No Matter What Comes Next

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There’s not a day that goes by where some thought about soccer, particularly soccer in Cincinnati, doesn’t go through my head. I read news about various leagues on the bus, I think of ideas for Die Innenstadt while on my bike, I listen to podcasts about the game when I’m driving. It’s been just over two years since FC Cincinnati was announced as an expansion club in the then third division United Soccer League. Since those days of rumors and press conferences, so much has transpired here at home and in the game across the nation. Shaky early marketing aside, I was on board, hopeful about FC Cincinnati from the beginning.

There were a lot of like minded people, we formed this supporters group.

There were even more like minded people. They joined up with us and in other groups across the city.

Then there were thousands of people, they helped fill the stands for record attendances that watched league play, the Open Cup, international friendlies, and the US Women’s National Team.

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From the beginning, I’ve said that I wanted to see FC Cincinnati attain membership in Major League Soccer. I liked that the pursuit of the nation’s top league represented ambition in the new club, I prayed it was true ambition and not just another name to add to the long list of departed minor league ventures in town. I wanted to see the city I love awarded a third major league franchise and to see its profile raised even further.

There’s times where I question whether MLS is the best move, but I’m not naive enough to believe that the alternatives are some sort of clear cut, organic option without glaring issues and hurdles of their own. It’s easy to say you don’t care about MLS if your market isn’t being considered, it’s also easy to be skeptical about the top league when it demonstrates some questionable moves. Regardless, I’ve been thinking a lot about this for awhile, since 2012 in fact. With a decision coming very, very soon, I’ve been trying to rack my brain as to how this is going to turn out.

Image via the talented @linsinnati

Image via the talented @linsinnati

In some scenarios I see it going our way, in others I see Cincinnati overlooked in the way so many others do as they fly over, making their assumptions and discounting our home. I’ve finally accepted that it doesn’t matter how many articles I read, how many discussions are had amongst friend, or how many ways we try to speculate on the expansion decisions made in closed door committee meetings. What does matter to me is my city and the things that make it wonderful. Things like this club. More specifically, what comes along with being a fan of this club.

What happens next, well, I want it to go one way, but it’s not the defining reason as to why this is all important. Whether FC Cincinnati joins Major League Soccer or not, I still plan to be an active participant with Die Innenstadt, I plan to do my part to help grow our charity efforts, to help promote our city and its people, to keep having memorable times with friends and what has become an extended family. MLS or not, I plan to cheer on my club and my city, a Die Innenstadt scarf held high above my head.

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For me, this all runs deeper than an expansion committee decision. It’s a part of me, an important aspect of my life, an experience I share with so many wonderful people on match days and beyond. It’s bigger than soccer, it’s bigger than MLS, it’s bigger than our particular supporters group, it’s bigger than me.

No matter what the league is called, no matter where we land, I plan to be as active and as vocal as life allows. For me, this is about more than just stadium locations, political deals, and speculation. This is about people coming together in support of our city, to do positive things, to make everyone’s life have a few more bright moments bookended by a game and team we love, a city we’re proud to call home.

I’m hopeful that Major League Soccer sees our city, our club, and our support as an asset. No matter what they decide, though, I’m here for my city.

Because I love Cincinnati.

How about you?

Thanks for reading and "juncta juvant!"
- Ronny Salerno, Die Innenstadt Board Member

Image via the talented @linsinnati

Image via the talented @linsinnati

The End of the Season, but Another Chance to Party in 2017

I’m a big fan of sitcoms from the 90s: Full House, Step by Step, Family Matters, Seinfeld, etc. For some reason, I’ve always enjoyed these shows and no matter how my interests have evolved or changed, there’s always something comforting about catching a random episode of Roseanne on Nick at Nite when you’re half dead from a day spent going to Mecklenburg, Nippert, and then back to Mecklenburg. One of the things I don’t enjoy about these programs, though, is the “clip show.” You know the kind I’m talking about, the filler episodes that recap a series or season with memorable moments and very little new content. Life has its own clip shows, though, and those can often be way more enjoyable. I’ve been replaying a personal clip show in my head and while it isn’t overly filled with heartfelt moments, life lessons, or the time traveling adventures of Steve Urkel, it’s actually an enjoyable episode. 

There have been few things in life better than the Full House/Family Matters crossover episode. #Blessed

There have been few things in life better than the Full House/Family Matters crossover episode. #Blessed

I work as a photographer and meticulously catalog the tens of thousands of images made with my camera and my phone throughout the year. Before sitting down to write, I looked at all of my Die Innenstadt/FC Cincinnati/Soccer related photos - my own personal clip show which featured many of you. After the MLS event last November, I was ready for a bit of a break and by the time Bockfest rolled around this year, I was right there ready to go again. To march through the streets of our beautiful city. To support our local club and have some fun. From painting two poles and tifos in Jeremy’s studio to singing chants in the car of a Pittsburgh incline, I had no idea what year 2 would still hold in store after it got off to a great start.

There were memorable matches like Djiby’s four goal destruction of St. Louis and matches against forgettable opponents like Toronto FC 2 and Harrisburg City Islanders 1. I had the opportunity to try and play Bob’s drum once (sorry Bob, won’t subject anyone to that again) and attend the wedding of two wonderful people who I wouldn’t have known were it not for Die Innenstadt. There were matches I missed for personal reasons and ones I attended that also doubled as personal celebrations. I got to sing in the rain with Bailey loyalists and Carl Lindner III handed me a beer. We lit flares on Vine St. and marched in unity before the club made huge statements in the US Open Cup against MLS sides from Columbus and then Chicago. I toasted friends at Rhinehaus, watched another International Friendly, and spent a lot of time sweating at stadium setup (although not nearly as often as some others who have put in more time and work). I got to hug Omar Cummings and later on I was witness to Cincinnati supporting the USWNT with more enthusiasm than this city ever has before. We once again raised money for charity and promoted not just soccer, but something bigger than ourselves. Die Innenstadt has been a huge part of my life these past two seasons and an overwhelmingly positive one, bolstered by the people who identify as members and all of the other fans in general. There are members of this group who I’ve known for years from other walks of life and those I’ve known only through soccer for a short time. It’s the confluence of a lot of things and I’m incredibly grateful for it. 

It’s the one clip show I enjoy watching. 

And maybe that’s why I didn’t feel too upset after the disappointing match against Tampa which ended the season. 

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There’s a lot to come in the future as it relates to the club we support. For a moment though, I want to forget about stadium location debates and MLS expansion decisions. I want to focus on you: the members, the people who make Die Innenstadt what it is. As I look back, it’s amazing how we’ve grown over the first season through to the end of the second, and I’m excited to see how we grow for year 3 and beyond. 

End of Season Party:

To say thank you: we’re throwing a little (actually, big) party at Mecklenburg Gardens. Current members should check their emails for information on attending, the delicious buffet, etc. If you didn’t get the email or need the information, shoot dieinnenstadt@gmail.com a message posthaste. 

Facebook Event Link

Elections

We also have some elections coming up. Whether you’re just holding your scarf above your head, helping paint tifos, or singing your heart out in The Bailey - everyone has contributed to this group. There are quite a few people, though, who go out of their way to dedicate their time and energy into making a lot of behind-the-scenes magic happen. Their commitment and volunteerism is often thankless, but they do a great job and I’m proud to call them friends. These are the folks who were elected last year, and at this coming party we’ll be holding elections for the 2018 season. Come vote, give feedback, and if you’re interested in running for a position yourself, check that email for information on how to sign up. Even if you don’t want to hold an official position, there are always ways to contribute. Speaking for the board, our door is always open and we’re happy to hear from you. Hit us up at dieinnenstadt@gmail.com.

To everyone who has made this year memorable: thank you. To our friends at Mecklenburg Gardens and Rhinehaus: thank you

Come hang out at the end of season party and let’s all work together to keep the positive momentum going into 2018 (and eat a ridiculous amount of German egg rolls washed down by copious amounts of beer). 

Thanks for making Die Innenstadt what it is. 

Regards,
Ronny Salerno
Die Innenstadt Board Member and currently a HUGE Swope Park Rangers fan. 

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Playoffs against Tampa!

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We finished the season with a win against Toronto FC II to boost our spot in the Eastern Conference Standings to 6th! This means we'll be playing the Tampa Bay Rowdies this Saturday at 7:30pm!

Bring your charity mug, or buy one at rhinehaus to raise money for It Starts With The Shoes!

We'll have merch available and will be selling memberships, so if you haven't gotten your membership yet, do so now before the season's over and secure your 2017 scarf and a spot at our end of year party at Mecklenburg Gardens (details coming soon).

If we get past Tampa, we will either travel to Charleston Battery, or we will host the New York Red Bulls II at Nippert Stadium the following week.

Juncta Juvant!

Facebook Event

Join Us At Withrow on October 10th!

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I’ve gotta be honest, it’s hard to not start each one of these posts, announcements, or articles with some cliche line akin to “wow, what a season it’s been so far!” But the reality is, even in just our second season, it’s truly been an interesting year - from kicking things off with a Pittsburgh road trip to those Open Cup matches to the current playoff push. One of my favorite things Die Innenstadt has done this year, though, is partner with a local, soccer-related charity: “It Starts With the Shoes.” 

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ISWTS was started in 2014 by Jim and Mary Frank to help secure funds and equipment for the local Withrow University High School Tigers soccer team, a team made up predominately of refugees from war torn nations. Through the efforts of ISWTS, the Withrow Soccer program has matured and serves as an outlet for some great, talented kids. ISWTS has also now expanded their support to local soccer programs beyond just Withrow. 

All season long, Rhinehaus has been collecting proceeds from drinks purchased by DI members with their charity mugs at away match watch parties. Now, it’s time to present the first check. 

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So join us on October 10 as the Withrow Tigers take on Dayton Dunbar! We’ll watch some local soccer, cheer on the team, and present the first round of donations made in partnership with our good friends at Rhinehaus!

Tuesday October 10, 2017 @ 7 P.M.
Withrow University High School

2520 Madison Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45208
Admission: $6, Cash Only

Keep an eye on the Facebook event page for plans to meet up beforehand, etc. 

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Since 2014, It Starts with the Shoes has helped players from 15 nations who have fled 7 civil wars, 3 genocides, poverty, and famine. This is a group we plan to support well into the future, both on the pitch and off. We’ve still got two regular season away matches (and playoffs) coming up at Rhinehaus. Come grab a charity mug and help raise some funds or drop off gently used equipment!

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It may just be FCC away matches from here on out (but, here's hoping for a home playoff match!), so here’s the chance to support a great cause and catch some more local soccer in person!

We'll see you there!

Facebook event

Regards,
Ronny Salerno

Won't Someone Think Of The Children?

Saturday was an embarrassing display for the team on field, and I am not going to try to justify the performance. Our fans came down in droves to watch a good soccer match, but were left disappointed not because of a loss, but because we quite frankly shit the bed and gave up five goals.

Some people will try to blame it on the red card or the refs, but that’s not the reason we lost. We arguably played better after the red card than before it. We were on our heels for the first 36 minutes of the game, and I’m surprised we didn’t give up more goals in the that time. We didn’t just have 0 shots on goal in the first half, we had 0 shots in the first half. For whatever reason, the team on the field were not ready to play. Was it nerves about Tuesday? Was it a mixture of new players not working well together? You’ll have to ask them. That’s all I’ll say about the on-field performance.

Off the field, there were other “issues”. To get a grasp of what happened, let’s go back to July 15, to the last Dirty River Derby match at Slugger Field.

Leading Into the Match

In that matchup, we came away with a 3-2 victory over LCFC (which would have been 3-1 if not for an own goal in the closing minutes). The roles were very much reversed on the field. We, as fans, definitely came in and ruffled some feathers off the field as well during that match. A couple of fans brought in smoke that was ignited after our first goal. Regardless of how you feel about the prohibition of smoke for visiting supporters, FCC has the same restriction at Nippert Stadium, and our team does expect people to follow that. The July 15 match immediately followed the matches against the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire in the US Open Cup. In these two matches, visiting supporters lit off smoke during the match (despite not actually scoring any goals). There may have been a desire by some fans to do the same thing they did, and light off smoke at a big game (ie. Louisville). We didn’t organize this as an SG, and discourage anyone from using smoke when not explicitly permitted.

After the July match, the two front offices had a phone call and discussed rules for the next match. Despite having no issues in the stands between supporters of opposing teams (that we have been made aware of, at least), they imposed new rules on us. They required us to enter the northwest gate (left field) and not enter the main gate like we had done at all previous games so that we wouldn’t pass the home supporters. They required a representative from FCC to come to the game and watch us, or something. Not sure exactly what he was supposed to be doing, but they required that. They wanted to make sure we didn’t chant anything that had swearing. And they, understandably reiterated the smoke policy.

We followed all of the rules they stated for us. We didn’t bring smoke into the game and made sure everyone was aware that smoke was not allowed. We entered the correct entrance. We even changed a word in one of our songs so we wouldn’t say “shit” and instead said “poo”.

Streamergate

After an unintentionally hilarious tweet by one of the LCFC fans complaining about how we are “going overboard” because a few streamers ended up on the warning track in front of our section, we decided to double down on streamers – after all, we were never told not to bring streamers. The FCC fans started calling the event from July streamergate, and supporter groups decided to unleash as many streamers as possible into the air at kickoff for the August 12th match as a funny nod to the overreaction. We handed out an obscene number of streamers while tailgating to launch into the air at kickoff.

Apparently the LCFC front office decided to try to ban streamers a couple of hours before the match, but the message was not communicated to us. This is all from word of mouth, and they never tried to reach out to us directly. Streamers had been handed out and tossed before almost anyone knew the front office had said anything.

The front row of the visiting supporter section is over 100 feet from the sideline

The front row of the visiting supporter section is over 100 feet from the sideline

Some complaints came that the streamers landed on the playing surface. This is simply inaccurate. From the very first match last year at Slugger Field, our fans were placed as far away as possible from the playing surface. We are literally all sitting over 100 feet away from the field. For some perspective, the FCC front office has visiting supporters 15 feet from the sideline. The furthest seat in the Bailey is about 65 or 70 feet from the end line. Again, we are all placed over 100 feet away from the sideline at Slugger Field. We couldn’t reach the field with a streamer there if we tried.

If we were placed close to the playing surface, I guarantee we would not have organized the streamers since we don’t want to interrupt the game. We are looking to have some fun and enjoy ourselves without doing anything destructive.

Intentions

In case you couldn’t tell, the streamers were meant as a good-natured joke, and a way to show our support of the team visually. Every LCFC fan I personally talked to after the game loved the streamers and thought it was hilarious. Despite the lopsided affair, we all had a laugh about it. There were a few people who, likely through frustration of our team’s performance, continued to throw a few streamers near the end of the game. We told people not to do that as we were warned that people who continued would be removed. I physically took streamers from one of our supporters who was trying to throw them late into the game.

Unfortunately for everyone, the Louisville City front office went into Saturday looking to send a message to our fans that any shenanigans, no matter how harmless, would not be tolerated. In the 88th minute, the club made the strange decision to remove the front row of our section (and only the front row). I don’t think anyone in the front was throwing streamers after kickoff, and even if they were, it wouldn’t have interrupted the game and wouldn’t have been destructive. It wasn’t dangerous. It wasn’t meant to actually anger anyone (they’re streamers, guys). The security even apologized to our fans while removing them and said it wasn’t their decision.

Before the match even started the atmosphere was very hostile toward us. They had a huge security presence outside of our section. After the streamers were released, security was hovering in the aisles.

Let’s be clear about our supporter groups. We aren’t looking to start fights with opposing fans. We aren’t looking to disrupt the game. We aren’t looking to damage property. If anyone sees someone trying to do any of those things, we encourage you to either step in or alert someone who can. As shown by the use of streamers, we are just looking to have fun and show our support. If any Louisville fans want to come down to Nippert Stadium and throw streamers around their section, go for it! As long as you don’t damage anything and don’t interrupt the actual game, let’s have some fun.

Won't someone think of the children?

Won't someone think of the children?

As a supporter group, we have no ill feelings towards the people who support LCFC. We will continue to invite you to join us at Mecklenburg Gardens on game days. We’ll continue to chat during half time with opposing fans, and hug those goofy characters who come over to talk. We’ll also continue to say you’re full of shit and we’ll continue to poke fun at you. We want this to be a rivalry, but let’s not take things too seriously in the stands. For people on all sides, let’s continue to make this a fun experience, regardless of how anyone in a front office handles things.

Moving On

This result is behind us, and now we must bring our focus to the U.S. Open Cup match against the New York Red Bulls. The winner of this match goes on to visit Children's Mercy Park to take on Sporting Kansas City in the Open Cup Final. We'll be pregaming at Mecklenburg Gardens at 4pm on Tuesday and invite everyone to join us. The match starts at 8pm, so we'll be starting our march to the stadium around 7pm. Let's come out in full force on Tuesday and secure a W in the Open Cup Semifinal!

Juncta Juvant!

Ryan Lammi,
Die Innenstadt President