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14 March 6:40 pm

As I look back on the last two weeks leading up to MLS First Kick, I'm left with one word repeating in my mind: overwhelming.

I was tasked with documenting the travels of Brian Dunseth and Drea Avent as they toured the West Coast, starting in Tucson, Ariz., and moving up and down I-5 from Los Angeles to Seattle and back again. The mileage was overwhelming -- more driving in two weeks' time than I'd done in the last several years combined (over 3500 miles).  

With camera in hand, we set off in brand new VW's and I filmed as much as I could.  The amount of footage I ended up with was a bit overwhelming. Sunrises and sunsets. Hard tackles and spectacular goals all flooding in through my lens. I did my best to cut together our memories and put them on the site so that other fans could see the sights and get excited along with us.

CHECK OUT ALL THE COVERAGE FROM ROAD TO FIRST KICK 2012

I got to meet many great and interesting people. Players, coaches, analysts, fans, restauranteurs, security guards and so on. Everybody was welcoming as we travelled through their territory. Everybody wanted to let us into their experience and share their passion for the game. I was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of each person we spent time with.

As I sit here, decompressing from our journey, I have time to reflect on some of the many memories: watching team USA beat Italy in a pub in San Jose, almost getting stuck in the snow of Southern Oregon, jumping and singing with the Timbers Army, following AIK out of the tunnel and onto Jeld-Wen Field, getting goosebumps as the fans at CenturyLink field yelled, "Seattle!! ... Sounders!!", breakfast burritos at Hermosa beach with new friends that will last my whole life and cheering as the whistle finally blew to begin the first week of games this MLS season. I am overwhelmed by these experiences and will remember them forever.

Finally, I am overwhelmed by how far this great game has come in the US. Remember when beating Italy would have made you pass out with joy? Now, we just say, "Cool. Good game by the boys." Remember when we were so excited just to have a soccer game on TV? Now we need multiple screens all Saturday long. Now we complain when Seattle "only" has 23,433 fans show up mid-week for a non-league game, because we are spoiled by their regular league attendance. Now we complain about teams selling out their tickets too fast. Fans are beginning to hold coaches and players accountable. Team jerseys aren't just worn by players on gameday, but by fans on every day of the week. Remember when you had to convince your buddies to go to a game with you? Nobody needs to be convinced anymore.

Friendships and memories, games and goals. Now, as I put the camera away and look through my own eyes, it's overwhelming to see how much the game has changed me.

14 March 6:07 pm

If you were one of the 47,568 fans at the Rogers Centre for the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal between LA Galaxy and Toronto FC, you better hope you weren't picking your nose or making an awkward face at the wrong moment. If you were one of those unlucky few, don't be surprised if your technologically savvy friends give you some grief in the next few days.

That's because there was literally nowhere for fans to hide last Wednesday as their side jumped out to an quick 2-0 lead against LA before coming back down to earth and settling for a 2-2 draw. You can thank Toronto FC for that. The club set up a camera that captured a high-resolution, 360-degree photo of the scene inside the Rogers Centre.

Not only can you zoom in on just about any section of the stadium, making out faces and everything else as clear as day, but fans can also tag themselves, commerating what was a historic night for the club and its supporters. Needless to say, this is pretty awesome technology, and it really gives you an idea of what the stadium looked like on gameday.

Spend five minutes playing with it, and I guarentee you won't be disappointed. You may want to be on your best behavior at matches from now on, however. You never know who's watching.

14 March 4:33 pm

Aimer le soccer ne se limite pas à aller au stade une fois toutes les deux semaines et à suivre passivement les nouvelles de son équipe préférée. La Major League Soccer est particulièrement active, ou plutôt interactive avec les supporters. Alors voilà quelques manières simples d’en être, vous aussi, des acteurs :

De quoi vous occuper entre deux rencontres, n’est-ce pas ? Et même au match, soyez actifs. Comme le disent les UM02, supporters de Montréal, l’ambiance est faite par tous les supporters présents au stade. Et ce qui vaut à Montréal vaut évidemment partout ailleurs. On en a d'ailleurs eu un magnifique exemple à Portland ce lundi.

14 March 2:33 pm

On the MLS Road Trip to First Kick, we documented the journey of the match ball from Philadelphia to Dallas, and shot some quick bits with players in various cities along the way to help keep the ball moving. For the most part, these shoots went off without a hitch. In Orlando one day, we made it to the end of Houston's training session to shoot with the Dynamo pair of Tally Hall and Brad Davis. Brad took a couple shots on Tally, who made the saves, then got up and threw the ball out to his right. Easy. The next shot called for Brad to receive the throw from Tally, take a touch, and volley to his right. Let's just say Brad didn't approach that first take with the seriousness and focus he normally brings to the pitch in MLS (you can hear Tally mockingly call him "All Star" around 0:18).

Fortunately for everyone involved, Brad did re-focus and managed to knock out a pretty good take from Tally's throw (his teammate was actually throwing it to him off camera) at 0:47 of the finished video HERE.

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.

14 March 12:02 pm

Even Portland Timbers supporters will find the humor in this video clip that the New England Revolution produced to promote their home opener.

The only question we have: It took Slyde 20 minutes to handle that guy in the Timbers scarf?

14 March 11:47 am

The Montreal Impact may be a brand new expansion club, but they have a leg up on most of the other MLS teams in one department: documentaries.

A new soccer documentary -- "L'Impact vers la MLS" -- is set to launch on Thursday night March 15 and it gives the exclusive, inside scoop leading up to the Impact's MLS debut.The film crew followed the team's every step from California, Florida and Montreal.

This week's broadcast will be the first of five 30-minute episodes that will run on Thursdays from March 15 through April 12 on TVA sports. Here's a teaser:

L’Impact vers la MLS | TOXA from TOXA on Vimeo.

13 March 4:50 pm

Ne manquez pas les matchs retour des quarts de finale de la Ligue des champions en ce milieu de semaine, il y aura du spectacle et du suspense, c’est garanti ! Seattle et Metapan espèrent devenir le premier club étranger à éliminer une formation mexicaine, alors que Toronto sent l’exploit à sa portée au LA Galaxy.

Menant 2-0 à l’aller, les Canadiens ont-ils manqué le coche chez eux (2-2) ? La tâche sera redoutable au Home Depot Center, où LA n’est cependant plus invincible. La défaite de ce samedi contre Salt Lake pousse même Bruce Arena à effectuer de nombreux changements dans son équipe. Pendant que Donovan et consorts pansaient leurs plaies, les Torontois ne jouaient pas et sont arrivés, frais et dispos, en Californie ce dimanche, avec le moral gonflé à bloc.

Seattle a aussi pu se reposer avant son déplacement on ne peut plus difficile à Torreon, où Santos Laguna vient de prendre la tête du championnat du Mexique. Redoutables à domicile, les Mexicains feront toutefois face à l’équipe de MLS qui se comporte le mieux hors de ses bases. « Personne n’a peur d’aller là-bas », résume le milieu de terrain Brad Evans. L’entraîneur Sigi Schmid insiste sur le besoin de bien défendre, mais précise : « Nous sommes tout à fait capables de marquer. »

L’exploit est aussi toujours envisageable pour les Salvadoriens d’Isidro Metapan, qui auront toutefois fort à faire à Mexico pour confirmer leur victoire 2-1 à l’aller contre les Pumas de l’Unam. Enfin, dans un duel de compatriotes, le tenant du titre Monterrey semble idéalement placé après avoir gagné 1-3 à Morelia.  

 

Horaire Match (aller) Télévision
Mardi 13 mars, 22h00 (HE) Monterrey (Mex) - Monarcas Morelia (Mex) (3-1) Galavision, ESPN Latin Norte, ESPN Caribbean
Mercredi 14 mars, 20h00 (HE) Santos Laguna (Mex) - Seattle Sounders (1-2) Fox Soccer, Sportsnet, TeleFutura, ESPN Dos (Mexique, Venezuela, Caraïbes)
Mercredi 14 mars, 22h00 (HE) LA Galaxy - Toronto FC (2-2) Fox Soccer, Sportsnet One, TeleFutura, ESPN Dos (Mexique, Venezuela, Caraïbes)
Jeudi 15 mars, 22h00 (HE) Pumas Unam (Mex) - Isidro Metapan (Slv) (1-2) Galavision, ESPN Latin Norte, ESPN Caribbean

Rencontres également disponibles sur CONCACAF TV

13 March 3:51 am

Después del partidazo que los Portland Timbers le ganaron a Philadelphia Union en su debut en la temporada 2012, me topé con José Adolfo “El Trencito” Valencia, el joven delantero colombiano que tuvo que ver sentado (y con muletas al lado) el encuentro. Sonriente por el triunfo de su equipo, pero triste de no poder participar, el Trencito le mandó un saludo a su afición y nos dio un pequeño informe del progreso de su lesión y su vida en Portland. Aquí va:

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!