a peach of a goal… or ten

FIFA Puskas Award

Not that this is a groundbreaking thought or anything, but most individual awards in the world of sport are one hundred percent subjective.

Soccer is particularly guilty of this when awarding prizes like league MVP’s, goalkeepr of the year awards, or the yearly handing out of the FIFA Balon d’Or. It’s not always the case, but often times an argument can be made for multiple people to be deserving of the award — much to Cristiano Ronaldo’s delight/chagrin.

Anytime you try to decide who the “best” player is, or who did something the best — aside from awards like Golden Boots where it’s pretty darn easy to determine who did or didn’t score the most number of goals — there are way too many factors for any one human or group to consider to say definitively that “this one guy is the best”. Nevermind that everyone has their own opinions, too. I might think something is better than you do, and you might think something is better than I do.

But despite that tangled mess of opinion and fact, we still give out these awards year after year and season after season. Personally, it seems like they’re handed out simply so we all have something argue about. And so people like me have something write about. That the Balon d’Or was originally voted on by a group of journalists is not an irony that has just dawned on me.

Anyway, the FIFA Puskás Award is no different. Named after Hungarian great Ferenc Puskás — a guy you should know about if you don’t already — the prize is awarded by FIFA every year to the player who scored the “best” goal. Please also ignore the fact that FIFA isn’t exactly known for its ability to make non-biased decisions.

But regardless, making a selection from their list of ten nominees is still good fun. And for me, it was an excuse to watch a bunch of fabulous goals all over again. Though it also make me wonder how some goals were left off the list — which I’ll get into later.

So below you will find the ten nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award, in video format, and my thoughts on each. At the end of the article, I’ll also choose my winner, who you will likely disagree with… because this is all subjective anyway.

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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

WSOTP pod: episode 38

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 38

the look on a dejected scott parker’s face was probably shared by many american fans this past weekend.

While there’s a strong desire to call this latest episode of the podcast the “Cinco de Mayo Special”, Jeremy would probably prefer we call it the “Nose Picking Special” thanks to this hysterical fan shot from this weekend’s action. But there was way more than nose-picking to talk about this week. For instance, an all-Madrid Champions League final has now been set. And over in the Premier League we had time to talk about Fulham’s sad demise, Liverpool “slipping” up once again, City taking the psychological advantage, Manchester United’s managerial plans, and D.J. tries his best to not nod off to sleep as he is forced to talk about a Spurs’ lackluster already-on-the-beach display.  We also take discussed some of the weekend MLS action, including the Crew getting dominated on the road in Kansas City.

And as a written reminder, we’re looking for pod listeners and blog readers to submit their eulogies of their clubs’ seasons to share on next week’s season finale for the WSOTP Podcast. If you feel like summing up your club’s abysmal/amazing campaign, send it across via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com.

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!

WSOTP pod: episode 37

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 37

the guys discuss whether or not giggsy should expect to stay in the united hot seat for longer than this season.

The docket for this week’s podcast, for the most part, doesn’t look too different from how it has for past episodes: Premier League round up, Champions League review and thoughts on MLS happenings. And with story lines like Giggs’ first match in charge of United, Liverpool “slipping up” in the title race, Chelsea’s negative tactics and Shawn Wright-Phillips’ brother putting in good week’s work for Red Bull New York, there’s more than enough in this week’s podcast to keep you entertained. But the real draw for this week? We finally get to talk to you about the announcement we’ve been hinting at for weeks now. So saddle up and listen in for another full edition of the WSOTP Podcast.

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!

WSOTP pod: episode 36

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 36

the boys spent some time talking about the newest household name from the premier league: crystal palace forward jason puncheon.

It’s been months since Jeremy and D.J. haven’t had a full plate of football to chat about on a podcast. But with just Premier League and MLS action going down in the last week, this week’s line up seemed comparatively bare… before hand, anyway. In England, the discussion included Liverpool’s title hopes being boosted, the relegation race tightening up, promotion from the Championship and the magical displays of Jason Puncheon. Domestically, we touch on the Crew’s dramatic draw, a new club being gifted to Atlanta, and a baseball stadium being the home for the league’s supposed marquee franchise. We also had a few listener questions to tackle at the end, so prepare yourself for a surprisingly full Episode 36 of the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast.

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!

WSOTP pod: episode 35

we even had time on this week’s podcast to cover prom proposals — which apparently chris wondolowski helps fans out with.

No matter what your cup of tea is when it comes to world football, odds are there’s a segment in Episode 35 of the podcast that will tickle your fancy. You like the Premier League? We’ve got thoughts on Liverpool’s title surge and the growing scrap at the bottom of the table — plus Spurs and Chelsea thoughts, per normal. If you prefer continental football? We chatted about the Champions League semifinal draw, paying special attention to highlighting the “Courtois Conundrum” between Atlético and Chelsea. Should you desire domestic soccer, we’ve got musings on Major League Soccer and the rumors that the Copa América will be coming to the States. So grab a pint (unless your driving) or a coffee, sit back and strap yourself in for the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.

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!

domino effect

January: the month where a million writers, bloggers, newspapers and websites get more eyeballs on their works than any other.

the under-utilized sturridge might be gifted a move to liverpool, but the effect of his move will ripple far beyond the premier league.

Thanks to its winter transfer window, and the plethora of the rumors of potential player moves that come with it, January is a writer’s best friend. Pick up the scent of a rumor without a credible source, spin it however you like, publish, and then sit back and let it run. It’s no secret that fans, desperate for a turn in fortunes or a continuation of success, will read anything that gives them hope. Knowing that gives publishers the impetus to pump out as much rubbish each January as your average American couch potato produces in a year.

But as the case is with many rumors, there’s often a little truth in each supposition. It might not be anything too concrete. However, that doesn’t mean that a club didn’t make an inquiry, an agent didn’t talk to potential suitors, or a player isn’t slightly unsettled.

So when I read rumors of Chelsea’s Daniel Sturridge potentially moving to Liverpool in a few weeks’ time, I knew I should take it with a massive grain of salt. After all, Sturridge represents exactly one half of Chelsea’s strike force. And though the £50 million Fernando Torres’ impotence isn’t as bad as advertised, the club selling of their only other option up front seems an incredibly risky move. Not even trigger-happy Roman Abramovich would pull off that kind of move without some kind of back up plan.

And it’s that backup plan which I find to be the most fascinating aspect of the January transfer window: the domino effect a single transfer can have on the rest of the professional game’s clubs across the world.

Let’s assume for a second that Liverpool do end up buying Sturridge from Chelsea, leaving the Blues short-changed and necessitating the purchase of another forward. Conveniently, Chelsea have been consistently linked to Radamel Falcao, the Colombian scoring machine currently pouring in the goals for Atlético Madrid. But just as Chelsea would be left shorthanded after Sturridge’s departure, Atlético would also need to fill Falcao’s sizable shoes if he’s shipped out. But where would Los Rojiblancos turn?

The rumor mill keeps on churning, hypothesizing that Atlético would look to buy names like Manchester United’s Chicharito, Napoli’s Edison Cavani, or even Liverpool’s Luis Suárez. Whether there’s any truth in any of those rumors is a bit beyond my reach. But at the same time, if any of those moves did come to fruition, the dominoes would begin to fall all over again.

Atletico's Radamel Falcao

falcao is likely to end up chelsea even without sturridge’s departure, but that mean’s his current side will need to replace him, too.

In the case of Napoli, Cavani has long seemed destined for a move abroad. But the Uruguayan’s departure would mean the Neapolitans‘ would be left with only two recognized strikers in their squad. Manchester United could stomach Chicharito’s departure, but you would have to imagine that Sir Alex wouldn’t be happy to rely on just Danny Wellbeck, an untested Ángelo Henríquez, and an unfancied Federico Macheda to back up his dynamic duo. And Liverpool, where this entire domino effect started, would   again be down to two strikers if they let Luis depart for pastures anew. Meaning they would again be fored to dip into the transfer market or be faced with the same issue that’s troubled them in the first half of this season.

And regardless of which guy ends up replacing whatever player eventually leaves any club,  the dominos will keep up on falling all the way down the line. A perfect representation of the butterfly effect, if I’ve ever seen one.

Of course, all of this is dependent upon what player moves where. And it’s quite possible that none of the above will hold true. But rest assured, players will move this January, and the media will spin out more rumors than any of us could ever take in. Just don’t go placing your hopes on any of them until you see a new player holding your team’s shirt and smiling wide for the cameras. Otherwise, your sanity will likely be the last domino to fall.

ten words or less #46

 

louis saha rushed in for tottenham medical

louis saha was rushed in for a late medical to complete his move from everton to spurs.

As the dust settles after another underwhelming transfer deadline day, I’m sure all of you readers are fed up with transfer news and gossip. I am, at least. In an effort to stray away from that topic of conversation, and to give your brain a break from digesting it all, I’ve put together this TWOL that contains absolutely zero transfer news. Except for the mocking picture above. So if you’ve come here look to catch up on yesterday’s “madness”, you might want to navigate elsewhere.

Barça’s kits next year: taking Blaugrana to literal the extreme. – football-shirts.co.uk

Milan disrespecting a man to whom they owe so much. – foxsports.com

The perfect artwork for me: one part nerd, one part Spurs. – onasixpence.bigcartel.com

FIFA’s looking into allowing four subs… only in injury time. – guardian.co.uk

I want to play Norwegian Bubble Football right now. – kckrs.com

Trolling Atlético fans, Spanish press, and knock-off kit manufacturers. – reddit.com/user/coolinwithcosta

Pushing your best player out the door, Philly? Bad idea. – delcotimes.com

Don’t click this unless you have a lot of time. – si.com
courtesy of an old high school frenemy, @Ryan7Hurley

Bravo to whomever “amended” Dan Borislow’s Wikipedia profile. – kickette.com

Someone needs to make Twellman and Wynalda watch this. – youtube.com

ten words or less #42

ninja balotelli

despite becoming a full fledged ninja, balotelli still can't put his bib on right.

It’s happy times at wrong side of the pond these days. Spurs are still sitting in a lofty position in the table at fairly advanced stage of the season, even despite dropping points on a cold wet night in Stoke.

Speaking of cold nights, I’m also looking forward to the winter weather that’s finally descending upon the Midwest. I means finally allowed to starting thinking about the only other hobby besides soccer-obsession that I really take part in… snow riding. However, I’m not foolish enough to think that all of you are as equally pleased about the arrival of Old Man Winter as I am. Don’t worry though, you’re not the only ones: Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli also hates the cold, and is apparently hoping that his knowledge of the ancient art of the ninja will keep him warmer through the frigid Northern English winter.

If looks could kill, Ronaldo would be a murderer… – dirtytackle.net

…so you better give him more of your money! – androidcentral.com

Fulham to redevelop Craven Cottage and still keep the cottage. – stadiumporn.com

This documentary makes me wish I understood Russian. – theoffside.com

Someone actually thinks Harkes was “getting better” at commentating? – socceramerica.com

Messi comes to his senses, ditches PES for FIFA. – kckrs.com

Tévez saves Christmas from Sepp Blatter. Absolutely brilliant. – youtube.com

The Timbers never cease to amaze me with awesomeness. – theoriginalwinger.com

wrong side XI: offensive center mid

this is part IX in the “wrong side XI” series, where i’ll be selecting my very own starting eleven, assuming of course that i could choose any player from any team in the world. you can read the rules i’ll be following to make my team selection, and what formation i’ll be squeezing them into, on the first post in the series.

this collection of mighty mites will do battle for the honor of my starting offensive midfield spot.

Off all the positional choices for the wrong side XI series that I compiled since the beginning of the summer, my offensive mid selection has probably fluctuated more than any of the others. Of the five “lucky” men that managed to make this shortlist, all of them have occupied the top spot at least once or twice since I began work on this project. So as you might have guessed, making my final selection has been very, very difficult.

Complicating the issue is that all five of these players has been in phenomenal form over the last 18 months. They’re often one of the first names on their respective club’s teamsheets each match day, and are by far some of the most visible players on the field during those matches. Each is the central creative force for their club, and their play often dictates the fate of the outcome of the matches in which they take part.

Part of me wishes I could just pick them all. Hell, if I were to abandon the game plan I lined out in the first post in this series, and instead replaced it with a system akin to Barcelona’s interchangeable top four, I almost could have.

Unfortunately for no one but me, that’s not how I want to run my imaginary team. so we’ll have to narrow this down to just one midfield wizard… follow my thought process after the jump.

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