Away Days: America in Europe

Words and Photos by Nathen McVittie, from USA vs Czech Republic in Prague.

After the World Cup dust has settled, soccer continues.

International teams take to friendly matches to tune up ahead of competitive fixtures or to test the youth of tomorrow.

Their fans turn up, from near and far, to pay respect to old heroes or to catch a glimpse of heroes-to-be.

This past week, close to a thousand American fans took the plunge and traveled to Central Europe from all over the world in order to witness the continued evolution of an emerging power.

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Crossing the Chasm: The Polder Cup

Whether it’s a controversy over goal-line technology, a linesman plastered across newspapers after a dubious call, or a referee put to the sword after falling prey to a bit of simulation in the box, football is a sport preoccupied with its own minutiae. So much so, that for all the vitriol and passion that trails every small incident on the pitch, it’s often easy to forget that at the end of the day, football is just a game.

San Sebastian-based artist Maider López built upon that premise with her Polder Cup project, where she hosted a football tournament in Southern Holland across a series of mismatched pitches. From jagged boundary lines to hollows and bumps littering the field and even ditches of water splitting fields in two, Maider parodied the rigid official rule-set by creating a situation in which players had to adapt their strategy and interpretation of the rules to the environment around them.

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"Wake Up!"

Words and Photos by Eric Beard and Julie Logan, from the NWSL Final between the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City at Starfire Stadium

There’s something immeasurably inspiring about witnessing a winner lose. It silences a stadium full of ardent supporters. Amongst immediate despair, there’s a fire that has yet to be fully extinguished. It’s an unnatural air of defeat in the lungs of those who know what it means to transcend second best. Above all, it’s a wake-up call.

Because anyone can step up at any time. New champions can always be made. And they aren’t playing to provide a reminder to always bring your best; they’re emphatically declaring that your best isn’t good enough anymore.

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Ground From Above - Terrão de Cima by Renato Stockler

"A ‘terrão’ (earthen field) is an oasis in the urban landscape. The reddish tone of a soccer field turns into a stage for resistance of popular soccer. These fields are increasingly rare to be seen because of property speculation and land occupation, and they standing as a spirit of resilience." - Renato Stockler

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Where The Average Weekend Is Anything But: Portland and The Timbers Army

Photos captured by Jordan Beard

Over the past week, Portland, Oregon was situated right on the middle of the global game’s map. From Thierry Henry to Mario Götze, icons and phenoms were filling the streets as the MLS All-Stars welcomed Bayern Munich to town. We were at Providence Park for that match, and it was great. But it wasn’t Portland.

The stadium was packed to the brim and full of fans from overseas, but it wasn’t Portland. So, we returned to see this city’s side play Chivas USA to take in an "average game" and witness the atmosphere that the Timbers Army and company could create.

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Through Ryu’s Lens: Embracing the game in Basel

Not every match can be a World Cup final, and it won’t be that way for another four years. So while we brace for a new season in Europe’s major leagues, Ryu Voelkel is already back in action, traveling the continent to capture the game unseen by most. He recently visited Switzerland to see Basel take on Luzern, and the kids, fans, and vibrant stadium stole the show.

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Watching People Watching The World Cup

You’ve seen the thousands of photos of goal celebrations, player reactions, and crushing images of fans sitting alone in stadiums. Photographer Jane Stockdale decided to take a different approach. She jumped on a plane to Brazil to shoot audiences, not matches.

There were packed beaches. There were desolate bars. Her project, Watching the World Cup, shows the month of madness in a refreshingly human light.

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Capturing The 2014 World Cup: A Photographer’s Guide

Words and Photography by Ryu Voelkel

It’s been a while. So forgive me. Por favor. And this is a long one so I suggest you make some tea or coffee before digging in.

I thought I would talk about my experience as a professional freelance photographer shooting the World Cup. Not the ones who work for an agency or a newspaper. Basically, a backpacker’s guide to shooting the World Cup. Beleza.

Traveling

First of all, I was there to shoot as many matches as possible. I estimated 21 and fell 1 short and ended up with 20. Why? I got killed by the fog in Curitiba which grounded my plane until the match in Belo Horizonte started.

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The Calm and The Storm: Lionel Messi’s Moment

By Anthony Lopopolo

When he was a kid, Lionel Messi used to take a one-hour siesta in the afternoon. He would sleep 10 hours a night. He wasn’t really bothered. 

He is still a pretty calm guy at 27 years old, by accounts of his teammates and those around him. “You see him warming up and he’s as calm as a kid who’s going to play on the field around the corner,” said Fernando Signorini, Argentina’s fitness trainer, in the book Messi: A Biography. The Maracanã, the World Cup final, is not exactly a game on a field around the corner, but it is his last frontier, the chance to be fully embraced by the country he left when he was 11, to share the same mantle as Maradona.

Messi understands this moment. “My hopes and dreams are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one,” he wrote on Facebook. But this feels almost more about his own legacy than it does about Argentina.

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