Review: The Globe (Newcity)

Published October 5, 2011 (http://boozemuse.com/2011/10/05/review-the-globe/)

The GlobeThe all-inclusive nature of The Globe’s universal name suggests that its ties to being an “English” pub are not entirely fixed. The pub rather sits on the fence about it, and is probably better known as a worldly American ‘soccer bar’ than an English ‘football pub.’ Yet, if overhearing middle-aged British expats discussing social policy from their mother country over a pint of their favorite ale while a classic late-nineties soccer match entrances the rest of the patrons is your thing, then this is the place for you.

The pub certainly hints to a transatlantic link: the specials sign is adorned with the name of an obscure Yorkshire brewer, there are innumerable scarves from all-manner of English soccer teams decorating the walls and the food menu features a token number of English pub-fare items  alongside a more American selection that can be found in any pub or bar on any street in any city in the U.S. The Globe does, however, know how to tease a cask-ale-loving Brit. Gracing the left-hand side of the bar were two unassuming hand-pumps, the kind that ejects that flat, slightly warmer, most delicious kind of beer that, back home, we call ‘real ale.’ Unfortunately, the black plastic on the front of the pump that is usually embellished with a medieval comic-book style drawing of swords and dragons is blank; the pumps are nothing but dead weight there to taunt me. I’ll give them a B for trying, though.

Is The Globe an authentically British pub? The answer is a resounding no. It’s a sports bar catering for a different legion of sports fans. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. There are ample televisions that serve to keep you distracted from your compatriots and transfixed on the soccer action. The beer selection is second to none. (Although seeing a pint of Hobgoblin poured out of a tap rather than a pump and frosting up a pint glass is sacrilegious; there is a reason why American lagers are served at near freezing and English ales served in the fifties and that, my friends, is to mask taste, or lack thereof.) What’s more, the pub serves its purpose: the plethora of soccer matches they have on their schedule is very impressive, much better in fact than any pub in England, which are constrained by TV licensing laws. This detail alone means that I will no doubt be waking up painfully early on many Saturday mornings to make the journey down to The Globe to watch my team among the minority of other soccer fans in the U.S. (Ben Small)

1934 West Irving Park, (773)871-3757

One Goal: The Chicago Red Stars aim to capitalize on U.S. Women’s World Cup success (Newcity)

Published July 26, 2011 (http://newcity.com/2011/07/26/one-goal-the-chicago-red-stars-aim-to-capitalize-on-u-s-womens-world-cup-success/)

Chicago Red Stars“If Americans don’t fall in love with soccer after this, well, maybe they never will,” said Jim Litke, the sports columnist for the Associated Press, after the US women’s soccer team defeated Brazil in a dramatic comeback in the quarterfinal of the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup earlier this month. (They lost the final in a hard-fought nail biter.) The fact is, women’s soccer is a transient phenomenon for most sports fans in the United States. Every four years a squad of twenty-one of America’s best players give it their all, excite the crowds and typically walk away having performed very well. They’ve never finished the tournament in less than third place in its twenty-year history and on two occasions, the team walked away champions. Unlike their male counterparts, who have to play third fiddle to superior play in Europe and Latin America, women in America are arguably the best at soccer in the world. Yet a short time after the tournament ends, the women fade back into obscurity for the next four years as the American fair-weather love affair with soccer continues. But now a newish professional team aims to turn this occasional flirtation into a long-term commitment for Chicago fans.

The Chicago Red Stars are Chicago’s premier women’s soccer team and, although they have had a tumultuous four-year existence since being founded in 2007, they head into the championship finale of this year’s Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) as very strong contenders after winning the Midwestern Conference. Elise Weber, the Red Stars captain and defensive linchpin, believes the success of American women in soccer has much to do with their determined fitness and physical ability. “I think you can be as technical as you want to be but, in the end, if you can’t play for ninety minutes regularly, like in the World Cup, then it doesn’t matter how technical you are,” says Weber. “Fitness is just huge for the women’s game.”

The Red Stars originally played their games at Toyota Park, the home of the Chicago Fire MLS team, when they were part of the Women’s Professional Soccer league (WPS), the top league in the US. Weber, however, explains that the team had to drop out of the league after two years due to financial difficulty. Now the team plies its trade at the Benedictine University Sports Complex in the western suburb of Lisle. “I think there’s still support which is great,” says the Chicago native Weber, “but it is harder to come by support when you don’t have a stadium for all of your games.” She explains that sustaining a team in the top league is difficult, that other teams went through a similar rise and fall after the league began in 2009, including her first professional team, St. Louis Athletica. “I think it’s the nature of starting a women’s league,” Weber says. “It’s hard, at first, to get a lot of fans and support for the games.”

The Red Stars were regardless able to head into the WPSL 2011 season with a strong team. “We had a little bump in the road at the very beginning,” says Weber. “We lost our first game but since then we’ve grown so much as a team and pretty much dominated.” Next year, with the right investment, the Red Stars hope to return to the WPS. For now, they look ahead to the coming weekend’s championship, which sees the Red Stars host games between Orange County Waves, Tampa Bay Hellenic and Boston Aztec in Lisle. Cubs fans be warned, however—watching your local team succeed may be a bit of a culture shock. (Ben Small)

The semi-finals at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, 5700 College Road, Lisleare scheduled for 1pm and 3pm on Saturday, July 30, and the final takes place at 1pm on Sunday. Tickets for all the weekend’s action cost a mere $12, or $8 for each day separately, and are available at RedStarsGear.com.