Speculation surrounding Gareth Bale’s seemingly impending transfer has picked up steam since former teammate Clint Dempsey left Tottenham Hotspur for Seattle Sounders FC. In New York’s Times Square, the giant Bale NBC billboard came down today, adding fuel to the fire.
Either NBC Sports knows something we don’t, or they were planning on rotating the billboard ads to keep the campaign fresh, we don’t know. But it’s concerning news for Tottenham Hotspur supporters, but continued great news for soccer fans Stateside.
Unfortunately, we’re not staffed with anybody named Nostradamus, or any direct descendants (that we know of).
NBC rented the billboard for a year and will change its look every so often during the season, as the Sports Business Journal reported in July:
As NBC replaces Fox Soccer and ESPN as the destination for EPL fans, the network hopes to win new ones by spotlighting the league’s fan culture. In Manhattan, for example, there are pubs associated with specific teams. It’s not unusual for an Arsenal fan in New York to be told to try another pub around the corner because, “This is a Tottenham bar.”
“Keep in mind, there isn’t a traditional hometown team in the Premier League for fans in the U.S.,” Miller said. “When you’re trying to sell a league where many of the people are not as familiar with the stars, I think showing them the excitement and emotion of the fans is one good way of doing it. We want to widen the net by growing the sport and creating a rooting interest.”
There are additional New York-based marketing efforts in play, as well:
■ A Times Square billboard, measuring 5,472 square feet, debuted two weeks ago with the image of Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale and the tagline “Every Match. Every Team. Every Week.” The billboard, on 48th Street and Broadway, has been rented for one year, and NBC plans to change its messaging during the course of the season. According to a source, the rate card for a space of that size in Times Square is $200,000 per month. In the weeks leading up to the Aug. 17 start of the 2013-14 EPL season, an artist — expected to be chosen this week — will work daily in public view at the Times Square site on a new ad for the billboard.
At the same time as the billboard incident, Tottenham changed away from its Twitter background image featuring Bale, which also sent up red flags for many supporters. Football.co.uk has a before-and-after shot.
Tottenham took to its official Twitter account on Tuesday to respond to both incidents. As it turns out, there is a logical explanation that has nothing to do with Bale transferring to Real Madrid — yet.
The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.
Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.
[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]
The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.
The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.
With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.
The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.
According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.
According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.
[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]
The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.
The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.
The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.
[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]
Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.
United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.
Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.
Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.
The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.
The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.
While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.
NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.
As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.