Posts Tagged ‘ Major League Soccer ’

MLS Kits 2017

Get the podcast here: MLS Kits 2017

JR Francis (@paynomind on twitter) came back on the #SoccerNomad podcast to look at the kits for the 2017 MLS season. Our conversation covered a lot of ground and pulled references both far and wide. Hope you enjoy our conversation.

Resources

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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.

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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.

Major League Soccer (MLS) Acronyms

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The 2017 Major League Soccer season continues a pattern of slow, steady growth for the league. As the league evolves, leadership has created and shaped the rules that govern the league. Here’s a quick recap so that you are ready for the upcoming season.

GAM General Allocation Money. A mechanism created by MLS to help teams improve their rosters by reducing hits to the salary cap or acquire players by signing or transfer. Dirty South Soccer breaks it down here.

CAM Center Attacking Mid, your team’s #10, your team’s most creative player. . . unless you’re the Montreal Impact and you put him on the left.

W(H)AM George Michael tribute patch to be worn for the 2017 MLS season at the edge of the hem opposite of the jock tag.

whamSAM Sick Ass Move, like some of these.

TAM Targeted Allocation Money. A mechanism created by MLS to help teams improve their rosters below the Designated Player level or reducing the DP hits to the salary cap. Dirty South Soccer breaks it down here.

DAM(N) son. When Giovinco does THIS to your team.

PAM Pissed Away Allocation Money. Pretty much any money spent on Branco, Lothar Matthäus, Shaun Maloney, and Rais Mbolhi. Feel free to insert your team’s horrible transfer below.

lothar-mattheusFAM As in the family discount against the salary cap that can be invoked when a coach’s son plays for the team. This fictional mechanism hasn’t been used since Michael Bradley played for his father Bob with the MetroStars but GMs around the league are keeping an eye on a possible John/Ian Harkes option in the near future.

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LAM Another term for the invisibility cloak, as in on the lam, as in the player is not impacting the game at all. See Alejandro Bedoya in most USMNT games.

BAM Beating down your opponent. You know like the Red Bulls against NYCFC last season or the Chicago Fire crushing the Kansas City Wizards 7-0 in 2001 or the LA Galaxy destroying the Dallas Burn 8-1 in 1998.

(no) MA(‘A)M That moment when your goalie saves your team like Stefan Frei in MLS Cup 2016 or pretty much any PK taken against Nick Rimando.

IAM I am the best player in league history. Love him or hate him, it’s LandyCakes.

CARSON, CA - December 1, 2012: LA Galaxy forward Landon Donovan (10) celebrating their victory after the LA Galaxy vs the Houston Dynamo for the 2012 MLS Cup at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California. Final score LA Galaxy 3, Houston Dynamo 1.

Would love to hear comments and ideas from MLS fans below.

Follow me on twitter @AustinLong1974 and check out the rest of the SoccerNomad blog for posts on kits, memories and more. And don’t forget the SoccerNomad podcast, which features Atlanta Supporter Groups, kit design and more

Fan Experiences in England and the United States

Paul Gerald is a self described soccer nut and is working on a  book, An American’s Guide to Soccer in England, which he plans to have his book out in the summer of 2017. He has been on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk about his trips.

After our last chat he shared some similarities and differences between being a soccer fan in England and the United States.

I have been fortunate enough to see experiences in my soccer life of late: going to more than 35 games in England and seeing my beloved Portland Timbers win the MLS Cup in person.

The latter was a magical night at the end of a magical run and gave me a taste of Major League Soccer away days. The former is part of research for a book, a sort of travel and cultural guide to the English game

Here a couple of comparisons of the fan experience in each country:

Stadium Locations

In the US, many stadiums are on the edge of town and/or were originally built for American football. There are exceptions – all three Pacific Northwest stadiums, for example – but other places like Kansas City’s Sporting Park are between an outlet mall and a racetrack, and RFK Stadium in DC was original built as a multi sport facility in the 1960s and abandoned by the Redskins years ago, for good reason.

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In England, most stadiums are smack in the middle of town. Chelsea, for example, are one of the great clubs in the world, with a cabinet full of trophies. But their stadium, the sparkling 42,000-seat Stamford Bridge, is about a two-minute walk from a tube station in a busy neighborhood in West London. The same is true for Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle, and many others.

Some of the newer grounds are rather stale and on the edge of town (Stoke and West Ham, for example), but I give the advantage here to England.

Stadium Size

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Here there is some similarity, except for MLS sides who play in giant stadiums made for the NFL. The biggest club stadium in England is Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, with about 75,000 seats. The next five biggest are between 50,000 and 60,000, and after No. 10 it’s all under 40,000. In the Premier League they get as small as 20,000 at Swansea City and 11,000 (!) at Bournemouth.

The average purpose-built MLS stadium is around 20,000. So we’ll call this one a draw.

Weather

The vast majority of seats in English stadiums are covered – as they need to be, since the season runs from August to May and at least half of that is rain with temps in the 30s and 40s. In the US, we have the sense to play in the summer and sit in the sun. Advantage MLS.

Local Rivalries

My Timbers have the league’s most heated rivalry with Seattle, which is “only” 170 miles away. For comparison, Liverpool and Everton are one mile from each other. Queens Park Rangers and Fulham, two bitter West London rivals, are three miles apart. You could walk to those two and Chelsea in a total of six miles. It goes on and on. Big advantage England.

Away Fans

By rule, but not always in practice, away fans are supposed to get 10% of tickets to an English match, and up to three times that for a Cup tie. This means that throughout the Premier League, and in many lower league games, there are generally thousands of away fans singing their guts out the whole game. The biggest I saw was 9,000 Sunderland fans at Manchester United.

Look what they did when they scored a late goal in that game.

At the vast majority of MLS games, the best that can be hoped for are pockets of away fans, and away goals are met with a weird, eerie silence. Advantage England.

Distraction Action

Before games in England you get a lot of announcements and ads on the big screen – if the stadium has one, and most do. And there’s an on-field announcer whom everyone ignores. During the game? Nothing. They won’t even show a replay if it will piss anybody off. And I know of one club, Crystal Palace, that has a dance team.

In the US, you get some sponsorship messages here and there, but it’s much better than the nonsense at an NBA or NFL game. English people love that stuff, by the way; they think it’s like going to a circus. For soccer, though, we’ll call this one a draw.

Singing and Chanting

Near as I can tell, MLS culture is pretty much an adoption of English culture, all the way to the point of people wearing scarves to a game in 90-degree weather. There’s plenty of singing in both places, but from what I have seen, MLS severely lacks two things: spontaneity and player-specific songs. There are also very few opening game anthems in the US, which we need to work on.

Here’s 57,000 West Ham fans sing “Blowing Bubbles,” East London accent and all, at their new home stadium.

Slight advantage: England.

Eating and Drinking

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My favorite thing to tell English people is that not only can we drink inside an American stadium, there are people walking around to sell you beer! They absolutely cannot believe this. Ever since about 1990, when they started cracking down on hooligan culture, it is against English law to consume alcohol while you can see a soccer pitch – even in a suite. They also have no concept of what tailgating is, but they think it sounds utterly amazing and can’t wait to get over here and try it out.

Big, big advantage to the USA here.

Fan Behavior

The biggest misconception about English fans is that they are all hooligans. In fact, in 35 or so games I’ve been to, I have felt uncomfortable exactly twice: When I wore my Fulham colors outside Sheffield’s Bramhall Lane after a tense draw (lesson learned) and the time I naively wore a red jacket to a game at Everton (bigger lesson learned).

Still, I give the advantage to the Yanks here. The level of obscenity and abuse (at their own team, most of the time) is really over the top at English grounds – one reason that almost all have a family-friendly area. In the US, except for maybe a few of the derbies, fans mix together well, and everybody really seems out to have a good time.

One big disadvantage to MLS, though: I cannot believe how many American fans talk during the game and get up to walk around. Neither of these happen during the game in England, except when people beat the rush to the beer stand before halftime. It is all about watching, and knowing, the game.

Taken as a whole, seeing soccer in England reminds me of going to college football games in the South when I was a kid: It was mostly local teams with lots of fans there, TV and in-game distraction didn’t get in the way, and the stadiums felt cozy and intense. The English are in the slow process of replacing their old grounds and losing some of that atmosphere, but for now, and for my money, there’s no better sporting experience in the world than heading down to an English ground for a Saturday afternoon kickoff, with scarves and songs flying. I hope to run into you there sometime.

Check out my website, EnglishSoccerGuide.com, and follow along on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for reading. For MLS and EPL fans, what have your experiences been? Let us know in the comments below.

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.

Summer of Soccer

Another busy, wonderful, hot summer is in the books. 2016 truly was the summer of soccer with Copa America Centenario, Euro 2016, and the Olympics, plus all the levels of US Soccer in season. Here’s a quick look back at my summer.

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(photo courtesy of Forrest Collins)

May saw me check another team off of the list. I headed to Birmingham to see the Hammers first ever NPSL home game. They hosted Chattanooga FC and fell 1-0, but something special is in place both for the team and the supporters group Magic City Brigade.

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(photo courtesy of Atlanta Manchester United Supporters)

The following weekend was exhausting as I watched the FA Cup Final at Fado Midtown with the Atlanta Manchester United Supporters and Crystal Palace ATL. An amazing crowd and a thrilling victory for the Reds. Voice gone, memories made.

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(photo courtesy of Soccer in the Streets)

The next day was the Atlanta Champions League, a fundraiser for Soccer in the Streets. I played with Madridistas ATL and while the results didn’t go our way, we had a great day.

The month wrapped up with the Champions League Final, which I watched downtown at Bottle Rocket with my friends from Castleberry Hill. Real Madrid secured Una Decima on penalties with CR7 sealing the victory.

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Started June by taking in another NPSL games. Larry and I headed to Knoxville for the Force against Nashville FC. A spectacular goal won the three points for the hosts and earned them a Volunteers Shield win as well. Despite the weather, we had a great time and met some great people.

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(photo of Alex Quispe)

Big tournaments on two continents kicked off, with the United States hosting Copa America Centenario and France welcoming Euro 2016. Work got in the way and I tried to catch as much as I could. Besides watching the summer tournaments at home, I was able to catch games at Rose and Crown and even got to watch Germany v Italy at Der Biergarten with Mia San ATL. I watched the final of both competitions at Fado Buckhead with hundreds of soccer fans.

With the Euros and Copa America in full swing, Erin and I joined Terminus Legion at Wild Heaven Brewery and then went to the Georgia Revolution/Knoxville Force friendly in Conyers. It was a full day of beer, Panini sticker albums, fellowship and footy.

Saw the Revolution again the following weekend against the Atlanta Silverbacks at Silverbacks Park. The Silverbacks won the game and eventually made it all the way to the Regional Semi Finals before losing to Miami FC.

I celebrated five years of the SoccerNomad blog in July. Hard to believe it’s been that long. The blog has seen several changes in terms of frequency and topics but two topics are always on tap: memories and kits.

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(photo courtesy of Lariana Michelle Photography)

Towards the end of the month, I was lucky enough to be part of the organizing committee for the first ever #ATLSoccerCon. This event brought together soccer fans from around Atlanta andthem  a chance to look at kits, play Subbuteo and hang out. The afternoon was highlighted by a Meet and Greet with the US Paralympic National Team. Photos here.

The month ended with the MLS All Star game in San Jose. Terminus Legion got together at Rose and Crown to watch the Gunners defeat the best of MLS 2-1.

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August saw the Terminus Legion soccer team win their first ever playoff game in the Sons of Pitches Sunday Supporters League. We defeated LFC Atlanta in the quarter finals after a penalty shootout. Unfortunately we lost in the next round but another great session for the team. Later that month, European soccer started back up and I watched the Community Shield with the Manchester United Supporters of Atlanta the Brewhouse.

A great summer of footy action and looking forward to another great season. Have a couple of trips in the works so look for posts on those.

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

Dallas Til I Cry

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Dallas Til I Cry

As I read the opening chapters I felt I had found a kindred spirit. A lifelong soccer fan, who had fallen in love with a team thousands of miles away while a team plied their trade just miles away, decided to kick the tires on the domestic league.

The author and I have similar takes on the beautiful game and how it fits into the US sports spectrum. Admirers of quality and narrative, the siren song of the EPL drew us in and we would much rather get up at 745 am and watch a game from across the pond than the afternoon MLS Match of the Day. Why watch a game with football lines, in half empty venues, when you could watch some of the great players and teams in footballing history cheered on by thousands of supporters? Why support a league that, at times, couldn’t get out of its own way? But slowly things changed and you have to take notice.

At some point you have to give the local guys a chance. The book is not so much about the ups and downs of the 2013 FCD season as it a desire to embrace something that’s in your own backyard. There are also glimpses into the craziness of family life, coaching nuggets and a lot of analysis about how MLS is faring in the US sports landscape. Plenty of player critiques (this guy does not like Kenny Cooper) as well as a questioning of Coach Schellas and his player selections are on show as the author’s project becomes an interest becomes honest fandom.

Again this book really hit home with me because I have been engaging MLS more and more over the last several years. Nathan jumped right in, bought a season ticket, watched as many away games as he could and followed the league storylines as closely as possible. His account is an easy read with some poignant insights and heartfelt thoughts from a fan trying to support the beautiful game here in America.