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:
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.
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 Timbers—Stood with Timbers Army in a very unique environment.
Columbus Crew—Saw one of the first games at this Soccer Specific Stadium and have been several times since.
FC Dallas—Another facility out in the middle of nowhere but Dallas Beer Guardians more than made up for it.
DC United—Got to see DC United at RFK before they move to the new ground.
Houston Dynamo—Amazing 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.
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.
Top three scarves I have come across. . .
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.
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.
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.
If you want to see a real scarf collection, visit Kenny’s Football Scarves. He has over 2000 pieces organized by league and region.
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.