• 1897 - 1996 - 2014

    On the evening of August 1st in Atlanta, GA the MLS All-Stars will face Italian giants, Juventus F.C. Absent will be Ronaldo. Founded in 1897 by a group of Torinese students, the club has worn their iconic black and white striped home kit since 1903. They have won 34 official league titles and been managed almost continuously since 1923 by the industrial Agnelli family of 'Fiat' fame. The workforce at Fiat decided to strike on hearing of the transfer fee being paid for Ronaldo, but soon got over that and returned to work, deciding that 'winning' on the pitch trumped all else. While best known as ' La Vecchia Signora' or 'The Old Lady' Juventus are also referred to as 'La Fidanzata d'Italia' or 'The Girlfriend of Italy'. That is because of their widespread following and support throughout Italy and indeed the world. Incredible that Juventus will be playing against All-Stars representing a League (MLS) founded in 1996, at the home of a team (Atlanta United) founded in 2014.

  • The Submarine Commander

    I'm Richard Nightingale and I've been kicking a ball around, watching Soccer since the dawn of time. My earliest memories of watching Soccer are standing next to my father, Brian Nightingale at Molineux in the days of the old English First Division. Wolves will be back in the EPL next season having just secured promotion. Not sure who first compared me to a Submarine Commander, something to do with the fact I always surface at some point, somewhere. I did play but was never good enough to make money and have instead worked for over twenty years on the brand and commercial side of the game. Met some real characters and been privledged to be present for some great sporting moments. Here are a few stories, anecdotes and observations from my journey to date. I hope you crack a smile and thanks for letting me share with you. Should you want to connect with me, then I can be reached at the above email and you can also follow me on Twitter @richnightoregon.

  • Mark Walters

    As a twelve year old I happened to play for a club team, Hurricane Wolves that was affiliated with our local professional team, Wolverhampton Wanderers. We were the best of the best, deemed as having a chance at a contract, to make a living in the game. Then I played against Mark Walters. Mark was in the Aston Villa youth system and known to everyone apparently, except me. I knew I was in for a difficult game when our manager, teammates and every parent came up to me before kick off and 'wished me the best of luck'. Some told me to 'let him know you're there' which meant kick him hard, early and often. Others said 'watch the ball and not his feet'. Needless to say he turned me inside out all game, blistering pace over those first two yards and a left foot that was sublime. Mark eventually went on to a successful career notably with Aston Villa and Glasgow Rangers. My career although involving Soccer went in a different direction and not on the pitch.

Diego Chara

The Engine

This fiesty Colombian joined the Portland Tmbers in 2011 as their first designated player. Primarily utilized as a holding midfield player he is listed as being 5' 8" although that might be generous. He may be the best and most productive signing in the history of the franchise. Kudos to Gavin Wilkinson the Timbers GM for finding this diamond in the rough. Never seen a player with such a work rate and the ability to break up and destroy. His technique when tackling is atrocious and accumulates yellow cards rather like a stamp collector. Certainly on par with the former and sadly deceased Newcastle legend Cheick Tiote. Constantly smiling and chipping away at opponents ankles, like that pesky mosquito that follows you everywhere. Sadly, doesn't score too many goals, but good control in tight spaces and makes good decisions when he has the ball. Rare today to find a player who knows his limitations and quite content to do a role for the greater good of the team. He's won me over and statistics prove that Portland win far more often when he plays then when forced to sit out after piling up those yellow cards. At 32, Chara is on the backend of his career, but wouldn't be surprised if he was able to contribute another five years given his fitness level and obvious love of the game. Every MLS team needs a Diego Chara. 

Love Of Country

The Three Lions 1966

I'm writing on the morning of the 2018 World cup Final. England lost their semi-final match with Croatia. Having been a goal up one could say they 'snatched defeat from the jaws of victory'. Yet there is cause for optimism. This was a young England squad that will be together through Qatar in 2022 and with Gareth Southgate at the helm I feel we have the right manager. He has installed a measure of pride and love back into playing for one's country. Instead of coming across as a mix of spoiled millionaires putting club before country, there is a sense of 'esprit de corp's'. Country matters and singing the national anthem before kick off, enjoyed and not an obligation. As England fans we had become cynics, the glass was always half full and we expected the very worst of performances. With this 3 - 5 - 2 formation we are taking the game to the opposition and utilizing the players pace. Not sitting back with two banks of four and focussing on being 'destructive'. This is the brave new England, more belief and not afraid to win. Starved for any kind of success and respect, 2018 should be a launching point for the 2020 Euros and from there, perhaps we will truly see 'FOOTBALL COMING HOME'.                

  • Watching And Waiting

    Never met Caleb Porter. Would call myself an 'Oregonian' having until recently lived in the state for twenty plus years. He was a surprise pick as the clubs first coach in the MLS. A storied career at Akron on the collegiate level, but a failure as the US Olympic coach. Still, he found his legs quickly in the MLS and delivered the MLS Cup in 2015. In the early days folks around Portland said he was 'too full of himself', it wasn't confidence but more of an 'arrogance'. During his watch, he had plenty of verbal altercations with opposing coaches, the most famous being the one with Pep of Bayern Munich during the MLS All Star Game. After that, I noticed that his demeanor became more calm and controlled. The competitiveness was still there, but he had found an inner peace. Knew he had proved himself with that MLS Cup win and was 'in the club'. Stepping down at the conclusion of the 2017 season Porter has kept a low profile and been linked with every job opening in the MLS. Yet I wonder is the prize, the job that he has his eye on, the US Men's National Team? I think so.

  • The Visionary

    Meet Alec Papadakis one of the most influential individuals shaping any Soccer landscape today. A former professional player, attorney by training and now CEO of United Soccer Leagues. USL as they're referred to, reach a population in excess of eighty four million and fuels the growth of the game across North America. The U.S. Soccer Federation granted the USL Division II status beginning in the 2017 season. Operated out of an eighth floor office in Tampa, Florida you will find an ever expanding team of fifty plus individuals across seventeen departments, ranging from operations to marketing, communications and sponsorship. More on the USL in an article below. Having personally dealt with Alec in a past life as GM of Umbro North America, let me tell you three reasons why I respect this guy. Firstly, he's 'solution driven'. Secondly, 'honest and transparent'. Thirdly, 'doesn't accept mediocrity'. I'm fortunate to call Alec a friend and thrilled that we recently reconnected now we are both based in Florida. One of Soccer's good guys.

  • Next Up

    One morning in 2015 I was having breakfast at the HIlton in Clearwater Beach, Florida during the USL annual convention. At the table next to me were Phil Rawlins the founder and owner of Orlando City who had just secured an MLS franchise, Wayne Estopinal the owner of Louisville City FC and a rather fit looking man with a freshly shaved head. That was the first time I met James O'Connor. He was making the move from a player with Orlando to coach with Louisville. Phil introduced me to James and what struck me was his focus and intensity. All business that morning and in replacing Jason Kreiss as Head Coach at Orlando he will need to earn the respect of the locker room 'names' quickly. No doubt some of the Soccer establishment were stunned by this appointment, but we need young, fresh and new thinking on the sidelines instead of recycling the same old names. I wish Phil Rawlins were still in the front office to guide him through the early months as he's in the deep end from the first practice. The expectations are of Mt Everest proportion.

  • Tony Pulis

    Believe I'm correct in saying that TP is one manager that has never been relegated from the EPL. Guy that gets the call with fifteen games left, team in the cellar and asked to come and 'save' them. Usually an incentive based contract where reward comes for securing survival. I sat next to TP at the USA WCQ in Orlando while he was still in charge at West Brom. Very personable, told a good story and thoroughly enjoyed his company. Not like his TV personna at all.

  • Barton's Time

    Together we've spilt a few beers in Santa Monica's famed King's Head Pub. At one point Warren Barton asked me to represent him in a contract renewal with Fox Sports. Turning on the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers game yesterday afternoon, was pleasantly surprised to hear Warren doing the commentary. Sharp, insightful, candid and he thrived on the atmosphere. He was spectacular. Fox Soccer and Warren have finally 'gelled' and this is his calling.

  • Change

    We all view 'change' differently. For some it can be overwhelming, a negative and herald a period of uncertainty. Yet for others it can mean opportunity, the chance to shape the future and create the new. These are usually the 'builders and entrepreneurs' amongst us who will roll the dice, go big and if they are going to fail, will do so quickly. They always see the 'north star', focussing ahead and never looking in the rear view mirror, no regrets. One life, live it mentality.