Friday, September 19th
10:00 PM: Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado Rapids, NBCSN
RSL has already won the first two matches between these two rivals, clinching the Rocky Mountain Cup for 2014. But there is a lot at stake here nonetheless. RSL currently leads FC Dallas by a single point as they hope to avoid a one-game play-in match. Colorado, meanwhile, trails the final playoff spot in the west by six points with six matches remaining. A loss here might just kill off their hopes.
10:30 PM: Tijuana vs. Santos, ESPN Deportes (Spanish)
10:30 PM: Morelia vs. Pumas, Azteca America (Spanish)
I knew I had seen it somewhere before. Not literally; in this era of leaks, Major League Soccer’s new logo was kept a secret until its official release early yesterday morning. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was familiar with this logo from somewhere else. Then it dawned on me. The new MLS crest felt like a Football as Football design. The designers behind that site took the time to redesign each NFL team’s logos as though they were European. And while designs are borrowed from four different countries, all of them have the sense of a sleek, modern minimalism. In a way, they’re too clean, well-designed but without the charm and detail of the authentic product.
MLS crests all have this feel to them, to varying extents. While they ape much older clubs, each crest is very clearly the product of a modern era. The same can be said of the lower leagues in American soccer, too. None of the computer-designed, modern crests have anywhere near the intricacies of Manchester City’s crest, to use one example. This is not necessarily a good or bad thing. For the league’s new crest, MLS has taken minimalism to something of an extreme.
“I…came to soccer through serendipity, endless curiosity, and a sense of an underground, populist international brotherhood.”
I’d be willing to guess that the majority of American soccer fans did not inherit their love of the game. Baseball and football are passed down from fathers to sons in this country, but soccer, long considered foreign, grabs hold of teenagers with too much time on their hands. This is especially true in the internet age, but The Soccer Diaries: An American’s Thirty-Year Pursuit of the International Game suggests that it was the case even in the early 80s.
I watched the U.S. Open Cup final last night on a stream that had neither scoreboard graphics nor commentary. The game was televised, but only by GolTV; I’ve lamented the Open Cup’s lack of television coverage before. The Sounders beat the Union and won their fourth cup in six years, with many people watching the same illegal stream. For a lot of us, it had been a while.
“The game floats on an ocean of nostalgia, sentimentality, tradition and myth in which its historicity is constantly invoked and celebrated.” - David Winner, Those Feet
There are very few soccer stadiums in this country that have serious history. The vast majority of MLS teams play in stadiums built since the league emerged in the late 1990s. Both venues hosted teams in the original NASL. Providence Park was the site of Pele’s last official game, and RFK has hosted the USMNT more often than any other stadium.
England, as described by Winner above, has more history than it knows what to do with. Several clubs still play in the same stadiums as they did in the 19th century. Anfield, White Hart Lane, St. James’ Park: these are historic venues where generations of fans have come to support their teams. Fathers take their sons to the same ground their fathers took them to. And of course they look vastly different now, filled with seats instead of terraces, luxury boxes inserted where possible, but the ghosts of years past, and the stories are still there. But just as DC United want out of RFK, so too do English clubs pine for new stadiums.
Of all the outfield players Jurgen Klinsmann brought to Brazil, Brad Davis may have had the least fanfare. John Brooks and Julian Green scored in their short times on the field, and Mix Diskerud has the continuing allure of youth. They have Bright Futures. Davis, at 32, played just 45 minutes at the World Cup: a scoreless first half against Germany, before returning home to a club he’s played for since 2006. He hasn’t been subject to transfer rumors or a designated player contract. It’s time to give him his due.
We hardly knew him, in truth. Gus Johnson was a part of this “soccer in America” thing for all of 19 months, during which he graced, what, maybe 20 games in total? He was criticized before, during, and after almost every one, including on this here blog. And now Johnson and Fox have agreed that this wasn’t going to work out—not because of criticism, they insist—because Gus isn’t able to give his full attention to the game with his basketball and football obligations. Johnson may well continue to call soccer for Fox, but he won’t be their lead announcer at either the Women’s World Cup next summer or the Men’s World Cup in 2018.
I happen to believe that this decision is for the best, though the family circumstances that led to Johnson’s decision are unfortunate. But the question mark of Gus Johnson as a soccer announcer is now replaced by the question mark of an unknown commentator. Someone—more than one someone, in truth—will have to replace him.