Posts Tagged ‘ DC United ’

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. . .

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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.

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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.

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Flying Beers!!

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In the summer of 2012, I started a project to visit all MLS venues. Washington DC was a must as RFK is literally crumbling and I wanted to see this historic stadium before it fell down and/or gives way to the Buzzard Point site in a couple of years.

The venue opened in late 1961 as the District of Columbia Stadium (renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in 1969), and it has hosted numerous teams and sporting events. The circular design was the result of its intention to be used as a multi-purpose stadium for American football and baseball.

In my posts on early DC United kits (original kit and 1997 third shirt), I state that this was my club only because of the uniforms. I eventually lost touch with the league due to quality (or lack thereof) and presentation (empty stadiums marked with American football lines). What I missed was this original MLS franchise becoming one of the most successful teams in the 20+ years of the league. Four MLS Cups, four Supporters’ Shields, three US Open Cups, a CONCACAF Champions League and even a Copa Interamericana win.

Recent years have been a mixed bag. Since bottoming out in 2013, the team has returned to being a playoff contender, winning the Supporters’ Shield in 2014 and making the playoffs last year. This season has been a struggle as long serving coach Ben Olsen has continued to reshape the team, with Jairo Arrieta, Davy Arnaud, Fabian Espindola, Chris Pontius and Perry Kitchen leaving and Lamar Neagle, Patrick Nyarko, Julian Büscher, Marcelo Sarvas Luciano Acosta, Rob Vincent, Alhaji Kamara, Lloyd Sam, Patrick Mullins and Kennedy Igboananike coming in.

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The game against Orlando saw the Black and Red below the red line and making a push for the playoffs. On the METRO, we met a family headed to the game. They talked about the team, the new venue and the big crowd expected due to the recognition of the Armed Forces and DC school children. Most importantly, they got us exactly where we needed to be. Walking up to the RFK I thought about all those years watching NFL Today and Cowboys/Redskins games and the 1994 World Cup and DC United and United States games from years gone by.

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Once inside I was surprised by how good our seats were. Only several feet from the touchline, we were several rows up which gave us a great vantage point to watch the match. DC United has three main supporter groups. I couldn’t get into the Screaming Eagles Supporters Section but got the section just next to them. One plus was that our seats allowed us to get a taste of the atmosphere of the Eagles and the District Ultras. Both groups did a great job of support with songs and noise and flags. (Didn’t make it over to Barra Brava). The feeling of the stands rising and falling is one of my great sporting memories. Must be experienced.

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Screaming Eagles

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District Ultras

What a match. Both teams had chances early before Patrick Mullins (transferred from NYCFC in the summer) scored just after the half hour mark. DC United took control off the match after halftime with two goals in three minutes from Sam and Mullins. Sam’s goal was fantastic as he headed a cross down and away from Bendik and it happened right in front of us. The Beast pulled one back with a tremendous free kick before Buscher finished off a wonderful night for the Red and Black with some nifty footwork. With the Screaming Eagles tradition of throwing beers in the after goals, let’s just say no one went home dry.

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For the Lions, had to be a disappointing defeat. Looks like the playoffs will elude them again. I did get to see Kaka play for about an hour and was surprised by how big he was. Tall, strong and a great touch. Larin was impressive as well with his size and speed. Didn’t get much service and was subbed in the second half as well. His performance didn’t really help my fantasy team so #sadface. Nocerino got sent off after a brief appearance. About all he did in was foul people. A decent sized crowd of Orlando City fans were in an upper level behind a goal. Has to be a long trip back to Florida.

The result saw the Black and Red get back over the red line in sixth place, one point ahead of the Revolution with a game in hand and three points ahead of the Lions, with both teams having played 30 matches. The Lions are a direct rival and the two teams will meet on the final day of the season. The rest of DC United’s schedule looks like this

September 28      D.C. United            v              Columbus Crew

October 1              Toronto FC            v              D.C. United

October 16           D.C. United            v              New York City FC

October 23           Orlando City          v              D.C. United

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As a kit nerd, have to mention the unis. DC United uniforms are not flashy but they looked great. All black with red adidias stripes down side, a series of very subtle black horizontal black stripes and of course their new badge (not a big fan). The exterior neck tape depicts D.C. monuments (Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington Memorials and the National Capitol) and is a nice touch.

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Before the match, they were passing out a promotional shirt that tied in to the Armed Forces appreciation Basically a t-shirt with dark digital camo, it looked pretty cool, and it was neat seeing METRO cars filled with people wearing the shirt after the match. As is tradition, I picked up a scarf,  which had a light camo pattern and a very different in design than ones from my previous trips.

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I got to see the Orlando City away kit in the flesh and it looked fantastic. The new shirt is sharp, with a white main section and purple sleeves. Purple is also used around the collar and for the adidas stripes down the side. The cuffs are trimmed in gold which is a nice touch. This is one my favorite releases for the 2016 season.

Shameless plug alert!! I was on the Design Football pod ahead of the 2016 campaign to talk MLS kits. Listen here.

All in all, a wonderful night in the nation’s capital. While the venue could definitely use a paint job, I didn’t get hit by falling concrete or get bitten by raccoons. Perfect temperature, raucous support and a big result for the home team.

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Special thanks to Screaming Eagles.

Read more about my MLS trips here.

Strip Club–Floater Edition

DC United entered the 1997 season as the defending MLS Cup and US Open Cup champions.  Bruce Arena refreshed the squad with a couple of players, most notably Scott Garlick and Roy Wegerle.  Jaime Moreno was the leading scorer in a team that included Harkes, Agoos, Williams, Sanneh and Etcheverry.

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The team finished the regular season with the Supporters Shield and had a chance at four trophies.  After dispatching the New Revolution and the Columbus Crew, United met the Colorado Rapids in the 1997 MLS Cup Final. The Rapids were the fourth seed out of the West and goals on either side of halftime had United cruising, but the visitors pulled one back with 15 minutes to go.  DC was able to grind out the rest of the match and retained their MLS Cup crown.

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Days later, DC United played the Dallas Burn in the US Open Cup Final.  After a scoreless 120 minutes played in very cold conditions, the match went to penalties.  Dallas went first, converted all five, and won 5-3 as Diaz Arce missed for United.  (Great recap here from FC Dallas). The Domestic Treble was gone.

On the International front, DC United competed in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.  The club met United Petrotrin FC from Trinidad and Tobago and beat them 1-0 to advance.  Their opponent in the Semi Finals was the LA Galaxy and LA got a little bit of revenge from the MLS Cup defeat the previous year, winning 1-0 on an early Cobi Jones goal.
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One of my previous posts looked at the inaugural home shirt for DC United and for their second season the club kept the same home and away jerseys but added a third jersey.  The color scheme for this alternate shirt was very patriotic and could have been a throwaway from the kit design for the US in the 1994 World Cup.  The badge was sublimated throughout on the shirt accented by three stripes.  The Columbus Crew used the same template.

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I picked up the shirt at an adidas outlet store and it was a size too big.  The fashion of the time was loose fitting but I definitely did not make a wise decision.  It was like a soccer themed sail on my skinny frame so I didn’t wear it very often.  Obviously I didn’t have the player issue and the fabric was much different than the home and away shirts, being much more polyester based and not breathing well. This shirt was another victim of my periodic kit purges but I think the design could be re-introduced.

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Strip Club–First Time Edition

The MLS launched in 1996 and as a relatively new soccer fan I felt compelled to pick a team.  DC United was my choice and not for the color scheme, although red, black and white resembled a certain other United I was fond of.  Rather I chose United because of the ten teams in the inaugural year of the league, they were the only ones that had a proper name.  Remember this is the league of the Clash and the Metrostars and the Mutiny and the piece de resistance—the Kansas City Wiz.

But truth be told, after the opening game of the season, I didn’t really watch much of the league, only catching snippets from time to time.  I didn’t even watch probably one of the greatest MLS games ever—the 1996 MLS Cup Final, which saw DC United defeat LA Galaxy, coming down from 2-0 in the last 20 minutes on a rain soaked pitch in New England to win in extra time 3-2.

Another superficial strength of DC United was their kits.  Home (black) and away (white) were both safe colors with three stripes across the chest reflecting the manufacturer adidas.  Red shorts and white socks completed the strip and these, while unspectacular, were miles ahead of the Nike inspired disasters throughout the rest of the league.

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For a time I had the black home shirt, which had two problems.  One, the material was heavy.  I have to believe that the authentics were lighter.  The shirt felt almost like a football jersey and I can’t imagine playing in that kit the summer heat or in the rain that fell that day in October 1996. Wicking away moisture was not a strength of this version.  Two, the jersey was huge.  I think my brother and I picked them out at an outlet mall or something, so maybe I had to take what I could get.  It was the mid 90’s so big was in but this shirt was huge on me.

Eventually this shirt was lost to the dustbin of history during one my kit purges.  I didn’t follow the MLS and the shirt was too big.  Into the giveaway pile it went and hopefully some appropriately sized soccer lover found it at Goodwill and enjoys it to this day.

MatchDay Memory–Futbol Time Management

The MLS Cup Final is in a couple of days.  I usually don’t watch unless there is interest from the guys and a lot of beer involved.  I did watch a terrible match a couple of years ago when Real Salt Lake stunned the LA Galaxy, but I don’t plan to watch this year.  Why don’t I support the domestic league of the country I live in?  Well, here is a post from earlier this year that explains my position.

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A couple of weeks ago on the World Football Phone In, as a result of Sean Wheelock’s rant against Beckham’s trip to the Royal Wedding, Dotun started a rant segment at the end of the show. Wheelock stepped forward again and made some interesting comments about US soccer fans. In short, he said that he can’t stand footy fans in this country ignoring the domestic league. He went on to say that unless the fans that are following the EPL, La Liga, Serie A, etc., get invested in the MLS, the league will never hit the heights it is capable of. I was struck by his statements and almost quit the run I was on. It was if he was speaking directly to me.

When I first started following footy in the early 90’s, there was no US league, barely even a US team. Coverage basically consisted of World Soccer and FourFourTwo, week old London Sunday Times, with TV games hard to the find—an odd Champions League game here or there or an English game on PPV.  To put it in context now, Americans can now see more European games than they can handle: Spanish and German games on GolTV, English and Italian on FSC, and a host of leagues on ESPN3. To put a further point on it, in 20 years we have gone from only seeing the FA Cup Final to watching Gary Neville’s testimonial live. Then in 1996, MLS launched and Eric Wynalda scored that first goal and things were up and running. I originally started following DC United in the MLS. The team had Ben Olsen, who I really liked as a player, and they had a simple uniform, which was in stark contrast to the Nike pieces of crap during that time.

Which of these is not like the other?

DC was a little far away, so I followed them as best I could and would go and see them at Soldier Field in Chicago when the Fire started up.  Fortunately I picked a team who was successful out of the gate, reaching the first four MLS Cup Finals, winning three of them. But in the end, I felt the quality of the games was poor, especially compared to other European leagues I was watching. The breaking point was the 1999 MLS final at Foxboro. The pitch looked terrible, with the American football lines still visible; Harkes and Lalas part of the halftime analysis (a vision of things to come); and the game wasn’t that compelling. I was like if you are not going to take this seriously, then neither am I.

The following summer I bought Euro 2000 on PPV, after that, I was hooked on European soccer. I watched a tournament that was exciting, dramatic, and fun to watch. There was no way I could go back to Wiz v Burn.  In the fall of 2000 United were in the midst of three straight league titles, plus their amazing Treble season; Juventus, after reaching three straight Champions League Finals, were rebuilding; Real Madrid had captured two out of the last three Champions League titles and were heading towards a third in five years. Plus qualification for the World Cup in Japan/South Korea was starting.

In the intervening years I have tried to keep track of the American league as a whole through websites, blogs and social media, even with the ridiculous team names, but for me, it comes down to time. I only have so much time during the week to scour the internet for articles and info and only so much time on the weekends to get drunk at the bar or watch legal and illegal feeds online. I have to use that time wisely. Plus I started have family and time is at a premium.  There are only so many hours in a day, so I choose to follow the big three leagues with occasional glances at Holland, Germany, and France.  And I am able to see all of these leagues because US networks sense the need to provide it. If there was not an audience for European leagues, networks would not provide the coverage. Simple supply and demand.

Consumers want the best product, and that product is currently in Europe, specifically at FC Barcelona. I want the kids of America dreaming of being Leo Messi and Xavi, not Landon Donovan and whoever the next USMNT/MLS poster boy is.  And let me say there that presentation of MLS is lacking. Soccer Night in America? Really. Has NBC sued for that yet? (Note: no, they just went ahead and solved the problem by buying the rights.)  I would argue that between all the levels of soccer in this country, every night is Soccer Night in America.  New slogan or new campaign.

So if it’s a choice between FCB/Villarreal and Colorado/Houston, I’m going La Liga. Or United/Spurs against Chicago/New York, I’m going with the Reds. I would rather watch a game of a high technical level or high energy and passion instead of a glorified High School game. In the past ten years I have probably seen a dozen MLS games in their entirety and have left feeling underwhelmed in the main.When the Sounders launched in 2009 with accompanying excitement and fanfare, I didn’t get on the bandwagon. Last fall and winter I sensed the buzz around the Portland Timbers and wanted to jump in but work took over and I missed another chance to get in on the ground floor. I told myself after Wheelock’s comments that I would give the league another go this summer, but there’s Gold Cup and Copa America to watch, plus a vacation and general sitting around to be done. For me, I may be an American but the game I love is in Europe, and what little time I have to devote to it will be spent watching from across the pond instead of my backyard.

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