is the grass always greener?

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USMNT Forward Julian Green

International football has become increasingly murky in recent years. In the good old days, it was simple: you played for the country you were born in, end of story.* But these days, citizenship and country of origin only tell half the story about why a guy plays for the national team he does.

Today we see Argentines playing for Italy (Pablo Osvaldo), Germans playing for Ghana (Kevin-Prince Boateng), a guy from the Central African Republic playing for France (Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa), and Brazilians playing for just about everyone. Thanks to international eligibility now being tied to your family history — as far back as both sets of grandparents — and residency, it allows someone like the talented Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj to choose from  up to seven national teams: Albania (paternal and maternal grandparents), Belgium (where he grew up), Croatia (paternal grandparents), England (where he lives now), Turkey (maternal grandparents), Serbia (parents)  and Kosovo (provided they ever get official FIFA sanctioning).

Predictably, this murkiness stirs a lot of emotions among supporters and the federations alike. Particularly in places like Europe, where race and ethnic origin is a prickly topic, fans seem to get up in arms anytime it’s even suggested that a foreign player be naturalized and brought in to the set up.

But it’s the trend these days, and everyone is doing it… even us here in the United States. Continue reading

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an interview with professional goal guardian kofi sarkodie

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Kofi Sarkodie Career ProgressionWhen it comes to interviews, if you look at my track record, it’s pretty clear that I’ll talk to just about anyone from the game of football.

And while I’m more than happy to talk to any player from the professional ranks about their experiences, I have a soft spot in particular for players who hail from the state of Ohio. After all, I’m from Ohio myself. And on top of that, a substantial number of my readers and followers call Ohio home, too. So helping to shed some more light on the lives of those who come from my own backyard seems as much a duty as it does a privilege.

Luckily, Ohio has a pretty deep pool of players that populate MLS rosters. And one of the brightest among those that call the Buckeye state home is Houston Dynamo right back, Kofi Sarkodie. A product of Huber Heights — a suburb of Dayton — Kofi has represented the US at the youth level, won a national championship with the Akron Zips and established himself as one of the league’s best up and coming young defenders.

So with the Dynamo off to a blazing start to the 2014 season, this seemed like the perfect time to talk with Kofi to talk about his younger days here in Ohio, the importance of his close relationships with his soccer-playing brothers, and his career to this point.

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one small step for man, one giant leap for WSOTP

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Wrong Side of the Pond... commentating a game near you.

Looking back over what has become a nearly been a five year endeavor, Wrong Side of the Pond has come a long way from its humble beginnings.

Originally, it was nothing more than a way for me to pass the time while living in a new town. And I can easily say that I would have never imagined at the time that my blog would grow to have well over a thousand Twitter followers or nearly five hundred Facebook likes. And to see it evolve to become a resource for people to find a place to watch and share beers with fellow supporters, have it gain me media credentials at MLS stadiums around the country, or co-host a weekly podcast? Well, that’s just mind-blowing.

However I’d also be lying if I said that, deep down, I didn’t have dreams of it some day becoming more.

I’ve always had a desire to somehow stay involved with the game I grew up with and that gave so much to me. Yeah, I still play regularly. But as my fitness and athleticism fade with age, sharing all of the knowledge I’ve picked up over the years of playing and studying soccer seemed like the logical next step. There have definitely been some lucky breaks here and there, too. Bundle all of that with a desire to create and share, and maybe the blog and its growth makes a bit more sense after all.

So with all of that in mind, today, I’m pleased to announce the next very exciting stage in the site’s evolution…

WSOTP - Blog - Cincy Saints Announcement 2.fw

Wrong Side of the Pond will be partnering with the Cincinnati Saints for the upcoming National Premier Soccer League season and beyond!

Specifically, my fellow WSOTP Podcast co-host Jeremy Lance and I will provide the official live match commentary for all home broadcasts for the Saints’ 2014 NPSL campaign. In addition to calling the matches at Over-the-Rhine’s Stargel Stadium, we’ll also provide pre-game, half time and post-match analysis and content alongside sideline reporter Amy Hellkamp. More information about broadcast availability will be forthcoming, but for the time being, every home match will at least be available via a free live stream on YouTube — which I’ll be adding as a link in the sidebar prior to the season.

Furthermore, we will also be working together on a number of marketing endeavors to help further exposure of both the Saints and WSOTP. Exciting things are already in the works, so keep your eyes on this space for further updates in the weeks to come.

In short, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity and I know we’re all excited to see where things go from here. Many thanks to everyone who’s supported us along the way, and we look forward to cheering on the Saints with you in the summer!

MORE ABOUT THE CINCINNATI SAINTS
The Saints will be embarking on their inaugural season in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL), a semi-professional soccer league in the fourth tier of the American soccer pyramid. Founded in 2009, the Saints organization also features a men’s indoor side — competing tomorrow in the Professional American Soccer League (PASL) playoffs — as well as women’s indoor and outdoor sides, too. For outdoor matches, the black and blue will call Taft High School’s Stargel Stadium near downtown Cincinnati home. The first home match of the season will kick off at 7:30pm on Friday, May 23rd. Click here to see a schedule of matches.

If you want to read the full press announcement on the Cincinnati Saints’ website, feel free to click here.

in review: campo retro’s stadio no team colors shirt

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Campo Stadio No Team Colors Collar

campo: marrying the old with the new.

One of the most visible, though well-liked aspects of the inevitable march towards the corporatization of modern football is the ritual of clubs and countries providing their fans with new kits each and every season. Though a reliable revenue stream for both gear producers and clubs alike, it often pushes both to offer increasingly crazy — and often downright ugly — options in order to convince consumers it’s worth it to fork out for a new kit year after year.

Undoubtedly, some fans really dig the wild and crazy designs. But there also remains a sizable contingent that want clubs to stick to their traditional looks and keep things simple. Likewise, many want their club to maintain an appearance that hearkens to their favorite memories of the team and its their greatest achievements. They hold on to the hope that imitating how that side looked in their greatest moments might to help inspire similar results on the pitch.

Perhaps it’s these types of feelings that can explain the recent spike in popularity football retro kits.

The retro kit trend has not only seen clubs increasingly looking to their pasts for inspiration for their new kits, but also it’s also one that’s seen a similar boom in the demand for recreations of classic kits. After all, there are few ways better to pay homage to one of one of your side’s greatest moments than sporting the shirt they wore while writing that historic event.

we remember much of football’s past in black and white.

But in the realm of retro shirts itself, there are few ways to truly differentiate yourself from the competition. You can only get so exact in your replication efforts. So the question becomes, how does one innovate when your goal is to emulate the past?

Enter Campo Retro, a purveyor of retro replica apparel based out of the UK.

Campo offer an assortment of classic kits from British sides, all of stellar quality and near exact replicas of the famous shirts they’re meant to recreate. From the simple colored cottons of the 50′s and 60′s to the laminate polyester patterns of the 90′s, the attention to detail of Campo’s Score Draw line of official shirts and tracksuits are well worth the expenditures.

But, in my humble opinion at least, it’s their Stadio line that deserve special attention.

The Stadio collection of shirts are a complete re-imagining of the retro shirt. Unlike most throwbacks that look to recreate a team’s jersey for a specific season or memorable match, Campo Stadio shirts aim to provide a modernized spin on classic looks from various eras and styles of the game. Take five different collar styles, apply one of a wide variety of basic templates free of logos or crests of any kind, and marry that all together with modern fit and construction techniques? Add that all up and you’ll find an extremely fresh take on the retro shirt.

There are two basic flavors of the collection, the first of which is the Stadio Team Colors line. It features shirts in a wide array of vibrant team colors templates — hoops, sashes, solids, stripes, and bars — meaning you can likely find one to represent any club’s shirt.

The second flavor is the Stadio No Team Colours line, which features most of those same attributes. Minus color. And it’s freaking brilliant.

WSOTP - Blog - Campo FrontPicture a moment of football from the distant past — the early half of the century through the 70′s. Though we know those matches were kicked out in full color, the way we captured most of the early great moments of the beautiful game was in simple black and white. That’s what the Campo No Team Colours line looks to capture: that spirit that color isn’t needed to convey. And it does, with a modern twist.

So when the good folks over at Campo shot me over an Azteca NTC shirt to review, you can imagine my elation.

The shirt takes its design queues from Liverpool’s triumphant 1963/64 season plus historic Chelsea, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia and even Accrington Stanley shirts.  I was immediately drawn to it’s clean, simplistic silhouette. A modern, slim fit coupled with a classic grey with an off white v-neck collar makes for a look that can be easily paired with denim to khaki and pants to shorts… if not a pair of all white match shorts, anyway.

However, it was the little details on the shirt that really caught my eye. There’s the gorgeous hand zig-zag stitched, cotton number on the back, adding a truly retro element to a shirt with a plethora of modern design queues. Triangular panels sewn into underarms provide the extra range of motion that many slim fitting shirts restrict. The raised ribbing on the collar and cuffs adds some much needed extra depth. And small accents  like the bottom brass rivet and QR code on the reverse, or the Campo insignia on the sleeve, round out an overall gorgeous piece of clothing.

To be honest, I’d be half tempted to frame it and hang it up at WSOTP World HQ if I wasn’t so set on wearing it.

For those curious about the fit of the shirt, the Medium/Large size was perfect for my 5’11″ and 175 pound frame. I found the fit to be very similar to many other modern football jerseys, in particular this season’s home Spurs kit by UnderArmour: tighter around the upper torso, and a bit more lose as it approaches the waist.

So if you’re in the market for a proper retro shirt, but don’t want to sacrifice a style for that old-time look, a Stadio shirt from either the Team Colours or No Team Colours lines seem like a great ways of marrying the best of both worlds.

As Campo puts it, “every shirt tells a story”. And with a shirt from the Stadio collections, you’re free to decide the story it tells.

WSOTP pod: episode 35

we even had time on this week’s podcast to cover prom proposals – which apparently chris wondolowski helps fans out with.

No matter what your cup of tea is when it comes to world football, odds are there’s a segment in Episode 35 of the podcast that will tickle your fancy. You like the Premier League? We’ve got thoughts on Liverpool’s title surge and the growing scrap at the bottom of the table — plus Spurs and Chelsea thoughts, per normal. If you prefer continental football? We chatted about the Champions League semifinal draw, paying special attention to highlighting the “Courtois Conundrum” between Atlético and Chelsea. Should you desire domestic soccer, we’ve got musings on Major League Soccer and the rumors that the Copa América will be coming to the States. So grab a pint (unless your driving) or a coffee, sit back and strap yourself in for the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.


Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!

pic of the week 4/7-4/13

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Anfield Kop on the 25th Anniversary of the Hillsborough Disaster

As if there could even be any other choice for this week’s “Pic of the Week”, making  the selection for today’s post was only hard in that I needed to find the picture that best captured the incredible moments before kickoff between Liverpool and Manchester City. But having found one that I deemed suitable, I find that it still doesn’t quite do the raw emotion on display at Anfield yesterday justice. This video does a slightly better job of it, but I can only imagine the experience was far more intense in person.

If for some reason you don’t know why the Kop end of Liverpool’s Anfield were putting on such a display ahead of a pivotal top of the table clash, definitely take some time to read up on the Hillsborough Disaster. In short, 96 Liverpool fans lost their lives in a fan crush 25 years ago at Hillsborough Stadium at the start of an FA Cup semifinal match against Nottingham Forest. And while that was more than enough to make it the largest sporting disaster in English football history, the way the authorities and press handled the aftermath was even more disconcerting.

So, unlike most times where a tifo is raised to celebrate the team, this weekend’s display at Liverpool was a tribute to the memory of those 96 fans. And it was for them that Anfield sang so loudly –and sat so quietly — all to commemorate their losses and remind the world that they will never have to walk alone.

south america heading north

2013 Copa America Champions Uruguay

if the rumor mill is to be believed, the copa america will be migrating north in 2016.

I don’t often like to talk about my rather lengthy soccer bucket list. The reason for that is that — barring a sudden explosion in popularity of WSOTP, a major network picking me up as a pundit or me hitting lottery — being able to check off most of the items on the list is not really financially viable.

So when fate occasionally re-adjusts circumstances in a way that might allow for a slim chance to actually cross one-off the list, I get a rush of hopeful euphoria similar to one that most people might experience when they find out that they’re expecting their first child.

And yesterday’s news “confirming” that a special 100th anniversary edition of South America’s premier international competition, the Copa América, would be coming to the United States in 2016 gave me those warm fuzzy feelings of expectation.

Alongside such lofty goals of attending a Champions League final, a Spanish Clásico, a Boca-River match and other similarly influential matches, attending a match for the Copa América is easily one of the most important soccer-related events that I have on my bucket list. Admittedly, attending one in South America was the original goal. But given that it will be far easier — not to mention significantly cheaper — I’m willing to bend the rules.

This isn’t exactly that new of news, though. The rumor has been doing the rounds now for quite some time, with CONMEBOL even going so far as to prematurely announcing the event last year, much to the dismay of US Soccer and CONCACAF. But as with all rumors, nothing is official until it’s actually been announced as official by all of the parties involved. And while beIN Sports’ Phil Schoen seems rather confident in the tournament actually being hosted in the States, USSF President Sunil Gulati has already rebuffed the rumor as not “yet” agreed to. Key word being “yet”.

My guess? It’s going to happen, at least once all of the wrinkles in the planning are ironed out, even it’s not the best scenario for all parties involved.

Continue reading

WSOTP pod: episode 34

Everton's Ross Barkley vs Arsenal's Mikel Arteta

could everton find themselves in the top four at season’s end at arsenal’s expense? the guys debate that and more on this week’s podcast.

With the Premier League season entering the final stretch, just about every match has taken on some sort of importance, either contributing to the title race, the fight to make the top four and/or the relegation scrap. And this weekend’s matches most definitely checked all of those boxes, meaning Jeremy and I had a lot of games to offer up our opinions on. Of course, there was also MLS “Rivalry Week” to contend with, including a thrilling Cascadia Cup tie between the Timbers and Sounders and a Trillium Cup match up between the conference-leading Crew and big spending Toronto. And let’s not forget about last midweek’s USA-Mexico game and this midweek’s Champions League matches that will also need to be chewed upon. You’ll get all that and more on the latest episode of the WSOTP Pod.


Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!

ten words or less #89

DC United forward Chris Rolfe

friend of WSOTP, chris rolfe will find himself in new digs this weekend after being traded from chicago to DC.

It’s been ages since my last links round up piece — okay, so it’s just been over a month. But a month can seem like ages in a house with an infant. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I needed to get this latest Ten Words or Less published before some of the links below become no longer relevant. And with the collection of links below spanning nearly the entire spectrum of professional soccer — from World Cup stories to the Premier League, from the Major Indoor Soccer League to USLPRO to Major League soccer, and from footie gear to soccer broadcasting — this is a links round up not to miss.

To new beginnings. – mlssoccer.com

Ian Darke stars in probably the best ESPN commercial ever. – youtube.com/espn

I really wish Chelsea would stop making kits I like. - footballfashion.org

The MISL is dissolving and it’s getting really ugly. – thebluestatement.com

BeIN Sport have made a vuvezela that changes the channel. – therichest.com

I am 100% behind making this the next MLS rebrand. – thegoatparade.com

Please don’t tell me this is a permanent home. – daytondutchlionsfc.com

Some people prefer Spanish commentary… I’m not one of them. – npr.org

I’m a non believer, but these football Tarot Cards rock. – designfootball.com

Some day… Nike will send me these, too. Some day. – theoriginalwinger.com

WSOTP pod: episode 33

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 33

justin meram’s late heroics and the crew’s red-hot start are talking points on episode 33 of the podcast.

For the third week running, Jeremy and I talk about new US national team recruit Julian Green — this pick the over/under for the minutes the German will see in this week’s US-Mexico game in Phoenix. But Green wasn’t the only topic of conversation on this week’s episode of the podcast. We talked of the misery the guys shared after both Spurs (nothing new) and Chelsea (definitely new) dropped vital points this weekend. The rest of last week’s Premier League action was also glanced over — including Moyes out banners being dragged around above Old Trafford and Liverpool going top — as is the weekend’s MLS play – with special attention paid to the Crew’s big last-gasp victory over Seattle.


Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!

i’ve had enough

after yet another embarrassing loss, i consider my future as a spurs supporter.

After yet another obliteration at the weekend, I think I’ve had enough.

To be fair, I bought into the propaganda this past summer. I wanted to believe that selling off our most valuable asset for a gargantuan pile of dirty Spanish money which would then be used to retool a deeper team would strengthen our chances of a top four run. Chairman Daniel Levy, a man whose voracious business acumen had guided Spurs within a hair of conquering that task in the past two seasons — all while maintaining a profit no less — believed it would work. So why shouldn’t I?

He seemed to be backing our young, ambitious manager with a plan — André Villas-Boas — with significant funds to bring in all of the pieces. A striker of quality was finally bought. A creative midfield player came in that we’ve lacked since Modrić and van der Vaart departed for pastures greener. Danny Rose and Andros Townsend were recalled after successful loans. And on top of further midfield and defensive reinforcements being purchased, the club also went and splurged on a young Argentine starlet who had the potential to make us all forget about the Welshman.

It all seemed the perfect plan… until the horrid results started piling up.

A 0-3 home loss to the lowly Hammers in October got things started. A 0-6 battering at the hands of Manchester City at the Lane was quickly followed by a 0-5 slaughtering at home by Liverpool just a few weeks later in mid December. The later loss was enough to see Villas-Boas’ head roll, despite his club record points tally from the season before. His replacement, youth team coach Tim Sherwood, arrived with a deceptive string of improved results. But another murdering by City at the Etihad came in January, that time a 1-5 scoreline. Chelsea put us to the sword a few weeks back at Stamford Bridge with a 0-4 loss. And now another humbling at Liverpool this past weekend is almost enough to make me forget about three separate losses to Arsenal this season.

These were blowout losses to the teams we were supposed to compete directly with this season. We supposedly share their ambition, or at least that’s the story we’ve been sold. Now Spurs sit perilously close to mediocrity again, the place we’ve tried so hard to escape over the past ten years.

I didn’t sign up for mid-table finishes, lame duck managers or under-performing, over-priced players pissing away my glory. My friends all get to be frustrated over missing out on trophies, while I sit here miserable because Spurs can’t even win the so-called “4th place trophy”. It’s like the club don’t even care that laughter rains down on me from friends and complete strangers each weekend at the pub. The mocking text messages are just the icing on the cake. Meanwhile, Daniel Levy and Joe Lewis and the rest of their ENIC pals are more than content to line their pockets with yearly profits as Spurs yo-yo between periods of relevancy and the fan base loses their minds.

So since they’ve given up on me, I’m giving up on Spurs. Twenty years of support is a long enough time to give a club to turn the corner.

I want a club that has some sort of stability; a club that will stand by their man even when results aren’t quite there. As long as the promise of future success is there, I can live with the continuity. Supposedly that’s what AVB offered Tottenham, but the club clearly weren’t convinced considering how quickly they dispatched of him and his “long-term” philosophy.

I want a club that has a defined playing style and an ethos committed to attractive football. Spurs’ long-standing tradition of playing swashbuckling offensive football was one of the many reasons I originally fell for the team. But being on the receiving end of frequent shellackings like they have been this year shows that philosophy has also gone out the window.

I want a club that achieves something more than mediocrity and that challenges for titles. Regular Champions League football doesn’t seem like too much to ask for, does it? One deep run into the competition a few years back and a couple narrow misses on the tournament aren’t enough to pacify me. Even if we don’t always win those trophies, I need to at least know that we’re competing regularly.

I want to celebrate victories with my fellow fans at the bar and for once not be in the minority. At best, I’m one of just a handful of Tottenham Hotspur supporters at most pubs I frequent. Most times I’m the only one. But even in the times that I do stumble across other forsaken souls who follow the Lillywhites, everyone is still laughing at us for doing so.

Spurs can’t give me any of that, and that’s been clearly evident this season.

So I’m jumping the ship before it sinks. And I’ll climb on one that’s more capable of delivering those needs.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find a club with a long-term manager, a defined offensive playing style and that regularly competes in the highest of competitions and a large number of supporters here in the States. Right?

Come to think of it, there’s a club that is just a short drive down the road from White Hart Lane in North London that checks all of those boxes. They might be Spurs’ biggest rivals, but if Sol Campbell can make the jump from one side to another… why can’t I?

Because like I said earlier, I’ve had enough. And the grass on the other side of the fence looks at least slightly greener.

WSOTP pod: episode 32

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 32

green’s switch to the USMNT has brought both joy and ruffled feathers.

Without a doubt, podcast Episode 32 is an absolute doozie. There was just slightly more than a boatload of football on since we last recorded, and finding time to talk about all of it was quite the task. In fact, we didn’t even get to talk about the weekend’s thrilling Clásico match up. But we did find time to run down all of the midweek Champions League matches and subsequent quarterfinal draw, plus the entirety of the weekend Premier League action. On this side of the pond, we dove through an interesting week of MLS headlines — including the Crew’s red-hot start and the odd timing of their dismissal of the club’s president — and talked about Julian Green’s official switch to representing the US National Team. We even squeezed the listener questions into the mix, too. So sit back, grab a pint and enjoy the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.


Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!