No matter what your cup of tea is when it comes to world football, odds are there’s a segment in Episode 35 of the podcast that will tickle your fancy. You like the Premier League? We’ve got thoughts on Liverpool’s title surge and the growing scrap at the bottom of the table — plus Spurs and Chelsea thoughts, per normal. If you prefer continental football? We chatted about the Champions League semifinal draw, paying special attention to highlighting the “Courtois Conundrum” between Atlético and Chelsea. Should you desire domestic soccer, we’ve got musings on Major League Soccer and the rumors that the Copa América will be coming to the States. So grab a pint (unless your driving) or a coffee, sit back and strap yourself in for the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.
With the Premier League season entering the final stretch, just about every match has taken on some sort of importance, either contributing to the title race, the fight to make the top four and/or the relegation scrap. And this weekend’s matches most definitely checked all of those boxes, meaning Jeremy and I had a lot of games to offer up our opinions on. Of course, there was also MLS “Rivalry Week” to contend with, including a thrilling Cascadia Cup tie between the Timbers and Sounders and a Trillium Cup match up between the conference-leading Crew and big spending Toronto. And let’s not forget about last midweek’s USA-Mexico game and this midweek’s Champions League matches that will also need to be chewed upon. You’ll get all that and more on the latest episode of the WSOTP Pod.
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
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
International football has become increasingly murky in recent years. In the good old days, it was simple: you played for the country you were born in, end of story.* But these days, citizenship and country of origin only tell half the story about why a guy plays for the national team he does.
Today we see Argentines playing for Italy (Pablo Osvaldo), Germans playing for Ghana (Kevin-Prince Boateng), a guy from the Central African Republic playing for France (Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa), and Brazilians playing for just about everyone. Thanks to international eligibility now being tied to your family history — as far back as both sets of grandparents — and residency, it allows someone like the talented Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj to choose from up to seven national teams: Albania (paternal and maternal grandparents), Belgium (where he grew up), Croatia (paternal grandparents), England (where he lives now), Turkey (maternal grandparents), Serbia (parents) and Kosovo (provided they ever get official FIFA sanctioning).
Predictably, this murkiness stirs a lot of emotions among supporters and the federations alike. Particularly in places like Europe, where race and ethnic origin is a prickly topic, fans seem to get up in arms anytime it’s even suggested that a foreign player be naturalized and brought in to the set up.
But it’s the trend these days, and everyone is doing it… even us here in the United States. Continue reading
For the third week running, Jeremy and I talk about new US national team recruit Julian Green — this pick the over/under for the minutes the German will see in this week’s US-Mexico game in Phoenix. But Green wasn’t the only topic of conversation on this week’s episode of the podcast. We talked of the misery the guys shared after both Spurs (nothing new) and Chelsea (definitely new) dropped vital points this weekend. The rest of last week’s Premier League action was also glanced over — including Moyes out banners being dragged around above Old Trafford and Liverpool going top — as is the weekend’s MLS play – with special attention paid to the Crew’s big last-gasp victory over Seattle.
Without a doubt, podcast Episode 32 is an absolute doozie. There was just slightly more than a boatload of football on since we last recorded, and finding time to talk about all of it was quite the task. In fact, we didn’t even get to talk about the weekend’s thrilling Clásico match up. But we did find time to run down all of the midweek Champions League matches and subsequent quarterfinal draw, plus the entirety of the weekend Premier League action. On this side of the pond, we dove through an interesting week of MLS headlines — including the Crew’s red-hot start and the odd timing of their dismissal of the club’s president — and talked about Julian Green’s official switch to representing the US National Team. We even squeezed the listener questions into the mix, too. So sit back, grab a pint and enjoy the latest edition of the WSOTP Pod.
Over the years, I’ve managed to arrange and conduct interviews with nearly the entire spectrum of people in the world of American soccer. From a number of players that entertain us on the pitch — including an Olympic gold medalist — to the club executives who run things behind the scenes to a guy who enables our social watching by running one of the country’s most recognizable soccer bars. These talks and discussions have given me lots of unique perspectives, shedding light on aspects of the game that I would have never thought about otherwise.
But as I was contemplating my next interviewee, I felt there was a glaring omission from across the spectrum of the American soccer experience: the fan.
Like all of the other important parties we’ve talked to above, the supporter is omnipresent within the sport. Soccer is dependent on its supporters to fuel its economy, whether directly through ticket or merchandise purchases or indirectly through television deals. We — myself included — are a vital cog in the world of football. And just like if you were to remove the players, the front offices or means by which we watched our teams play, if you removed the fans, the sport would quickly die.
But I knew I couldn’t interview just any supporter. It had to be someone who his peers could look up to, be inspired by, or strive to emulate. This fan would need to be a supporter that adds to and improves the experience of those who have the privilege of taking in the match with him.
Luckily, I just so happen to know one.
Allow me to introduce you to Justin Bell, better known by his online pseudonym @MassiveCityFFC. The founder of Massive City Football Fan Corps, Justin is hands down one of the most vocal supporters of the Columbus Crew. From writing and talking on the Massive Report, to leading cheers in Crew Stadium’s Nordecke to designing supporter gear, popular club imagery and tifos — including the spectacular “HOME” banner at the last Dos A Cero – Justin has played a significant role in creating the pop culture that surrounds and supports the Crew in Columbus and beyond.
And even more lucky, Justin was so kind to sit down with me to talk about his work, his time supporting the Crew, and his thoughts on the club’s future.
I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but it wasn’t until around a month ago that it dawned on me that I didn’t have a single design in my stable of shirts in the WSOTP Shop that paid tribute to the US Men’s National Team. And with this summer’s World Cup just around the corner, that seemed almost criminal.
So earlier in this week, I dropped a teaser for a design that I’ve been working on for the last week or so that I think is suitable to fill the gap… and it’s spawned much more than I could have ever imagined!
The design I settled on: one that featured the name of every man that coach Jurgen Klinsmann gave a cap to in the lead up to Brazil 2014, neatly arranged into the shape of the country they’ll aim to represent in South America this June. Interest in the shirt has been through the roof, as my email inbox and mentions on Twitter have been spilling over the brim, all of them wanting to know, “Where can I buy that shirt?!?!”
Well I’m happy to report that it’s available right freaking now in the WSOTP Shop! I’ve also included it in two other colors aside from the original red, with heather grey and white joining the fray. And my good friends at CincyShirts.com have generously given us a limited time $5 discount… so you can nab this shirt now for just twenty bucks! So be sure to jump over and buy your’s now…
But that’s not all, my friends. In addition to all of the positive feedback I’ve gotten for the American-inspired design, I’ve also had loads of requests to come up with designs for other countries playing in Brazil this summer, too. So I’ve got a number of teams already in the works: Germany, Spain, England, Italy and hosts Brazil… thus forming my first ever “line” of shirts! If there’s sufficient interest in other teams, I’ll be willing to make one for them, too. Be sure to watch this space and follow me at @wrongsideofpond for updates on the next countries to be added.
Though it may have been a truncated weekend schedule for the Premier League, it was a big one here on the podcast with it being the WSOTP Pod Derby — or Spurs versus Chelsea for those not in the know. And for those who know us well, is should come as no surprise that the results in said Derby had D.J. wallowing and Jeremy doing his best to take it easy on his fellow podcast co-host. You’ll also find the full review of the rest of BPL action, FA Cup chatter, reflections on the USMNT’s match against the Ukraine, a rundown of MLS First Kick highlights, a talk on the Crew’s controversial TV deal, and our thoughts on Nike and Adidas’ crazy new knit boots… so a little something for everyone.
In case you missed social media meltdown, the U.S. Men’s National Team lost to the Ukraine in a friendly yesterday.
The 2-0 loss — played out in Larnaca, Cyprus, thanks to the ongoing political upheaval in the Ukraine — featured mainly European-based players. And boy did the lot of them put in a very underwhelming performance lacking energy, fortitude and passion. A limp back line featuring veteran Oguchi Onyewu and youngster John Anthony Brooks were completely out of sorts. An experienced midfield featuring Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan provided little possession and was poor in distribution. And captain Clint Dempsey, one of the few MLS guys taking part, looked about as interested in playing as he has been with involved with Seattle’s preseason.
Add all of that together, combined with the fact that we’re now under 100 days away from Brazil 2014, and you have the perfect conditions to induce panic.
The collective response of most of the supporter base would sound something like, “If we can’t beat a country that didn’t even qualify for Brazil and is in the middle of a war, then how in the hell are we going to be beat Ghana, Portugal or Germany?!?!?!”
At least at a really basic level, I can understand the panic. We looked dreadful. Even if the boys put in a performance twice as good as that one in Brazil, we’ll likely still get picked apart in the group. There was plenty enough talent in that side to compete with the Ukrainians.
But despite my disappointment with the side’s performance, I’m not actually panicking. Not based on that game alone, anyway. Continue reading