Bitten by the soccer bug during the World Cup? Here are 13 ways to take your soccer fandom to the next level
If you're already a diehard soccerhead, this is definitely not for you. But you might know someone who could use it.
For the rest of you more casual soccer fans, who were really smitten by the World Cup rollercoaster of emotion and perhaps want to make this soccer thing a full-time thing, here's a 13-step guide of how to take your interest and make it a passion:
(1) PICK A TEAM
Duh. There's probably one right in your backyard in the US first division (MLS), second division (NASL), third division (USL), fourth division (PDL), the women's leagues (NWSL, W-League) or indoor soccer. But when you do pick one, stick with it.
If you need help finding an MLS team, there's this application that helps pick one for you.
Or you can look it up yourself by geography -- check out this map for help, or this one:
— m brown (@ParkEffects) July 1, 2014
(2) GO TO A GAME ... WITH SOMEONE
It's not enough to declare your allegiance to a soccer club and then just spend your time following them on the internet. Get out to matches -- here's the MLS schedule -- and make sure you go in good company. Every soccer fan will tell you: There's nothing like the stadium experience.
(3) JOIN A SUPPORTERS GROUP AND TAKE A SOCCER ROAD TRIP
There are plenty more soccer chants than "I Believe That We Will Win" and supporters groups know the full repertoire (check out the list of MLS supporters groups and the USMNT American Outlaw chapters here).
And it's even more satisfying to serenade your team -- or even unveil a tifo (see what a tifo is here) -- at an away game in hostile territory.
(4) WATCH SOCCER ON TV
Don't just watch your team's games. There's soccer on at all hours on the tube. ESPN, Fox Sports, Univision, and NBC Sports Network are the big ones, but there are also beIN Sports, GolTV, and Telemundo (get all the listings here).
And if you're not at home at game time, you can find practically every match online (WatchESPN, FoxSoccer2Go, beIN Sports Play and for $64.99 you can get the entire MLS season on MLS LIVE).
(5) SUBSCRIBE TO A GOOD SOCCER MAGAZINE OR PODCAST
There are several excellent US-based ones: Howler, 8x8, and Soccer America. Some other ones from overseas are: The Blizzard, FourFourTwo, World Soccer, When Saturday Comes. And if you're lucky enough to read other languages, the possibilities are endless.
And if you're not the magazine type, start by getting some basic information about what's going on: PlanetFutbol.com, ESPNFC.com, FoxSoccer.com, Goal.com, SoccerByIves and there's obviously us (MLSsoccer.com).
But we don't always have time to read: That's where podcasts come in and there are plenty to choose from.
(6) GET ON TWITTER
(7) BUY A SOCCER JERSEY (or a soccer scarf, or soccer tee, or soccer retro gear, etc.)
Preferably belonging to the club you picked (see: #1) or your favorite national team. Or perhaps you're the fashionable type and just like an original look (check out MLSGear.com for MLS stuff, or Football Fashion to stay up on the new releases from around the world).
Either way, strut the streets with your jersey on and watch how many random conversations you'll have.
(8) MARK YOUR CALENDAR
You don't have to wait for the next World Cup in 2018. There are massive international events happening every few months: the CONCACAF Gold Cup (2015), the Women's World Cup (2015), the Copa America (2015), the Copa America Centenario (2016 in the USA), Olympic soccer (2016), Euro 2016 and the Central American Cup in September.
(9) DOWNLOAD THESE APPS
To stay up to date with everything going on in soccer, including live scores from all the big games you need these basic apps. MLS Matchday, of course, but also Squawka, LiveScore, FotMob, and ESPNFC. And you can waste, er, enjoy hours and hours playing addictive games like Flick Soccer and Score World Goals.
Want a shortcut to become a soccer expert? Try your hand at soccer trivia with Footy Pop.
(10) SPEAKING OF GAMES
If you're handy with the consoles you're probably already familiar with EA Sports FIFA. If you're more into the strategy behind the game, then you'd probably get addicted to the Football Manager franchise. And these days you can play FIFA and Football Manager on your phone or tablet.
Then there's Fantasy. If you enjoy playing Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, you'll find the soccer versions equally engrossing. And you have more than enough help to get you started.
(11) PLAY FOR REAL
You don't even have to be good. There are leagues and pick-up games for all shapes and sizes. There are even apps to help you find a pick-up game.
It'll be a good excuse to buy yourself a cool pair of soccer shoes: They literally come in every color you can image.
(12) WATCH SOME GOOD SOCCER FLICKS
There are more out there, including documentaries, than you'd think. In fact, ESPN just ran eight stunning 30 For 30 soccer stories for the World Cup.
And if you're lukcy you can get to a Kicking & Screening Soccer Film Festival like the one happening in Rio de Janeiro this weekend. In the meantime, here's one person's all-time Top 10 soccer movies.
(13) GET TO A SOCCER BAR
In hundreds of establishments around the country you don't have to ask to have the channel changed to soccer. They have it on. And there are people who are there to watch with you. Here's the complete list, an MLS-specific list and if you're looking for a good place to watch a USA game they have an official list of soccer bars.