Twin Cities

So visiting the Twin Cities for Atlanta United at Minnesota United is my #groundhopping goal for 2020. I spent some time researching this trip and came up with three options depending on the time available, how much you want to cram in, and if you want to see extra soccer games.

Option #1 In and Out

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Allianz Field, home of Minnesota United

For Atlanta United fans, there are plenty of flights leaving Atlanta on Saturday, August 8, 2019, so you would have Saturday to explore the Twin Cities. I found the Light Rail brewery tour and it looks amazing. There’s also the Mall of America and some other options listed in Option #2.

 

Kickoff for Atlanta United at Minnesota United is at 2pm CT on Sunday, August 9, 2020.

There is plenty to do around the stadium (options here) or you can pre-game with the Minnesota United Supporters Groups (Dark Clouds and Truth North Elite). Reach out to them ahead of the match for details! More info on how to get to the venue and other options can be found here.

The Metro Light Rail looks like a good option to get around town with stops at the airport, Mall of America and all of the stadiums (Allianz Field, Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium).

 

Again, several flight options back to Atlanta on Monday, August 10. Definitely possible to get bang for your buck if you fly out early Saturday and come back Monday afternoon. Flying out Sunday morning and coming back on Monday is doable but much more expensive.

Option #2 Extended Stay

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Mall of America

For the same amount for the flight, you can stay a couple of extra days, catch the game and check out the Twin Cities. One of the leaders of the Dark Clouds suggested the following things to do:

 

Option #3 The Groundhopping option

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Arrive in Chicago on Tuesday, August 4 or Wednesday, August 5. The Chicago Fire are back at Solider Field this year, and they play the San Jose Earthquakes at 7 pm CT on Wednesday, August 5.

I’m not sure if Section 8 (Chicago Fire Supporters Group)/Chicago Fire will be running the Pub to Pitch bus to Soldier Field or if they will do it for a midweek match, but if they do, it’s worth the extra couple of bucks.

The Chicago Fire website has everything you need to know for tickets and Soldier Field.

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The following day, get up and travel to Madison, WI to watch Forward Madison take on League One Miami. It’s about a three hour drive from Chicago and kickoff time at the time of writing is TBD. There is a shuttle service to the stadium and there are parking options at the venue on the team website.

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Then you have two days to kill until Atlanta United takes on Minnesota United and you knock out some of the items listed in Option #2.

 

As of the time of writing, the lower league teams around in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota have not announced their schedules. Here’s a list if you want to cram in an extra game or two:

Check out my map of US and Canadian soccer venues and hit me up at austinlong1974@gmail.com with any questions or comments.

Philadelphia

My wife and I went with another couple to Philadelphia for an Atlanta United game in 2019. There is a ton to do and we had a great time. 

Took an early flight out of Atlanta and flew in and out of Philadelphia International Airport. If you’re heading into downtown, I would suggest taking a cab or rideshare. You can use transit (SEPTA) but it takes about twice as long. If you split the car between 2-4 people, totally worth it.

Hotel

We stayed at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. Just blocks away from the historical district as well as some places to grab some delicious food and a short ride from a couple of breweries. This hotel, and those near it, are well placed to do sightseeing but nowhere near the stadium. Again cab or rideshare to the game.

Stuff to do

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After checking in and grabbing something to eat, we walked around some of the historical landmarks near the Liberty Bell. One option is to do the Constitutional Walking Tour. It’s 75 minutes and hits a bunch of places around Independence Hall. Also, VisitPhilly.com put together a Top Ten list of stuff to do. We did most of it!! Plus there is a lot to do along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. You can hit several artistic landmarks on your from the Old City to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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We also hit One Liberty Observation Deck (you can see the entire city!) and the US Mint, which was really interesting. Our traveling companions hit the Waterfront one evening and had a nice time. 

My friends with Philadelphia Union Supporters Group Sons of Ben suggested the following as well:

  • Mutter Museum (lots of oddities and abnormalities in the medical world)
  • The Franklin Institute is another cool place to hit if you like science stuff
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art (if you like Rocky, these are the steps he ran up in the movie, his statue is also here.)
  • Carpenters Hall

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If you’re into beer, you’re in luck. Tons of breweries around town. We went to Love City Brewing and Yards Brewing Company. Unfortunately I followed the sprint not a marathon plan and had to bail before Goose Island. Food is available at Love City and Yards and both have great spaces to have a beer with friends.

If you’re looking for beer and food near Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, etc., I found Independence Beer Garden, which looked amazing.

Food Highlights

We had brunch after arriving at High Street. Wonderful breakfast and some mimosas hit the spot. We also ate at Luna Cafe and sat outside on a beautiful morning. I had their breakfast bagel and it was fantastic. On our last day we walked over to The Bourse. This redeveloped building has lots of food options. Finally make sure to check out the Reading Terminal Market. It is insane in there (and we went on an off day), so be prepared.

Getting around

We walked a lot and used rideshares. SEPTA is an option for quick trips.

Tip!! The couple we traveled with turned me on the Philly Phlash. Couple of bucks and you can hop on/hop off all over town. Definitely worth it.

Game Day

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Everything about the Philadelphia Union is on their site, including tickets and details about Talen Energy Stadium.

We visited our friends in Sons of Ben. They tailgate in Lot B. It’s behind near the practice pitch on the west side of the stadium. You can chip in for beers or bring your own. Visit the Sons of Ben site and social media for all the details.

Also, there’s Larimer Brewing Company across the street from Talen Energy Stadium. We didn’t make it there but it’s definitely an option.

The stadium is very intimate. Compact and not a bad seat that I could tell. Getting out was a hassle so be prepared for that. We somehow caught an Uber under a bridge near a construction site. Not optimal but we made it happen.

Map

Here is the Google Map I put together to help get my bearings and plan our trip. Hope it helps.

Local Teams

There are several lower league teams in the area if you want to see additional matches.

Check out other teams in the area here.

Let me know if you have any questions. Here to help. Comment below or email me at austinlong1974@gmail.com.

Groundhopping 2020

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado Rapids v Atlanta United, September 15, 2018

As the 2020 soccer schedules are being released, it’s time to start planning trips.

I have several goals this year:

*See an Atlanta United away game.

*Do a mini-soccer tour.

*Create a comprehensive map of venues in the United States and Canada.

 

First up is the Atlanta United game. My current target is the Atlanta United/Minnesota United game at Allianz Field on Sunday, August 9, 2020. This match ticks several boxes: #1 an Atlanta United away game. #2 a trip with my parents. My parents are visiting all 50 states, and Minnesota is one of two remaining states they haven’t been to. #3 visit another MLS city. #4 see an amazing new venue, which includes the Brew Hall!! I have started the Jay Riddle Memorial Spreadsheet and am developing different trip options.

The mini tour is still in development. I have a couple of ideas and need to do some more research and confirm a few things. Plus I’m putting together possible trips for fans who want to hit multiple MLS venues in one trip. Plan is to have these ready to go in the coming weeks.

As for the third goal, building on the efforts of some amazing soccer fans, I have created the following map. It needs to be updated with expansion teams and those teams that folded/changed leagues/gone on hiatus in the lower leagues. I have also added a layer of all of the venues I have been to over the last 25 years or so. The map is by no means done but it’s a start.

 

Got travelling or match day tips? Need a hand planning a trip? Hit me up at austinlong1974@gmail.com

 

Finally, quick shoutout to a couple of people who have inspired and educated me.

Paul Gerald. If you are going to the United Kingdom to watch a game, hit him up. Check out his blog and get a copy of his book, The Groundhopper’s Guide to Soccer in England.

Peter Miles. Peter has been all to matches of all levels around Europe. His blog has great articles with historical background and amazing pictures.

Steven Bernasconi. Steven spent 2017 traveling around North America visiting venues and fans. The result was The Soccer Tour and Steven created some awesome content.

I’m Back

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Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia Union v Atlanta United, August 31, 2019

Not as dramatic as Michael Jordan’s fax back in 1995 but still the same message.

Firing up the SoccerNomad blog again with a focus on groundhopping. What is groundhopping? Per wikipedia: Groundhopping is a hobby that involves attending matches at as many different stadiums or grounds as possible.

Plan over the next couple of weeks is to share information on possible trips around the US and Canada, and post any trips that I make during the 2020 season.

I would love to hear from you. Trip ideas. Tips. Questions. Comment below or email me at austinlong1974@gmail.com.

The End

After almost six years of blogging, the time has come to move on.

Thanks to everyone has read and shared and commented and helped me share my journey through the beautiful game.

Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974 and stay tuned for the next project.

Juventus Home Shirt 08/09

Juventus’ first season back after the Calciopoli scandal was a relative success, with the Old Lady finishing third and qualifying for the Champions League. The following season, the club improved on their position while giving a good account of themselves in Europe.

The playing staff saw turnover ahead of the 2008/09 campaign with Birindelli leaving the club after a decade of service and almost 300 appearances. Zalayeta also departed, although his career never hit the anticipated heights. To help reinforce the squad, Mellberg, Amauri, and Poulsen were signed and Marchisio and Giovinco returned from loan.

The Bianconeri challenged for the scudetto before falling away in the spring, which eventually cost Ranieri his job. Alessandro Del Piero led the way with 13 league goals, supported by Amauri and Iaquinta, with Trezeguet out for most of the season. In the Coppa Italia, Juventus overcame Catania and Napoli before losing out to Lazio in the Semi-Finals. The Biancocelesti would go on to win their fifth Coppa title.

Juve were back in the Champions League and, after breezing through the Qualifying Round (5-1 over Artmedia Petržalka), the Bianconeri met Real Madrid on Match Days 3 and 4, winning both matches. The Old Lady won the home match 2-1 and then went to the Bernabeu where Alessandro Del Piero turned in a performance for the ages, scoring both goals. The Black and Whites topped the group but fell to Chelsea in the Round of 16.

Juventus 2-1

Real Madrid 0-2 Juventus

Moving on to the kits, Nike took over the contract for the Italian club in 2003 and had it until adidas became the manufacturer in 2015. This one was a solid effort, not the best but far from the worst, with the 06/07 and 14/15 versions the best in my opinion.

Juventus’ traditional black and white stripes were accented by bright yellow accents at the collar, cuffs and bottom hem. Yellow was used instead of the red from the previous season and I preferred this look, so much that I bought a replica version. The cuffs and hem were particularly interesting as the yellow bits were sown on under the main fabric to create a flare effect. There several different iterations of the kit as it was worn with white shorts and socks, white shorts and black socks and black shorts and socks. Have to say I liked this last version the best.

The replica had an embroidered crest with a thick heat transfer of the New Holland logo. There were some additional touches with the word BIANCONERI and two stars on the inside neck tape and JUVENTUS in gold across back neck.

As I was researching I noted that the league version of the shirt had stripes throughout the back of the shirt while the Champions League version had a black box for the name and number set. At first I thought I was imagining things but the Switch Image Project confirmed this slight alteration.

I ordered this shirt with JUNIOR 7 on the back. While I don’t wear it as much as I used to (read why here), it still hangs in my closet and maybe one day I’ll get it framed for the mancave I dream/talk about.

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Resources

Wikipedia

Colours of Football

Switch Image Project

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Check out more posts on kits from clubs and countries around the world on the Strip Club page. And yes. It’s safe for work.

South Georgia Tormenta FC v Myrtle Beach Mutiny

My soccer travels took me to down to Statesboro, GA, about a 3.5 hour trip southeast of Atlanta to watch South Georgia Tormenta FC.

The club was founded in 2015 and finished 5th in the South Atlantic Division during their inaugural season in the PDL in 2016. This year their competition includes teams from all over the Southeast:

  • Carolina Dynamo         
  • North Carolina FC U23
  • Nashville SC U23           
  • Tobacco Road FC                      
  • Myrtle Beach Mutiny  
  • Tri-Cities FC    
  • South Georgia Tormenta FC     
  • SC United Bantams      
  • Peachtree City MOBA
  • Charlotte Eagles            
  • Wilmington Hammerheads FC

Tormenta FC were named “Best New Franchise of the Year” after the 2016 campaign and this year have entered into a partnership with Charleston Battery. A recent friendly saw them draw with the USL team 1-1 down in Savannah.

Larry and I rolled a couple of hours before the match and met up with Terminus Legion Southeast Georgia Chapter Head Brian Diefenbach. He showed us the city before driving around the campus of Georgia Southern University, where Tormenta FC play. Even an hour before the game there was a decent crowd with a small group of tailgaters, kids playing Foot Golf and Foot Billiards, and fans checking out the merch and concessions inside.

The team plays at Erk Russell Park and has found a nice facility. There’s plenty of parking and seating with bleachers around three sides of the stadium, and the pitch was in really good condition despite heavy rains several hours previous. The club set up a VIP area on the player bench side with that side of the pitch having a forested background.

Myrtle Beach Mutiny took the field in an all red strip and was on the front foot early. The hosts, wearing their all black uniform, were lucky to absorb the early pressure and eventually found their footing. However a mistake in the back by Tormenta keeper allowed the visitors to open the scoring through their very talented #7. However Tormenta fought back and had several good looks at goal before halftime.

Eventually the equalizer came in the second half off a thundering header from a corner kick. Chances came thick and fast as the game opened up, with the game having a physical edge to it and the referee not having his best outing. The hosts nearly stole all three points when a half chance fell to a Tormenta attacker inside the box but his shot crashed against the crossbar and away from danger. The match finished 1-1 and several decent players were on show. The announced crowd 1200+ fans enjoyed a pleasant evening, with most braving the rain which started during halftime and lasted about 15 minutes.

Pic courtesy of Brian Diefenbach

Find out more about South Georgia Tormenta FC here.

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Read more about my ground hops here.