Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

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.

Major League Soccer (MLS) Acronyms

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The 2017 Major League Soccer season continues a pattern of slow, steady growth for the league. As the league evolves, leadership has created and shaped the rules that govern the league. Here’s a quick recap so that you are ready for the upcoming season.

GAM General Allocation Money. A mechanism created by MLS to help teams improve their rosters by reducing hits to the salary cap or acquire players by signing or transfer. Dirty South Soccer breaks it down here.

CAM Center Attacking Mid, your team’s #10, your team’s most creative player. . . unless you’re the Montreal Impact and you put him on the left.

W(H)AM George Michael tribute patch to be worn for the 2017 MLS season at the edge of the hem opposite of the jock tag.

whamSAM Sick Ass Move, like some of these.

TAM Targeted Allocation Money. A mechanism created by MLS to help teams improve their rosters below the Designated Player level or reducing the DP hits to the salary cap. Dirty South Soccer breaks it down here.

DAM(N) son. When Giovinco does THIS to your team.

PAM Pissed Away Allocation Money. Pretty much any money spent on Branco, Lothar Matthäus, Shaun Maloney, and Rais Mbolhi. Feel free to insert your team’s horrible transfer below.

lothar-mattheusFAM As in the family discount against the salary cap that can be invoked when a coach’s son plays for the team. This fictional mechanism hasn’t been used since Michael Bradley played for his father Bob with the MetroStars but GMs around the league are keeping an eye on a possible John/Ian Harkes option in the near future.

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LAM Another term for the invisibility cloak, as in on the lam, as in the player is not impacting the game at all. See Alejandro Bedoya in most USMNT games.

BAM Beating down your opponent. You know like the Red Bulls against NYCFC last season or the Chicago Fire crushing the Kansas City Wizards 7-0 in 2001 or the LA Galaxy destroying the Dallas Burn 8-1 in 1998.

(no) MA(‘A)M That moment when your goalie saves your team like Stefan Frei in MLS Cup 2016 or pretty much any PK taken against Nick Rimando.

IAM I am the best player in league history. Love him or hate him, it’s LandyCakes.

CARSON, CA - December 1, 2012: LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan (10) celebrating their victory after the LA Galaxy vs the Houston Dynamo for the 2012 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Final score LA Galaxy 3, Houston Dynamo 1.

Would love to hear comments and ideas from MLS fans below.

Follow me on twitter @AustinLong1974 and check out the rest of the SoccerNomad blog for posts on kits, memories and more. And don’t forget the SoccerNomad podcast, which features Atlanta Supporter Groups, kit design and more

Mexico Home Shirt World Cup 1998

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The Mexican National Team of the 1990s was quite strong. After missing the 1990 World Cup due to using overage players at the 1988 CONCACAF U-20 Tournament, Mexico made both the 1994 and 1998 World Cups and won the 1993, 1996 and 1998 CONCACAF Gold Cups.

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Focusing on the road to France, CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying was marked by draws, with Mexico and the United States only winning of four of ten matches. El Tri won four and drew six to top the Hex table and were placed in a section with Holland, Belgium and South Korea. The competition started brightly as Mexico beat South Korea 3-1 in the opener. Draws followed against Belgium and the Netherlands but it was enough as Mexico moved on to the Round of 16 as the second placed team behind Holland. Germany was next up and Luis Hernandez opened the scoring just after halftime. However Die Mannschaft came back as Klinsmann equalized with 15 minutes to go and Bierhoff finished off the CONCACAF reps with only minutes remaining. (Match highlights)

mexico-shirtEl Tri strode onto the field in a very distinctive shirt, made by ABA Sport, who had taken over for Umbro and were followed by Atletica. I couldn’t find much about the company but did stumble across a facebook page, which has images of the many shirts the Mexican company has produced.

The shirt, also worn at the 1996 and 1998 Gold Cups, was mainly green with a white collar and cuffs, edged with red. In research for this post I learned that a dark red used to be main color for the Mexican home shirts rather than the green I was accustomed to. This switch was made in the late 50s and continues today. The main feature of the shirt was the Aztec tribal design that was shadow printed into the shirt. This video has a nice close up of the design and production elements.

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The shirt certainly divides opinion. While some find it garish, the writers at Complex ranked it #6 in their greatest shirts of all time, going as far as to say,

For a collector of retro kits, this is either your grail or an image from your nightmares. If you can get your hands on one of these, you’ve just bought yourself a conversation starter for every single social event you wear this out to.

I love it because it is a one off shirt with historical references. My wife picked up a knock off on a missionary trip to Mexico. She wore it from time to time until it was stolen at a laundromat. Such is life. Don’t know if I could ever own one as a US fan but still a great design.

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Additional Resources

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.