Archive for the ‘ MatchDay Memories ’ Category

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.

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Magic City Brigade

NOTE: I recorded a podcast with Collin Barnwell, Vice President of the Magic City Brigade, the Birmingham Hammers’ Supporters Group ahead of the Atlanta Silverbacks/Birmingham Hammers game at Silverbacks Park. The recording didn’t turn out as well as I had hoped so I transcribed it. Enjoy.

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Collin, thanks for joining me. Talk about the formation of the Birmingham Hammers.

MCB Founder Forrest Collins and Hammers Founder Morgan Copes

Photo via Magic City Brigade

The club was founded in 2013 by Morgan Copes and John Killian. They played a non league season in 2015 and then joined the NPSL in 2016. (There is a great appearance by John Killian on Flakoglost podcast)

How did last season go?

Last year we didn’t do that great, only won two games but it was our first season. We had some first year woes, and fired our coach after the season. We hired another coach Wulf Koch, who is an experienced collegiate coach and has done very well at the University of Auburn at Montgomery. We’ve got a very charismatic coach who has a great staff. This year it’s looking up.

So the team is formed and then Forrest gets involved and the Magic City Brigade come to be. Talk about that.

Forrest started it in his dorm room. He enjoyed watching the Supporter Groups of Portland and Orlando and Seattle and figured if Birmingham was going to have a team, why not have a Supporters Group like that or one that mimics that style and choreography.

I got into the party a little late so to speak. I came to the Hammers in late 2014/early 2015. When I heard about Forrest and the Magic City Brigade I started coming out and joining them at events. 

Just been a work in progress ever since. Started as a couple of guys who wanted to watch the game together and is now formed into group that goes to matches home and away. We are Hammers supporters and we enjoy football, that’s the biggest thing.

Touching on that, I came to the first official game for the Hammers when they played Chattanooga FC in Birmingham. I reached out to you guys and joined you at the tailgate. Nice big spot to tailgate, and although the Chattahooligans were there and much bigger, they have a several year head start, but you guys were there, had some pizzas and some food and some beer, just hanging out. It was great.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that you guys had a great tifo for the first game. It had a couple of stars and smokestacks from the ironworks. Talk about that and your inspirations.

The tifo was a rendition of what makes Birmingham iconic and that would be Sloss Furnaces and the iron industry at the turn of the century. It displayed the stacks of Sloss Furnace and the Birmingham city flag, which is a tri-color flag, red/white/red with a red star in the middle of it and the seal of Birmingham. It was our take on that, and we got our first tifo done and we wanted to make it about the city and not about us.

The Hammers play at Sicard Hollow. There is no rigging, there are no barriers, there are just bleachers, there is nothing to unfurl as it were. However the facility has a nice hill in one corner and you guys staked the tifo down and it was up for the whole game, which I think is better, and at halftime I was able to get some pictures.

We were talking earlier about in tifo in general. You guys have a lot of DIY flags that are hanging on the fences of the facility. Talk about tifo for a fourth division club. How do you execute that?

There’s teams to look up to in the fourth division from a creative and inspiration standpoint like Chattanooga and Detroit City. All of our tifos are homemade. We buy the fabric at supermarkets, wherever we can find it, we buy the paint at the supermarket. It’s very free hand, very do it ourselves, it looks crude, it looks rough, but that’s who we are. We’re new to this, we’re not trying to make a publication out of this. We’re just doing things our way and people seem to enjoy it.

Going back to the first game, the Chattahooligans had close to a hundred fans and you guys didn’t have as many. I did like that you were on the opposite end of the field, little give and take, and you guys just did your thing. Had a nice big drum, a couple of chants, very organized. I like your attitude: we’re new, we’re trying and we do what we can.

Photo via Magic City Brigade

That’s one of the biggest things. We are not here to please the front office, we are not here to please other people. I have had several conversations with the owner and they have told me to stop bugging them with questions/permission about this and that. Everything about our club is very grassroots and it’s very do it yourself.

My wife and I live about an hour and a half north east of Birmingham, so we are not close and can’t get 30 people together to paint a tifo, so all the tifos that are constructed at my house are done on the kitchen table or the parking lot our apartment complex. All the others are done a combination of driveways and parking lots. It’s very do it yourself, get some dirt on your knees and paint.

Talk about 2017 season for the Magic City Brigade. Do you guys plan to have watch parties.

Being that streaming has become more of a thing for lower division clubs, we’ll probably have some watch parties for some our away games.

One thing I talk about with lower division supporters is that you guys get to travel. For Atlanta United, I get to go to one game this season, but for the other 16 I’ll be at a bar or home or whatever. For NPSL, especially the Southeast Conference, it’s pretty doable if you really commit you can go to every game.

I know for me, my plan is to attend about 85% of the away matches, with two of them being a six hour drive from my apartment, so it’s not feasible. If I had more resources I would go to all the games. The format makes it ideal for travelling and they are close drives. It’s very regional. That’s what I like. If you’re willing to commit to those seven to eight hour drives, you can go to every match.

We’re planning on having someone at every game, whether it’s one person or it’s like today here in Atlanta, it’s seven to ten of us. We will have at least one member of the Brigade at each game and that speaks volumes to who we are in the fourth division.

Let’s talk about the 2017 season. Who is in your division?

Southeast Conference is split into two division–East and West. The Birmingham Hammers are in the West with Chattanooga FC, Inter Nashville FC, Memphis City FC and New Orleans Jesters.

I know you’ve started blogging, done a couple of previews. What can fans or neutrals look for from the Birmingham Hammers this season.

I run a completely fan oriented blog, https://bhamhammersblog.wordpress.com/ and it’s a 100% fan take on the experience, so it’s completely biased. We had one fan from another team who said that the blog was not an accurate reflection and I told him yeah.

This season we are in better form than last season. With a new coach and a new staff who are chomping at the bit to get started. We had one preseason match and in that match we played the Alabama ODP team and they were excellent. I don’t know how ODP teams are across the country but they were quality and we beat them 6-0. I don’t think that’s 100% comparable to the NPSL but this season I can see us making the playoffs. We have to win our home games and get some points and I think that’s doable.

Who are some players to watch out for?

Photo via Birmingham Hammers

Our keeper Bradley Louis. He’s been with us for three seasons.

Photo via Birmingham Hammers

We also have a new face, Jorge Delgado. He’s a forward who played at Mississippi College, and his career stats are impressive.

So expectations for the season? What would you be happy with?

I really don’t care what the record is. It’s bringing amateur soccer to Birmingham. I could see us winning every game but also I could see us dropping a couple.

How can readers find out more about Magic City Brigade and the blog.

We are on facebook and twitter (@MCBrigade14). You can find me on twitter (@BhamForeman) and the blog is https://bhamhammersblog.wordpress.com/.

I’ve been joined by Collin Barnwell from the Magic City Brigade and we have been tailgating before the Atlanta Silverbacks/Birmingham Hammers game. Collin, thanks for taking a couple of minutes to talk and have a great season.

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The Birmingham Hammers defeated the Atlanta Silverbacks 2-1.

World Cup 2002

Looked back at the 2002 World Cup, from recapping key moments to kits to goals to the performance of the USMNT.

Read both parts below and let me know thoughts in the comments below.

Bad Hair, a Historic Run, Crazy Fans and Bad Refereeing (World Cup 2002) Part 1

Kits, Shoes, Tactics and Team of the Tournament (World Cup 2002) Part 2

 

Kits, Shoes, Tactics and Team of the Tournament (World Cup 2002) Part 2

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Kits

brazil-kit

The big performance feature of the tournament was a mesh panel over a sewn in base layer. Adidas went for contrasting colors on some shirts which worked with most jerseys except for the white ones, with France and China coming to mind. Nike’s template saw an angled chest section accented with several different features: contrasting colored triangles at the collarbone and rib cage panels, raglan sleeves and a mixture of collars.

cameroon

Of course the most unique kit had to have been Cameroon, which saw sleeves sewn into a tank top designed kit in order to meet FIFA regulations. Germany wore the same kit (white shirt, black shorts, white socks) in every match. I owned the Nigeria home shirt from this competition for while but eventually got rid of it. My post on the shirt and the Super Eagles tournament can be found here.

For full pics, please check out Historical Football Kits World Cup 2002 page and, for informed analysis on kit design, listen to the Football Attic Kit podcast dedicated to the tournament.

Shoes

predator-mania

On the shoe front adidas had recently released the Predator Mania ahead of the tournament. The shoe was much less stylized than the previous versions and didn’t have the fins. A traditional looking boot, the tongue was held in place with an elastic band that went under the shoe, and blades rather than studs were used and the shoe featured a heel cup.

02_2002mercvapor_2_native_1600

Nike continued on with their Mercurial Vapor line and launched it with the famous Secret Tournament campaign. Focusing on making the lightest boot possible, the outsole was made of a synthetic material called Nike Skin. The shoe also contained an external heel counter and a “glass” filled outsole called NikeFrame.

Tactics

I couldn’t find much in the way of tactical innovations so I focused on the US v Mexico Round of 16 game and the winners of the tournament.

usa-mexico-2-0

I had it stuck in my brain that Claudio Reyna played some sort of RBW/RM but didn’t know if that was right or why one of the most technical players in the US Soccer history was manning the channels. Research proved that I remember correctly and this position was the result of squad changes. Bruce Arena rolled out a 3-5-2 against their CONCACAF rivals. Friedel was between the sticks with Berhalter, Pope and Sanneh in a three man back line with Mastroeni back in the squad to help clog the middle. Lewis and Reyna played wing back to provide defensive cover and O’Brien and Donovan started and linked the attack, which was led by Wolff and McBride. The US gave up possession but kept Mexico at arm’s length, only giving up one shot. An early goal from McBride allowed a dogged organization to take over and the United States saw off Mexico. This tactical tweak secured the result for the Stars and Stripes and added another Dos a Cero to the rivalry.

(Thanks to MLS Soccer and US Soccer for resources.)

brazil_2002_world_cup_rivaldo_ronaldo_ronaldinho

As for Brazil, everyone remembers an awesome attack of the three R’s but the midfield corps was disrupted by an injury to Emerson before the tournament and a change by Scolari in the knockout stages. Michael Cox of Zonal Marking examined the team and saw the Seleccao move from a midfield of Emerson and Juninho Paulista to a midfield of Gilberto Silva and Juninho Paulista, who was then replaced by Kleberson. The result was a 3-4-1-2 with a back three of Lucio, Edmilson and Roque Juinor and Cafu and Roberto Carlos as wingbacks. Ronaldinho took the ball off the back line and got it up to Rivaldo and Ronaldo. Not really a tactical innovation by Scolari but one that got Brazil’s World Cup Qualification back on track, maximized his player pool and captured the country’s fifth title.

Team of the Tournament

Reviewing the Team of the Tournament, the memories came flooding back. Kahn was a beast but had an unfortunate moment in the Final. Rustu would get a cup of coffee at Barcelona but spent most of his career in Turkey. Hong Myung Bo was a rock in the back for the hosts. The three R’ed attack of Brazil was a sight to behold. I loved Hasan Sas and actually created a player based on him for a FIFA game. And of course who could forget El Hadji Diouf. The Senegalese striker had a great summer but a series of terrible spells followed in England afterwards.

Goalkeepers: Oliver Kahn (Germany); Rustu Recber (Turkey)

Defenders: Roberto Carlos (Brazil); Sol Campbell (England); Hong Myung Bo (South Korea); Alpay Ozalan (Turkey); Fernando Hierro (Spain)

Midfielders: Rivaldo, Ronaldinho (Brazil); Claudio Reyna (United States); Michael Ballack (Germany); Yoo Sang Chul (South Korea)

Forwards: Ronaldo (Brazil); El Hadji Diouf (Senegal); Hasan Sas (Turkey); Miroslav Klose (Germany)

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All in all, a strange tournament due to the timing and multiple locations but one that I will remember for the United States’ fine performance and exposure to new teams like Senegal, Turkey and South Korea. Kit game wasn’t that strong but some of the goals were quite tasty.

Read Part 1 here and check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

Soccer Trips 2017

2017 promises to be another great year for American soccer, and this year is particularly special because Atlanta United kicks off their first ever MLS campaign. But soccer happens all over this country at all levels and my goal each year is touch base at each level.

This year began with Atlanta United friendlies. First up was the quick drive up to Chattanooga for the game against Chattanooga FC. The Chattahooligans were great hosts, providing space at First Tennessee Pavilion and a huge breakfast buffet spread. Besides getting to meet fans from Atlanta and Chattanooga, I ran into Dennis Crowley, founder of Kingston Stockade FC of the NPSL. He came in from New York to check out the scene and we had a quick chat. Read my recap for Terminus Legion.

The following weekend was the opening match of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Atlanta United fans descended on Charleston to watch the Five Stripes face off against Columbus Crew SC. All four Atlanta United Supporter Groups did a shared tailgate, which was awesome. Returning to Charleston was great as well as the housing at Camp Cheek.  Read my recap for Terminus Legion and listen to my interviews with Atlanta United fans on the Terminus Legion podcast.

I went to the first ever Atlanta United game. The club kicked off at Bobby Dodd Stadium and it was awesome evening. Tailgate, march, tifo, great match. As a season ticket holder, I’m looking forward to the rest of the season. Here’s the Terminus Legion podcast from the tailgate.

 

Here is my proposed schedule for the rest of 2017.

  • May 31 Savannah Clovers at Georgia Revolution. NPSL
  • July 3 Nashville Soccer Club at Peachtree City MOBA. PDL
  • August 6 Atlanta United at Sporting Kansas City. MLS
  • September 15 Bethlehem Steel FC at Louisville City FC. USL
  • September 16 New York Red Bulls II at Cincinnati FC. USL

Here are some of my previous trips.

You want to join me on a road trip? Comment below or hit me up on twitter @austinlong1974.

And check out Steven Bernasconi’s project, The Soccer Tour. He has put together an amazing 2017 and can’t wait to learn more about his adventures.

Bad Hair, a Historic Run, Crazy Fans and Bad Refereeing (World Cup 2002) Part 1

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Four years on from France 98 and I was ready. Having been completely consumed by Euro 2000, I looked forward to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. With the help of the internet I was able to learn more and more about the teams and stay up to date on the most recent results.

The tournament started earlier than usual due to the rainy season and, due to the time difference, games kicked off in the middle of the night here in the United States. The United States had qualified (including the first Dos a Cero in Columbus) and opened up against a Portugal team led by their Golden Generation (Vitor Baia, Sérgio Conceição, Jorge Costa, Rui Costa, Fernando Couto, Luís Figo, Nuno Gomes, João Pinto, etc.), who had made the semis of Euro 2000.

us-wc-2002

The night before the game I had a strange dream, a dream in which the United States thrashed the Portuguese in a stunning upset. Quite the premonition but complicated by the fact that I had slept through the match, missing the Stars and Stripes stunning achievement. I awoke in the early hours and drove to a friend’s house where local coaches were assembling to watch the match, and, as the memorable first half unfolded, my dream was becoming a reality. Portugal fought back and nearly saved a point, but the US held on and set the stage for a historic tournament, in which they reached the Quarter Finals.

This tournament was memorable for several reasons. Recently wed, my wife and I had rented the upstairs of a house and were starting our lives together. Our house didn’t have air conditioning, so I was sweating in the heat even at 2am. I was able to get out of the house to watch the morning matches, as a local bar hosted watch parties for the US games. It was my first taste of communal watching with US fans and not just ex-pats watching EPL and FA Cup games.

moreno frings

Referees were in the news due to several key decisions: Italy falling to South Korea, partly due to some dubious decisions; Spain also losing to the hosts and some even more questionable calls (ball not going out of bounds, phantom whistles, etc); and the no handball call in the Germany/USA game. Frings  stopped the shot on the line and nothing was called.

Average goals continued to decline for the third straight competition but there were some amazing strikes (apologies for the awful music). Uruguay produced two great goals, one by Darío Rodríguez  against Denmark and another by Forlan against Senegal. Edmilson hit a half bike against Costa Rica, there was Torrado’s laser against Ecuador, and Japan’s interplay for the single goal against Russia was fantastic. Dynamic free kicks were also on show with Roberto Carlos against China, Raouf Bouzaiene for Tunisia against Belgium, and Johan Walem for Belgium against Russia. The champions produced two wonderful goals, with Ronaldinho torturing Cole before laying off for Rivaldo and their second against Germany in the Final.

YOKOHAMA - JUNE 30: Ronaldo of Brazil lines up before the World Cup Final match between Germany and Brazil played at the International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan on June 30, 2002. Brazil won the match 2-0. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

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Defending champions France were absolutely abysmal, going home with only one point and no goals scored. Brazil made the Final but not before Rivaldo had a shameful dive against Turkey in the Group Stage. Unfortunately Ronaldo unleashed a horrible haircut on the world as well. But one of the lasting memories of the tournament was the noise of the South Korean fans. Watching them support one of the surprise packages of the tournament was a joy. This summary from the Guardian team really captures the highlights (and lowlights) of the tournament.

World Cup 2002 Film

World Cup 2002 Final highlights

Scarf Collection

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I’ve become a groundhopper, not to the extent of Paul Gerald or Peter Miles or Tony Incenzo, but I take pics, talk to people and write posts about teams, supporters and venues in the United States. But what about swag? As a big kit nerd, the obvious choice would be to get a shirt at each match, but that strategy has a couple of problems: 1) not every team has a merch store or even jerseys for sale; 2) at $55 to $100 a pop, a one stop/one shirt policy could get pricey; and 3) where would I put them all? I don’t have a mancave (yet) and as much as I would love to wear a different jersey every day, society and my workplace frown upon that.

So my solution has been to pick up a scarf at each game I attend. This strategy has paid off in several ways. Scarves are almost always available at games, and if not, readily available on club websites. Plus at $25 to $35 each, this is the better option financially. On top of that, scarves are packable and easy to display.

Here is my current collection:

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Favorite Teams

Manchester United–The club team I have been supporting for 20 years. One day I will make it to Old Trafford. C’mon you Reds!!

US Soccer–I have seen several US games over the years , and I continuing to engage my own country instead of wishing I was Croatian or Dutch or almost anything else.

Atlanta United–MLS club kicking off in 2017. I’m a season ticket holder and can’t wait for the team to launch and play their first game at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

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Groundhops

Seattle Sounders–One of my first trips and had an awesome time.

Chicago Fire–Used to watch them at Soldier Field. Saw the new home out in the middle of nowhere.

Portland TimbersStood with Timbers Army in a very unique environment.

Columbus CrewSaw one of the first games at this Soccer Specific Stadium and have been several times since.

FC DallasAnother facility out in the middle of nowhere but Dallas Beer Guardians more than made up for it.

DC UnitedGot to see DC United at RFK before they move to the new ground.

Houston DynamoAmazing venue and hopefully the team returns it past glory.

Atlanta Silverbacks–Former NASL team playing in NPSL, I have been to many games and worked for the Reserves team.

Charleston Battery–Fantastic USL team with great supporters playing an intimate venue filled with soccer memorabilia.

Lansing United–The club launched the summer before I left Lansing and is doing things right on and off the pitch.

Detroit City FC–My first taste of real supporter culture. It has been wonderful keeping an eye on this team from the first days.

Nashville FC–Vanderbilt Stadium wasn’t the greatest venue but wonderful fans.

Chattanooga FC–Love going up to Chattanooga. Real passion behind a successful NPSL club.

Birmingham Hammers–Met some fired up supporters for the Hammers’ first season. Looking forward to going back.

Georgia Revolution–Under new ownership, this club is providing players a stepping stone to next level.

Knoxville Force (Scruffy City Syndicate)–Growing club with ardent supporters, playing right in downtown Knoxville.

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Miscellaneous

Juventus–Fell in love with Alessandro Del Piero and followed the bianconeri until I decided to focus my soccer supporting efforts.

MSU Spartans–Went to many a game at DeMartin Stadium during my time in Lansing.

World Cup 2022–My wife won this in a raffle. It’s the scarf from the US 2022 World Cup bid.

American Outlaws Atlanta. I love hanging out with these passionate supporters of US Soccer.

Terminus Legion 2015–Joined this Supporter Group at the intersection of Atlanta and Soccer in 2015 after moving to Atlanta in 2014.

Terminus Legion 2016–Re-upped and run the soccer team and host the Terminus Legion podcast.

The General–Special edition summer scarf produced by Terminus Legion to celebrate the history of Atlanta.

Soccer in the Streets–An amazing organization that brings soccer to underserved youth in Atlanta. Just launched Station Soccer, a pitch on top of a transit station.

Castleberry Hill AC–An organization looking to use soccer to improve their community. Currently trying to build Old Trenholm in the shadow of Mercedes Benz Stadium.

 

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Top three scarves I have come across. . .

fire-scarf

I usually buy the team scarf at each match but when I was at the Chicago Fire tailgate, I saw people walking around this scarf and knew that I had to have it. The scarf tweaks the Chicago city flag, using navy blue bands to frame the edges instead of the sky blue and then uses the four red stars through the middle. Great looking piece.

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While standing with Timbers Army, I spotted a Battlestar Portlandia. Having just come out of my Battlestar Galactica geek phase, I really loved the merging of pop culture and sport. Doubt I will ever get my hands but one of these but a really slick design.

dcfc-scarf

A scarf from Detroit City FC’s inaugural season is one of my favorite scarves. All the design elements come together, with of color scheme of rouge and dark yellow, a clean font and the argyle print adding a wonderful touch. DCFC has absolutely crushed it from a brand and merch perspective from day one.

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If you want to see a real scarf collection, visit Kenny’s Football Scarves. He has over 2000 pieces organized by league and region.

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Read more about my groundhops and supporter group interactions at the SoccerNomad blog. Also check out the SoccerNomad podcast, which focuses on Supporter Groups and kit design. Finally follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.