a new direction

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When I started Wrong Side of the Pond close to seven years ago, I didn’t really have a plan in mind.

I had just moved to Louisville for a non-soccer related job, and I was looking for a way to pass the time in a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Keeping a blog to spill the many, many thoughts I had about the beautiful game seemed as good a hobby as any. And to be honest, I knew and was cool with most people not really caring to read those thoughts. But for the few who did care to — a handful of friends I’ve met in my decades of playing, my mom — it at least kept me from having to write the same email six or seven times.

It didn’t take long for me to discover how enjoyable it was to write about the thing I was most passionate about. And doing so from an American perspective, something that was in short supply on the footballing internet of the day, seemed a proper mission. The blog even allowed me to justify poking around in Photoshop again. And perhaps more importantly, it offered me a much needed creative outlet that my new job did not during a lonely and tough time in my life.

Eventually though, I returned home to Cincinnati. To be fair, my heart had never really left. But despite again being surrounded by friends and family, I kept up with the blog.

By that point, the hits had increased a minuscule amount since the site’s earliest days. But it took a series of impeccably well-timed opportunities for this little blog to morph into something more than just a hobby.

Specifically, it was my first ever legitimate scoop and an idea to start a crowd-sourced soccer bar directory that blew the lid off things. Suddenly, almost without warning, an increasing number of people were stumbling across my corner of the internet.

To that point, this site very much lacked a plan. However, for the last four years or so, it became clear that if I developed one… maybe this little blog could turn into something more.

Admittedly, my goals for that plan haven’t always been the same throughout. They’ve evolved, much like the site itself. Initial targets ranged from simple desires like
“drawing 20 unique visitors a day” to “being taken seriously”. But as initial targets were overturned, they eventually gave way to legitimate career ambitions

However, whatever end goal I was working towards, the reason for chasing it never changed from the earliest days on the site: telling the story of soccer from the American perspective. Cliché as it may sound, soccer courses through my veins. With all do respect to my lovely wife and daughter, soccer is my first true love. And sharing the many amazing tales that this sport has to offer has been my small way of giving back to and helping to grow a game that has given me so much over the last — gulp — nearly 30 years I’ve been playing it.

Amazingly, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see the effort I’ve poured into Wrong Side of the Pond give a lot back to me, too. Free gear here and there, an MLS Cup, two MLS All-Star Games, inaugural games for teams in four American leagues, standing on stadium pitches across the country, press box access, getting to meet some of my childhood heroes… I’m well aware that not everyone who has poured themselves into a blog has been so fortunate.

Too, I’m not afraid to admit that at times this thing has felt like a burden. Seven years of semi-consistent posting can wear thin on you from time to time, especially when you have to squeeze it into a life that already contained a full-time job, a social life, and eventually a family. But that I’ve kept at it, despite all of those hurdles, shows to me that it meant something to me more than just ambition or a hobby. I’ve found that when talking about one’s passion, it can be hard to set down the microphone. So even through bouts of writers block, stress and busy periods at work, I felt an obligation to keep pumping out stories about the beautiful game.

Well, all that’s about to change.

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from the ground up: branding the new dayton dynamo

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I’m a doodler. Always have been.

If it were possible to drum up my notes from my years in school — hell, even my notepads at work today — you’d find a timeline of my interests sketched out in the margins. Things like dinosaurs, Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured heavily in my early childhood drawings. But once soccer became a major focus in my tween years, it predictably also became the major focus of my doodlings.

My soccer drawings knew no bounds. Designing my own panels for Adidas’ famous Tango ball silhouette was a favorite, as were portraits of my favorite players. I spawned an imaginary boot company or two. Sometimes I’d sketch out reproductions of the logos of my favorite teams, and other times I’d even make crests for clubs that existed solely in my mind.

I get what you’re thinking: that I drew things I liked as a kid isn’t particularly interesting. Tons of kids are into drawing, coloring and all sorts of other artistic endeavors. However, most abandon those hobbies as they grow up for reasons all over the map — losing the passion for creating, not actually being very good at it, or a lack of time as we pursue what most consider to be more-lucrative skills to support themselves as adults.

It’s not that you can’t make it as an artist in this day in age. But just as I’m discovering is the case within the world of sports journalism, it’s really hard to do so. Not only do you have to have the skills, but you also need to catch a lot of breaks.

Now, I consider myself lucky: my parents didn’t force me to put down my pencils, grease pens and paintbrushes. They didn’t view my doodles and drawing as a waste of time or energy. Instead, they encouraged the exploration of my creative abilities. One of the most touching letters I’ve ever received was a letter my mom wrote to me during a retreat in high school where she admitted that she wished I still focused on my drawing. This website — and all of the art I’ve made for it — likely exists because of that encouragement.

But despite all that, I still opted not to pursue creative works as a career.

Admittedly, I’ve gotten to use some of those artistic skills in my “real world” jobs — first while designing websites, and now again in my current gig as an instructional designer. But getting to make things that were within my realm of interests and that someone would actually use in a professional setting? That dream seemed long dead.

However, that all changed when the NPSL’s Cincinnati Saints opted to make a migration north to Dayton and I was given the opportunity to re-brand the club.

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WSOTP x AO: just for tonight, let’s be lovers

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This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for the American Outlaws — the largest and most well-known US soccer supporters group — and their newly launched blog, ‘Voice of the American Outlaws’. After applying in December of last year, I found out in May that I was one of nine lucky entrants to be selected. The site soft-launched in September, and will soon be pumped by the AO mothership. To read my debut piece in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the excerpt below.

As things currently stand, there are apparently two types of American soccer fans these days: those that are for Jurgen Klinsmann, and those who are not.

When he was first appointed back in July of 2011, Klinsmann was heralded as everything from “the first big manager in the U.S. men’s national team history”, to “the American soccer messiah”. Like President Barack Obama’s first term in office, Jurgen arrived at the helm of the national team with charisma and talk of change. His personality was bubbly and buoyant, and he promised to deliver wins with a style that should reflect our mentality and culture. The media mostly gushed about him, and fans were practically foaming at the mouth.

Nearly four and a half years later — much like our president — Klinsmann finds himself in a very different spot.

Continue reading “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on IBWM. →

WSOTP stadium guide: colorado’s dick’s sporting goods park

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WSOTP - DSG Park - Stadium Interior Looking West Match.fw Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking on here on Wrong Side of the Pond. With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 20 (soon to be 22) MLS stadiums to help fill that void. I’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

DSG PARK QUICK GUIDE
Address 6000 Victory Way
Commerce City, CO
Home Club Colorado Rapids
Soccer Capacity 19,680
Opened April 7, 2007
Soccer Specific Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

After having only visited one stadium in 2014 — and not posting that guide yet due to some “delays” in getting necessary materials — 2015 hasn’t exactly gotten off to a better start.

But I’ll make do considering stop number six on the WSOTP Stadium Guide Tour was for the 2015 All Star Game!

My wife, daughter and I were lucky enough to score some tickets to the July 29th match in the Colorado Rapids’ now eight year old Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The experience, as to be expected, was amazing, helped in no small part by the opposing team for this year’s game being my favorite European club, Tottenham Hotspur FC. I’ll try not to dwell on that too much, as I know the league’s marquee summer event isn’t exactly the average fan experience at DSG Park.

If you’ve never been to Denver, that’s reason alone to make a trip to catch a game at the Rapids’ home stadium. Perhaps best known as a wintertime destination due to the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountain resorts, there’s even more to do in the summer time in Denver. Innumerable breweries, excellent outdoor offerings, fantastic museums and scenery that few other MLS cities can match are just a few of the things on offer. I hadn’t been to Denver in a decade, and it’s truly incredible to see how much the city has grown in size and culture.

As always, before we get started I wanted to give a special thanks to my excellent hosts — the Rapids’ Director of Public Relations and Communications, Diego Garcia, and Centennial 38’s David Wenger —  for showing me around and getting me acquainted with yet another spectacular American soccer stadium and city.

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ten words or less #116

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See, the blog isn’t dead yet! Though I’m guessing the less than 100 words below linking to content that isn’t my own probably isn’t the thing I should hang my “the blog isn’t dead yet” hat on. If nothing else, it’s something for you to chew on to end your weekend/get your week started.

Too, I’ll be dropping further information on my future plans for the blog in the coming days, too. So be sure to stay tuned so you know what’s up, right?

I mean at some point, it has to stop. Right? – worldsoccertalk.com

Can’t accuse them of beating around the bush. – manchestercity.com

Come fall in love with Dele Alli. – youtube.com

The USMNT once played in the NASL; it went disastrously. – mlssoccer.com

My inner 15 year old is losing his mind. – 8by8mag.com

Aw man, the “Deadline Day” banana video is fake!?! – squawka.com

Should Canada have its own league? Yes! But can it? – canadiansoccernews.com

Futsal fire. – youtube.com

US Soccer sues the USWNT… everyone has to pick sides. – futfanatico.com

D’oh. – washingtonpost.com

WSOTP pod: we’re not going anywhere

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As you may have noticed, I dropped some news yesterday. And because of that news, WSOTP will be through some pretty massive changes. But worry not — and it looks like many of you did — the #Pondcast isn’t going away! And to prove that point, we’re dropping another episode the day after the big news.

So what exactly is on this week’s episode? Despite the lack of Premier League action since our last show, there was ample going on in the footballing world for us to delve into. The USMNT played a game on Sunday, and (literally) a few people showed up to watch. There was also the FA Cup Fourth Round to contend with, even if there’s been a lack of upsets. And too, there are midweek Premier League games — some of them today — to look forward to as well. What about the closing of the January transfer window? Plus we asked you guys another question ahead of this episode, and you delivered with some excellent soccer culinary ideas.

Want to get involved in our weekly conversation? Then be sure to get in touch with your questions for the guys or suggested topics for next week’s episode by way of the social media links at the bottom of the page, or by sending an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive the newest podcast every Tuesday.

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WSOTP pod: we’ll ask the questions around here

WSOTP - Blog - Season 3 Episode 25.fwPremier League weekend recap? We got that. Yeah, we’ve got some hot takes on Norwich City vs Liverpool, and Arsenal-Chelsea, too. You know we’ve got that transfer window gossip, plus some thoughts on the movers and shakers since last week. And for a change, we decided to ask you guys — our listeners — a question that we wanted you to answer: how much soccer is too much soccer to follow or support. The boys offer up their opinions on the matter, but we got some great responses as well. Those weekly segments haven’t gone away either.

Just because we asked a question this time around, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t ask us questions to cover on the next episode. And if you want to do that, or want to answer the question above even, give us a shout on social media or drop us a line to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And do us a solid and subscribe — and maybe even give us a review/rating, pretty please? — on iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS using the links below.

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WSOTP hair XI

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If there’s one thing that footballers are known for outside of the sport they play — no, it’s not for theatrical diving, their scandals or the WAGs they often have in tow — it’s for the eccentric hair styles they bring to the pitch along with them.

Some of those do’s have proven so popular that they’ve left the confines of soccer circles infiltrated the real world, becoming styles worn by the masses the world over. Other efforts, mercifully, died when their owners switched to their next look. But unique hair stylings have become so common in the world of professional soccer, it’s easy to forget who the real trailblazers have been when it comes to extravagant headdress.

So when French wunderkind and Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba revealed his latest cut — an excellent leopard pattern below his prototypical mohawk — it got me thinking? Who would I nominate to an Hair XI if one truly existed.

Now, it’s been absolute ages since I’ve put together a WSOTP Best XI list. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve done one, I feel like I need to explain what exactly that means. These guys aren’t always the actual best eleven players I can fit together who meet the team requirements. Nor do they have to be current players. These are just the guys with the best examples of those who fit the category in question. And in this case, it’s the players who had the most out there, eye-catching, can’t-look-away hairstyles that we’ve seen grace the grass across the globe.

To help construct this list, I took to the Twitters to see who else should make the team aside from Mr. Pogba. And some of your suggestions were easily solid enough to make the list.

So without further adieu… the WSOTP Hair XI.

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WSOTP pod: someone has to win this thing

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A long weekend after a long week of footballing activity both domestic and abroad has left us with yet another episode chock full of content. In addition to two crammed rounds of Premier League football — including a complete lack of clubs trying to make the top spot their own — the January transfer window has finally started to come to life. On the domestic front, youngster Jordan Morris has dominated the transfer talk despite an entire MLS SuperDraft taking place last week, too. Worry not, both get airtime on this week’s #Pondcast.

Have any questions or topics to suggest for our next episode? Send them our way to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com or by getting at us on social media. Plus, you need to subscribe using the links below to get new episodes automatically delivered to your device of choice.

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how much weight can you hold on your shoulders?

Stanford Crimson's Jordan Morris

When I think back to when I was a junior in college — sadly, over a decade ago at this point — and try to remember what responsibilities weighed heavily on me, my “burdens” were pretty typical of your average college aged guy.

There were of course my studies, which probably deserved higher priority than they received. There was also soccer, preparing for a senior season with high expectations having won the league that year. Of course there was a social life to attend to, too. There was a job working at the mall that was roughly 45 minutes away, but I couldn’t ever make the schedule work between it and the previous three balls I was juggling. And I might have started thinking about what I was going to do post graduation: where I was going to live, what kind of job was I going to land, and how I might be able to pay off the ever-increasing pile of student loans I was adding to. But probably not.

Millions of American kids are encumbered with similar concerns year after year, and most of us come out of it just fine. And the path to navigating those obstacles and choices is a well trodden one, with examples of friends and family to follow if need be. Plus we have the benefit of being able to make all of those decisions without the rest of the world scrutinizing them.

Unfortunately, Jordan Morris doesn’t have it so lucky.

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WSOTP pod: the magic of the cup

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If you worried there wouldn’t be a new #Pondcast this week since there haven’t been any Premier League games since our last episode, worry no longer… we still managed to squeeze out a full program for you last night. So what’s on the agenda in lieu of the league? The most exciting round of the FA Cup — the third round — gifted us a number of surprising results. We bet you’d like to talk about the FIFA Gala/Ballon d’Or. There’s the January transfer window to keep an eye on, too. The US Men’s National Team also announced their January camp, so we dive in there as well. And despite it being the offseason, it’s been a surprisingly busy week all around the American domestic leagues, too. So trust us when we say there’s plenty to talk about.

Want to play a part in a future show? Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or drop an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com to send us your questions and topic suggestions. And don’t forget to subscribe using the links below to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.

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musical chairs

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If someone asks one to think of soccer, most people will envision the actual acts of players running about a field and kicking around of a ball. Some, too, might envisage the electric atmospheres that supporters often bring to games. But I’d wager few immediately visualize the managers standing on the touchlines when you ask them to think about the sport.

Unless you’re talking about the 2015/16 season, that is.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but managers are all the rage these days. Open up the papers or glance at your website of choice, and you’re likely to find just as likely to see the man who picks the team each weekend staring back at you as you are the star names they’re picking.

Not that managers getting attention is a particularly new thing. For those bosses steering their clubs in the wrong direction, there’s always the sack watch to keep an eye on. Sir Alex has been making headlines of his own for ages. And there was a great little spell a few years back where Mourinho, Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez were regularly exchanging barbs with one another in the press.

But unlike in most years past, of what’s transpired of the 2015/16 season so far, the spotlight has been most brightly shone on the managers.

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WSOTP pod: our first threesome

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Caught you’re attention with that title, didn’t we? Don’t worry, we won’t tell anyone, so long as you listen in to our first ever three-person #Pondcast. So who was our lucky third? D.J. and Jeremy welcomed in their former Cincinnati Saints intern, current editor of Ohio University’s Post Sports, and Norwich City supporter Charlie Hatch (@charliehatch_) to join them for a look back at the weekend Premier League action. We were even so hospitable as to letting him join in on the action of weekly segments of Fantasy Update, League 2 Watch and Winners & Wankers — like a proper threesome, everyone’s involved in everything.

Want to get in on the fun yourself? Suggesting a topic or question for the guys to tackle is as easy as hitting us up on social media or sending an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And be sure to subscribe using the links below to automatically receive new episodes every Tuesday.

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