Today begins the silly season, that short but potentially delicious few weeks when Lowcountry soccer fans have more soccer to soak up than anyone could possibly do justice.
EPL ON NBC: This morning at 7:45, NBC Sports broadcast the first of 69 EPL matches that the NBC network of channels will bring to the United States… just between now and Dec. 1.
For those of you keeping score at home, that’s the biggest influx of free-to-air soccer matches in North American history. And that’s before you count the NBC Sports Extra Time service, which lets anyone with a cable or satellite provider log-in, give their cable information, and then live stream every single EPL match*
(*When it decides to work without crashing, as many people experienced Saturday morning…)
Here in the Lowcountry, we had Liverpool fans turning out to Madra RuaPark Circle for that 7:45 a.m. season opener (the Reds beat visiting Stoke City 1-0). They’re an official supporters group, and that’s their official bar, so no surprises. Charsenal members watched their team’s 10 a.m. match (a 1-3 home loss to Aston Villa) at the newest soccer bar on the peninsula, Local 616 on Meeting St. I’ve heard from one person that Manchester United fans were meeting at Mercury Bar on Upper King for the 12:30 p.m. match at Swansea (a 4-1 Man U win), but then someone else told me Man U fans would be meeting at Triangle Char and Bar. So I don’t know what to believe.
Then again, there are so many Man U fans, it’s easy to believe they’ll be gathering at more than one place.
For all you Tottenham Hotspur fans, SC Spurs will be hosting multiple viewings of Sunday’s match against freshly promoted Crystal Palace at 8:30 a.m. In Charleston, go to Madra Rua Park Circle. In Columbia, it’s The British Bulldog. In Greenville it’s at Gringos. York County Spurs will be joining the NC Spurs group in Charlotte. And the Hilton Head Spurs are taking the week off.
I’m not sure whether any organized (or quasi-organized) fan groups met at Molly Darcy‘s on East Bay at the Market, but it looks like at least one soccer fanatic enjoyed the first morning of the EPL season there quite a bit.
— Nicki Paterson (@nickipaterson8) August 17, 2013
Meanwhile, just down the street from our World Headquarters, EPL fans met at Moe’s Crosstown — one of the first bars to carry international games here in Charleston — to conduct their annual EPL fantasy draft.
If you know about any other organized, or kinda-sorta-organized, fan activities, for ANY league (and I’m particularly thinking MLS, Liga MX, La Liga or Bundesliga) please email me at dan@danconover. com, or just leave me a comment. This site wants to be the place where unaffiliated soccer fans go to find their tribes, and tribes find their bars.
MLS STRETCH RUN: The MLS regular season runs through Oct. 27th, so while there are plenty of matches remaining, we’re getting into the time of year where every result has big implications on for the playoffs.
Tonight’s first MLS match is DC United at Montreal Impact at 7 p.m. The featured NBC game of the week is Philadelphia Union at New York Red Bulls at 8 p.m. (NBC Sports, not NBC proper).
Seattle at Houston at 9 p.m. is a big game, as is Vancouver Whitecaps at surging Colorado, and West-leading RSL at the LA Galaxy at 10:30. Then at 11 it’s my Portland Timbers hosting FC Dallas.
All MLS games are available either via cable or the MLS Live streaming service, which can be had for $39.99 at the moment.
FINAL NIGHT OF THE USL PRO REGULAR SEASON: By quirk of the schedule, the Charleston Battery were the first team to finish the 2013 regular season. Which is why while Charlotte was playing the first of back-to-back road matches, your Charleston Battery was out doing this:
But what about the rest of the league? Here’s what’s left, it’s all on tonight at uslnation.com, and here’s what you need to know…
RICHMOND AT PITTSBURGH: With the Commissioner’s Cup and top seeding in the playoffs already nailed down, Richmond has nothing to play for but pride. Staying healthy for the first round will trump that. Pittsburgh has qualified for the playoffs and could improve their seeding with a win. CLUELESS PREDICTION: Pittsburgh 2, Richmond 2.
HARRISBURG CITY ISLANDERS AT DAYTON DUTCH LIONS: This one matters a lot more for Dayton, which must win to hold off late-surging Wilmington. With a win and some luck, Dayton could climb as high as the No. 6 seed, thanks to head-to-head against Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. Harrisburg can regain the No. 3 seed from Charleston with a win or draw, but cannot be knocked out of the 4th spot by a lower club. CLUELESS PREDICTION: Harrisburg 1, Dayton 2.
CHARLOTTE EAGLES AT ORLANDO CITY LIONS: Charlotte held onto the dream of hosting a playoff game into the dying minutes at Tampa on Friday before conceding a 3-3 equalizer. The draw put them squarely in fifth place, with no way to climb and no way to fall. Orlando have already finished second, but might be motivated by ending the season tied with Richmond for points at 54 (if the Kickers lose). CLUELESS PREDICTION: Charlotte 1, Orlando 3.
ROCHESTER RHINOS AT LA BLUES: The Blues can secure the 6th slot with a win, but could drop as far as eighth with a loss to Rochester and wins by Pittsburgh and Dayton. CLUELESS PREDICTION: LA Blues 3, Rochester 0.
ANTIGUA AT WILMINGTON: Wilmington’s scenario is simple. If Harrisburg wins at Dayton and the Hammerhead beat the 0-25-0 Antigua Barracua, Wilmington takes the final playoff spot. Anything else and they’re done. Antigua’s scenario is simple, too. Play the game and go home. CLUELESS PREDICTION: Wilmington 4, Antigua 1.
So the most likely scenarios have the Battery hosting either Charlotte or Los Angeles next Saturday. And unless you’re Three Lions Club member, that means you need to get tickets. Here’s Suzanne Sudzina Brandon, the Battery’s director of ticket sales:
Tickets for the quarterfinal playoff match will go on sale Monday at noon priced at $10 – $18 with discounts available for groups of 10 or more.
Charleston Battery fans who put down a 20% deposit for 2014 Season Tickets will receive complimentary tickets for the Battery’s USL PRO quarterfinal match.
To renew your season tickets, please call or email me ASAP with an updated credit card number so I can secure your seats for next year and provide you with complimentary tickets for Saturday!
REGIMENT PLAYER APPRECIATION PICNIC ON SUNDAY: The annual event starts at noon on Sunday at the Sweet Gum Shelter at Palmetto Islands County Park in Mount Pleasant. The Regiment will be providing hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, pork tenderloin and beverages.
If you’re planning to attend, bring a dish. Bring a side dish if your last name begins with a letter between A and H, and bring a desert if your last name begins with a letter between I and Z.
MEANWHILE, AT PATRIOT’S POINT: The College of Charleston men play their first exhibition match of the 2013 season Sunday in Orlando at 2 p.m. But they’ll play their first home exhibition next Saturday at 7 p.m. at Patriots Point. In other words, their match starts 30 minutes before the Battery’s first playoff game on the 24th.
The College of Charleston women are already farther along, losing 0-2 to USC on Tuesday in an exhibition at Patriots Point, and then beating Georgia State 3-2 in Atlanta on Friday.
They’ll play crosstown rival Charleston Southern at Patriots Point on Friday at 7 p.m. So we’ll be there for that one.
The Citadel also has a women’s soccer team, and we’d be happy to cover it, if they’d ever return an email.