ten words or less #91

Win the Official 2014 FIFA World Cup poster

follow @wrongsideofthepond and @sportsposters on twitter for a chance to win the official world cup poster!

The World Cup is so close I can smell it, like it’s literally around the corner from my desk, staring at me, waiting for me come up and warmly embrace it and breath in its Amazonian musk. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, the excitement in the lead up to the tournament is building at an almost exponential rate, and for that reason, more and more of the links I’ve stumbled across in the last few days has been Brazil 2014-related. So I threw together this special World Cup edition of Ten Words or Less to share the love.

And if you’re not yet feeling the proper amount of excitement for the World Cup, brace yourself for this: my friends at Sports Poster Warehouse have kindly offered to award one of our readers a free copy of the Official World Cup Poster, picture to the right! All you have to do to enter is take the two easy steps below:

  1. Follow both @wrongsideofpond and @SportsPosters on Twitter.
  2. Send me a tweet at @wrongsideofpond using the hashtag #PosterizeMe.

We’ll select a winner from the entries the Sunday evening, and the winner will be contacted via Twitter DM that evening. If no response is received within 24 hours, a new winner will be selected. So hurry up get on with it! Oh yeah, and have a peep at the links below!

WSOTP World Cup wall chart for your wall/cubicle. – wrongsideofthepond.com

The World Cup’s biggest duel? Probably Nike vs Adidas. –  businessweek.com

Celebrate the World Cup with… specialty McDonald’s fry packaging?
– mcdonalds.com

The full story behind the Denim Kit. – slate.com

FYI: a World Cup “Panini” is not a sandwich. – newyorktimes.com

Want to see every kit for this year’s tournament? – telegraph.co.uk

Croatian World Cup beer commercials are well done… and intense. – youtube.com

Umm… what? – ussoccer.com

Italy: only World Cup side without a player in England. – reddit.com/u/reddripper

I’m guessing Assou-Ekotto wants credit for this. – theoriginalwinger.com

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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

pic of the week 3/10-3/16

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Japan's official 2014 World Cup Mascot... Pikachu

With World Cup 2014 fast approaching, participating teams around the world are making their final preparations for the big dance in Brazil. Finalizing travel plans, plotting training sessions, and most imporatntly figuring out their final roster spots. And national associations forging last-minute marketing partnerships — a.k.a. raking in investment funds — aren’t to be forgotten either. And this week’s “Pic of the Week” is a perfect example of that… albeit a strange one.

Japan’s national association, the JFA, struck a deal last week to have the world-famous video game/cartoon character Pikachu be the official mascot of their national sides. Yes, Japan’s official mascot comes to us from a Japanamation cartoon provider in the Pokémon Company. I’m sure the deal will prove invaluable for the JFA and their players, not to mention to Pokémon… even if it does reinforce an already prevalent ethnic stereotype.

spread the love

Columbus Crew Cincinnati Cleveland

while the crew would do well to make sure their new crest represents columbus, there are other cities the club can look to connect with potential fans, too.

There’s a quiet revolution happening in Columbus, Ohio. Despite years of near anonymity and near afterthought status, the city’s soccer franchise may finally be entering a renaissance of sorts. Under the guidance of new owner Anthony Precourt, the Crew are slowly starting to show signs of life after years of stagnation under the former ownership of the Hunt Sports Group.

Long-needed improvements to the stadium — including an updated jumbotron, speakers and upgraded “premier seating” on the stadium’s east side — should help to improve a match day experience that’s grown stale.

A partnership with USLPRO side Dayton Dutch Lions brings them in line with the league-wide development requirement and may pay dividends down the road.

Plus, the technical and playing staff assembled under the newly installed head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter are making some intriguing moves to improve the team’s on-pitch results in the near future.

But the work of Precourt’s making the most waves, at least in the press and on social media, is the Crew’s intentions to revamp their outdated branding. The now quasi-iconic crest featuring three helmeted construction workers — the only untouched original logo to survive since MLS’ inception in 1996 — will finally get an overhaul. And the following quote in a recent interview on mlssoccer.com on the subject was particularly interesting.

“We want to be representative. We don’t see Columbus in the [current] crest. There are many things we can do to represent the capital city better. It’s not a blue-collar, manufacturing, industrial town. It’s a smart, young, progressive university… town. We want it to represent the Columbus we’ve come to know.”

- ANTHONY PRECOURT, COLUMBUS CREW INVESTOR-OPERATOR

And he’s right: their current logo doesn’t even feature the name of the city they call home. That seems almost traitorous. But it’s not just about where their from, but also representing their existing and potential fans.

When I think of Columbus, I think of a city rejuvenated, reborn. Think of the German Village and Short North areas, each seeing an influx of new restaurants, shops and galleries over the last five to ten years. These redevelopments have helped to attract new residents back to the city, which in itself helps to spurn further investment.

And though it shouldn’t matter as much as it does, the Crew conveying themselves as something that many of the city’s young residents are trying to separate themselves from — the proletariat blue-collar workers staring cross-armed from the Crew’s logo — might well be enough to turn off potential fans. So alongside the improvements to the stadium and playing staff mentioned above, Precourt and president Mark McCullers believe that aligning the brand with Columbus and it’s growing young professional demographic will help to put more butts in Crew Stadium seats.

the old “blue collar” logo won’t be phased out until 2015.

Personally, I can’t believe it took the Crew so long to focus on this segment of the fan base. Even under the prior regime of the Hunts, it seemed fairly obvious. All you had to do was look at those packing the house each time the national team came to town. Though the traditionally-targeted “soccer mom” and “entertaining professional” segments were still represented, most of those in attendance were 20 and 30 somethings. The same can be said of the growing crowds filling American pubs for Premier League fixtures each weekend.

And while I agree that putting emphasis on the “Columbus” in Columbus Crew is rightly needed, I think the Precourt and company would be wise to not limit their thoughts to just Ohio’s capital city when trying to reach new fans.

Mr. Precourt: please don’t forget about Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Toledo and the rest of Ohio when trying to grow the club’s support.

As much as the Hunts neglected to invest in the club and it’s infrastructure, efforts to market the team outside the city have received just as little attention. Columbus isn’t an island after all; a good chunk of Ohio’s population is within a reasonable drive.

But driving distance alone isn’t the only reason why the rest of Ohio is important to the Crew. Cincinnati and Cleveland in particular have seen similar revivals to Columbus, especially when looking at their near-downtown districts of Over-the-Rhine and Ohio City. Already existing pockets of Crew supporters at the opposite ends of the state are there to build upon. You’ll find young professionals packing their bars Saturday and Sunday mornings to watch the European football, too. The traditional youth soccer target markets in those and other large Ohio cities are bountiful as well. And that’s not even mentioning the fact that much of the state is already pre-disposed to driving to Columbus to support some other sport’s team.

And yet outside of youth clubs partnering with the academy or the occasional Frankie Hejduk sighting, there have been practically zero attempts by the Crew to reach out to the rest of Ohio.

I live directly off of and commute on the I-71 corridor here in Cincinnati — a highway that literally leads directly to Crew Stadium — every single day. And yet in all my time living in this city, I can’t recall ever seeing a Columbus Crew billboard or advert. Three years spent living in Dayton went the same way. And friends in Cleveland and Toledo confirmed a similar dearth of Crew presence in their cities.

Perhaps we’ll see them reaching out to those of us outside Columbus, but signs of that kind of that haven’t really yet appeared as the upcoming MLS season fast-approaches. The closest I’ve seen to any hints of this kind of effort was in the announcement of the partnership with the Dayton Dutch Lions, which included a few vague statements on marketing cooperation.

Talk of the Crew investigating putting their own USLPRO side in either Cincinnati or Cleveland also shows they’re at least thinking about this subject, but they needn’t go that far to recruit fans to the capital. A cheaper option might be to throw some extra marketing dollars at a few strategically placed billboards and/or commercials in the state’s bigger cities. Additional club outreach — whether the popular “Find Frankie”, player appearances or just further TV/radio spots — might help to remind fans a little further from home base that there’s a professional team just a few hours away. Or if they’re feeling particularly benevolent, maybe throw the entire state a bone in the design of the new crest. That may be a bit much to ask for, but I’d think there’s merit to at least consider it.

It may take some experimentation to find out what’s effective, but it’s a risk worth taking. Just like there are fans that already supporters that come from all across Ohio, the Crew would be wise to attempt to speak to those that they’ve missed in pockets outside of Columbus.

So as Precourt, McCullers and the rest of the Crew front office look to choose a new image to make themselves in, let’s just hope they don’t forget that while Columbus should remain the primary inspiration, taking into account those on the outer fringes of their market deserve and need attention too.

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

cutting off the nose to spite the face

In a world of ever increasing change, many of the passionate followers of the church of football often depend on their clubs and national teams to be their “ever-constants”.

not all changes are always for the best, even if they’re meant to be.

Particularly in the traditional strongholds of the sport — Europe and South America — many sides are 100-year-old-plus institutions whose fans have long looked to for inspiration, joy and a sense of belonging and camaraderie. So when something about those reliable, long-standing institutions changes, it’s no wonder that supporters might get a bit irritated.

Unsurprisingly, the types of changes that can induce this kind of panicked response are numerous and varied. A new owner, a move to a new home ground and even the dismissal of a popular coach can all taint the comfortable, familiar relationship a fan can have with their team. And that’s when the pitchforks and torches come out. Well, at least snarky banners or scarves in non-ordinary colors.

But every so often clubs make even more drastic modifications — a redesign of a traditional crest, a change in primary colors, or even modifying the official club name — and shit hits the metaphorical fan. And for whatever reason, this summer has seen a slew of clubs opt for radical makeovers in spite of the predictably ire they would inspire.

Continue reading

all eyes on city

Sitting in the league’s swanky 5th Avenue office in New York, Don Garber’s May 29th press conference announcing MLS’ 20th franchise — New York City FC — was a seminal moment in league history. There stood the Soccer Don at his podium, flanked by officials from two of the sporting world’s most prominent figures, boasting to the cameras like a proud, first-time father thanks to his pet project finally coming to fruition.

a big announcement with a temporary logo practically begged for freelance designers to offer up their ideas on the new NYCFC’s image.

But a month out from the announcement, there are still more questions than answers about the what’s sure to become one of the league’s marquee sides.

While we know when NYCFC will join the league — 2015 — we don’t know where that will be. There’s still ongoing talk of the Flushing Meadows stadium, but continued local opposition has proven a tricky road block to maneuver around. Claudio Reyna has been named as their first Director of Football, but we don’t know who his first hires and signings will be. We don’t even know yet what we’ll call them in every day conversation… “City”, “City FC”, “New York City”, the “Citizens”, etc. Though with the club not set to begin play for another year and a half, there’s ample time to nail all of that down.

However, there is one important decision that the club does need to nail down, and it needs to do so soon: their brand and identity. Continue reading

ten words or less #71

Champions League Tifo at Borussia Dortmund

believe it or not, the reason dortmund fans put up this awesome tifo was to use the dude’s giant binoculars to see when my last TWOL post was.

It’s been weeks since I put out my last Ten Words or Less, which I suppose is a good thing for you readers considering that means I’ve been dropping original content for you instead of shoveling you content from other sources. But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel like I’m neglecting the long-running links post. Or the fact that some of the links I had originally collected for this have since become irrelevant.

So now that you’re done buying a shirt from the brand new WSOTP Shop, I figured I’d get things back to normal with a freshly updated edition. And if you’re looking for original content, I’ll probably have something else for you before the weekend. In the mean time, enjoy some of my favorite links from around the world of football from the last week or so.

Terrible April Fools joke, but a great idea for real. – qatarliving

A refreshing dose of clarity from Spurs’ wordsmith, Spooky. – dearmrlevy.co.uk

Sexiest Puma shirt they’ve put out in quite a while. – football-shirts.co.uk

The first supporters to ever fly to an away match. – inbedwithmaradona.com

Abou Diaby: the man-made of glass. – talksport.co.uk

Chelsea’s creepy blue man group kit launch. – youtube.com

A very well executed dead horse beating. – regista-blog.com

Those poor globe-trotting scouts have it awful. – guardian.co.uk

One designer’s line inspired by retro soccer design. – hypebeast.com

So, bicycle soccer actually exists. – kckrs.com

pic of the week 3/18-3/24

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David Beckham and his underwear

Yo dawg… I heard you like David Beckham’s new underwear, so we put Beckham in with a bunch of Beckham’s underwear so you can help him earn more money while giving him your money.

Sorry, I had to.

Though I was tempted to use a picture from Friday’s epic battle in the snow in Denver, I’ve already devoted an entire gallery post on the US Mens National Team’s now-protested victory over Costa Rica. No need for overkill there. So instead we get a shot of Golden Balls at an unveiling of his new H&M underwear line in Berlin. He even signed underwear at the event, so his fans could have even more David Beckham in their David Beckham underwear. Xzibit, no doubt, approves. How this guy has time to promote his underpants in Germany, slip and fall on his ass while in China as their “Global Football Ambassador” and play for PSG — all in one week — is a bit beyond me.

ten words or less #66

Tottenham's Clint Dempsey celebrates scoring against Manchester United

deuce earned his stripes against united once again.

From this American fan’s perspective, the long holiday weekend that’s just passed us by was quite a good one.

Saturday’s fixtures were chock full of goals, averaging just over three and half per match. Then on  #EpicSunday2 (© Fox Soccer Channel) with an entertaining Gunners loss to Chelsea and a gutsy, come-from-behind draw for Spurs against Manchester United. And with a whole additional day to recover after spending Sunday at the pub watching it all go down — not to mention being able to squeeze in a few hours of skiing on Saturday night — I would be hard pressed to design a better weekend for myself.

So with some bigger things around the corner still needing some attention and final polish, this seems like the perfect time to share some of my favorite links from the last week.

The European Transfer Market: Visualized. – transferwindow.info

Greeting fans through your car sunroof isn’t the best idea. – theoriginalwinger.com

Il Fenomeno finally get’s his move to England. – guardian.co.uk

Well look who’s decided he wants to play this year. – lagalaxy.com

Footballer lowered into a well to save a little girl. – dailymail.co.uk

Ferguson has bigger issues than Zeki Fryers move to Spurs. – espnfc.com

Like Rapinoe, I wish more USWNT players would move abroad.
– prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

Ronaldinho get’s his own, footie-themed Bollywood Space Jam. – indiaglitz.com

If MLB ran soccer teams… their kits could be AWESOME. – kckrs.com

Adu now looking for his 9th club in 9 years. – soccerbyives.com