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Stone Sports Management Travels to Germany For Client and Club Meetings

On May 9, 2013, Justin Stone embarked on a trip to Germany to watch his clients plying their trade in Germany and to meet with a range of German clubs from youth/reserve up through Bundesliga 1. German football is at the peak having two clubs playing in the UEFA Champions League Final and with Bayern Munich's dominating league play securing the 2012-13 league title well in advance of this past weekend's final round. Justin Stone spent hours driving and riding trains throughout Germany.  Use this map to following along:

German Map_crop

Stone Sports Management hopes you enjoy the recap below!  Click the READ MORE button

Standard Stadium

A long Trans-Atlantic journey put Justin Stone down at Frankfurt Airport around 8:30 am local time.  After going through Customs, he took a train to Cologne, Germany.  After a quick nap, it was time to drive a couple hours to Belgium in time for a meeting with Standard Liege to disuss the upcoming summer window and to brainstorm ideas for players to loan to different markets.  Above is Standard's stadium that would be awaiting a weekend Playoff match that would determine the club's fate for next season with mutliple scenarions on the line.  Depending on results, Standard could either play in Champions League, Europa Cup or miss out altogether.

Immediately after the meeting, Justin Stone traveled to Dusseldorf for a series of meetings. The first meeting was with Dutch licensed FIFA Agent Sean Choi who has conducted several South Korean player transfers into Europe, Asia and the Middle East.  The meeting was very productive and raised expectations to place SSM clients in new markets in the future.

Sean and_Justin

Once the meeting with Sean Choi ended, it was time to meet up with SSM Client Sercan Guvenisik who was the first Turkish player every in MLS.  Sercan's family still lives in Germany, and he was there during the summer months.  It was great to catch up with Sercan in Germany who welcomed Justin Stone to one of the best restaurants in Dusseldorf - Basil's.  The food was really good and performing on stage was a live singer and band.  Also in attendance were Bundesliga players from Fortunda Dusseldorf and FC Koln.  After a long couple days of traveling and meetings, Justin Stone caught the train back to Colgone.

Sercan and_Justin_M

The May 11, 2013 morning consisted of having the first proper night's sleep in Germany. After eating breakfast, it was time to travel to Dortmund to see the Dortmund Reserves host Hallscheler SC in a Liga 3 matchup.  Dortmund II entered the match near the relegation zone while a point would secure Hallescher safety for another season.

DortmundReserves copy

There were several talented players on Dortmund reserves.  With no surprise, the top players had already signed pre-contracts with other Bundesliga clubs including Hamburg and St. Pauli.  There were plenty of chances from both sides, and the two clubs finished tied which secured the necessary point for the visitors who were able to celebrate with their fantastic supporters who traveled from East Germany.  These supporters were chanting throughout the entire match and outnumbered the Dortmund fans.

Leverkusen Hallescher

Dortmundclubhouse copy

Above is the Dortmund pub connected to the reserve stadium grounds.  Behind this viewpoint was the VIP lounge and where the press conference occurred after the match.  Introductions were made to both trainers from Hallescher and Dortmund II after the press confference with the latter being German-American David Wagenar.  The evening's event would involve a Restaurant Grand Opening in MonchenGladbach.

Koln Stadium

On Sunday, May 12, 2013, the big event for the day was to travel to FC Koln's Rhein Energie Stadium for a #1 vs. #4 match up with Hertha Berlin taking on FC Koln. FC Koln started the season off slowly but then rebounded with an impressive 13 game unabated streak to climb as high as number three in the table. A big part of their ascension was the play of central defender Kevin McKenna who had tallied 5 goals on the season, including back to back to back matches. Entering the match, FCK were four points behind Kaiserslautern for the Promotion/Relegation Playoff spot and needed to win their remaining two matches and have Kasierslautern not collect a win.

Koln Campus

50,000 people attended the match, and the campus was one of the best seen with sufficient training grounds, plush trash, great facilities, a local sports university and a great landscape to capture the entire mood of one of Germany's largest cities. It was interesting to see two German-Americans for Hertha Berlin getting the start with Jordan Anthony Brooks occupying the left central defender position while Alfred Morales played in central midfield. There were several chances on both ends but Hertha Berlin scored first off a penalty kick. Morales would make it 2-0 with a nice flick from his head off a free kick that perfectly looped over the FCK goalkeeper.  FCK took one back and kept the pressure on but could not find the equalizer and the necessary go-ahead goal to keep its promotion hopes alive. 

Koln Stadium_Salute

After the match, FCK offered thanks to its supporters by presenting a banner and walking towards all sides of the stadium and eventually into the ultras section.  Hertha Berlin celebrated with a good amount of visiting supporters in the corner thanking their fans who traveled from Berlin. Justin Stone then passed the time in the VIP area and was introduced to several former FC Koln and German international legends including Berndt Cullman whose pictures celebrating FCK's success decades earlier hung on the stadium walls. Overall it was a fantastic experience seeing two traditional Bundesliga sides compete in an important league match. It will be interesting to see how Hertha Berlin will add to its roster to compete in the Bundesliga and whether FC Koln can add the necessary pieces to make a strong run once again and achieve promotion next season.Koln Reserves

On Monday May 13, 2013, Justin Stone went to Koln's training center campus to watch an Oberliga match with Koln Reserves versus Duisburg reserves in the auxiliary stadium seen below. FCK had four players from the first team participate, and its as clear who these players were as they were ahead of the others. Duisburg had a couple first team players as well including one player who played for Hannover's first team the year before shockingly as his play was not very strong, which was a representation of Duisburg as an whole. At half time, the score was already 5-0, and the final score remained at single digits with a 9-0 scoreline. There were a couple of interesting players for Koln reserves who could feature prominently in Major League Soccer.  Later that evening, Justin Stone met up with Canadian International Kevin McKenna to catch up and discuss the weekend's match and what lies ahead in the future.

On Tuesday May 14, 2013, Justin Stone took the afternoon to visit some non-football related places in Koln. Of particular note is the Colgone Cathedral located next to the train station. There were tourists from a variety of nations taking in the world's largest Cathedral. Here is a picture of the massive inside.


During the World Wars, the Allies tried to avoid hitting the Cathedral while it bombed the city, and it was a known safe haven for the city's high ranking officials because of this avoidance.

Bonner v._Lerverkusen_

On Wednesday May 15, 2013, Justin Stone traveled to Bonn, Germany to take in a U17 Bundesliga match between Bayern Leverkusen vs. Bonner SC.  Although the Bonner SC first team competes in the lower German divisions, its U17 team plays at the highest level in the region's competition.  The home side took a surpising yet professional result against the favorites 3-1.  A substitute came on with a few minutes left and sealed the victory with a dynamic run in behind crossing the ball to an unmarked striker who tapped it home for the crucial extra goal.  In attendance, there were doznes of agents, a German who went to an NCAA University on scholarship as well as a German-Gambian father who introduced himself and created conversation about the Gambians in Major League Soccer.  It definitely a good lithmus test to compare the level of this match against youthsides in the United States.

On Thursday, May 16, 2013, the day was mostly spent catching up on emails and phone calls.  In late afternoon, Justin Stone went to a Koln training and met with youth coaches.  

On Friday, May 17, 2013, Justin Stone left Cologne and traveled to Osnabruck for meetings with the club's director Lothar Gans and also to visit with club legend and American Joe Enochs (who now works in management and coaching) to discuss players for next season and to exhcange ideas.  SSM has some history with players who played for Osnabruck in the past including Bjorn Lindemann, Tobias Nickenig and Jan Tauer.  

Osna Stadium

After the meeting, there was time to walk around the city which is where the 95 Theses author Calvin had settled.  A town fair was going on and was able to take a look at Joe Enoch's Sports Pub that had some great memorbelia from Germand the United States.  There was a lot of tension and excitement throughout the city as the club had an important weekend match and entered the last fixture one point behind the Promotion-Playoff spot with a chance to get to the Bundesliga 2 again.  After the brief city tour, the next plan was to drive to Hannover and meet with another Bundesliga 1 player who is keen on coming to play in MLS in 2014. What is unique and fantastic about this player's situation is that he wants to come to play in his prime at 27 and not wait until his "European Career" is over or on the down swing. 

Justin -_Osnarbruck

Heavy traffic made the Hannover meeting place impossible and so adaptation occurred with an impromptu meeting in Springe, Germany. The six hours of driving were well worth it and after a meal at a local Italian restaurant, there was a rush to return to the Stemwede Tournament.

Springe Restaurant

The drive to the next location went much easier, and there was much anticipation to see the competition at the local youth tournament in Stemwede, Germany.  Friday evening was spent at the Tournament clubhouse sharing stories of past tournaments and to explain further soccer's impact at the youth levels here in the United States.  2013 Tournament participants included five German sides (Hamburg, Werder Bremen, E. Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and a local select side) and three European clubs (RSCA Anderlecht, Brondby and Reading).  Due to traffic, arrival was tardy for the first match between Wolfsburg and Reading, which saw the English side holding on for the win despite being a man down.  The next match displayed a dominant performance by Anderlecht who played against Eintracht Frankfur who often brings a side to the Dallas Cup Tournament. This match was over a few minutes after the opening whistle as Anderlecht scored on three set pieces within the first 20 minutes. The side was dominant in open play as well with fast, one touch passing and speed to consistently go at the Germans. The final score was 4-0, and it was found out later that one of the three top players identified for Anderlecht cost the club $1M in a transfer fee, the second players being the  younger brother of a very famous EPL player, and the third having a handful of matches for the first team.  Here is the view behind the Anderlecht bench on Day 1.


Stone Sports Management would like to thank everyone who organized the Tournament and the participants for a fantastic couple of days.  The hospitality was incredible including this meal organized for the clubs and Stone Sports Management.

Stemwede Meal

Saturday morning consisted of going to the tournament site to catch a couple games that put Brondby against Hamburg and also Werder Bremen against the local Select Team . For those wondering, Anderlecht ended up beating Reading in the Final and will be invited back to next year's tournament to defend their title. Stone Sports Management will be holding discussions with USA based clubs to participate as well in 2014 since the Tournament has never featured an American side.

Justin Stone next traveled back to Osnabruck in time for the important match against Armenia Aachen. Aachen sadly was already doomed for relegation and has financial difficulties that may require them to drop even further than the 4th tier. This comes after a being in Bundesliga 1 just a few seasons ago. The entire city was plastered with purple and quickly picked up the game tickets and headed into the VIP lounge where the club has some great memorabilia from the club's past. A surprise meeting ensued with FC Erzgebirge Aue's chief scout who was taking in the match as an observer since Osnabruck was a potential opponent for the relegation/promotion game depending on how his club fares in the next day's match against Sandhausen.

Osna Fans

Osnarbruck played some enjoyable football combining well and feeding off the crowd's energy. The home side scored three goals with ease as the first three goals were all created from Osnarbruck's left side getting behind the defense and serving crosses into the box to an unmarked striker. At half, it was 3-0 and the crowd and players knew they had done their part but still had to wait to see the Heidenheim-Kickers Offenbach result with Heidenheim ahead in the table by one point rendering Osnarbruck's dominance moot if they could secure a win. The match remained scoreless at halftime, and the halftime scoreline would see Osnarbruck through to the Playoff match. 

The second half started well for Osnarbruck as Aachen was reduced to 10 men after a silly foul by the Aachen GK who was unsure about coming out of the box to collect a ball over the top. His hesitation rendered him helpless and resorted to fouling the Osnarburck attacker who got the ball first. Osnarbruck would add another before the final whistle but the drama was not finished. The players gathered around each other the pitch and all eyes were on the scoreboard. There was more extra time in the Heidenheim match and the entire crowd waited in anticipation for the announced final score.

The 0-0 scoreline held up, and the fans stormed the field. The players were jumping up and down in celebration with each other and the fans. The drama and emotion was incredible for the home side. Here is a picture of the Osnabruck fans and players on the field:

Osna Celebrates

Unfortunately, Justin Stone could not stay and enjoy the city's celebrations as he embarked on a 4 hour drive to Germany's most historic city Heidelberg to meet up with Finnish Striker Juho Makela at a local Tandoori restaurant across the river from downtown called Moghul. The two caught up regarding Makela's past four and a half months at Sandhausen and about his future since he will be a Free Agent after the final match due to the club's relegation. It was then time for Makela to return home and get rest before the final match.

The last match of the trip focused on the opposite tension compared to the Osnarbruck match in that Sandhausen, like Aachen, was already relegated but Sandhausen's opponent, E. Aue. needed to secure three points in order to avoid 16th place in the table, which would require them to play in a home and home Playoff match against Osnarbruck who finished third in Liga 3.  Prior to the match, Justin Stone met with Armenia Bielefeld's Samir Arabi who was in attendance watching the game to scout players for next season in the Bundesliga 2.

Sand -_Aue

The match started with both sides quite nervous. E. Aue's supporters traveled well and outnumbered the home side's, and they sang throughout the match lighting purple smoke and rattling the fence and nets to the point where it looked as though they were going to crumble.

Juho Makela performed several good actions including intelligent runs in behind, clever flicks and important hold up play while Tobias Nickenig was an absolute rock in central defense for E. Aue'sNickenig went perfect on the day with aerial duels and never was beaten during the match.

In the 2nd half, E. Aue made some substitutions that turned out to influence the match, although it was a very controversial goal. Substitute striker and the club's leading goal scorer Jan Hoschedit crashed a served ball into the box and headed the ball out of the Sandhausen's goalkeeper's hands and into the goal. E. Aue celebrated knowing that the goal would be the likely ticket to remain in Bundesliga 2. The visiting fans went crazy and even the E. Aue reserves sprinted onto the field. Replays would late show that the Sandhausen Goalkeeper had possession, although brief, and the referee should have called a foul. The goal held up to be the game winner, and the result rendered moot Dynamo Dresden's win over J. Ragensberg.

As the referee blew the final whistle, E. Aue and its fans celebrated while Sandhausen went to their fans to thank them for the support throughout the season by displaying a banner and walking around the pitch. There were a few confrontations between the clubs' supporter groups and police had to be deployed in numbers to prevent any serious escalations. Justin Stone congratulated Tobias Nickenig and his parents who were there in attendance before the team left on the bus home. Justin Stone and Juho Makela reflect on the match and season in SV Sandhausen's VIP area until it was time to head back to Heidelberg.

Justin and_Juho

Justin Stone returned to his Heidelberg hotel to catch up on some work and spent his last evening in Germany with a relaxing meal with Juho Makela.  At dinner, two Finnish students from the local University surprised our table recognizing Makela and chatting him up.  The next morning Justin Stone would head to Frankfurt Airport to start his return journey back to the States.

Stone Sports Management would like to thank everyone involved for making the German Tour such a great trip between seeing clients perform in important matches, meeting colleagues, clubs and taking in German football and culture.  Stone Sports Management looks forward to the next trip to Germany and providing opportunities for clients and clubs.

Stone Sports Management LLC
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Columbus, OH 43215 USA
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