First Kick may be the theme of this glorious, glorious day but the word of the day is "free."
This weekend you can experience MLS Live, our online streaming match service, and our long-running TV package, Direct Kick, for free.
Take a look at this weekend's schedule of games and head to over MLS Live to register for today's free preview. Please note that the usual blackout policies may apply. And if you are an iPhone or iPad user download MatchDay 2012 from the iTunes store, where it is currently a featured app, for viewing on the go.
Awesome stuff, right? Don't say we never gave you anything.
Former MLS & USMNT defender Jimmy Conrad: "What percentage of your players play for the money and how many play for the love of the game?"
American soccer uber-agent Richard Motzkin: "What did you do, Jimmy?"
Jimmy Conrad: "Of course it's for the love of the game."
Jimmy Conrad is a liar. A talented, tall, funny liar.
For a long time, the San Jose Earthquakes were the only MLS club going with a name that dated back to the original NASL. They weren't the first to fully embrace their NASL heritage though (hat tip to the Sounders for inventing that).
But the club is making up for lost time with this year's season-ticket packages, which featuring several nods back to the disco-era Quakes of the past. Among the connections they're making to the earliest incarnation of the Earthquakes are:
- Throwback NASL jerseys to season ticket holders who paid in full by the final home game of 2011
- "EST. 1974" has been added below the collar on the back of the 2012 jersey
- Ticket books include photos, like the one above, from different generations of soccer in San Jose
This is in addition to last year's dedication of the George Best Gate at Buck Shaw Stadium, which will have a monitor playing a loop of Best scoring "The Greatest Goal Ever" for 2012.
It's all good stuff but I'm partial to the old school photos on the tickets. Is there anything more retro-cool than having George Best and Johnny Moore in your hands on game day?
With First Kick only weeks away it's time to start thinking about making all of the necessary purchases that make your season complete.
You'll need your tickets, your new kit and your new, officially licensed MLS gnome for sure. You'll also need MLS Live for those days that you can't make it out to the stadium in your kit with your gnome (they're for good luck).
MLS Live, formerly known as MatchDay Live, is an all-new product for the 2012 season, completely rebuilt and reimagined. MLS Live offers high quality, HD streams in Flash that will be available across multiple devices; one subscription will allow you to access 230+ games via computer, iPad, iPhone, Roku & Panasonic TV’s. That's one price, 5 devices.
And what's the price? $59.99 for the season. Not a bad deal at all.
MLS Live launches soon...very soon. For more information visit MLSsoccer.com in the coming days.
There aren't many jobs in MLS, or for that matter in the professional soccer world in the United States and Canada. So, if you want one, you might as well give yourself the best chance possible by getting the training you need.
For salespeople, that means heading up to Blaine, Minnesota, to the MLS National Sales Center. Founded in 2011 to train salespeople specifically to succeed in the soccer industry, the NSC is like a front-office equivalent to the development academies each MLS club has established.
"We give a 'selling foundation' to aspiring salespeople that will effectively prepare them to sell for MLS clubs," says NSC founder Bryant Pfeiffer. "This is a big contributor to our desire to sell out every MLS stadium."
The NSC is currently looking for applicants for its next session, which begins in March. Trainees accepted into the program, which lasts up to four months, receive a stipend to help offset the coasts of room and board in Minnesota. There are also opportunities to earn commission while attending the program.
But it is the training and the door-opening opportunity that is most valuable. In addition to the real-life sales experience of selling for MLS clubs, trainees benefit from instructional feedback from audio and video analysis and innovative coaching from local improv theatre instructors. After each month, those who qualify are given the opportunity to apply their training through the selling of season, group and mini-plan ticket packages and are offered a job interview with participating MLS clubs.
Already, 60 NSC graduates have gone on to get jobs at MLS clubs.
"Our belief is that the graduates of the program can not only make a fast impact in growing the game," Pfeiffer says, "but also become dominant salespeople at the same time."
For more information or to apply go to www.mlsnationalsalescenter.com.
Eddie Gaven's beard is a sell out! But for a five-year sponsorship deal your beard would be too...maybe even during the playoffs for the right price.
Oh, come on, you're not that surprised, are you?
The Washington Post's Steven Goff reported yesterday that former US men's national team coach Bob Bradley made $400,000 in bonuses from April 2010 to March 2011, a sum that put his total earnings at almost a million bucks.
Reading that makes me think one thing and one thing only: Good for Bob. He earned that money, as far as I'm concerned. And even if his round of 16 finish at the World Cup wasn't enough for you (and if it wasn't, get over yourself), he still earned a reported 1.5 million dollars less than Jurgen Klinsmann will make this year.
Moreover, Bradley recently donated two months of his salary to the victims of the Port Said tragedy, so it's not like he's blowing his money on a third Bugatti. I don't begrudge the man for being good at what he does, and I don't mind that he's getting paid well for it, either.
Who says you can't go home again?
Former Vancouver Whitecaps DP Mustapha Jarju is returning to the scene of his greatest successes as a footballer: RAEC Mons. The Gambian international scored 34 goals in 99 league matches for the Belgian club between 2008-11. He scored none in 10 appearances for the 'Caps, a record which didn't quite inspire new manager Martin Rennie to keep him around for a second year.
Earlier today the Red Bulls announced their latest signing, little-known American keeper Jeremy Vuolo. Where did they find him? The Finnish Ykkönen or first division.
So let's recount the membership of Scandinavian-connected contingent currently calling Harrison, NJ home:
- Sporting Director Erik Soler (native of Norway)
- Head Coach Hans Backe (native of Sweden)
- Assistant Coach Jan Halvor Halversen (native of Norway)
Players: under contract
- Markus Holgersson (native of Sweden)
- Jan Gunnar Solli (native of Norway)
- Teemu Tainio (native of Finland)
- Brian Nielsen (native of Denmark)
- Jonathan Barrajo (spent 2010-11 with Hamarkameratene of Norway)
- Joel Lindpere (spent three seasons with Tromso of Norway)
- Roy Miller (spent 2005-09 with clubs in both Norway and Sweden)
- Jeremy Vuolo (spent 2011 with Finnish side AC Oulu)
Players: unsigned, currently in camp
- Willis Forko (spent 2008-10 with FK Bodø/Glimt of Norway)
Players: unsigned, linked to the club
- Victor Pálsson (native of Iceland who claims to be negotiating with the club)
It's a shame this is all happening with the Red Bulls. Not because these are bad players or anything like that. It's just that if there was ever a club screaming out to have "IKEA" slapped on the front of its jersey this is it; I hate to see good kit sponsorship potential go to waste.