we’re all grown up

Featured

This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for Football Golazo, the new football site brought to you by UK-based journalist Kristian Sturt (@FootieWriter). To read it in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the post.

Jurgen Klinsmann

For years, Americans have predicted American football’s long awaited arrival in the mainstream. But the metrics by which that achievement has been measured are many.

Some believe it can evaluated on international successes such as regular knockout round qualification and a quarterfinal appearance in recent World Cups. Others might cite the tremendous growth in popularity of the US national teams and the professional game overseas. And still others attribute the maturation and expansion of our domestic league as the key indicator. And to be fair, all of those are fair measuring sticks.

But in my humble opinion, it wasn’t until last week’s spat involving US manager Jurgen Klinsmann and Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber that US football well and truly arrived.

That’s right: a legitimate club versus country debate is what we needed to officially declare US football as fully grown up. That may seem a little absurd given how these  generally derided rows are regular occurrences in more established footballing countries. Those headline generators like the the recent quibbling between Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers and England’s Roy Hodgson over the handling of a sleepy Raheem Sterling. Or more seriously, when UEFA threatened to ban an internationally-retired Frank Ribéry if he didn’t turn out for France if Didier Deschamps called him in a few months back.

We’ve honestly never had an actual one of those before in American soccer. Sure, there have been some minor issues in the past — mainly over missing star players when MLS refused to take international breaks. But none of those inspired a national debate in the same way that the verbal quarrel between our national team coach and head of our domestic league has.

Continue reading “We’re All Grown Up” on Football Golazo. →

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 10

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 10

I’ll tell you what: there was no short supply of footie talk about in the latest rendition of the WSOTP Podcast. The return of the Premier League had everyone elated, and the guys provided a rundown of all of the highs and lows from the weekend action. Stateside, the rapidly solidifying MLS playoff picture provided ample talking points, as did the recent club versus country debate being waged between Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann. Chris is back with his Bundesliga update. The normal weekly segments — Fantasy UpdateWinners & Wankers and Fulham Watch — are all in there, too. And in just in case you missed it when it was tweeted out, Jeremy was kind enough to create a Spotify Playlist with every song we’ve ever used to close out the podcast — in order of appearance even.

Also, remember that we would love for you to send us topics and questions to talk about in next week’s podcast. Get into the mix by shooting us an email to contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweeting us or writing it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 9

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 9

Just because we’re in the middle of yet another international break that’s forced another short sabbatical of the European club game, there was still ample subject matter for Jeremy and D.J. to discuss to warrant another edition of the WSOTP Podcast. So what’s on deck for this week’s episode? The guys spend considerable time chatting about Landon Donovan’s penultimate match for the US national team and the legacy he’ll leave behind. Furthermore, it’s not like MLS went on hiatus. So the guys made room to cover the steadily intensifying MLS Playoff races, including the Crew’s dramatic comeback win against Philadelphia. Speaking of the Crew, some time to was also devoted to Columbus’ #NewCrew logo reveal and D.J.’s experience covering the unveiling event last week — which you can read more about here. Plus, we announced the winning reader/listener-selected design for the first ever WSOTP scarf!

As always, remember to send us your topics and questions for next week’s podcast. If you have something for us, send us an email at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, tweet it to us, or even write it on our Facebook wall using the links at the bottom of the page.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 5

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 5

After taking off last week for the most pointless international break ever and with another full weekend of European club football now under our belts, there was a lot to talk about on Episode 5 of the podcast. So prepare yourself — this will be a long one.

Though we weren’t fans of the break, we did cover the USMNT’s first match of the new World Cup cycle as well as discussed some of the more interesting news that filtered out during the rest of the international break. The Premier League’s return this past weekend also required plenty of discussion, with hardly a dud among the nine matches that took place before we recorded. We also made room for our newest segment, a once-a-fortnight Bundesliga-centric update from our German football correspondent Chris Wieland (@TheSpareWheel). And let’s not forget our regular Winners and Wankers and Jeremy’s Fulham Watch segments, as those were in there too.

As always, if you have any questions or topics you want us to cover on future podcasts, drop us a line at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com or tweet us using the links at the bottom of the page.

 

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!

every cat only has nine lives

Fulham v Stoke City - Premier LeagueMaking the jump to Europe and finding success is no easy feat to pull off. Countless Americans have tried, and many of them faltered.

A limited number of players have left our shores and departed for the greener pastures — and paychecks — of the European game and been able to make a good name for themselves. Think Clint Dempsey, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundulo and Tim Howard, all of whom had great on field success.

For some, however, they see their bright starts fizzle away to obscurity. The first name that comes to mind is a guy like Maurice Edu, who had some monstrous performances for Rangers before devolving into a reserve at Stoke. Others like Adam Lichaj, Clarence Goodson and Jonathan Spector make for similar examples of promising prospects that developed into average careers at best.

Still others oscillate between successes and failures, such as Jozy Altidore is finding out after failing to impress in his time at Villareal, then finding his feet at AZ, and now struggling again at Sunderland.

But for many, it never really clicked in the first place. The best instance of this is Eddie Johnson’s disastrous spell at Fulham.

The margin for whether an American player — and all players moving abroad, for that matter — will end up a flop or a hit is razor thin. The variables that determine that are innumerable. It can range from the situation of the club he is acquired by to the manager(s) he plays under, the culture of the country or even the player’s mental strength. It’s a toss up, really. And a lot of things have to go perfectly for it all to pop off.

So when it was announced this week that Brek Shea would be leaving Stoke City on yet another loan after unsuccessfully securing any meaningful playing time for the Potters, I feared that he might be steadily on his way to joining the long list of American failures in Europe.

And if I’m being completely honest, I was actually concerned Shea might turn out this way back when he first moved to Europe in January of 2013.

However, before we get into why that was a concern, let’s chart his career trajectory a bit. Back in 2011, Shea had just logged an impressive 11 goal, 5 assist campaign for FC Dallas in his fourth season in MLS. He had broken into Klinsmann’s US side and had shown flashes of creativity and excitement in attack. Many were touting him as the brightest light of the new crop of players being ushered into the program. And it was around that time when the European clubs began to circle like vultures. Which made sense given that Shea possesses the exceedingly rare “Three S’s” of size, speed and strength. Ultimately he settled on a trial/training stint with Arsenal, which inspired me to write this piece on how big of a chance it could have proven for him. Things seemed very, very bright for the Texas native.

Unfortunately, no permanent move materialized and he followed that all up with a pretty lackluster — albeit injury-riddled — 2012 back in Dallas. But though his performances slagged, his off field celebrity remained large and social media following continued to ballooned. Some questioned whether all of that contributed to him being a bit distracted and was more concerned with maintaining his image. Yet despite all of that, Stoke City still came calling in January 2013.

And that’s where I started to question whether Brek might be making the wrong move at the wrong time.

Having surgery to remove a bone in his foot and coming off an under performing season in MLS, it might have made more sense to stick it out in Dallas for a bit longer. Doing so might have helped him to regain his fitness and rebuild his confidence. Besides, joining European sides midway through the season is always a difficult task.

At the time, Stoke City were in a bit of a stutter themselves and only picked up a point during the entire month of January under Tony Pulis. Too, Pulis’ Stoke weren’t exactly renown for their attacking acumen. And for both reasons, the manager found himself under increasing pressure from both the fans and boardroom that eventually lead to his departure.

was moving to stoke the wisest of moves for brek?

was moving to stoke the wisest of moves for brek?

As an attacking player whose skills and tactical awareness still needed further honing, Shea’s moving to Stoke to play under Pulis just didn’t make much sense. Furthermore, choosing to go play under a manager who didn’t look like he would be in the job much longer seemed naive — though you could argue he might have thought the club’s poor run of form would give him a chance to break into the side.

The attack-minded Mark Hughes’ arrival at the Britannia Stadium in March might have seemed like a boost to Shea’s chances of success. But given that Hughes has only chosen him twice in the 18 months since then, it’s probably fair to say the Welshman doesn’t exactly fancy what he has to offer.

That said, Hughes hasn’t completely shut him out in the cold. The lanky winger was farmed out at the beginning of the year to Barnsley with the aim of getting him some matches. Although you could also see the move as means of placing Shea in the shop window too. And though he impressed on his debut for Tykes and made eight appearances for them, his loan was cut short and he was sent back to Stoke after a bust up with supporters. Predictably, Hughes didn’t give him a runout once he returned either.

Since, things have remained rather stagnant for Mr. Shea. Without much on-pitch time to sharpen his game since the move to England — and after failing to impress in his appearances in the pre-tournament tune ups — Klinsmann wisely skipped over him for the US’ World Cup squad. A lackluster appearance in the last friendly against the Czech Republic only served to reinforce that decision.

And now he’s gone out on loan again, this time to Championship side Birmingham City. Hughes even went so far as to say he didn’t see the American in his plans for the Potters, though perhaps impressing while on loan might be a way to change the manager’s mind.

But you get the feeling that if he disappoints at St. Andrew’s, Shea’s days in England might just be numbered.

Of course, this might be a bit premature. He’s never quite regained full fitness since moving abroad, and a consistent run of games has helped many a player to find form before. Maybe he’ll find his feet in Birmingham, and use it as a launch pad to greater success across the pond.

You hate to say that Brek Shea is a cat that’s used up eight of his nine lives in just a year and a half playing overseas. But his showings of late haven’t exactly been the kind that would convince you otherwise, and his manager at Stoke isn’t exactly the type to give players bonus chances.

And if that’s the case, he’ll be the latest in a long line of American players that just couldn’t cut the mustard abroad.

WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 4

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 4As we ease into the most needless international break of all time — seriously, we’re just three weeks into the European season and a month and a half out from the World Cup — there’s still a mountain of news to talk about from the world of football. And on Episode 4 of this season’s podcast, the guys try to scale it. You’ll find D.J. and Jeremy providing the normal rundown on all the weekend’s EPL action, take a gander at the trashfire that is Toronto FC, and preview the US men’s friendly against the Czech Republic. And they would be remiss to not talk about the closing of the Transfer Window. As such, the guys will assess the major movements around Europe and the Premier League, picking the winners and losers of this latest “silly season”. We’ll also have our weekly Winners and Wankers to pick too.

So grab your favorite headphones and dial yourself in for the latest edition of the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast.

 

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!

i need to get this off my chest

Landon DonovanLet me start this off by saying that, without a doubt, few people have had a more profound impact on the American soccer landscape than Landon Timothy Donovan.

Well before Freddy Adu ever graced the cover of Sports Illustrated or had his face splashed all over ESPN, Landon was this country’s first soccer prodigy. No other American player has garnered more success. Too, few other footballers from the United States have attained his level of fame and fortune.

And because of all of that, he’s also been the sport’s biggest target for criticism — particularly from this corner of the internet.

But with Donovan announcing yesterday that he’ll be hanging up his boots for good at the end of the 2014 Major League Soccer season, I felt it necessary to explain myself and my thoughts and criticisms a bit further.

Continue reading

surveying american soccer fandom

After a sizable break during the European close season this summer, save a few special edition live recordings down on Fountain Square for the World Cup, the WSOTP Podcast will be back in action here in a few week’s time. And with a sizable bump in the number of followers we’ve acquired due to the game finally catching a gust of wind here in the States, we thought it would be a good time to figure out just how everyone supports the sport of soccer here in the U, S and A.

As such, my podcast co-host and producer, Jeremy Lance, put together a short survey to give us a good look at the American soccer fan. But for us to really get a clear picture, we need as many of you as possible to fill the thing out. Whether a long-time fan or a relative n00b, we want — no, need — you to fill this thing out.

It shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to complete, and it’s completely anonymous. And we’ll be sharing the results on the first episode of the second season of the podcast, which will be available for your listening pleasure the week before the Premier League season kicks off at the end of August.

So hit the link below, and thanks in advance for your data!

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE “AMERICAN SOCCER FANDOM” SURVEY

ten words or less #93

DC United's RFK Stadium

after taking a week off for vacation, i’m diving back into the blog with the latest stop on the WSOTP stadium guide tour: DC’s RFK stadium.

Ah vacation… you were much needed. After a month of World Cup to digest, my brain and Twitter feed certainly needed the rest. So after spending a week with my family on an isolated lake in South Carolina, I’m now back and ready to dip my foot into the pools of world football once again.

But instead of just easing back into things, I’m kicking things off with a bang. Tonight I’ll be making my next WSOTP MLS Stadium Guide stop by the above pictured RFK stadium in our nation’s capital to watch the Eastern Conference leading DC United take on a surprise Chivas USA side that’s punching well above expectations. You can expect a full detailed write-up to visiting the league’s oldest — and possibly most historic — stadium later this week.

In the mean time, here are a collection of some of my favorite links from the last few weeks to tide you over.

The greatest match of soccer you’ve never heard of. – medium.com

MLS All-Stars to face Bayern is very USMNT-heavy. – mlssoccer.com

Things are getting pretty bad in Ukraine. – mirror.co.uk

When no space for a pitch… make one. – theoriginalwinger.com

Brazil won’t be winning any fans back with this choice. – espnfc.com

RSL adding a new affiliate — and stadium — in Salt Lake? – sltrib.com

If it ain’t broke… – estaticos.sport.es

Wonder who Klinsmann will take to Russia? Start here. – sbnation.com

Everybody hates Jack Wilshire. – sportsmole.co.uk

This pub played the odds during Brazil-Germany… and lost. – bbc.com

WSOTP pod: live world cup special #3

we recorded our third and final live podcast on fountain before, during and after the usa v belgium game.

we recorded our third and final live podcast on fountain before, during and after the usa v belgium game.

Well, it wasn’t the result we had all hoped for, but the US loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 of the 2014 World Cup still managed to provide a great backdrop for our third and final live podcast recorded down on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. Jeremy returned to rejoin D.J. after being out of action the last time out, and he also takes the reigns for the in-studio portions of the pod answering questions and talking about how fans new to the game can pick a team to follow for the upcoming Premier League season. On the live portion, we also get to hear Cincinnati Saints president and CEO David Satterwhite rejoin us on the podcast to talk about the events on the Square. And two other added bonuses: the audio this time around is at least marginally better and there were no hecklers this time either… hooray!

On a personal note, it was an absolute thrill to get to talk soccer in front of crowds of 4000 to 8000 at each of the events down on Fountain Square. Many thanks to the Cincinnati Saints, Hoist and 3CDC for allowing us the opportunity to MC the events and spread the word about the podcast.

If you’re new to the podcast, we’ll be back again weekly in just a few weeks’ time before the European seasons get rolling. So be sure to hit the links below to subscribe to the podcast on your computer or mobile device to listen in when we return on a regular basis.

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!