ten words or less #102

Matchday - MLS Cup Final 2014

With a big match on the horizon this weekend in domestic football — you know, the MLS Cup Final — we thought it high time to gather the local readers/supporters together again with another watch party at our favorite local pub, Rhinehaus in Over-the-Rhine. So if you happen to be in Cincinnati this coming Sunday (12/7), be sure to swing by to have a pint with the #Pondcast team and watch as Landon does battle with Jones in the former’s last ever professional soccer match. In fact, if you are going to be in town, let us know you’re attending by RSVPing here.

In the mean time, entertain yourselves by following any of the ten links below that I dug up from around the wide world web over the last week.

TLDR; more trebles because rich teams are getting richer. – espnfc.com

If MLS sides’ shirt sponsors were local(ish) breweries. – backheel.com

Tottenham’s fall can all be blamed on John Terry. – cartilagefreecaptain.com

Interesting look at dollars spent per win/point in MLS. – dtfsoccer.wordpress.com

Classic Sepp: absolving FIFA while blaming others. – foxsports.com

Besides a few owners/league offices, everyone agrees with Robbie. – irishexaminer.com

This backheel assist from Chicharito is the stuff of legend. – gfycat.com

This most valuable clubs in the Americas list is… interesting. – forbes.com.mx

A nice gesture. But Dortmund do this every year. – independent.co.uk

Western Sydney Wanderers are Australia’s BVB. – a-league.com.au

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 14

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 14

Who cares if it’s an international break… there’s still plenty of football to warrant a new episode of the Pondcast. So what’s on deck this week? D.J. and Jeremy delve into the US men’s national team friendly against Colombia and the negative reactions to Klinsmann’s post-World Cup displays. Euro 2016 qualifying also gets some time in the spotlight, as did the ludicrous findings of FIFA’s corruption investigation. And while there’s no Fulham Watch to update you on this week, the guys still picked their Winners & Wankers for the week. Not only that, but we also welcomed in our first guest of Season 2: the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Justin Duke, who our local listeners might know better as @EnquirerFC on Twitter. Justin talked with us about how he came to love the beautiful game, how he started following Liverpool, and also took part in our naming of our Third of the Season Premier League Awards™.

As always, if you want us to answer a question or hear us dish on a topic of your choosing, we would obviously love to do so. Just drop us a line at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, or you send them to us on social media using the links at the bottom of the page.

WSOTP Podcast on iTunes WSOTP Podcast on Stitcher WSOTP Podcast RSS Feed

a peach of a goal… or ten

FIFA Puskas Award

Not that this is a groundbreaking thought or anything, but most individual awards in the world of sport are one hundred percent subjective.

Soccer is particularly guilty of this when awarding prizes like league MVP’s, goalkeepr of the year awards, or the yearly handing out of the FIFA Balon d’Or. It’s not always the case, but often times an argument can be made for multiple people to be deserving of the award — much to Cristiano Ronaldo’s delight/chagrin.

Anytime you try to decide who the “best” player is, or who did something the best — aside from awards like Golden Boots where it’s pretty darn easy to determine who did or didn’t score the most number of goals — there are way too many factors for any one human or group to consider to say definitively that “this one guy is the best”. Nevermind that everyone has their own opinions, too. I might think something is better than you do, and you might think something is better than I do.

But despite that tangled mess of opinion and fact, we still give out these awards year after year and season after season. Personally, it seems like they’re handed out simply so we all have something argue about. And so people like me have something write about. That the Balon d’Or was originally voted on by a group of journalists is not an irony that has just dawned on me.

Anyway, the FIFA Puskás Award is no different. Named after Hungarian great Ferenc Puskás — a guy you should know about if you don’t already — the prize is awarded by FIFA every year to the player who scored the “best” goal. Please also ignore the fact that FIFA isn’t exactly known for its ability to make non-biased decisions.

But regardless, making a selection from their list of ten nominees is still good fun. And for me, it was an excuse to watch a bunch of fabulous goals all over again. Though it also make me wonder how some goals were left off the list — which I’ll get into later.

So below you will find the ten nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award, in video format, and my thoughts on each. At the end of the article, I’ll also choose my winner, who you will likely disagree with… because this is all subjective anyway.

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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

that’s not convenient at all

Featured

CalendarLet’s just get this out of the way: outside of the halls of FIFA headquarters in Zurich and the luxurious high rise buildings in Doha, there are very few people in support the idea of Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022. I’m against it, you’re against it, most everyone is against it.

I’m not here today to argue the merits of stripping the Arab state of their right to host the tournament, as that horse has been already beaten to death. And no matter how much more you or I or anyone else continues to beat it, the tournament is still likely to end up in Qatar. So let’s just put that possibility out of our minds for the next few minutes, okay?

What I am here to talk about today, however, is when the tournament in Qatar will be held.

Much like everything else that’s associated with the 2022 edition of FIFA’s main event, the time at which it will be played has stirred great debate. It seems highly unlikely that the World Cup will be played out in its normal (Northern Hemisphere) summer time slot, and wisely so considering the scorching temperatures will be unfit for fan and player alike. As such, alternative dates are being considered for the first time.

On the table: November/December 2022, January/February 2022, and May 2022. And that’s bad. Really bad.

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ten words or less #96

Frank Lampard of Manchester City

just one of the cornucopia of stories that came out just this past weekend: frank lampard’s manchester city debut.

As Americans, we’ve reached a weird point in the soccer calendar. Just as we’re getting warmed up to and getting a feel for the European season, we’re getting to “squeaky bum time” in the MLS season with the playoffs just around the corner. And because of that, it sure seems like there’s more news pouring out of the sport than ever. But worry not, WSOTP has been scouring the web to bring you the picks of the litter. So dive into my favorite links from around the world of football from the last week or so, and stay tuned for even more content as the week progresses.

“Spurs are not for sale”, but a bid’s been received. – tottenhamhotspur.com

Joel Campbell has enough time to create a sports website. – sports.bycampbell.com

Robbing the rich and giving it to the… rich. – independent.co.uk

Gothamist get’s Don Garber to dish on all things MLS. – gothamist.com

Lighting up a pitch by capturing power from the players. – cbsnews.com

The 50 best players according to FIFA 15. – theguardian.com

Every USLPRO side pays for playoff travel expenses. – recklesschallenge.net

Don’t expect a soccer specific stadium in Boston anytime soon. – boston.com

Finally an alternative solution to watching Bundesliga in the US. – bundesligafanatic.com

So “Chivas TBD” might take a year or two off. – si.com

 

ten words or less #90

Columbus Crew forward Dominic Oduro and his pizza hair

yes, that is pizza shaved into dominic oduro’s head.

I have to admit that I have been a really lousy writer lately. The last full length article I wrote was published over two weeks ago, and it was nearly a fortnight in between that one and the article previous to it. Yeah, I’ve been giving you guys semi-regular Pic of the Week posts, the occasional Ten Words or Less, and a smattering of new shirts and other posts bloggings — not to mention Jeremy and I have continued to deliver our weekly podcast — but I’ve really gotten away from what this site was originally all about: the writing. For those of you who come here for that, I’ll aim to deliver in the near future and thanks for your patience.

That said, I have been working behind the scenes on some really big projects. Need some proof? How about the just-released 2014 NPSL and WPSL schedule posters for the Cincinnati Saints, which I had the privilege of designing. And tomorrow, the Saints and I will also be revealing an even bigger announcement that has been in the works for some time now. It’s seriously huge, so be sure to stay tuned.

In the mean time, below is a choice selection of my favorite links from the past week or so to hold you over.

Dani Alves eating the banana that was thrown at him. – vine.com

Call me boring, but I’d pick to be Philipp Lahm. – youtube.com/nikesoccer

Financial Fair Play’s true intent? Wage and fee inflation control. – thescore.com

Dear Atlanta: do NOT use any of these names. – bizjournals.com

Yes, Barcelona have developed some great players, but…  – bleacherreport.com

My birthday is in June, in case anyone was wondering. – camporetro.com

Dr. Evil’s boardroom or FIFA Executive Committee boardroom? – dirtytackle.net

This should please the Everton faithful. – metro.co.uk

Choosing the right league at launch: easier said than done. – mlssoccer.com

All things considered, Ryan Giggs’ dad seems like a prick. – bleacherreport.com

ten words or less #86

toronto fc have officially won the MLS offseason.

Even though we’ve exited the hectic Christmas/New Year’s schedule that normally bombards us with more soccer than we can stomach, the last few days have been ridiculously busy in the world of the beautiful game.

Of course we still had a normal round of weekend fixtures around Europe to deal with. The opening of the January transfer window has also brought a cavalcade of news, ranging from complete fodder to legit breaking news. And of course today we were treated to not only the naming of FIFA’s 2013 Ballon d’Or winner — a very deserved win for Cristiano Ronaldo — but also the unveiling of two massive signings by MLS side Toronto FC in Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley.

None the less, I’ve still managed to survive all of that and pump out a new TWOL for you. So enjoy it, minions.

The top transfers from each country in Europe… and elsewhere. – reddit.com/r/soccer

I could live with these purported USMNT World Cup shirts. – todosobrecamisetas.com

Ten theories for why AVB was sitting Adebayor at Spurs. – dearmrlevy.com

MLSsoccer.com get’s called out on taking the easy route. – hottimeinoldtown.com

Not renewing this guy’s contract seems suicidal. – theoriginalwinger.com

Bob Bradley’s first interview as manager of Stebæk. – youtube.com

Comparing preparations for Qatar as a road to hell? Accurate. – 8by8mag.com

Um… what? – leedsunited.com

US Soccer seems to have forgotten its history pre-1994. – beinsport.tv

Rumor is the next Mercurials will be quite revolutionary. – soccerbible.com

judging from afar

Sometimes I really wish I was a full-time journalist. You know, the type that works for one of the major media outlets and possesses an exponentially larger amount of clout than I currently posses. I’d be lying if I said the prestige and benefits of such a position weren’t some of the many reasons I’d love to be that kind of writer.

But another, less greedy reason I dream to be a professional is because I’d also have the ability to occasionally finagle access to some of the biggest names in the game. With that kind of access, I could potentially find answers to so many of the innumerable questions I have about the sport.

Sepp Blatter Ignores You

would sepp even be willing to hear my question? probably not if it has to do with MLS.

It’s cliché, but anyone who’s ever wanted to be a reporter has dreamt of asking those hard-hitting questions that nobody seems to ask. Of course, you can only ask so many of that type of tough questions before those in the game no longer want to talk to you. But every once in a while, there comes a time when you’re allowed to bust someones balls and demand answers to the questions that never seem to get answered.

And if you ask me, right now is one of those times where an important question needs to be answered by one of soccer’s biggest names.

So who is this name I wish I had access to: soccer’s biggest whipping boy, FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Ignore for a few minutes that my desire to ask hard-hitting questions of Blatter would place me at the end of an enormously long line of others with pertinent questions for FIFA’s head honcho. It’s a line that never gets any shorter, and the questions many would like King Sepp to answer are wide-ranging and ever-changing. But I feel I have question for him that is extremely relevant right now.

You see, almost exactly a year ago Mr. Blatter slated Major League Soccer in an interview with Al Jazeera TV for what he perceived as a lack of effectiveness in growing soccer’s popularity in the United States:

“There is no very strong professional league (in the U.S.). They have just the MLS but they have no professional leagues which are recognized by the American society. It is a question of time, I thought — we had the World Cup in 1994 — but it is now 18 years in so it should have been done now. But they are still struggling.”

For anyone who even haphazardly follows MLS, that quote just ground a thousand gears. No professional leagues recognized by American society? Clearly Blatter has missed out on the league’s steady increase in attendances over the last five years. It appears, too, that he’s missed out on the US television networks tripping over one another in their efforts to secure Premier League, Champions League and World Cup broadcasting rights. Yeah, it’s not the domestic league they’re clamoring over (for now). But show me a league that doesn’t have issues its trying to overcome, and I’ll contemplate calling MLS a failure.

Predictably though, MLS commissioner Don Garber was quick to lodge a response to his royal highness’ condemnation. But instead of just refuting the FIFA president’s claims, Garber did one better:

“I look forward to having the president and other FIFA executives attend an MLS game. I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how far the league has come.”

Now if you didn’t think to keep track of whether Sepp would accept and evaluate the MLS in person, worry not — I did. And surprise, surprise: Sepp has yet to take up the Soccer Don’s offer. Despite making his proclamation nearly a year ago and publicly receiving the invite shortly thereafter, he just couldn’t find the time to spend 90 minutes at a match in an North American city.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber

don garber would have been more than happy to entertain sepp anytime.

Now to be fair, Garber’s initial offer was to host Blatter for one of the 2013 season’s First Kick matches in early March. After all, Sepp is a busy, globetrotting guy. So I’m willing to forgive him for not being able to make it to one of the seven opening weekend games.

But there were 331 other MLS matches played this year between the regular season, playoffs and the All-Star Game that he could have attended instead. That’s eight months of matches. Not that he or FIFA can’t afford it, but I’m sure the comish would have been more than happy to spring for tickets for any one of those games. I’d even guess that Garber and Co. would have rolled out the red carpet, thrown another semi-pointless press conference and held a Google Hangout with pre-arranged soft questions for him, too. Yet he still couldn’t find time to attend just one.

You might be thinking, “Blatter could just be saving his appearance for the big shebang at the weekend!” Well, I hate to break it to you, but he’ll almost certainly be missing the MLS Cup Final, too. With the World Cup Draw scheduled for tomorrow afternoon in Brazil, it’s highly unlikely that Sepp will grace Kansas City’s Sporting Park with his presence.

In fact, the last and only time the FIFA president has taken in an MLS match in person? The 1996 All-Star game. And it’s not as if that match seven years ago should have tainted his opinion of the league: nearly 79,000 fans packed the old Giants Stadium to see the East All-Stars beat the West 3-2 after a sparkling performance from el Pibe. 

Added up, it seems like Blatter’s opinions of Major League Soccer are based exclusively off of secondhand accounts, hearsay, and a lone game from 1996. And he’s thus far proven uninterested in finding out first hand if any of his thoughts were true or not. Hell, I can’t even dig up any evidence of Blatter even responding to Garber’s offer.

So, that question I would ask Blatter if I were a journalist deemed significant enough for him to answer:

“So when are you coming to America, Mr. Blatter?”

Sadly, it’s probable that I already know the answer: never. The king is more than content to sit on his throne in his Swiss castle and judge us from afar.

ten words or less #84

2010 World Cup Draw

the brazil 2014 world cup draw is one of just many events taking place this week in the world of football.

Well if anything’s for certain, we’re most definitely in the middle of what you might call a “busy stretch” in the world of soccer. Just have a look at the upcoming calendar for this week: the 2014 World Cup Draw is on Friday (more on that below), the MLS Cup Final is this Saturday (more on that below too), and there are two full rounds of matches for the Premier League to play out (with some of those kicking off as early as today)… not to mention the rest of the club fixtures to play out throughout the rest of the world (nothing here, as I’ve only got so much attention to spread around). Never mind all of the other holiday madness here in the states. To be honest, it’s almost too much to keep up with.

And just to crowd things up a bit more, today’s also one of those rare days where I’ll be posting twice: Episode 16 of the WSOTP Pod will be up later this afternoon. I’ve also got some new shirt designs dropping for the WSOTP Shop later this week, too. Just think of it as the opportunity to enjoy a late Thanksgiving feast of footie.

Watch MLS Cup with me; you might win a shirt! – wrongsideofthepond.com

Some teams are going to get SCREWED by the draw. – forbes.com

It appears that Thomas Gravesen is living the life. – yahoo.com

Why MLS should be looking to add more Eastern teams. – massivereport.com

Nike strikes gold yet again with their latest Brazil ad. – youtube.com

Donovan’s best commentating skill? Impressions. – kckrs.com

FIFA’s beautiful new app is as buggy as you’d expect. – play.google.com

A new USLPRO club in Colorado Springs? Not so fast… – csindy.com

The epic trailer for Bob’s upcoming PBS documentary. – theoffsiderules.com

I wish my child would be born Friday in Brazil. – theoriginalwinger.com