after taking a week off for vacation, i’m diving back into the blog with the latest stop on the WSOTP stadium guide tour: DC’s RFK stadium.
Ah vacation… you were much needed. After a month of World Cup to digest, my brain and Twitter feed certainly needed the rest. So after spending a week with my family on an isolated lake in South Carolina, I’m now back and ready to dip my foot into the pools of world football once again.
But instead of just easing back into things, I’m kicking things off with a bang. Tonight I’ll be making my next WSOTP MLS Stadium Guide stop by the above pictured RFK stadium in our nation’s capital to watch the Eastern Conference leading DC United take on a surprise Chivas USA side that’s punching well above expectations. You can expect a full detailed write-up to visiting the league’s oldest — and possibly most historic — stadium later this week.
In the mean time, here are a collection of some of my favorite links from the last few weeks to tide you over.
This week’s edition of Pic of the Week comes a day later than normal thanks to a much needed break away from the internet during the Memorial Day holiday here in the US, but picking it couldn’t have been any easier for me. And the reason for selecting a shot of Gareth Bale scoring the game-winning, Champions League-title-clenching goal are many.
For one, despite his sale to Real Madrid last summer, the former Tottenham fullback/winger/attacking menace remains my favorite player. Stomaching his sale — and his seven “replacements” fumbling along at White Hart Lane – has been tough for sure, but my joy in seeing him score such an important goal on such a grand stage couldn’t have been any more intense. I tweeted at the time “I know he doesn’t play for us anymore, but as far as I’m concerned, Bale scored that goal for #Spurs too”… to which a mountain of Arsenal fans latched on to and laughed at. But with Tottenham playing such a vital roll in his development, and me following his career since his days at Southampton, it sure felt that way. Furthermore, I’m also a quiet Real Madrid fan, and was happy to see the club finally clinch their long-awaited 10th European Cup – La Décima. Oh, and the Welshman’s headed finish might possibly be the most perfectly placed upper-90 shot I’ve ever seen — almost exactly the same distance from the post and crossbar.
Anyway, congratulations to Gareth. You might not be at Spurs any longer, but you’ll forever be draped in lillywhite to me.
yes, that is pizza shaved into dominic oduro’s head.
I have to admit that I have been a really lousy writer lately. The last full length article I wrote was published over two weeks ago, and it was nearly a fortnight in between that one and the article previous to it. Yeah, I’ve been giving you guys semi-regular Pic of the Week posts, the occasional Ten Words or Less, and a smattering of new shirts and other posts bloggings — not to mention Jeremy and I have continued to deliver our weekly podcast — but I’ve really gotten away from what this site was originally all about: the writing. For those of you who come here for that, I’ll aim to deliver in the near future and thanks for your patience.
That said, I have been working behind the scenes on some really big projects. Need some proof? How about the just-released 2014 NPSL and WPSL schedule posters for the Cincinnati Saints, which I had the privilege of designing. And tomorrow, the Saints and I will also be revealing an even bigger announcement that has been in the works for some time now. It’s seriously huge, so be sure to stay tuned.
In the mean time, below is a choice selection of my favorite links from the past week or so to hold you over.
As a dedicated fan of the beautiful game, no matter who you support, there are a number of dates each year that just about all of us circles on our calendars as “can’t miss” matches.
while normally a really exciting affair, the lead up to the first of this year’s clasicos has been unusually quiet… and even boring if you ask san iker.
The obvious ones are the dates of major international finals, Europe’s Champions League final, and South America’s Copa Libertadores. There are also a number of club rivalry matches — the so called “derbies” — that get the same treatment. Even if you don’t support the teams battling it out, the history and passion wrapped up in the matches often make them extremely entertaining affairs. Notable examples are the Derby d’Italia between Juventus and Inter, the Superclásico contested between River Plate and Boca Juniors, the currently-muted Old Firm Derby between Rangers and Celtic, and more recently the Manchester Derby between United and City.
However, the crown jewel of rivalries has to be Spain’s El Clásico.
With apologies to a very excellent Atlético Madrid side, Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two best sides on the Iberian peninsula in both a historical and modern context. Between them, the two European giants have won 53 La Liga titles, 44 Copa del Reys, and 13 European Cups. That said, the rivalry runs far deeper than just bulging trophy cabinets. It also has deep roots in the highly charged cultural and political tug of war between the Catalonia and Castile regions of the country.
And this weekend, we all have the privilege of watching the first Clásico of the season as Real visits Barça’s cavernous Camp Nou. Oddly though, the hype in the lead up to this match seems dull in comparison to years past.
Often times, picking a “Pic of the Week” is a snap: one ridiculous picture will go viral in the previous week, making it the obvious choice. But occasionally, there are several pictures that I’d be more than happy to see take the prize. Such was the case this week, as I nearly went with a picture of Luis Suárez thinking it was a good idea to bring his 10-day old son out onto the pitch at Anfield for warm ups on Saturday. A narrow loss for Luis, but I’d bank on him being back here sooner rather than later.
Instead, I opted for this pre-match team picture from Spanish Segunda B side La Hoya Lorca, as they debuted their brand new broccoli-themed away kits this weekend. Yes, you read that correctly. Broccoli. And believe it or not, this is actually their second savoy-flavored uniform, as they trotted out in one several times last term.
Sure, it’s nice that the club are paying homage to the local Murcia region’s agricultural heritage and primary export. And they’ve earned a solid nickname of El Brócoli Mecánico – or “the Clockwork Broccoli” — from rocking them, too. But I can’t imagine their hue makes finding teammates on the pitch any easier. And I’d also guess they’ve had a serious drop off in the number of children attending matches, too.
this is what it looks like when £166 million pounds worth of footballers get together.
I’ve been a little USA-Mexico heavy in this space for the last week or so, and understandably so. And predictably, a little bit of that spills over into this weeks TWOL posting. If you’re feeling a little burnt out on the subject, don’t worry… there’s still a further six links below that aren’t related to that match in any way. So the #USAvMEX talk is slowly dying down, if nothing else. And don’t worry, there’s more coming on the blog tomorrow that doesn’t have anything to do with it either.
However, if you’re wanting even more of the US Soccer coverage, be sure to check out Episode 5 of the WSOTP Pod — a.k.a. the “Dos A Cero Special” — and you can hear all my thoughts on all of the festivities that surrounded the epic match in Columbus.
for some players, like new spurs acquisition paulinho, transfer season is so intense that it brings them to tears.
The European transfer season is upon us, and players, agents and club chairmen are crisscrossing the globe in search of pay days, pay days and pay days respectively. Keeping up with it is nearly impossible — there are those who try, with some better than others – and not something I plan on attempting any time soon. What rumors are true? Is that source safe? For many fans, filtering through it all every summer can be extremely stressful. And still for others, it’s a time of excitement. But regardless of how you feel about it, one things is for sure: with all of the wheelings and dealings set to go down over the next two months, it’s easy to be left with your head spinning.
So if you’re looking for a little break from the rampant speculation and baseless hype, I’ve kept the transfer fodder to a minimum in this week’s TWOL.
Alright. Enough is enough. This whole thing is really starting to spiral out of control. It’s not like this is a revelation or anything. Everyone knows finances in European football have completely gotten out of hand.
greed has become so prevalent in european football that fans are starting to feel its effects.
Football mirroring life once again, it’s impossible to miss just how easily the rich are get richer while the poor continue to get poorer. The system is set up to work that way, and no corner of the sport escapes the effects of the greed that runs rampant within it.
You’ve heard it all before, but I’ll tell it to you again. For the effect, that’s why.
First, think about how increasingly rare it is to find an elite player outside of one of the super-rich, “mega-clubs” like Chelsea, Bayern, PSG, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus. They’re the only ones who can afford to buy the best players, they then win things with them, which ultimately provides them with even more prize/sponsorship money to go out and hijack another small club’s best player. That’s why we see more and more young stars like Mario Götze leaving a potentially dynastic Dortmund side for Bayern, and why we’ll continue to see various behemoths attempt to pry guys like Gareth Bale away from an on-the-cusp sidesl like Tottenham. It’s a ridiculously vicious cycle, particularly if you’re a fan of a club classified with the have-nots rather than the haves.
if this excellent promotional poster doesn’t get you amped up for tonight’s USMNT match… i don’t know what will.
It’s been a busy week here at WSOTP. This is my fourth post in less than a week, which has to be a blog record. Hopefully everyone’s been eating it up.
But as you might expect, the events that have dominated my attention over the last few days have to be crucial the upcoming pair of US men’s national team World Cup qualifiers. In the lead up for that, I’ve been busy promoting watch parties in Dayton, OH, as well as helping others to find bars/parties to watch those matches all over the country by promoting the WSOTP Soccer Pub Atlas (And be sure to peep the sidebar to check it out yourself). And of course, I’ve been obsessing over the match-ups themselves.
Anyway, if you’re anything like me, and you are impatiently waiting for tonight’s kickoff, here are some of my favorite links from around the interwebz over the last week to help keep you entertained until then.
Barcelona: the most popular club on the planet these days. Wayne Rooney: one of the most popular players on the planet these days. Unrelated as they might be, surveying the metaphorical terrains in which they currently find themselves in, it’s awfully easy to get confused where both club and player are going at this point in time.
the only thing worse than another defeat to milan for barcelona? those god awful tequila sunrise kits.
Charting their success over the last few years, the blaugrana have looked permanently perched to the top of the highest peak imaginable in the club game. No other club can claim to have had such a great stretch. Barça’s run of unbelievable sustained success has been experienced by few — if any — clubs in the modern era, and is only rivaled by that of their greatest foes to the North in the late 1950′s. Two Club World Cups, Champions League winners thrice over, five La Liga titles and a pair of Copa del Rey’s only tell half the story, as they’ve also been to four European semifinals and a handful of others as well. So when they’re not winning it all, they’ve at least been in the running.
Likewise, Wayne Rooney has been at or around the pinnacle of the English and footballing worlds for quite some time. He’s been a virtual lock as a starter at United since 2004, has been an integral part of four Premier League titles, a Champions League title, and a Club World Cup title, not to mention a bevy of individual awards to bolster his trophy cabinet. He’s been the centerpiece upon which Sir Alex Ferguson built his Manchester United squad, and the same can be said about England.
But in what is undoubtedly a mere coincidence, both Barcelona and Rooney have experienced a bad couple of weeks. Following three unsettled defeats from four from Barcelona, and a curiously turbulent and dramatic season for Rooney, I’ve begun to wonder if both of their times at the top of the game might be drawing to a conclusion.