weight off their shoulders

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Abby Wambach Celebrates

Legacy and expectations are tough companions, particularly so during the pressure cooker that is a World Cup.

Ask anyone on the US Women’s National Team, and I’m sure they’d agree. Living up to the prior greatness of US teams of the past is a heavy burden, one that’s taken a long, tedious 16 years to fully realize.

It’s not like these are a group of push overs or anything either. Morgan, Rapinoe, Solo, Wambach and company represent one of the most talented core of players the American women’s program has ever had at their disposal at one time. And even if they’re not the most talented, they at least take the crown as the “most marketable” group the US women have ever had.

Yet even for names of their stature, the glory achieved 1991 and 1999 still loomed large and proved exceptionally difficult to replicate. But why?

The aforementioned legacy issues obviously play a part. Hamm, Akers and Lilly are giants of the game. Too, winning two World Cups means you’re expected to win every World Cup. Mediocrity is something that American women’s soccer fans — and sponsors for that matter — tolerate very well. And while it’s hard to call finishing at least third in every World Cup since ’99 “mediocre”, as famous American Ricky Bobby is known to say, if you’re not first, you’re last. 

But high expectations coupled with the gut wrenching loss to Japan in the final of the 2011 World Cup; that’s a tricky combination. And it was clear that approaching Sunday’s 2015 Final, the insecurities from each were still very much at play. Sure, the girls had an Olympic gold medal to console themselves with after having their hearts ripped out four years ago. But as anyone who knows half a thing about soccer will tell you, there’s really no substitute to hoisting the World Cup trophy.

However, it wasn’t just those feelings that had me doubting anyone that named the US as a favorite prior to the blowout they dished out to Japan on Sunday.

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WSOTP pod: live from the square for the women’s world cup

WSOTP Podcast - Live from the Square for the Women's World Cup Final

Well, I’m not sure how we did it. But somehow we must have appeased the soccer gods enough to once again trick people with power into letting us host the latest #Pondcast on Cincinnati’s Fountain Square, in front of thousands of people. And this latest rendition of the pod is the result. And unlike last year, audio is much improved — so your listening experience will be far more enjoyable.

Recorded both before the USAvJPN final, at halftime and a monologue from Jeremy at home to help tie it all together, you won’t only get our own assessments of the US women’s national team and their opponents. We also welcomed players and coaches from the Cincinnati Lady Saints to offer their opinions on their opinions on the Women’s World Cup and the USWNT’s run to the final. There’s also a really cringe-worthy segment with some fans that didn’t quite know the “I Believe” chant — somewhat redeeming DJ’s own flawed effort from last summer.

So tune in to our second summer installment of the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast, and stay tuned as we’ll be back in the booth again soon for analysis on the Gold Cup and DJ’s impending trip to the MLS All-Star Game. And as always, if you have questions or comments for the guys to cover on the next podcast, hit us up via the social media links below, or via email at contact@wrongsideofthepond.com.

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soccer is coming back to the square

During last summer’s male rendition of the FIFA World Cup, a wave of national pride washed over the country, blanketing major cities with watch parties numbering in the thousands for each of the four US Men’s National Team matches.

It was no different here in Cincinnati, where the enthusiasm often transformed into euphoria as the boys were able to survive the “Group of Death”. Over seven thousand people showed up in Cincinnati’s city center to watch the action unfold on the big screen. If you weren’t able to make it, here’s a glimpse at the insanity:

So with the US Women’s National team in action this summer at the Women’s World Cup in Canada, the calls to return to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square were loud and frequent. And while there was absolutely interest to do so from last summer’s hosts — the NPSL’s Cincinnati Saints and Hoist — pre-existing conflicts on the Square’s calendar meant that regular watch parties just weren’t a reality like they were for the men.

Obviously, we were a bit bummed. As the emcee’s for last year’s events, it was absolutely electric experience to be a part of, and we wanted it to happen just as much as anyone.

But luckily, the stars have aligned for the biggest game of the tournament.

Despite a sputtering offense and some uninspiring performances, the US women’s absolutely airtight defense — which has a rather ironic 513-minute shutout streak going — has helped them navigate the tricky waters of their own “Group of Death”, through the knockout round and into their second straight World Cup final. And as it just so happens, Fountain Square had nothing going on during that time slot.

So you know what that means…

WSOTP - Cincinnati Saints Fountain Square WWC

That’s right kids: WE’RE HEADING BACK TO THE SQUARE!

Beginning at 6pm — immediately following the always enjoyable Art on Vine — on this coming Sunday, July 5th, the Cincinnati Saints and Hoist are once again bringing a US Soccer Watch Party back down to Cincinnati’s Fountain Square. And the Wrong Side of the Pond Podcast team is delighted to have once again been invited back to emcee the event!

As with last year, there will beers and drink specials to wet your whistles and keep your vocal chords ready to cheer. Of course there will also be food trucks there — like the delicious Urban Grille — to keep your belly satisfied, too. We here at WSOTP will once again be recording a live podcast prior to kickoff and during halftime, offering our analysis of the action, too.

And oh yeah, there’s that whole opportunity to stand united with thousands as we cheer on the ladies in their efforts to enact revenge on Japan’s 2011 World Cup final win. As of the time of writing, 500 people had already confirmed their attendance on the event’s Facebook page… just two days after it was posted.

So if you’re within 100 miles of the Queen City this Sunday, you’d do best to throw on your US kits and/or red, white and blue garb, grab all of your friends, and bring your best supporter’s faces to the Square to hopefully watch our girls lift the cup.

PS: the weather is looking aces for the weekend, too.

WSOTP pod: a fifa summer spectacular

WSOTP Podcast - A FIFA Summer Spectacular

Well, the Season 2 finale didn’t last that long: two full weeks to be exact. But with a hectic summer soccer schedule — plus just a little bit of news about a supposedly corrupt world governing body — D.J. and Jeremy just couldn’t help but turn back on the mics. Though we did give you fair warning that would be happening several times throughout the summer. We just delivered earlier than anticipated. So in addition to the guys’ reactions to all things FIFA scandal, we also delve into the Champions League Final, the US men’s suprising shootout with Holland, and of course the ladies of summer and the Women’s World Cup.

Have anything you want us to cover over the course of the summer? Drop us a line at contact@wrongsideofthepond.com and we will likely happily oblige. And to make sure you don’t miss any of our summer audio offerings, automatically receive new episodes on your favorite mobile device or RSS feed by subscribing using the links below.

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the girls of summer

WSOTP - Blog - WSOTP x Rhinehaus2.fw

This is a short excerpt from my latest 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.

Last summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil was a breath of fresh air in American sports. Freed from the constraints of rivalry with one another, fans coming from nearly every corner of American sports fandom convened together to cheer on the US Men’s National Team in spectacular fashion.

Bars across the country like Rhinehaus were packed wall to wall with not only their normal Saturday and Sunday morning Premier League patrons, but swaths of new fans ranging from casual supporters to die hard patriots. Public spaces in major cities filled with chanting fans by the thousands — as was the case in the Wrong Side of the Pond-hosted event down on Fountain Square with the Cincinnati Saints — to watch on jumbo trons. It was damn near impossible to not get caught up in the excitement.

And if you’re feeling nostalgic for the outpourings of love the beautiful game received in 2014, worry not: you can get a taste of that excitement in the summer of 2015 too.

Starting tomorrow, the FIFA Women’s World Cup will be kicking off another month long soccer extravaganza in cities dotted around our northern neighbors Canada. And unlike the men’s tournament last summer where we were belabored underdogs, our ladies are actually among the favorites.

Continue reading “The Girls of Summer” on the Rhinehaus blog. →

ten words or less #110

Well, it’s fair to say a bombshell was dropped on world soccer yesterday. I’d hoped to get out a full-length piece on it last night or today, but the rapid developments with regards to the FIFA corruption scandal has made it difficult to stay on top of and write accurately. So I’m giving it another day or so to fester before unleashing the dragon. And while you wait, there have been hundreds of miles worth of online column space already written on the topic — so you won’t be wanting for reading material.

To hold you over, as usual, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite links from the past week or so. The first four of which are directly related to the ongoing firestorm. So enjoy reading the selections below while the world outside burns.

FIFA meets the long, bad ass arm of American law. – justice.gov

How to boycott FIFA without hurting soccer. – independent.co.uk

Sponsoring the World Cup is an endorsement of their practices. – theverge.com

The NASL is in some serious shit. – northernpitch.com

Adidas “smart ball” teaches you to bend it like Beckham. – androidpolice.com

The Minnesota MLS stadium situation is… tricky. – vice.com

Snow skiing plus soccer? Super impressed… if this is real. – youtube.com

An insurance plan to protect against missing the Champions League? – bloomberg.com

Beer and soccer. You don’t need to know more. – soccerbible.com
Thanks to my man @MPFaessler for pointing this out.

Wambach’s turf war paying dividends, just not how you’d expect. – soccerwire.com

ten words or less #109

While things on the writing front haven’t completely picked back up yet — I’ve had a few original pieces pop out of my brain recently — things on the design front have really picked up a bit. In addition to the recently announced Saints Matchday Poster project eating up gobs of my time, there’s also been work on the Women’s World Cup front too with at least one new shirt design and a Canada 2015 wall chart in progress too. So while I’m stoked to be working on all of that stuff, I wanted to apologize for the continued low output on the written side of things.

And as I normally do in these situations, I’ll attempt to bribe you to stick around a bit longer with some of my favorite links from the last week or so in the world of football. It’s working, right?

Other people think we’re worth following on Twitter! – northernpitch.com

Struggling with the end of the season? Here’s why. – theguardian.com

Heineken’s brilliant way to “watch” football at work. – docs.google.com

Serie A needs to do something to increase interest again. – football-italia.net

In case you wondered, “urban” USMNT looks like this. –  hypebeast.com

So far, exploding the Red Bulls front office has worked. – si.com

Ohhhhh… so it’s their fault you bit them. Got it.  – dirtytackle.net

“Brilliant arrogance” defined. – telegraph.co.uk

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!! – prosoccertalk.nbcsports.com

Are Portland Thorns the first “real” club in women’s football? – theguardian.com

pic of the week 2/16-2/22

Image

abbywambachdaytona500

If I were to draw a Venn diagram of sports fans who like soccer and sports fans that like NASCAR, despite not seeing any numbers, I feel fairly safe in guessing that there wouldn’t be much overlap between their circles. I’d also imagine that overlap gets even smaller when you narrow down the soccer fans to “fans of women’s soccer”. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw that US women’s national team star and former FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, Abby Wambach, was waving the green flag to kick off the 2015 running NASCAR’s Superbowl of Racing, the Daytona 500. Here’s video of Abby waving that flag way better than Nadine Kessler ever could.

Then I remembered that FOX now owns the broadcasting rights to the FIFA World Cups starting with next summer’s Women’s World Cup — practically for the next thousand years, or at least that’s how it feels —  and what better way than to try to win converts for the beautiful game than to push it to the estimated 9-10 million Daytona 500 viewers. And even though there wouldn’t appear to be much shared interest between the two sports, if there’s ground to be made in growing the next World Cup’s viewership, it’s probably in the NASCAR corner of the market.

It’s still weird though.

longing for the good ‘ol days

WSOTP - Blog - Anger.fw

The new US away kits officially dropped on Monday. It was impossible to miss, with images of the new blue-streaked shirts littered across social media by everyone from Nike, US Soccer, current mens and womens players to blogs, news agencies and randoms alike.

But if you weren’t paying that close of attention, you could be forgiven for thinking that someone had instead dropped an atom bomb on the USSF headquarters in Chicago, such was the negative reaction to yet another American soccer decision.

Whether or not it was a majority is up for debate, but it’s clear a sizable portion of the American fan base hated the jersey. Their ire seems to be pointed in multiple directions too, with Nike, US Soccer and even Sunil Gulati receiving poignant 140-character tirades since its official release. It was described as “ugly”, “effortless” and “unneeded”. Some were angry that it replaced the beloved “bomb pop” kit dawned by the US men in Brazil last summer — which, if you recall, also received a fair bit of scorn when it was first released.

Whether or not you like it, I don’t really care. I’m a fan. But then again, it’s my opinion and we’re all entitled to our own. It’s all subjective anyway and it’s no skin off my back if you don’t like it.

But the outrage that followed the new kit release wasn’t an isolated incident.

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WSOTP pod: season 2 episode 25

WSOTP Podcast - Season 2 Episode 25

There was no shortage of tantalizing soccer to enjoy this weekend — both the men’s and women’s national team’s friendlies, the African Nations Cup Final, plus a full round of Premier League action — and the Pondcast team took it all in. The last of those included a pair of derbies, with the second editions of the North London and Merseyside Derbies drawing considerable attention. And with your normal installments of Fantasy UpdateWinners & Wankers and a newly re-branded Championship Watch, there’s plenty stuffed into this week’s WSOTP Podcast.

Don’t forget to hit us up with your questions and topics for next week’s pod at contact[at]wrongsideofthepond[dot]com, on the social media links at the bottom of the page, or in the comments below!

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