wild speculation

Without a doubt, these are exciting times in Cincinnati soccer. Two fourth tier clubs call the city home, fully professional indoor soccer looks on the verge of a return to the area, and a new billionaire-backed USL club with sky-high ambitions just set up shop here, too.

But this past week, the keen-eyed observers in the area would have noticed that another major player in the world of soccer made a stop in the Queen City.

WSOTP - Richard Scudamore in Cincinnati.fw

Yes, that is indeed English/British Premier League chief executive officer Richard Scudamore. Yes, he and his son Patrick were in attendance at Great American Ball Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds, for the home team’s 12-5 win over the Detroit Tigers. And yes, that’s a bit out of left field. Pun intended.

If you’re anything like me, you might be asking yourself why in the wild world of sports would the Premier League’s head honcho be catching a baseball game in Cincinnati at the end of August?

It’s a great question. But while I’ve certainly been trying to sniff out official answers, the facts have yet to reveal themselves. And as you might expect in such circumstances, wild speculation has filled the void.

What follows is some of that wild speculation. Please, please, please don’t take any of this as fact as absolutely 0% of it has been verified. Some of it is entirely plausible — in my eyes anyway — while others are less so.

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lofty ambitions

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WSOTP - FC Cincinnati Jeff Berding Press Conference.fw

Sitting in an auditorium on the campus of University of Cincinnati yesterday morning, before the press conference had even started, I  got the feeling that what was about to unfold at today’s official FC Cincinnati unveiling was going to change the face of soccer in the Queen City forever.

I’ve been around the Cincinnati soccer scene for 25 years — seeing “professional” clubs come and go as a player, a fan and a member of the media — and I can honestly say that I’ve never before had that kind of feeling about anything soccer related here before.

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fc cincinnati: panning out as expected

WSOTP - Blog - FC Cincinnati.fw

Back in May, alongside friends at Scratching the Pitch, I helped to break the story that the United Soccer League would be returning to Cincinnati. Included in that piece was the team’s name — FC Cincinnati — their colors, and their logo.

Two weeks ago, I was the first to tell you that the still unannounced FC Cincinnati would be coached by former US men’s national team captain, John Harkes. Also in that piece was confirmation that the team would also playing at UC’s newly renovated Nippert Stadium in 2016.

And today, I’m here to tell you that all of that was 100% correct.

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go big or go home

harkes.fw

It’s been over two and half months since Wrong Side of the Pond helped to break the news of a return to Cincinnati for the United Soccer League, but things have remained eerily quiet from the FC Cincinnati camp — at least in official capacities.

For those still doubting the still-not-announced club’s existence, there’s really no doubt that the team is indeed coming.

Members of their staff have been spotted around town, most notably at American Outlaws Cincinnati events at Molly Malone’s in Covington, but I also spotted them at the Women’s World Cup Final watch party on Fountain Square while we were recording our podcast on stage. They’ve also already been handing out season tickets to those pictured in their gear. There have been rumored promotional shoots, both in studio and on-site at UC’s Nippert Stadium. And a quasi-announcement was even made on local sports anchor Ken Broo’s television show saying they would actually be playing at Nippert — though a recording of that has proven elusive.

Too, the radio silence in the lead up to my article in May also has also come to an end. I’ve heard from two different front office staff members, both of whom have FC Cincinnati email addresses. And I’ve also been in touch with the PR company that’s handling the launch and media relations.

Yet despite all of this, an official press conference announcement still has not been scheduled — though two rumored dates have reportedly been pushed back.

So why the delay?

The official line from club contacts is that travel schedules haven’t aligned properly to make an announcement yet, though as recently as late June the club were still waiting for “official paperwork to be signed”. There’s also been speculation that a federal corruption and bribery investigation into rumored FCC front man Jeff Berding could have caused some of the delays. And there’s been the additional thought that the club are waiting to make a marquee signing to help make for a bigger splash.

And if my sources are correct, there could be some truth in the latter of those three.

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#forcincy match poster 6: saints vs indiana fire

 

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Matchday Poster 6

Well, the end of the National Premier Soccer League 2015 season is imminent, and this coming Saturday’s game against the Indiana Fire Juniors will be the Cincinnati Saints’ final home date of the campaign (though a rescheduled home friendly against the Columbus Crew SC College Program will still take place on Saturday, July 25th at 7:00pm).

And as such, that means that I still had one last match poster to put together for the campaign as well. There were lots of potential designs on the table, and plenty of places to draw inspiration from. The Fire Juniors aren’t a particularly well-supported team, but I’ve tried to avoid picking on teams so far, and I’m not going to start with my last one either. I also debated a “Final Countdown” clock seeing as how this was the Saints’ last home game, but that met the chopping block, too.

Ultimately looked to the nickname of our opposition once again to draw as the primary inspiration for the design. “Put Out the Fire” is a common chant yelled at Indiana’s parent club in Chicago, so I assumed that means we could apply it to them, too. And what better way would there be to convey that message than to invoke the spirit of the famous Smokey Bear? A slight modification to his trademark phrase let’s us know that he too wants to help extinguish the flames of the Saints’ foes this weekend.

This being the last league home match of the season, that also means this will also be the last time the WSOTP Podcast team will be in the commentary booth for the NPSL season. So if you can’t join us at Withrow tomorrow, be sure to catch our Live Stream broadcast available on our Match Commentary page.

And as always, if you want to see all my 2015 Cincinnati Saints match day poster designs from the season long series, click here.

WSOTP pod: live from the square for the women’s world cup

WSOTP Podcast - Live from the Square for the Women's World Cup Final

Well, I’m not sure how we did it. But somehow we must have appeased the soccer gods enough to once again trick people with power into letting us host the latest #Pondcast on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, in front of thousands of people. And this latest rendition of the pod is the result. And unlike last year, audio is much improved — so your listening experience will be far more enjoyable.

Recorded both before the USAvJPN final, at halftime and a monologue from Jeremy at home to help tie it all together, you won’t only get our own assessments of the US women’s national team and their opponents. We also welcomed players and coaches from the Cincinnati Lady Saints to offer their opinions on their opinions on the Women’s World Cup and the USWNT’s run to the final. There’s also a really cringe-worthy segment with some fans that didn’t quite know the “I Believe” chant — somewhat redeeming DJ’s own flawed effort from last summer.

So tune in to our second summer installment of the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast, and stay tuned as we’ll be back in the booth again soon for analysis on the Gold Cup and DJ’s impending trip to the MLS All-Star Game. And as always, if you have questions or comments for the guys to cover on the next podcast, hit us up via the social media links below, or via email at contact@wrongsideofthepond.com.

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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.

#forcincy match poster 5: saints vs erie commodores

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Matchday Poster 5

This week has been a madhouse for me personally, so getting the things that needed to get for the website took a bit of a backseat. As such, I was way behind the eight ball when it came to getting up my next match poster for the Cincinnati Saints’ NPSL match posters. Normally, I try to publish them at least three days ahead of time; this week’s game is tonight and I’m just now publishing. Yikes.

Anyway, the Saints welcome Erie Admirals FC Commodores FC to town tonight for their fourth home match of the NPSL season. As such, I thought a nautical theme would be in order for the match poster this week, given that Erie’s crest and name focus on the same. And I thought there would be no better way to capture the mood for the match than to have the Cincinnati Saints be the “sea monster” to Erie’s ship. Those of you familiar with the Kraken Black Spiced rum commercial will see the inspiration with the design that I utilized this time around.

We here at WSOTP will once again be bringing you the live match commentary on the Saints live stream of the match, plus on ICRC local access television. So if you’re not willing to brave the rainy forecast, or you want to watch this split screen with the USWNT tonight, check out our Match Commentary page for links to the stream.

If you want to see all the designs from my season long series, click here.

#forcincy match poster 4: saints vs detroit city fc

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Matchday Poster 4

It’s a Wednesday of a Cincinnati Saints match week, which means its high time for me to share the latest poster in my series of designs for the 2015 NPSL season. And while poster #3 of the series was for a match against our rivals to the north up Interstate 71, my fourth poster of the campaign is for the visit from one of our northern neighbors up the other highway — I-75 this time — in Detroit City FC.

If you’re not familiar with Detroit City, they’ve made quite the splash in the fourth tier of American soccer thanks in large part to their exuberant fans: the Northern Guard Supporters. The DCFC hardcores regularly pack their Cass Tech Stadium with thousands of supporters, and often show up with considerable numbers on the road too. Last I’d heard, they were expecting to send a bus load in our direction this Saturday.

So with Detroit so well-known for their support, I thought the perfect theme for Saints-City match poster would be to highlight the Saint’s own supporters: the Seven Hill Crusaders. No, they don’t have near as many members in their ranks as the visitors can contend. And they’ve not received near the same accolades or attention that their rogue-colored counterparts, either. But that doesn’t mean the Crusaders trail behind NGS in passion or love for their team. And as such, there seemed no better way to pay the Crusaders tribute for their fandom than to give them a poster of their own in the lead up to a match against one of the most well-supported lower league clubs in the country.

Of course, just as with all of the other 2015 NPSL home matches this season, you can catch the game — and yours truly and #Pondcast co-host Jeremy on the call —  live on local access television and via live stream online by visiting our Match Commentary page.

Want to see all the designs from my season long series? Click here.

#forcincy match poster 3: saints vs afc cleveland

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Matchday Poster 3

Next up in my series of match posters I’m creating to celebrate each of the 2015 NPSL home matches for my hometown Cincinnati Saints is a poster for tonight’s duel with AFC Cleveland. It’s a little later than when I had hoped to post it originally, but at least it’s up well before tonight’s kickoff.

The second leg of a “I-71 Cup” series between the Ohio fourth-tier foes — the opener which the Saints lost 0-1 on the road last weekend in Cleveland — provides the home side a real opportunity to claim their first ever silverware, at least when you consider their 100% record at the friendly confines of Withrow High School thus far in 2015. The name of the cup being contested between the two sides was clearly the driving inspiration for this game’s poster, which was fashioned to resemble one of the many highway signs that dot the 239 miles of Interstate 71 that separate the two cities. Admittedly, adding the reflective elements to the design was a huge pain, but it paid dividends in helping to give it a more realistic feel.

As always, we’d love for you to join us if you’re in our neck of the woods this evening, but if you can’t, you can always tune in and watch the game live online with match commentary provided by WSOTP by navigating to our Match Commentary page.

If you want to see all the designs from my season long series, click here.