soccer is coming back to the square

During last summer’s male rendition of the FIFA World Cup, a wave of national pride washed over the country, blanketing major cities with watch parties numbering in the thousands for each of the four US Men’s National Team matches.

It was no different here in Cincinnati, where the enthusiasm often transformed into euphoria as the boys were able to survive the “Group of Death”. Over seven thousand people showed up in Cincinnati’s city center to watch the action unfold on the big screen. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s a glimpse at the insanity:

So with the US Women’s National team in action this summer at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, the calls to return to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square were loud and frequent. And while there was absolutely interest to do so from last summer’s hosts — the NPSL’s Cincinnati Saints and Hoist — pre-existing conflicts on the Square’s calendar meant that regular watch parties just weren’t a reality like they were for the men.

Obviously, we were a bit bummed. As the emcee’s for last year’s events, it was absolutely electric experience to be a part of, and we wanted it to happen just as much as anyone.

But luckily, the stars have aligned for the biggest game of the tournament.

Despite a sputtering offense and some uninspiring performances, the US women’s absolutely airtight defense — which has a rather ironic 513-minute shutout streak going — has helped them navigate the tricky waters of their own “Group of Death”, through the knockout round and into their second straight World Cup final. And as it just so happens, Fountain Square had nothing going on during that time slot.

So you know what that means…

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Fountain Square WWC

That’s right kids: WE’RE HEADING BACK TO THE SQUARE!

Beginning at 6pm — immediately following the always enjoyable Art on Vine — on this coming Sunday, July 5th, the Cincinnati Saints and Hoist are once again bringing a US Soccer Watch Party back down to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. And the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast team is delighted to have once again been invited back to emcee the event!

As with last year, there will beers and drink specials to wet your whistles and keep your vocal chords ready to cheer. Of course there will also be food trucks there — like the delicious Urban Grille — to keep your belly satisfied, too. We here at WSOTP will once again be recording a live podcast prior to kickoff and during halftime, offering our analysis of the action, too.

And oh yeah, there’s that whole opportunity to stand united with thousands as we cheer on the ladies in their efforts to enact revenge on Japan’s 2011 World Cup final win. As of the time of writing, 500 people had already confirmed their attendance on the event’s Facebook page… just two days after it was posted.

So if you’re within 100 miles of the Queen City this Sunday, you’d do best to throw on your US kits and/or red, white and blue garb, grab all of your friends, and bring your best supporter’s faces to the Square to hopefully watch our girls lift the cup.

PS: the weather is looking aces for the weekend, too.

WSOTP pod: a fifa summer spectacular

WSOTP Podcast - A FIFA Summer Spectacular

Well, the Season 2 finale didn’t last that long: two full weeks to be exact. But with a hectic summer soccer schedule — plus just a little bit of news about a supposedly corrupt world governing body — D.J. and Jeremy just couldn’t help but turn back on the mics. Though we did give you fair warning that would be happening several times throughout the summer. We just delivered earlier than anticipated. So in addition to the guys’ reactions to all things FIFA scandal, we also delve into the Champions League Final, the US men’s suprising shootout with Holland, and of course the ladies of summer and the Women’s World Cup.

Have anything you want us to cover over the course of the summer? Drop us a line at contact@wrongsideofthepond.com and we will likely happily oblige. And to make sure you don’t miss any of our summer audio offerings, automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device or RSS feed by subscribing using the links below.

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ten words or less #109

While things on the writing front haven’t completely picked back up yet — I’ve had a few original pieces pop out of my brain recently — things on the design front have really picked up a bit. In addition to the recently announced Saints Matchday Poster project eating up gobs of my time, there’s also been work on the Women’s World Cup front too with at least one new shirt design and a Canada 2015 wall chart in progress too. So while I’m stoked to be working on all of that stuff, I wanted to apologize for the continued low output on the written side of things.

And as I normally do in these situations, I’ll attempt to bribe you to stick around a bit longer with some of my favorite links from the last week or so in the world of football. It’s working, right?

Other people think we’re worth following on Twitter! – northernpitch.com

Struggling with the end of the season? Here’s why. – theguardian.com

Heineken’s brilliant way to “watch” football at work. – docs.google.com

Serie A needs to do something to increase interest again. – football-italia.net

In case you wondered, “urban” USMNT looks like this. –  hypebeast.com

So far, exploding the Red Bulls front office has worked. – si.com

Ohhhhh… so it’s their fault you bit them. Got it.  – dirtytackle.net

“Brilliant arrogance” defined. – telegraph.co.uk

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!! – prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

Are Portland Thorns the first “real” club in women’s football? – theguardian.com

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 35

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 35

“Yeah, yeah, yeah… there’s a lot of soccer to talk about this week, we’ve heard you say that on the Podcast around a million times.” Well, pardon us, but you’re going to hear it again. And really, it might be the most soccer we’ve ever tried to fit into one recording. We’ve got Premier League races, FA Cup shocks — including further professional trolling from Tim Sherwood — a very interesting round of MLS fixtures, a random international in USA-Mexico, plus the weekly Fantasy Update, Crap Football Watch and Winners & Wankers segments. And oh yeah, we did it all on a fancy new microphone set up thanks to friend of WSOTP, Adam Maloney. So we’ll be coming at you with “HD” sound… whatever that means.

Also, don’t forget to make our jobs easier by sending us your questions and topics to discuss on next week’s #Pondcast — the less content we have to come up with the better! You can reach us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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pic of the week 4/13-4/19

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Awful Alamodome Soccer Pitch

I don’t know what it is about North American soccer, but for the most part, we seem to really struggle with the field of play. The most common complaint levied against American/Canadian pitches is our over-reliance on synthetic, “turf” surfaces that are tough on players muscles and joints. They’re often lined for other sports, reinforcing the stereo type that the teams playing there are second class citizens. They can be tough to play on too, from inconsistent bouncing to increasing the speed of play. And some of the biggest names in MLS — particularly those of the elder, European star persuasion — have opted to just bypass games played on the fake playing surfaces altogether. The turf monster also caused a fuss ahead of this summers Women’s World Cup, where all six host stadiums will feature artificial fields, prompting a lawsuit from players led by American Abby Wambach.

But over the last year or so, ingenious groundsmen around the country have turned to an alternative solution to hosting matches in stadiums that feature turf — laying actual grass on top of the fake stuff, kind of like a turf toupée.

We saw it last summer with friendlies and international fixtures played in stadiums like Dallas gargantuan Cowboy Stadium and Indianapolis Lucas Oil Stadium, and even during World Cup qualifying when the national team took to Seattle’s Century Link Field. We saw it once again last week when the US hosted Mexico in San Antonio’s Alamodome. And in theory, it allows high-capacity NFL and collegiate football stadiums the chance to capitalize on the increasingly recognized cash cows that are international soccer fixtures.

Problem is, these fields are great in theory alone. The turf itself never looks as good as promised, and is often far worse than it’s appearance. Last week, Mexico threatened to pull out of the friendly (itself nothing more than a cash grab) because the conditions were so unsafe. And really, every time US soccer sanctions this solution, they’re not doing anything more than playing a giant game of Russian Roulette. And they lost that gamble when Kyle Beckerman went down injured against El Trí — how it took this long for a US injury to finally occur on one of these pathetic excuses for a field is a little mind-blowing.

Fact of the matter is, there are probably a hundred stadiums in this country that have natural grass surfaces suitable for high level soccer. And if a city with a large stadium wants in on the action, they should be required to provide a field fit for playing before they’re even be considered. I’m not saying another temporary solution can’t be used either, but this one certainly isn’t working.

US Soccer, for whatever reason can’t look beyond the safety of its own players, just to make a buck. It’s embarrassing, and the heroes we root on deserve far more than what we’re giving them.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 34

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 34

We’ve nearly reached squeaky-bum time in the Premier League season, and as such, most of the latest #Pondcast focuses in on the increasingly interesting races at the top and bottom of the English top flight. Who will go down? Who will go to Europe? And how will Spurs let D.J. down next? We certainly tackled all those questions, but also made sure to leave time for domestic matters too. A short preview of USA-Mexico, USMNT roster selections for it and an interesting few storylines worth watching in MLS all made the cut along with our other normal weekly segments. And we even managed to squeeze all that in without exceeding the hour mark for the first time in ages — you’re welcome.

If you have a question or topic for next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 33

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 33

Another full plate of football talk awaits you on the latest episode of the #Pondcast. The bottom and top of the Premier League were awash with interesting results, punctuated by a series of amazing goals. Major League Soccer’s early season might be proving inconsistent, but it’s also yielded some really interesting stories. And the tail end of the international break gave everyone a chance once again complain about how the US national team are supposedly in crisis mode. And what of our normal Fantasy Update, Championship Watch, and Winners & Wankers segments? Yeah, there in there too.

Questions and topics that you would like to hear talked about on the next podcast can be sent by email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or by reaching out to us on the social media using links at the bottom of the page. And don’t forget to use the buttons below to subscribe so that you automatically receive new episodes on your favorite device.

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promotion & relegation survey: personal reflections

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WSOTP - Blog - Promotion & Relegation Reflections.fw

This is the third and final article in a three part series based on the results from a survey that ran on the site in December and January that looked to gauge the actual fan and owner interest in the implementation of Promotion & Relegation in the US and Canadian professional soccer pyramids. 

Read part one: Supporter Results  |  Read part two: Owner Results

I have to admit that making the decision on whether or not to write these series of articles was not any easy one. The debate I’ve held with myself on covering the subject of promotion and relegation stretches back for the better part of a year.

Deep down, I knew that doing so would bring me a windfall of grief. My words would be twisted, my intentions distorted and my mind numbed by the incessant drumming of some of the debate’s largest figureheads. All that happened well before I’d ever written a word on the topic in this space, so it was destined to be worse once I voluntarily jumped in with the sharks.

It has been.

But if I could imagine a world in a vacuum where one could talk about pro/rel in the US and Canada without igniting a firestorm and one’s name being dragged through the mud, it’s a fascinating topic to discuss.

Why?

Set aside the incendiary nature of the debate as it currently stands. A comparison of the positives and the negatives of promotion and relegation’s implementation against the pros and cons of the current system requires so many different layers of thought. Logistics, finances, structure, migration path, legalities, desires — all of these are key elements in the conversation. And when one system appears to be beneficial for one of those factors, it could be a huge detriment to one of the others.

I love reasonable, level-headed and cordial debates like these. And it’s for that reason that I considered writing about promotion and relegation long before I ever knew of anyone named Ted — I just never got around to it, other than stringing together the occasional set of 140 character opinions on Twitter.

But it’s probably for the best that I didn’t. Because the reality is, it’s morphed into a ridiculously combustible topic here.

It’s a conversation that features extremely passionate group(s) of supporters and opponents. Both sets seem to be growing, but so too are those that have grown annoyed with the discussion and its tone. The mere mention of the phrase “pro/rel” on Twitter can literally set off a never-ending stream of notifications on your cell phone for the rest of the night. It’s hard to not get caught up in it — particularly for someone like me whose passion for the game pretty much defines their existence.

Unfortunately, in all of the mudslinging that goes down, there’s lots of hyperbole and opinion that’s tossed in alongside it like they’re undisputed facts.

That drives me bonkers.

Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. But if you’re going to broadcast yours and attack others unsolicited for theirs, you damn well better have more than a “belief” to back it up. To be honest, soccer is too important to me as a human being to allow potentially incredibly influential popular opinion to be established without it having some solid data to lean against.

That’s the reason I ran these surveys in the first place: to establish the most comprehensive data set on the opinions and desires of two of North American soccer’s biggest constituents. I didn’t care where the numbers fell one way or another — I just want something to refer back to other than hunches and speculation.

So with all that said, what is my opinion on the topic of promotion and relegation here in the US and Canada? What are my reasons for those thoughts? And did my thoughts change after seeing the results of the surveys?

Continue reading

longing for the good ‘ol days

WSOTP - Blog - Anger.fw

The new US away kits officially dropped on Monday. It was impossible to miss, with images of the new blue-streaked shirts littered across social media by everyone from Nike, US Soccer, current mens and womens players to blogs, news agencies and randoms alike.

But if you weren’t paying that close of attention, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone had instead dropped an atom bomb on the USSF headquarters in Chicago, such was the negative reaction to yet another American soccer decision.

Whether or not it was a majority is up for debate, but it’s clear a sizable portion of the American fan base hated the jersey. Their ire seems to be pointed in multiple directions too, with Nike, US Soccer and even Sunil Gulati receiving poignant 140-character tirades since its official release. It was described as “ugly”, “effortless” and “unneeded”. Some were angry that it replaced the beloved “bomb pop” kit dawned by the US men in Brazil last summer — which, if you recall, also received a fair bit of scorn when it was first released.

Whether or not you like it, I don’t really care. I’m a fan. But then again, it’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to our own. It’s all subjective anyway and it’s no skin off my back if you don’t like it.

But the outrage that followed the new kit release wasn’t an isolated incident.

Continue reading

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 22

WSOTP Pondcast - Season 2 Episode 22

Premier League recaps? Check. Balon d’OR Predictions? You know it. Transfer Fodder? There’s plenty of that. Crazy Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT call ups? Of course. Narrative about new managers winning their first games in charge? Regrettably. Episode 22 of the Pondcast features all those discussions and much, much more.

Have something you want us to chat about next week? Send your topics and questions by email (contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com) or hit us up on the social media links at the bottom of the page.

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