So close, yet…
Exciting piece of news for me, personally, is that today at Effzeh.com, you can find me among several other media folks who cover the club offering an opinion on whether or not 1. FC Köln will earn promotion this season. While I was honored to be asked to participate, I am definitely a little shy about finding myself under a sub-head with the phrase “Expert Opinions.” Clearly, I have my opinions, but would deservedly be laughed at my long-time observers were I to offer myself as an expert!
Nonetheless, I’m published in the piece with six gentlemen who’ve all earned their goat horns in a professional capacity while covering the club for various media. Though the other opinions are all published in German, my piece is in English, so you can read that at least, but then you should probably open your Google Translate and see what the others say. I think that’s fair.
But, I want to say that I’m honored to have been asked to participate. When I began following this club a few years ago, I had no idea how consumed I would be by my interest in it, nor could I have anticipated the degree to which I’d be accepted by many of the fans as “one of us.” It’s been remarkable. My body (and family and job and computer) may be in Seattle, but my heart is frequently visiting Köln. Thanks to all of you.
Okay, enough of the self-promotion/feel-good hippie stuff. Let’s get to the Geißbock news!
- The decision as to who will be the center back playing alongside Dominic Maroh Saturday just got a lot simpler for coach Peter Stöger. Bruno Nascimento has been excused from team activities to attend to a death in his family in Brazil. Nascimento is expected back in Köln for training on Monday. Best wishes to Bruno and his family.
- Is anyone having a hotter stretch right now than 19-year-old shooting star Yannick Gerhardt? After a few solid performances in test matches, the young midfielder has found his name being bandied about in many fans’ preferred starting eleven for this weekend and possibly also in Stögers. Earlier this week, he learned he would receive the silver Fritz Walter Medal, marking him as one of the top young talents in German football. Now it turns out the teenager has been anointed the “Ambassador of Sport” for his home district of Düren.
Along with hurdler Jana Kulessa, Gerhardt was honored in a ceremony back home attended by his youth coach from Kreuzauer SC 05 as well as by Stephan Engels, who got to know him as a member of 1. FC Köln’s U21 squad.
About the award, Gerhardt said he was pleased, but remains focused on the future, saying such honors will make him want to “give even more gas” in the coming season.
- Lukas Podolski answered a few questions about his beloved Effzeh for Bild.de for an interview published today. Naturally, Poldi says his fingers are crossed for “the entire club, the guys, and especially the fans” for a great season ending with what everyone wants: promotion.
Poldi also offered positive opinions on the return of Anthony Ujah alongside Marcel Risse and Daniel Halfar in attack, on Stöger making a “dispassionate, clear, and professional impression,” and the “true professional” status of Jörg Schmadtke.
I guess we can count Podolski among the many of us with very positive thoughts about how this season will run.
- According to a post on fc-koeln.de (the club’s official site, that is), the first batch of the new 2013-14 Away jerseys are completely or nearly sold-out in several sizes. From a quick visit to the online store, it’s not entirely evident which sizes are in short supply, but with replacements not expected until late October, anyone who wants one sooner than Halloween had best think about getting their order placed today.
- Express.DE scored an interview with Dominic Maroh, who offered a wide view of Stöger’s game plan and how it effects everyone on the pitch. Having worked to translate for some of his teammates who don’t do well with German, Maroh seems to have gained a wider sense of Stöger’s philosophy than just that of a center back. A few quotes:”The basis for an attractive offensive game is, for us, a functioning defensive foundation. That excludes nobody, from the goalkeeper to the striker when the opponent is in possession of the ball. This is the fundamental requirement. The advantage of the system is that we are difficult to predict and are flexible, in that positions can be switched. It’s important that the six (defensive mid) organizes those up front and stays in the middle. “”Because we’re playing with only a six and would nominally have five offensive players on the field, those players have a special responsibility on them. They essentially cannot allow any balls to get through, otherwise it will be very difficult for the defensive midfielder.”
“We can build off last season. For my part, I’m focused on promotion. But we must, from the first day, not allow any negligence.”
“We will miss Kevin McKenna as a person, but he will be present in the dressing room. With good performances, it should be easy for whomever plays in his place. Communications-wise, I see no problems.”
- Stöger himself is the center of an interview posted on Sport1.DE today. Frankly, most of the questions answered are too similar to those of past interviews to be of much interest, at least as far as me wanting to rehash them here.
The one good takeaway from the piece, for me, came when the interviewer asked, “Who will score the goals?” Stöger responded, “With us, everyone can score goals.”
This, I like.
Stöger did then concede that Ujah should, if they utilize him correctly, get a fair share of goals.
- From the “story that just won’t find an ending” department, ksta.de posted a pair of updates on the negotiations over Slawa Pesko today, the latter of which indicated no deal had yet been reached, but all signs were pointing toward an outcome that would soon have Pesko returning to play for 1. FC Köln.
I’m completely numb to this entire thing, to be honest. If Schmadtke is ultimately happy, I guess I’ll just be “for it,” in general.
- Finally, English-language Bundesliga site Bundesliga Fanatic (for which I sometimes write) has begun posting season previews for 2. Bundesliga squads. So far, you can get up to speed on SpVgg Greuther Fürth, 1. FC Kaiserslautern, FC Ingolstadt, and FC St. Pauli.
While not live yet, I’ve been told the FC Köln preview should publish tomorrow. Any guesses as to who may have written that one?
This one is going up late due to a sick Hen(nes)ry, who kept his Daddy busy with needing to be held while he battled an ear infection. We’re still likely going camping this weekend, so I’m going to miss all you #SektionTwit crazies come Saturday. I’m sure I’ll post a bunch of time-delayed tweets Sunday night/Monday morning because I’m a little bit crazy, quite honestly.
Hope some of you got up extra early today to start to prepare yourself for the early train departure tomorrow. Can’t wait to hear you all the way over here on the US west coast.