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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a new direction

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WSOTP - Blog - Cincinnati

When I started Wrong Side of the Pond close to seven years ago, I didn’t really have a plan in mind.

I had just moved to Louisville for a non-soccer related job, and I was looking for a way to pass the time in a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Keeping a blog to spill the many, many thoughts I had about the beautiful game seemed as good a hobby as any. And to be honest, I knew and was cool with most people not really caring to read those thoughts. But for the few who did care to — a handful of friends I’ve met in my decades of playing, my mom — it at least kept me from having to write the same email six or seven times.

It didn’t take long for me to discover how enjoyable it was to write about the thing I was most passionate about. And doing so from an American perspective, something that was in short supply on the footballing internet of the day, seemed a proper mission. The blog even allowed me to justify poking around in Photoshop again. And perhaps more importantly, it offered me a much needed creative outlet that my new job did not during a lonely and tough time in my life.

Eventually though, I returned home to Cincinnati. To be fair, my heart had never really left. But despite again being surrounded by friends and family, I kept up with the blog.

By that point, the hits had increased a minuscule amount since the site’s earliest days. But it took a series of impeccably well-timed opportunities for this little blog to morph into something more than just a hobby.

Specifically, it was my first ever legitimate scoop and an idea to start a crowd-sourced soccer bar directory that blew the lid off things. Suddenly, almost without warning, an increasing number of people were stumbling across my corner of the internet.

To that point, this site very much lacked a plan. However, for the last four years or so, it became clear that if I developed one… maybe this little blog could turn into something more.

Admittedly, my goals for that plan haven’t always been the same throughout. They’ve evolved, much like the site itself. Initial targets ranged from simple desires like
“drawing 20 unique visitors a day” to “being taken seriously”. But as initial targets were overturned, they eventually gave way to legitimate career ambitions

However, whatever end goal I was working towards, the reason for chasing it never changed from the earliest days on the site: telling the story of soccer from the American perspective. Cliché as it may sound, soccer courses through my veins. With all do respect to my lovely wife and daughter, soccer is my first true love. And sharing the many amazing tales that this sport has to offer has been my small way of giving back to and helping to grow a game that has given me so much over the last — gulp — nearly 30 years I’ve been playing it.

Amazingly, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see the effort I’ve poured into Wrong Side of the Pond give a lot back to me, too. Free gear here and there, an MLS Cup, two MLS All-Star Games, inaugural games for teams in four American leagues, standing on stadium pitches across the country, press box access, getting to meet some of my childhood heroes… I’m well aware that not everyone who has poured themselves into a blog has been so fortunate.

Too, I’m not afraid to admit that at times this thing has felt like a burden. Seven years of semi-consistent posting can wear thin on you from time to time, especially when you have to squeeze it into a life that already contained a full-time job, a social life, and eventually a family. But that I’ve kept at it, despite all of those hurdles, shows to me that it meant something to me more than just ambition or a hobby. I’ve found that when talking about one’s passion, it can be hard to set down the microphone. So even through bouts of writers block, stress and busy periods at work, I felt an obligation to keep pumping out stories about the beautiful game.

Well, all that’s about to change.

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WSOTP pod: a “berry” special episode

WSOTP Podcast - Season 3 Episode 19

I know the title of this week’s episode of the #Pondcast is a bit cringe worthy,  but I just couldn’t help it. The draw of using the awful pun — inspired by us welcoming on the first ever FC Cincinnati signing, Cincinnati-native Austin Berry — was just too much. Sorry Austin, we owed you better.

Also “berry special” on this week’s pod is the much anticipated “WSOTP Holiday Gift Buying Guide”, where the guys each offer up three great and three not-so-great gift ideas for the soccer loving friends and family in your holiday gift exchanges. For the lazy, we’re working to get that into a link-centric separate blog post later this week, too. Also on tap are looks around another chaotic week in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League draw. The normal weekly segments are in there, too.

Want to hear your own question or topic discussed on the next edition of the #Pondcast? Get involved! Send us your suggestions or questions by emailing contact@wrongsideofthepond.com, or get in touch with us on social media. Plus, you really need to subscribe using the links below to get new episodes automatically delivered to your device of choice. Seriously: you need to.

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WSOTP pod: joy and sadness in ohio

WSOTP - Blog - Season 3 Episode 18.fw

It’s been a busy week for professional soccer in Ohio. Most of it was great, but some of it was not so much. In Dayton, a new team revealed their identity. In Cincinnati, another team announced their first class of players. And in Columbus, the biggest game on the domestic soccer calendar was staged — unfortunately, the home side fell short in dramatic fashion. And for those reasons, we put all of that the forefront of our 102nd #Pondcast, even though the Premier League provided some fireworks of its own this past weekend.

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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from the ground up: branding the new dayton dynamo

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WSOTP - Blog - Dynamo Introduction.fw

I’m a doodler. Always have been.

If it were possible to drum up my notes from my years in school — hell, even my notepads at work today — you’d find a timeline of my interests sketched out in the margins. Things like dinosaurs, Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured heavily in my early childhood drawings. But once soccer became a major focus in my tween years, it predictably also became the major focus of my doodlings.

My soccer drawings knew no bounds. Designing my own panels for Adidas’ famous Tango ball silhouette was a favorite, as were portraits of my favorite players. I spawned an imaginary boot company or two. Sometimes I’d sketch out reproductions of the logos of my favorite teams, and other times I’d even make crests for clubs that existed solely in my mind.

I get what you’re thinking: that I drew things I liked as a kid isn’t particularly interesting. Tons of kids are into drawing, coloring and all sorts of other artistic endeavors. However, most abandon those hobbies as they grow up for reasons all over the map — losing the passion for creating, not actually being very good at it, or a lack of time as we pursue what most consider to be more-lucrative skills to support themselves as adults.

It’s not that you can’t make it as an artist in this day in age. But just as I’m discovering is the case within the world of sports journalism, it’s really hard to do so. Not only do you have to have the skills, but you also need to catch a lot of breaks.

Now, I consider myself lucky: my parents didn’t force me to put down my pencils, grease pens and paintbrushes. They didn’t view my doodles and drawing as a waste of time or energy. Instead, they encouraged the exploration of my creative abilities. One of the most touching letters I’ve ever received was a letter my mom wrote to me during a retreat in high school where she admitted that she wished I still focused on my drawing. This website — and all of the art I’ve made for it — likely exists because of that encouragement.

But despite all that, I still opted not to pursue creative works as a career.

Admittedly, I’ve gotten to use some of those artistic skills in my “real world” jobs — first while designing websites, and now again in my current gig as an instructional designer. But getting to make things that were within my realm of interests and that someone would actually use in a professional setting? That dream seemed long dead.

However, that all changed when the NPSL’s Cincinnati Saints opted to make a migration north to Dayton and I was given the opportunity to re-brand the club.

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a “great” day for soccer with fc cincinnati

WSOTP - Blog - FCC Tryouts Rain.fw

One of the many peculiarities of soccer is that whenever you happen upon a day where weather is dreadful — think 45º F and driving rain — just about everyone you talk to will describe it as “this is a great day for soccer!” If not that saying specifically, a variation of it will likely fill its place — “now this is soccer weather” or “this is weather made for soccer”.

Newsflash: nobody actually likes playing in that kind of weather.

And predictably, I heard that common colloquialism uttered no less than a dozen times in the several hours I spent out taking in the action at FC Cincinnati’s open tryouts last Saturday.

A dreary, wet and cold Cincinnati greeted myself, a handful of other journalists, and the 127 players who made their way out to UC to see if they could earn a spot on the USL side’s maiden roster. Though I stood huddled under a tent at one end of the pitch, trying my best to minimize the amount of rain sprayed on me by the frequent gusts of wind, I was also counting my lucky stars. I had a proposal to participate in portions of the tryout with a GoPro strapped to me rejected due to liability concerns. No part of me wanted to be out playing in that mess, even if it would have made for some awesome content.

As coach John Harkes and his staff made their way over for the post-tryout media session under the tent — his clothing soaked and clearly a bit frozen — I asked if this reminded him of his time playing in England. “This is colder,” he replied, inciting some chuckles from the gathered crowd.

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ten words or less #114

The words have again slowed to a trickle here at WSOTP recently, and as I usually do, I’m plugging the hole with another links round up. It’s not that there isn’t plenty to write about — I have a really long list of items that I’d like to get to — I just haven’t had the time  to do so lately. But trust that I have still been hard at work on a number of projects behind the scenes that will hopefully see the light of day in the near future. And new #Pondcasts are still dropping regularly on Tuesdays, so we’re not leaving you totally deprived of WSOTP’s perspective — check back tomorrow for our latest episode!

In the mean time, I hope you feel satisfied with these interesting links from around the world of soccer.

Why haven’t you signed up for our FIFA Tournament yet? – wrongsideofthepond.com

Sepp Blatter is clearly an old, delusional man. – tass.ru

While awesome in theory, can the players take it on? – bloomberg.com

Could MLS be over doing it on social media? – helltownbeer.com

And you thought your last match’s referee was a prick. – mirror.co.uk

Are Getafe about to get Wimbledon-ed? – as.com

The American lower leagues are experiencing some growing pains.
– theouterdrive.wordpress.com (FYI: audio Link)

You rarely hear about player’s fandom these days. – theguardian.com

Zlatan to Miami in 2017? The team start in 2018… – nbcsports.com

A deeper (historical) look at MLS’ new salary data. – philly.com

NLD, FIFA16 and me (and hopefully you too)

It’s been a hot minute since WSOTP has hosted an actual live event. We’ve not yet held a watch party this Premier League season, and our last live podcast recording was way back before the Women’s World Cup final. Hell, we’ve barely even had a chance to watch a match outside of the friendly confines of WSOTP World HQ — you can blame our offspring for that.

So we figured it was high time that we get back out in public to meet and interact with our adoring fans…

WSOTP - Events - NLD FIFA Tourney

Alongside our friends from the Cincy Gooners and Cincinnati Spurs — not to mention sponsors Rhinehaus, Nation Kitchen & Bar, Listermann Brewing and West 6th Brewing — we’ll be hosting a FIFA 16 Tournament before the approaching North London Derby between Arsenal and Tottenham on Sunday, November 8th!

Want some details on the event? Of course you do!

UPDATE 10/23/2015 @ 4:00pm — There’s been a slight change to the schedule on Sunday and the poster above and the information below has been updated to reflect that change. Things will kick off at 8:30am Sunday morning when the doors open for the first match of the day on Sunday. Around 9:30am we’ll get started with a free-to-enter, PlayStation 4-based, single-elimination tournament in EA Sports FIFA 16. And yes, prizes will be awarded to the winners of both the tournament and the derby, like this dope trophy. Roughly 10:30am or so, Nation Bar & Grill — the sister restaurant to our hosts Rhinehaus — will be offering up free breakfast. Listermann and West 6th are also whipping up special beers for the occasion. Then, there’s the big game itself, which kicks off at 11am.

UPDATE 10/28/2015 @ 10:30am — We now have a registration form for the FIFA Tournament for those who wish to participate: click here to complete the form.

And worry not if you’re drawn against me: my most recent console is a PS2 and the last time I purchased the game was for FIFA 12. Again, you can thank the kids for that.

Anyway, be sure to come out to Over-the-Rhine and stop by Rhinehaus on the morning of Sunday, November 8th, for some food, brews, and banter, and if you’re lucky, the claiming of some bragging rights. Plus, you can do all of that while enjoying some football in the company of Wrong Side of the Pond.

commentary: xavier musketeers vs bucknell

WSOTP - Match Commentary Xavier vs Bucknell 09192015Look, I know it’s late notice. But I’ve got some news for those of you who don’t have any engagements for this Saturday evening.

You’ve got plans now. And if you already have them, break them.

For the second time in as many weeks, I’ll be manning the commentary booth for the NCAA Division one match up between the Xavier University Musketeers and the visiting Bisons of Bucknell. Kickoff — weather permitting, as I learned my last time out to call a Xavier match — will be at 7pm tonight.

A live link to the webstream on GoXavier.com can be found right here.

So not only will you have the privilege of hearing me talk live tonight, but you’ll also have the added bonus of watching a really solid Xavier side in front of what should be a raucous crowd courtesy of the often 1000-plus Xooligans supporters group.

The Muskies are coming off the back of a massive midweek win over the No. 2-ranked Nortre Dame fighting Irish in a traditional “catholic college derby”. Though the win was truly huge, Xavier aren’t exactly chumps either: earlier this season they themselves were ranked as high as 10th before falling in successive games to Lipscomb and Virginia Tech, the latter of which I called. Hopefully I won’t prove to be a bad luck charm for the home side.

As for the away side, Bucknell will look to carry momentum over from their win 4-0 win over Seton Hall last Sunday. But will the longer layoff have refreshed their legs enough to make up for the long journey in from central Pennsylvania?

So be sure to tune in to find out how things play out, and here me try my best to explain it.

EXCLUSIVE: cincinnati saints on the move

At some point or another, we’ve all been told the old adage of “don’t run away from your problems”. Throughout life, we’re taught that if we take on our problems head on, the outcome will be better and less painful.

For the most part, that rings true. But sometimes, running is the preferred option and the best way to actually face a problem head on. In the case of the National Premier Soccer League’s Cincinnati Saints, it appears that is exactly the case.

Over the last six years of the club’s existence, the Saints have met and overcome a litany of hurdles. Making the jump from a Sunday League team into the semi-professional ranks was the first of those. Then came outmaneuvering a series of in-town competitors. And for the last year, it’s been the slow battle to win over an often indifferent market in the Cincinnati public and media spaces. Small victories have defined the club during that stretch, due in large part to the perseverance of CEO and owner David Satterwhite.

But with the arrival of the USL in town, courtesy of the nascent FC Cincinnati and their billionaire backing, the Saints may have finally reached a hurdle too high to clear.

Despite their six year head start and a steadily growing presence in the Cincinnati soccer community, the Saints resources are realistically no match for the financial might of their new neighbors. Nor can the Saints — playing in a fourth division that’s best known for allowing students athletes a competitive space to play without soiling their collegiate eligibility — match the star power that FCC’s deep pockets can bring to town. They can’t be expected to net a home as “luxurious” as the redeveloped Nippert Stadium at the University of Cincinnati. And the connections to high ranking city officials and people of power in the community boasted by the new USL club are unlikely to develop now that another name with more clout has stormed in to their minds.

Faced with those realities, it was clear the Satterwhite and the Saints had some decisions to make.

Option one is to continue on fighting the good fight, and try to persist with carving out a slice of the Cincinnati market to call their own. While that might be a possibility, it’s probably more likely that the size of the new kid in town would cast a long shadow that would make it very hard to get noticed. The Saints might be able to live on that way for a few more years, but it would ultimately result in a long, drawn out death.

Option two is far more blunt — and dire. The Saints could call it quits. Throw in the towel. Close the curtain. Cease to be. This option, in spite of all of the energy and heart and knowledge gained, could still be on the table.

But there is still a third option available to the club: looking for a new home.

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