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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football transfer windows for dummies

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WSOTP - Blog - Transfer Windows for Dummies.fw

With January now upon us, you have probably heard something about the “transfer window”. And if you’re new to the sport, then you might be asking yourself what exactly that is. We here at Wrong Side of the Pond want to help. Below you’ll find sample excerpts from our own “Transfer Windows for DUMMMIES”  to help make things at least a little bit easier for you to understand.

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the WSOTP promotion & relegation survey

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Promotion and Relegation Survey

If you’ve followed the American soccer scene on social media for anything longer than the last 25 minutes, the it’s entirely likely that you’ve been sucked into the metaphorical black hole that is the promotion/relegation debate.

It’s an unavoidable conversation at this point, even if you don’t want to be involved in it. You can blame that on a very persistent and often times abusive group of evangelists. They seem ready to pounce at nearly every opportunity, and apparently have no need to sleep. In fact, I’ve been in their cross hairs for quite some time: they’ve gone so far as to label me — incorrectly I might add — everything from a “Euro Snob” to an “MLS bot” apologist, which seems pretty contradictory if you ask me. But no matter how much Tinfoil Ted and his followers might be the annoying soccer equivalent to the Westboro Baptist Church, that doesn’t mean the topic that they’ve shoved down everyone’s throats isn’t relevant.

There’s clearly an audience in the North American soccer community that desires to have promotion and relegation as an integral portion of our professional leagues. But what we’ve been unable to ascertain to this point is if it’s a vocal minority or a steadily growing majority.

And that’s where you come in.

The link below takes you to a survey that we here at Wrong Side of the Pond have put together to help get a better idea of how much the masses actually want pro/rel. All we ask is that you take a few minutes to complete the survey and to share it with your friends. The bigger the sample size, the more reliable the data collected will be.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE WSOTP PROMOTION & RELEGATION SURVEY.

But we’re not stopping there either. In addition to the survey linked above, I’m sending out a very similar survey to all the owners/presidents/CEOs from the 190 professional and semiprofessional clubs in the United States and Canada playing in MLS, NASL, USL PRO, USL PDL and the NPSL. That way we can also attempt to get a feel for not only how the fans feel about pro/rel, but also how those who control the teams do too.

Once we’ve had a chance to collect input from as many people as possible, we’ll then publish the results on the blog — just like we have with the other survey’s we’ve run on the site. No doctoring, just cold hard data. Just do us the favor of only filling it out once, okay?

So do your part by hitting up the link above, and help us all get a definitive feel for just how important promotion and relegation is to American and Canadian soccer.

mr. invisible

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WSOTP - Blog - Ancelotti Close Up.fw

If I asked a group of fans to name the top active manager in football today, what names would you expect to see picked?

I’d expect we would see an avalanche of responses for José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. And rightly so: both managers have produced incredible results over the last five or so years. I’d hope Atlético’s Diego Simeone would get a few votes. And I’d wager Dortmund’s Jürgen Klopp would get a few too — though given his side’s disastrous form, probably not as many as a year or two ago. Jogi Löw or Vicente Del Bosque? Ok. Manuel Pelligrini or Louis Van Gaal? Maybe. Hell, a few naive Arsenal supporters might even still be willing to throw Arsène Wenger out there, but that number is likely dwindling too. Jürgen Klinsmann? I kid, I kid.

But there’s one name I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he received little to no votes: current Real Madrid supremo, Carlo Ancelotti.

My reasons for believing that aren’t just anecdotal either. I’ve had literally had the hypothetical discussion above several times before. And rarely ever does Ancelotti’s name come up. Which is odd, because the guy’s track record is pretty damn impressive.

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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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ten words or less #104

The Crew's Justin Meram playing for Iraq

Yes, I’m well aware that things around here have slowed down a bit lately. Posts have dropped off. Our Twitter feed has been relatively quiet. And I’ve not written much elsewhere either. Sorry. But I promise there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes.

A considerable amount of my time recently has been poured into the launching of our new podcast network, Background Noise FC — not to mention the entire site and branding on the link for it below. I’ve also spent a hefty amount of effort recently working on a potential redesign for this website — though whether the new coat of paint sees the light of day remains a big if at this point. And we’ve also been hard at work on a number of other side projects.

Those are nothing but excuses though, right? Right. Well, I do have some things in the works for this space, and I’m hoping I’ll be able to get at least one of them up this weekend. But as I normally do when trying to keep you entertained while I get my ish together, here’s a new link round up to hold you over.

Check out our new podcast network, Background Noise FC. – backgroundnoisefc.com

Dear Pro/Rel proponents… – twitter.com/greekfooty

I’d watch this State of the Union Address every time. – washingtonpost.com

The Crew’s Justin Meram has enjoyed a crazy Asian Cup. – si.com

Umbro blind tests their new Velocita boot with the press. – soccerbible.com

I want this as a print to hang up in my hypothetical office. – inbedwithmaradona.com

Mino Raiola for… FIFA president? Ummm…  –  prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

Kane has torn it up this season. Here’s why. – espnfc.com

A long awaited FIFA backlash… or a coincidence? – telegraph.co.uk

This is how you appropriately fade into the sunset. – goal.com

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 23

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 23.

We know this wasn’t the most exciting of Premier League weekends — though we’d expect Arsenal fans might have something different to say about that. Chelsea smashed someone, Villa and QPR continued to stumble, Spurs tripped their way to three points at home, Everton continue to do the opposite of impress and Alan Pardew pulls off another Palace miracle. You know, usual stuff. But the guys run down the action anyway in addition to discussing a busy off-season of MLS player transactions, naming our Winners & Wankers for the week and getting an update from Fulham Watch. Oh yeah, and listen in for a quick announcement about a new partnership we’re forging.

Think of any questions and topics you’d like for the guys to tackled on next week’s podcast? Shoot them our way by email (contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com) or by using the social media links at the bottom of the page.

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pic of the week 1/12-1/19

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WSOTP - Blog - Pic of the Week TFC Defoe Jab.fw

This is an actual screenshot of an actual tweet from the actual official Twitter account of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC sent just one day after the club had shipped AWOL Englishman Jermain Defoe to Sunderland for cash plus Jozy Altidore. In fact, as of publication, this tweet is still somehow live.

I totally get Toronto being pissed about the situation. Along with Michael Bradley, Defoe was to be the centerpiece of a TFC’s ascension to MLS royalty. They bent over backwards to land the former Spurs striker, including sky-high wages and reportedly appeasing his very demanding mother. Hell, they paraded him right out of the gates as a “Bloody Big Deal”. And even though they broke both the bank and the all rules about avoiding embarrassing English clichés, Defoe still left them high and dry just 11 months.

But to take to Twitter and publicly root against a guy you had just called a “Bloody Big Deal” just one day later? Yikes. It’s hilarious, in that “you’re a crazy ex girlfriend” kind of way.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 22

WSOTP Pondcast - Season 2 Episode 22

Premier League recaps? Check. Balon d’OR Predictions? You know it. Transfer Fodder? There’s plenty of that. Crazy Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT call ups? Of course. Narrative about new managers winning their first games in charge? Regrettably. Episode 22 of the Pondcast features all those discussions and much, much more.

Have something you want us to chat about next week? Send your topics and questions by email (contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com) or hit us up on the social media links at the bottom of the page.

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power to abuse

Frank Lampard NYCFC

Undersell and over deliver.

That may be a classic sales cliché, but it’s an expression that’s still worth following. By not setting the bar too high, a business gives itself the opportunity to exceed customer expectations, earn their trust and hopefully gain a long-time commitment from them. Promise too much and miss the mark, and you can pretty much kiss those clients goodbye as soon as they’re out your door.

Yet despite this strategy being a no brainer business practice, it’s appears to be a lesson the folks at New York City FC and MLS never learned. Case in point: the Frank Lampard Fiasco.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 21

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 21

Thanks to a weekend of rather underwhelming FA Cup third round matches, the “Pondcast” team now finally have a chance to catch up with the hectic English football holiday stretch. On this episode, the guys dive into the “Magic of the Cup” — or lack there of — rundown the New Years Day Premier League fixtures, and preview the January Transfer Window. But that’s not all, as the forever intertwined Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard invade our domestic football discussions, which is probably just fine for Gideon Zelalem’s sake. You’ll also find our weekly Fantasy, Winners & Wankers and Fulham Watch segments too.

Want to get involved in the discussion? Send us your questions and topics via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit us up on the social media links on the bottom of the page, and we’ll do our best to integrate them into our next episode.

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pic of the week 12/29-1/4

Fernando Torres Unveiled

Look at that picture. Just look at it for a second longer, too.

That is a man unburdened. That is a player who has long felt pain, but is feeling the warmth of the sun for the first time in ages. That is the reaction of a man who’s scaled unbelievable heights, then suffered through unbelievable lows before eventually finding his way home into the open arms of some 45,000 who love him unconditionally.

Fernando Torres has been the butt of many jokes in this space and countless others. Some of it may well have been deserved, but much of it probably wasn’t. Injuries, bad luck and mismanagement could have easily shouldered some of the scorn he’s received — but they rarely do. Yet it’s still easy to forget that Torres was likely the finest striker on the planet in 2007/2008. Even during the next two injury-hit campaigns, he was still putting up ridiculous numbers despite limited showings. And though he’s been far off that form since, I can’t help but feel like there’s never been a player more deserving of that kind of support. To get a fresh start where you’re already adored? To go home? He built his name there. He rescued them from La Segunda. And, in a small way, he actually helped set Atlético Madrid on the path to being the reigning Spanish champions that they are today too.

This particular quote from /r/soccer user AtletiCampeon captured the emotion best: “Torres brought us back, we will bring him back as well.”

If nothing else, for Fernando’s sake, I hope they do.

i want: nike elastico superfly ic

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WSOTP - Blog - Nike Elastico IC SE

Since the advent and widespread adoption of long-bladed synthetic turf, I haven’t had much of a need for new “indoor” shoes in quite some time. All my local indoor facilities use it, meaning I’m able to trot out in my firm ground boots whenever I play. However, now that the opportunities to play futsal in my neck of the woods are expanding — particularly on harder courts — my need for some flat-soled shoes to kick around in is growing again. As such, I’ve been keeping an eye open for one of the major players to put out a pair that tickle my fancy.

And I think my good friends at Nike have won my admiration yet again… feast on their Elastico Superfly IC SE. The latest iteration of the Swoosh’s elite indoor/futsal boots take their inspiration from the Mercurial Superfly outdoors, but feature some key improvements for harder, flat surfaces. Those include a new rubber variant in the lower profile soles that’s specifically tuned for hard floors, as well as an extra layer of the NIKESKIN last in key areas to improve durability. And with this version of the Elasticos sporting the jet black colorway from Ronaldo’s CR7 Suprerfly’s, it’s almost not even a choice that I get them… it’s a necessity.

You can cop your own pair in Europe and Asia today, and they’ll be available in the US starting January 10th.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT  |  nikesoccer.com