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Soccer Culture

14 March 1:19 pm

Photo Courtesy of ussoccerstore.com

I decided to look at the US Soccer online store today, and it had nothing to do with the e-mail blast they sent out telling me about their Spring collection. Cross my heart and hope to die.

And though it may not be particularly Spring-y, I found a hoodie that was well worth the price of admission.

The words on the back say, and I quote, "Haters Welcome."

I'm not really sure what that means. Is it a defiance thing a la "Don't Tread On Me?" Kind of a "hate us because we win?"

Is it an invitation to soccer "haters" to start watching? God knows I have enough friends who are haters, but I'm not sure that wearing this sweatshirt would convince them to start watching games with me.

Look, I'm all for helping the uninitiated get into soccer. Convincing – and I mean really convincing – someone to follow the beautiful game is unbelievably rewarding. Haters? Not sure if it's worth the fight. After all...

Thoughts, everyone? Smart? Silly? Would you wear it? Hit up that comment section and let us know.

13 March 1:48 am

Palabras no pueden describir lo que se vivió en el JELD-WEN Field de Portland en su noche de debut en la temporada regular de la MLS. Como las palabras no lo pueden hacer, voy a permitir que este mini-video lo haga.

¡Así es como se vive el fútbol de la MLS!

12 March 5:48 pm

There were some rumblings on Twitter during NBC Sports Network's first MLS broadcast on Sunday and Keel Cam Part 5 confirmed it: Ryan Meara is essentially Larry Bird in a goalkeeper's kit and gloves.

Don't believe me? Check out the side-by-side photo below of Larry Legend at Indiana State and Meara following his side's 2-1 defeat to FC Dallas.

The best part about it? He joins Mehdi Ballouchy as New York Red Bulls with celebrity doppelgangers. As the Shawn "MLS Insider" Francis pointed out to me a few months ago, Ballouchy bears a striking resemblance to John Oates of Hall & Oates fame.

 

12 March 5:32 pm

My love for all things Keel Cam is well documented. New York's mop-topped defender is simply magnificent at providing behind-the-scene moments with his own brand of humor and some spot-on one-liners mixed in for good measure.

He's done it again with "Keel Cam Part 5," an examination of what tagging along for team bonding at the golf course with the Red Bulls might be like.

My favorite lines:

"That has house written all over it."

"Dax, grab your balls."

"Maybe stand up on your toes, just to get the full flex."

"Does Bruno Mars have any golf game? The club looks as big as he does."

"Can I introduce my caddy, Mehdi Ballouchy?"

As Ryan Meara says, anything for Keel Cam. Let the ridiculousness begin...

12 March 2:25 pm

I give MLS fans credit for not living under rocks, so I won't tell them that the Portland Timbers play their home opener on Monday night against the Philadelphia Union at 9:30 pm ET on ESPN2/Deportes. Oh, wait...

Nevermind that! This is an exciting day. It's the season's first ESPN broadcast and, more importantly, our first chance to see JELD-WEN Field on TV. I like seeing JELD-WEN on TV.

And, with due apologies to the more hardcore non-Portland Cascadia fans, I maintain that the Timbers Army is a big reason why. No disrespect to any other supporters group, but the TA bring their A-game.

Like, remember when they sang the Star-Spangled Banner on national TV? Turns out that we're all going to get a refresher course tonight, because the fans are doing it again this season.

Get pumped, sports fans. Swallow your pride, Seattle fans. Union fans, brace yourself. This might get awesome.

11 March 1:00 am

Sporting KC fans have made Livestrong Sporting Park a fortress since the club's gorgeous facility opened last June. And although they didn't get to enjoy their team's last-second victory Saturday night in person, a large contingent gathered at the stadium's Member's Club to watch a 1-0 victory against D.C. United capped off by a C.J. Sapong winner in stoppage time.

Someone had the bright idea to set up a camera on those in attendance, which of course caught their reaction to Sapong's timely goal. Needless to say, it's a pretty awesome display. I can only imagine what the Cauldron has in store once Sporting KC comes home. Based on this video, there is plenty is in the works.

09 March 5:10 pm

Are you a fan of Major League Soccer? Do you have two X chromosomes? If you answered yes to both of those questions -- or you're just curious -- head over to the new Women United Football Club website, which has been getting some buzz on Twitter today after launching and appears to be a legitimately awesome gathering place for MLS fans of the fairer sex.

I would attempt to put the concept into words but surely the site's founders can do a better job, so I'll leave that to them:

"In America and abroad, MLS has scores of female soccer fans, but there is little in the way of communities or reporting to serve them. We're changing that in 2012. This is a place where women of all ages who are MLS fans can meet, mingle and blog about their thoughts. Join us as we get to experience the thrills and spills of pro soccer in a whole new way!"

Love the concept. Love the design of the website. Love that some of the founders hail from Kansas City (Midwest represent!).

And even though myself and all the rest of the XY chromosomers out there aren't the target audience, I'm glad female MLS fans have a sweet place to come together online. It's the least they deserve.

06 March 5:21 pm

A confession: I'm not a fantasy freak.

I don't spend days analyzing the various formations and figuring out the optimum financially efficient roster. I don't partake in a great deal of trash talk with the other people in my league.

About the only thing I obsess about is which music idol I should name my club after.

But despite all of that, I play. I play against my colleagues and friends. I tend to lose, but I appreciate the competition and the comradery.

This year's new salary-cap game, MLS Fantasy Soccer: Manager, is not easy. But it is a very good approximation of what it's like to be a real MLS manager.

The salary cap ($100 million) is tight, and building a well-balanced squad, with a mix of high-scoring stars and cost-efficient role players, can be a struggle. At times, I cursed the person who set the prices.

The upshot is that as I set my roster, I started making some intriguing decisions on where I was willing to sacrifice quality for quantity. If I went for a cheap 4th defender so I could add a more expensive striker, what happens if there's an injury on the backline? If I ditched the big-money third striker, does that let me have a better attacking midfielder?

Ultimately, you've got to decide. Just like a real MLS manager does. And then you play. 

So without further ado, here's the roster of my beloved Otis Redding United. I promise you, we will not try any tenderness in the 2nd Annual ExtraTime Radio Experts League.  

05 March 8:35 pm

Where is the only place on the planet that unfussy, workman-like players like Jay DeMerit can become ankle-breaking, opponent-shaming playground superstars? And don't say "in their dreams."

It's FIFA Street, the grimy, showboating cousin of EA Sports' venerable FIFA franchise. Check out the clip above for an exclusive look at what a few of the MLS clubs look like in one of the game's 35 arenas. 

Interestingly, the game features 23 national teams but only 6 leagues. Don't worry though: MLS is in there --boasting a hefty 234 players-- alongside Serie A, the Barclays Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga and France's Ligue 1.

Personally I can't wait for this to drop on 3.13.12. Download the demo now for XBOX 360 or PS3 if you've got the itch as well.

29 February 5:55 pm

Not to be a tease but the 2012 version of MLS Fantasy Soccer manager is very close to being released on the gaming public. If you're looking for next-level features like a 'smart bench' with auto substitutes and great prizes like a trip to the 2012 MLS All Star game, MLS Fantasy Manager is a must-play for the upcoming season.

But it's not just about the free stuff and the advanced features; MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager is also pretty to look at. Check out a few screens from this upcoming release and keep an eye on MLSsoccer.com in the coming days for more information.