Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Which United?, MLS 2010 Begins Thursday, and Soccer Maps

Cause United is the greatest football team...

...As the song goes. But which United? Rocket City United? DC United? Well, the Best Eleven blog has put together a list of clubs from around the world that use the moniker. And the list is long... From Kicks United in Anguilla to Zimbabwe's Monomotapa United, there are over 100 clubs in worldwide professional soccer who claim to be United.

In the early days of soccer, a club that had been formed from two or more previous clubs were then called "United", but the success of big clubs like Newcastle United have spawned teams with the nickname around the globe. In recent years, clubs like RCU and DC United have chosen the name to indicate a united community behind their team.

Interestingly, the Best Eleven list does not include the US minor leagues of which we could add Reading United, West Texas United, and Hollywood United from the PDL to our very own Rocket City United.

MLS Kicks Off Thursday Night

Having signed the CBA with their players (more details here), MLS will now be free to kick off the 2010 season on Thursday night as the expansion club Philadelphia Union will travel to Seattle take on the Seattle Sounders on ESPN2 at 8:30 PM Central Time.

Personally, I'm very excited about this season. There are several exciting foreign players who will be bringing a terrific level of play to the league. The Best Eleven blog has some videos of some of the higher profile additions. They get me so pumped for the season.

As always, I'll be catching the action on the league's Direct Kick package that shows nearly all of the games on my TV at home. This season I may also go ahead and sign up for the MLS live streaming service also. Jacob at Southern Soccer has the goods on the full slate of MLS matches on TV this weekend which will all be shown for free on the Direct Kick's free preview weekend. Check them out!

Soccer Geography

I have a fascination with maps. So when I found these two maps recently, I spent quite a bit of time analyzing them.

The Pitch Invasion blog created a terrific map of the US with the number of pro players (MLS or USMNT) per state. Hmm... Alabama is the largest state by population without a single professional in MLS. We're gonna have to do something about that.

The second map appears on Jason Davis' blog for FourFourTwo.com called The Real American Football. It's a simple MLS franchise location map, but what struck me is the grouping of the 4 franchises in the eastern I-95 corridor. They're close enough to create a real traveling fan contingent that you see in European football. With two teams in northwest entering the league from the Pacific NorthWest in 2011 (Portland and Vancouver), there might also be a traveling fan culture brewing there, too. Could this be the start of a new traveling fan phenomenon in MLS?

I wasn't the only one struck by that thought, as Jason Davis also penned an article today about the stadiums being built in the Northeast and Pacific Northwest and how it can affect fan culture for MatchFitUSA.

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