There’s a famous scene at the beginning of American cult-favorite movie Office Space where character Michael Bolton is stopped at a light while driving to work, rapping boisterously along to the profanity-laden Scarface song booming out of his car stereo. The whitest of white guys, Bolton — played by comedian David Herman — is dropping Scarface’s rhymes authoritatively and generally acting a badass… until he notices a black street vendor walking towards his car. He quickly dims both volume and voice, skipping over the F-bombs and N-word heard whispering through his speakers. Once the man passes by, a relieved Bolton resumes his previous menacing lyrical display as if no one was listening for him to offend again.
Football is back! Well, it actually never left. After all, we’ve had a litany of international matches and MLS league action to keep us entertained all summer and then some. But for most people — myself included — the soccer equivalent of the main course was finally served up over the weekend in the form of the return of the British Premier League. It was a super interesting opening weekend with some really interesting results… but I’ll be dishing about those in full in the next episode of the WSOTP Pod which is due to go up later today.
But while you’re patiently awaiting that to go up, I figured I could keep you entertained with the latest roundup of links that tickled my fancy over the last week or so. And while some deal with topics across the pond, many focus on all of the glorious football we’ve been feasting on all summer.
Duece’s one day media blitz was insane. - mlssoccer.com
GoPro view of Manchester City training is freaking awesome. – theoriginalwinger.com
Who’s submitting their CV for the vacant England U-21 job? - thefacareers.com
I was interviewed about NYC pro soccer by a Brazilian blog. – verminosos.com.br
Bradford City only like fat people. – mirror.co.uk
I never figured this would be soccer’s “in” in America. – thepostgame.com
An excellent proposal for an EPL All-Star game. – behance.com
Kyle Martino has some really interesting thoughts. – philly.com
When it rains, it pours. – dirtytackle.net
I don’t know about you, but I am super freaking excited about the upcoming kickoff to the Premier League season. You might have been able to tell that even if you skipped reading all of this at the top too, seeing as how three of the links in this latest edition of Tens Words or Less are Tottenham related. Yeah, Gareth Bale might be leaving. But even if he does, I’m still really excited for the increased coverage the English top flight will receive Stateside this term.
But before you go assuming that I’ll just forget about the domestic game now that European soccer is about to kick back into full swing, let me remind you just how dedicated I am…. BY GIVING AWAY FREE USA-MEXICO WORLD CUP QUALIFIER TICKETS, POSSIBLY EVEN TO YOU. Just in case you hadn’t heard about it. So don’t doubt me.
Anyway, enjoy the links below as you day-dream about the upcoming Premier League season OR attending the biggest US Men’s National Team game of the year. Whatever suits you best.
You hear that… soccer players are stylish. – mensjournal.com
Seven excellent suggestions for new Crew owner Anthony Precourt. – massivereport.com
If NYCFC pulls off this Manhattan stadium, I’ll be flabbergasted. – 101greatgoals.com
Gareth Bale to leave Spurs to become… a male model? - esquire.co.uk
Brilliant trolling. - twitter.com/JimmyConrad
The dread felt when your club tries to sign Suárez. - arseblog.com
Some excellent shots of White Hart Lane’s illustrious history. – whoateallthepies.tv
Following the Columbus Crew’s 2-0 loss at home on Saturday to the New England Revolution, it would be an accurate statement to say fans are a tad upset with the direction the team are heading.
Columbus have now suffered defeat in six of their last nine games, and have yet to put together back to back wins this season. Given the team’s current position in the conference table — eighth, behind rivals Chicago and steadily slipping towards the loathsome levels of Toronto below us — the continuous calls for the heads of coach Robert Warzycha and the Crew front office don’t seem so extreme.
The last few home matches have seen the Nordecke tossing pink slips in the air every time Warzycha is introduced before kickoff. Banners hung around the stadium call for the front office to go with him. #SackWarzycha accompanies hundreds of Crew-related tweets each match day. A Change.org petition even exists to oust the former Crew legend. All of these added together: prime signs of an extremely distressed support.
And you know what? They have every right to be mad.
Inconsistency rules the roost for the Crew, which is frustrating because of the occasional glimpses of the potential this squad possesses. But when we do get to see it, it vanishes the next match just as quickly as it appeared. The coach doesn’t seem to know how to get that full potential out of the players week after week, and management doesn’t seem capable of acknowledging that fact. With the odds of tripping into the playoffs slimming with every dropped point, it’s maddening that it seems like nobody is willing or cares to do anything about it.
And because of all of that, the Crew’s loyal support seem on the verge of gathering the pitchforks and torches and marching down Hudson Street to light the front office on fire.
But personally, I think the anger with the team is misplaced. Continue reading
“Be careful what you ask for.”
That’s probably what many European and South American supporters would say to us American soccer fans right about now. Other popular American sports fans would probably do the same too, if only they were capable of putting down their anti-soccer biases for a few minutes.
Long the American soccer fan has bemoaned the lack of a sustained presence of an electrifying game day experience to which many of our fellow North American sports can lay claim. We never could manage to get the numbers or display the passion demonstrated by our counterparts, or at least not both at the same time. The idea of a vibrant American soccer fan culture seemed to be just as pie in the sky as the chances of on field success for the national team.
But as has been well documented, the last six or seven years has seen a sharp transformation of the supporter culture landscape in this country. Tifos are hung and chants are sung like “proper” footballing fans would expect. And it’s not just during crucial national team World Cup qualifiers or MLS Cups that bars fill and stadiums pack, but also for various MLS and NASL sides. And on a regular basis, too. The country’s largest supporters group, the American Outlaws, continues to see rapid growth, as do those of many clubs around the country.
It’s everything we could have asked for even as recently as ten years ago, and probably more.
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some serious growing pains in the process. And the upcoming US-Mexico World Cup qualifier in Columbus on September 10th seems a perfect example of such problems. Continue reading
Not that this is that surprising, but a good chunk of my friends are also American soccer fans. Many are level headed, normal fans with relatively mundane opinions about the sport. But one in particular happens to have a near-constant stream of bullish, polarizing and/or ridiculous nonsense spilling from his brain instead. Most of it is little more than pure gibberish, however some is pretty damn entertaining. So to honor — or rather publicly embarrass — a delusional pal, I’ll be posting semi-regular quotes whenever he induces a LOL/draw drop.
It’s entirely up to you to decide if you’re willing to subject yourself to the insanity. So without further ado, below is the first edition of Texts from a Wannabe Scouser…
The talk has been going on for ages. The numbers are there to make it happen. I’ve seen them with my own eyes, multiple times. But for one reason or another, it’s just never gotten up off the ground.
However, that may be about to change…
That’s right kids, Dayton may finally get their own chapter of the American Outlaws… but we need your help.
The Outlaws, if you’re not familiar with them, are easily the largest and most vocal of the “unofficial” supporters groups of the US National Teams. There are vibrant chapters of AO in neighboring cities such as Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis and Louisville — hell, even Akron has one. But for reasons unknown, Dayton’s never managed to gather sufficient numbers to maintain a chapter of their own. Which has always seemed odd to me, given the regular, large showings of support for US Men’s and Women’s matches over the last two to three years at bars such as Chappy’s Taphouse in West Carrolton and The Pub in Beavercreek.
But thanks to the hard work of some impassioned fans, the Gem City’s luck might be about to change. Beginning with tonight’s tune-up against Guatemala and running through at least the end of the Gold Cup group matches, a still unofficial gathering of American Outlaws will take place at Centerville’s brand new Lock 27 Brewing.
The aim? To attempt to coax all of Dayton’s US National Team fans into accumulating at a single location, for a single, unified showing of support. So why not throw on your kit and grab your favorite scarf and join your fellow fans? With good beer, good company and football on the television, you could really do worse. And if you enjoy the experience and want to make it a regular thing (not to mention take advantage of all of the sweet perks), pony up $24 to become an official member of AO Dayton. If the group can nail down 25 memberships, AO will give them their blessing to become an official chapter.
If you’re sold on the idea already, you could even join American Outlaws right now — just be sure to write in “Dayton” as your chapter. Also, be sure to check out the newly minted AO Dayton Facebook page and give it a like, as well.
So come out and join us. Be a part of something bigger. And let’s cheer on our boys like right and proper supporters. And if that’s still not enough to convince you, let’s do this Free Beer Movement-style: if you’re the first one to find me at tonight’s match… your first drink is on me.
In the early days of Major League Soccer, rivalries between fans were few and far between. At best, fledgling feuding began between the few geographically close sides like New York and Washington. At worst, the rivalries were completely ceremonial — think of the largely pointless Trillium Cup between Columbus and Toronto or the Brimstone Cup played between Chicago and Dallas — or even non-existent. And for a league looking to establish itself, the lack of natural rivals for fans to unite against was a major hurdle to MLS’ success in growing an invested fanbase.
Rivalries, after all, breed passion. And passion breeds season ticket buyers. And season ticket buyers breeds eventual profits and sustainability. So fostering that kind of mutual competitive spirit between groups of supporters ultimately became a major focus for the league office.
Flash forward to today, and thanks to league expansion, aggressive marketing and organic growth, real-life rivalries abound in MLS. The integration of the long-standing Cascadia Cup — battled out between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver for — into the league is probably the best known and most passionate of the lot. But others like the Texas Derby between Dallas and Houston, Red Bulls and Union out East and even the Crew and Fire have blossomed into vibrant and passionate affairs over the last few years.
It seems like everyone is hitting the road these days. Premier League clubs are playing one another in Yankee Stadium. Or how about Neyamar, who’s packing his bags and leaving Brazil for greener (potentially) pastures in Barcelona. Better yet, remember the guys I wrote about back in early February? You know, the band of four dudes from my hometown who were making an epic trip across the state with only a soccer ball at their feet and the goal of raising money and awareness for the poor of Toledo in their minds?
Well at the close of the ninth day of Dribble4Toledo‘s 250 mile route, I’m happy to report the guys already find themselves well over halfway through their journey from Monroe to Toledo. Along the way, they’ve had some interesting detours along the route, so be sure to check out their Facebook page to chart their progress and see what they’re getting themselves into. And congrats and safe travels again to the boys as they continue their path across Ohio!
And to keep the trend going, I’ll also be hitting the road this week… albeit in significantly more lazy fashion, as I’ll be in a car and not hoofing it like the boys from D4T. First, I’ll be heading North to watch the US Men as they take on a Spurs-rich Belgium side in Cleveland. Then at the weekend, I’ll be sliding over to Chicago’s Toyota Park to watch the Fire battle DC United and kick off the next big project here at WSOTP. All told, it will be over a 1000 miles worth of driving just so I can fill these pages with content and keep your prying eyes coming back for more. Don’t worry, you can thank me later.
In the mean time, enjoy these excellent links from around the interwebs.
NYCFC’s logo won’t look like this; and that’s a shame. – mwillis.com
A brilliant breakdown of the reasons behind Falcao to Monaco. – reddit.com/u/nikcub
But will Monaco even be allowed to play in France? – guardian.co.uk
The end of a beautiful friendship: Cosmos switch to Nike. – footballshirtculture.com
Trying to get into the Champions League Final… for free.
Cesc on a mission to play for everyone I hate. – foxsports.com
This one is for mi amiga colombiana… crazy Colombian hair! – thebeautifulgear.com
Read the headlines these days, and its all roses and growth and progress in MLS. The league will talk you ear off about the explosion in attendance figures and fan culture in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. You’ll hear about how the successful sides such as LA, Sporting KC and Philadelphia have contributed to their continued positive attendance figures.
But those kinds of positives often mask the negatives. Sure, we’ve all heard about the much publicized dwindling numbers at Chivas USA and DC United. But there are also struggles in Chicago, New England and even in my own backyard in Columbus. And though each club features a passionate group of core supporters, they’ve struggled to pull in regular season ticket holders and regularly fill their stadiums.
So while finding a way to improve those numbers is not only crucial to the league, but also crucial to ensuring the long-term future of franchises such as Chivas USA and Columbus. With the demand for an MLS franchise at seemingly an all time high — and the league needing FIFA’s blessing to expand beyond the now 20 clubs that will feature starting in 2015 — the likelihood of a club being uprooted and moved to a new market grows with each empty seat.
Rest assured, efforts are being made to help prevent that from happening. For their part, the Crew front office launched “Goal 10K” in September 2011 to increase season ticket sales to 10,000. Don Garber’s recent visit to Columbus brought with it news that the club expects to eclipse the 7,000 mark this season (up 45%) and year-over-year ticket sales also being up 15%. All good news, but not quite the swift growth the club had hoped for. So couple that with poor turnouts in the Crew’s opening home matches this season, what else can be done to help Crew attendance figures to continue to climb?
Grassroots efforts, that’s what.
Following in the “proactive fan” footsteps of the Free Beer Movement, a supporter-lead movement has sprung up to help the club in their efforts to attract more fans. Matt Goshert, host and co-founder of the Massive Report podcast, and Chris LaMacchia, a writer at the same site, launched the “Operation June 1st Sellout” movement on May 14th. The aim? To pack as many fans as possible into Crew Stadium for the next home match against the Houston Dynamo. But why?
“We want to get a bunch of people and bring them out for either the first time this season or the first time ever,” LaMacchia said. Goshert added, “The Crew’s attendance seems to usually pick up mid-summer and we were hoping as fans we could move that needle sooner and show the city of Columbus a good time in the process.” And though they aren’t necessarily expecting an actual sellout on the first of the month, they do think they can positively impact the atmosphere in stadium that day.
And just to be clear, it’s also more than just an effort to further pack the Nordecke, the supporters section at the North end of the stadium. Families in the cheap seats, college students before the head out of town for the summer, and the casual fan that maybe only makes it out once a year… they want you all. And given the low cost of entry for just about every seat in the stadium — the most expensive ticket on sale that day is jut $55– it’s a goal that isn’t out of the realm of possibility.
So tell your friend, tell your neighbor, tell the guy sitting next to you at every traffic light your stopped at between now in June 1st: Come out to Crew Stadium at 7:30pm on June 1st and find out what MLS and the Crew have to offer. And not only that, but tell them that they need to come to show the league and the country that Columbus is a place they’ll want to be for years to come.
Now unfortunately, I won’t be able to join in all of the fun on June. Despite making it out to the season’s freezing home opener, I’ll be in the middle of a hectic week of footy-related travel (I’ll be in Cleveland on May 29th for the US-Belgium game, and then working on a project in Chicago centering on the Fire’s match against DC United three days later) and won’t be able to squeeze Columbus into the itinerary.
So to help do my part to put some butts in seats on June 1st, I’ve partnered with Operation June 1st Sellout to give one lucky participant one my new “My Team is from O-H-I-O” shirts from the WSOTP Shop! So how do you win it?
One person who tweets or re-tweets the hashtag #OperationJune1Sellout will win a free access code for MLS Live. Multiple tweets = multiple entries. You may enter as many times as you like. Tweets count until kickoff on June 1st. A winner will be randomly drawn June 2nd.
Be sure to check out their website for further details and for more giveaways!