Looking back, I see that I published my first article as a VUSA contributor in November 2010. That was on the original VillarrealUSA.org WordPress blog—a brief look at upcoming international matches involving Villarreal players, with the headline being that Giuseppe Rossi was going to be captaining Italy. And along with Sid and Maddi I welcomed everyone to the new Villarreal USA website in late March, 2011, when we became a part of SB Nation.
It’s been quite a run since then for the team. Two Europa League semifinals, a Copa semifinal, Champions League qualifications. On the flip side, relegation, three coaches in a year and a fourth dying of a heart attack right after his appointment was announced. We’ve had our ups and downs at the blog, too, but we have created quite a pleasant little community here and provide a lot of insight into the Yellow Submarine that you can’t get anywhere else in English.
Late last year I told everyone that the future of the blog was in some doubt due to a new California law. I’ll spare everyone the details, but having had a number of conversations with SB Nation about this, I’m delighted to announce that Villarreal USA will remain as part of SBN but with a new (non-Californian) site manager, Zach Hicks.
Zach and I have been emailing/messaging for awhile now, and as you can probably tell from what he’s already published on the site, he’s a young, passionate guy who knows his football and is very interested in Villarreal and its importance in La Liga. He has been a writer for another SBN site (Royal Blue Mersey) for a couple of years, and has also covered La Liga football (especially the “Other 18”) for some other media sites, and has written about US soccer at the USL and college level—as well as the USMNT.
I asked him to tell me a bit about himself and his plans for the site. He says: “To me, Villarreal represents exactly what a football club ought to be. We are not beholden to commercialism, there are strong ties to the community, and the fans aren’t here just to feel the glory of trophies. The club is a family and works to serve the community and build the game of football while they do it.”
Zach also comments: “I believe in football analytics as a way of understanding the game better. Predictive numbers help clubs and fans understand inefficiencies that can help smaller clubs excel and help larger clubs reach the highest peaks. An SBN community is all about the fans and what serves them best, so I’d love to hear what our readers want to see and will try to incorporate that into the site. I think the men’s first team is only the tip of the iceberg of what a football club is, so I want to see our site cover the women’s first team, all the academy sides and even the academies here in the states.
I’m honored to be here and I want to see our site bring more Villarreal content than ever to the English reading fanbase.”
To that I will add, I’ll schedule a podcast with him soon so he can talk about things Villarreal and Villarreal USA in more detail.
I am not going anywhere (well, I do have a European trip planned later in the year, but you know what I mean). I will still be running the Villarreal USA podcasts, will still post articles on the site and certainly comment on the goings-on. But Zach will have overall control of blog content, just as I have had.
The official handover takes place at the end of February, but during the next five weeks we’ll be transitioning duties.
It’s easy to be critical of SBN, and even easier to be critical of the California legislature—the intent of the law may have been good but it is having a lot of unintended consequences. But SBN took our blog on when Villarreal looked like it might be the next big thing in La Liga—they stuck with us through relegation and everything that’s happened since, and it says a lot that even with this, they worked with me to find someone to keep the blog going. I am excited for Zach and for Villarreal USA, and I hope all of you will be too.
Endavant Villarreal, i Endavant Villarreal USA!!!!