This ex-soccer player could perhaps rival the star of the cult Dos Equis commercials as the "most interesting man in the world."
German goalkeeper Lutz Pfannenstiel is now an international scout for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, yet his playing career, which included a stint with current MLS outfit the Vancouver Whitecaps, wasn’t quite as conventional.
He was declared dead while on the pitch when playing for Bradford Park Avenue and was also locked up in a Singapore jail. He has spent five days in an igloo in a German ski resort, during which his antics were streamed live over the internet. He was also, believe it or not, a member of the "crazy gang" at Wimbledon and was stripped naked by Vinnie Jones and his teammates during a jog through London on a cold November morning in his first few days with the club.
Pfannenstiel spent time playing in North America with Vancouver in 2007, making four appearances, while also turning out for the Calgary Mustangs in 2004.
His title as an international scout for Hoffenheim means that current US national team players Danny Williams, Fabian Johnson and U-23 player Joe Gyau are all know to the eccentric German.
If those three have careers half as interesting as Pfannenstiel's, then we are all in for a real treat.
Stay thirsty my friends.
Malgré le résultat et la fatigue du voyage, les supporters de l’Impact étaient heureux de leur première expérience de groupe loin de Montréal.
« Pour un début, chez un adversaire qui n’est pas un rival, être à 200, chanter 90 minutes et faire autant de bruit que les 13000 locaux : ça montre un excellent esprit, résume Michael Murray, qui avait effectué le déplacement pour supporter Montréal à Santos Laguna lors de la Ligue des champions 2009. À part la bière trop chère, l’accueil était bon : même quand un fumigène a été allumé, la réaction de la sécurité était mesurée, contrairement à Montréal où elle est vraiment violente. »
Depuis dix ans, les supporters de l’Impact ont toujours autant de plaisir à encourager leurs couleurs à l’extérieur, mais il y a désormais les avantages de la MLS. « Ça ressemblait aux déplacements de D2 : on fête dans le car, on arrive en ville le matin et on y vit des aventures, résume Daniel Nahmias-Léonard, qui était déjà des voyages en 2002. Par contre, New York, ça change de Rochester ! Et il y a l’encadrement de la MLS, régulièrement en contact avec les supporters pendant l’année, ainsi que des clubs, habitués à voir des supporters adverses. Maintenant, il faut que davantage de gens s’intéressent réellement à l’Impact et s’habituent aux déplacements afin d’attirer plus de monde. »
Voilà qui donnera plus de travail à des organisateurs déjà bien occupés. « C’était difficile car c’était notre première en MLS, et avec tant de participants, reconnaît Denis Lebrun, responsable du groupe Ultras Montréal 2002, en charge du voyage. Et pour rendre les déplacements attractifs financièrement, nous avons décidé de traiter directement avec des transporteurs plutôt qu’avec des organisateurs de voyages. On vise 6 ou 7 déplacements cette saison et on aimerait avoir à chaque fois 2-3 autocars pleins pour les villes distantes comme New York, Philadelphie ou Toronto. »
Le match New York – Montréal a été marqué par le premier déplacement en nombre des supporters de l’Impact depuis l’entrée de leurs favoris en MLS. Trois autocars avaient pris le départ de Montréal ce vendredi soir et roulé toute la nuit en direction du New Jersey, rejoints sur place par des Québécois venus par leurs propres moyens.
Si Manhattan n’a pas été marqué par son après-midi en ville, la délégation forte d’environ 200 supporters bien en voix s’est fait entendre au stade malgré sa large infériorité numérique. Jamais ils n’avaient été si nombreux à l’extérieur, eux qui soutiennent leurs couleurs en dehors de leurs bases depuis dix ans.
Heureux de leur prestation, les supporters Montréalais ont également été très présents visuellement et le kop bleu-blanc-noir a alterné entre la folie furieuse, lors des moments où leurs joueurs ont mené, et de périodes certes plus calmes mais toujours animées malgré le score.
Qualifié de « très bruyant » et de « génial » par des responsables de la MLS rencontrés à la mi-temps, le groupe de supporters de l’Impact semble aussi avoir fait bonne impression en haut lieu…
The US Olympic team may have crashed out of the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament earlier this week, but Kansas City is still going to be a happening place for soccer this weekend. And I'm not even talking about Mexico vs. Canada or Honduras vs. El Salvador.
I'm talking about Budweiser Poolball. If you haven't heard of it, which you probably haven't, check out the video below. As someone who enjoys the occasional game of pool and takes any opportunity to kick the ball around, this is a beautiful marriage of footy and nightlife entertainment. Kansas City had the good fortune of having a couple of these tables set up around the city on Thursday and Friday for the lucky residents to enjoy.
If you gave me a day to mess around on one of these tables, if that's the right term, without limit, I would ask for three. Seriously. It's that awesome. I'm sitting at my desk imagining trick shots, seeing-eye combos off the rails and chips cross table. The possibilities are literally endless.
Even more intriguing, what if MLS organized a Poolball tournament around All-Star Weekend? Who wouldn't want to watch Dwayne De Rosario and Graham Zusi go head to head? Thierry Henry vs. David Beckham?
Maybe this new proven goalscoring tactic could become commonplace in MLS? Fans of goal-shy Montreal, Toronto, New England, Chivas and D.C. may want to look across the Atlantic to see how one group of fans helped to turn their side into a goalscoring machine....well they scored once at least.
Fans of German side Magdeburg took a different approach to their team's scoring drought. Instead of booing and hurling abuse at players and coaches, fans of the Regionliga Nord side (Germany's fourth tier) made the task a little easier for their team.
Supporters assembled behind the goal their beloved team was attacking, holding up giant colorful arrows to point their team in the direction of the opponents goal!
And remarkably it worked.
American forward Chris Wright scored the bottom club's first goal for five matches and ended their 558-minute goal drought. However his equalizer wasn't enough for a point as the home side slumped to a 2-1 defeat and remain rooted to the bottom of the standings, scoring just 16 times in 25 league games.
Either way, it’s a novel approach from the German fans. A for effort.
You probably read that headline and thought... I bet he's talking about the record-breaking crowd that packed Olympic Stadium on Saturday. Or maybe what it all meant to Davy Arnaud, the Impact's captain and goalscorer.
You'd be wrong.
The moment that will stick with me the longest came on Friday evening. Not a soul was in the stands. The game itself was still almost 24 hours away. Chicago were winding down their training session, meandering to the benches as a contingent of 20 or so members of the Fire's Section 8 supporters group waited by the sideline to glad hand and shoot the breeze with the guys they were there to see play the next afternoon.
Waiting with them was a seven-year-old boy from Ottawa named Ethan Stroud. Wrapped tightly around his neck was a Fire scarf, but what really stood out was the intricate Chicago crest etched into the back of his head. While Ethan was busy talking to every Fire player who came in his general vicinity, soaking up the words and attention he recieved as he collected autographs on the back of the jersey that bore his last name and the No. 12, I spent a few minutes talking to his mother, Allison Darke.
She told me Ethan, who was born in Chicago, was adopted and that life hadn't always been this easy for the gregarious young man who rarely stopped smiling in the 10 minutes I watched him make what will surely be lifelong memories. He was born blue from lack of oxygen. He is paralyzed down part of his right arm. He hasn't let it slow him down.
He loves soccer, plays every chance he gets, five times a week much of the year. He plays on three teams. According to his mom, Ethan is the "first one in the van and the first one out of the van" when it comes time to head to practice or games.
"He doesn't have an 'I-can't-do-it button,'" she says.
His parents took him back to Chicago last July for his seventh birthday, an opportunity to visit the city where he was born. They didn't have time to catch a Fire game. That would come the next day among the 70 or so Section 8 supporters tucked in the far corner of the Big O's second deck.
At that moment, though, there was nothing more important to Ethan than what was going on around him. After Logan Pause, Dominic Oduro, Dan Gargan, Frank Klopas and the rest of the Chicago players and coaching staff made him feel welcome -- an understatement to say the least -- and signed his new prized possession, he did what any kid in their right mind would do. He ripped off his jacked and pulled the Fire's colors over his shoulders.
I walked away with the feeling that the next day's events would be special, no doubt, but nothing I did or saw that weekend could measure up to the pure, unadulterated joy Ethan got out of that experience.
Those 10 minutes reminded me what life (and soccer) should be all about. Optimism. Hope. Perseverance. Humanity. Too often, it's easy to forget that.
Then a moment like that comes along, and all it takes is a seven-year-old boy having the time of his life to deliver a reminder that what you're doing is just a drop in the bucket.
Granted, I don't have a complete grasp on everything that's floating around on the internet these days, but something tells me this joint is going to be hard, if not impossible, to beat. In fact, go ahead and crown "Welcome to the District" by Rene Guzman the cream of the unofficial MLS anthem crop for 2012.
Eye-pleasing production? Check. Legitimate flow from Guzman? Check. Lyrics that reflect the D.C. United story? Double check.
Check out the full lyrics and full music video below.
Think there is something better out there or just want to share something cool that should be on The Sideline? Tweet me at the handle below.
Vamos DC, United and Free
Black and Red be the colors we bleed
Since nine-six, here with pride and tradition
United till we die baby, Welcome to the District
My heart is two stripes, three stars above
Black and Red and the colors I was born to love
Home of the brave, where champions are made
Bubbles in the air, let the three stars wave
Original 12th man, we pioneered the way
My DMV brothers feel exactly the same
What more can I say, United till I die
96 and forever, your my heart and my pride
Let them all know, we're legends in the making
Whether home or the road, it's our for the taking
Scream Eagles Scream, carry the team forth
Let them hear our song, from Barra to the North
Vamos United, take your place on the throne
Black and Red forever time to bring the cup home
United to the end, through blood, sweat and tears
Forever your my friend, you'll always have me here
After Real Salt Lake got things started with the "Believe RSL" anthem that got considerable internet love, the New England Revolution have added their own offering to the genre.
The team announced on Monday that “New England Revolution Anthem,” written and performed by Josephin Shlomit Madden, a local from Abington, Mass., has been selected as the New England Revolution’s official 2012 victory song.
I dig the punk rock vibe, and Josephin did a great job putting together something authentic and catchy at the same time. She's got a big voice and presence that fit the anthem well.
The only thing left is for the Revs to win, something that hasn't come easy through two games in 2012. Fortunately, they'll have another chance to pipe this bad boy through the Gillette Stadium sound system on Saturday when Portland come to town.
Check out the video below and let us know what you think. How does it measure up to Believe RSL?
If you were one of the 47,568 fans at the Rogers Centre for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal between LA Galaxy and Toronto FC, you better hope you weren't picking your nose or making an awkward face at the wrong moment. If you were one of those unlucky few, don't be surprised if your technologically savvy friends give you some grief in the next few days.
That's because there was literally nowhere for fans to hide last Wednesday as their side jumped out to an quick 2-0 lead against LA before coming back down to earth and settling for a 2-2 draw. You can thank Toronto FC for that. The club set up a camera that captured a high-resolution, 360-degree photo of the scene inside the Rogers Centre.
Not only can you zoom in on just about any section of the stadium, making out faces and everything else as clear as day, but fans can also tag themselves, commerating what was a historic night for the club and its supporters. Needless to say, this is pretty awesome technology, and it really gives you an idea of what the stadium looked like on gameday.
Spend five minutes playing with it, and I guarentee you won't be disappointed. You may want to be on your best behavior at matches from now on, however. You never know who's watching.