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Soccer Culture

27 February 12:34 pm

Passé, présent et avenir sont tous trois à la une de l’actualité du jour.

L’avenir, c’est celui de la talentueuse génération des -20 ans canadiens qui ne disputera pas la Coupe du monde de sa catégorie d’âge cet été. Le Canada a été battu 4-2 par les États-Unis dans le match décisif (résumé vidéo ci-dessus) et regrette une nouvelle occasion ratée. Mission accomplie en revanche pour les jeunes Américains dont certaines des vedettes pourraient être sur le terrain en MLS dès ce week-end.

Le présent, c’est la saison 2013 qui est sur le point de commencer. Don Garber en tiendra le discours inaugural ce soir sur le coup de 18h00 sous une forme novatrice, puisqu’il sera non seulement diffusé en ligne mais que le commissaire répondra aussi aux questions des journalistes via une vidéoconférence. Cette saison pourrait s’ouvrir sans Dwayne De Rosario, qui risque une suspension pour un mauvais geste durant la préparation.

Le passé, c’est l’histoire à laquelle le Philadelphia Union a fait un superbe clin d’œil hier soir en dévoilant son troisième maillot, référence au Bethleem Steel, un des plus grands clubs d’avant-guerre aux États-Unis. La Semaine des maillots se poursuit en beauté et ce soir, ce sera au tour de Montréal de dévoiler sa troisième vareuse, qui ne fera pas référence à Carsteel (puissance du soccer des années 30 au Québec) mais probablement au titre remporté par l’Impact en 1994 en APSL.

20 February 11:32 pm

Landon Donovan has a history of insightful, personal interviews. He just hasn't given very many of them lately.

That seems to have changed on Wednesday night, as the US national team and LA Galaxy legend answered questions in public for the first time since helping lead his team to the 2012 MLS Cup. Donovan appeared at a Q&A session titled "The Competitive Edge" on the campus of the University of Southern California.

One promising young scribe proceded to live tweet the event. We can't vouch for the veracity of his transcription, during which Donovan talks about everything from his relationship with his dad to that time he almost quit soccer in 2006 (which, from memory, was right before kickoff vs. Ghana), but I guarantee you we'll all be talking about this out-of-the-blue appearance by LD for the next 48 hours:

Here's the best part, if you're a US fan:

And here's the part that's Landon being Landon to, like, the Nth degree:

17 February 12:00 pm

Whether you enjoy the Harlem Shake or not, it's now infiltrated MLS clubs. The Seattle Sounders, the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Houston Dynamo (a special edition with the Dynamo Girls) are the latest to join the viral video movement.

Where would you rate Jimmy Conrad and his KICKTV crew in the American soccer Harlem Shake hierarchy?

15 February 8:39 pm

Short, sweet and unambiguous support for Robbie Rogers:

WATCH: MLSers react to Rogers coming out

15 February 8:27 pm

It's been an emotional day for all of MLS and US soccer, but doubtless nobody's gone through the wringer quite as thoroughly as Robbie Rogers.

Here's his 13-word response:

Understandable.

But from where I sit, the best part of today is that the next guy (or gal) to debate whether or not to come out can expect "this." It's a more tolerant and loving world than we all thought it was nine hours ago.

11 February 4:57 pm

Slick editing? Subtitles for those of us who can't parle français? Unparallelled behind-the-scenes access during MLS preseason? It's all here.

There's been some good content coming out of Montreal recently, and the most recent contribution from our neighbors in Quebec is a featurette called "Derrière chaque joueur," or Behind every player.

It look like there will be more of the same coming from Florida, where the Impact are competing in the Disney Pro Classic, so there should be more where this came from. Check it out and share your thoughts in the comment section below.

11 February 1:12 pm

Sporting KC have been on the forefront of MLS 2.0 since their rebranding, so people tend to pay attention when they unveil their latest marketing initiative.

With the MLS regular season just 19 days away – Sporting and Philadelphia will be the first clubs to kick a ball with points on the line on March 2 at PPL Park – fans in Kansas City are already feeling the hype ahead of yet another season with high expectations.

Check out the commercial above, which ran during the Grammy Awards in the hope of capturing an audience outside the club's core fanbase, and let us know what you think in the comment section below.

05 February 8:22 pm

If we're to believe the images leaked on TodoSobreCamisetas.com, this is what the USMNT's Centennial jersey will look like in 2013.

The primary feature? It has to be the old-school badge, which replaces the US Soccer Federation logo on today's jerseys.

Do you like this retro jersey better than the sash look? Think they should go with old-fashioned number design on the back? Want to see this crest become the new USSF logo?

Share your thoughts below.

05 February 6:06 pm

Gus Johnson has some work to do. Five-and-a-half years worth, to be exact.

On Tuesday, Sports illustrated's sports media maven Richard Deitsch let us in on Fox Sports' plans to put an American voice, and a distinctive one at that, on center stage during the 2018 World Cup in Russia. That would be Johnson, known for his high-energy play-by-play coverage in college basketball, who surprised many by branching into soccer last year – check out the clip of some of his calls as a radio broadcaster for the San Jose Earthquakes above as well as his interview with ExtraTime Radio (scroll down to the May 2, 2012 episode).

Of course, Johnson won't get thrown in the deep end come 2018. Fox is dedicated to building him up from water wings to the equivalent of play-by-play free diving through their other soccer properties, most notably Champions League broadcasts. Along those lines, Johnson will make his prime-time debut on Feb. 13 when Real Madrid faces Manchester United in Round of 16 action, and augment his CL duties with English Premier League MC honors as well as stints in the booth for the Champions League and FA Cup finals.

Now, Johnson isn't exactly a universal taste in the sports world, mostly because of his sugar-high style of bombastic broadcasting. He also has a very limited background with the Beautiful Game, admitting he's a soccer "novice" in the grand scheme of things.

To his credit, Johnson has closed-door run-throughs under his belt in addition to Quakes duty, but the Champions League knockout stage isn't exactly a low-profile way to kick things off for a novice, especially with a pair of internationally relevant Cup finals on the docket. You can bet the American soccer Twitterati and blogosphere are going to be looking for chinks in his soccer armor from the minute he opens his mouth.

Deadspin already gave their take here, and – to no one's surprise – it wasn't entirely positive and posed the following question: What will Johnson do without a bevy of opportunities to exhibit his trademark excitability? It's a valid point.

Meanwhile, I'm a bit torn.

On one hand, I'd love for American soccer fans to once again have an American voice to narrate the world's biggest sporting event. On the other, Johnson is going to have to remake himself in the booth, a move that could turn out smelling like roses or, just as easily, reek like a crowded subway car in the midst of an oppressive NYC summer. More likely, Fox's experiment is going to fall somewhere in between, and that makes me wonder what the decision to groom Johnson says about the network's opinion of the current crop of American soccer broadcasters.

Apparently, they're not good enough to develop into national voices in five-plus years, although I don't subscribe to that belief. More likely, they're simply not flashy enough and have yet to break through into the American sporting consciousness. Or they're already contracted to a competitor.

All of which is fine. I get what Fox is trying to do. But, like everyone else, I have no idea how the network's gambit will turn out.

What I do know is that I'll follow the building crescendo from Feb. 13 until the summer of 2018. If nothing else, Johnson's unique style won't let us tear our eyes and ears away from the action. Whether that's a good thing remains to be seen.

05 February 4:55 pm

When Jay DeMerit fell to the Vancouver Whitecaps ahead of their inaugural MLS season, most figured they'd landed the linchpin of their team for years to come.

Nobody could have guessed how quickly or fully DeMerit would embrace life in British Columbia, though. So much so that he's all settled down in the northern-most reaches of Cascadia. Literally.

He put a ring on a local celebrity (Canadian Olympic Ski Cross Gold Medalist Ashleigh McIvor) and has no trouble rattling off 'hoods (he lives in Gastown) like he's been posted up in Vancouver for years.

“The thing I love about this city is that it can really grip you in a lot of different ways,” DeMerit told WhitecapsFC.com.

“I met my fiancée here and I’ve been able to take my life to the next level,” added the World Cup veteran. “That’s what we all want in our lives and our careers, and this city has allowed me to do that on both ends.”

Bravo, Jay. Looks like you're doing just fine.