pic of the week 4/14-4/20

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David Moyes meets the Grim Reaper

Poor David Moyes. His Manchester United side — nearly the exact same side that won the title last season by an eleven point gap — have now suffered 10 losses in 22 matches in 2014, have been mathematically eliminated from Champions League contention for next season, and look a broken incompetent side. Worse, the Scotsman was made to suffer a humiliating 0-2 defeat upon Moyes’ return to his former stomping grounds of Goodison Park.

And adding insult to injury, a crafty, potentially clairvoyant Everton supporter might just have served as an early bad omen if the rumors doing the rounds today are to be believed. Either that or the Grim Reaper is actually a Manchester United fan who’s decided enough is enough, and that he needed to take action into his own hands. Unfortunately, we never got to find out, as the Reaper was escorted out of the grounds before he could complete the grizzly deed.

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pic of the week 2/3-2/9

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A pitch invader gets a very Brazilian celebration

Like the increasing trend of students rushing the court in college basketball, invading the pitch is becoming incredibly cliché. It used to be a unique event, but it happens so often anymore it hardly warrants attention. No longer reserved for just the obnoxiously inebriated supporter — though those guys still show up on occasion — we’ve seen pitch invaders ranging from political activists to thrill seeking streakers in recent years. And when it comes to celebrating supporters rushing out en masse, it sure seems like the standard for justifying the rushing the playing surface has diluted tremendously. The television cameras at the stadium have even been instructed to ignore them, so as to not promote more banal tomfoolery.

But last week, one pitch invader managed to transcend the cliché nature of the action and captured the world’s attention in the process. Seven year old Ayo Dosumu slipped away from his father and down onto the field in the immediate aftermath of the Brazil’s 5-0 dismantling of hosts South Africa. But before security was able to whisk him away, hat-trick hero Neymar scooped up the youngster, carried him over to his teammates who then proceeded to hoist the youngster up on their shoulders. And the world ate it up, despite the fact that little guy totally broke a bunch of rules in the process.

Cuteness counts for something, right? Let’s just hope this doesn’t provoke a rash of pitch invasions this summer with fans from around the world trying to recreate Ayo’s picturesque moment for themselves.

a yank’s take on the y-word debate

the y-word debate has me feeling i didn’t submit the right TPS report.

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.

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ten words or less #79

yeah, the premier league is back... but so is deuce.

yeah, the premier league is back… but so is deuce.

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

Brian Phillips entertaining dive into the USMNT’s sexy ugly past. – grantland.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

ten words or less #78

i feel pretty safe saying i’m even more excited about the premier league getting ready to start than the now famous ted lasso.

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.

Spurs bring in new manager Ted Lasso… from ‘MERICA. - youtube.com

You hear that… soccer players are stylish. – mensjournal.com

Seven excellent suggestions for new Crew owner Anthony Precourt. – massivereport.com

Pessimism is ingrained in American soccer; that needs to change. – espnfc.com

Another effort to launch a possibly interesting World Cup documentary. – kickstarter.

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

don’t hold your breath

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.

he may be a former playing legend, but robert warzycha has worn out his welcome on the crew bench. (Photo Credit: Sam Fahmi/MassiveReport.com)

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

growing pains

“Be careful what you ask for.”

the US fanbase has grown by leaps and bounds, but the growth has its downsides.

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

texts from a wannabe scouser

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

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let’s make this thing happen

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…

American Outlaws Dayton

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.

vitriol

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.

ten years ago, MLS could have only dreamed about a rivalry like the one between columbus and chicago. but that doesn't mean it's nothing but sweet dreams.

ten years ago, MLS could have only dreamed about a rivalry like the one between columbus and chicago. but that doesn’t mean it’s nothing but sweet dreams. (images courtesy of the Massive Report)

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.

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