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Soccer Culture

27 February 3:09 de la tarde

Most people would agree that Italians Arrigo Sacchi and Marcelo Lippi are two of the best managers. Ever. Between them, after all, they have six Serie A Scudetti, three Champions League/European Cup titles, and one World Cup.

At the club level, they saw the majority of their success at AC Milan (Sacchi) and Juventus (Lippi).

Ahead of this past weekend's Milan-Juve top-of-the-table clash, La Gazzetta dello Sport (the pink paper) brought the two tacticians in and had them imagine how the match would go using Subbuteo, the classic table soccer game. Check it out:

This, of course, got us thinking: Which two MLS coaches would we like to see sitting across from each other like chess grandmasters, discussing tactics, formations, predictions, and players' strengths and weaknesses, and then leaning forward to move a little painted figurine to demonstrate?"

It would be cool to see the LA Galaxy's Bruce Arena and the Seattle Sounders' Sigi Schmid square off. They are two of the most solid strategists MLS has ever seen.

Or how about hearing the Houston Dynamo's Dominic Kinnear explain the intricacies of his tried-and-true 4-4-2 and how it stacks up against, say, the Ajax-inspired 4-3-3 employed by Toronto FC's Aron Winter.

Or a Rookie Rumble: New England's Jay Heaps vs. Montreal's Jesse Marsch?

Tell us what matchup you would want to see, and we'll look into making it happen. No joke.

25 February 9:32 de la mañana

This may be the worst tifo ever --if you can even call it that-- but it's SEO gold: people LOVE to look at kittens.

24 February 7:59 de la tarde

Getty Images

Unless you're a part of the ever-growing Sporting KC fanbase or stumbled on the #DearMrHunt hashtag on Twitter during the past week or so, you probably had no idea that Kansas City's 2000 MLS Cup trophy doesn't reside in Kansas City.

In fact, the trophy doesn't belong to Sporting KC at all.

The hardware Peter Vermes, Tony Meola and Chris Henderson, among others, earned at RFK Stadium against the Chicago Fire remains  – and will continue to remain  – property of the Hunt Sports Group, a treasured memento of the late Lamar Hunt, who owned the Wizards when they reached the MLS pinnacle at the turn of the century.

Understandably, Kansas City fans started wondering if they would ever get the opportunity to enjoy the spoils from their lone championship season in person. From that idea grew #DearMrHunt. And as it turns out, Clark Hunt was listening.

Once Hunt got wind of the campaign to bring the Cup back to Kansas City, he reached out to Sporting's owners, according to the KC Star.

Sporting still won't own the trophy itself – retaining ownership was part of the terms agreed to by the Hunts and OnGoal when the team was sold – but they will have the opportunity to display it at Livestrong Sporting Park for the 2012 season until it goes to it's permanent home at Arrowhead Stadium.

It may not equate to ownership, but no matter how you slice it, that's a win for the fans that pack Livestrong Sporting Park from week to week.

20 February 2:26 de la tarde

Admit it: You can’t stand noobs. They’re always just a little too quick to pull out the over-the-top display of enthusiasm for whatever it is they don’t know how to do.

This week’s episode of IFC sketch comedy show Portlandia highlights the problem with newbies when Peter and Nance, an eccentric, overly eco-conscious couple played by the show’s stars Saturday Night Live mainstay Fred Armisen and indie rock veteran Carrie Brownstein (Wild Flag, Sleater-Kinney) — go to their first Portland Timbers game with a flag they designed to show their support for the team.

Yes, it is as tragic and funny as you imagine.

“It’s funny and weird because I’m not usually a sports person and I don’t live in Portland but I love Portland,” Armisen said when reached via phone last week.

“One of the things I love about it is that it reminds me of England a little bit, and the fact that they like soccer there as much as they do just makes it seem that much more vaguely European. We had to get them in the show somehow.“

He’s not saying that the wild passion of JELD-WEN Field’s section 107 is a put-on, though.

“It’s not an affectation, they really do love it,” Armisen said. “When we first met the people from the Timbers Army we knew it was a very real thing.”

Brownstein, a Washington native who now lives in Portland, testified to the region’s well-documented fervor over football.

“When I was a kid I went to Sounders games in Seattle, where I grew up, and I played soccer. I think for everyone in the Pacific Northwest it’s the obligatory sport you play.”

Like the character she plays in the episode, which airs Feb. 24 at 10 pm ET, Brownstein has yet to see the Timbers in action. 

“I haven’t been to a game [in Portland] yet, but when we shot the episode it made me want to go,“ she says. ”Portlanders are eager for communal experiences and the Timbers are perfect for that. “

“Also the singing is really great, even just at the shoot. It’s all pretty intriguing so I really want to go.”

Armisen and Brownstein aren’t the only comedy titans taken with what’s going on in JELD-WEN’s North End.

“[Saturday Night Live creator] Lorne Michaels read that article in The New York Times about them,” said Armisen, “It was funny because he was immediately fascinated by them.”

This week’s show won’t be the Portlandia debut for a few members of the TA though, as they were cast for the “Allergy Pride” sketch that aired earlier in the season.

“If you watch the parade, they’re the Soy Punks,” Armisen said. “They were perfect for it because they were so good at shouting and shouting angrily.”

18 February 9:16 de la tarde

While everyone else in the New York area is still dealing with the last remnants of winter, the Red Bulls skipped out of town for preseason preparations in Mexico. To document the proceedings in Cancun, someone came up with the idea to give Stephen Keel a camera and let him go wild.

The result was some absolutely vintage stuff from Keel packed into four episodes of priceless footage.

Highlights in no particular order:

  • Red moustaches
  • bocce ball
  • Remember the Titans
  • Alcohol-free Piña Coladas
  • Scandinavians
  • Oblivious tourists
  • Zip lines
  • Fake English accents
  • Ball washing stations
  • Scandinavians
  • Baby fat
  • Designer sunglasses

Keel Cam Part 1 of 3

Team Bonding at Xplor - Agudelo interview

15 February 5:29 de la tarde

Not everything we shoot gets edited. Last year we shot a few "Cribs" style features with rookies in MLS while on the road. We never found time to edit them together and these first year guys lost a great opportunity to shine off the field. With a bit of downtime in the lead up to the season and some un-cut content laying around we decided to give them their due and put the features together... albeit a bit late.  So here's the 1st of a couple "Rookie Livin" pieces that features Servando Carrasco, Josh ford, Michael Tetteh and their home in Seattle.

 

14 February 11:51 de la mañana

Another day, another video featuring Salt Lake City's most high-profile punk rock supporter, Rancid's Branden Steineckert. The chant is called "Believe" and it was written by Steineckert while the accompanying video was shot & edited by T. Issac Halsima, one of my favorite video guys working in & around MLS. In short, it is an awesome, inspiring piece of promotional footage that does exactly what it should: get viewers hyped.

So how did the chant come about? Here's the story from Steineckert.

I just finished this song/chant I wrote for the team/fans. I've been working on several, and I've got more. But this is my favorite that could be a team anthem. I wrote it to be noble, strong, intimidating sounding as if the pride within the RSL family will tear down any opponent. But yet I made sure to keep it from being in any way offensive or cater to one "type" of fan. Something tattooed, die-hard fans can sing proudly along with conservative fans, children, elderly people and anyone of any kind of background. I also kept it very simple so the words are easy to learn and memorize as well as a catchy melody to remember and catch on throughout the stadium. This is 100% original lyrics and melody I wrote, so you will never hear another club in the world sing this outside of RSL. Here are the lyrics:

IF YOU BELIEVE THEN JUST STAND UP ON YOUR FEET
AND SHOUT IT LOUD REAL!
HERE AT THE RIOT THE BATTLE HYMNS BEGUN.
WE'RE HERE FOR RSL!

Whether or not you love RSL --"Hi!" Rapids fans-- you have to love the creativity and the passion that went into this. More please.

13 February 1:36 de la tarde

The final day of the NASL combine came to a close in fine conditions down in Fort Lauderdale.

My team again played well but failed to find the net, though personally the game went well. The last two days I have played as a center back and right back, getting the chance to show my versatility to coaches and scouts.

On Saturday night, my Aussie roommate Joel and I went to watch the new Denzel Washington film, Safe House, at a mammoth shopping and leisure complex. The NHL’s Florida Panthers’ stadium was right across the street, and it was great to have some down time to stroll around and get out of the confines of the hotel for a few hours.

The final day also brought reflection and perspective on what has been a successful past three days. The level of play has been high and it’s been very enjoyable to be invited to such a prestigious event. In terms of my play personally, I have taken the lessons I learned in college, my academy days in England and from my short stint in the Scottish league to showcase my talent and ability in the shortest amount of time available.

It is hard to make comparisons, but I definitely feel that playing against the likes of current MLS players Jeb Brovsky, Dilly Duka, O’Brien White, Bright Dike and Bernando Anor with Pitt in the Big East for four years prepared me well to move up the ranks into the professional level.

We shall see what happens over the coming weeks, but I have had some positive feedback, which is always good to hear. Combines are notoriously hard to play in, as many players try to hard to impress and certain coaches are only looking for a certain type of player. But all you can do is work hard and show what talents you have in the time allotted to you. That is all you can do.

Thanks again for following along with the posts and video blogs on MLSsoccer.com and feel free to keep in touch on twitter (@JPW8), as many of you have already done, to stay up to date with my progress.

Check out the previous blogs along with my last video blog below.

Follow MLSsoccer.com's Joe Prince-Wright at the NASL Combine

JPW at the NASL Combine: Arrival in Ft. Lauderdale

JPW at the NASL Combine: Norwegians, Aussies and red cards

13 February 10:19 de la mañana

Here's a list of things that Rancid drummer and occasional Real Salt Lake kit man Branden Steineckert owns that DO NOT have a RSL badge on them:

  • underwear*
  • a passport, drivers license, birth certificate or any form of government-issued ID
  • a timeshare in Boca

Everything else --drumkit, scarves, skateboard, left leg-- is free game and adorned with the logo of the 2009 MLS Cup champs. Safe to say the man is not shy about about who he supports.

*This is unconfirmed. Real Salt Lake does not sell officially-licensed undergarments but you never know if he's rocking some custom-made claret & cobalt briefs under his skinny jeans.

11 February 4:05 de la tarde

The first day of the NASL combine started on the training complex of the Ft. Lauderdale strikers, with the level of play high and a few tiring matches in the heat.

For the weekend, we have been split up into four teams. I am in the white team and we have an international mix with Argentines, Brazilians, Australians, Norwegians and, obviously, an Englishman.

Our goalkeeper Steffen Haraldsen works for the Norwegian parliament and plays semi-pro in Norway. Interesting enough back story you might think, however he also is a massive fan of Major League Soccer and MLSsoccer.com and watches videos on the website everyday. The reach of MLS has apparently extended to Norway.

The standard of play was really high in the first game, which we drew 2-2. The same goes for the temperature. The 80-degree sunshine and high humidity made it a cagey opening as both sides didn’t want to over do it in the heat. The need to conserve energy was key considering there are two more games coming up.

But like I said, the standard is high, with former Genoa and Levante players, Serie A and La Liga teams respectively, among the hopefuls trying out for the NASL. There are 50 or so coaches and scouts watching, and everyone is eager to impress.

Tomorrow we have another game and then an opportunity to relax in the evening, and a few of the lads are going to head to the movies.

Stay up to date with the video blog every day, as I will be updating on the latest news from the NASL combine.

Follow MLSsoccer.com's Joe Prince-Wright at the NASL Combine

JPW at the NASL Combine: Arrival in Ft. Lauderdale