Blog’s, etc. There’s also the excellent podcasts across the pond, like The Football Ramble or the Guardian’s Football Weekly and the like. That’s some pretty stiff, well-backed  competition. Each of those shows has thousands upon thousands of subscribers. And that’s not even including the ocean of other independent soccer podcasts like ourselves filling the digital airways. But just because we’re small, that doesn’t mean that we’re not worthy of a listen. There are diamonds in the rough.

But what exactly are small appealing podcasts with limited backing supposed to do to continue to grow?

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an interview with professional soccer social worker lawrence cann

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Street Soccer USAIt’s not an infrequent occurrence to hear someone describe soccer as their life.

For many that I know — myself included — that’s a fairly accurate statement. I run a soccer website and spend a majority of my free time watching and taking in the beautiful game. My sister and her husband are both college soccer coaches. A fair few of my friends make their livings training and working for youth clubs. And a privileged few of my acquaintances actually pay their bills by playing the beautiful game.

But it’s a rarity that you ever hear someone talk about how soccer has saved their life. Unless, that is, your name is Lawrence Cann.

Lawrence Cann is president and founder of Street Soccer USA, a non-profit that aims to “improve health, education, and employment outcomes for the most disadvantaged Americans by using sports”. Working most frequently with homeless youth and adults, the program currently operates soccer-based programs in sixteen cities around the country.

Probably best known for the team they send to the annual Homeless World Cup, SSUSA’s biggest project every year is actually the domestic Street Soccer USA Cup. At that, all sixteen cities in the program send a representative squad of program participants to take part in a national tournament.

And as it just so happens, the 2014 edition of the Street Soccer USA Cup kicks off this weekend in San Francisco.

So to help get a better understanding of everything that the SSUSA program and their annual big event does to help the disadvantaged across the country, I spoke with the Lawrence Cann to get the low down on how they’ve managed to use soccer as a vehicle for social change.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 28

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 28The third “WSOTP Podcast Derby”of the season took place on Sunday, and this time a trophy was on the line between D.J.’s Tottenham and Jeremy’s Chelsea in the Capital One Cup Final. So you can expect that to feature prominently on this week’s Pondcast, alongside the shuffle in and around the Champions League spots that took place during this weekend’s Premier League action. Additional Champions League action also gets some talk time, as did the beginnings of our 2015 MLS season preview — expect much more of that on next week’s Episode 29, even if we don’t have a league to watch at that point. And yes, our normal weekly segments made it in there too.

Don’t forget that we want to talk about questions and topics. So if you have one or two for us, don’t be shy: shoot us an email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or reach out using the social media links at the bottom of the page. And be sure to subscribe using the links below to receive the WSOTP Podcast on your favorite mobile device.

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play MLS fantasy. win clean sheet co.

WSOTP - Blog - MLS Fantasy 2015.fwMany of our regular readers know of our love of fantasy soccer here at WSOTP. Not only am I an avid player of the virtual beautiful game, Jeremy and I talk about it on the #Pondcast and we’ve also hosted numerous fantasy leagues in which our followers and friends can compete alongside and against us. And with over 100 participants in this year’s WSOTP Fantasy Premier League, it was clear that many of you share the love of fantasy too.

So with the 2015 Major League Soccer season (supposedly) beginning this coming weekend, we figured we’d want to get in on the domestic fantasy action this year with you guys too.

But we’re not hosting just one fantasy league this time around. That’s right, we’re hosting TWO fantasy leagues: one in the “classic” format, and one in the “head-to-head” format.

And the surprises don’t stop there, either…

Though we usually award the winners of our fantasy leagues a shirt from our own WSOTP Shop, we realize that a domestic league should have domestic prizes. And admittedly — embarrassingly, even — our store is a bit short on designs in that genre at the moment. Luckily, our good friends at Clean Sheet Co. have generously partnered with us to provide the winner(s) of both our leagues a shirt of their choosing from their store!

The steps to join are simple enough:

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 27

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 27

Back in one location after last week’s remote episode, the latest episode of the Pondcast is a very Euro-centric episode. A dramatic weekend unfolded in the Premier League, at least as far as the refereeing went. There was jostling in the European places and relegation zone that needed to be discussed too, along with the (hilarious) return of Tim Sherwood. The UEFA Champions League returned to action as well, and D.J. & Jeremy devoted some time to review last week’s intriguing results and previewed this week’s fixtures. That’s all in addition to the weekly Fantasy Update, Championship Watch and Winners & Wankers segments. So grab your phone, ipod or laptop, plug in your headphones and strap in for another week on the WSOTP Podcast.

If you have a question or topic you want the guys to touch on next week, feel free to shoot us an email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, or reach out using the social media links at the bottom of the page, or in the comments below. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the Pondcast on your favorite mobile device.

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pic of the week 2/16-2/22

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abbywambachdaytona500

If I were to draw a Venn diagram of sports fans who like soccer and sports fans that like NASCAR, despite not seeing any numbers, I feel fairly safe in guessing that there wouldn’t be much overlap between their circles. I’d also imagine that overlap gets even smaller when you narrow down the soccer fans to “fans of women’s soccer”. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw that US women’s national team star and former FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Abby Wambach, was waving the green flag to kick off the 2015 running NASCAR’s Superbowl of Racing, the Daytona 500. Here’s video of Abby waving that flag way better than Nadine Kessler ever could.

Then I remembered that FOX now owns the broadcasting rights to the FIFA World Cups starting with next summer’s Women’s World Cup — practically for the next thousand years, or at least that’s how it feels —  and what better way than to try to win converts for the beautiful game than to push it to the estimated 9-10 million Daytona 500 viewers. And even though there wouldn’t appear to be much shared interest between the two sports, if there’s ground to be made in growing the next World Cup’s viewership, it’s probably in the NASCAR corner of the market.

It’s still weird though.

ten words or less #106

ClintDempsey

If you haven’t noticed, things have been pretty busy around these parts lately. Podcats have been coming out rather frequently. There’s been an uptick in original written pieces lately, too. We’ve gotten back into hosting events as well, as was evident with our Derby Saturday watch parties at our favorite soccer bar — Rhinehaus — here in Cincinnati. And believe it or not, the results of our WSOTP Promotion & Relegation Survey should start filtering out here soon too.

We hope to keep the content continuing to stream out here on a more regular basis, but as you might expect, we can’t give you original stuff quite every day. So to keep you entertained in the mean time — as if the numerous league, cup and preseason matches going on right now around the globe and a new US kit to complain about weren’t enough — here’s another sampling of our favorite stories from around the web over the last week or so.

WSOTP tabbed as “MLS blog to read ahead 2015 season”. – dranandvora.com

The Premier League TV deal forcing others to take action. – espnfc.com

USL has that ambition bug. – americansoccernow.com

Spurs rightfully made to pay for a prior sin. – bbc.com

Deuce is too old, but Dom Dwyer could work… – theoriginalwinger.com

There’s a lot to the Arrigo Sacchi racism comments. – theguardian.com

So does Barça like Cincinnati for it’s talent… or money? – cincinnati.com

 Cue Catalunyan outrage. – football-shirts.co.uk

Free agency is inevitable. The league needs it. - prostamerika.com

David Bentley is still playing… just not as you’d think. – independent.ie

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 26

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 26

Despite suffering numerous technical difficulties this week, surviving a “horrible” snowstorm and seeing confusing midweek English fixtures throwing everyone’s schedules off, the #Pondcast is back this week and better than ever. Not only do the guys discuss the latest Premier League action, FA Cup 6th Round Draw and preview the return of the Champions League, but we also welcome back Reckless Challenge‘s Chad Hollingsworth (@ChadHoll) to talk about all the headlines streaming out of the newly rebranded third division — or is it second division? — USL. And of course, Fantasy Update, Championship Watch and Winners & Wankers are all back again to keep you in the loop, too.

We also broke new ground on the Pondcast this week, as this was the first time we ever recorded with D.J. and Jeremy in separate locations. Though we actually physically got together on Sunday night and recorded as normal, the Macbook Pro on which we do our recording decided to eat the audio file — thus forcing us to re-record on Monday night, which was taking place in the middle of a snowstorm. So if things sound a little different, our apologies.

Don’t forget to hit us up with your questions and topics for next week’s pod at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, on the social media links at the bottom of the page, or in the comments below!

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 25

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 25

There was no shortage of tantalizing soccer to enjoy this weekend — both the men’s and women’s national team’s friendlies, the African Nations Cup Final, plus a full round of Premier League action — and the Pondcast team took it all in. The last of those included a pair of derbies, with the second editions of the North London and Merseyside Derbies drawing considerable attention. And with your normal installments of Fantasy UpdateWinners & Wankers and a newly re-branded Championship Watch, there’s plenty stuffed into this week’s WSOTP Podcast.

Don’t forget to hit us up with your questions and topics for next week’s pod at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, on the social media links at the bottom of the page, or in the comments below!

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the reasons for my nightmares

WSOTP - Blog - Balei Close Up.fw

For those who have followed Wrong Side of Pond for any length of time longer than a week or two, you’re probably well aware of my deep love for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club. Longer-time followers are probably also familiar with my obsession with former Lillywhites star and current Real Madrid galáctico Gareth Bale.

Admittedly, it was pretty rough watching Bale depart for the Spanish capital two seasons ago. Okay, it downright sucked. But given time, it’s at least been a pill that could swallow.

I understand Bale’s ambition to play for arguably the greatest club of all time. He “dreamed” of playing for them as a schoolboy. Since his move to Iberia, he’s achieved tremendous success too. Those successes have ranged from seemingly less impressive feats such as holding down a spot in their starting XI — a much harder task at Madrid than it might seem — to scoring the winning goal to help Madrid lift their long-sought tenth Champions League trophy. Too, it’s not like he went to a direct rival and Spurs did receive a pleasant sum of Euros for parting ways with him. So for all of those reasons, I’ve been able to accept his successes even though he’s not been enjoying them while wearing a Spurs’ shirt.

However, with rumors of Bale moving on to Manchester United refusing to go away, I’ll admit that’s a pill I’m less inclined to take.

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