WSOTP pod: we’re not going anywhere

WSOTP - Blog - Season 3 Episode 26.fw

As you may have noticed, I dropped some news yesterday. And because of that news, WSOTP will be through some pretty massive changes. But worry not — and it looks like many of you did — the #Pondcast isn’t going away! And to prove that point, we’re dropping another episode the day after the big news.

So what exactly is on this week’s episode? Despite the lack of Premier League action since our last show, there was ample going on in the footballing world for us to delve into. The USMNT played a game on Sunday, and (literally) a few people showed up to watch. There was also the FA Cup Fourth Round to contend with, even if there’s been a lack of upsets. And too, there are midweek Premier League games — some of them today — to look forward to as well. What about the closing of the January transfer window? Plus we asked you guys another question ahead of this episode, and you delivered with some excellent soccer culinary ideas.

Want to get involved in our weekly conversation? Then be sure to get in touch with your questions for the guys or suggested topics for next week’s episode by way of the social media links at the bottom of the page, or by sending an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive the newest podcast every Tuesday.

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how much weight can you hold on your shoulders?

Stanford Crimson's Jordan Morris

When I think back to when I was a junior in college — sadly, over a decade ago at this point — and try to remember what responsibilities weighed heavily on me, my “burdens” were pretty typical of your average college aged guy.

There were of course my studies, which probably deserved higher priority than they received. There was also soccer, preparing for a senior season with high expectations having won the league that year. Of course there was a social life to attend to, too. There was a job working at the mall that was roughly 45 minutes away, but I couldn’t ever make the schedule work between it and the previous three balls I was juggling. And I might have started thinking about what I was going to do post graduation: where I was going to live, what kind of job was I going to land, and how I might be able to pay off the ever-increasing pile of student loans I was adding to. But probably not.

Millions of American kids are encumbered with similar concerns year after year, and most of us come out of it just fine. And the path to navigating those obstacles and choices is a well trodden one, with examples of friends and family to follow if need be. Plus we have the benefit of being able to make all of those decisions without the rest of the world scrutinizing them.

Unfortunately, Jordan Morris doesn’t have it so lucky.

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WSOTP pod: how many concussion symptoms am i showing?

WSOTP Podcast - How many concussion symptoms am i showing?

Though international breaks normally provide less action for us to orate about on our weekly #Pondcast, this last week of “break” was anything but. Off the pitch — but not by much — the guys touch on how the atrocity in Paris will have an impact on the professional game. Too, we also welcomed back FanDuel managing editor and sports injury specialist Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) to discuss recent US Soccer legislation aimed at reducing youth head injuries. On the pitch matters were discussed as well, with the USMNT’s return to World Cup qualifying, the NASL’s entertaining Soccer Bowl and European qualifying all in the mix.

For the first time in ages, we were blanked on the question front this week. So next week, we expect loads of questions and topic suggestions from you listeners! Got it? Good. So make sure to hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page, or drop an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com to send them along. And don’t forget to subscribe using the links below to automatically receive the newest podcast episode each Tuesday.

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an open letter to u.s. soccer

WSOTP - Blog - US in St Louis

Board of Governors
U.S. Soccer Federation
1801 South Prairie Avenue
Chicago, IL 60616

Greetings and good afternoon:

Running American soccer — at least I’d assume, seeing as how I have no experience in doing so — is an incredibly hard task. It’s probably a pretty thankless task at times as well. Few probably reward you for the countless hours you’ve put in, and the only feedback you receive is when people are angry or aggrieved.

I’d imagine that’s particularly true these days, considering the growing laundry list of complaints that the growing American soccer audience has for you. Opening up the pyramid, promotion and relegation, the banning of headers in the youth game, and claims of sticking with incompetent national team manager are all hot button topics in US soccer, and I’m sure there are countless others. Dealing with all of that can’t be easy, and coming up with solutions for those complains is likely even harder. In short, I respect — and even mostly approve — the work all of you do.

But not all of it.

You see tonight, the men’s national team kicks off qualification for the 2018 World Cup against St. Vincent & the Grenadines. They Caribbean minnows are ranked 129th in the world according to FIFA, pretty lowly when compared to our (admittedly disappointing) ranking of 33rd. And their record in international play isn’t exactly sterling either, so saying I’m worried about the USMNT losing to them isn’t really a concern.

So what’s my problem? In two words: the field.

Without a doubt, St. Louis is a hotbed of American soccer. Both historically and in present day. And even if it wasn’t, a city and population of its size is absolutely deserving of hosting a national team World Cup qualifier.

But — and let me make this very clear — when playing for the opportunity to qualify for a World Cup, it should be played on the absolute best surface possible. And you know what doesn’t qualify as the best playing surface possible for a professional soccer game that’s been organized for the sole purpose of reaching the most prestigious tournament your game offers?

A baseball field.

Even a well manicured baseball field like the one at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium, even one used by a Major League Baseball franchise, even one who’s had a month to meticulously prepare — none of them should be utilized as a stage for our nation’s team to qualify for a World Cup in a single game. Why? Because their playing surfaces and facilities are not freaking made for soccer!

The grass surface on those fields typically isn’t one designed for the wear and tear exerted over the course of the average game of soccer. That means increased divots and therefore a less clean playing surface. The dimensions of the playing surface aren’t arranged to allow for a full-sized international field — and a field that just exceeds the minimums really shouldn’t be counted. That leads to cramped play and potentially the need to adjust your tactics. And most glaringly, there’s the need to deal with putting a temporary surface over the dirt baseball infield. Which of course leads a less clean playing surface and the greater chance of a player getting hurt when temporary turf slides across the dirt it sits on top of.

And that’s not to mention the kind of message it sends to the international footballing community. Look, we care so little about our national team’s success that we’re willing to sacrifice it to make a few extra dollars.

Do I think it will affect the outcome of tonight’s game? Probably not, but it could. But that’s besides the point.

When you think about it, there are easily fifty stadiums in this country — between MLS, NFL and NCAA football — that would be better suited right this very moment than Busch Stadium in St. Louis would be today. And that’s even if they were still playing the game tonight.

Don’t give me the “Well, New York City FC play on a baseball stadium and they did just fine” nonsense. The postage stamp they play on at Yankee Stadium looked like a U-10 field, and I’ve heard from several MLS players that surface there was far from ideal. If you want to turn to the grass-on-top-of-turf example (Ex: Dallas’s AT&T Stadium/Seattle’s CenturyLink Field) to mute me, don’t. Those games were mostly for friendlies, and even then you’d see coaches from Mexico to MLS clubs complaining that it was an unsafe surface too.

Long story short, when the national team is playing in games of importance, there’s really no reason at all that we should ever short change our players with a handicap of a substandard pitch. It’s embarrassing that we should be forced into such a situation just so we can make a few extra bucks.

And let’s just pray nobody gets hurt.

Signed,

D.J. Switzer
Wrong Side of the Pond

WSOTP pod: post-mexico meltdown mode

WSOTP Podcast - Post-Mexico Meltdown Mode

Though we considered abstaining from joining the cacophony of voices out there screaming about the need to burn down the US Men’s National Team’s house and condemn the players and coaches… the allure of joining the chorus was ultimately too strong to resist. As such, D.J. and Jeremy offer up their reactions to the CONCACAF Cup loss, as well as the media firestorm currently engulfing the USMNT and Klinsmann. But it’s not all US soccer talk this week: the guys also to look at another German named Jürgen officially taking the managerial reins at Liverpool, dished on the sliver of MLS action this week, and offered reaction to FC Cincinnati’s open house and sponsor unveiling… plus the usual weekly segments.

If you want to get involved in the conversation, be sure to get in touch with your questions or topics for next week’s episode by way of the social media links at the bottom of the page or an email sent to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive the newest podcast every Tuesday.

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WSOTP x AO: just for tonight, let’s be lovers

Featured

WSOTP - Blog - WSOTP x AO.fw

This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for the American Outlaws — the largest and most well-known US soccer supporters group — and their newly launched blog, ‘Voice of the American Outlaws’. After applying in December of last year, I found out in May that I was one of nine lucky entrants to be selected. The site soft-launched in September, and will soon be pumped by the AO mothership. To read my debut piece in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the excerpt below.

As things currently stand, there are apparently two types of American soccer fans these days: those that are for Jurgen Klinsmann, and those who are not.

When he was first appointed back in July of 2011, Klinsmann was heralded as everything from “the first big manager in the U.S. men’s national team history”, to “the American soccer messiah”. Like President Barack Obama’s first term in office, Jurgen arrived at the helm of the national team with charisma and talk of change. His personality was bubbly and buoyant, and he promised to deliver wins with a style that should reflect our mentality and culture. The media mostly gushed about him, and fans were practically foaming at the mouth.

Nearly four and a half years later — much like our president — Klinsmann finds himself in a very different spot.

Continue reading “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on IBWM. →

WSOTP pod: this is not a dos a cero

WSOTP Podcast - This is NOT a Dos A Cero

This past weekend had it all: an Arsenal-United smackdown, a five-goal masterclass from Sergio Agüero, yet another Chelsea trip up, one manager quitting despite a positive result, and another manager losing his job after a somewhat positive result. Oh yeah, and there was USA-Mexico roster release that’s inspiring loads of questions of yet another manager, and MLS playoffs creeping up on us. You listeners also piled on the questions/topics enough to warrant a mini-mailbag. And all of that comes on top of our weekly Fantasy UpdateLeague 2 Watch and Winners & Wankers segments.

Whether you have new questions/topics for us next week, or if you want to contribute to the show for the first time, hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or drop an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.

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WSOTP pod: poop green kits

WSOTP Podcast: Poop Green Kits

The second episode of Season 3 sees hosts D.J. and Jeremy delve deeply into the first weekend of the 2015/16 Premier League season. On tap are thoughts ranging from the struggles of the “big clubs” in that opening weekend, to their opinions on the best and worst of the kits being dawned this year. The guys also spent some time heaping praise on Chattanooga FC and the tremendous things they’re doing in the American fourth division, looking into the big names that have recently landed in MLS, and orating on the “neutral” site selection for the USMNT’s Confederations Cup Playoff with Mexico. The weekly segments of Fantasy Update and League 2 Watch are back, and we also see the debut of Jeremy’s Wrong Side of the Argument bit. So there’s plenty in store.

Have a question or topic you want the boys to tackle? Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page, or shoot us an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.

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WSOTP pod: the season 3 premier

WSOTP Podcast - The Season 3 Premier

Well that didn’t feel like a very long break, did it? Actually, it’s been just a few weeks since Jeremy and DJ last sat down together with their mics to talk about soccer. But with the Premier League due to resume action this coming weekend, that means it was time to resurrect the #Pondcast. As such, we’re back with the first episode of Season 3 right freaking now.

So what can you expect on Season 3’s premier? As with the previous two season’s first episodes, the guys provide their annual Premier League predictions for the much coveted European places, relegation candidates and individual award winners. Of course, Fantasy Update and Winners & Wankers are back, too. The guys also dish on their second summer of match commentating, as well as Cincinnati’s summer soccer drama. And we also introduce some new segments to look forward to in 2015/16. So grab your favorite mobile device and/or plug in your headphones, and give the eighty-fifth episode of the WSOTP Podcast a listen!

Have a question or topic you want the boys to tackle? Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page, or shoot us an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.

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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.