i want: the secret footballer’s guide to the modern game

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WSOTP - Blog - Secret Footballer I Want.fw

Believe it or not, I don’t do all of my reading on the internet. Yes, from time to time, I still pick up and read timeless paper-bound words. Though normally it’s still soccer related as well. And the next book I’d like to mark down on my list of reads is the latest from The Secret Footballer. Not familiar with TSF? An author of a weekly column the Guardian that is purportedly a current Premier League player — either that or we’re all victims of an incredibly slick bit of marketing — The Secret Footballer dishes “insider” information on the professional game thanks to the safety of the protective pseudonym. There’s an entire website devoted to uncovering his identity, though nothing has been confirmed to this point.

Anyway, the first two books from The Secret Footballer — I Am the Secret Footballer and Tales From the Secret Footballer — were incredibly fun and relatively easy reads that shed a lot of insight into the professional game. And as such, I’m eagerly looking forward to reading his latest effort: The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game. It doesn’t help that I’m already a sucker for tactics reading. And if this one is anything like the last two, I’ll finish it in a couple of days.

And to be clear… yes Mom, this is something I’d like for Christmas.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT  |  amazon.com

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that’s not convenient at all

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CalendarLet’s just get this out of the way: outside of the halls of FIFA headquarters in Zurich and the luxurious high rise buildings in Doha, there are very few people in support the idea of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022. I’m against it, you’re against it, most everyone is against it.

I’m not here today to argue the merits of stripping the Arab state of their right to host the tournament, as that horse has been already beaten to death. And no matter how much more you or I or anyone else continues to beat it, the tournament is still likely to end up in Qatar. So let’s just put that possibility out of our minds for the next few minutes, okay?

What I am here to talk about today, however, is when the tournament in Qatar will be held.

Much like everything else that’s associated with the 2022 edition of FIFA’s main event, the time at which it will be played has stirred great debate. It seems highly unlikely that the World Cup will be played out in its normal (Northern Hemisphere) summer time slot, and wisely so considering the scorching temperatures will be unfit for fan and player alike. As such, alternative dates are being considered for the first time.

On the table: November/December 2022, January/February 2022, and May 2022. And that’s bad. Really bad.

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pic of the week 10/27-11/2

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Real Madrid's Pepe spears Sergio Ramos in their match against Granada

This week’s admittedly blurry “Pic of the Week” comes to us from La Liga, where Spanish giants Real Madrid visited minnows Granada at the weekend. The match itself went about how you might expect, with Real securing a 4-0 win and Ronaldo tallying his ridiculous 17th goal in the league despite only having featured in 9 matches. But that goal tally wasn’t the most ridiculous moment of the game, as that honor belongs to his fellow Portuguese teammate Pepe. The defender is a player well known for his rash challenges and quick-to-boil demeanor. We’ve all gotten used to him headbutting, hacking and even assaulting opposing players for years now. But I never expected him to try to murder a player on his own team. Until this weekend, that is.

Captured in the image above and in the video linked here, Pepe nearly impaled teammate and fellow mad man Sergio Ramos in straight Nigel De Jong fashion in the match. Admittedly, both players were attempting to clear a ball rather than challenge one another. But it just goes to show that no matter what team you play for, you need to be wary of stepping on the same field as Pepe… else it might be the last time you ever do.

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.

EXCLUSIVE: dayton dutch lions moving to cincinnati

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.

i want: world f.c. shirts

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World F.C. Champions Collection

If you’ve been around these parts any amount of time, you probably already know of my obsession with soccer tees. My shirt preference is usually to buy from the small-shop designers too, instead of the ones coming from the big boys. That helps to explain why I have a closet teeming with shirts from the likes of Bumpy Pitch, 3nil, Copa, Who Are Ya Designs and of course my own original WSOTP Shop tees. So I feel downright shameful that I haven’t yet picked up a shirt from fellow Ohio-based outfit World F.C. And with their new “Champions Collection” dropping soon, this seems like the perfect time to add to my own collection.

World F.C.’s new collection adds seven new shirts “featuring iconic design elements from the champions of yesterday and today”. I particularly fancy the Boca Juniors and PSG designs from this set, but any of the shirts in the line-up are worth a punt. I’ve been eyeing this Spurs shirt from their other shirts for a while now, too.

Anyway, pre-orders on the new Champions Collection are going on now and will begin shipping soon, so make sure to get your order in soon.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT  |  worldfootballclothing.com

RESULTS: surveying american soccer fandom

“Who is the American soccer fan?” After a wildly successful “summer of soccer” in the States, that’s the question we were asking ourselves here at WSOTP back at the end of July.

Due to the influx of new fans brought to the game because of the World Cup, the face of the American supporter has changed. Casual fans became impassioned ones, haters became lovers and a whole generation of young sports fans were transformed into lifelong followers of the beautiful game. So to help us paint the most accurate picture of what the new average American soccer fan looks like, we put together an in-depth survey to collect as much data as possible.

In all, a whopping 996 soccer fans from across the country completed the survey for us — far more than what we had hoped for, thanks in large part to our good friends at The Free Beer Movement and several American Outlaws chapters for giving it a little push for us.

We shared some of the results of the survey on the first episode of this season’s WSOTP Podcast back at the beginning of August, but also had promised to release more in-depth results at a later time. That time is now.

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pic of the week 8/18-8/24

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Providence Stadium in Guyana

For many MLS sides, qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League is one of the ultimate goals each season. The competition provides a chance to test themselves against the best sides in the region, play in some of the most storied venues in North and Central America and — if they can actually win the whole shebang, a feat no American club has yet managed — an opportunity to play in the yearly Club World Cup. But it’s important to remember that not every ground and opponent an MLS side might be drawn to face is exactly worth all of the hype.

Take for example Portland Timbers’ first round opponents in this season’s CCL: Guyana’s Alpha United FC. Already an oddity in CONCACAF due to the fact that the country is technically in South America, Guyana is also a country where cricket is the first love. And despite Alpha being the three-time reigning champion of the Guyana National Football League, they play their matches in the Bourda Cricket Ground.

However, the stadium itself didn’t meet CONCACAF standards, and thus they have to play their matches at the newer, larger and more modern Providence Stadium. Which is pretty ironic, considering Portland play their home matches Providence Park. Yet despite the upgrade, it still featured a humongous dirt patch — used as the cricket’s bowling and batting area — smack dab in the middle of the pitch. And as the picture tweeted out by Portland owner Merritt Paulson shows, it made for quite the rough playing surface. Luckily, the Timbers still managed to pull off a 4-1 victory in spite of the sub par surface they were forced to make their CCL debut upon.

i want: adidas predator instinct 94

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Adidas Predator Instinct 94

Back in 1994, twelve-year-old me was fascinated with all things World Cup. My parents were awesome throughout the tournament: driving us up north from Ohio to Detroit, purchasing tickets to the games, letting me watch way more TV than I was normally allowed so I could watch the others we didn’t attend. They were even cool enough to purchase me the now infamous denim kit so I could look like my hero Cobi Jones. The one thing they refused to spoil me? The amazingly futuristic boots that had their own tent at the games and were being trod about on the pitch by some of the game’s biggest names: the original Adidas Predators. And rightly so, as no 12-year-old needed a pair of boots that cost $150 — which in 2014 dollars is a now “normal” $240. But that didn’t change the fact I wanted them, and badly.

Fast forward to 2014 though, and the folks at Adidas have given me a chance fulfill my childhood dream by releasing the Predator Instinct 94. One of three retro-inspired boots released by the German athletic giants to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Predator line, all of are built on the line’s latest incarnation, the Predator Instinct. I like them all, but these stand out from the pack if for no other reason than my inner 12-year-old is screaming at me to pick them up.

CLICK HERE IF YOU WANT  |  soccer.com