renewed crew

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WSOTP - Blog - New Crew.fwIn the world of American professional sports, fresh starts aren’t exactly what I would call “rare”. Nary a year passes without some team in any of the major leagues — MLB,  NBA, NFL or NHL for those who don’t follow other sports — revamping their logo, changing their name, modifying their colors, or even moving cities. It’s a never-ending race to stay modern, current and fresh in the minds of would-be fans.

Major League Soccer has been particularly susceptible to this trend.

Of the original ten teams that still survive — RIP Tampa Bay Mutiny — only Columbus Crew and the New England Revolution still had their original brandings at the start of the 2014 MLS season. We’ve had teams move (San Jose to Houston), teams who have completely changed their names (Dallas Burn to FC Dallas), and teams who have run the gamut (Kansas City Wiz to Kansas City Wizards to Sporting KC AND new colors). Even teams coming in from other leagues (Seattle, Portland, Orlando) have had to give their brands a rethink.

And to nobody’s surprise, Columbus finally decided to join the party.

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EXCLUSIVE: dayton dutch lions moving to cincinnati

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WSOTP - Blog - Dutch Lions Move to Cincinnati.fwAccording to information received from multiple trusted sources, Wrong Side of the Pond believes that the Dayton Dutch Lions will be moving their USL PRO franchise to Cincinnati for the 2015 season.

Rumors place the club leaving their newly minted home at Dayton Outpatient Center Stadium at West Carrollton High School — just opened midway through the 2014 season — and migrating to the Xavier University Soccer Complex. Currently, that facility also plays host to the Dutch Lions affiliate fourth division side playing in the USL Premier Development League.

Multiple attempts to confirm the move with the Dutch Lions went unanswered, as was a request for further information put into Xavier Athletics. Additionally, USL PRO declined to comment on any franchise moves, per league policy.

However, should an impending move 50 miles south actually come to fruition, it would come at the end of a turbulent stretch for a Dutch Lions organization that has alternated between few highs and far more frequent lows.

Established in 2009 as a fourth division USL Premier Development League side before self-promoting to the third division USL PRO — formerly the USL Second Division — in 2011, the Dutch Lions have long struggled to find a firm footing in Dayton and have found success on the pitch equally elusive.

Poor attendance has plagued the team throughout their existence and is likely the primary driver behind a relocation. The Dutch Lions averaged a league-low attendance of 531 at home matches this season, and often times the actual attendance was far less. The club’s struggle to find a permanent home likely contributed to those poor numbers, and a transient history of bouncing around local high school stadiums has made it difficult to establish a persistent fan base.

On-field outcomes have also been rare for Dayton, with a third place finish in USL PDL in their first year of existence being the club’s best ever league finish. But things haven’t gone as well since making the climb up to the third division: they’ve managed only one winning season (2013) and this year finished dead last out of fourteen clubs.

Reportedly, the only income keeping the club afloat comes by way of their youth academy, as club fees collected from each academy member are being at least partially used to help prop up the struggling professional side. Apparently, the Dutch Lions are also operating on what has been deemed “the smallest budget in the league” by a sizable margin. With little match day revenue to add to the coffers, a move South to a potentially more lucrative market would indeed appear appealing.

A move, however, shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.

Speculation of a move to Cincinnati seems to surface nearly every off season around the Dutch Lions camp. And when the organization announced their second PDL amateur side was to be established in Cincinnati just over a year ago, co-owner Mike Mossell — a Xavier Graduate and former player for the defunct Cincinnati Riverhawks — dropped a very telling quote in the official release:

“When Erik [Tammer] and I wanted to start a professional soccer club in the USA back in 2009, Cincinnati was our first choice.”

That’s not exactly a glowing endorsement for how the Dutch Lions feel about being in Dayton. Mossel’s ties to the Queen City only strengthen the argument that Cincinnati is where they would rather be setting up shop.

There’s also the matter of the organizations fourth division team, the already existing Cincinnati Dutch Lions, that might lend further credence to a potential move for their flagship franchise. Speculation has been that the placing of a Dutch Lions PDL side in Cincinnati was little more than a litmus test to see how a team might fare playing at Xavier. The lower-division side was able to average 251 supporters per match, hardly a mouthwatering statistic. But, given that there was virtually no media exposure and zero marketing efforts to promote the team, that might be enough to consider it a decent trial run.

While Cincinnati’s larger market and the owners’ original desires to place it there in the first place might be the primary drivers behind a decision to relocate the club, there are still a number of other factors that make it quite the perplexing proposition.

First and foremost is the already mentioned recent move to West Carrollton’s Dayton Outpatient Center Stadium — or “The DOC” as it’s come to be known by the club’s few dedicated supporters. The search for a permanent home for the Dutch Lions in Dayton had been long and arduous, with proposals for a soccer specific stadium failing to gain support from purported communities. The club eventually settled upon yet another temporary home in West Carrollton, where a brand new turf pitch without football lines was laid down in April thanks in large part to hefty investment from DOC’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta upon the completion of a 30-year agreement between the three parties. Should the Dutch Lions leave Dayton, it’s unclear whether that would in some way violate the terms of the partnership and if there would be any ramifications for such a decision.

Additionally, there’s the issue of the club’s youth academy, also based at West Carrollton High School. Though it’s not unheard of for a professional side’s academy to based in a different city, that normally isn’t the case for academies of lower division sides in the US. A move to Cincinnati for the USL PRO team would also leave a far further drive for academy members — normally an easier group to convince to attend — to actually make it to games. As well, it wouldn’t be a stretch either to hypothesize that the appeal of playing for an academy of a team not based in the same city might drop too.

A move to Cincinnati could also cast doubts on the futures of the Cincinnati PDL team and the women’s W-League team that also calls Dayton home.

Ultimately, it still remains to be seen if those or any other hurdles would be enough to block a move South.

Mossell has, of course, dealt with these types of rumors before too. He told Reckless Challenge‘s Chad Hollingsworth in an interview at the time of the Cincinnati PDL side’s announcement that “there are no plans” to move the USL PRO team to Cincinnati as well. But with WSOTP‘s sources now claiming the rumblings are coming from “within the club” as opposed to from outside sources, the ownership’s tune might now have changed.

Will Dayton lose it’s team? While nothing official from the club or league could be obtained, the Dutch Lions’ tumultuous time in the Gem City looks to have finally come to an end.

every cat only has nine lives

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Fulham v Stoke City - Premier LeagueMaking the jump to Europe and finding success is no easy feat to pull off. Countless Americans have tried, and many of them faltered.

A limited number of players have left our shores and departed for the greener pastures — and paychecks — of the European game and been able to make a good name for themselves. Think Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundulo and Tim Howard, all of whom had great on field success.

For some, however, they see their bright starts fizzle away to obscurity. The first name that comes to mind is a guy like Maurice Edu, who had some monstrous performances for Rangers before devolving into a reserve at Stoke. Others like Adam Lichaj, Clarence Goodson and Jonathan Spector make for similar examples of promising prospects that developed into average careers at best.

Still others oscillate between successes and failures, such as Jozy Altidore is finding out after failing to impress in his time at Villareal, then finding his feet at AZ, and now struggling again at Sunderland.

But for many, it never really clicked in the first place. The best instance of this is Eddie Johnson’s disastrous spell at Fulham.

The margin for whether an American player — and all players moving abroad, for that matter — will end up a flop or a hit is razor thin. The variables that determine that are innumerable. It can range from the situation of the club he is acquired by to the manager(s) he plays under, the culture of the country or even the player’s mental strength. It’s a toss up, really. And a lot of things have to go perfectly for it all to pop off.

So when it was announced this week that Brek Shea would be leaving Stoke City on yet another loan after unsuccessfully securing any meaningful playing time for the Potters, I feared that he might be steadily on his way to joining the long list of American failures in Europe.

And if I’m being completely honest, I was actually concerned Shea might turn out this way back when he first moved to Europe in January of 2013.

However, before we get into why that was a concern, let’s chart his career trajectory a bit. Back in 2011, Shea had just logged an impressive 11 goal, 5 assist campaign for FC Dallas in his fourth season in MLS. He had broken into Klinsmann’s US side and had shown flashes of creativity and excitement in attack. Many were touting him as the brightest light of the new crop of players being ushered into the program. And it was around that time when the European clubs began to circle like vultures. Which made sense given that Shea possesses the exceedingly rare “Three S’s” of size, speed and strength. Ultimately he settled on a trial/training stint with Arsenal, which inspired me to write this piece on how big of a chance it could have proven for him. Things seemed very, very bright for the Texas native.

Unfortunately, no permanent move materialized and he followed that all up with a pretty lackluster — albeit injury-riddled — 2012 back in Dallas. But though his performances slagged, his off field celebrity remained large and social media following continued to ballooned. Some questioned whether all of that contributed to him being a bit distracted and was more concerned with maintaining his image. Yet despite all of that, Stoke City still came calling in January 2013.

And that’s where I started to question whether Brek might be making the wrong move at the wrong time.

Having surgery to remove a bone in his foot and coming off an under performing season in MLS, it might have made more sense to stick it out in Dallas for a bit longer. Doing so might have helped him to regain his fitness and rebuild his confidence. Besides, joining European sides midway through the season is always a difficult task.

At the time, Stoke City were in a bit of a stutter themselves and only picked up a point during the entire month of January under Tony Pulis. Too, Pulis’ Stoke weren’t exactly renown for their attacking acumen. And for both reasons, the manager found himself under increasing pressure from both the fans and boardroom that eventually lead to his departure.

was moving to stoke the wisest of moves for brek?

was moving to stoke the wisest of moves for brek?

As an attacking player whose skills and tactical awareness still needed further honing, Shea’s moving to Stoke to play under Pulis just didn’t make much sense. Furthermore, choosing to go play under a manager who didn’t look like he would be in the job much longer seemed naive — though you could argue he might have thought the club’s poor run of form would give him a chance to break into the side.

The attack-minded Mark Hughes’ arrival at the Britannia Stadium in March might have seemed like a boost to Shea’s chances of success. But given that Hughes has only chosen him twice in the 18 months since then, it’s probably fair to say the Welshman doesn’t exactly fancy what he has to offer.

That said, Hughes hasn’t completely shut him out in the cold. The lanky winger was farmed out at the beginning of the year to Barnsley with the aim of getting him some matches. Although you could also see the move as means of placing Shea in the shop window too. And though he impressed on his debut for Tykes and made eight appearances for them, his loan was cut short and he was sent back to Stoke after a bust up with supporters. Predictably, Hughes didn’t give him a runout once he returned either.

Since, things have remained rather stagnant for Mr. Shea. Without much on-pitch time to sharpen his game since the move to England — and after failing to impress in his appearances in the pre-tournament tune ups — Klinsmann wisely skipped over him for the US’ World Cup squad. A lackluster appearance in the last friendly against the Czech Republic only served to reinforce that decision.

And now he’s gone out on loan again, this time to Championship side Birmingham City. Hughes even went so far as to say he didn’t see the American in his plans for the Potters, though perhaps impressing while on loan might be a way to change the manager’s mind.

But you get the feeling that if he disappoints at St. Andrew’s, Shea’s days in England might just be numbered.

Of course, this might be a bit premature. He’s never quite regained full fitness since moving abroad, and a consistent run of games has helped many a player to find form before. Maybe he’ll find his feet in Birmingham, and use it as a launch pad to greater success across the pond.

You hate to say that Brek Shea is a cat that’s used up eight of his nine lives in just a year and a half playing overseas. But his showings of late haven’t exactly been the kind that would convince you otherwise, and his manager at Stoke isn’t exactly the type to give players bonus chances.

And if that’s the case, he’ll be the latest in a long line of American players that just couldn’t cut the mustard abroad.

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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you picked a WSOTP scarf, now pre-order it!

Last week, I posted three mock ups on the site to let fans to pick an official soccer scarf design for Wrong Side of the Pond. Well the people — you, our readers and listeners — have spoken, the votes have been tallied, and a winning design for the first ever WSOTP scarf has been selected. And the winner is, with nearly 70% of the vote…

OPTION #1: The WSOTP Hoops Scarf!
WSOTP - Scarf Concept 2.fw

So now that a winning design has been selected, how do you go about getting your hands on one?

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pic of the week 10/13-10/19

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Drone at Serbia v Albania Euro 2016 Qualifier

While the European Championships — to be held in 2016 in France — are often thought to bring multicultural Europe closer together, the latest edition of Pic of the Week illustrates how that’s not always the case. This week, Serbia and Albania squared off in Belgrade in Group I action in the Serbian capital of Belgrade. As you might recall, the two countries have a long, complicated, and often bloody relationship. Tensions between the two are rooted in the conflict involving the former Serbian-province of Kosovo, where Serbia expelled and ethnic cleansed of Albanians and NATO had to step in to stop the bloodshed. And as such, UEFA banned away fans from traveling to either of the fixtures scheduled between the two national teams.

Not content to be totally blocked out of making a statement at the match, a covert Albanian fan flew a remote-controlled drone above the pitch and terraces with an Albanian-themed flag. But when Serbia’s Stefan Mitrović yanked down the flag, the powder keg was officially lit. Albanian players rushed over after taking offence to the action, a scuffle ensued and then Serbian fans began to rush the pitch to attack the Albanians. And after 30 minutes of delaying the match, English referee Martin Atkinson abandoned it.

What repercussions, if any, will come of the event remain to be seen. But you do have to wonder how UEFA — who had prevented Spain and tiny Gibraltar from being drawn together in qualifying — could allow two countries with such deep political tensions to be drawn together.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 9

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 9

Just because we’re in the middle of yet another international break that’s forced another short sabbatical of the European club game, there was still ample subject matter for Jeremy and D.J. to discuss to warrant another edition of the WSOTP Podcast. So what’s on deck for this week’s episode? The guys spend considerable time chatting about Landon Donovan’s penultimate match for the US national team and the legacy he’ll leave behind. Furthermore, it’s not like MLS went on hiatus. So the guys made room to cover the steadily intensifying MLS Playoff races, including the Crew’s dramatic comeback win against Philadelphia. Speaking of the Crew, some time to was also devoted to Columbus’ #NewCrew logo reveal and D.J.’s experience covering the unveiling event last week — which you can read more about here. Plus, we announced the winning reader/listener-selected design for the first ever WSOTP scarf!

As always, remember to send us your topics and questions for next week’s podcast. If you have something for us, send us an email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet it to us, or even write it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

 

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 #97

Landon Donovan's Final USMNT Match

With tomorrow being the final chapter in Landon Donovan’s US national team book — at least from a playing perspective — many in the sphere of American soccer are busy peddling homages to the man’s career. I’m certainly guilty of it too, though I wrote mine back in August. I had contemplated making this latest edition of TWOL my ten favorite odes to LD, but honestly it just felt like people making the same points over and over. So I scrapped that concept, however I did still manage to include my favorite of the bunch in link #1 below. Nestled below that? A smattering of some of the other excellent reads I’ve come across in the last week and a half.

Enjoy the links, enjoy Landycake’s last ever match in national team colors, and prepare yourself for a full run down on the #NewCrew event in Columbus last night in the next day or so.

Landon Donovan’s biggest obstacle to greatness? His brain. – soccergods.com

These guys built a Pool-Ball table, and I’m super jealous. – facebook.com

Why the USL PRO-MLS partnership is already producing dividends. – mlssoccer.com

Well that’s going to be awkward for United. – telegraph.co.uk

Four MASL clubs decided they’ll play by their own rules. – syracuse.com

The big chance for Indian football. – inbedwithmaradona.com

A cool visualization of the most recent MLS Salary release. – stathunter.com

Hurdles/politics have forced Sacramento to rethink their MLS approach. – empireofsoccer.net

The FA’s poorly thought out revisions for foreign work permits. – weaintgotnohistory.com

Reason #479 why Real Salt Lake are good. – sltrib.com

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 8

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 8

This week’s episode is something of a surprise milestone for the WSOTP Podcast — this is our 50th overall episode! Since neither D.J. or Jeremy remembered that fact until they sat down to record Sunday night, we don’t have anything too special planned for the occasion. Luckily, we get to celebrate by talking about the epic Wenger-Mourinho bout at Stamford Bridge, Spurs getting back on track against Southampton, and Champions League updates. Domestically, we’ll be talking about the intense MLS playoff races in both conferences, the MVP and Coach of the Year debates, Chivas USA’s shuttering/contraction and more Red Bulls drama. You’ll also get your normal weekly installments of Fulham Watch cataloging their plight in the Championship and the guy’s Winners & Wankers from the past seven days. That’s a feast for your ears if you ask me

Also, don’t forget to send us your topics and questions for next week’s podcast, either via an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or tweeting us or writing on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

 

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!

goodnight, sweet princes

Goodbye Crew Construction Workers.fwIt’s a weird feeling knowing they are going away forever, isn’t it?

After all, I’ve known the trio for just shy of nineteen years now. There aren’t many who have been in my life that long. If memory serves me correctly, we were first introduced by former Columbus mayor Greg Lashutka way, way back on October 19th, 1995. And though their hardened, steely, cross-armed glares may not appear so to those on the outside, it’s been comforting to have them around over the years — confidently and knowingly watching over us.

Of course I’m talking about the three nameless construction workers that adorn the Columbus Crew’s outgoing crest, as if that wasn’t obvious at this point.

It’s true that some are quite happy to see the hard hats go. They’ve been mocked as cartoonish descendants of 90’s era Microsoft clipart. Some have derided the blue-collar ethos they represent as no longer being representative of the city the team calls home. They are said to no longer capture the spirit of the young, modern professional that the club and league so desperately want to fill their seats. And to be fair, those arguments hold quite a bit of water.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t still lament their impending departure.

This is the only logo my MLS team has ever used; the only face of the organization I’ve ever known. They’re one of only two MLS Originals™ crests that have survived to modern MLS 2.0/3.0 times — the other being the scribbled in crayon logo of the New England Revolution. And as such, I’ve I have a metric crap-ton of special moments attached to it.

The construction workers have presided over some tremendous memories. The guys were emblazoned on the hat that Brian McBride dawned upon being named the first ever Major League Soccer draft pick in February of 1996. They were hoisted up on the facade of the first ever soccer-specific stadium in MLS history in May of 1999. They stared out proudly from the chests of the players who hoisted the club’s first ever major trophy, the US Open Cup in 2002. And they were there too in 2008 as they cast their stern glazes over the lifting of the big one, the Crew’s first and only MLS Cup triumph.

But they weren’t just there in fair weather, as they provided a strong shoulder to cry on in the lean times too.

Some absolute league legends have also been privileged enough to wear these three plebeian workers over their hearts. The aforementioned McBride was joined by fellow notable Americans like Thomas Dooley, Eddie Gaven and Frankie Hejduk. And it would criminal not to mention imported talents like Stern John, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Federico Higuaín. And perhaps ironically, all of those were/are industrious, tireless players who embodied the grit the crest’s occupants conveyed. Even if it was just a team slogan, the players that made the biggest impact here always seemed to fit the “hardest working team in America” mantra.

Columbus Crew Guerilla Marketing #NewCrew

despite the sadness of the departure of our three long-time friends on the old crest, i eagerly await the news of what will fill the yellow spheres scattered around the columbus.

Honestly, it feels a little bit like my dog died: I know I’ll be getting another, but the new one won’t look just like my current one or remind me of all the fun times we had together.

Look, I’m as excited as anyone for the rebrand the Crew will be unveiling this week. The current look is dated and sorely in need of a refreshing. Hopefully the #NewCrew rendition will mesh well with the league’s recent makeover and compare favorably to the newer brands that have debuted recently both inside and outside of MLS. I’m also optimistic the new face of the franchise will better represent the city and fans of the Crew. And my fingers are crossed that it will also give us further indication of the direction that Anthony Precourt and his Precourt Sports Ventures want to take this team.

But I’m still going to miss my guys — even if I don’t know their names. There are too many damn feelings and memories attached to their solemn black, white and grey faces.

Chin up, gentleman: you’ve served us well for nearly twenty years and deserve the (forced) retirement that’s coming your way. Perhaps there’s a warm spot in Florida you can retire to with all of the other brands sunset by the other American clubs over the years. I bet the ex-Wizards of Kansas City would be happy to carpool with you to Orlando next season, if you need a local MLS-fix.

Wherever you end up though, trust me when I say that you will not soon be forgotten. No matter how shiny and well received the new crest is, the three of you will be missed.

winter is coming… so help us pick a scarf

scarves

There’s a saying in the realm of football media that goes something along the lines of, “You’re not a real soccer website until you have your own scarf”… or at least that’s what it seems like.

Over the years — and especially since the unveiling of the WSOTP Shop – I’ve had multitudes of requests for our own branded scarf. And honestly, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, too. However, coming up with a suitable/appealing design, gauging interest in placing an order, getting it produced and then distributing them to everyone was always daunting enough to convince me to put it off a while longer.

Yet with the cold of winter just around the corner, the timing for undertaking that process will truly never be better.

But I have a problem.

I’ve come up with three different scarves, and I can’t decide which one we should go with. Furthermore, since there’s a minimum order quantity of 75 pieces that needs to be dealt with, I need to make sure it’s a design that people would actually want to begin with. And that’s where you readers come into play: I need your help in picking the final design.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 7

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 7

We’ve got yet another full podcast for you this week thanks to a jam-packed weekend of action around the world of football. On the top of our minds was “Derby Saturdray” featuring the North London and Merseyside grudge matches, along with an interesting round of fixtures in the rest of the Premier League. We’ve also reached the point in the MLS season where things have gotten particularly interesting with the playoffs now just a month off, not to mention a very interesting week down the US soccer pyramid in USL PRO. D.J. and Jeremy also discussed “must have’s” for following the sport, talked of their Winners and Wankers for the week, and still made room for the second installment of our German football round up from correspondent Christopher Wieland. So strap on your headphones and ready your speakers for the latest edition of the WSOTP Podcast!

Have a topic you want us to cover or a question you want us to answer on next week’s podcast? Send an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet us or write it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

 

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 9/22-9/28

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Sacramento Republic FC 2014 USL PRO Champions

If you’re wondering what the next MLS expansion franchise will be, this week’s Pic of the Week may very well give you a snapshot of what it will look like.

Just in the first year of existence in the American third-tier USL PRO, Sacramento Republic FC are easily one of the biggest successes of the 2014 soccer calendar year. They were one of the most well-supported sides in the country — not just in the minor leagues — by pulling in over combined 158,000 fans in their home matches this season, smashing the USL season record with five matches to spare. And their off field success was easily matched by their on field efforts, too. SacRepublic not only finished second in the regular season standings, but they also barnstormed all the way to hoisting the championship trophy under the guidance of legendary MLS stalwart Preki. That championship run included an incredible come from behind victory over LA Galaxy II in the semis and a comprehensive 2-0 win over Harrisburg City Islanders in the final in front of yet another sold out Bonney Stadium.

And thanks to those achievements, it’s certainly justified MLS and the Sacramento ownership playing footsie for most of the 2014 campaign. How soon that will happen is anyone’s guess, but if they can put together another season like this one in 2015, my guess is it will be sooner rather than later that NoCal pops up in the American first division.