ten words or less #113

It’s been pretty quiet ’round these parts the last week or so. No new posts on the blog in over a week, and there wasn’t a new podcast out this week either. For the limited few of you who consider yourselves “WSOTP Superfans” — Hi, Mom! — hopefully I’ve not left you suffering from withdrawal symptoms. It’s almost as disappointing as the USMNT against Brazil the other night.

Trust, however, that I do have a plan… which I’m not sure we can say about Klinsmann and the national team.

For the gear heads out there, I’m currently scribbling my first ever boot comparison piece about the Nike Magista Obra’s and the adidas Ace 15.1’s. The first new shirt to be added to the WSOTP Shop in over a year will likely go up, and I’ve also begun work on a line of MLS shirts, too. For you local kids, I’ve got something cool up my sleeve for FC Cincinnati. And believe it or not, I might even have some more breaking news to reveal in short order.

So in short, my apologies for being so negligent in my blogging duties recently. But as always, the wait should be worth it. Key word there being “should”. In the mean time, have some links that may or may not keep you satisfied until then.

This was actually a really surprising fact. – skysports.com

Unfortunately, the gender gap isn’t closing any time soon. – vice.com

Great TED talk on coaching language by friend Coach Reed. – youtube.com

Centered on Lampard, this actually is more damning to Terry. – deadspin.com

Excellent gesture by clubs, but even smarter PR. – espnfc.com

…and this equal but opposite reaction is so Eastern Europe. – twitter.com

Drogba scored a full debut perfect hattrick for Montreal. – streamable.com

Resetting expectations at QPR will be easy, Les. </sarcasm>  – theguardian.com

Iceland as a template for US Soccer moving forward? – si.com

Damn right he shouldn’t buy a red car. – independent.ie

WSOTP pod: what transfer window?

WSOTP Podcast - What Transfer Window?

It was a hectic week in the world of soccer, particularly for those of us who live in the Cincinnati area. There was an interesting weekend of Premier League football, highlighted by a crazy Manchester City mauling of champions Chelsea. Of course MLS was at it again this weekend, too. The Bundesliga finally made a proper debut on American network television. A new USL team was officially announced here in town, too. And that’s not even mentioning transfer news, which has been peculiarly quiet. And we of course will tackle all of that and more, including our normal weekly segments of League 2 Watch, Fantasy Update and Winners and Wankers.

Have a question or topic you want the guys to get into on the next episode? You can always reach out via the social media links at the bottom of the page, or you can send 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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there’s more than one way to skin a cat


I’ll start this by saying I know this post is going to inspire some ire. It will be taken the wrong way. Some will take it personally, even though that’s not my intention. Angry emails will be received, my mentions will see the same, and I’ll probably have to tweet out another 5000 words on Twitter to defend my intentions. Suffice to say, I know what I’m getting myself into.

What exactly is it that I’m about to get on about that requires such an opening?

My growing annoyance with the ever-increasing childish tendencies of American soccer supporters groups, that’s what.

Now, that’s a pretty broad brush stroke I just painted with: I’m well aware that not all supporters groups or supporters group members are bad apples. So when I mentioned earlier that some are likely to take this personally, if you already feel like I’m attacking you, take a deep breath and give me a minute. I might not be talking about you or your group specifically at all. I could be, but it’s statistically not likely. In truth, most of you are great. But some of you are annoying as all hell. Read on to learn on which side of the divide you fall.

Also, before I get too far into this, let me also dispel any thoughts of me being against supporters groups on the whole. I’m not. I’m actually a bandana-brandishing member of the American Outlaws — Chapter 154 in Dayton, Ohio — and a card-carrying member of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

In fact, I mostly love what supporters groups bring to American soccer: energy, passion and some absolutely fantastic human beings. The fanfare they provide makes for great atmosphere, and has been one of the largest contributors to the vastly improved match day experience at American professional soccer games.

But I mostly love that from afar. While I have plenty of close friends and acquaintances in supporters groups who I love to catch up with at the pre-match tailgate and post-match at the pub, I usually keep my distance from the actual supporters’ sections in the stadiums themselves.

Again, this isn’t because I dislike what those sections have going on — it’s just not how I personally like to take in a match.

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#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.

the feast of insecurities

My friends over at the brand new Sixth Day Soccer are mostly Arsenal fans, and they wrote a detailed look into one of their supporters’ favorite annual traditions. As a Tottenham supporter, I felt the need to script my own reply after some banter-inspired prodding on Facebook. 

As a longtime Spurs fan, I’ve been conditioned to expecting the close of the season to be a bit uncomfortable.

Most of the time it’s depressing feelings that swell up due to the finality of Spurs again failing to meet our foolishly high expectations. And even when they do seem capable of actually reaching those lofty goals, a gut-wrenching fall from grace always seems to await just before the finish line. It’s tough not to be a realist in those situations, especially after seeing things play out following a similar pattern for majority of the last 20 years.

Luckily, I’ve always been an optimist, too. As such, I actively search out the bright spots in the dark clouds of each season’s close. Last year, it was Eriksen looking a capable creator. This season, it’s been Kane. And so long as I manage to plant those seeds of positivity during the gloomy stretch, it will normally yields hope for the following season in the early weeks of summer.

Unfortunately, Spurs’ easily-overlooked habit of under performing isn’t the only thing that makes the end of each season so aggravating for Tottenham supporters.

If there’s one thing that I truly loathe more than any other aspect of the end of each season, it’s “Saint Totteringham’s Day”.

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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

all hands on deck

EDIT: I wrote this article in the lead up to the first leg of the 2014/2015 CONCACAF Champions League final, before Montreal marched into the sold out Azteca and amazingly scrapped a 1-1 draw against Club América. But tonight, as the Impact prepare to now host that same Goliath in front of 61,000 of their own fans, this article rings even more true. Give it a read — and be sure to tune in tonight on Fox Sports 2 at 8pm ET. 

If you hadn’t noticed, we’re currently at a pretty busy point in the annual professional world soccer calendar.

The European leagues are wrapping up, with Champions soon to be crowned, those doomed to relegation set go down, and various promotion processes all around. The UEFA Champions League semifinalists will be set after today’s final quarterfinal match ups, and by June 6th we’ll know the Kings of Europe. Latin American leagues are now in full swing. International breaks sporadically dot the calendar too, offering friendlies and qualifiers alike.

And that’s just all of the stuff going down abroad. Domestically, the top three tiers of the American soccer pyramid are now in action. The fourth division will start within the next month. US Open Cup kicks off in the next few weeks, too. And for the most part, things are going really, really well. Average attendance is up in all three top leagues, expansion sides are making a huge splash, and TV viewership numbers are up as well. Plus, the USSF is actually paying attention to their own FA Cup for once — hooray!

But even with all of that progress, there’s still work to be done. Compared to the other “big four” sports leagues, attendance isn’t near as steady in our professional soccer leagues. And on the TV front, non-World Cup games still pale in comparison. All that considered, and it’s easy to say we’re clearly still in a transitional stage from fringe to popular sport.

So what am I getting at?

I’ve written before about how it’s on us — the American soccer fan — to drag this sport to where we want it to be. If we want American soccer to succeed, to gain mainstream acceptance, we need to do everything we can to promote the game to those who aren’t yet indoctrinated. Drag people to games in person and at pubs, promise them a beer if that’s what a takes.

And as it turns out, tonight is one of those nights where we need you to do some promotion with us.

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breaking new ground

WSOTP - Blog - Louisville City Opener.fwGoing into the 2015 season, there was a lot of buzz about a new American soccer team being forced to play in a facility that didn’t exactly suit their needs.

Soccer — after a decade of preaching that soccer specific stadiums was the way forward for the professional game here — would be returning to the baseball diamond for competitive matches once again, and there have predictably been calls for concerns on both sides of the equation.

Baseball stadiums, of course, aren’t really built with soccer in mind. They’re rarely long enough for a standard sized pitch and are just as likely to offer insufficient width at the length they can offer. And while some fans are fairly close to the action, usually down one of the baselines, others — like much of the outfield and behind home plate — are really far away from much of the action. And that’s not even dealing with the need to develop a feasible method for dealing with the infield. Playing on the dirt isn’t an option, and the pitcher’s mound has to be moved in some fashion.

All of that is just from the soccer perspective. Think of what how baseball teams feel about sharing their field.

A player’s need for a clean, perfect playing surface is nearly equal between soccer and baseball, and for the seam reasons too. Imperfections in the surface can drastically affect the direction a ground ball or pass will take. And a season of soccer does arguably chew up the turf far more than your average season of baseball would, even though there are normally three to four times the number of home baseball dates per season than there are soccer ones. And speaking of scheduling games, finding a way to fit soccer into the already packed baseball season schedule can be an arduous task, too.

Now to be fair, those issues alone are more than enough motivation for a club to go looking for a more suitable home. And luckily, the baseball stadium solution has been deemed a temporary one.

If you’re nodding along thinking, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We’ve heard about all of this New York City FC playing at Yankee Stadium mumbo jumbo before”… hold your horses, just a minute. I’m not talking about NYCFC.

I’m talking about Louisville City FC.

You know: the other, other City team that’s new to American soccer this year.

It’s a little confusing, so hang with me here. Louisville City FC wear purple, white and gold just like the other new City, Orlando City SC. And technically, Louisville City took over Orlando City’s franchise rights in the third division USL when Orlando City moved up to MLS this season. Further muddying the waters is the fact that there are further ties between the clubs, including Orlando City using Louisville City as their MLS-mandated minor league affiliate in USL this season. 

So now that we’ve caught you up to speed, many were not aware that the maiden voyage for Louisville City FC is taking place in a baseball stadium much like New York City FC.

But unlike NYCFC — who are playing at arguably the most famous stadium in all of baseball —  the new USL club are setting up shop at Louisville Slugger Field. For those not familiar with it, it’s the home of the Louisville Bats, the AAA minor league affiliate for the Cincinnati Reds.

I’ve had the privilege of taking in a baseball game at Louisville Slugger Field before — I lived in Louisville for two years, which is also when I founded this site — and it’s a fabulous, intimate, little stadium. The 13,000-seater stadium is a far cry from the cavernous 49,642-seat stadium the new New York team calls home in the Bronx, but still features many of the modern comforts we’ve grown accustomed too without losing its cozy feel. It’s in a great spot in Louisville, with easy access to ample food and entertainment options. And it’s easily accessible… well, it will be once the famed “Spaghetti Junction” of I-71, I-64 and I-65 is finally no longer under construction.

When it was first announced that Louisville might get a team at Slugger Field, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad home ground. So long as it was only a temporary one, that is.

But just the same, the concerns voiced about NYCFC’s use of Yankee Stadium were concerns that I shared about this arrangement, too. And just like the Yankees stars that voiced their own apprehensions about a ground-share agreement, the Bats have voiced their worries, too.

However, none of those concerns proved strong enough to deter Louisville being selected as the landing spot for Orlando’s former USL franchise, and plans proceeded forward with Slugger Field being the eventual home of the club.

So how did the opening day go, at least for the soccer club that is?

Pondcast co-host Jeremy and I made the 125-mile trip down I-71 from Cincinnati to catch the game against fellow USL debutant Saint Louis FC, and I can say with 100% confidence that it went “pretty damn well”.

First off, full credit must be given to the supporters for making opening day for soccer in Louisville the success that it was. Announced attendance stood at an impressive 6067. Although an extremely beautiful looking game with clear, sunny skies, the temperatures hovered in the low 50’s in the sun and a chilling wind blew across the length of the pitch. So it’s possible the weather kept that number from climbing higher than it already was.

The Louisville Coopers — a supporters group that predated the decision to give Louisville the USL franchise — were out in full force, numbering in the hundreds. Sat behind the third baseline goal, they chanted loudly, waved flags and bellowed dark purple smoke. They were further aided by a 80-member-strong contingent from St. Louis, a similarly founded supporters group that goes by the name of St. Louligans. Together, they injected a special buzz and energy that could be felt throughout the crowd.

For the home side at least, that crowd energy filtered down onto the pitch. Though Saint Louis FC looked sharp in the opening half, they never really troubled the home side’s goal. And thanks to a pair of goals on either side of halftime, City sealed the victory in their first ever match with emphatic, backheel-assisted, curling winner from 20-year-old Brit, Charlie Adams.

Did any of my or anyone else’s fears about the surface and small size of pitch play a role at all?

The pitch was certainly small; my guess is it was no more than 105 yards long and 70 yards wide. However, play didn’t look overly rushed or too crowded. So the impact there was minimal, but no different from other small pitches around the country. The surface obstacles, however, seemed a bigger concern.

The largest of those was the pitcher’s mound, which was modified prior to the start of the season to be lowered into the ground and covered with a smooth surface. It falls just outside the third base line penalty area, and is slightly raised when compared against the grass around it. I watched it like a hawk throughout the match, and didn’t once notice it interfering with play. The rest of the infield was surprisingly covered with old-school, traditional Astroturf. It looked decent enough from a distance, and didn’t seem to affect play either. I even pressed man-of-the-match Charlie Adams and Louisville manager James O’Connor after the match to see if either thought the field surface or smaller pitch size was a factor in the game, and both believed it wasn’t.

With a clear win in the stands and a win on the pitch, it’s hard to declare the inaugural professional soccer match in Louisville anything other than a success.

So where exactly does that leave my thoughts on playing in a baseball park?

Much like what we saw with New York City’s debut at Yankee Stadium a few weeks before, it seems that the venue is what the fans and clubs make of it. If you can fill it with impassioned supporters and put a decent product on the field, the limitations of the facility will be minimized. Sure, neither wants (or can) live there forever. But it will do for now.

What’s more important, particularly in the case in Louisville, is that new ground is being broken. There’s never been professional soccer in Kentucky before. Ever.

And even though the home that professional soccer plays out in isn’t ideal, I’m pretty sure the fans in Kentucky will take less than ideal over nothing at all.

ten words or less #107

The process I follow when collecting the links I use for these Ten Words or Less posts, the first one is normally saved as a draft within hours of the previous edition going up. Sometimes, others are added to it quickly and we have to rush this out faster than I had planned for. Other times, it takes a while to accumulate them and I fend up filling the links below up with fluff. You tell me which scenario this edition is after hitting up the links below.

Even legends lose their cool. – gfycat.com

Can’t wait to get Marcelo Claure together with Vincent Tan. – longform.org (via Howler)

Fan burnout is real. – wsc.co.uk

Great idea that will never happen: US boycotts Qatar 2022. – deadspin.com

Dope design runs deep in football. – 8by8mag.com

How do you say “moneyball” in Dutch? – theguardian.com

A winter MLS schedule isn’t just stupid because of weather. – americansoccernow.com

That other Bradley’s excellent look at the current US landscape. – jeffbradleyblog.blogspot.com

Excellent soccer blogging. – farpostfooty.com

Poor journalism aside, there’s still some truths in here. – fusion.net