Happy Thursday everyone. Lots to talk about.
THING NO. 1: UPDATE YOUR SCHEDULES. The Battery just announced a change to the start time for Saturday’s preseason match against the Carolina Railhawks at Blackbaud Stadium. Previously set for 2:30 p.m., the kickoff has been moved up to 12 p.m. So if you miss this update, you’ll be showing up about the time the Railhawks get in their van and head back up to Cary.
Saturday’s final pre-season match vs. @railhawksfc has been moved to 12 noon at Blackbaud Stadium – Free Admission.
— Charleston Battery (@Chas_Battery) March 28, 2013
And listen, f you haven’t been to one of the Battery’s preseason matches this winter/spring, I want to use this opportunity to tell you you’re missing the boat. These events (with the exception of the Carolina Challenge Cup and the Wilmington game) are free-admission soccer and they’re really a lot of low-key fun. No crowds, no concessions, in some cases no scoreboard clock. But there are fans in the stands who appreciate soccer without all the trappings of a standard game day, and they’re a lot of fun to hang around.
The Battery went up to Cary earlier this month and came home with the win, and though I know it’s just preseason, I also get the sense that players occasionally care about the outcomes of these things a little more than they really should. Pride is pride, even if it’s a pickup game. So when you take a match from a “higher tier” club on their turf, that’s kind of a big deal. And if you follow that up with a win in YOUR stadium? That might leave a mark.
THING NO. 2: CAT CALLS. On a more serious note, Battery all-star Tweeter Austin Savage sent this piece of life-coaching advice out into cyberspace on Tuesday…
Don’t act like you’ve never sang the Meow Mix theme song to a cat
— Austin Savage (@YoungSavy) March 27, 2013
…which prompted this memorable exchange on Thursday, no doubt after the social media marketing intern at Meow Mix did a little Twitter brand keyword search…
What does this all mean? Well, nothing. But you can bet that when Austin scores his next goal, I’ll be in the stands singing “Meow-meow-meow-meow…”
Oh, and for what it’s worth, the one little piece of knowledge I gleaned from this entertaining exchange came from Battery athletic trainer Bobby Weisenberger: The team’s nickname for former Cuban international goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper is “El Gato.” That’s “The Cat,” for those of you who no habla high school Spanglish.
And speaking of soccer and cats, if you’ve never seen the Portlandia/Timbers sketch…
THING NO. 3: CHICAGO MAGIC V. CHARLESTON BATTERY ACADEMY FRIDAY MORNING. I picked this one up from College of Charleston Assistant Coach (and former Battery player) Troy Lesesne on Wednesday (thanks Troy). The South Carolina United Battery Academy 16s and 18s will be playing their Chicago Magic Academy counterparts tomorrow morning at Patriots Point.
The friendlies came about when SCUBA coach Clark Brisson got a call from someone in the Chicago outfit. The Chicago academy came south to hold a minicamp in Myrtle Beach during their players’ spring break, and their coaches were looking to get in another match before heading back up to the Land of Lincoln. Presto-Schedulo, two matches on Friday.
The 18s play at 10 a.m. (Chicago’s are third in their division, Charleston’s are 5th), followed by the 16s at 12:30 (Chicago’s are 5th in their division, Charleston’s are 7th). There’s no admission, and it’s a chance to see 17-year-old forward Hamilton Carlin of Wando High School, who currently leads the 18s with 12 goals.
THING NO. 4: FOR ALL YOU CHELSEA/MAN CITY FANS. I got the heads up on this earlier in the week, because two of my former college roommates have become rabid fans of Chelsea and Manchester City, but it looks like the rumors of a U.S. friendly between the two EPL squads are for real. Book your travel accordingly.
— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) March 28, 2013
THING NO. 5: IT’S BAD TO BE EL TRI RIGHT NOW. The international window has been entertaining, hasn’t it? As the national team players return to their various clubs, we’re left pondering whether the crisis is over for Jurgen Klinsmann’s Yanks, and whether the Burden of National Fan and Media Freakout Worry has shifted south to Mexico. And while most of the world’s attention was probably focused on Europe (Really England? Montenegro?), for those of us on this side of the pond there’s reason for pride in CONCACAF. It’s getting more competitive and interesting each cycle.
THING NO. 6: WEEK 5 OF MLS, WEEK 4 OF THE REGIMENT FANTASY SOCCER LEAGUE COMING UP. So Landon Donovan is back in Los Angeles and talking to reporters. And at 31 it looks like it might be time for German-American Jermaine Jones to play in the U.S. And don’t forget about your MLS fantasy soccer lineups: Three more teams are on a bye, but the big issue for most owners will revolve around this question: Will Graham Zusi be ready to suit up for Sporting Kansas City after two weeks on international duty?
THING NO. 7: LOOK AT THE POSTER BOY FOR THE 2013 BATTERY SCHEDULE. Why, that looks like midfielder Nicki Paterson, No. 8 in your program and No. 1 in team scoring last year with 12 goals in USL PRO.
THING NO. 8: USL REGULAR SEASON PLAY CONTINUES. So yes, the Battery don’t play their road opener for another two weeks, and won’t host a game that counts until March 20, but USL PRO is underway, slowly gaining momentum like a wobbly rock rolling down a homemade skate ramp.
Speaking of USL PRO, here’s more on the Rochester/New England affiliation deal from the excellent Doherty Soccer site. And here’s a new blog for our neighbors to the north in Wilmington. And if you want to see what it looks like when a USL PRO team goes all in for MLS expansion, here’s another data point: They turn their season tickets into keepsakes.
THING NO. 9: THE RICHTER SCALE. The thing that continues to amaze me, particularly at the USL PRO level but also when it comes to MLS clubs, is just how difficult it is to get replies to basic questions unless the person on the other end already knows who you are. They’re all busy, I know, but while the buffalo hunt for Big Media Exposure continues, independent media like this site and other insurgents are getting around the limits of access by cooperating. We knew off the record two weeks ago that Ryan Richter was likely to be signing with Toronto F.C., and suspected that the announcement would come from Canada first. So rather than wait for the press release, we cooperated with the nice folks at the excellent TFC blog Waking the Red to get ready in advance. That way when Toronto wouldn’t return my messages, I had insight from a beat blogger about how the club would use our man Richter. And then I returned the favor.
Soccer is an underdog sport in North America, and independent media is underdog media. Maybe eventually we’ll all figure that out and work together, but until then, we’ll keep looking for ways through the maze.
THING NO. 10: WHAT DOES THE SOUTHERN CONFERENCE/COLONIAL CONFERENCE MOVE MEAN FOR COFC SOCCER? I include this link because it was written by Todd Shanesy, a Spartanburg sportswriter who used to dominate a fantasy football league I’ve been in since 1991, but also because it’s something I need to start considering from a College of Charleston perspective. What does the unraveling of the old Southern Conference, along with the Cougars’ move to the Colonial Athletic Association mean to our soccer programs? Has anyone looked into that question in depth yet?