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Claret and Blue. . .Continued

Aston-Villa-1981-82

Aston Villa, 1982 European Cup Winners

This year I planned to focus on groundhopping. Trips I had taken in the past, trips I planned to take or had taken during the season and trip ideas for fans during the 2020 season. With recent events I’ve put that project on hold and turned my attention to one of my old posts, Claret and Blue–teams who have worn or are wearing the colors of claret and blue.

In skimming the stats for my blog, the original post is one of my most viewed ever, with readers from all over the world checking it out on an almost daily basis. It’s been over three years since I published it and in that time, readers and visitors have provided even more teams that have worn these colors.

With that in mind, my goal is to put together a quick post each week showcasing a team and their history. 

Current list:

  • Colorado Rapids
  • FC Rieti
  • Weymouth FC
  • Westfields FC
  • Cumbernauld United
  • South Shields FC
  • Gzira United FC

Feel free to comment on each post with additional information, corrections, comments or teams/clubs that I have missed.

Nashville (Nashville SC v Atlanta United)

I had visited Nashville for soccer before, back in 2015 when I saw the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves take on Nashville FC, the forerunner of the current MLS team. The franchise was announced in 2017, and Nashville SC’s wikipedia page gives a little insight about the transition, and this from Copa 90 has a little bit of info of how the team made the jump from the NPSL to the USL. Plus a recap of Nashville soccer history can be found here.

Before the match, we decided to check out a bar on Broadway that was hosting Atlanta United fans. When we hit Broadway after walking from our car, it was crazy, with music and drinks and people and general chaos. Every bar was packed with people, as there was a lot going on: Predators/Avalanche game; Nashville SC/Atlanta United game; parties; Saturday afternoon. 

nissan via bridge

nissan from tailgate

We decided rather than wait for an hour for a beer to move on to the Nissan Stadium via the pedestrian bridge, which provides a beautiful view of the city and the stadium. After a quick visit with the Nashville supporters (picked up a nice split scarf that they produced), we made it to the Atlanta United supporters tailgate. A huge crowd took over Lot A with music and food and dancing and chants and smoke. 

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Photo courtesy of Terminus Legion

The march started to gather and, while it took a while to get started, the fans made the quick walk to Gate 3. Not sure if the venue was not prepared for us or it was first game kinks or what but it took a long time to get in. After that we hiked up to the 300s.

nissan from seats

I had not been to a American football field in a while and our seats provided a great vantage point. Nissan Stadium is the home to Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL) and the Tennessee State Tigers of Tennessee State University, as well as the Music City Bowl. The venue opened in 1999 and seats around 69,000. The surface is natural grass, which did not look great and I am not sure it will get better during the season.

 

Atlanta United got off to a fast start and were rewarded with a goal by Barco. Nashville settled down and equalized off a free kick was dropped into the penalty area and not dealt with by the Atlanta United defense. Then came a moment of magic from Emerson Hyndman. I didn’t properly celebrate it because I thought VAR would overturn it but the goal stood.

The second half was a tactical battle. While United dominated possession according to the stats, they weren’t able to do much with it and Nashville defended well. A couple of nervy moments as the hosts poured on the pressure. After the injury to Josef, Atlanta just hung on and left the Music City with three points.

The weather cooperated throughout the day but with a 7pm local kickoff, I felt the cold in the second half. (Thank God for layers!!!) Regardless, it was fun to celebrate the launch of a new team in Major League Soccer and we had a great time. So get to Broadway early, get that out of the way, then head to the stadium for tailgate, and watch the match!

I’m looking forward to returning to the Music City in the coming years when their new Soccer Specific Stadium opens in the Fairgrounds area. Anticipated date is 2022.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Comment below, email me at austinlong1974@gmail.com or hit me up on twitter, @austinlong1974.

Read more about my trips in the past and possible trips in 2020 on my Groundhopping page.

Good luck and safe travels!!

Los Angeles (Galaxy and LAFC)

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In reviewing the 2020 MLS schedule, I found several opportunities to see both LA teams in one weekend (and even on the same day!!!). I haven’t been to either venue but I am looking forward to checking them out in the future.

March 7/8

On March 7 LA Galaxy host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7pm PT. The following day (March 8) the Philadelphia Union come to Banc of California Stadium at 7:30pm PT to take on Los Angeles FC.

March 22

Orlando City visit Dignity Health Sports Park at 3pm PT and, if you hurry, you can get over to Banc of California Stadium for LAFC against Portland at 6pm PT.

The two venues are about 12 miles apart. I’ve never experienced LA traffic but I’ve heard it’s a nightmare. 

May 30/31

Houston Dynamo travel to LA to play LAFC on May 30 at 5pm PT. The following day LA Galaxy host Minnesota United on May 31 at 7pm PT.

August 2

Another chance for both venues on the same day, and this one is a little more manageable. Defending MLS champion Seattle Sounders come to Banc of California Stadium to play LAFC at 12:30pm PT. Then LA Galaxy host Portland at 7pm PT. Better option if you want to do both games in the same day.

September 19/20

Colorado Rapids are away to LA Galaxy on September 19 for a 7:30pm PT kickoff. LAFC host DC United on September 20 at 4pm PT.

 

stub-hub

Dignity Health Sports Park, Carson, CA

LA Galaxy 

Tickets

Matchday

Supporters

u/DodgersGalaxyKings on reddit posted some tips and suggestions:

Pre Game – You are an Uber ride away from Carson to Torrance, tons of breweries to visit before the match or after. Tailgating is also encouraged at the stadium, depending on the team you support you may or may not be allowed into any of the supporters groups tailgate areas.

Feel free to explore the stadium, tons of things to do and see inside on the concourse between the the soccer stadium and tennis stadium. The concourse is where you will find various food and beer options and there are tons of different stalls all over the stadium though.

Hotels – their are two hotels down the street from the stadium if you are looking to stay closer to the stadium (Hampton Inn and Extended Stays America), and these hotels are all within walking distance.

Parking is $20 at the stadium. This can be avoided by pre-paying online saving you about $5 to park. Better yet you can park for free at one of the metro bus stations at the Del Almo Station or Harbor Gateway Transit Center, and the Galaxy express bus will shuttle you to and from the game for free.

Plus I found this post on Football Tripper.com. Little outdated but gives you some ideas for your visit.

BoCS

Banc of California Stadium, Los Angeles, CA

LAFC

Tickets

Matchday 

Supporters

u/markrevival shared this info for LAFC

Come early. The party out front has lots of food and cheap booze. There’s a lot to do and see around the stadium. Check out the science center and the space shuttle! Go to the Free Play after party. 

The stadium is right off the expo line so you can stay anywhere downtown, Santa Monica, Hollywood close to the red line, or Ktown off the purple. Or you can stay in Pasadena and take the gold line! But downtown is the best for sure. Just stay away from skid row.

If you have extra time and want to catch games from the lower leagues of American soccer, there are several teams in the LA metro area. Check out my map of US and Canadian teams to find a team.

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

Good luck and safe travels!!

Kansas City

Kansas City is a great city and I barely scratched the surface on my visit there in 2017 to see Atlanta United take on Sporting Kansas City. MLS content creator and all around good guy Jay Riddle put together an awesome trip and here are some of the highlights.

big rip

Our group at Big Rip

We flew out early on Saturday and joined the brewery crawl in progress. We hit up several great breweries in the area including Big Rip and Stockyards. Here’s a map of possible places to hit. Note that McCoy’s Public House is now closed.

In KC you have to try the BBQ, so for dinner we met at Arthur Bryant’s. The restaurant was awesome and set up a huge dinner for us, which was amazing.

yardhouse

For Match Day, we went to the Yardhouse and hung out before the match. Great food, lots of beers on tap, attentive service. Plus there is shopping and another brewery, Granite City, in the complex. We met some SKC supporters at the Yardhouse and talked to them about the season and the upcoming match.

skc group

Ahead of kickoff, the group headed over to the Kansas City Cauldron tailgate. It was a little bit of a hike but the SKC supporters were super welcoming. We swapped scarves, chipped in for some beer and had a great time. 

cmp 3

Children’s Mercy Park is a fantastic venue. Away support sits in section 124, which is tucked in the corner of the stadium. Still very close to the field and you can see and hear the Cauldron as well as the South Stand Supporters Club

cmp 2

Everything you need to do about the club and the stadium is at the team’s website. The club also offers tours of Children’s Mercy Park, so that may be an option as well.

 

Things to do

Visit KC has a lot of suggestions including restaurants, art museums, free activities and more. Our group walked around the Power and Light District before flying back to Atlanta. Looked amazing and I need to get back there to watch a US game with the Outlaws. 

Jay Riddle provided these options for the group:

 

Hotel and getting around

Booked a hotel right by the stadium. Awesome for matchday, not ideal for seeing stuff downtown as the stadium is about a twenty minute drive west from downtown. Kansas City International Airport is about twenty minutes north of downtown. I ended up renting a car to get around.

 

Lower League Teams

Kansas City would serve as a good base of operations if you wanted to hit lower league games in Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma or Missouri. Teams are anywhere from 3 to 5 hours away but depending on how the schedules fall, you might be able to hit a couple before heading back to KC. Check out my map of US and Canadian teams to look at possible options.

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

Texas (Dallas and Houston)

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BBVA Stadium, Houston, TX

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Toyota Stadium, Frisco, TX

I found three opportunities to knock out Dallas and Houston on back to back days. I was able to visit both grounds back in 2014 and you can read about my adventures here.

FC Dallas host Chicago Fire on May 2 at Toyota Stadium at 7:30pm CT. The following day Houston Dynamo entertain the San Jose Earthquakes at 3pm CT.

Fourth of July weekend is also a chance to see both Texas teams. New England Revolution travel to Houston on Friday, July 3, at 7:30pm CT. On July 4, San Jose Earthquakes are at FC Dallas. Kickoff is at 7pm CT.

Final chance for 2020 is at the end of September. Vancouver Whitecaps are away to FC Dallas on September 26 at 8pm CT. Houston Dynamo host Sporting Kansas City on September 27 at 6pm CT.                         

Buses run between the two cities or you can rent a car. Travel time is between 4 and 5 hours.

Info for the teams:

Houston Dynamo

Suggest hitting a tailgate before the match and then Lucky’s and Little Woodrow’s afterwards.

FC Dallas

Plenty going on in and around the stadium. British Lion Pub is a short walk from the stadium and is a great place before or after the game.

Special mention for the United States Soccer Hall of Fame. When you’re in Frisco for the FCD game, please visit this facility, which is attached to Toyota Stadium. Memorabilia, videos, games, kits, scarves, displays, and more. I went in 2019 and definitely worth the time and money.

 

If you have extra time and want to catch games from the lower leagues of American soccer, there are several teams in each city. Check out my map of US and Canadian teams to find a team.

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

Denver

I helped organize a trip to the Mile High City to see Atlanta United take on the Colorado Rapids in September, 2018, and we had an awesome time.

We flew out late on a Thursday night for a Saturday match. I can’t remember why but I’m sure it was financially motivated. Our flight got in around 11pm local time so not ideal. And be aware that the airport is miles from downtown. You can use the Denver Transit system or pony up for a pricey rideshare.

Brewery Tour

Friday was spent touring several breweries in downtown Denver. ATL UTD fan, beer connoisseur and friend Jason Wells worked with local beer geeks to come up with an amazing tour.

great divide

These are the breweries we hit:

  • Black Shirt Brewing
  • Great Divide Barrel Bar
  • Mockery Brewing
  • Bierstadt Lagerhaus
  • Odell Brewing Company
  • Ratio Beerworks
  • Our Mutual Friend

The first three are grouped together so we knocked those out, and then we all piled into a couple of cars to continue at Bierstadt Lagerhaus. ADVICE: One beer, one water. Due to the altitude, you will get wrecked if you try a bunch of beers at each location and don’t stay hydrated. Several of the venues have food and I would recommend a pretzel and a beer at Bierstadt Lagerhaus.

ignite

We finished the evening on the rooftop of Ignite for a group dinner. Great view of the city and some decent food.

Match Day

beer bus

We asked Rapids’ Supporters Group Centennial 38 (C38) if we could ride with them on their Supporters Bus, and they graciously said yes. Buses go around the city, pick up fans at local bars and then drop off at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. The buses are waiting for you after the game to take you back to the bars. Bonus: you get beers to and from the stadium!! For $10 this is a fantastic deal. 

We tailgated with C38 and they had several different beers and some delicious food available. Again, a small donation and totally worth it.

DSGP 2

Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is a very functional park, similar to those in Chicago (RIP) and Columbus (soon to be RIP). Our match was a 1:30pm kickoff local time and, with temperatures above 90 degrees and no clouds, it was as if were standing on the surface of the sun. So if a) you’re in in the corners if DSGP or in the C38 Supporters Section behind the goal and b) it’s a hot day, then hydrate and bring a lot of sunscreen.

The team website has everything you need for tickets and the stadium. Note: they have a free, guided tour if you have some extra time and want to check it out. Click here for information. 

Check out Centennial 38’s site for info on the Supporters Bus, tailgate and more.

After the match we headed back downtown for some food and drinks. Society Sports and Spirits is home to several alumni groups and sports teams and they were very accommodating. Another option we found was the Skyline Beer Garden.   

Sunday Funday

On Sunday we had brunch at the Fainting Goat, which is an Atlanta Falcons Bar in Denver. I’m not a big Falcons fan but watching it with a bunch of people and drinking $2 mimosas was a win! After that we hit a couple of more breweries: TRVE Brewing Co. and Baere Brewing.

Trve describes themselves as Denver’s True Heavy Metal Brewery. They are not kidding!! Baere was much more my vibe and had some really helpful staff.

The next day it was back to Atlanta.

 

Stuff to do

I went to Denver to watch soccer and drink beer. Done and done. But if you want to get out and about, here are some options:

Visit Denver put together a comprehensive guide of things to do.

 

Getting around

We walked and used rideshares. Here’s a link to the Denver transit system.

 

Local Teams

If you’re interested in seeing other teams, there are a couple of options.

Colorado Springs Switchbacks play in the USL Championship. It’s about an hour and fifteen minute drive south of Denver.

Colorado is also home to the Colorado Premier League. Lots of teams around the state so there’s a chance to sneak in an amateur game at some point.

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.

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

Image result for allianz field st paul

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

Image result for mall of america

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.

Image result for minnesota united

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.