Last week’s In International Waters was an introduction. So too is this week, but in a different way. This week is an introduction to who the Cincinnati Soccer Talk staff follows in international soccer.
I fell in love with Everton Football Club about 10 years ago. I wasn’t the typical American Blue, drawn by Tim Howard and Landon Donovan, although I love what they contributed to our club. A friend of mine in Cincinnati who is a native of Liverpool and a generational Blue taught me the virtues, good and bad, of this club and it was a perfect fit for me. I’ve since studied and embraced the history of the club, made new friends here in Cincinnati, in England, in Ireland and other parts of the U.S. that I never would have met had it not been for our shared loyalty for this dysfunctional but amazing club. I have since traveled to Liverpool and attended matches at Goodison Park. Even amid a difficult campaign this year, supporting Everton has become a significant part of my life. I am continually amazed at how much Everton Football Club means to its fans and the work it does in the community of Liverpool. Can’t wait for my next trip to Goodison Park.
Joey Koehling: Wolves. I started following them because of playing Football Manager 2016.
Paul Barvincak: I don’t always watch European soccer, but when I do I watch West Ham. As a Cincinnati sports fan, I can’t get myself to support one of the powerhouse clubs. That’s too easy. Also, they blow bubbles before the start of every home match and sing a song that also speaks to me as a Cincinnati sports fan: I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air,
They fly so high,
They reach the sky, And like my dreams, they fade and die!
Fortunes always hiding,
I’ve looked everywhere,
I’m forever blowing bubbles,
Pretty bubbles in the air!
Rob Peirce: While I have interest in several European clubs, I actively root for two — Liverpool and Crystal Palace.
I’m an admitted European newcomer, but my father is a devoted English Premier League supporter. When Crystal Palace came to Cincinnati in 2016, it was the perfect opportunity to share my love for FC Cincinnati, my dad’s love for the EPL and my brother’s love for soccer in general. We sat in the Bailey, and my dad told us about the Eagle that flies before every match at Selhurst Park and pointed out Mile Jedinak and Andros Townsend as two Palace players to watch. I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. I was a little bummed to see Alan Pardew let go a few years ago, but Roy Hodgson has the side looking good this year.
The first EPL season I paid attention to was 2016-2017. Looking at other teams play, Liverpool jumped out at me. Call me plastic if you want. I knew of Liverpool’s history, but if I was seeking a team with titles, wouldn’t I have chosen Manchester United? And the fact is, I didn’t pick Liverpool. Liverpool picked me. Jurgen Klopp’s infectious enthusiasm and his gegenpressing style had me hooked. Then on the first day of the 2017-2018 season, I saw Mohamed Salah run down the right side at Watford and knew Liverpool would have a big year. One day I will make it to Anfield.
I have a bunch of FC Cincinnati scarves on my wall, but just two European ones — the scarf commemorating the 2016 international friendly at Nippert, and another in red and white declaring Liverpudlians will never walk alone.
Brad Gough (Coach):
Nick Seuberling: I started following Manchester United in the mid-’90s. Back then, there wasn’t as much soccer on TV. I would come home from school and ESPN would be airing Champions League games. The first Champions League game I saw featured Manchester United. As I watched and started hearing the names of the players like Giggs, Scholes, Butt, Keane, Neville, Beckham I just thought they sounded cool and I really enjoyed how they played. So from there, that’s where the love affair with United began.
Jacob Clary: I follow two different international teams –Liverpool and Barcelona. I started out with Barcelona because Lionel Messi has always been my favorite player. They have just innately been a team I love to watch because of him. Then, a couple of years ago I decided to start watching the Premier League and wanted to choose a team that wasn’t immediately already a winner. I also wanted to choose a team that had a history and a fun style and Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp stood out to me. Ever since then I have been a fan of them and just the beautiful way they play. They’re so exciting to watch and easy to love.
Clay Benjamin: I started watching in 2008 because one of my soccer coaches was English and he was an Arsenal fan. So, Saturday mornings before our games and after our walk, he’d somehow turn on the games. At the time, I just remember seeing City the most and thinking, “Yeah, this sky blue team is cool, and I really like this Robinho guy.” From there, I would just check the Internet for updates occasionally. It wasn’t until 2012 that I started watching every game and from there I was hooked.
Ken Hotker: Werder Bremen because that’s where my family roots are from. Schalke because of Weston Mckinnie. Newcastle because I have the balls to not pick a top 5-7 team and will follow then to the depths