RFK Stadium crowd, banners, and team, October 22, 2017
USA Today Sports Images

Best Of: The biggest off-field moments in soccer culture in 2017

While the 2017 season has offered plenty of drama between the white lines, some of the best entertainment has happened outside them. In the spirit of looking back on some of the top moments of the year, here are some of the biggest standout moments in soccer culture around MLS.

Last Call at RFK

D.C. United’s final match at RFK Stadium prompted many misty-eyed looks back at the storied venue’s place in the history of the domestic game. Even New York Red Bulls fans looked back on some of their favorite memories of visiting some of their most hated rivals there.

But for one of the most poignant looks back, check out these remembrance projects from MLSsoccer.com contributors Pablo Maurer and Charles Boehm, who also went digging deep into the photography vaults

Bastian Schweinsteiger embraces Chicago

Not only did the German great prove a boon to the Chicago Fire on the field and in the locker room, but Bastian Schweinsteiger also took eagerly to his new city. On his social media accounts (and those of his wife, tennis star Ana Ivanovic), he chronicled his adventures at Chicago's sporting events, in its neighborhoods, and on the covers of the city’s fashion magazines.

LA Galaxy star in EA SPORTS FIFA 18

In this year's edition of FIFA, anyone playing "The Journey" mode has to take Alex Hunter through his paces with the LA Galaxy, and at StubHub Center. Gyasi Zardes even played a pretty big role in the game's script. 

Atlanta embraces city’s hip-hop history

Atlanta United packed its stadiums and enjoyed one of the best debut seasons in league history. All of that became more fun thanks to the club embracing its city's rich hip-hop heritage. Big Boi cut in-stadium hype videos, while other artists like Rich Homie Quan, Yung Joc, and 2 Chainz showed up to hammer the team's ceremonial pre-match Golden Spike.

Orlando City open The Wall at new stadium

Orlando City SC's season may not have ended how anyone wanted, but there was still plenty to celebrate in the opening of its shiny new venue, Orlando City Stadium. And the crowning jewel on that? The league's newest, proper, safe-standing supporters' section, with an atmosphere that proved unparalleled no matter the result. Here's a column I wrote on how special it felt when it first opened in March.

NYCFC officially sign their first (and second) gamer

If you are a Young, there is no need to explain to you how legit esports and gaming are. Now, professional teams are starting to take it seriously, too, and this year, New York City FC became the first MLS team to sign not one, but two official FIFA gamers.

Supporters' groups branch out with official clothing collections

Supporters' groups have, of course, long made their own merchandise. Then, last year, the Philadelphia Union's Sons of Ben became the first to launch an official clothing collection with Mitchell & Ness. This year, the Screaming Eagles, in D.C., and the Third Rail, in New York City, followed suit.
 
 

Sons of Ben celebrate 10-year anniversary

In Philadelphia, the Sons of Ben made for one of the best supporter-led movements for an expansion team, forming as a proper supporters' group to push for MLS to come to the city. Their tribulations and triumphs even earned them an excellent documentary, The Sons of Ben, which you can stream online now in all the various places. This year, the group celebrated 10 years together.

LAFC supporters get a hand in designing their new home

Los Angeles FC enters league play next year, and construction on their Banc of California Stadium continues apace. From the start of the whole design process, though, the club's consulted their supporters' groups, letting fans design the best features at their new home. So far that's included everything from details on the steepness of their section -- which will include safe standing -- and an on-site pub

Skepta visits the Red Bulls

Red Bulls striker Bradley Wright-Phillips has long been involved in the UK grime scene, and one of his best buddies is globally charting artist Skepta. The latter paid a low-key visit to Red Bull Arena this fall to support BWP, where he blended into the crowd anonymously but appeared to enjoy some Red Bulls souvenirs.

Honorable Mentions

Okay, so the list above appeared in no particular order, but since that was a neat 10 items, here are a few more who almost cracked the top 10. 

Union hire "Chief Tattoo Officer"

Philadelphia were 100 percent serious when they set out to hire a "Chief Tattoo Officer," meant to tattoo players and fans at special events. Eventually, they found one!

Local breweries celebrate Loons, Crew SC, and more soccer  

The mutual appreciation between Minnesota United FC and the area's craft brewing community continued, as local brewers Surly celebrated the Loons through two brews. United Crushers Pale Ale debuted at a MNUFC pre-match celebration, while Rising North Pale Ale became the team's official beer.

Meanwhile in Columbus, Land Grant Brewery, known for its Crew SC-themed Glory American wheat ale, teamed up with breweries in Texas and Kansas City to make Matchday Pale Ale and Stoppage Time Hoppy Saison.

Sounders fan’s Celine Dion tattoo goes viral

Earlier this year, Sounders diehard Matt Oak finally got his crowd-funded, cheeky MLS Cup-celebrating tattoo, which featured Celine Dion and Sounders colors on a body part he'd have to remove his pants to display. It went viral, and finally, Dion herself saw the tattoo thanks to a celebrity red-carpet reporter.

 

Old Firm Casuals record a video for San Jose

We have gone in depth about how half of the band Rancid loves MLS teams, with drummer Branden Steineckert rooting for Real Salt Lake, and co-founder/frontman Lars Frederiksen supporting the San Jose Earthquakes. (Both took part in the pre-match coin toss at Rio Tinto Stadium when the Quakes played RSL there earlier this year.)
But just how much does Frederiksen love the Quakes? While Steineckert penned "Believe" for RSL some years ago, this year Frederiksen recorded a music video for Quakes anthem "Never Say Die" with one of his other bands, the Old Firm Casuals, at Avaya Stadium.

Tommy Mac gets a haircut and everyone freaks out

NYCFC fans love Tommy McNamara as much for his performance as for -- until recently -- his Samson-like locks. Then, one day, perhaps seeking to escape from the weight of his hair legend, he decided to cut it off. Mourning ensued.

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