Articles filed under Club
A BEHIND THE SCENES ORAL HISTORY OF SOCCER IN KANSAS CITY
On November 18, 2010, a Major League Soccer team changed its name. One minute they were the Kansas City Wizards. The next, they were Sporting KC. Of course it’s never that simple.
This is that story.
Chief Operating Officer, Sporting Kansas City
I hate the word ‘brand’ more than anything. It’s overused; it’s not understood. People are misquoted all the time when they talk about brand. Really, we use the word ‘ethos’ around the office. So it’s what our company is all about. It’s what our soccer team is all about. It’s capturing the passion of our game. It’s not just we can sell 20 percent more jerseys if we use this color or this shield. It has nothing to do with that. All of that is secondary. It’s kind of like falling in love. If you find the right match, all the other benefits are secondary. I think that is how we approached this. We needed to fall in love with a brand that reflected the ethos of the company. So when we say ‘brand,’ we don’t mean just the logo or all that. We mean it in a bigger way. We mean brand to encapsulate everything that we do, the way that we are viewed from the outside; the way that we are viewed from the inside. It’s bigger. It’s reflective of the love we feel for this club; the passion that our fans feel for the club. When a player grabs that shield on his chest and kisses it after a goal, that needs to mean something. And I think when we went through this process, we always had that in the back of our minds: what should a player, what should one of our athletes really be meaning when they grab that shield and they kiss it, and it goes back over their heart? I try not to think of that word, brand, and I hate to say it, but you have to use it. But you have to make sure you use it wisely. Love without wisdom is fleeting, and Sporting wants to be around for a long time. We’re the smallest market, or one of them, and we’re just trying to change the way people think about MLS. Click HERE for the full story…
an iconic resort, a maybe murderer, & the birth of top-flight football in Tijuana
by Eben Lehman
It took decades, but in the end it was just a short journey to find something seemingly so far away: the transcendent football experience. On a Sunday morning in April, soccer fan Dean Mitchell leaves his home in San Diego and heads south towards the border. The barren desert geography doesn’t change much between his home and Tijuana, Mexico, but nearly everything else brightens once he passes that wall, including Dean’s mood. Crossing the border on foot it takes literally one step to enter a completely different world – away from a soccer niche to a land hot with football fever.
After years following a revolving door of lower-division San Diego soccer franchises – the Nomads, the Flash, various iterations of the Sockers, holding out hope for a MLS expansion team – Tijuana is where Mitchell finally discovered his personal sports mecca. Within the domain of his football odyssey, the guarded international boundary is nothing more than an imaginary line. And anyway, Tijuana is a hell of a lot closer than Los Angeles where the closest two MLS teams preside. Click HERE for the full story…
LOOKING FOR LOVE AT MLS CUP
Ratings for MLS Cup plunged 44 percent from last year and grabbed just 748,000 viewers, a near record low. It’s almost as if ESPN knew what was coming–the game, the crowd, the referee, the weather, the ratings. Why else would they not promo the game during their international friendly double-header earlier in the week? Why else would they send Steve McManaman? Other options were always there for both MLS and ESPN, but it all must have looked awful, awfully familiar to a network which in this environment has better things to spend money on when it comes to counting the commercial returns. But it’s hard to blame the bottom line. You play the capitalism game or go home alone and don’t ask for a second chance. Charlie Sheen aside, very few in this world can do what they want at all times and get away with it. Even the mighty NFL gets caught occasionally.
And so now MLS Cup will move on to next year, and at its absolute baseline will be more productive in future seasons, just like Jeff Cunningham, Edson Buddle, and a seemingly endless line of players that passed through Toronto before moving on to greater successes. Goals scored by former Toronto players since leaving the great white north (my big brother in blog Bruce McGuire mentioned after the game): more than ninety. NINETY! Don’t want to be forced to buy a MLS Cup ticket as part of your season ticket package? Right or wrong, right place or wrong time, rest assured that problem will not be Toronto’s anytime soon. Click HERE for the full story…
Cosmos Executive Director Joe Fraga talks exclusively with TIAS about relaunching his childhood club
Three Brits, three famous men swoop in and buy the rights to the Cosmos. Now they just have to figure out what to do with what is probably still the most famous American soccer club in history. Some of today’s most famous Mad Men go to town. They hold interviews, not for employees as much as focus groups, all while keeping the secret.
Unlike starting a new business with new products, the Cosmos come on the scene with a trans-Atlantic tanker’s worth of baggage, both blessings and challenges. Surely they need to find someone who understands all of that, can make sense of it in today’s American soccer landscape, and provide the leadership necessary to get it off the ground.
Enter Executive Director Joe Fraga, a local man, original Cosmos fan, who was there when Giants Stadium was packed full and has been waiting inside the vacuum ever since. His first questions to the new Cosmos brass were pretty close to everybody’s questions.
Earlier, we heard from Terry Byrne about the MLS franchise and stadium goals of the club, for which they say all the finances are set. If all goes according to plan, they will be the 20th MLS franchise in 2013 with a soccer specific stadium to call their own in Queens. Which all sounds lovely, but what is it right now? That’s where Fraga comes in, charged with getting the grassroots efforts off the ground and keeping the soccer credibility on pace with the marketing.
It’s only been three months, but that’s an eternity in today’s new cycle. Will youth academies, club partnerships, corporate and community outreach, and forth-coming “inspirational games” be enough to sate fans all the way to 2013 and MLS? Click HERE for the full story…
Terry Byrne talks exclusively with TIAS about the relaunch of the New York Cosmos (and that book about his buddy)
This is what we know. The New York Cosmos are back with intentions on being the 20th MLS franchise in 2013. It’s run by famous industry names like Paul Kemsley, Terry Byrne, and famed advertising executive Carl Johnson, as well as more locally entrenched talent like Giovanni Savarese and Joe Fraga. They got Pele as the honorary president. They purchased Copa NYC (soon to be called Cosmos Copa), a citywide amateur World Cup of sorts. They’ve obviously got some money, not just because of the ownership group’s personal assets, but because they launched youth academy teams in New York and Los Angeles, both of which will be free to players. They have a partnership with Blau Weiss Gottschee, the most historic of the city’s elite youth clubs. They launched a branded ball and kit, produced by Umbro, which signed on as kit and equipment sponsor. They have a website, a Twitter account, a Youtube, Flickr, and Facebook page. They have as of yet, however, no men’s team, professional, amateur, or otherwise.
But for a club with no men’s team, no MLS franchise for at least a couple more years, it sure seems like everyone is talking (or complaining) about the Cosmos… Click HERE for the full story…
this is all five parts of the story.
Sacha Kljestan throws up his hands. He did his best and doesn’t know what else to do. Maybe it’s time to quit. He’s thought about it before. One guy can only do so much. So many factors go into success or create failure. The opponent is only one of them.
Sacha sizes up his pre-teen cousin Moselle, who has her younger brother, Sterling, bouncing and banging up and down as she yanks harder on the back of his underwear. No one seems determined to make her stop. Sacha tries one last time. He’s out of his chair and tugging on her arms, but Moselle only releases a wicked smile and cackling laugh as she jerks harder on the elastic waist band as if the pull chord on a stubborn lawn mower. And Sterling is no help, enjoying the victimization a little too much. His giggling and screaming mixed with the occasional wince in his toothy smile roughly translates to: “What? Wedgies aren’t cool during dinner parties? Look at me!”
“Enough!” Sacha’s aunt, Robin, says with all the defeated charm a mom can muster when she knows her words hold little sway over the popular attention this audience holds for her children. Moselle finally relents. She and her brother scamper off to the family room. Sacha returns to the table. Little kids are curious things.
It’s two nights before Sacha’s fifth MLS season opener, and ten members of his extended family overflow the dining room of his parents’ modest two-story home on a quiet street in Huntington Beach, California. With the skirmish over, attention returns to Sacha. The more alcohol that goes down, the more opinions that come up. None of us can fathom Sterling’s delight in the wedgie, but neither can we make much sense of Sacha’s career. Click HERE for the full story…
Sacha is in line for a spot in the American midfield, but where exactly he stands only Bob Bradley knows. The American coach deals in elusive simplicity, which he projects to the media and, sometimes it turns out, even his players. Sacha didn’t know what Bradley was thinking. He wasn’t sure if he had any chance of going to the World Cup. In November of last year, following the game against Denmark, coach and player sat down one-on-one.
“He is a bit vague sometimes when he speaks to us,” Sacha says about his past, present, and he hopes future coach. “He and I had a pretty long and hard conversation in Denmark. And it was really tough to hear. I don’t want to go into detail about what he told me, but yeah it was tough. And disappointing for sure, and hard, but I guess another doubter, another person who doesn’t believe in you at one given point or time, and you have to change their mind.” Click HERE for the full story…
The dream team. Not The Dream Team. The Hulking NBA players walked next to the soccer team at the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Oylmpics, but for an U-23 American soccer team, this was the best yet. Dreaming back to 1996 and his 100-meter hero, Sacha asked Adidas if they could make him gold boots. They gave him silver instead. Hey, U.S. men’s soccer has never won any color medal. “I told them silver would do just fine,” Sacha says.
President Bush addressed all the athletes in a big gymnasium prior to the procession. “I don’t know a lot about sports,” the former owner of Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers said. “But go out and win the gold for the USA.” Click HERE for the full story…
Sacha played every minute of every game his freshman year as an attacking central midfielder. He finished second on the team in points, with 6 assists and 4 goals and was just one of three freshman to earn all-conference honors in the Big East. “I went there thinking I can get a good education because of soccer,” Sacha says. “But after my first month at Seton Hall, I was back to saying I want to play pro again. I was back on track with my original dream.”
If this was basketball or American football, his coaching worries and any self-doubt would be gone for a few years; barring injury he’d be on a linear track to the professional ranks. But for soccer’s most driven, there’s another dream: to play for the national team. Click HERE for the full story…
This is Part 2 - Here is Part 1.
He is Sacha’s father. He was his first coach. He taught his boys to play soccer a certain way. He battled to become an American citizen, lost his mother in war, and damned if he isn’t going to have his say. With carpenter hands, a bartender’s mouth, and the disposition of an all-knowing CEO, Slavko sits back and explains matter of fact that his son’s technical skills outweigh what are still conceived as physical deficiencies. Slavko has coaching licenses and agent licenses, and he’s been through too much to let this dream die, the dream he once held out for himself.
Just about every coach didn’t know what he was doing. You’ll excuse a father for making such rash statements. But follow the rest of Sacha’s career—a study on American soccer hegemony and its coaching styles, of the importance of finding a coach that understands a player’s game and how best to use it—and it becomes harder to argue with Slavko. But by all means, have fun trying. Click HERE for the full story…