The final day of the NASL combine came to a close in fine conditions down in Fort Lauderdale.
My team again played well but failed to find the net, though personally the game went well. The last two days I have played as a center back and right back, getting the chance to show my versatility to coaches and scouts.
On Saturday night, my Aussie roommate Joel and I went to watch the new Denzel Washington film, Safe House, at a mammoth shopping and leisure complex. The NHL’s Florida Panthers’ stadium was right across the street, and it was great to have some down time to stroll around and get out of the confines of the hotel for a few hours.
The final day also brought reflection and perspective on what has been a successful past three days. The level of play has been high and it’s been very enjoyable to be invited to such a prestigious event. In terms of my play personally, I have taken the lessons I learned in college, my academy days in England and from my short stint in the Scottish league to showcase my talent and ability in the shortest amount of time available.
It is hard to make comparisons, but I definitely feel that playing against the likes of current MLS players Jeb Brovsky, Dilly Duka, O’Brien White, Bright Dike and Bernando Anor with Pitt in the Big East for four years prepared me well to move up the ranks into the professional level.
We shall see what happens over the coming weeks, but I have had some positive feedback, which is always good to hear. Combines are notoriously hard to play in, as many players try to hard to impress and certain coaches are only looking for a certain type of player. But all you can do is work hard and show what talents you have in the time allotted to you. That is all you can do.
Thanks again for following along with the posts and video blogs on MLSsoccer.com and feel free to keep in touch on twitter (@JPW8), as many of you have already done, to stay up to date with my progress.
Check out the previous blogs along with my last video blog below.
Here's a list of things that Rancid drummer and occasional Real Salt Lake kit man Branden Steineckert owns that DO NOT have a RSL badge on them:
- a passport, drivers license, birth certificate or any form of government-issued ID
- a timeshare in Boca
Everything else --drumkit, scarves, skateboard, left leg-- is free game and adorned with the logo of the 2009 MLS Cup champs. Safe to say the man is not shy about about who he supports.
*This is unconfirmed. Real Salt Lake does not sell officially-licensed undergarments but you never know if he's rocking some custom-made claret & cobalt briefs under his skinny jeans.
The first day of the NASL combine started on the training complex of the Ft. Lauderdale strikers, with the level of play high and a few tiring matches in the heat.
For the weekend, we have been split up into four teams. I am in the white team and we have an international mix with Argentines, Brazilians, Australians, Norwegians and, obviously, an Englishman.
Our goalkeeper Steffen Haraldsen works for the Norwegian parliament and plays semi-pro in Norway. Interesting enough back story you might think, however he also is a massive fan of Major League Soccer and MLSsoccer.com and watches videos on the website everyday. The reach of MLS has apparently extended to Norway.
The standard of play was really high in the first game, which we drew 2-2. The same goes for the temperature. The 80-degree sunshine and high humidity made it a cagey opening as both sides didn’t want to over do it in the heat. The need to conserve energy was key considering there are two more games coming up.
But like I said, the standard is high, with former Genoa and Levante players, Serie A and La Liga teams respectively, among the hopefuls trying out for the NASL. There are 50 or so coaches and scouts watching, and everyone is eager to impress.
Tomorrow we have another game and then an opportunity to relax in the evening, and a few of the lads are going to head to the movies.
Stay up to date with the video blog every day, as I will be updating on the latest news from the NASL combine.
If you've read the Sideline today, you picked up on the fact that MLSsoccer.com's own Joe Prince-Wright is down in Florida at the NASL Combine this weekend.
Check out the Joe's first report above or follow him on Twitter, and check back for more updates throughout the weekend. Here's a sample. Mmmmmm...pancakes.
Mcdonalds pancakes are a good start to the morning @CPDUBS10
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW8) February 9, 2012
Chilling out at the hotel for the evening, thanks again for all the good luck messages #MLS #NASLcombine
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW8) February 9, 2012
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?