Posts Tagged ‘ Charleston Battery ’

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.

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.

Summer 2015–Ground Hopping

Due to changes in life, namely geography and finances, I scaled back on my MLS stadium tour. After several interactions with fellow groundhoppers, I decided to check out lower league grounds in the Southeast.

First up was Charleston. For Memorial Day, the family headed to South Carolina to visit with friends and I made sure there was a Charleston Battery home game that weekend as well. My son and I headed to Blackbaud Stadium and met with Queen Anne’s Revenge and the Regiment for the tailgate. We played a quick game of FIFA 15 and then joined the group for the stadium tour.

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What an amazing experience. The President of the Charleston Battery led us through the facility, pointing out items in a priceless collection of jerseys, pennants, programs, programs and more. I was in #KitNerd heaven. I didn’t get to see the Manchester United suite and it’s probably better because I may have not left without a police escort.

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We back to the tailgate and checked out the wonderful spread put out by the Regiment. Pre-game festivities were wrapped up with a march and taking our places in Section E1. During the match, there was this kid leading the cheers, and it was awesome seeing the supporter culture passed down the generations.

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The quality of the match wasn’t spectacular, although the opening goal from the Battery was well crafted. Charlotte equalized with a dodgy penalty and after that chances were few and far between. The USL match ended in a 1-1 draw.

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The ground itself is well designed with two stands, with one for the press box and suites and box seats and the other a stand of bleachers. Each end is open and allows for different activities, food and walking areas.

Next up was Nashville, TN. Took a Greyhound to the match. Figured why spend four hours in a car by myself just listening to music and podcasts when I could get stuff done? Did some writing and blog work and watched a movie on the way. The bus was 45 minutes late leaving, which I’m learning is par for the course on these trips.

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Once I got into the Music City I walked to Vanderbilt Stadium. Mild misfire on my part. A three mile hike in 90 degree heat was not one of my best decisions. I walked up to the gate just before kickoff and was met with a ticket line out to the street. I finally got in, bought my scarf and took a seat.

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(photo courtesy of Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves)

The match rewarded me for my efforts. Nashville opened the scoring as their right winger torched the Reserves left back. But almost immediately from the kickoff Janny Rivera hit a 30+ yard bomb that crashed the underside of the crossbar and in. A real thunderbastard of a goal. The teams traded goals in the second half, and as the clock clicked closer to full time, Santos Ramirez popped up with a header to secure the vital points. Jubilation from the visitors as they headed back to Atlanta.

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My next trip was a virtual home game as the Reserves met the Georgia Revolution. The Revolution play at the Rockdale Youth Soccer Association complex in Conyers,GA, a little bit of a hike for me, especially in traffic. Several heavy thunderstorms through the day had made the pitch quite soggy, with several areas of standing water. Both teams had trouble finding their rhythm and the first half was a disjointed, scrappy affair. The second half was scintillating. A mistake by the Revolution left back allowed the Reserves winger in and his cross was met at the back post. The hosts responded quickly and then took the lead with grass cutter free kick. The Reserves levelled after some cool nerves in the penalty area. The visitors pushed on for the win but the Revolution won the day as a free kick was flicked on to the far post and knocked home.

I’m hoping to make one more trip this fall, but follow these guys on twitter or search #Groundhopping to read insightful trips from around Europe:

  • Alex Baker (@alexpieter)
  • Peter Miles (@PeterRMiles)
  • Groundhopper (@Groundhopping1)

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.