Posts Tagged ‘ MLS ’

#MLSin96

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Picture courtesy of Major League Soccer (MLS)

Yesterday was the anniversary of the first ever MLS game. Crazy how much things have changed.
If memory serves me right, I watched the game in Arkansas while visiting my cousin.  Somehow got him and his friends to turn on the game, and I don’t remember much from the match except that I was excited that soccer was happening in the United States. The game was winding down and a 0-0 score would not be a great advertisement, so when Wynalda bent his shot into the far post there was relief mixed with celebration.
That match was the start of a long, complicated relationship with the league but so glad that it’s here.
If you want to learn more about the early days of the league, I would recommend the following resources:
*MLS Extra Time interview with Kevin Payne (starts about 15 minutes in)
#MLSin96

Claret and Blue–Colorado Rapids

In an incredible oversight from my original post, I missed the Colorado Rapids who play in Major League Soccer (MLS). Originally the club used green and white as primary colors, then the Rapids switched to black in blue in 2003. But in 2007, the franchise (key word) re-branded. The Rapids changed their logo and color palette to burgundy and sky blue. This change did a couple of things: updated their branding and brought the Rapids branding more in line with the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE).

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Photo courtesy of Rapids Republic

Primary Kit 2007

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Photo courtesy of The Mane Land

Primary Kit 2020

Since then, their primary shirts have been mostly burgundy with sky blue or white trim/accents. In the early years of the re-brand, sky blue was used as a secondary color.

Resources:

  • The Colorado Rapids wikipedia article has a comprehensive recap of the logo and color scheme for the club.
  • Rapids Republic provides a thorough kit history of the club.
  • And if you want to learn more about the club, the Burgundy Wave site is a great place to start.

Feel free to comment below or hit me up on twitter, @austinlong1974, with additional information, corrections or comments.

Nashville (Nashville SC v Atlanta United)

I had visited Nashville for soccer before, back in 2015 when I saw the Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves take on Nashville FC, the forerunner of the current MLS team. The franchise was announced in 2017, and Nashville SC’s wikipedia page gives a little insight about the transition, and this from Copa 90 has a little bit of info of how the team made the jump from the NPSL to the USL. Plus a recap of Nashville soccer history can be found here.

Before the match, we decided to check out a bar on Broadway that was hosting Atlanta United fans. When we hit Broadway after walking from our car, it was crazy, with music and drinks and people and general chaos. Every bar was packed with people, as there was a lot going on: Predators/Avalanche game; Nashville SC/Atlanta United game; parties; Saturday afternoon. 

nissan via bridge

nissan from tailgate

We decided rather than wait for an hour for a beer to move on to the Nissan Stadium via the pedestrian bridge, which provides a beautiful view of the city and the stadium. After a quick visit with the Nashville supporters (picked up a nice split scarf that they produced), we made it to the Atlanta United supporters tailgate. A huge crowd took over Lot A with music and food and dancing and chants and smoke. 

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Photo courtesy of Terminus Legion

The march started to gather and, while it took a while to get started, the fans made the quick walk to Gate 3. Not sure if the venue was not prepared for us or it was first game kinks or what but it took a long time to get in. After that we hiked up to the 300s.

nissan from seats

I had not been to a American football field in a while and our seats provided a great vantage point. Nissan Stadium is the home to Tennessee Titans of the National Football League (NFL) and the Tennessee State Tigers of Tennessee State University, as well as the Music City Bowl. The venue opened in 1999 and seats around 69,000. The surface is natural grass, which did not look great and I am not sure it will get better during the season.

 

Atlanta United got off to a fast start and were rewarded with a goal by Barco. Nashville settled down and equalized off a free kick was dropped into the penalty area and not dealt with by the Atlanta United defense. Then came a moment of magic from Emerson Hyndman. I didn’t properly celebrate it because I thought VAR would overturn it but the goal stood.

The second half was a tactical battle. While United dominated possession according to the stats, they weren’t able to do much with it and Nashville defended well. A couple of nervy moments as the hosts poured on the pressure. After the injury to Josef, Atlanta just hung on and left the Music City with three points.

The weather cooperated throughout the day but with a 7pm local kickoff, I felt the cold in the second half. (Thank God for layers!!!) Regardless, it was fun to celebrate the launch of a new team in Major League Soccer and we had a great time. So get to Broadway early, get that out of the way, then head to the stadium for tailgate, and watch the match!

I’m looking forward to returning to the Music City in the coming years when their new Soccer Specific Stadium opens in the Fairgrounds area. Anticipated date is 2022.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions. Comment below, email me at austinlong1974@gmail.com or hit me up on twitter, @austinlong1974.

Read more about my trips in the past and possible trips in 2020 on my Groundhopping page.

Good luck and safe travels!!

Florida

Inter Miami joins MLS in 2020 and with their introduction, there is the chance to visit the two Florida MLS venues in one trip. Here are some possible options.

Orlando City hosts the Montreal Impact at Exploria Stadium on Saturday, April 4 at 3:00 p.m. ET. The next day Inter Miami entertains the Philadelphia Union at 3:00pm ET. Note that the new Lockhart Stadium is in Fort Lauderdale.

Later that month, Toronto FC travels to Inter Miami on Saturday, April 25 for a 3:00pm ET kickoff. On Sunday Atlanta United goes to Orlando City for a 1:00 ET match.

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Memorial Day Weekend gives groundhoppers a chance to hit three grounds in a week. Start in Orlando for Orlando City versus the Columbus Crew on Saturday, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The next stop is Miami for a midweek match as Inter Miami hosts FC Cincinnati on Wednesday, May 27 at 8:00pm ET. End your week in Tampa Bay as the Tampa Rowdies take on Philadelphia Union II on Saturday May 30 at Al Lang Stadium, which is in St. Petersburg.

Finally, in July travelers will have a chance to see both cities as Atlanta United heads down to Miami to play Inter Miami on Thursday, July 23 at 8:00pm ET. Philadelphia Union goes to Orlando on Saturday, July 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET.             

In terms of travel time, it’s about two hours from Orlando to St. Petersburg, three hours from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale and three and a half hours from St. Petersburg to Fort Lauderdale.

I found this site that had some suggestions about how to get between the two cities. One suggestion was Redcoach. There are tickets for $15 depending on day and time.

Venues

Orlando City Stadium

I have been to Exploria. Because I was with Atlanta United fans, I didn’t get to see much of the stadium. From our vantage point, it looked very nice. Beware! The upper portions can be quite steep. My friend Ian of Rowdies Supporters Group Skyway Casuals reminds us to not wear opposing colors at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Some of their fans are not super welcoming.

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Inter Miami will be playing at the new Lockhart Stadium. This will be their future training ground field once the new location is approved and built.

Team Information

Inter Miami

Orlando City

Tampa Bay Rowdies

Lower League Teams

There are tons of teams from the lower leagues of American soccer in Florida if you wanted to squeeze an extra game or two. Ian suggested Florida Soccer Soldiers, who play in the UPSL. 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.

Good luck and safe travels!!

Northeast

Researching a trip to visit both New York City teams at one time sent me down a rabbit hole and the result is a trip in which you can knock out all four teams in the Northeast in one week. Here we go.

NE trip

The journey starts in New England. On Saturday, April 11, the Revolution host FC Cincinnati at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough at 7:30 pm ET. The next day you’ll need to get up early and hustle down to the Bronx as NYCFC takes on the Chicago Fire at Yankee Stadium at 12:30 pm ET. From there you can head to Philadelphia and see the Union take on the LA Galaxy at Talen Energy Stadium at 7:30pm ET on Wednesday, April 15. The last stop is Harrison, NJ at Red Bull Arena for the game between New York Red Bulls and the New England Revolution at 1pm ET on Saturday, April 18. Four venues, one week. Amazing!!

There are tons of options for getting between these great cities. I found a website called Trip Savvy, which lays out options between Boston and New York and New York and Philadelphia.

Please know that had I done the research for this trip before committing to other trips, I probably would have done this for 2020. This is a true groundhop and looking forward to seeing if anyone can pull this off.

Team Information

New England Revolution

NYCFC

New York Red Bulls

Philadelphia Union

Lower League Teams

There are tons of from the lower leagues of American soccer in between Boston and Philadelphia, if you wanted to squeeze an extra game or two. 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.

Good luck and safe travels!!

Groundhopping Goals!!

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ATL UTD at Orlando City, Exploria Stadium, May 2018

Soccer has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. Started playing as a child and still play when healthy, which is more and more infrequent. I’ve coached and managed teams, plus started this blog and hosted a podcast. Recently I was President and Board Member of an Major League Soccer (MLS) Supporters Group.

Now my focus has turned to groundhopping. I went to my first MLS game in 1998 at Soldier Field. I hit Columbus in 1999 and saw the occasional college game in central Michigan over the next several years.

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Century Link Field, Seattle, WA in 2012

In 2012 I decided to start engaging MLS. Started reading articles, watching games, listening to podcasts. I had not been to an MLS game in years so decided to plan a trip. First up was the Pacific Northwest. I had family in the area and heard a lot about their match day experience. With a successful trip out there, I set a goal to to see a game in every MLS city. Every year I get to about 50% but with expansion I can never get over the hump. So far I’ve been to the following cities:

  • Atlanta 
  • Chicago 
  • Columbus
  • Washington D.C. 
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Denver
  • Dallas
  • Houston 
  • Portland 
  • Seattle 
  • Kansas City

Hoping to knock out Nashville and Minneapolis/St. Paul in 2020.

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First ever Birmingham Hammers game, Sicard Hollow Sports Complex in 2016

I also love seeing teams in the lower leagues of the United States and have put together a map that shows most of the teams in United States and Canada, and all of the places I’ve been over the last 20 years or so.

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RFK Stadium, Washington, DC in 2016

Now my goal is to see a soccer game in the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia. I’m about a third of the way there:

  • Alabama
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • District of Columbia

Looking to check off Minnesota, Indiana and Kentucky this year.

Let me know where you have been in the US and Canada. Best venue? Worst venue? Give me a shout on twitter @austinlong1974 or via email austinlong1974@gmail.com.

Cascadia

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Cascadia is where this whole adventure really took off for me. I hit Seattle and Portland back in 2012 and had an amazing time. I still haven’t been to Vancouver but hopefully one day!!

I took a look at the 2020 MLS schedule to see if you could hit all three cities in a relatively short period of time, and I came up with two options.

The first option would be around the July 4th holiday. The Timbers host the Crew at Providence Park on Wednesday, July 1 at 7:30pm PT. From there you could get to Vancouver as the Whitecaps take on FC Cincinnati on Saturday, July 4 at 7pm PT at BC Place. The next day, get back down to Seattle for the Sounders against Minnesota United at Centurylink Field on July 5, at 6pm PT. Fly back to your homebase the next day. 

It’s not logistically the best but again, it is possible. An early morning flight from Portland to Vancouver was around $130 or you could save $20-$30 if you fly out first thing on July 4th. The drive from Portland to Vancouver is about 5 and a half hours. There’s a morning flight for about $150 from Vancouver to Seattle on July 5th. Drive is about 2 and a half hours.

Atlanta United fan Robert Swick knocked this trip out a couple of years ago and suggested the following:

Stay in Portland 7/1 and 7/2 before taking the trek up to Vancouver on the 3rd. Watch the game on the 4th, then drive down to Seattle for the 5th, hang out on the 6th, then fly back on the 7th.  That would give someone basically 2 days in each city and also allows the potential to fly into/out of SEA/TAC versus two one-way’s.  

The second option is in September. Start in Vancouver at BC Place for Vancouver hosting Minnesota United on Sunday, September 13 at 6pm PT. On Wednesday, September 16, the Earthquakes visit Seattle at 7:30pm PT. The last stop is at Providence Park in Portland on Saturday, September 19 for the Timbers against Toronto FC at 6pm PT. 

I like this option the best because you have time to enjoy each city. If you can get a week off from work, family, life, then make it happen!

Things to do

All three cities are amazing so there’s plenty to do. Each city’s site has some suggestions to get you started:

Match Day

I loved my experiences at Providence Park and Century Link. Make sure to get to the venues early and soak everything in. Each team’s website has a ton of information regarding activities, transportation and more.

Stadium Tours

Each venue hosts a tour. Check out the information and see if you can squeeze one in.

Lower League Teams

There are tons of from the lower leagues of American soccer, if you wanted to squeeze an extra game or two. Plus there’s Pacific FC in the Canadian Premier League. 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.

Good luck and safe travels!!