ten words or less #99

WSOTP - Blog - Winter Is Coming Scarf.fwThe weekend is upon us, and the football will be coming thick and fast. Tomorrow morning we kick things off with a little Liverpool v Chelsea treat and the weekend is capped off off with some MLS Playoff action. And somehow, someway, I have to manage a way to watch as much of it as possible and NOT have my wife divorce me. I just keep reminding her we’re only a few weeks away from the end of the MLS season, and that seems to be working… for now, at least.

Also, a huge FYI. That official WSOTP scarf pictured above that still remains on pre-order? Yeah, we’re dropping the price. They’re now just $18. That’s two whole dollars we’ve lumped off the cost to encourage you to buy one. (If you ordered one earlier, worry not, you’ll be getting some money back.) We’ve also added an options for picking up the scarf from me personally so you don’t have to pay for shipping. And for those who have been concerned that WSOTP is getting rich off of your purchases, all profits go right back into the site — hosting, domain registration, and podcasting equipment isn’t free and has come directly out of my pocket for the last 5 years. So your moneys will be utilized to continue bringing you the wonderful content you’ve come to know and love. Plus it’s getting cold out again, and we want you to stay warm. So click here to buy one, please! 

Once your done with that, feel free to check out some of my favorite links from around the interwebz from the last week and a half.

You should stop laughing at the San Marino national team. – vice.com

Puma had to choose a specific zipper just for Wenger. – youtube.com

So how did we end up with LAFC? – si.com

How did I not know this academy existed? – businessweek.com

Want proof that FIFA and Russia are in cahoots? – reuters.com

So African players are just a commodity? Got it. – soccergods.com

DC’s new stadium most expensive in MLS history? – wjla.com

Gary Neville and I agree: defending is dead. – telegraph.co.uk

A magnificent piece of writing on Manaus’ World Cup. – deadspin.com/howler.com

Now contemplating auctioning my daughter’s support to the highest bidder. – whoateallthepies.tv

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pic of the week 8/25-9/1

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Alan Irwin Dildo on Transfer Deadline Day

In the long run, despite a record $1.3 billion spent by English Premier League sides during the summer window, yesterday’s Transfer Deadline Day will ultimately be remembered for the almost incomprehensible amount of loan deals hammered out in the dying hours. But even if most moves were loans, we were still treated to the normal imagery of players holding up their new sides’ and grinning for the cameras for so long that their cheeks begin to ache. Too, we got to once again see Harry Redknapp delivering parking lot interviews and dropping quality soundbites. But the most saturated image we were inundated with on Deadline Day — as it has been every year since Sky Sports started ramming it down our throats — is of the grizzled remote reporter standing outside the training ground giving us the minute-by-minute updates on the happenings at clubs around the league.

This season, however, the fans added a little bit more spice to the action. For reasons unknown, the spice added by the fans appeared to be sex toy themed. And in the image above, we see Sky’s Alan Irwin — reporting on Tom Cleverley’s on-again-off-again loan move to Aston Villa — getting a purple “Deadline Day Dildo” in the ear. We’ve got video of it too, just in case you want to take it all in. Elsewhere, a sex doll was tossed at another reporter.

Why sex toys? Who knows. But I laughed on both occasions. Here’s just hoping that supporters continue to up the ante in this January’s window. If they’re in need of ideas in the same genre, perhaps they could hire Wayne Rooney’s famous lady of the night to blow kisses at the camera the entire time.

weight off the shoulders

Tottenham Defender Eric Dier

As a Spurs fan, the last few years have been difficult.

The raised expectations over the last two to three seasons as we’ve watched Spurs try and fail to qualify again for the Champions League has been frustrating. We all got a taste of the good stuff in the 2010/11 quarterfinal run, and ever since then we — the supporters and the club — seem to have settled for nothing less. Two seasons ago, we nearly made it back but missed out thanks to Chelsea pulling off the impossible. The near miss saw Gareth Bale depart for Spain and Champions League glory last season, as we struggled to swallow the initial failure of the whole “selling Elvis to buy The Beatles” experiment.

And while there were some enjoyable moments in those almost-achievements, I have to admit the ride along wasn’t an entirely enjoyable one. It was stressful. Every match seemed do-or-die. Every dropped point seemed to sting a little more than it should.

I know I wasn’t the only one who was feeling it; even the crowd at White Hart Lane seemed to be experiencing the same nervousness. A ground that used to be known for its boisterous support suffered from an anxious hush, finger biting and fans turning on one another when things didn’t play out like any of us would have liked.

It just wasn’t that fun.

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surveying american soccer fandom

After a sizable break during the European close season this summer, save a few special edition live recordings down on Fountain Square for the World Cup, the WSOTP Podcast will be back in action here in a few week’s time. And with a sizable bump in the number of followers we’ve acquired due to the game finally catching a gust of wind here in the States, we thought it would be a good time to figure out just how everyone supports the sport of soccer here in the U, S and A.

As such, my podcast co-host and producer, Jeremy Lance, put together a short survey to give us a good look at the American soccer fan. But for us to really get a clear picture, we need as many of you as possible to fill the thing out. Whether a long-time fan or a relative n00b, we want — no, need — you to fill this thing out.

It shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to complete, and it’s completely anonymous. And we’ll be sharing the results on the first episode of the second season of the podcast, which will be available for your listening pleasure the week before the Premier League season kicks off at the end of August.

So hit the link below, and thanks in advance for your data!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE “AMERICAN SOCCER FANDOM” SURVEY

your duty as an american soccer fan

Much has been made of the incredible interest in the World Cup here in the United States.

The tournament on the whole averaged 4.5 million viewers over all 64 matches, a 36% increase from the 2010 World Cup four years ago. We also saw records smashed for single game viewership several times: the first was with the US-Portugal group match with 24.7 million, while the second was the Germany-Argentina Final with a total of 26.5 million viewers.

Easily at an all-time high, the continuing upward trend in interest in the tournament and the sport in general has prompted many to ask questions like “Has soccer’s time come in the US?” and “What needs to be done for the sport to continue to grow?”. They’re pertinent questions, and ones that certainly need answering.

And to answer that question, I’ll turn to one of our greatest ever American’s:

“Ask not what soccer can do for you — ask what you can do for soccer.”  
– John F. Kennedy

Okay, so maybe I distorted that statement a little bit. But JFK’s most famous quote is incredibly relevant point when modified to address soccer’s situation in this country.

If we — and I’m talking about the existing fans of soccer in this country — want to continue to see our favorite sport climb in popularity and gain the respect and recognition in the US, it’s on us to make that happen.

Yup, soccer’s eventual success in this country comes down to you and me.

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color me surprised

Cincinnati Celebrates Brooks' GoalI have to give it to you, Cincinnati: you really surprised me yesterday.

We’re a city that’s often forced to divide our attention and pick a side. East or west side. Gold Star or Skyline. Xavier or UC. Cincinnati Saints or that other team that we won’t speak of. And when it comes to the watching the US team during the World Cup, things have been no different.

The American Outlaws Cincinnati Chapter were back at their usual stomping grounds at Molly Malone’s in Covington, with those who attended saying the place was jammed full of American supporters like sardines in a can. My favorite soccer pub, Rhinehaus in OTR, was packed in a way that only Lil Jon could appreciate. There were some who chose to stay further out in Hyde Park, with events being held at Cock & Bull, Hap’s, and The Pub at Rookwood. And those are just the soccer hangouts: numerous other establishments around town also have spoken of larger influxes of patrons in to watch the game.

And as such, I was a little concerned that the watch party I was helping to plan — the Cincinnati Saints and Hoists’ Big Game on the Square at Fountain Square — would suffer a lower than expected turnout due to litany of choices available to the city’s soccer fans. If I’m being totally honest, I thought we would be lucky to get 500 people out to the city center to watch the US’ opening game against Ghana.

Boy, was I wrong… and happily so.

The Cincinnati downtown commission, 3CDC, estimated that there were upwards of 5000 fans in attendance. Five thousand! Even if that was a little generous, that’s ten times the amount I had hoped for. Considering this match took place on Monday night on a day where the local meteorologists were warning of pop-up storms in a place that had never hosted a soccer event before, that is freaking incredible.

Too, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible. I’d fielded some concerns that it wouldn’t “be as good as at a pub” and that the AO party “would blow it out of the water”. Those concerns, much like my own earlier, proved unwarranted.

Flags, ridiculous outfits, painted faces, a bounty of bomb pop and Waldo jerseys. There were chants of “I believe that we can win” and “I Love Ya”. The energy and noise after the goals, particularly Brook’s equalizer, was a deafening madhouse. I’m pretty sure I saw someone jump in the fountain in jubilation. There’s a zero percent chance the AO party provided anything better. And the reaction around town, even from non-soccer types, has been nothing short of astounding.

I feel incredibly privileged to have been a part of the experience and to help put on the event. WSOTP Podcast co-host Jeremy Lance and I kept turning to one another and wide-eyed saying to one another, “I can’t believe this is happening in Cincinnati!” Never mind the 30 followers I’ve picked up on Twitter and 20 new Facebook likes since then… it was an honor even without the windfall of new exposure for this site.

We’ll of course be doing this all again on Sunday, and fully expect that the crowd will grow as word gets out that Fountain Square will be the place to watch. So if you didn’t join us yesterday, give us a try this weekend. And for those of you who did, thank you for making this such an awe-inspiring experience.

Here’s hoping we’ll catch you out there again, Cincinnati.

Also, be sure to check out this awesome video of the event from local Ricky Fairrow. It really captured the vibe of the crowd.
http://youtu.be/TUGG1ad1sMM

All pictures courtesy of the Cincinnati Saints. See the full album here.

ten words or less #92

come out and enjoy a WSOTP podcast before the USMNT v ghana game!

come out and enjoy a WSOTP podcast before the USMNT v ghana game!

Without a doubt, this has been one of the best World Cups I’ve ever had the privilege to witness, and this is my seventh. Goals galore. Drama out the wazoo. Zero draws. It’s the kind of action that doesn’t leave the soccer haters much room for bitching, and I’m smiling ear to ear because of it. And with the US kicking off today, there may very well be more of that in store. Though hopefully all in our favor.

If you somehow missed it, those in or near Cincinnati should come down to Fountain Square to catch Cincinnati Saints and Hoist’s live watch party for the US game tonight! The WSOTP Podcast team — myself and Jeremy Lance — will be recording a podcast live an hour before kickoff at 5pm, so definitely make your way out for that. We’ll have food, activities for the kids, appearances from the Saints team… and beer. Yeah, beer.

And in the mean time, below you’ll find a collection of my favorite links from the opening few days of action in Brazil.

Listen to Brazil celebrating their goals against Croatia. – vimeo.com

Der Kaiser, say it ain’t so! – soccerbyives.com

Japanese fans are more respectful than you. – aztecadeportes.com

Just read ZonalMarking.net. It’s totally worth it. – zonalmarking.net

I sure hope Michael washed his hands in the bathroom. – espn.com

Watching the World Cup as a pro… who’s not there. – fusion.net

Can Spurs please sign Danny Blind? Thanks. – reddit.com/u/non-relevant

A pessimistic Spain fan made bank on his side’s loss. – dirtytackle.net

Ghana are conserving energy so they can watch our game. – qz.com

This is why Spain lost. – theoriginalwinger.com

who died and made you king?

if this is how you want to support soccer, then that’s just fine. just know it isn’t the only way.

It’s here. The World Cup has arrived in a massive crescendo of excitement and delirium that is rarely ever reserved for soccer here in the States.

Everyone from Beats by Dre to Subway and ESPN to McDonald’s are pushing (sometimes) epic commercials to remind us of the action to come. Every publication in the country has rushed to put out a guide and dish their thoughts on the world’s biggest events.

But there have been quite a few pieces doing the rounds ranging from “aiming to correct” to “straight up bashing” the way we American fans are supporting the game during this World Cup. Some have taken aim at our “incorrect” use of soccer — ahem, football — terminology. Others have mocked us for aping European supporter culture. And a scant few others revert to the 1990’s and scoff at us for liking soccer in the first place.

And you know what’s most astounding about all of this negativity? A sizable chunk of it is coming from our own fellow supporters. Continue reading

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.

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.