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Soccer Culture

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.

27 February 3:09 pm

Most people would agree that Italians Arrigo Sacchi and Marcelo Lippi are two of the best managers. Ever. Between them, after all, they have six Serie A Scudetti, three Champions League/European Cup titles, and one World Cup.

At the club level, they saw the majority of their success at AC Milan (Sacchi) and Juventus (Lippi).

Ahead of this past weekend's Milan-Juve top-of-the-table clash, La Gazzetta dello Sport (the pink paper) brought the two tacticians in and had them imagine how the match would go using Subbuteo, the classic table soccer game. Check it out:

This, of course, got us thinking: Which two MLS coaches would we like to see sitting across from each other like chess grandmasters, discussing tactics, formations, predictions, and players' strengths and weaknesses, and then leaning forward to move a little painted figurine to demonstrate?"

It would be cool to see the LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena and the Seattle Sounders' Sigi Schmid square off. They are two of the most solid strategists MLS has ever seen.

Or how about hearing the Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear explain the intricacies of his tried-and-true 4-4-2 and how it stacks up against, say, the Ajax-inspired 4-3-3 employed by Toronto FC's Aron Winter.

Or a Rookie Rumble: New England's Jay Heaps vs. Montreal's Jesse Marsch?

Tell us what matchup you would want to see, and we'll look into making it happen. No joke.

25 February 9:32 am

This may be the worst tifo ever --if you can even call it that-- but it's SEO gold: people LOVE to look at kittens.

24 February 7:59 pm

Getty Images

Unless you're a part of the ever-growing Sporting KC fanbase or stumbled on the #DearMrHunt hashtag on Twitter during the past week or so, you probably had no idea that Kansas City's 2000 MLS Cup trophy doesn't reside in Kansas City.

In fact, the trophy doesn't belong to Sporting KC at all.

The hardware Peter Vermes, Tony Meola and Chris Henderson, among others, earned at RFK Stadium against the Chicago Fire remains  – and will continue to remain  – property of the Hunt Sports Group, a treasured memento of the late Lamar Hunt, who owned the Wizards when they reached the MLS pinnacle at the turn of the century.

Understandably, Kansas City fans started wondering if they would ever get the opportunity to enjoy the spoils from their lone championship season in person. From that idea grew #DearMrHunt. And as it turns out, Clark Hunt was listening.

Once Hunt got wind of the campaign to bring the Cup back to Kansas City, he reached out to Sporting's owners, according to the KC Star.

Sporting still won't own the trophy itself – retaining ownership was part of the terms agreed to by the Hunts and OnGoal when the team was sold – but they will have the opportunity to display it at Livestrong Sporting Park for the 2012 season until it goes to it's permanent home at Arrowhead Stadium.

It may not equate to ownership, but no matter how you slice it, that's a win for the fans that pack Livestrong Sporting Park from week to week.

20 February 2:26 pm

Admit it: You can’t stand noobs. They’re always just a little too quick to pull out the over-the-top display of enthusiasm for whatever it is they don’t know how to do.

This week’s episode of IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia highlights the problem with newbies when Peter and Nance, an eccentric, overly eco-conscious couple played by the show’s stars Saturday Night Live mainstay Fred Armisen and indie rock veteran Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) — go to their first Portland Timbers game with a flag they designed to show their support for the team.

Yes, it is as tragic and funny as you imagine.

“It’s funny and weird because I’m not usually a sports person and I don’t live in Portland but I love Portland,” Armisen said when reached via phone last week.

“One of the things I love about it is that it reminds me of England a little bit, and the fact that they like soccer there as much as they do just makes it seem that much more vaguely European. We had to get them in the show somehow.“

He’s not saying that the wild passion of JELD-WEN Field’s section 107 is a put-on, though.

“It’s not an affectation, they really do love it,” Armisen said. “When we first met the people from the Timbers Army we knew it was a very real thing.”

Brownstein, a Washington native who now lives in Portland, testified to the region’s well-documented fervor over football.

“When I was a kid I went to Sounders games in Seattle, where I grew up, and I played soccer. I think for everyone in the Pacific Northwest it’s the obligatory sport you play.”

Like the character she plays in the episode, which airs Feb. 24 at 10 pm ET, Brownstein has yet to see the Timbers in action. 

“I haven’t been to a game [in Portland] yet, but when we shot the episode it made me want to go,“ she says. ”Portlanders are eager for communal experiences and the Timbers are perfect for that. “

“Also the singing is really great, even just at the shoot. It’s all pretty intriguing so I really want to go.”

Armisen and Brownstein aren’t the only comedy titans taken with what’s going on in JELD-WEN’s North End.

“[Saturday Night Live creator] Lorne Michaels read that article in The New York Times about them,” said Armisen, “It was funny because he was immediately fascinated by them.”

This week’s show won’t be the Portlandia debut for a few members of the TA though, as they were cast for the “Allergy Pride” sketch that aired earlier in the season.

“If you watch the parade, they’re the Soy Punks,” Armisen said. “They were perfect for it because they were so good at shouting and shouting angrily.”

18 February 9:16 pm

While everyone else in the New York area is still dealing with the last remnants of winter, the Red Bulls skipped out of town for preseason preparations in Mexico. To document the proceedings in Cancun, someone came up with the idea to give Stephen Keel a camera and let him go wild.

The result was some absolutely vintage stuff from Keel packed into four episodes of priceless footage.

Highlights in no particular order:

  • Red moustaches
  • bocce ball
  • Remember the Titans
  • Alcohol-free Piña Coladas
  • Scandinavians
  • Oblivious tourists
  • Zip lines
  • Fake English accents
  • Ball washing stations
  • Scandinavians
  • Baby fat
  • Designer sunglasses

Keel Cam Part 1 of 3

Team Bonding at Xplor - Agudelo interview

15 February 5:29 pm

Not everything we shoot gets edited. Last year we shot a few "Cribs" style features with rookies in MLS while on the road. We never found time to edit them together and these first year guys lost a great opportunity to shine off the field. With a bit of downtime in the lead up to the season and some un-cut content laying around we decided to give them their due and put the features together... albeit a bit late.  So here's the 1st of a couple "Rookie Livin" pieces that features Servando Carrasco, Josh ford, Michael Tetteh and their home in Seattle.