This has been one of those weeks that kept me running from one thing to the next, without a whole lot of time for soccer.
But it’s also been a productive one in some ways. I got to sit down with Battery veteran John Wilson for an interview on Tuesday, and he’ll be the subject of the site’s next player profile. I’ll be asking around for other perspectives on the man, but if you’ve got something you’d like to add to the mix, please send me an email. BTW, when my wife Janet mentioned to one of the bartenders at Moe’s Crosstown on Tuesday evening that I’d just interviewed Wilson, Katie replied “You mean Dub?” Apparently Wilson was well-liked by the staff at Moe’s when he lived in Wagener Terrace.
In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, I published the site’s first player profile on Battery captain Colin Falvey. Like Wilson, Falvey has become something of a recognizable local figure. It didn’t make the profile (which, at 4,000 words, had to stop somewhere), but one of the untold bits about the Battery’s new partnership with Molly Darcy’s is that the contact grew out of Falvey’s friendship with fellow Irishman and Molly Darcy’s pub owner Tommy Snee. Snee chatted about that connection with me briefly at the first Battery away-game livestream party on April 13, but the more definitive version comes from Battery President Andrew Bell, describing the deal that made Molly Darcy’s the club’s official away-game viewing partner.
“Colin knows the guys down there, and they’ve been very supportive of him, they’ve been supportive of players when they’ve gone in there, and fed them,” Bell said the day before the Richmond game. “The team went down there after the championship game last year after the (Three Lions Club) pub closed and had a great time. And I think we’ve been in there twice now for a team event and the most recent was after the Bridge Run and they cooked breakfast for the players, which was fantastic. They’re supporters of the club and they’ve been trying to figure out something that they could do with us and this is a nice fit.”
As soccer fans know, trying to watch a match in a general-interest sports bar in South Carolina can be something of a drag, which is why bars with an emphasis on soccer tend to attract so many members of our tribe. But Snee’s personal attention to the group that came to watch last Saturday was impressive. Molly Darcy’s has set up a prominent viewing area for Battery games, with I believe four different flat-screen televisions, a signed jersey, and displays of Battery memorabilia. The treatment accorded to the fans and players who showed up might have been good business, but it felt more like a proud fan had decided to go all-in to support his local club in his bar. And the sport needs more of that in North America.
In case you missed it
The MLS week got underway on Tuesday with a match between the two teams that will each play twice this week. Since that designation makes New York Red Bulls and Sporting Kansas City the focus of most MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager scheming this week, Sporting Kansas City’s 1-0 road win probably drew out-sized attention from the growing MLS fantasy nerd community. And while the victory at least momentarily elevated SKC to the top spot in the East, it sparked far more dramatic movement in the Regiment’s fantasy league.
Luke Largin started Graham Zusi and Jamison Olave, who combined for 11 points, but made Aurélien Collin his team captain. That was good for a cool 30 all on its own. But Largin’s 41 points from three players still wasn’t enough to claim the top spot in the table. Regiment President Mikey Buytas got there first with 37 points from Collin, Zusi and Dax McCarty.
The week is still in progress, and the battle is not yet won.
Speaking of Zusi
He’s the cover-boy at Overlap, the new digital tablet magazine produced by the staff at MLSsoccer.com and Howler magazine. MLS announced the arrival of the new joint-venture several weeks ago when the first issue of Overlap became available for Apple products, but I didn’t get my first look until April 11, when it finally came out as an Android app.
Not only is the Zusi profile quite good, but Overlap is the kind of North American soccer media that was so difficult to find just a few years ago. Soccer media on our continent has been largely a DIY effort by fans, whether putting out print zines, blogs or even quarterly journals like the fascinating XI.
It doesn’t get a lot of attention, but one of the most brilliant moves that MLS made was to staff up its media operation with serious writers and new-media talent. With all the free media attention given to football and baseball, the NFL and MLB were relatively passive in their approach to generating origianal web content, but MLS seemed to grasp that they would have to use their own writers and experts to get the conversation going. On one level, it’s increased staff overhead. On another, its the best long-term investment the league could have made. Sure, MLS writers miss a lot of tricks on things like injuries and contracts, and can’t be expected to challenge their bosses too strongly. But if we’d had to wait for the market alone to produce quality soccer coverage, we’d still be waiting.
Last month someone asked me where to go to find the best writing about MLS, and I told them without hesitating that the league site remains, top to bottom, the best source for news and commentary on the not just the league, but North Amerasian soccer in general. That’s changing rapidly now.
How much longer before the rising wave of new media attention reaches USL PRO? Well, one could argue that with the expansion of the Union Dues site and its new spinoff Reckless Challenge, the wave is already coming ashore.
There’s a North American soccer identity that’s emerging from all these voices. It may not be apparent now, but it will become clearer.
Erik Clark does it again
College of Charleston assistant men’s soccer coach Troy Lesesne texted in last night to point out that Wando High School senior and future Cougar Erik Clark just did something unheard of. Clark, who won TopDrawerSoccer.com’s High School Player of the Week on April 3, became the award’s first repeat winner on Wednesday.
The senior midfielder was named MVP of the Palmetto Cup. Clark scored seven goals and registered three assists in the Cup tournament. Two of his seven goals came in the 3-0 championship game victory.
Congrats to Clark and Wando.
Speaking of TopDrawerSoccer
As the apparent experts on recruiting and youth development, it’s probably no surprise that the best coverage I’ve seen of U.S. Club Soccer’s id2 Training Camp in Mount Pleasant/Daniel Island last weekend came from their writers. Unfortunately for those of us who aren’t in the recruitment business, you have to be a Premier member to read the full text of their articles about the best boys and best girls performers from the camp.
My web culture find of the week, more for potential than for execution, is LOLMLS.com. If you’re not familiar with the concept of web memes, it’s basically taking an image (preferably one that the cool kids have already anointed with meme status) and putting (preferably clever) words over it.
Most seldom rise above the level of the well-crafted inside joke. But that’s OK.
In honor of LOLMLS, I put together a Battery meme this morning (see top of the page). Worship it.
Then make your own and send them to me.
The Battery play their home opener on Saturday, and I’m headed out to Blackbaud now to do some reporting on that for the game advancer. Which means it’s basically upon us.
The first real professional game that counts for something in Charleston since the USL PRO Championship in September.