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Soccer Culture

15 May 4:57 de la tarde

Dan Gargan usually paints to find an escape from his day job, but the Chicago Fire defender mixed his two passions in a piece he painted for Wednesday’s “Art of Futbol” Gallery showing in Chicago, which takes place on Wednesday and benefits the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Gargan’s piece is called “The Beautiful Game,” and is an abstract vision of what Gargan believes soccer embodies.

“It’s pretty simple,” Gargan told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s got a bunch of flowers in it. When I think of the game, there’s just a bunch of different ways you can express yourself through the game.

"I feel like no one person’s expression or interpretation of the game is the same, and that’s reminiscent of how flowers are. They’re all unique, and they’re all beautiful in their own way.”

Gargan has loved painting since he was a kid, and he minored in studio art at Georgetown University.

Most of his painting nowadays comes in the offseason. His paintings usually end up somewhere in his apartment or in a family member’s home, but a few players around MLS have asked him to paint for them.

This offseason, Colorado forward Conor Casey, Gargan’s former teammate, gave him a wall in his home to use as his canvas.

“He’s always been a big fan of my art,” Gargan said. “He gave me a wall and said, ‘Go for it.’”

Gargan is working on a web site to promote his art work, which he said should be up in the next few weeks.

The Fire defender is hoping people will be interested in his work, and is excited about Wednesday’s showing, which takes place from 7 to 9 pm CT at Society Art Gallery in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood.

But he’s perfectly fine if painting remains just a hobby.

“What I’m getting out of it right now is exactly what I’m looking for,” Gargan said. “That’s the ability to step away from soccer and just have fun with it. It gives me a lot of joy and a lot of happiness to me and my friends and my family. If it was to get bigger, or people were interested in it, that’s great. But it’s more of just an outlet for me.”

15 May 2:59 de la tarde

Branden Steineckert plays drums for Rancid. That, by definition, rocks. That he is an avid soccer fan and a passionate Real Salt Lake supporter rocks even harder.

But the fact that he's such a geniune, cool, down-to-earth guy who wants to encourage people to express themselves, that's punk. 

I met Branden when I was in Salt Lake City a few months ago. He was sitting in the back of a town-hall meeting between the supporter groups and RSL brass. At some point, the supporters brought up their dislike of the song played at Rio Tinto Stadium whenever the home side scores. "It's lame," one person said.

Naturally, everyone in the room eventually turned to the guy in the back who tours the world as a musician.

Steineckert didn't hesitate to give his opinion. But he didn't opine on the music. He didn't say the current goal song was bad or that another song would be better. No, instead, he challenged his fellow RSL supporters.

"Let's come up with something of our own," he said. 

11 May 6:11 de la tarde

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with this.

Adidas have come out with a new soccer shoe that actually helps players with specific facets of their game. And that's not just promo copy.

In Kick TV's latest Gear Show, they showcase the new Predator LZs that have a cushion to help with passing and grips on the outside of the boot that enhance dribbling and control.

Find out why the hosts call it a "radically different predator" than any that adidas has produced. And they're not just referring to the colors.

You need to see it to believe it. Check it out below.

11 May 12:55 de la tarde

This week, US internationals pose all over Europe for photos, a soccer journalist examines a bizzarre photo of Arshavin, and Charlie Davies takes FIFA 12 to a whole new level.

Don't forget to follow our two official Twitter handles to find out the latest from inside MLS   

US International Kljestan won his first trophy, as Anderlecht clinched the Belgian League title. This photo is very, well, euro. We like it. Congrats Sacha.

Former D.C. United striker Davies is back in France with Sochaux. He is causing all kinds of damage with his brother, over a video game.

Soccer journalist and presenter of the Best Soccer show, Davis gave three alternatives for photo captions which should have been used in this photo of Arshavin celebrating. Hilarious!

Gooch is looking suave in this magazine shoot for the latest edition of Men's Health in Portugal. Usually that kind of glance strikes fear into the opposition, but don't worry he's not angry, the US center back is in the zone for his close-up.

Martino is a thoughtful husband and a wonderful color commentator on NBC Sports Network. (P.S. check out his Twitter avatar, was this the result of his shaving mishap?!)

If you see a soccer tweet that should be included in our top five, be sure to send it to the @MLS_Insider!

10 May 5:50 de la tarde

Ok, so I don't actually know where to start with this. Other than to say, this is amazingly awkward and I loved every single second of it.

Hermes, a former capo for the Portland Timbers, will have you in tears with his deadpan wit in this great new series “Off Pitch with Hermes.”

Above is Episode 3, but you can watch all the episodes on the Timbers website by clicking here.

I think Hermes says it best, when he states “do not be afraid of your own greatness!” Well, Hermes, we think your pretty great, so ummm....don’t be afraid.

10 May 12:05 de la tarde

Just saw the news that Wales manager Chris Coleman -- the guy who first brought USMNT striker Clint Dempsey to Fulham, and now thinks he's ready for a bigger club -- called up Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale for the Welsh side's friendly against Mexico later this month in New York. The two sides will square off on May 27 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.

Bale might just be my favorite player outside of MLS. (I'll keep my favorites in MLS to myself, thank you very much.) His mix of speed, power, magic, and doggedness consistently fill me with awe. It all seems so artistic, which is probably why I also love this short animated film about him, that was done by a Spurs fan named Richard Swarbrick.   

09 May 1:43 de la tarde

Take a few minutes of your time to watch New York Red Bulls and US national team star Juan Agudelo talk about his childhood memories playing the game he loves – badminton.

Just kidding.

No offense to badminton, but Agudelo has grown up with soccer on the brain since, apparently, birth. 

His first word was one you'd expect from a soccer obsessed child, instead of uttering "Mom" or "Dad" Agudelo screamed "Goooooaaal!"

As a youngster, the lightning-quick winger also scribbled a note on the back wall of his closet, a reminder to help make his dream become a reality:

"John pro soccer player. If God lets me or if he wants me to. Or maybe a pro basketball player. It's all up to me and God."

The video is part of Team Kellogg's new series "Start Stories," which looks at how young US athletes got started in the sport they now get paid to play.

09 May 11:17 de la mañana

Landon Donovan's goal versus Algeria in the 2010 World Cup lives on. For USMNT fans, it's going to live in the memory for a long time.

And now we can all re-live it via this video from a former MLSsoccer.com intern named Albert Lanzillo. Inspired by English artist Richard Swarbrick's gorgeous animated film about Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale, Albert made his animation for a school project.

Don't know about you, but we'll give him an A.

08 May 4:22 de la tarde

You can't help but respect Montreal Impact head coach Jesse Marsch for immersing himself in the local culture of Quebec, an effort that centers on the French lessons the former US national team assistant is currently taking.

Montreal’s man in charge is keen to speak the natives; language and the Impact’s video staff followed him along to his latest French lesson to spy on his progress.

The title of the video roughly translates to “Jesse Marsch’s French is getting better, week by week.” So just like his team then, which is coming off impressive back-to-back victories against Portland and Sporting Kansas City.

Marsch also had this to say about the great job his squad is doing with settling down in French-Canadian surroundings:

“As a group, we have a lot of people who have come up here to Montreal and now they understand that being here is different and that it’s unique. They are attaching themselves to everything that this club is, that this city is. There are a bunch of guys here who are committed to doing this thing wholly.”

05 May 6:57 de la tarde

On Saturday evening chanting and beating drums could be heard through the streets of midtown Manhattan. New York Red Bulls fans took over.

33rd street from Greeley Square to Fifth avenue was shut down to accommodate a large gathering of fans from supporters groups —including the Empire Supporters Club, Garden State Ultras, and Viking Army— who showed their support for the Red Bulls, ahead of their nationally televised (ESPN, 8pm ET) clash with rivals LA Galaxy.

The scenes were colorful, lively and loud as fans marched down the street before entering Legends Bar, to watch New York's trip to the Home Depot Center.

Eric Rios, a board member of the Empire Supporters Club, was pleased with the turnout at the first event of its kind this season. "We got a lot of people, we made some noise. That's what's it's all about."

INTERVIEW WITH ERIC RIOS