Unless you are a college soccer junkie or University of Pittsburgh diehard, the name Joe Prince-Wright probably doesn't mean a whole lot to you. Not yet, at least.
That's certainly not a knock against Joe. It's just the way the soccer landscape works here in the US. Hopefully, though, that will change for JPW – as he is known here at MLSsoccer.com – in the next few days.
Early this morning, Joe boarded a flight for Florida, where he will spend the weekend showcasing his abilities for NASL coaches and technical directors with the goal of earning a contract and continuing his soccer career here in the US. After completing a four-year career at Pitt last year, where he played against a laundry list of current MLS players and 2012 SuperDraft picks, he started as a freelance editor here at MLSsoccer.com. Between editing, providing insight on Big East prospects and generally entertaining us at the office, Joe has been busy training in preparation for this opportunity.
For the next few days, Joe has graciously agreed to provide brief video updates from Ft. Lauderdale as he attempts to latch on with an NASL franchise and prolong his playing career. You can also follow him on Twitter for tidbits and insight into the NASL Combine.
Check out the video for a quick introduction to the man, the myth and legend that is JPW and his thoughts on the combine. He may not look it in this video – the result of multiple takes as we switched between a cell phone camera and the real deal – but the guy is hilarious and should bring the heat in Florida.
Note: We take particular enjoyment from Joe's British euphemisms here at MLS Digital HQ. Perhaps the favorite, or at least the one most fit for print, is "diamond geezer," which is apparently a quintessentially English way of saying someone is a good guy. I was used to "geezer" from my time in Kansas City with Birmingham-born, play-by-play extraordinaire Callum Williams, but hadn't heard the diamond addition until I got to New York. Now if I could only imitate a British accent without sounding like a pirate, I'd be in business.
Guilty pleasure or not, I watch a lot of Law & Order. My addiction to the show even extends across the pond to the UK version.
This week, I learned that I'm not the only one afflicted with L&O fever. Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish appears to be quite a fan, too.
After the club's 0-0 draw with Tottenham on Monday, he was asked to respond to criticism of his controversial striker, Luis Suarez, from a pair of Manchester United stars, Gary Neville and Wayne Rooney. Neville called Suarez "lucky" not to see red for side-volleying Spurs midfielder Scott Parker, and Rooney took to Twitter to give his opinion.
If ref sees that kick from suarez and books him for it it should be red
— Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) February 6, 2012
Dalglish, ever the gentleman, decided it was best to hold his tongue. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he must have had an image of an angry Mariska Hargitay, because here's what he told the media:
"If Gary Neville or Wayne were standing there and asked me the question, I could answer them. But I don't think you can speak for them. I think I'll just plead the fifth amendment."
Sorry, King Kenny, there is no fifth amendment in the UK. There are no amendments at all, in fact. There is a right to silence, stretching back to the Judges' Rules set down in 1912 and later adjusted by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, but the Fifth Amendment is a purely American thing. It's an integral part of the United States Constitution, which protects people from governmental abuse, including self-incrimination: "No person ... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."
One can only imagine that Dalglish is pleading the 5th because he agrees with the accusers and he doesn't want to slam his own player. Jack McCoy would appreciate the irony of it all, I'm sure.
Player interviews go up on our site and the team websites pretty much every day, but sometimes what you see on camera doesn't tell the whole story. After Monday's Seattle-Vancouver pre-season game, just such a situation arose. A couple of veterans, a rookie, and an impressive amount of focus ensue...
Cheerleaders: love 'em or hate 'em they are an inextricable part of the American sports landscape. But for many of the MLS fans that weighed in on the league's Facebook page yesterday they aren't part of one sport: soccer.
"I don’t understand this notion that cheerleaders don’t belong in soccer. Cheerleaders have been around the game forever. Maybe not in Europe, but if you look at Mexico, Colombia and most of all the other Latin-American countries, you will see that many of those clubs have had cheerleaders for many years and the game didn’t get ruined. They get to cheer the crowd at halftime, when no one has anything to do other than eat, drink and wait for the second half. Cheerleaders are not going to change what happens inside of the field, and that’s what I care about. So I say, sure, bring them on." - Edgar Acero
"When it comes to soccer, cheerleaders are nothing but a distraction. Then again, that's pretty much their purpose in just about any setting. But by that definition, so are concession stands, play areas that give parents a much-appreciated outlet for their offspring and just about anything that happens away from the field during the course of a match. Many people spend 90 minutes fixated on the play itself, but countless others scarf down giant, salted pretzels, play around on Twitter or ogle pretty girls with pom poms. Who am I to say any of those things don't belong? To each his own." - Andrew Wiebe
"I’m opposed to cheerleaders in MLS, but only because I’m opposed to cheerleaders in general. It adds nothing to the product on the field, and anyway, why would you spend money on tickets if your only goal is to see scantily-clad women? You could just as easily stay home and use man’s greatest invention: the interwebz." - Nate Sulat
"I'll admit that as a former Texas high school football player I have a strong association with cheerleaders & pointyball. So as much as I enjoy pretty women, team spirit and soccer it just seems a little odd --not to mention possibly degrading-- to me. Not because it's "Americanizing" the game, as some allege, but because they just remind me of autumn Friday nights in Anytown U.S.A. Also, rejection. - Shawn Francis
What's your take on cheerleaders in soccer? Let us know in the comments below.
This is the first post for the Out of Focus blog here on MLSsoccer. Many MLS fans know I spend a good deal of time arguing with my ExtraTime Radio cohort Simon Borg, but the rest of the time is spent working with a great group of videographers and editors who produce content for the site. (You’ll eventually meet them all on here.)
This blog is now our outlet… our way of taking you behind the camera and telling our stories as we journey around the continent covering the game we love. But it wouldn’t be a video department's blog without a play button, so you should expect to see videos on here more often than not. At times we may ask for feedback on content ideas or players/teams/events you’d like to see featured, but we’ll also entertain you with clips that may not be the right fit for the main site.
Bloopers, outtakes, off-the-cuff debates, classic video that we turn up and anything else we think will amuse you will be found in Out of Focus. I hope you all enjoy it. For now, I’ll leave you with some outtakes from last week’s Daily…
On Thursday's edition of ExtraTime Radio, we all got into a discussion about the best songs by Thin Lizzy, the 1970s rock band led by the incomparable Phil Lynott. (Look 'em up, kids.)
We bandied about "The Boys Are Back in Town," "Cowboy Song," "Jailbreak," and my personal favorite, "Fighting My Way Back." Suffice to say, it was a rocking show, one that I'm sure Houston Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear -- a diehard Thin Lizzy fan -- would appreciate.
In the aftermath, an @ExtraTimeRadio fan on Twitter sent this tweet:
@Gaetjens Glad you guys brought up "Cowboy Song," but "Emerald" is Thin Lizzy's captain and midfield engine.
— Jason (@chestrockwell14) February 3, 2012
That, naturally, set off a back and forth about Thin Lizzy songs and where they would play on the field. Naturally.
So here's the Thin Lizzy Starting XI, according to me and @chestrockwell14.
I'm sure there are plenty of music snobs (don't we all fall into that category, really?) that have a beef or two with this. Fine. What musical Starting XI would you come up with?
It's been a frustrating few days for Union fans.
As has been well documented here at MLSsoccer.com, Philadelphia parted ways with 2011 stalwarts Faryd Mondragon and Sébastien Le Toux this week. From the very start, neither move went over particularly well – a massive understatement – within the club's core fanbase, which has been making plenty of noise online and elsewhere in the wake of losing their offensive and defensive MVPs from last season.
Particularly frustrating for MLS fans in the city of Brotherly Love was the way Le Toux characterized his treatment by the club. The Union's reponse was simple: They are building for the future and Le Toux was in the final year of his contract. The trade was simply a calculated business move with Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney waiting for their time to shine.
The following tidbit from manager Peter Nowak didn't exactly endear him to fans attached to Le Toux, though – “feelings are not included in my job description.”
Feelings are certainly a large part of Union fans' job description, however, and they've apparently been giving Nowak an earful (monitor full?) on Twitter today.
So much so that Nowak felt compelled to clear the air a little bit. The following tweets are Nowak's response Wednesday afternoon. Clearly, some people are having a hard time keeping their emotions in check.
I understand why everyone is upset , but please have faith we're doing what's best for the club. Sometimes tough decisions need to be made
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 1, 2012
I do ask that you please stop sending curses to my Twitter account . My daughters and family read them and it is crossing a line. Thank you
— Peter Nowak (@Peter_Nowak) February 1, 2012
This just goes to show you that, if the opposition can sell the alleged infraction, you will always get a card even if the referee is not watching.
Different people do different things in the offseason. Some players go to Vegas while others go hard in the gym. This year, one player went on TV.
Following a 2011 campaign that saw him stuck behind Jon Busch on the depth chart, former San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United keeper Andrew Weber spent his winter traveling the world as a competitor on CBS' The Amazing Race. His teammate for the 25 day around-the-world race toward a $1 million cash prize? Twin brother Elliot.
Having seen the inside of many, if not all, MLS away team hotels I'm sure Andrew knows a thing or two about travel and how to make it tolerable. But 25 days through maybe a dozen different countries with your brother is a recipe for drama...which is precisely why I'll be watching when the show debuts on Feb. 19th.
Good luck to them and good luck to Andrew in Seattle, where he is currently in camp with the Sounders.