getting to know your #MLSAllStar opponents: tottenham hotspur

WSOTP - Blog - WSOTP Tottenham Intro.fwTonight marks the Major League Soccer’s version of the mid-summer classic, the 2015 MLS All Star Game. Some think it’s pointless, others find it a good bit of fun to highlight the league’s growing profile and star power. And to be honest, neither camp is wrong. But it’s an annual tradition many of us have grown to accept and — gasp! — possibly even enjoy.

Unlike most other American professional leagues, the East versus West format was officially ditched back in 2005 when the league started inviting European club sides to take on the league’s best. Since then we’ve seen some of the biggest names in world football line up against a selection of MLS’ biggest stars: Bayern Munich, Celtic, Chelsea (twice), Everton, Fulham, Manchester United (twice), Roma and West Ham United.

And this year, it’s the Premier League’s Tottenham Hotspur FC that were invited to face the best of MLS at Colorado Rapids’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

For those of you who have followed me for any length of time, you’re probably well aware of my affinity for Spurs. For those who weren’t, I started following the club in 1994 after they signed current US coach Jurgen Klinsmann. But like most American fans of European teams, outside of a trip to White Hart Lane for the opening day of the 2004/2005 season, opportunities for me to watch Spurs live and in person have been few and far between.

So when it was announced my beloved Spurs would be this year’s opponents, my attendance was already almost a guarantee. Then a friend in Denver offered for me to crash at his place and borrow his car. Then my some of the good folks over at Adidas were kind enough to spot me some tickets.

That was enough to seal it.

So my wife, daughter and I hoped a plane on Sunday from Cincinnati to Denver, and the three of us have spent the week enjoying Denver while attending various All Star Game and Tottenham festivities around town.

But then something dawned on me while I was out last night attending some Spurs events: not everyone knows Spurs like me.

While many American soccer fans were probably familiar with the stars on display for recent All Star opponents, Spurs aren’t exactly a club full of household names — at least here in the US, that is. And since many don’t really know Spurs, who better to introduce the team than a guy who has followed them for 21 years?

So to help get you up to speed for tonight’s game, I’ve taken the time to break down Tottenham as a community, club and team.

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a more attractive proposal

New Tottenham NFL Stadium

Much has been made of an announcement Tottenham Hotspur Football Club made last week. No, not the announcement capture of Toby Alderweireld from Atletico Madrid, though that could prove an impact signing in the seasons to come.

No, it was that other announcement that caused the biggest stir: that Tottenham had updated their new stadium designs to accommodate two National Football League games a season for the next ten years.

Predictably, many have rallied against the deal.

Those in the “Against Modern Football” movement loved to hate on this deal. There’s the anti-American movement, too. Some of my American brethren with anti-NFL stances thought such a deal would tarnish the club’s legacy. And there were even some concerns expressed that Tottenham Hotspur FC would even remain the primary tenant of the stadium. To be fair, there are a lot of valid concerns about the deal overall — but its here to stay whether we want it or not.

Not everyone, however, is in the “against” camp.

Many — myself included – feel this is nothing but good for the club, provided the deal is primarily designed to have additional revenue earned through hosting two NFL games a season funneled back into the team. The NFL was going to pick a home in London eventually, and its forward thinking of Spurs to put themselves in a position to benefit from that. In a league where multiple teams will soon play in sizable new homes with increased match day revenues, alternative streams of funding will be imperative to continue to compete and improve.

But there is one aspect of the updated stadium plans that I’ve not really heard much talk about.

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ten words or less #111

So 2015 has been the summer of soccer to end all summers of soccer. There has been at least one — and often times two or three — “major” international tournament(s) going on each week, ranging from the less-prominent youth World Cups and Gold Cups to the more prestigious Women’s World Cup and Copa America. Those fell on top of all of the normal domestic action still on going and the ever-moving river of transfer news that consumes every summer. And to think we’ve not even reached the summer tune-up friendlies all of the European sides will be playing out around the globe in the weeks to come.

I’m not going to lie: it’s been exhausting to cover. As you’ve probably noticed, between watching all of the action, my commentating gig with the Cincinnati Saints, designing match posters and emceeing watch parties with thousands of people — finding time to write hasn’t exactly been easy. Not to mention job, home and family responsibilities. I’m making excuses here, but I honestly have missed writing.

So with that in mind, I’ve been hard at work on a number of stories both local, national and international. And hopefully you’ll end up seeing them in a timely fashion, too. But in the mean time, I’ll attempt to appease you with some of my favorite links from the last week or so.

Pathetic… but predictable. – espnfc.com

You can’t do anything by “lol” anymore. – bbc.com

So maybe MLS could be investing it’s money more wisely. – topdrawersoccer.com

The outcome here could seriously shake up US youth soccer. – vice.com

Adios, San Iker. Everyone will forgive you for the tears. – youtube.com

Tevez heading back to Boca is kind of awesome.tu – juventus.com

All of the Stoke jokes must have finally got to Shaqiri. – telegraph.co.uk

May as well get rid of it if Messi doesn’t want it. – mundodeportivo.com
(WARNING: Spanish)

Absolutely love. Probably want. – football-shirts.co.uk

Typical English “supporters” being “nice” to a former player.
– manchestereveningnews.co.uk

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 40

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 40

Congratulations listeners: you’ve survived another season of the WSOTP Podcast! With the conclusion of the Premier League season this past weekend, this week’s episode will serve as the “finale” of Season 2 of the #Pondcast. Though worry not, we’ll be back sporadically throughout the summer to provide updates on the Champions League, Women’s World Cup, MLS and who knows what else.

So now that your fears have been allayed, what’s on deck for the pseudo-last pod of the year? Plenty.

In addition to picking our Winners & Wankers of the season and anointing our Fantasy EPL Champion — the indomitable Jay Slack and #WarPig United —  the guys reviewed their pre-season predictions and named their own superlative winners for the 2014/2015 campaign. A team by team breakdowns for all 20 of the Premier League sides are also included, and we enlisted the help of our listeners to help eulogize their clubs’ seasons too. A big thanks to the following listeners for their contributions:

David Keim (Arsenal)                     Bill May (Manchester United)
Reeves Thompson (Everton)        Josh Patterson (Southampton)
Melissa Briski (Liverpool)               Christopher Boyd (Swansea)
Jared Hale (Manchester City)

And of course, don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device when we drop new episodes of the summer and at the start of Season 3 in August!.

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the mixed emotions of the premier league finale

WSOTP - Blog - WSOTP x Rhinehaus.fw

This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for the blog of Over-the-Rhine’s original sports bar, Rhinehaus, located in my hometown of Cincinnati and home to many WSOTP Watch Parties and Events. To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

The end of the Premier League season is finally upon us. For the last 280 days, most of the world’s soccer loving eyes have been squarely focused in on the English top flight. Weekend after weekend, we pried ourselves out of our beds at ungodly hours to make a trek down to our favorite pubs — like Rhinehaus — to watch our favorite clubs through squinted eyes. Tomorrow, that routine ends.

For some of us, the end is welcomed. Underwhelming and disappointing seasons abound, particularly if you’re a Tottenham fan such as myself. For those with me in that crestfallen camp — such as my Manchester City counterparts — we look forward to the summer silly season of transfers and far flung exhibition matches to give us hope that next season will go better.

Others of us will wave goodbye with tears in our eyes, sad that such a memorable season’s time has come to pass. Chelsea supporters might feel that way, but they’ll surely find comfort staring at their reflections in the shiny new cups in their trophy cabinet. Too, fans of Southampton will have enjoyed a successful campaign that earned them a place in Europe next season. Manchester United devotees will be pleased that Van Gaal hauled them back to Europe as well. And I’m sure Arsenal fans will be content with yet another Champions League place trophy, too.

Continue reading “The Mixed Emotions of the Premier League Finale” on the Rhinehaus blog. →

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 39

WSOTP - Blog - Season 2 Episode 39.fw

With no side relegated during the next to last round of the season in the Premier League, that means the race for the final drop spot remains a big talking point on this week’s #Pondcast. Listen in as D.J. and Jeremy go through the scenarios each of Hull, Sunderland and Newcastle need to stave off, as well as wax poetic on Steven Gerrard’s last game at Anfield. Also on this week’s episode are reflections on USL’s return to Cincinnati — from not only ourselves, but also listeners too — a look back at the second legs of the Champions League semifinals, and off the field issues overshadowing much needed wins for two MLS sides, and much more.

ALSO A FAVOR TO ASK: On next week’s podcast, the guys will be eulogizing their respective clubs’ seasons… and we want to hear your eulogies for your own clubs! Just as with any questions or topics you want us to cover next week, shoot your’s to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit us up on social media via links at the bottom of the page.

And of course, don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 38

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 38

The fates of two Premier League sides were decided this past weekend, with Burnley and QPR both officially relegated. And a similar fate awaits one more, but who that is — Sunderland, Hull City, maybe even Newcastle? — remains to be seen. And in Episode 38 of the #Pondcast, the guys delve into those sides and their remaining fixtures. Also on this week, our thoughts on the first legs of the Champions League semifinals, the upcoming FIFA elections, the first ever MLS New York City Derby (or whatever you want to call it), and much much more.

Have a question that you want to ask on next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 37

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 37

Since we last recorded, league champions have been crowned in the upper two levels of the English pyramid, and we took time in this week’s episode of the #Pondcast to discuss the incredible seasons by both favorites’ Chelsea and the underdogs’ AFC Bournemouth. But while the tops of the tables were interesting, the bottoms of them are even more fascinating. And while the bottom three may be locked in the Championship, there’s a lot left to be settled in the Premier League. There was, of course, still plenty of time left for the domestic side of things too — including a Crew collapse on the road, Montreal’s collapse in the CONCACAF Champions League — and our usual weekly segments.

Have a question that you want to ask on next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And subscribe below to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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the feast of insecurities

My friends over at the brand new Sixth Day Soccer are mostly Arsenal fans, and they wrote a detailed look into one of their supporters’ favorite annual traditions. As a Tottenham supporter, I felt the need to script my own reply after some banter-inspired prodding on Facebook. 

As a longtime Spurs fan, I’ve been conditioned to expecting the close of the season to be a bit uncomfortable.

Most of the time it’s depressing feelings that swell up due to the finality of Spurs again failing to meet our foolishly high expectations. And even when they do seem capable of actually reaching those lofty goals, a gut-wrenching fall from grace always seems to await just before the finish line. It’s tough not to be a realist in those situations, especially after seeing things play out following a similar pattern for majority of the last 20 years.

Luckily, I’ve always been an optimist, too. As such, I actively search out the bright spots in the dark clouds of each season’s close. Last year, it was Eriksen looking a capable creator. This season, it’s been Kane. And so long as I manage to plant those seeds of positivity during the gloomy stretch, it will normally yields hope for the following season in the early weeks of summer.

Unfortunately, Spurs’ easily-overlooked habit of under performing isn’t the only thing that makes the end of each season so aggravating for Tottenham supporters.

If there’s one thing that I truly loathe more than any other aspect of the end of each season, it’s “Saint Totteringham’s Day”.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 36

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 36

Yeah, the EPL races are getting tighter and tighter — well, maybe not at the top of the bale — and we’ll be sure to get into those. There was also Champions League action near and afar, and that’s on the agenda for this #Pondcast, too. There’s plenty of Major League Soccer action for us to get into as well, and that’s where we’ll be spending most of our time on this week’s episode. So to really dial in on the domestic league action, we welcomed on domestic soccer aficionado and Sporting KC fan Mike McGrew, perhaps better known through his Twitter handle @CincySportingto talk all things MLS. Yes, you’ll get all the other usual segments you know and love too, and lots more.

If you have a question or topic for next week’s podcast, reach out to us by email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or hit the social media links at the bottom of the page. And if you haven’t yet, subscribe to automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device.

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