a new direction

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When I started Wrong Side of the Pond close to seven years ago, I didn’t really have a plan in mind.

I had just moved to Louisville for a non-soccer related job, and I was looking for a way to pass the time in a new city where I didn’t know anybody. Keeping a blog to spill the many, many thoughts I had about the beautiful game seemed as good a hobby as any. And to be honest, I knew and was cool with most people not really caring to read those thoughts. But for the few who did care to — a handful of friends I’ve met in my decades of playing, my mom — it at least kept me from having to write the same email six or seven times.

It didn’t take long for me to discover how enjoyable it was to write about the thing I was most passionate about. And doing so from an American perspective, something that was in short supply on the footballing internet of the day, seemed a proper mission. The blog even allowed me to justify poking around in Photoshop again. And perhaps more importantly, it offered me a much needed creative outlet that my new job did not during a lonely and tough time in my life.

Eventually though, I returned home to Cincinnati. To be fair, my heart had never really left. But despite again being surrounded by friends and family, I kept up with the blog.

By that point, the hits had increased a minuscule amount since the site’s earliest days. But it took a series of impeccably well-timed opportunities for this little blog to morph into something more than just a hobby.

Specifically, it was my first ever legitimate scoop and an idea to start a crowd-sourced soccer bar directory that blew the lid off things. Suddenly, almost without warning, an increasing number of people were stumbling across my corner of the internet.

To that point, this site very much lacked a plan. However, for the last four years or so, it became clear that if I developed one… maybe this little blog could turn into something more.

Admittedly, my goals for that plan haven’t always been the same throughout. They’ve evolved, much like the site itself. Initial targets ranged from simple desires like
“drawing 20 unique visitors a day” to “being taken seriously”. But as initial targets were overturned, they eventually gave way to legitimate career ambitions

However, whatever end goal I was working towards, the reason for chasing it never changed from the earliest days on the site: telling the story of soccer from the American perspective. Cliché as it may sound, soccer courses through my veins. With all do respect to my lovely wife and daughter, soccer is my first true love. And sharing the many amazing tales that this sport has to offer has been my small way of giving back to and helping to grow a game that has given me so much over the last — gulp — nearly 30 years I’ve been playing it.

Amazingly, I’ve been incredibly lucky to see the effort I’ve poured into Wrong Side of the Pond give a lot back to me, too. Free gear here and there, an MLS Cup, two MLS All-Star Games, inaugural games for teams in four American leagues, standing on stadium pitches across the country, press box access, getting to meet some of my childhood heroes… I’m well aware that not everyone who has poured themselves into a blog has been so fortunate.

Too, I’m not afraid to admit that at times this thing has felt like a burden. Seven years of semi-consistent posting can wear thin on you from time to time, especially when you have to squeeze it into a life that already contained a full-time job, a social life, and eventually a family. But that I’ve kept at it, despite all of those hurdles, shows to me that it meant something to me more than just ambition or a hobby. I’ve found that when talking about one’s passion, it can be hard to set down the microphone. So even through bouts of writers block, stress and busy periods at work, I felt an obligation to keep pumping out stories about the beautiful game.

Well, all that’s about to change.

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from the ground up: branding the new dayton dynamo

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I’m a doodler. Always have been.

If it were possible to drum up my notes from my years in school — hell, even my notepads at work today — you’d find a timeline of my interests sketched out in the margins. Things like dinosaurs, Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featured heavily in my early childhood drawings. But once soccer became a major focus in my tween years, it predictably also became the major focus of my doodlings.

My soccer drawings knew no bounds. Designing my own panels for Adidas’ famous Tango ball silhouette was a favorite, as were portraits of my favorite players. I spawned an imaginary boot company or two. Sometimes I’d sketch out reproductions of the logos of my favorite teams, and other times I’d even make crests for clubs that existed solely in my mind.

I get what you’re thinking: that I drew things I liked as a kid isn’t particularly interesting. Tons of kids are into drawing, coloring and all sorts of other artistic endeavors. However, most abandon those hobbies as they grow up for reasons all over the map — losing the passion for creating, not actually being very good at it, or a lack of time as we pursue what most consider to be more-lucrative skills to support themselves as adults.

It’s not that you can’t make it as an artist in this day in age. But just as I’m discovering is the case within the world of sports journalism, it’s really hard to do so. Not only do you have to have the skills, but you also need to catch a lot of breaks.

Now, I consider myself lucky: my parents didn’t force me to put down my pencils, grease pens and paintbrushes. They didn’t view my doodles and drawing as a waste of time or energy. Instead, they encouraged the exploration of my creative abilities. One of the most touching letters I’ve ever received was a letter my mom wrote to me during a retreat in high school where she admitted that she wished I still focused on my drawing. This website — and all of the art I’ve made for it — likely exists because of that encouragement.

But despite all that, I still opted not to pursue creative works as a career.

Admittedly, I’ve gotten to use some of those artistic skills in my “real world” jobs — first while designing websites, and now again in my current gig as an instructional designer. But getting to make things that were within my realm of interests and that someone would actually use in a professional setting? That dream seemed long dead.

However, that all changed when the NPSL’s Cincinnati Saints opted to make a migration north to Dayton and I was given the opportunity to re-brand the club.

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WSOTP x AO: just for tonight, let’s be lovers

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This is a short excerpt from my first featured post for the American Outlaws — the largest and most well-known US soccer supporters group — and their newly launched blog, ‘Voice of the American Outlaws’. After applying in December of last year, I found out in May that I was one of nine lucky entrants to be selected. The site soft-launched in September, and will soon be pumped by the AO mothership. To read my debut piece in it’s entirety, please click here or click the link at the end of the excerpt below.

As things currently stand, there are apparently two types of American soccer fans these days: those that are for Jurgen Klinsmann, and those who are not.

When he was first appointed back in July of 2011, Klinsmann was heralded as everything from “the first big manager in the U.S. men’s national team history”, to “the American soccer messiah”. Like President Barack Obama’s first term in office, Jurgen arrived at the helm of the national team with charisma and talk of change. His personality was bubbly and buoyant, and he promised to deliver wins with a style that should reflect our mentality and culture. The media mostly gushed about him, and fans were practically foaming at the mouth.

Nearly four and a half years later — much like our president — Klinsmann finds himself in a very different spot.

Continue reading “All Tomorrow’s Parties” on IBWM. →

WSOTP stadium guide: colorado’s dick’s sporting goods park

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WSOTP - DSG Park - Stadium Interior Looking West Match.fw 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 20 (soon to be 22) 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.

DSG PARK QUICK GUIDE
Address 6000 Victory Way
Commerce City, CO
Home Club Colorado Rapids
Soccer Capacity 19,680
Opened April 7, 2007
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

After having only visited one stadium in 2014 — and not posting that guide yet due to some “delays” in getting necessary materials — 2015 hasn’t exactly gotten off to a better start.

But I’ll make do considering stop number six on the WSOTP Stadium Guide Tour was for the 2015 All Star Game!

My wife, daughter and I were lucky enough to score some tickets to the July 29th match in the Colorado Rapids’ now eight year old Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The experience, as to be expected, was amazing, helped in no small part by the opposing team for this year’s game being my favorite European club, Tottenham Hotspur FC. I’ll try not to dwell on that too much, as I know the league’s marquee summer event isn’t exactly the average fan experience at DSG Park.

If you’ve never been to Denver, that’s reason alone to make a trip to catch a game at the Rapids’ home stadium. Perhaps best known as a wintertime destination due to the city’s proximity to the Rocky Mountain resorts, there’s even more to do in the summer time in Denver. Innumerable breweries, excellent outdoor offerings, fantastic museums and scenery that few other MLS cities can match are just a few of the things on offer. I hadn’t been to Denver in a decade, and it’s truly incredible to see how much the city has grown in size and culture.

As always, before we get started I wanted to give a special thanks to my excellent hosts — the Rapids’ Director of Public Relations and Communications, Diego Garcia, and Centennial 38’s David Wenger —  for showing me around and getting me acquainted with yet another spectacular American soccer stadium and city.

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#Pondcast summer special 3: cincinnati soccer media roundtable

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We’ve been talking about recording a podcast live at our favorite neighborhood soccer pub — friends and soccer evangelists, Rhinehaus, in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine district — for just about as long as the #Pondcast has been around. And just as the stars finally aligned to make it a reality with a really cool cast of guests too… we realized it was way too loud to record there on a typical busy night.

But even though we had to divert to a location without beers on tap, we still had an amazing discussion with three additional members of the Cincinnati Soccer media — WVXU’s Tana Weingartner (@TanaWeingartner), The Enquirer’s Patrick Brennan (@PBrennanENQ) as well as former intern Charlie Hatch (@charliehatch_). And on the agenda was the incredible summer of soccer we’ve had here in the US and Southwest Ohio, all framed by the looming arrival of Crystal Palace in the Queen City for what is arguably the biggest ever event in Cincinnati soccer history.

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#Pondcast summer special 2: from santiago to east rutheford

 

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One major international tournament is now over. Another major international tournament is now halfway through. So this seems as good of time as any to bust out our second #Pondcast Summer Special of 2016!

So what’s in store? D.J. and Jeremy welcome on Carlos Mojica (@CD_Mojica) of Centro Deportivo and Enganche podcast fame on to the show to talk about his experience covering the Copa América Centenario final and the rest of the tournament. We also delved into the US team’s performance in the Copa and where they go next. And we left plenty of time for the European Championships before getting into our Winners & Wankers once again.

Get involved in future podcasts by hitting us up on social media links at the bottom of the page, or send an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com, by sending us your questions and topic suggestions. And if you haven’t subscribed on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or via RSS, do so using the links below.

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#Pondcast summer special: the donald trump of american soccer

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Well, it took just a month for us to get the itch to get back together and record yet another #Pondcast. Which is good, because we literally had people asking about when the next one would drop. Never mind that there are two major international tournaments going on with the Euros and Copa Centenario, or that the USMNT aren’t doing too poorly in one of them either. There’s also the small matter of several domestic leagues to contend with, particularly ones that have teams in Ohio to reflect on. And though we advertised differently earlier on, we brought back our former intern and current Cincinnati Enquirer writer Charlie Hatch (@charliehatch_) to join in on the discussion.

Also, stay tuned for a few more summer specials… as there’s certainly no shortage of football to talk about this summer.

Get involved in next future podcast by shooting over your questions or topic suggestions. Hit us up on social media links at the bottom of the page, or send an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget you can subscribe below too.

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WSOTP pod: season 3 “finale”

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With the ending of the Premier League season, that also means it’s the pseudo-end of the #Pondcast season too — we will be doing some special episodes throughout the course of the very busy summer of soccer to come. And in this “final” episode of Season 3 of the podcast, D.J. and Jeremy take a look back at their (very poor) preseason predictions, share their thoughts on each of the 20 sides in the 2015/16 season, as well as share listener submitted end of season eulogies — including the thoughts from special guest David from Sixth Day Soccer (@6thsoccer) to provide some Arsenal Ying to D.J.’s Tottenham Yang.

Get involved in next future podcast by shooting over your questions or topic suggestions. Hit us up on social media links at the bottom of the page, or send an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget you can subscribe below too.

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a whole new experience

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In a trend that will look to continue more in the near future, this is yet another guest post on WSOTP. This time it features to aspiring journalists detailing their experience of their first time in a professional grade press box. You can find out more about the authors at the end of the post.

Hi there: we’re India Kirssin and Charlie Mackenzie, two young journalists for the Mason High School student newspaper The Chronicle. And on April 2nd, we had the opportunity to attend the FC Cincinnati home opener as members of the media.

The press box at Nippert Stadium was like nothing we had ever seen before. It was beautiful, with the ceiling to floor windows overlooking the field leaving us in awe. We wandered around before the game in an effort to see everything and couldn’t stop saying, “This is awesome.”

Being able to see the press box and watch other journalism professionals working was an amazing way for us to get real world experience in sports media and game day coverage. As student-journalists we are still trying to find our way through the ever changing world of journalism, broadcasting and communications, we are appreciative of every opportunity that presents itself to us. The press box was fast paced and professional and we were just as impressed by the kind, dedicated people working behind us as the exciting game being played out in front of us.

FC Cincinnati is full of extremely talented players, all with high hopes for this team and this city. Watching the game from a bird’s eye view was incredible — it allowed us to take in the action in a completely new way. The first goal, a magnificent scissor kick by Ugo Okoli, was absolutely incredible. We were able to see it perfectly and it was just as impressive to a soccer player like India who has been to many professional soccer games as it was for a tennis player like Charlie at his first pro game. It was the perfect first goal for Nippert and for the season.

Seeing the fans turn out in impressive numbers and watching their excitement from above was also exhilarating and really helped us see the huge impact FC Cincinnati will have on our community. The press box — as we learned after the first goal — is a no-cheer zone because of its working environment, and while this was hard for us to adjust to, it amplified the cheers from the audience and showcased the spirit of soccer fans in our city. Considering Cincinnati’s past history with professional soccer, this is a positive sign for those of us who want to bring pro soccer back into Cincinnati’s sporting culture.

As high school journalists, we are often looked down upon by authorities when trying to cover large scale events. That wasn’t the case on April 2nd. We felt very welcome covering the FC Cincinnati game and we look forward to any other opportunities to cover the team in the future.

And we both would like to thank the entire communications staff, especially Fumi Kimura and DJ Switzer, for allowing two bright-eyed, eager high school journalists to have an incredible experience.

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India Kirssin & Charlie Mackenzie 
Both juniors at Mason High School in Northern Cincinnati, India and Charlie are both on staff of the school paper, The Chronicle. India is a long-time soccer player and has been featured in the Cincinnati Enquirer and will be one of editors of The Chronicle in her senior year. Charlie is a tennis player and features regularly in the sports section of the paper.

WSOTP pod: i’m not dead yet

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After nearly a month away from the #Pondcast, co-host Jeremy Lance returns to the booth — electronically at least — with the declaration that he is not yet dead. And even better, his extended stay in the hospital afforded him ample time to take in all of the football that’s transpired over the last few weeks. So he’s well prepared to talk with D.J. again about topics such as Leicester’s trophy presentation the races for the top four and relegation zones, the Champions League semifinals and even a bit about the domestic game.

Get involved in next week’s podcast by shooting over your questions or topic suggestions. Hit us up on social media links at the bottom of the page, or send an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget you can subscribe below too.

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WSOTP pod: this is not the greatest sports story ever

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A new #Pondcast on a Tuesday isn’t something we’ve been able to pull off recently, but we’re back on schedule again — this week at least. On this latest episode, Adam Maloney (@maloneyam34) rejoins us-as a guest host again to reflect on Leicester City’s now official Premier League title and Spurs’ spursing it away to them by surrendering a two goal lead at Chelsea. The guys also spend some time chatting up the remaining fights for the remaining top four and relegation spots. Too, there was time to delve into the Champions League semifinals before rounding things up with the normal weekly segments, including an abbreviated return of Question of the Week.

Have a question or topic you want the boys of WSOTP to tackle? Hit us up at contact@wrongsideofthepond.com, or ask away on any of our social media channels. And if you haven’t subscribed or given us a review on your podcasting service yet, use those links below.

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WSOTP pod: we asked about ugo

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In the world of soccer, there’s hardly a weekend that goes by where something seismic doesn’t rattle the internet. This weekend was no different. There were enormous results at the polar opposite ends of the Premier League. In Major League Soccer, the results weren’t necessarily earth shattering — but LA Galaxy’s Nigel De Jong provided a leg shattering tackle. And down US the pyramid, FC Cincinnati logged huge news both on and off the pitch — and we welcome on FCC’s Sean Ugo Okoli to talk about the part he played in the historic night at Nippert Stadium. All of that is feasted upon by the guys in the latest #Pondcast, plus your usual weekly segments.

Want to play a part in a future show? Hit us up via the social media links at the bottom of the page or drop an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com to send us your questions and topic suggestions. And don’t forget to subscribe using the links below to automatically receive the newest podcast each Tuesday.

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WSOTP pod: they’re gonna win the league

wsotp-podcast-3-34.fwThe thirty-fourth episode of the third season of the WSOTP Podcast clocks in at a little over 55 minutes, which will likely come as a relief for our listeners that sometimes tell us we’re a little long-winded. But what can you expect to find in this somewhat abbreviated episode? The guys discuss what looks to be the end of a Premier League title fight and Spurs readjusted priorities. Too, there was a rundown of the weekend’s MLS action. And how could we not mention last week’s USA-Guatemala World Cup Qualifier in Columbus, which both D.J. and Jeremy attended — though in very different capacities. The usual weekly segments make their appearances, too.

Want to get involved in our weekly conversation like the listeners whose questions we answered today? Then get in touch with your questions or topic suggestions for next week’s episode by way of the social media links at the bottom of the page, or by sending an email to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive the newest podcast every Tuesday.

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WSOTP pod: our very own alec baldwin

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No Premier League? No problem! We might be in the throws of yet another international break, but there’s still plenty to chat about this week. For example, there’s Jurgen Klinsmann and the US Men’s National Team trying their best to cause a meltdown in American soccer circles. Too, there was the start of the USL season to contend with — and we welcomed back Chad Hollingsworth (@chadholl) of Scratching the Pitch to get us up to speed in the third division. And in addition to the other regular segments of Winners & WankersFantasy Update and League 2 Watch, we also bring back the Question of the Week segment to ask you listeners, “Who are the players you love from the teams you hate?”

But, just because we asked a question this time around, that doesn’t mean that you still can’t ask us questions to cover on the next episode. Give us a shout on social media or drop us a line to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And do us a solid and subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS using the links below.

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