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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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 13

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 13

Despite it being a mostly “meh” weekend in the Premier League, there were a few storylines worthy of discussion on Episode 13 of the Pondcast. City, Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal have all seen their form continue to slide, while Chelsea, Southampton and Newcastle have seen their stock continue to rise. The midweek Champions League action also merited similar talking points. There was of course plenty to talk about with the MLS Playoffs now in their later stages. We also made time to chat about the friendlies the US team will play out in the British Isles during the upcoming international break. And that’s all on top of our normal Fulham WatchWinners & Wankers and listener question segments.

If you have a question or topic you want us to delve into in next week’s podcast, send us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, or you can reach out to us on social media using the links at the bottom of the page.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 12

 

WSOTP  Podcast - Season 2 Episode 12I feel like it’s getting a bit redundant when I say there was a lot for us to talk about this week on the Pondcast – a new nickname for the podcast that we’re adopting thanks to clever /r/soccer user TommyShambles — but once again it was true. Even though the Premier League featured a bunch of so-so fixtures, there were still enough talking points to keep us busy. MLS also served us a full plate of content between 1.5 rounds of MLS Playoffs and a new “expansion” side being announced in LA. Our Bundesliga contributor Chris is back with another update on all things Deutsch. Winners & WankersFulham Watch and WSOTP Fantasy League updates all made their appearances too. We managed kept it tight for you though, and for that you are welcome.

Have a question or topic you want us to touch on in the week’s to come? Drop us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet them to us or post it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page. And last but not least, don’t forget to subscribe below!

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WSOTP pod: episode 39

Well, this first season of the Wrong Side of the Pond podcast has been one crazy ride.

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 39

on the season finale of the podcasdt, the guys talk city capturing their second title in three years and allow a liverpool fan to eulogize the season.

So on this week’s episode, we look back at our very first predictions at the beginning of the season, and take a team-by-team look at how every club in the Premier League fared this year. We also found time to sing the praises for NBC’s stellar broadcasting efforts this season, review last week’s MLS action and more.

And just in case you’re still in the dark, this week’s episode is actually the grande finale for this first go around. After 39 straight weeks of recording, I’m pretty sure Jeremy and D.J. deserve the break, if for no other reason than to appease their very generous and understanding wives. But worry not, listeners. We’ll undoubtedly be back again for the start of the next European campaign for Season 2 of the WSOTP Pod. Plus, we’re planning on doing a few special edition World Cup episodes in the summer to tide you over — some of which will potentially be recorded live on Fountain Square ahead of our USMNT watch parties! Stay tuned for further details.

So to all of you out there, thanks so much for listening in to our first season and we look forward to talking to you all again next season… cheers!

 

Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!

WSOTP pod: episode 38

WSOTP Podcast - Season 1 Episode 38

the look on a dejected scott parker’s face was probably shared by many american fans this past weekend.

While there’s a strong desire to call this latest episode of the podcast the “Cinco de Mayo Special”, Jeremy would probably prefer we call it the “Nose Picking Special” thanks to this hysterical fan shot from this weekend’s action. But there was way more than nose-picking to talk about this week. For instance, an all-Madrid Champions League final has now been set. And over in the Premier League we had time to talk about Fulham’s sad demise, Liverpool “slipping” up once again, City taking the psychological advantage, Manchester United’s managerial plans, and D.J. tries his best to not nod off to sleep as he is forced to talk about a Spurs’ lackluster already-on-the-beach display.  We also take discussed some of the weekend MLS action, including the Crew getting dominated on the road in Kansas City.

And as a written reminder, we’re looking for pod listeners and blog readers to submit their eulogies of their clubs’ seasons to share on next week’s season finale for the WSOTP Podcast. If you feel like summing up your club’s abysmal/amazing campaign, send it across via email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com.

Subscribe to the WSOTP Podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or search for “Wrong Side of the Pond” in your favorite podcasting app to listen to us on your mobile device!

WSOTP pod: episode 7

WSOTP Pod: Season 1 Episode 7

WSOTP Pod: Season 1 Episode 7

with how much i was tripping up this week, i should have been taken down off the pod like jacko was taken down at craven cottage.

The number seven is normally a lucky number, but for whatever reason, Episode 7 of the WSOTP Podcast was anything but lucky. Instead, I was on fire with blurting out what were actually non-factual facts. I guess I’m not entirely out of luck though, as my partner in crime Jeremy Lance has a knack for stellar editing, so you won’t be subjected to quite as many of my verbal gaffes as we were. So, what exactly did we talk about that tripped me up so much? In addition to our normal wrap up of the previous weekend’s Premier League and last week’s Champions League action, we also talk at length about the player turmoil at Chelsea, the lack of relevance of the Capital One Cup and Europa League, Brian Ching’s testimonial and further thoughts on the Cincinnati Saints and Cincinnati Dutch Lions discussion.

And as always, don’t forget to send us your questions and we’ll answer them on next week’s pod.

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ten words or less #42

ninja balotelli

despite becoming a full fledged ninja, balotelli still can't put his bib on right.

It’s happy times at wrong side of the pond these days. Spurs are still sitting in a lofty position in the table at fairly advanced stage of the season, even despite dropping points on a cold wet night in Stoke.

Speaking of cold nights, I’m also looking forward to the winter weather that’s finally descending upon the Midwest. I means finally allowed to starting thinking about the only other hobby besides soccer-obsession that I really take part in… snow riding. However, I’m not foolish enough to think that all of you are as equally pleased about the arrival of Old Man Winter as I am. Don’t worry though, you’re not the only ones: Manchester City’s Mario Balotelli also hates the cold, and is apparently hoping that his knowledge of the ancient art of the ninja will keep him warmer through the frigid Northern English winter.

If looks could kill, Ronaldo would be a murderer… – dirtytackle.net

…so you better give him more of your money! – androidcentral.com

Fulham to redevelop Craven Cottage and still keep the cottage. – stadiumporn.com

This documentary makes me wish I understood Russian. – theoffside.com

Someone actually thinks Harkes was “getting better” at commentating? – socceramerica.com

Messi comes to his senses, ditches PES for FIFA. – kckrs.com

Tévez saves Christmas from Sepp Blatter. Absolutely brilliant. – youtube.com

The Timbers never cease to amaze me with awesomeness. – theoriginalwinger.com

ten words or less #20

in the future, it might not be the best idea for this dad to bring his son to craven cottage.

it’s time for another international break and i’m already bored of it. not even marquee match ups like england-wales, usa-argentina, nor cyprus-iceland have tickled my fancy. so in an effort to help you find something interesting to read while redknapp and speed argue over who hurt bale first, here read these:

someone please explain to me how this will work. – football-italia.net

craven cottage just became a lot less safe for kids. – thespoiler.co.uk

i suddenly want to go to practice. – dezeen.com

stupid scum, but you have to admire his club loyalty. – yahoo.com

even gods like to play amongst mere mortals. – youtube.com

i wish our country had this kind of passion. – myphotographytutorials.com

so what happens when higuaín comes back? – guardian.co.uk

david luiz: “i like turtles” kid all grown up. – youtube.com

round up #23

now that the transfer window has (quietly) closed and the theatrics of the world cup are slowly fading into the background, i feel like we can finally focus on what really matters: the football.

this would be awesome... if marquez wasn't there.

but, let’s be honest.. i love the fluff that comes with it. and here’s the best i’ve come across on the tubes in the last week.

mind blowing social experiment of the day – theoffside.com
if you were take a stroll around say, downtown manhattan, while the world cup final was on this summer, and nothing would have looked any different than any other normal day. thousands of people would still be snapping pictures in times square, buying knockoff purses in chinatown, and strolling about times square. but flash to brazil, and things are clearly different. one man had the bright idea to roll around são paulo during the world cup finals with a video camera. the biggest city in south america was a virtual ghost town. while it’s not surprising that the soccer-mad country would be consumed by the big event, i am a little shocked to not see a single person in the entire clip. which makes me wonder… how the hell is this country going to host the finals in 2014 if no one wants to work during the games?

making the most of being sent off – dirtytackle @ yahoo.com
fellow defenders will agree with me when i say that those nancy-fancy forwards always go down for fouls pretty easy. they fall with the slightest nudge, rolling about like someone castrated them instead of a having just suffered a little shirt pull. it certainly doesn’t help that the refs always tend to give those diving bastards the benefit of the doubt. so trust me when i say we defenders have some pent up rage that lives within us all. so when you see a defender lose it a little when they get a foul called against them. but the reaction of the guy in this video, well, i just can’t find the words to stick up for him.

donovan’s ridiculous price tag – matchfitusa.com
when donovan signed the four year extension with the galaxy in the fall of 2009, two things immediately came to mind:

  1. landycakes is a moron, and apparently never wants to play in europe ever. why would he put himself in a position where it would be harder for him to move abroad?
  2. MLS just made a shrewd move to make sure they got paid when donovan tried to make his eventual move to europe.

both thoughts were true, to an extent at least. donovan’s contract extension did nothing but give MLS the upperhand with any potential suitors from the old continent, meaning they could ask for a good deal more money in any transfer moves for the golden egg. landon’s extremely successful loan to everton, coupled with his good performances in south africa, meant that donovan was a hot commodity. don garber’s eyes no doubt had dollar bills instead of pupils at that point. unfortunately, their little plan turned into a giant cockblock. perhaps catching wind of interest from cash-laden citeh drove up their asking price, but america’s pride and joy isn’t worth $16 million. in the end, neither party got what it wanted. great.

the crest of a wave? – guardian.co.uk
i love logos… they’re fascinating to me. to me, there is nothing more iconic than an emblem that is instantly recognizable the world over (nike, mcdonald’s, coca-cola; please take your bow). it’s a necessity in this day in age where everything is branded. but the incredibly difficult thing about having a good logo or crest is creating it.

i for one don’t mind most teams taking a stab at remaking their image, though it’s insanely hard to create a new identity that is still grounded in tradition. while the article gives credit to arsenal and chelsea for their new crests’ paying homage to their histories, i also think tottenham deserve credit in the same regard. while some clubs make the change very poorly, there are, of course, also clubs like fulham that desperately needed to change, and did so well.

henry and rafa take the path – metrofanatic.com
the fact that this photo can even happen in this country… boy, it makes me feel like MLS is on to something special. ignore for a second that RBNY might be trying a little too hard to be the new cosmos. can you imagine sitting next to henry, one of the best players of an entire generation, on the subway? that’s equivalent to sitting next to brett farve or derek jeter, and easily being able to take a picture with them and not get mobbed in the process. please MLS; intelligently ride this wave of awesomeness.

revisiting “boarding passes, please”

way back in january, i wrote the longest blog post i’ve ever written outlining who i thought bob bradley would be taking to south africa this summer. i’ve been anxiously awaiting the day bob would finally announce his 23-man roster, just to see how well i would do predicting bob’s simple mind.

the USMNT arrived in south africa on memorial day. it's time to see how accurate i was at picking the 23 guys who would get a ticket back in january.

that day has come and passed.

and guess what? i didn’t do too bad.

though there were some shock exclusions/inclusions, most of which i like much better than i had predicted bob capable of selecting. though i don’t want to go on giving him too much credit at this point. let’s revisit that subject after the world cup.

so let’s get on to evaluating how well i did picking who i thought bob would be giving his boarding passes to. and we may as well re-evaluate the players he chose while we’re at it.

for sure on the plane (8 out of 8 correct)
these were the guys i knew would be in south africa. i would have wagered anything on it… but i didn’t, because i’m an idiot (not that there really are any places to bet on “what eight guys will definitely make the US world cup roster,” are there?). either way, i killed it on this round.

1. CORRECT – landon donovan (f – l.a. galaxy): landycakes has certainly set the stage for himself going into the summer. his loan to everton turned out to be a fantastic move, finally proving himself at the highest level consistently. if he has a good world cup, his price tag will skyrocket and MLS will surely cash in on bidding war that will ensue for his signature in august. so, it’s easy to say that donovan has some lofty expectations to meet. will he be able to handle the pressure? here’s hoping he does.

2. CORRECT - tim howard (gk – everton): having a world class keeper is the best remedy for having a suspect backline. good thing that’s not a problem for the USMNT, right? … RIGHT?!?!

3. CORRECT - jozy altidore (f – villareal): my worries persist about altidore. he didn’t get any regular time at with one of the worst premier league teams this season. though he showed some flashes of brilliance, they were very quick flashes and few and far between. i still doubt he’ll ever be able to play a full 90, and he can’t be in that great a form if he wasn’t breaking into relegated hull city’s line-up. he’ll be a starter on june 12th, but will he do anything productive. probably not (yes, that is a challenge jozy. prove. me. wrong.)

4. CORRECT - carlos bocanegra (d – rennes): chuck. what an enigma. captain of the USMNT, regular in europe. but we just can’t ever seem to play him in his best position: left back. if they would play him there instead of the center, then we wouldn’t have to freak out anymore about whose playing on the left flank. we have plenty of quality center backs bobby; please play bocanegra where he belongs. oh, and let’s hope he is fully fit come the england game.

5. CORRECT - michael bradley (m – borussia mönchengladbach): the coach is bringing his kid along, and just like every national pool players’ parents’ worst nightmare, i’m sure they’re all thinking that the coaches kid will get the favoritism. while a case could be argued for this when mike was brought into the national team fold a few years ago, it definitely isn’t the case any longer. bradley deserves to be here. let’s just hope he can keep a level head for the next few weeks.

6. CORRECT - jay demerit (d – watford): if he can shake the injury bug that he’s had over the last year, i want to see jay starting at centerback next to onyewu. that way we can play bocanegra at his natural left back.

7. CORRECT - jonathan spector (d – west ham): pencil him in as the starting right back (though he could face some competition from steve cherundulo), but it’s possible we could see him on the left too. let’s hope he remembers to bring his consistency boots too.

8. CORRECT - brad guzan (gk – aston villa): back up (to another retired american) at aston villa, back up for the national team. poor guy will probably never get to play.

don’t have my pass yet, but pretty sure i’m getting one (8 out of 8 correct)
i must have been taking my genius pills still at this point, because i nailed this round too. don’t worry, this won’t become a trend.

9. CORRECT - oguchi onyewu (d – a.c. milan): gooch proved his fitness  after the horrific torn patellar tendon that he suffered in the USMNT’s last world cup qualifier. the question that remains though is whether or not he can play at the same level he played at in last summer’s confederations cup. if not, the yanks are in trouble.

10. CORRECT - clint dempsey (m – fulham): deuce came back earlier than anticipated from his partially torn knee ligament, even contributing in fulham’s late season run to the europa league final (including this STUNNING goal against  juventus at craven cottage). promising news for a team that needs good injury news.

11. CORRECT - ricardo clark (m – eintracht frankfurt): finding regular time at the end of the bundesliga season was key to clark making the final 23, and he’ll be in tight competition with michael bradley for the starting defensive midfield slot on june 12th.

12. CORRECT - stuart holden (m – bolton): i’m glad stu made the team, especially after he cracked into bolton’s squad towards the end of the english season. i was worried he wouldn’t see the minutes after his leg break a few months back. his creativity and consistency are in demand with this roster, and i’d love to see him make the starting 11 against england.

13. CORRECT - jonathan bornstein (d – chivas usa): just as i predicted, the mexijew made the squad simply because we had to bring in another true left back. and hopefully he’ll only play because we’ve gotten to plan C, D or E due to injuries. or if we’re up by two goals against england and we bring him on for a forward… but hopefully not even then.

14. CORRECT - steve cherundulo (d – hannover 96): he’s healthy, and has loads of experience in europe and internationally, but he still can’t get in front of spector. but if spector catches one of his patented cold-streaks, expect steve to steal back the spot.

15. CORRECT - benny feilhaber (m – agf aarhus): not the danish-based player i would have liked to see make the final roster (cough, rolfe), and not exactly the beset player the USMNT have at their disposal. but he’s got the experience and bob’s confidence. let’s just hope he ends up keeping bornstein company on the bench.

16. CORRECT - maurice edu (m – rangers): edu played great for rangers down the stretch this season, and his reward was earning back the national team spot he hadn’t occupied in nearly 9 months due to a knee injury. should be a starter, but that’s only if bob can see beyond benny.

yeah, i think so, but… (4 out of 7)
here’s where it fell apart for me. but that’s to be expected, as these guys are pretty much the fringe players in the squad. like i said earlier though, bob surprised me with some of his picks in this space, in a good way (for now at least).

17. WRONGconnor casey (f – colorado rapids) edson buddle (f – l.a. galaxy): saying that i am stoked that casey didn’t make the roster is an understatement. but there is no way that i could have predicted that buddle would have made this team. who would have known that he would have caught fire this MLS season? certainly not me, and certainly not anyone else back in january. i hope he can keep up the good form, because we certainly don’t have many other forwards with impressive goal scoring credentials lately.

18. CORRECT - jose francisco torres (m – pachuca): miracles do happen, and torres is proof of that. i didn’t think that there was a chance in hell that bob would pick him. now that he’s made the team, my thought process is, “i doubt bob will use him.” if he does though, i would not be surprised to see torres involved in something awesome.

19. CORRECT - demarcus beasley (m – unattached): despite rangers not extending his deal, lazarus has risen from the dead and has reclaimed his national team spot. after last summer’s performance in south africa, i thought for sure he was done. i still think that bob doesn’t quite trust him anymore though, and would be surprised to see him get tons of time in june. and if we play him on the flank in the back again, i might actually fly to south africa to and beat bob silly.

20. CORRECT - marcus hahnemann (gk – wolverhampton wanderers): edged out troy perkins, as he should have. not much to say here, other than it will take a weird sequence of events to actually get to see the wolves shot blocker get the nod in south africa.

21. CORRECT - clarence goodson (d – start): i felt like i was going out on a limb to call this one back in january, and my how well that worked out for me. he’ll provide solid cover in the center of defense in the event that we have any major injury problems.

i certainly wasn't expecting a former MLS journeyman to make the final 23. gomez's good form has made me look silly.

22. WRONG - edgar castillo (m – tigres) herculez gomez (f – pachuca): looks like i picked the wrong mexican player for this spot, and i’m not surprised i didn’t see this one coming either. gomez has been in stellar form in mexico this season, and we needed to bring another forward in good form if charlie davies wasn’t passed fit.

23. WRONGcharlie davies (f – sochaux) robbie findlay (f – real salt lake): i don’t need to reiterate why i wasn’t surprised to see charlie not make the squad, but i’m still upset that he won’t be in south africa. will findlay and castillo be able to fill davies’ growing empty shoes? i don’t know. but they need to, because jozy doesn’t look to be prolific at anything aside from headbutting people.

final tally: 20 out of 23 players picked correctly.
so overall, i was pretty pleased with myself on picking this roster. do i like all of the picks? no, not really. but could they really have brought in anyone else (aside from davies or rolfe… both of whom are hurt) that would have been major improvements? no, not really.

no sense in getting all worked up either way, at this point at least. let’s see how bob uses the 23 guys at his disposal, then we can start kicking and screaming. until  then, let’s support out boys and hope that my hired snipers can pick bob off before the 12th.