Articles filed under Culture
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…
from the outside, in — one man’s journey to the heart of India
by Ashwin Warrior
I came to Calcutta on a whim. Time off from school, traveling and volunteering in India—one version of the American collegiate dream. I chose Calcutta, the sprawling metropolis of over fifteen million people, on the recommendation of a friend. He said the city was unforgettable, that no matter what I was interested in, I could find it there.
Some focus on the extreme poverty; others the vibrant people and rich culture. No matter how you see it, India’s third largest city certainly has the power to overwhelm. Every square inch of the city is thick with life. In the streets, people, animals, and machines collide. Barefoot rickshaw pullers, emaciated and sweating, lean forward with grimaced faces straining for leverage to lug their passengers along the crowded roads. Just as they get going, their knees buckle inside legs skidding on heels to a halt; the traffic prevents their flow. They jockey for space with the men guiding bullock carts piled high with hay and brash young taxi drivers who speed and brake, speed and brake, down the narrow arteries crammed with centuries of transportation technology. To watch some of them operate in the chaos, is to experience the world’s best footballers bounce from defender to defender, filling open space but for a moment until it all shuts down. Click HERE for the full story…
in 2010, photos change, words not so much.
MLS Superdraft breakdown - you know you’re not getting that here. But every year the draft marks the beginning of a new soccer season. Beyond the MLS hot stove, it means the first USMNT game of the new year is around the corner, with the Gold Cup just down the road. And this year the USWNT reboot after fighting through new domestic league difficulties to prepare for what should be the most competitive Women’s World Cup in history. The new beginnings force away past memories, and everybody gets a chance to win again… or for the first time. Looking over the recent past, however, I find State Of The Union pieces that still hold true (2006, 2007, 2009) or at least haven’t much changed. But the photos always change (2008’s gallery), so instead of trying to ride down the homestretch in a beaten horse, I’ve picked through my images of the past year, collected in a click-able thumbnail gallery after the jump. 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…
An excerpt from the new novel by Michael Maddox
How the USMNT (might have) won the 1982 World Cup
“Too small,” Coach Messina answered, knowing full well that he would be questioned again. “Five-foot-nothin’, and what, about a hundred pounds – soaking wet?”
“But Tom, you can see this kid’s a player, can’t you?” Gary Rickman was adamant. The Maxwell boy was small, but he had displayed a level of skill the St. Louis coaches had never seen in a youth player. Actually five-four and one-hundred twenty pounds, dry, he was still among the least imposing sixteen-year-olds at this tryout.
“Sure Gary, we’ll sign him,” Messina replied, “and tomorrow Petey will dip him in marinara sauce and have him for lunch.” ‘Petey’ was Stoyan Petrov, the hard man of St. Louis Busch Soccer Club. “This discussion is over,” the head coach added.
Rickman conceded, but tucked Jimmy Maxwell’s evaluation form, with his home phone number, into his shirt pocket. 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…
years in the making, a book at the right time
“Sometimes players say things to get in our heads, call us short, brown. This guy said, ‘You ain’t nothing to me, man. You’re only to my waist!’ I thought, ‘I’ll take you, man.’ They say, “Stupid Mexicans, go home, go back to Mexico.” If they do that then one or two times in the half I don’t go for the ball but go for them.” -Angel
The following is the second excerpt taken from Steve Wilson’s The Boys From Little Mexico.
Copyright 2010. Excerpted with permission by Beacon Press. Read the introduction here. Buy the book here.
years in the making, a book at the right time
So maybe you’ve heard. Mexicans love soccer. Maybe you’ve heard. Hispanics are a growing force in the American soccer world. But you haven’t heard the story of the the boys from Little Mexico.
Steve Wilson was kind enough to give TIAS the longest excerpt rights for his new book which details the story of Oregon’s Woodburn high school soccer team and their season chasing the American Dream. The introduction follows below, and in the coming days, a second piece will focus in on the stories of the players. This is American soccer. Read the excerpts. Buy the book. Click HERE for the full story…