The Soccer Diaries: An American’s Thirty-Year Pursuit of the International Game, Michael J. Agovino

The Soccer Diaries: An American’s Thirty-Year Pursuit of the International Game

I loved this book, which starts with a boy’s first game, a World All-Star Game at the old Meadowlands. As the author ran through the rosters, it’s remarkable that this game was played in the United States 35 years ago. From there it’s the drips and drabs of soccer that American fans searched for until the internet and sports channels flooded the market.

I found myself nodding along as the author searched out the beautiful game, either in games near and far or games on TV (which were extremely rare in the 80s and early 90s). It’s here that the book really spoke to me as I found the game later in life and would search bars and bookstores and catalogs for anything that would add to my knowledge of the game.

The book is similar to Fever Pitch in that it covers a long period of time in short little bursts and explores how one fan’s life changes through the years. However it doesn’t focus on one particular team and is not as dark and brooding and introspective as Hornby’s work and the author gives numerous examples of the fellowship to be found in soccer. I have traveled to matches, I have written and podded about matches, and I have met so many great people along the way. In the same Agovino spends time mentioning the many friendships he has developed over the years.

The author brings different perspectives as a fan and writer. Clubs and national teams coming to America for a quick payday, Swiss club teams struggling to find success and relevance, MLS searching for an identity, the fever and passion and joy and disappointments that go into each World Cup. The game has changed a great deal, both at home and abroad, in the last 30 years and the book explores this.

This is the book I would write if a) I could write as well, b) I had as many interesting stories and c) I had the time. If you follow the beautiful game at all, read this book. If you have fallen out of love with soccer read this book.


For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.


Der Klassiker with Mia San Atlanta

Get the podcast here: Der Klassiker with Mia San Atlanta

Follow along with the show notes:


Atlanta based Bayern Munich Supporter Group Mia San Atlanta hosted Der Klassiker at Der Biergarten, with fans coming dressed in Bayern kits and lederhosen to support Die Roten. I caught up with Heather and Jon Cooke about Mia San Atlanta, their trip to Charlotte to see Bayern, their support of ATL Champions League and we even talked kits. This is a great group of fans and I hope you enjoy our conversation.

You can stay up to date with Mia San Atlanta on social media.

Read my SoccerNomad blog post on Bayern Munich home shirts.

First Bayern Munich kit

Bayern Munich kits through the years

14/15 Champions League shirt (Heather’s favorite)

2011-13 home shirt (My favorite)

16/17 Home, Away, Third shirts


Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

This book went on my wish list and moved to the top of the pile when a copy ended up in my hands thanks to a huge Chelsea supporter.

The premise of the book is daunting as is stated in the title: A History of London Football. The author is very comprehensive, taking the reader from the early days of the pre-cursors of the Football League in the 19th century all the way to the 2015/16 season. There are even clubs in there that I had never heard of before.

I have to admit that the book can be a little dry at times. Covering over a 125 years of football is a big ask. Besides the nomadic nature of most clubs in the early, the book touches on key moments, either of a club’s location or success on the pitch. The first two-thirds or so would take multiple readings for me as I am not as familiar with those times but the last section of the 90s to the most recent seasons was really interesting.

Not a book for everyone. I might have focused more on the big teams, but if you want an expansive history of football played in London, this is the book for you.


For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.


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



Seattle Sounders Change Shirt 2013 and 2014

The Seattle Sounders entered their fifth season looking to reach MLS Cup after falling just short the previous season. Sigi Schmid was still at the helm and the roster received a little bit of a shake up with star forward Fredy Montero going out on loan to Sporting Club de Portugal and an influx of several new players. DeAndre Yedlin, Lamar Neagle, Shalrie Joseph, and Obafemi Martins joined the team ahead of the season, with US international Clint Dempsey signed in August.

The Sounders finished fourth in the Western Conference for the 2013 campaign, just one point above the red line. Poor performances bookended their season, as Seattle picked up only two points from the opening five matches and the closed the season with three draws and four losses. On the plus side, CenturyLink Field was a fortress as the team won ten, drew five and only lost twice at home. Seattle beat Colorado Rapids in the 4/5 play in game to set up a match with Cascadia rivals and #1 seed Portland Timbers. A 2-1 home loss was followed by a 3-2 loss at Jeld-Wen and the Sounders were out of the playoffs again.

Seattle did not find success in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, losing at the first hurdle away to Tampa Bay 1-0. A Cascadia Cup triumph eluded the Sounders as well as they finished third with Vancouver Whitecaps claiming the trophy.

Eddie Johnson led the team with 12 goals in all competitions and Mauro Rosales chipped in with eight assists. Michael Gspurning had 11 clean sheets in 33 appearances. In terms of appearances, the Sounders usually lined up as follows:

1          GK      Gspurning

2          RB       Yedlin

34        CB       Hurtado

19        CB       Traoré

12        LB       González

6          DM      Alonso

10        RM      Rosales

3          AM      Evans

27        LM      Neagle

7          SS        Johnson

9          CF       Martins


(image courtesy of Colours of Football)

Seattle’s official colors are Sounder Blue, Rave Green, and Cascade Shale and adidas introduced a Cascade Shale away shirt in 2011. Seeing the shirt in an official Sounder store during my trip to Seattle, I was intrigued by the design, with the Cascade Shale base trimmed in Rave Green and highlighted by the silver Powerweb bands which was a feature of adidas’ Techfit kits at the time.

(image courtesy of Colours of Football)

For the 2013 season, adidas used the same Cascade Shale background and Rave Green was used for the adidas branding on shirt and shorts and to outline the chest. The key design feature was a vertical two tone bar of Sounder Blue and Rave Green. Per the club’s official release:

The secondary kit continues in cascade shale with the addition of a two inch vertical stripe which connects team colors through a mosaic design to emphasize the team’s unique and diverse fan base.

One thing that Seattle Sounders blog Sounders at Heart mentioned was  

this feature is vastly different in the “replica” kits being sold through the team store; only green is present in those versions.

Images on the internet were inconclusive, plus I couldn’t find it on Classic Football Shirts or even on eBay. Is that weird? Anyway, I really like this look and saw a fan wearing the shirt at the Terminus Legion MLS Cup 2016 Watch Party. I complimented him on his jersey,  and I’m hoping the club return to this color scheme in the near future, staying away from Super Cyan, Electric Yellow and Pacific Blue.

What do you think of the shirt? What are your favorite MLS shirts of all time? Let me know if the comments below.


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.


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




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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.)


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)


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.