Off the train, into a cab, around a corner onto Fairmount Ave. and there it was.
Sitting prominently on the famous steps in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, kids and their families sprinted eagerly to pose next to it while museum go-ers stopped and pointed.
This was not the Rocky statue. Instead, a massive replica of the official adidas PRIME matchball of Major League Soccer. This was the #GiantBall.
Like any game, the ball was the star today, the thing that everyone (including a horde of media) had their eye on. That is, until Commissioner Garber and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter stepped up to the podium to signal the start of five straight days of festivities here in Philly.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 20, 2012
Despite the spotty weather conditions (Read: It was freezing), Philadelphia Union faithful were out in force to hear Mayor Nutter show a little love for the lone Union representative in this year's game (Carlos Valdes) and welcome the rest of the League to the city he oversees.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 20, 2012
Following the announcement, a massive group of children lined up side-by-side next to the Giant Ball to kick more appropriately-sized adidas Prime replicas down the steps. Once the last had been launched, the Sharpies came out for a signing session of a different variety.
The kids on hand weren't given any autographs on this day. Instead, they were permitted to make their mark on the ball that will make its way all over the city until Wednesday. The Commissioner got in on the action, as well:
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 20, 2012
Immediately after the event, the Giant Ball was already on the way, stopping next at Tir Na Nog on Arch Street where Jeff Agoos and Nelson Rodriguez gave an in-depth presentation on the nuts and bolts of MLS to local supporters. No gloss, no sugar-coating which made the dialogue that much more valuable for everyone taking part.
— MLS Insider (@MLS_Insider) July 20, 2012
Smiles all around, it's going to be a good week.
We're rolling out the red carpet this year, and you don't need a press pass to participate. Join Seattle Sounders forward Eddie Johnson, Vancouver Whitecaps defender Jay DeMerit, KICK TV personality and ex-USMNT player Jimmy Conrad, and MLS Commissioner Don Garber for our exclusive 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game Social Chat Series.
Whether you're a casual observer, an armchair analyst, a Jimmy Conrad superfan (okay he made us put that in) or a seasoned reporter, this is your opportunity to go keyboard-to-keyboard with the MLS folks you know and love.
|Sun. July 22||9:00 PM - 9:30 PM ET||Eddie Johnson||F||Seattle Sounders|
|Mon. July 23||9:00 PM - 9:30 PM ET||Jay DeMerit||D||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|Wed. July 25||1:00 PM - 1:30 PM ET||Jimmy Conrad||D||KICKTV, ex-USMNT|
|Wed. July 25||4:30 PM - 5:00 PM||Don Garber||C||Major League Soccer|
Mark your schedules with the dates, times and locations above, and follow us on Twitter for reminders as the chats approach.
MLS clubs lend a helping hand to support various non-profits, conduct soccer clinics, host fundraisers and visit children in the hospital. See the full stories here:
For more community news from around the League, visit the MLS W.O.R.K.S. news section.
Le leader San José sera en danger à Vancouver dimanche, alors que ses poursuivants, qui ont pour la plupart une défaite à se faire pardonner, ont une tâche a priori moins compliquée.
Barry Robson compte confirmer ses débuts réussis en Colombie-Britannique contre la meilleure attaque du championnat où Alan Gordon relaie avec succès Steven Lenhart actuellement sur la touche. Plus tôt cette saison, Vancouver avait déjà gagné chez lui contre San José (2-1).
Contre New England, Kansas City voudra se relever de sa défaite à Houston. DC United aura le même objectif lors de son déplacement à Columbus où il n’a plus gagné depuis l’été 2007. Et que dire de Salt Lake, qui voudra effacer contre Colorado l’humiliation subie à San José la semaine dernière.
Le moral est meilleur à New York, où Sébastien Le Toux recevra ses anciens coéquipiers de Philadelphie (direct RDS2, ESPN, ESPN2 et TSN2). De leur côté, les téléspectateurs de Galavision assisteront au derby LA Galaxy - Chivas USA qui, pour une rare fois, revêtira un important intérêt sportif.
Deux matchs amicaux seront également à l’affiche du week-end : Toronto - Liverpool et Chelsea - PSG.
LE PROGRAMME COMPLET
Samedi 21 juillet
14h30 : New York - Philadelphie
19h30 : Columbus - DC United
20h30 : Kansas City - New England
20h30 : Houston - Montréal
21h00 : Dallas - Portland
22h00 : Salt Lake - Colorado
22h00 : LA Galaxy - Chivas USA
Dimanche 22 juillet
19h00 : Vancouver - San José
Toutes les heures HE (heure de New York et Montréal)
Rendez-vous ici pour la disponibilité des matchs sur MLS Live et les diffuseurs locaux
Hors États-Unis et Canada, vous pouvez voir des matchs de MLS via ces diffuseurs ou LiveSport.tv
Paul Mariner is tasked with slowing down Liverpool FC on Saturday, but that doesn't mean he isn't averse to sharing a few pointers with a fellow English No. 9.
Andy Carroll's future with the Reds may be in doubt – rumors have been swirling about his future under Brendan Rodgers, with a return to Newcastle gaining the most momentum – but Mariner didn't hold back when asked what advice he would give the 23-year-old striker.
A former England international and target forward back in his day, Mariner drew on his own experiences to identify a weak point in Carroll's game.
“I learned from a very early age that if you want to be successful at the highest level, you’ve got to be very consistent and you’ve got to have tremendous movement," Mariner told MLSsoccer.com. "In the old days, when defenders could come through the back of you, if you stood still, you were absolutely stupid because you wouldn’t last two minutes on the football pitch. You had to be constantly on the move.”
And how would Mariner apply that lesson with Carroll? As it turns out, with a little help from US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“Andy's an unbelievably imposing figure. He can strike fear in any defense. The one bit of advice that I would give Andy is that when he’s in the box I’ve noticed he’s just a bit static," Mariner said. "He’s got such tremendous ability. One of the greatest players that I saw in the modern era was Klinsmann. Klinnsman in the box was unbelievable.
"I remember one of the first goals he scored against Sheffield Wednesday. He basically made a step in front of the defender, then stepped out, the ball was delivered and all of a sudden it was in the back of the net. I’m only talking about a yard or half a yard, not massive distances. You’ve just got to unsettle the defenders when the ball is coming into the box. If Andy was to do that, then he’s very difficult to stop.”
Of course, Toronto FC fans will hope Carroll doesn't heed that advice come Saturday afternoon.
Roy Lassiter isn’t the only one with Wondo envy.
Former Golden Boot winner Taylor Twellman – who once made his own assault on Lassiter’s single-season scoring record – thinks the San Jose Earthquakes star is going to get it done as well.
But the former New England Revolution man still thinks it’s going to take a herculean effort from Wondo.
“I didn’t even know what the record was in 2002, to be honest with you,” he told MLSsoccer.com of his own haul a decade ago that ultimately came up four goals short of the record. “Twenty-seven is a ridiculous amount of goals. It really is ridiculous.”
Twellman also finished one goal behind Carlos Ruiz for the scoring title that season. But he can’t help but wonder what would have happened if the circumstances in New England were just a little bit different.
“I would’ve absolutely loved – and I always wondered what it would have been like – to play with a target man,” he said. “Somebody like Brian McBride, where he’s more the target and you can be the second striker.”
That’s the difference, he believes, this season for Wondo, who is benefitting from the hard work in the box of big men like Steven Lenhart and Alan Gordon.
Twellman never had that kind of partner during his eight-year MLS career, spending most of it alongside Pat Noonan – productively, it must be said. Twellman's 101 career regular-season goals has him ranked at No. 6 on the all-time list.
But just humor his fantasy here for a second: a front-line duo of Twellman and McBride in their prime? Who on earth could stop that one-two punch?
Heart rate, speed, distance, position, acceleration, work rate and power output.
Those seven metrics were outlined by VP of adidas interactive Paul Gaudio as the key outputs in adidas' new micoach Elite System, which will make its debut during the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and eventually roll out to all clubs in the 2013 season to make Major League Soccer the first 'smart soccer league' the world has ever seen.
Time to get excited.
In today's hour-long unveiling to over 100 media members in the ultra-swanky Sky Room of the New Museum in Manhattan, a core four panel of Commissioner Garber, adidas group CEO Herbert Hainer, MLS EVP of competition and game operations Nelson Rodriguez and Gaudio walked everyone through the system that will change the way the game is analyzed from a competitive standpoint.
And perhaps one day, from the fan's perspective, too. That's the road down which we are travelling, at least.
On Wednesday, Rodriguez pointed out, the MLS All-Stars and their coaches will be able to figure out who's flying and who's suffering, no one else will have access to such valuable information.
In the future, though, the technology could make it's way into your living room, aiding in the way you access the game. Rodriguez used the example of being able to deliver data as specific as the heart rates between a goalkeeper and a penalty taker, in real time.
That'd be pretty cool, wouldn't it?
MLS W.O.R.K.S. Gives Back to the Chester Community
MLS Players and Executives to Leave a Lasting Impact on Behalf of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game
MLS W.O.R.K.S. is committed to increasing the accessibility of soccer, creating sustainable projects that leave a lasting legacy and supporting local youth programs that will encourage children to live a healthy and active lifestyle.
On July 24, Major League Soccer will join the Philadelphia Union, AT&T, Chester Upland School District and organizers from KaBOOM! to construct a new playground and small-sided field at Science and Discovery High School. The AT&T Community Field and new playground will provide more than 500 children in the Chester community with a safe place to play, and will increase awareness and provide additional opportunities for local youth to play soccer.
Over 200 volunteers will help construct the playground while Philadelphia Union Academy coaches lead drills and small-sided games for approximately 100 local children as part of the AT&T Youth Clinic. MLS All-Stars and Philadelphia Union players will join the day's festivities, taking part in youth activities, the construction of the playground and the ribbon-cutting ceremony with MLS and Philadelphia Union executives and members of the Chester Upland School District. Former MLS All-Star Alexi Lalas will also volunteer his time to participate in youth activities.
The day of service - a partnership between MLS W.O.R.K.S., the Philadelphia Union Foundation and AT&T - is part of the League's community service program, Unite. Volunteer. Serve., a collaborative effort to combine sport and service, promote good will and improve lives and communities at the grassroots level.
On Wednesday, July 25, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and the Philadelphia Union will team up with Starlight Children's Foundation for a hospital visit and placement of a Starlight Fun Center™ mobile entertainment unit at Crozer-Chester Medical Center in Upland, Pa. Part of the MLS W.O.R.K.S. Soccer Kicks Cancer program, the visit will provide an opportunity for seriously ill children and their families to enjoy a unique experience and a renewed sense of strength and hope. Union players will visit with patients, play games and participate in other activities prior to the dedication ceremony. In addition to the Fun Center, MLS will also provide tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game to Starlight families. The 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, featuring the MLS All-Stars against Chelsea FC, will be played on Wednesday, July 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
During halftime of the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game, MLS W.O.R.K.S. will announce the 2012 Community MVP Grand Prize winner. Fans across the League had the opportunity to nominate individuals who are committed to improving their communities. Nineteen winners were selected, representing each MLS market, and competed in a two-week online contest. The Grand Prize winner will receive a $10,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game at PPL Park, which includes roundtrip airfare, two nights' accommodation, an award from Tiffany & Co. and official MLS merchandise as part of the prize package. Click here to view the final list of 2012 Community MVPs.
In addition, MLS W.O.R.K.S. and Continental Tire will recognize the winner of the "How Green Are Your Goals?" contest, created to engage MLS fans in environmentally friendly efforts leading up to Earth Day. Fans were encouraged to visit the Greener Goals website and share stories of how they incorporate green efforts into their everyday lives. Portland, the MLS market with the greenest MLS fans, has won a Solar 4R Schools Renewable School package valued at $50,000 for a deserving school in their city for Earth Day 2013. The prize includes a solar panel installation and a renewable energy education package for teachers. As the Grand Prize winner, Timbers' fan Jeffrey Briley won a trip to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game and a set of tires, courtesy of Continental Tire.
Be sure to follow @MLSWORKS on Twitter and get updates from all of our events at #MLSWORKS and AT&T #MLSAllStar Game.
On Friday, July 20 at 2:00 p.m. ET, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and MLS Commissioner Don Garber will officially launch MLS All-Star Week by kicking off the MLS All-Star Giant Ball Tour on the famous steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The ball will be paraded through the streets of Philadelphia, led by a MLS-wrapped double-decker bus. The giant soccer ball will make coordinated stops at local Philadelphia special events, as well as iconic Philadelphia locations such as LOVE Park, City Hall and Penn’s Landing, where fans will be encouraged to sign the giant soccer ball.
Follow the Tour and Win
You can win 4 VIP tickets to the 2012 AT&T MLS All-Star Game on July 25 at PPL Park in Chester, PA.
To enter, simply tweet a photo of yourself, your family or friends with the giant ball and include the hashtags #MLSAllStar and #GiantBall. Each day from July 20-23, visit MLSsoccer.com/GiantBall or follow @MLS on Twitter to see which Philly landmark the Giant Ball will be visiting next. On July 24, one luck winner will be selected and notified by Direct Message.
Wednesday's matchup between Vancouver and LA witnessed David Beckham’s sixth goal of the season, a personal MLS best for the Galaxy superstar.
Back with Manchester United in the 2001–2002 season the Englishman scored 11 goals in 28 games, his personal best. With 13 games remaining for the Galaxy, he’s on pace to pass his career single-season scoring record. For his career, Beckham scores an average of every 440 minutes, or every 5 games. This season he has scored an average of every 234 minutes, or every 3 games. He has a very real chance of surpassing his career mark.
Rank your top Beckham goals here.