ten words or less #89

DC United forward Chris Rolfe

friend of WSOTP, chris rolfe will find himself in new digs this weekend after being traded from chicago to DC.

It’s been ages since my last links round up piece — okay, so it’s just been over a month. But a month can seem like ages in a house with an infant. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I needed to get this latest Ten Words or Less published before some of the links below become no longer relevant. And with the collection of links below spanning nearly the entire spectrum of professional soccer — from World Cup stories to the Premier League, from the Major Indoor Soccer League to USLPRO to Major League soccer, and from footie gear to soccer broadcasting — this is a links round up not to miss.

To new beginnings. – mlssoccer.com

Ian Darke stars in probably the best ESPN commercial ever. – youtube.com/espn

I really wish Chelsea would stop making kits I like. - footballfashion.org

The MISL is dissolving and it’s getting really ugly. – thebluestatement.com

BeIN Sport have made a vuvezela that changes the channel. – therichest.com

I am 100% behind making this the next MLS rebrand. – thegoatparade.com

Please don’t tell me this is a permanent home. – daytondutchlionsfc.com

Some people prefer Spanish commentary… I’m not one of them. – npr.org

I’m a non believer, but these football Tarot Cards rock. – designfootball.com

Some day… Nike will send me these, too. Some day. – theoriginalwinger.com

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pic of the week 3/17-3/24

Image

david beckham's miami stadium plans

Even though actual teams are playing actual matches in Major League Soccer, anytime David Beckham’s still-imaginary team in Miami makes any waves, it instantly becomes the front page news around the league. And things were no different when the Daily Mail published what are supposedly the initial renderings of Team Beckham’s stadium at the highly desired but likely difficult-to-acquire Port of Miami site. And to be fair, if they are able to pull it off, this stadium will easily be one of the best in MLS.

The 25,000 all-seated stadium offers views of the city skyline and port — designed by Miami’s Arquitectonica and 360 Architecture of Kansas City — also features an adjacent plaza that will house restaurants, retail space, and predictably a night club for Becks to fraternize with fellow celebrity friends. But as mentioned before, whether or not Beckham and the league will be able to secure the space in the port remains to be seen. Opposition ranging from Royal Caribbean cruise line and city officials, not to mention a hefty price tag, currently stand in the way of the deal being done.

But I’m hoping they’re able to pull it off, if for no other reason than it give me an excuse to check it out for my MLS Stadium Guide project!

ten words or less #82

it’s fair to say that mexico are feeling very thankful this morning.

So, about last night? Pardon my french, but last night was fucking crazy. While World Cup qualifying drama reared its head in both Europe and South America, the real drama was saved for those of us here in CONCACAF. In a space of just two minutes, Mexico — who lost 2-to Costa Rica — went from not qualifying for their first World Cup in 24 years to being back in thanks to an injury time equalizer by none other than their hated rivals to the north. The unexpected swing in fortunes induced the now-famous maniacal response from Mexican commentator Christian Martinoli, which just so happens to be the first link below. And it felt eerily similar to Manchester City’s last-gasp title-winning goal in the Premier League two seasons ago.

Anyway, the magic of yesterday’s moments serves as yet another excellent reason for why this is such an amazing sport. If you couldn’t get into that madness, then you likely lack a pulse.

“We love you forever and ever! God Bless America!” – businessinsider.com

De nada, México. De nada. – bumpypitch.com

Will the US bid for 2026? If rules are redefined. – si.com

Why Januzaj likely isn’t United’s next Pogba or Morrision. – strettynews.com

8bit Football drops a killer historical USMNT effort. – 8bit-football.com

Chivas USA are actually looking for their own home. – mlssoccer.com

Qatar just sounds delightful, doesn’t it? – spiegel.de

Spain’s national team more like the USMNT than you’d think. – soccernet.com

Did Arsenal’s 2014/2015 Puma kits just leak out? – footballshirtculture.com

Organizing and finding pickup games is about to get easier. – kckrs.com

WSOTP stadium guide: houston’s BBVA compass stadium

Houston Dynamo's BBVA Compass Stadium
Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking on here on Wrong Side of the Pond.
With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 19 (soon to be 20) MLS stadiums to help fill that void. I’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

BBVA COMPASS STADIUM QUICK GUIDE
Address 2200 Texas St. Houston, TX
Home Club Houston Dynamo
Soccer Capacity 22,000
Opened May 12, 2012
Soccer Specfic Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

The second stadium I visited in a whirlwind tour of Texas with my dad in early September, Houston’s BBVA Compass Stadium is an absolute gem. While we’ll get into the reasons for my opinion in detail below, I can easily summarize my admiration for the Dynamo’s digs in three words: location, seating and appearance.

Aesthetically, BBVA is absolutely stunning. Well, at least if you have taste for modern design. The entire stadium is wrapped in an aluminum and polycarbonate skin with a unique 3-dimensional pattern. This pattern is utilized throughout the stadium, and is often softened with accents of dark grain wood. And the omnipresent use of the clubs colors also further serves to underline the club motto of “Forever Orange”.

The one downside to this stadium visit? It was actually the first time on this stadium tour that where the home team lost, falling 1-4 to Eastern Conference pacesetters Red Bull New York. Sorry Dynamo fans. I promise I didn’t put a hex on the BBVA during my tour of stadium the morning before the match. Maybe I’m just not the good luck charm I thought I was. #SadFace

Before we get started with things, I did want to send out a very special thanks to my gracious host, the Dyanamo’s Digital Communications Coordinator, Ben Crook, for getting everything lined up during our time in Houston. UPDATE: I did get some feedback from the Texian Army, and will be adding in their perspectives in the coming days.

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WSOTP stadium guide: dallas’ toyota stadium

FC Dallas Stadium
Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking on here on Wrong Side of the Pond.
With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 19 (soon to be 20) MLS stadiums to help fill that void. I’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

TOYOTA STADIUM QUICK GUIDE
Address 9200 World Cup Way Frisco, TX
Home Club FC Dallas
Soccer Capacity 21,193
Opened August 6, 2005
Soccer Specific Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

Stop #3 on the WSOTP Stadium Guide Tour brings me to the “Big D” — well, north of Dallas to be exact — to visit FC Dallas and their newly renamed Toyota Stadium. Not to be confused with Chicago’s Toyota Park, which I’ve already visited.

My visit to Dallas was actually the first of two stops I made in Texas during the first weekend of September — the second being Houston a day later — and I was joined for both by my dad. It was the first trip I’ve made just with him since my last club soccer tournament back in high school, so it was great to spend some QT with my namesake. This was also the first of the stadiums I’ve visited on this tour that I’ve not actually been to before, which made things a little bit more exciting.

That said, I was greeted by Dallas’ infamous summer heat, with temperatures in excess of 100º. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure how people can live there, let alone play soccer in that type of weather. Luckily, the match we were treated to in Frisco — a come-from-behind FC Dallas 3-1 win over the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps — didn’t kick off until the cooler evening hours, so I was actually rather comfortable despite the earlier day’s searing temperatures.

Before I get started with the guide, I wanted to give a special thanks to my gracious hosts — FCD’s Director of Public Relations, Leigh Anne Gullet, and Dallas Football Elite president Sean Dorwaldt —  for showing me around their respective digs and for helping me to put thins whole thing together.

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WSOTP stadium guide: columbus’ crew stadium

columbus Crew stadium

Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking here on Wrong Side of the Pond. With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 19 (soon to be 20) MLS stadiums to help fill that void. I’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

CREW STADIUM QUICK GUIDE
Address 1 Black & Gold Blvd
Columbus, OH
Home Club Columbus Crew
Soccer Capacity 22,555 / 23,881
Opened May 15, 1999
Soccer Specific Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch / Postmatch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

My second stop for this project is actually the stadium closest to me, and home of the MLS team I support: the Columbus Crew.

Just over an hour’s drive up I-71 from my Northern Cincinnati abode, I’ve been regularly attending Crew games since the inaugural MLS season in 1996 when they were playing in the cavernous Ohio Stadium. And though many feel it’s started to feel a bit antiquated, the primarily cinder block and aluminum Crew Stadium — the league’s very first Soccer Specific Stadium — remains a welcome improvement over the previous digs. In fact, of all the various stadiums I’ve watched soccer over the years on both sides of the pond, the best fan experience I’ve ever had was still at the meager home of the Crew during last year’s US World Cup qualifier against Jamaica (which I wrote about here).

So while 14 years of heading to Crew Stadium might have me feeling like I already know the place like the back side of my hand, I still wanted to make sure I got input from the folks who show up week in and week out. So many thanks to my hosts — Crew Communications Manager Tim Miller, Stadium General Manager Ryan Smith and the Crew Supporters Union — for showing me around on my latest trip to Columbus as the Crew shocked Eastern Conference pace-setters Impact Montreal with a surprise win.

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WSOTP stadium guide: chicago’s toyota park

Welcome to the WSOTP Stadium Guide, the latest major undertaking on here on Wrong Side of the Pond. With traveling supporters steadily becoming a fixture at MLS matches, there aren’t a lot of great resources for visiting fans to research ahead of their travels. Over the next few seasons, I aim to visit and provide an up close and personal look at each of the 19 (soon to be 20) MLS stadiums to help fill that void. I’ll also take opinion from the locals, as the Supporters who call each stadium home know it far better than I ever will. To see the full list of stadium reviews, click here.

TOYOTA PARK QUICK GUIDE
Address 7000 S. Harlem Bridgeview, IL
Home Club Chicago Fire
Soccer Capacity 22,000
Opened June 11, 2006
Soccer Specfic Stadium Yes
GETTING TO THE STADIUM
From Out of Town?
Driving In
Public Transport
MATCH DAY EXPERIENCE
Parking / Tailgating
Prematch Pubs
Tickets / Where to Sit
Supporters Sections
Suites & Special Seating
Food & Beer
Fan Activities
BEHIND THE SCENES
Player Facilities
The Field of Play / WSOTP Pitch Pass
Meeting the Players
Hidden Gem

I’m kicking things off for this project in the “Windy City” of Chicago. But that’s a bit of a misnomer, as the Chicago Fire’s home is actually located a bit outside the city itself, in the suburb of Bridgeview. This location, not as easily accessed as the club’s former home at downtown’s Soldier Field, has been a point of contention since its inception. Many fans believe that moving the club away from the Chicago Loop is to blame for dwindling attendances.

All that aside, Toyota Park is still a marvelous place to take in a match. The third soccer specific stadium built for MLS doesn’t really have a bad seat, and it can be a rocking spot on days where fans actually turn out in numbers. Unfortunately for me, I visited the stadium for the Fire’s 6/2 match against struggling DC United on an unseasonably cold and windy day… even by Chicago standards.

But thanks to my very gracious hosts — Fire Director of Marketing, Digital & Broadcast Brendan Hannan and Section 8 Chicago —  I was able to take in an excellent match and get a really intimate look at Toyota Park.

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ten words or less #73

Sir Alex Ferguson

as we say goodbye to one of the legends of the game, i can’t help but hope the door hits him on the way out.

Ever since the rumors of his imminent retirement in the early portion of the week, I’ve toiled in vain to write the perfect opus for Sir Alex’s career. Yet with all that is being penned on the great Scotsman in the time since, it’s been hard to find not only a unique angle… but also an appropriate way to express my feelings towards Ol’ Red Nose. On one hand, I have mountains of respect for a man that’s won more titles than entire leagues of clubs combined, has managed to adapt his game several times over to match the prevailing playing styles of the time, and has corralled egos larger than your average Walmart Super Center. On the other hand, I hate Fergie for his influence over the FA, the fear he invokes in referees, and the times he’s pried away Tottenham’s best players.

So since I’ve been unable to tap out an appropriate homage to the greatest manager I’ll likely ever see, I’ll do the next best thing and link to the best piece I’ve read about him so far. And that’s how I’m starting off the latest edition of TWOL.

Fair well, Fergie. Here’s hoping you have a long and lovely retirement… and that Moyes drives United to hell in you absence.

Even receiving a hairdrying invokes respect for Fergie. – sportsjournalists.co.uk

Hey… this looks familiar! - theoriginalwinger.com

Kobe Bryant’s new kicks looked to on-pitch inspiration. – thebeautifulgear.com

The Vatican not only has a league, Americans boss it. – wsj.com

Despite erratic form, I still love me some Benny Assoun-Ekotto. – guardian.co.uk

American soccer re-imagined… a familiar design for Over-the-Rhine.
- pcgdstudios.com

Nike’s updated R9′s will hit you right in the 90′s. – nikeinc.com

Stellar MLS art: For Cub and Country. – behance.net

Cool… until they use it to buy Bale next year. – theoriginalwinger.com

One of the most important debates in American soccer. – mlssoccer.com

ten words or less #72

What a week it was for football.

it was such a scintillating week of soccer that it literally caused the crew’s scoreboard to burst into flames.

Spain, long the kings of European club and international soccer, was humbled over the course of two nights in Germany. The shock waves of the thorough beatings received by Barcelona and Real Madrid are still reverberating a week later as we head into the return ties in Spain. Meanwhile, the Premier League saw not only a champion named, but also two sides doomed to relegation. The race for the top four in England also remains interesting, with Spurs and Arsenal seemingly trying to trip out of each others’ way nail down the last slot. The Columbus Crew’s scoreboard caught on fire shortly before its team did in a 3 goal victory over DC United for the Black and Gold. And the biggest news? scored a hat trick in my coed indoor match midweek. Earth-shattering stuff, right?

So with all of the madness that went down last week, it would have been easy to miss an interesting story or two along the way. As we edge our way towards yet another week guaranteed to be full of even more twists and turns, have a read through some of the best content I gleaned from the web over the last week that might have gone under the radar.

An infographic explaining the NASL’s new Indy Eleven‘s name. – indyeleven.com

One small step for Pittsburgh, one giant leap for USSoccer. – theshinguardian.com

Meanwhile in Sweden, they’re paving over pitches. – whoateallthepies.tv

So Blackburn should be in the Champions League final, right? - espnfc.com

My future child will have a ball in its crib. – si.com

Honestly, I’d have a hard time fairly judging a Gooner. – guardian.co.uk

Nike have something crazy in store for us. – soccerbible.com

Bravo, Dirty Tackle: a marvelous bit on the Suárez bite. – dirtytackle.net

College athletics losing it’s luster… and not just in soccer. – sbnation.com

Though he’s bat shit crazy these days, nothing but respect. – youtube.com

let’s not overextend ourselves

In fifty years time, when looking back at this period of American professional soccer history, we’ll remember one of two ways. The first, more optimistic way we’ll view it will be as an era that set the shape and scenery of a successful professional soccer pyramid in this country. The other, more foreboding way we’ll view it is as a period of over-expansion and errors in judgement that destabilized the pyramid. I apologize if that seems a little grim — and it might easily be a bit of an exaggerated reaction — but that’s the type of precipice that professional soccer sits on in this country.

Proposed New York Cosmos Stadium

the much debated NYC2 project just got a kick in the pants from a competing plan from the new york cosmos.

Seriously though, stop for a second and take a look around: expansion is rampant.

MLS has added five new clubs in the last five years, and plans to add another by 2016. The revived NASL, entering only its third year season, has seen four of its nine sides founded in the last two years and expects to add three new teams next season. Even the third tier USL Pro has welcomed six new clubs in the last three seasons, and will also add another in one next year. In all, that’s a mind-boggling 20 new professional soccer teams in our country in a seven-year span.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it as much as the next fan. It’s exciting to witness this burst in interest and attention the sport first hand. Three growing, vibrant leagues. Nearly two dozen soccer specific stadiums scattered across the country. Several television networks exclusively dedicated to airing matches. Bars that open in the wee hours of the morning so fans can gather to watch and cheer in unison. Massive interest in the men’s in women’s national teams. All of this, achieved just in the last few years.

But I worry, perhaps irrationally, that it’s too much too soon. Despite the exceptional growth in demand for professional soccer, can our country sustain a near exponential growth in supply? I think it can, and clearly many investors do too. But there’s enough evidence there to make me at least a little concerned.

Take, for instance, the NASL’s New York Cosmos recently announced plans for a $400 million stadium on Long Island. The exciting project presented by CEO Seamus O’Brien showed off a gorgeous 25,000-seater accompanied by a retail and hotel development. All of which sounds great, until you remember that the announcement comes on the heels of MLS’ own $300 million stadium announcement just up the road in Flushing, Queens.

New York Soccer Specific Stadium Map

can new york city, despite it’s size, really support three teams with their own stadiums?

MLS has long been hellbent on adding their 20th franchise in New York, and for quite a while, the Cosmos looked the front runners. But thanks to poor front office organization prior to O’Brien’s arrival, Garber and MLS steamed ahead with developing plans of their own, and several other bids appeared to leapfrog the Cosmos to fund and occupy the new site. And though the Cosmos have maintained that while they would love to one day play in MLS, they also claim they aren’t planning their entire future on it. So with plans to build their own stadium despite the already-approved, MLS-sanctioned stadium and competitor popping up around the corner, the Cosmos look like they’re steaming ahead and plotting their own future outside the top flight.

But assuming they do win approval to build a new stadium on Long Island, and MLS get’s their proposed NYC2 franchise and stadium, that means New York will then sport three separate soccer specific stadiums of roughly the same size. On the Westside of town, there’s the already extant Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. And when both of NYC2 and Cosmos have their homes built, there will be another two on the East side of town. Considering the well-publicized struggles experienced by the Red Bulls in trying to fill their arena, it’s easy to see why this might be problematic. Even with better public transport links and friendlier locations, it’s not a stretch to imagine even a city of New York’s size not being able to put 75,000 butts into those seats week in and week out. I’d like to be proven wrong on this, by the way.

Sparce Fan Attendance at Red Bull Arena

red bull arena hasn’t been the easiest place to fill, and it’s the only joint in town at the moment.

There might, however, be a solution to this potential problem of soccer over saturation. While the Cosmos might seem content to play out their future in NASL, it would be pretty delusional to think that they don’t still aspire to play in MLS. Regaining their former glory, a definite goal in their revival, would legitimately be mission impossible from the depths of Division 2. Even if they have their own shiny new stadium, nobody’s going to give them the respect they want when there’s not even one of the most influential clubs in their own country.

Perhaps their presser unveiling fancy architectual drawings was nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt at recapturing the momentum in the race for NYC2. Though the Cosmos group might have lost the considerable advantage given to them through brand recognition and a sizable head start in planning, like Stuart telling everyone “look what I can do”, this stadium play could cause MLS to stand up and take notice that Cosmos bid is still alive and kicking. Given that the group is confident that they could privately fund a project of this scope on their own, it might be enough to convince Garber to give the their coveted 20th spot to the group that’s been there from the start.

The theory might be a long shot, but to me at least, it sure as hell makes a lot more sense than trying to pack three competing entities into a market that’s not mature enough to support it yet. If I’m wrong, however, the clubs stand the chance of cannibalizing the support base and ensuring nobody achieves the success they could have with less competition.

It’s for these reasons that decisions such as these carry so much weight. The fate of entire franchises, and even the leagues they play within, is dependent upon their long-term success.

And if the leagues and those planning them don’t think these things through carefully, and overextend themselves in the process, we just might be looking back in 50 years time with great regrets instead of great joy.