#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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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: 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: we’re not going anywhere

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As you may have noticed, I dropped some news yesterday. And because of that news, WSOTP will be through some pretty massive changes. But worry not — and it looks like many of you did — the #Pondcast isn’t going away! And to prove that point, we’re dropping another episode the day after the big news.

So what exactly is on this week’s episode? Despite the lack of Premier League action since our last show, there was ample going on in the footballing world for us to delve into. The USMNT played a game on Sunday, and (literally) a few people showed up to watch. There was also the FA Cup Fourth Round to contend with, even if there’s been a lack of upsets. And too, there are midweek Premier League games — some of them today — to look forward to as well. What about the closing of the January transfer window? Plus we asked you guys another question ahead of this episode, and you delivered with some excellent soccer culinary ideas.

Want to get involved in our weekly conversation? Then be sure to get in touch with your questions for the guys or suggested topics 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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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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WSOTP pod: a “berry” special episode

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I know the title of this week’s episode of the #Pondcast is a bit cringe worthy,  but I just couldn’t help it. The draw of using the awful pun — inspired by us welcoming on the first ever FC Cincinnati signing, Cincinnati-native Austin Berry — was just too much. Sorry Austin, we owed you better.

Also “berry special” on this week’s pod is the much anticipated “WSOTP Holiday Gift Buying Guide”, where the guys each offer up three great and three not-so-great gift ideas for the soccer loving friends and family in your holiday gift exchanges. For the lazy, we’re working to get that into a link-centric separate blog post later this week, too. Also on tap are looks around another chaotic week in the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League draw. The normal weekly segments are in there, too.

Want to hear your own question or topic discussed on the next edition of the #Pondcast? Get involved! Send us your suggestions or questions by emailing contact@wrongsideofthepond.com, or get in touch with us on social media. Plus, you really need to subscribe using the links below to get new episodes automatically delivered to your device of choice. Seriously: you need to.

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WSOTP pod: joy and sadness in ohio

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It’s been a busy week for professional soccer in Ohio. Most of it was great, but some of it was not so much. In Dayton, a new team revealed their identity. In Cincinnati, another team announced their first class of players. And in Columbus, the biggest game on the domestic soccer calendar was staged — unfortunately, the home side fell short in dramatic fashion. And for those reasons, we put all of that the forefront of our 102nd #Pondcast, even though the Premier League provided some fireworks of its own this past weekend.

If you want to get involved in the conversation, be sure to get in touch with your questions or topics for next week’s episode by way of the social media links at the bottom of the page or an email sent to contact@wrongsideofthepond.com. And don’t forget to subscribe below to automatically receive the newest podcast every Tuesday.

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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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a “great” day for soccer with fc cincinnati

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One of the many peculiarities of soccer is that whenever you happen upon a day where weather is dreadful — think 45º F and driving rain — just about everyone you talk to will describe it as “this is a great day for soccer!” If not that saying specifically, a variation of it will likely fill its place — “now this is soccer weather” or “this is weather made for soccer”.

Newsflash: nobody actually likes playing in that kind of weather.

And predictably, I heard that common colloquialism uttered no less than a dozen times in the several hours I spent out taking in the action at FC Cincinnati’s open tryouts last Saturday.

A dreary, wet and cold Cincinnati greeted myself, a handful of other journalists, and the 127 players who made their way out to UC to see if they could earn a spot on the USL side’s maiden roster. Though I stood huddled under a tent at one end of the pitch, trying my best to minimize the amount of rain sprayed on me by the frequent gusts of wind, I was also counting my lucky stars. I had a proposal to participate in portions of the tryout with a GoPro strapped to me rejected due to liability concerns. No part of me wanted to be out playing in that mess, even if it would have made for some awesome content.

As coach John Harkes and his staff made their way over for the post-tryout media session under the tent — his clothing soaked and clearly a bit frozen — I asked if this reminded him of his time playing in England. “This is colder,” he replied, inciting some chuckles from the gathered crowd.

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ten words or less #114

The words have again slowed to a trickle here at WSOTP recently, and as I usually do, I’m plugging the hole with another links round up. It’s not that there isn’t plenty to write about — I have a really long list of items that I’d like to get to — I just haven’t had the time  to do so lately. But trust that I have still been hard at work on a number of projects behind the scenes that will hopefully see the light of day in the near future. And new #Pondcasts are still dropping regularly on Tuesdays, so we’re not leaving you totally deprived of WSOTP’s perspective — check back tomorrow for our latest episode!

In the mean time, I hope you feel satisfied with these interesting links from around the world of soccer.

Why haven’t you signed up for our FIFA Tournament yet? – wrongsideofthepond.com

Sepp Blatter is clearly an old, delusional man. – tass.ru

While awesome in theory, can the players take it on? – bloomberg.com

Could MLS be over doing it on social media? – helltownbeer.com

And you thought your last match’s referee was a prick. – mirror.co.uk

Are Getafe about to get Wimbledon-ed? – as.com

The American lower leagues are experiencing some growing pains.
– theouterdrive.wordpress.com (FYI: audio Link)

You rarely hear about player’s fandom these days. – theguardian.com

Zlatan to Miami in 2017? The team start in 2018… – nbcsports.com

A deeper (historical) look at MLS’ new salary data. – philly.com