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North American Pro Soccer 2018


Gothamite
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I went to my first Minnesota United game last weekend.  I am not a soccer guy, so I only  know the basics, which do not include a single player in the game.  But I'm using this to make observations on the game itself as well as soccer in general.

 

  • Very early in the game, Minnesota UFC ("the Loons") had a goal disallowed I believed due to off-side.  I don't quite get the off-side rule but the guy in front of me was incensed.  He thought it was a bad call.  I get a sense that the rule can be manipulated by defenders just stopping.  Also, while the game does not stop, I think the scoreboard should at least be able to highlight key calls like that (GOAL DISALLOWED - OFF-SIDES).
  • The "supporters."  I got to the game fairly early and waited for my buddy.  The supporters were walking around the stadium behind a banner and waving flags.  We ended up two or three sections away from them and they are constantly doing chants, songs, etc.  It's a different atmosphere than other sports and it's pretty fun.
  • Thanks to the Twins also playing that day, the scalpers were not buying, just selling. Someone in Sporting KC (the opponent) gear sold me a pair of tickets for 5 bucks!  Awesome.
  • KC had 9 corner kicks to the Loons 0.  Knowledgeable soccer fan in front of me confirmed that that was really strange.  They also outshot the Loons 24 to 6.
  • The Loons earned a 1-1 tie, which is not bad, given that KC is a better team.  Speaking of ties, there are a lot of things I wonder if North American fans can really embrace:
    • Ties.  
    • The never-stopping clock*
    • The frontward-counting clock.
    • The arbitrary stoppage time added at the end of each half.  I personally found that more frustrating in person than I do on the few occasions I have watched soccer on TV.  There is absolutely no indication of how much "stoppage time" is left.  Then the whistle blows.  I think that, along with the ability to stall while the clock does not stop, could be the toughest thing for fans in North America to adjust to.
    • Oh well, it turns out North Americans are truly embracing soccer.
  • *The never-stopping clock is, or at least should be, one of soccer's biggest selling points.  The sports we tend to love here have so many delays.  That was pretty refreshing.
  • Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting KC?  I prefer the idea of Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (i.e., American-sounding names).  It's one way I wish the league could have adjusted to North America.

 

All in all it was pretty fun.  Next year (I think) the Loons move to their own stadium with a capacity just under 20,000.  I don't think I'll be picking up too many pairs of tickets for $5.  I'll probably get to a game every year or two but unless I get more into soccer than I anticipate, my sports dollars will primarily stay with the other sports.  But I'm glad we have a team.

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12 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting KC?  I prefer the idea of Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (i.e., American-sounding names).  It's one way I wish the league could have adjusted to North America.

 

MNUFC/Sporting vs Sounders/Timbers - That's something I think should have stayed the same. When MLS started in 1996, only DC United didn't have an "Americanized" name. To be fair Sporting Kansas City used to be the Kansas City Wiz, then Wizards before the change to Sporting KC. FC Dallas were the Burn, which was made worse by the fact they had a good logo identity but bad name. Same for the San Jose Clash, now Earthquakes. Columbus adding SC to their name is even worse because it was a halfway move, which seeing how the owner's taking care of Mapfre Stadium is par for the course. 

 

 

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17 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

I went to my first Minnesota United game last weekend.  I am not a soccer guy, so I only  know the basics, which do not include a single player in the game.  But I'm using this to make observations on the game itself as well as soccer in general.

 

  • Very early in the game, Minnesota UFC ("the Loons") had a goal disallowed I believed due to off-side.  I don't quite get the off-side rule but the guy in front of me was incensed.  He thought it was a bad call.  I get a sense that the rule can be manipulated by defenders just stopping.  Also, while the game does not stop, I think the scoreboard should at least be able to highlight key calls like that (GOAL DISALLOWED - OFF-SIDES).
  • The "supporters."  I got to the game fairly early and waited for my buddy.  The supporters were walking around the stadium behind a banner and waving flags.  We ended up two or three sections away from them and they are constantly doing chants, songs, etc.  It's a different atmosphere than other sports and it's pretty fun.
  • Thanks to the Twins also playing that day, the scalpers were not buying, just selling. Someone in Sporting KC (the opponent) gear sold me a pair of tickets for 5 bucks!  Awesome.
  • KC had 9 corner kicks to the Loons 0.  Knowledgeable soccer fan in front of me confirmed that that was really strange.  They also outshot the Loons 24 to 6.
  • The Loons earned a 1-1 tie, which is not bad, given that KC is a better team.  Speaking of ties, there are a lot of things I wonder if North American fans can really embrace:
    • Ties.  
    • The never-stopping clock*
    • The frontward-counting clock.
    • The arbitrary stoppage time added at the end of each half.  I personally found that more frustrating in person than I do on the few occasions I have watched soccer on TV.  There is absolutely no indication of how much "stoppage time" is left.  Then the whistle blows.  I think that, along with the ability to stall while the clock does not stop, could be the toughest thing for fans in North America to adjust to.
    • Oh well, it turns out North Americans are truly embracing soccer.
  • *The never-stopping clock is, or at least should be, one of soccer's biggest selling points.  The sports we tend to love here have so many delays.  That was pretty refreshing.
  • Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting KC?  I prefer the idea of Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (i.e., American-sounding names).  It's one way I wish the league could have adjusted to North America.

First of all this sounds lovely and I'm glad you had a great time. I'm going to MSP in a few weeks and I'm hoping to catch a Loons game. On the clock thing, the early days of MLS had a clock that counted down and stopped. (The first MLS game I went to in 1996, I realized the halves were 45 minutes long and I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.) I say that just to point out that the "make it palatable for americans" tricks have been done and they didn't really work. 

 

With you on the names, though. What would have been so hard about "Minnesota Loons"? How is Futbol Club Cincinnati meant to be taken seriously?

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21 minutes ago, OnWis97 said:

I went to my first Minnesota United game last weekend.  I am not a soccer guy, so I only  know the basics, which do not include a single player in the game.  But I'm using this to make observations on the game itself as well as soccer in general.

 

  • Very early in the game, Minnesota UFC ("the Loons") had a goal disallowed I believed due to off-side.  I don't quite get the off-side rule but the guy in front of me was incensed.  He thought it was a bad call.  I get a sense that the rule can be manipulated by defenders just stopping.  Also, while the game does not stop, I think the scoreboard should at least be able to highlight key calls like that (GOAL DISALLOWED - OFF-SIDES).
  • The "supporters."  I got to the game fairly early and waited for my buddy.  The supporters were walking around the stadium behind a banner and waving flags.  We ended up two or three sections away from them and they are constantly doing chants, songs, etc.  It's a different atmosphere than other sports and it's pretty fun.
  • Thanks to the Twins also playing that day, the scalpers were not buying, just selling. Someone in Sporting KC (the opponent) gear sold me a pair of tickets for 5 bucks!  Awesome.
  • KC had 9 corner kicks to the Loons 0.  Knowledgeable soccer fan in front of me confirmed that that was really strange.  They also outshot the Loons 24 to 6.
  • The Loons earned a 1-1 tie, which is not bad, given that KC is a better team.  Speaking of ties, there are a lot of things I wonder if North American fans can really embrace:
    • Ties.  
    • The never-stopping clock*
    • The frontward-counting clock.
    • The arbitrary stoppage time added at the end of each half.  I personally found that more frustrating in person than I do on the few occasions I have watched soccer on TV.  There is absolutely no indication of how much "stoppage time" is left.  Then the whistle blows.  I think that, along with the ability to stall while the clock does not stop, could be the toughest thing for fans in North America to adjust to.
    • Oh well, it turns out North Americans are truly embracing soccer.
  • *The never-stopping clock is, or at least should be, one of soccer's biggest selling points.  The sports we tend to love here have so many delays.  That was pretty refreshing.
  • Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting KC?  I prefer the idea of Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (i.e., American-sounding names).  It's one way I wish the league could have adjusted to North America.

 

All in all it was pretty fun.  Next year (I think) the Loons move to their own stadium with a capacity just under 20,000.  I don't think I'll be picking up too many pairs of tickets for $5.  I'll probably get to a game every year or two but unless I get more into soccer than I anticipate, my sports dollars will primarily stay with the other sports.  But I'm glad we have a team.

This to me is the most appealing thing about soccer as an American.  It's why I really want to get to Audi Field when it opens and see Rooney play (despite his Everton and Man U heritage) and going to Anfield to see Liverpool play is on my bucket list.  When you get to hear the chants and the bass drums and the banners it really makes American fans look bad with our "DE-FENSE" and "LET'S GO <insert team>" chants.

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I have mixed feelings about the supporters group stuff. It definitely improves the atmosphere at the match and makes it more fun. Much better than just Let's Go Whoever and some clapping. I do think a lot of MLS fans are too into themselves as supporters, though. In the other teams I follow the chatter is second-guessing the coach or dream roster moves. In soccer it always seems to be drama and infighting among the supporters groups. I get that we all want a community and a social club but who do we really want to see, here? And why are there so many? The Revolution have like three different supporters groups! It's all a bit much. Maybe it all happens because the guy in front of you is waving a damn flag the whole time and you can't even see the game you paid to get into.

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One more observation from the Minnesota United FC game...

 

I did not own any MNUFC clothing (but after the game I did get a t-shirt for 9 bucks; 14 bucks on a t-shirt and two tickets...not bad).  It was sunny so I wore a hat.  A Vikings hat that happens to be gray (a team color).  I saw almost no other Minnesota pro team gear there.  No other Vikings gear.  No T-Wolves.  Maybe a couple of Wild or Twins hats/shirts.  Plenty of U of M.  I feel like if I go to a Twins game, I'll see several Wild and Vikings shirts/hats.  

 

It got me wondering whether soccer has less overlap with "the big 4" than the big 4 do with each other.

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I think that's definitely true. Purely anecdotal but a thing I see a lot is that soccer has become the sport for transplants; like if you move to a different city you retain the fandom of the big 4 teams you grew up with, but you didn't grow up with soccer, so you have more connection to new city's soccer team than old city's soccer team. This is the only way I can explain how Atlanta has had a year-and-a-half of drawing 45,000 raucous people per game. Atlanta!

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MLS games are also significantly cheaper than comparable sports in big markets. A Seahawks ticket is about 4 times as much as a Sounders ticket, and to me, definitely not 4 times the value.

 

The clock is among the best things about soccer. The game just moving is so refreshing. And the more you watch it, I think the more you appreciate the drama and gamesmanship within stoppage time. But in general, the ref will give the time he adds, and then allow the attacking team to finish its play at the end of stoppage time. That may mean a shot on goal, a free kick, or multiple corners if the defense continually knocks the ball out of play. But it does make sense after a while.

 

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2 hours ago, OnWis97 said:
  • Very early in the game, Minnesota UFC ("the Loons") had a goal disallowed I believed due to off-side.  I don't quite get the off-side rule but the guy in front of me was incensed.  He thought it was a bad call.  I get a sense that the rule can be manipulated by defenders just stopping.  Also, while the game does not stop, I think the scoreboard should at least be able to highlight key calls like that (GOAL DISALLOWED - OFF-SIDES).

 

Offsides basically means that when the ball is passed forward, there has to be a defender between the receiving player and the goal (other than the goalie).

 

offside-rule-trap-success.gif

 

#10 on the red team is offside,  #11 could pass to #8, though - he's onside.

 

The rules is to keep strikers from "goal hanging", just sitting next to the goalkeeper and waiting for the ball.  It keeps the game much more free-moving.  


And yes, defenders can step forward and catch attackers offside.  It's called an offside trap, and it's part of the strategy.  Mind you, it takes timing, since a striker can get behind teh defenders by the time the ball arrives - it's his position when the ball is passed that is important.

 

As for the scoreboard, you should be able to tell from the line rep, who has a flag to indicate.

 

offside_flag.jpgImage result for offside flag signal

 

 

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2 hours ago, Digby said:

I have mixed feelings about the supporters group stuff. It definitely improves the atmosphere at the match and makes it more fun. Much better than just Let's Go Whoever and some clapping. I do think a lot of MLS fans are too into themselves as supporters, though. In the other teams I follow the chatter is second-guessing the coach or dream roster moves. In soccer it always seems to be drama and infighting among the supporters groups. I get that we all want a community and a social club but who do we really want to see, here? And why are there so many? The Revolution have like three different supporters groups! It's all a bit much. Maybe it all happens because the guy in front of you is waving a damn flag the whole time and you can't even see the game you paid to get into.

Regularly attending soccer games has made me realize just how choreographed fan interaction is at other major sports.

 

I went to one NBA game this year and it might be my last. It was nothing more than a Vegas light show with a little bit of basketball in between. Most of the noise made by fans was directed from the Jumbotron rather than the fans themselves. I'd been to dozens of games in the past and just never realized how conditioned sports fans are to do what they're told. 

 

Otherwise, I totally understand how warring among supporters groups could be irritating. Here in Portland, there's just the Timbers Army, which has a remarkably egalitarian philosophy toward membership, which sort of negates any need or interest to create a rival group: 

 

Quote

 

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RE: Cincinnati's move to MLS. Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus says the team will start play in 2019. Nashville and Miami won't join until 2020.

https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/05/24/fc-cincinnati-mls-expansion-berth-announcement-2019-start?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sinow&utm_source=twitter.com&xid=socialflow_twitter_si

 

Also, is a fair guess to say Ohio native and former Timbers coach Caleb Porter will take the reins of this club? 

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I figure Porter might be a candidate for the USMNT job (assuming they don't or can't get a big name international guy) but that seems logical if not. I'm just glad the league will be back to even teams next year. I feel like this doesn't bode well for the Save the Crew prospects, which is upsetting.

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20 minutes ago, gosioux76 said:

RE: Cincinnati's move to MLS. Sports Illustrated's Brian Straus says the team will start play in 2019. Nashville and Miami won't join until 2020.

https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/05/24/fc-cincinnati-mls-expansion-berth-announcement-2019-start?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=sinow&utm_source=twitter.com&xid=socialflow_twitter_si

 

Also, is a fair guess to say Ohio native and former Timbers coach Caleb Porter will take the reins of this club? 

 

I know nothing about any of this, but I feel like their current coach Alan Koch is well-liked and seems to know what he's doing. It would make sense to me to have him manage the team when they move to MLS. 

 

14 minutes ago, Digby said:

I figure Porter might be a candidate for the USMNT job (assuming they don't or can't get a big name international guy) but that seems logical if not. I'm just glad the league will be back to even teams next year. I feel like this doesn't bode well for the Save the Crew prospects, which is upsetting.

 

I like to think one has nothing to do with the other, but the league management seems dumb enough to move the Crew because "what's your problem? we gave you another team in Ohio" when reality is that Columbus and Cincinnati are very different places and you'll get zero Crew fans to convert to FCC if the Crew leaves. If If the league was smart they'd fire Anthony Precourt into the sun because they're this close to having an incredibly good and intense rivalry on their hands. All they have to do is not :censored: it up by moving the Crew and it'll help both markets. The Crew have existed without a true rival for their entire existence. Cincinnati having a team will help mobilize the fanbase against Cincinnati. Also getting Precourt away from this sport will do wonders for soccer in Columbus. High tides raise all boats. 

 

3 minutes ago, Bucfan56 said:

:censored:

 

I know how much this must suck. I do feel bad that this comes at the expense of Sacramento because we jumped the line. 

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2 hours ago, Gothamite said:

 

Offsides basically means that when the ball is passed forward, there has to be a defender between the receiving player and the goal (other than the goalie).

 

Worth noting that it is two defenders that must be ahead of the offensive players. We usually only think of it as one because the goalie is so far back, but they technically count as one of the two defenders. I remember this coming up during a World Cup match back in 2010 I think. Wanna say it was Mexico who thought they go hosed on a call, but it turned out to be right. It's just so rare for the goalie to have been in an odd position. 

 

The most surprising thing about offsides is how often the refs get it right. I don't know how many times I've thought they were off their rocker with an offsides call only to see the replay and realize that they're actually way better at their job (or at least this particular aspect of it) than I thought. 

4 hours ago, OnWis97 said:
  • KC had 9 corner kicks to the Loons 0.  Knowledgeable soccer fan in front of me confirmed that that was really strange.  They also outshot the Loons 24 to 6.
  • The Loons earned a 1-1 tie, which is not bad, given that KC is a better team.  Speaking of ties, there are a lot of things I wonder if North American fans can really embrace:
  • Minnesota United FC vs. Sporting KC?  I prefer the idea of Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers (i.e., American-sounding names).  It's one way I wish the league could have adjusted to North America.

Soccer, like hockey is game where a team can seemingly dominate without getting a win. Ties are weird in that they can make you feel very different things. As an SKC fan I was frustrated with the tie against Minnesota, but a Loons fan might feel a sense of relief in at least getting a point out of a game in with they were nearly outshot by 20 and had no corners. A two-goal comeback to force a tie can even feel like a win in some cases. I remember the US gave up a late goal to Portugal to give away a tie. Totally ruined my birthday. 

 

I like the weird dichotomy of names in MLS. It's the most North American thing possible. That doesn't mean I like all of the names (Real Salt Lake), but it's interesting. I am annoyed that Kansas City supposedly (I've never seen anything official) wanted to rebrand from Wizards to United, but weren't allowed to because there was already a United, and then we added two Uniteds in a single season. 

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17 minutes ago, Bucfan56 said:

:censored:

I'm not up on things enough to know what this is about, though I infer from McCarthy that Sacramento was up for a possible team.  

 

I certainly can feel for a fan that has the rug pulled out from under them.  That's too bad.  

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39 minutes ago, McCarthy said:

 

I like to think one has nothing to do with the other, but the league management seems dumb enough to move the Crew because "what's your problem? we gave you another team in Ohio" when reality is that Columbus and Cincinnati are very different places and you'll get zero Crew fans to convert to FCC if the Crew leaves. If If the league was smart they'd fire Anthony Precourt into the sun because they're this close to having an incredibly good and intense rivalry on their hands. All they have to do is not :censored: it up by moving the Crew and it'll help both markets. The Crew have existed without a true rival for their entire existence. Cincinnati having a team will help mobilize the fanbase against Cincinnati. Also getting Precourt away from this sport will do wonders for soccer in Columbus. High tides raise all boats. 

What about TFC and the Trillium Cup?! :P 

37 minutes ago, Red Wolf said:

Worth noting that it is two defenders that must be ahead of the offensive players. We usually only think of it as one because the goalie is so far back, but they technically count as one of the two defenders. I remember this coming up during a World Cup match back in 2010 I think. Wanna say it was Mexico who thought they go hosed on a call, but it turned out to be right. It's just so rare for the goalie to have been in an odd position. 

 

The most surprising thing about offsides is how often the refs get it right. I don't know how many times I've thought they were off their rocker with an offsides call only to see the replay and realize that they're actually way better at their job (or at least this particular aspect of it) than I thought. 

Soccer, like hockey is game where a team can seemingly dominate without getting a win. Ties are weird in that they can make you feel very different things. As an SKC fan I was frustrated with the tie against Minnesota, but a Loons fan might feel a sense of relief in at least getting a point out of a game in with they were nearly outshot by 20 and had no corners. A two-goal comeback to force a tie can even feel like a win in some cases. I remember the US gave up a late goal to Portugal to give away a tie. Totally ruined my birthday. 

 

I like the weird dichotomy of names in MLS. It's the most North American thing possible. That doesn't mean I like all of the names (Real Salt Lake), but it's interesting. I am annoyed that Kansas City supposedly (I've never seen anything official) wanted to rebrand from Wizards to United, but weren't allowed to because there was already a United, and then we added two Uniteds in a single season. 

How dare you say that about the King of Salt Lake's team?! :P

 

/end jokes

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47 minutes ago, mr.negative15 said:

What about TFC and the Trillium Cup?! :P 

How dare you say that about the King of Salt Lake's team?! :P

 

/end jokes

As a true American, I can't support these dastardly monarchies in my own backyard. That's why my most hated teams* are the Royals, Real Salt Lake, the Kings, and the other Kings.

 

Speaking of random cups, is the Brimstone Cup between FC Dallas Burn and the Chicago Fire still a thing despite the fact that it clearly only existed because of the name similarities? 

 

Spoiler

*This is a lie, except for in reference to RSL. Hate those guys. 

 

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