Posts Tagged ‘ Groundhopping ’

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.

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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.

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

Match Day

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

Philadelphia

My wife and I went with another couple to Philadelphia for an Atlanta United game in 2019. There is a ton to do and we had a great time. 

Took an early flight out of Atlanta and flew in and out of Philadelphia International Airport. If you’re heading into downtown, I would suggest taking a cab or rideshare. You can use transit (SEPTA) but it takes about twice as long. If you split the car between 2-4 people, totally worth it.

Hotel

We stayed at the Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District. Just blocks away from the historical district as well as some places to grab some delicious food and a short ride from a couple of breweries. This hotel, and those near it, are well placed to do sightseeing but nowhere near the stadium. Again cab or rideshare to the game.

Stuff to do

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After checking in and grabbing something to eat, we walked around some of the historical landmarks near the Liberty Bell. One option is to do the Constitutional Walking Tour. It’s 75 minutes and hits a bunch of places around Independence Hall. Also, VisitPhilly.com put together a Top Ten list of stuff to do. We did most of it!! Plus there is a lot to do along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. You can hit several artistic landmarks on your from the Old City to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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We also hit One Liberty Observation Deck (you can see the entire city!) and the US Mint, which was really interesting. Our traveling companions hit the Waterfront one evening and had a nice time. 

My friends with Philadelphia Union Supporters Group Sons of Ben suggested the following as well:

  • Mutter Museum (lots of oddities and abnormalities in the medical world)
  • The Franklin Institute is another cool place to hit if you like science stuff
  • The Philadelphia Museum of Art (if you like Rocky, these are the steps he ran up in the movie, his statue is also here.)
  • Carpenters Hall

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If you’re into beer, you’re in luck. Tons of breweries around town. We went to Love City Brewing and Yards Brewing Company. Unfortunately I followed the sprint not a marathon plan and had to bail before Goose Island. Food is available at Love City and Yards and both have great spaces to have a beer with friends.

If you’re looking for beer and food near Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, etc., I found Independence Beer Garden, which looked amazing.

Food Highlights

We had brunch after arriving at High Street. Wonderful breakfast and some mimosas hit the spot. We also ate at Luna Cafe and sat outside on a beautiful morning. I had their breakfast bagel and it was fantastic. On our last day we walked over to The Bourse. This redeveloped building has lots of food options. Finally make sure to check out the Reading Terminal Market. It is insane in there (and we went on an off day), so be prepared.

Getting around

We walked a lot and used rideshares. SEPTA is an option for quick trips.

Tip!! The couple we traveled with turned me on the Philly Phlash. Couple of bucks and you can hop on/hop off all over town. Definitely worth it.

Game Day

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Everything about the Philadelphia Union is on their site, including tickets and details about Talen Energy Stadium.

We visited our friends in Sons of Ben. They tailgate in Lot B. It’s behind near the practice pitch on the west side of the stadium. You can chip in for beers or bring your own. Visit the Sons of Ben site and social media for all the details.

Also, there’s Larimer Brewing Company across the street from Talen Energy Stadium. We didn’t make it there but it’s definitely an option.

The stadium is very intimate. Compact and not a bad seat that I could tell. Getting out was a hassle so be prepared for that. We somehow caught an Uber under a bridge near a construction site. Not optimal but we made it happen.

Map

Here is the Google Map I put together to help get my bearings and plan our trip. Hope it helps.

Local Teams

There are several lower league teams in the area if you want to see additional matches.

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.

Groundhopping 2020

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Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Colorado Rapids v Atlanta United, September 15, 2018

As the 2020 soccer schedules are being released, it’s time to start planning trips.

I have several goals this year:

*See an Atlanta United away game.

*Do a mini-soccer tour.

*Create a comprehensive map of venues in the United States and Canada.

 

First up is the Atlanta United game. My current target is the Atlanta United/Minnesota United game at Allianz Field on Sunday, August 9, 2020. This match ticks several boxes: #1 an Atlanta United away game. #2 a trip with my parents. My parents are visiting all 50 states, and Minnesota is one of two remaining states they haven’t been to. #3 visit another MLS city. #4 see an amazing new venue, which includes the Brew Hall!! I have started the Jay Riddle Memorial Spreadsheet and am developing different trip options.

The mini tour is still in development. I have a couple of ideas and need to do some more research and confirm a few things. Plus I’m putting together possible trips for fans who want to hit multiple MLS venues in one trip. Plan is to have these ready to go in the coming weeks.

As for the third goal, building on the efforts of some amazing soccer fans, I have created the following map. It needs to be updated with expansion teams and those teams that folded/changed leagues/gone on hiatus in the lower leagues. I have also added a layer of all of the venues I have been to over the last 25 years or so. The map is by no means done but it’s a start.

 

Got travelling or match day tips? Need a hand planning a trip? Hit me up at austinlong1974@gmail.com

 

Finally, quick shoutout to a couple of people who have inspired and educated me.

Paul Gerald. If you are going to the United Kingdom to watch a game, hit him up. Check out his blog and get a copy of his book, The Groundhopper’s Guide to Soccer in England.

Peter Miles. Peter has been all to matches of all levels around Europe. His blog has great articles with historical background and amazing pictures.

Steven Bernasconi. Steven spent 2017 traveling around North America visiting venues and fans. The result was The Soccer Tour and Steven created some awesome content.

I’m Back

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Talen Energy Stadium, Philadelphia Union v Atlanta United, August 31, 2019

Not as dramatic as Michael Jordan’s fax back in 1995 but still the same message.

Firing up the SoccerNomad blog again with a focus on groundhopping. What is groundhopping? Per wikipedia: Groundhopping is a hobby that involves attending matches at as many different stadiums or grounds as possible.

Plan over the next couple of weeks is to share information on possible trips around the US and Canada, and post any trips that I make during the 2020 season.

I would love to hear from you. Trip ideas. Tips. Questions. Comment below or email me at austinlong1974@gmail.com.

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.