1. FSV Mainz 05 is Coming to Colorado Springs in July

1.FSV Mainz 05, who will be competing in the Europa League this fall, are coming to Colorado Springs for training and to compete in two Colorado Cup friendly matches.  The 05ers will arrive in Colorado about July 10 and stay until July 16.  The two friendly matches will feature Mainz against USL side Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on July 12 at Switchbacks Stadium.  The next day Mainz will play against Club Universidad de Guadalajara Leones Negros, a popular club that plays in Ascenso MX, Mexico’s 2nd division, at the U.S Air Force Academy.

mainzMainz will be up for a challenge this season, as longtime, successful Sporting Director Christian Heidel has hired on at Schalke and goalkeeper Loris Karius (Liverpool FC) and central midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger (Bayer Leverkusen), key contributors in 2015/2016, have left.  But Mainz proved that they can meet challenges.  They’ve developed two of Germany’s top coaches, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, giving both their first real coaching chances, and both excelled. Current Coach Martin Schmidt had taken over from the dismissed Kaspar Hjulmand in February, 2015, and like Klopp and Tuchel, had no coaching experience above the reserve team level. It was certainly a question of whether he was the man who could continue Mainz’ relative success.

Last season, in his first full season as a first-squad coach, Schmidt rose to the challenge. Mainz attacker Yoshinori Muto, the Japanese import who quickly adapted to Bundesliga play, notching seven goals and two assists before missing most of the season’s second half with injury.  But newcomers Jairo Samperio (7 goals, 5 assists) and Jhon Cordoba ( 5 goals. 2 assists), under Schmidt’s tutelage, stepped up to help fill the scoring void behind Yunus Malli, who had an up and down campaign but still led the 05ers with 11 goals and 4 assists.  Nearly everyone on the squad was a solid contributor to their 6th place finish, showing that teamwork can make up a good deal of what’s lacking in star power.  Mainz challenged for a Champions League spot for much of the season and ended only five points out of fourth place.

colorado cupLooking ahead to three competitions in 2016/2017, Die Nullfünfer will use their time in Colorado to begin training and compete against quality competition, including a Switchbacks’ side that is in mid-season form.  But as Justin Rose, the Colorado Cup organizer and former Clemson University soccer player explained, Mainz are also here to not only build their brand in the United States, but also to bring Mainz skills and training methods to the young amateur players of Colorado.  Four to six members of the 05ers youth training staff will be coming to the Springs to help young men and women learn some new methods and techniques straight from world-champion Germany.  And both Mainz matches will be preceded by a youth contest of 16-18 year-olds.

Rose, a Colorado native, has worked on three different continents (North America, Asia and Europe) over the last 14 years coaching and consulting many companies, professionals, foundations, soccer clubs, athletes and students. Degrees in International Marketing and Psychology combined with advanced knowledge and certificates in NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programing), Intercultural Training and Fitness, his clients benefit from a well-rounded approach towards achieving desired results.

While playing soccer at Clemson University, he spent an off-season training with some members of the Clemson football team, a cross-training experience that was the springboard for his best performances on the pitch while at Clemson in the upcoming season.  That experience, along with the belief shared by the Fanatic that the beautiful game can build bridges (culturally, socially, athletically) among nations, ethnic and religious groups, is the basis of his business enterprises, which includes Funding One’s Freedom and JJR Consulting.  Rose has been working in tandem with the DFL (Deutsche Fussball Liga) and its subsidiaries for the past eight years to build business partnerships, cultural sharing and creating opportunities for youth from both the U.S. and Germany to be involved in student exchange programs while emphasizing youth teams travelling abroad and individual trials.

This is a very exciting time for North American fans of the Bundesliga.  With Mainz’ stay in Colorado, Bayern Munich playing three friendly matches in Chicago, Charlotte and New York City in late July/early August and Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke and 1.FC Köln conducting the bulk of their winter training in Orlando over the last two seasons, the Bundesliga is showing its interest in the U.S. market and building a closer bond to existing fans while expanding their fan bases.  As with Hamburger SV’s just-concluded post-season visit to China being the latest of many German club tours abroad, the Bundesliga is looking outward as well as inward now. While we don’t want the game to change in Germany for the loyal fans who show up to the stadia week after week, we foreign fans of the league and its clubs can only be happy that we are receiving some attention.  As a local Bayern Munich fan club member told Justin, he’s excited that Mainz are coming to the Springs. Even though the 05ers are not HIS club, the fun of seeing Bundesliga players up close at practice and competing in friendlies along with just the thrill and impact of seeing an actual BuLi club playing and training in Colorado is fantastic.

And it is.  Having been to Orlando for the last two winters for the Florida Cup, it is a joy to see the players up close, to watch them practice, work hard, and clown around, these guys we see on TV.  It’s pretty cool even for an old guy like me to get a selfie with a Stefan Kießling, Bernd Leno, Timo Horn or Johannes Geis, or watch a match months later and say “hey, I talked to him, I got to talk to him, etc.”

Also, seeing the players practice reminds one that they are men playing a child’s game, and that despite all the money involved, in some very basic ways the players retain some of a child’s fun in kicking a ball, making a great pass, leaving an opposing player weak-kneed after some fancy dribbling or stripping the ball from an attacker with a perfect sliding tackle.  I can assure you, if you are a Mainz fan, a Bundesliga fan, or just even someone who loves our game played at its highest competitive levels, you’ll have a great time.

Colorado Cup Facts

Mainz-Colorado Springs Switchbacks match kicks off at 7:00 pm local time at the Switchbacks Stadium, with a girls All-Star match preceding

Mainz- UdG Leones Negros match begins at 7:00 pm local time at the Air Force Academy Championship Soccer Stadium, the game will be streamed on ESPN 3 and televised internationally, with the boys All-Star youth match prior

Both facilities seat 4000-5000, with tickets going on sale soon through the aforementioned website ColoradoCup2016.com, local Sam’s Club and WalMart stores, and will be available at the facilities ticket office as gametime moves nearer

Corporate sponsors of the Colorado Cup include Froozer and TopYa! and Huss Painting. Additional new corporate sponsorships of player training camp fees ($400) are also being sought.  Training camps will be held both in the Springs and Vail. Get involved !

Mainz will be staying at the Lodge at Flying Horse in Colorado Springs during their visit.

leones negrosLeones Negros will be in town for a shorter visit than Mainz, but will surely attract fans. They competed in Liga MX, Mexico’s top division, during the 2014/2015 season.

The USL Pro Colorado Springs Switchbacks are coached by former USMNT defender Steve Trittschuh, who was among that great wave of unsung players that got the U.S. back into the World Cup in 1990 after a forty-year absence.  A native of Granite City, Illinois, Trittschuh’ professional career went from 1987-2001, and he played both for Sparta Prague and the Colorado Rapids of MLS among others while also playing professional indoor soccer.

Jason Rose, brother of Justin and also a former college soccer player, is involved in the Colorado Cup, too.  He brings the experience and business expertise of 12 years as Vice-President of Operations at the famed Barrett-Jackson Automobile Auction.

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Gerry Wittmann

Gerry is the founder of the Bundesliga Fanatic. Besides loving German football, he also enjoys the NBA, collecting jerseys and LPs, his pets and wishes he had more time for fishing, bicycling and learning the bass guitar.