Five ways you can keep supporting USA soccer

Congratulations to the millions of American sports fans who started paying attention to the United States men’s soccer team over the last few weeks at the World Cup!

No, really, I’m not being sarcastic this time — you’ve been awesome. Tweeting about the team’s chances, the watershed draw against England, the stunning way they won the group, and then the heartbreaking loss to Ghana, when the heart-attack inducing boys in red, white, and blue simply didn’t have the legs or the gas left in the proverbial tank to make one more comeback.

Maybe you even went to a bar, or watched some of these games with friends and family, or got your kids excited about the sport. Extra points if you did! (My three-year-old now asks “Did Dempsey fall down?” every time I yell his name. More extra points if you understand why that’s especially funny!)

So here’s the thing: I know from experience that it’s VERY EASY to COMPLETELY FORGET this sport exists (outside of video games, naturally) for the next four years.



If you’d like to see the team win next time, there are a whole mess of ways you can help.

Get excited and stay excited about the prospect of this country actually excelling at the sport the rest of the world plays.

Start here:

  1. Follow the #USMNT hashtag on Twitter: OK, this is just too easy. #USMNT stands for United States Men’s National Team, and that’s where you’ll find the hardcore supporters, organizations, bloggers, and fans. That hashtag will let you know when the team is playing, how players are developing, and lead you to great blogs and other folks on Twitter to follow. This is simple, just go ahead and save the search in your favorite Twitter machine now. I’ll wait here…
  2. Subscribe to a few US-heavy soccer blogs: Again, pretty easy, you know how this works. I recommend The Shin Guardian, the official US Soccer blog, and The Yanks Are Coming. You’ll find more from there, and from the Twitter hashtag.
  3. Buy yourself a t-shirt: Also remarkably simple to do, and you get a fine piece of clothing that comes in handy on July 4th, too. Or at your kid’s soccer games. I’m partial to this one, a replica of the team’s current throwback-ish away jersey.
  4. Go to a professional soccer game: Sounds crazy, right? I mean, how are you going to get to England or Spain or Italy to see a professional soccer game? But wait, wait, we have our very own pro soccer league these days, and it’s come a long way from the days of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. Not only is the MLS a respectable soccer league with folks like Landon Donovan, David Beckham, and Thierry Henry making appearances, but it’s also likely that there’s a team near your town. I know it’s time for me to start supporting DC United, for one, but you’ll find teams in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA, Boston, and even Kansas City, San Jose (again), and Columbus. Support your local team, cheer them on, and in the process, you’ll be putting your money where your mouth is, helping develop American talent for the national team. Bonus round: If you’re anywhere near the NY/NJ metro area, you can catch the U.S. national team, featuring a whole bunch of the guys you’ve been watching on TV the last two weeks, take on BRAZIL in a friendly exhibition, on August 10 at the New Meadowlands. Protip: If you’re thinking of going, check prices with fan clubs like Sam’s Army (official-ish, conventional, family-friendly) and the American Outlaws (young, fun, raucous) before throwing money at Ticketmaster.
  5. Play more soccer: Want to learn about the game, get excited, and stay excited? Jump in. If your kids are excited, get them into a fall league (or even a week-long summer camp). If you’re excited, search for local indoor leagues, or if you live in some major metro full of hipsters, you might find a cool co-ed outdoor league for adults. These things are everywhere, and players of a wide variety of skill levels appear to be welcome.

Yankee debriefing

Last week, the Yankees won the World Series.

You may not know this about me, but I, yes, I am a fan of baseball’s New York Yankees.

After weeks of Paying Attention To Baseball, which I haven’t done with any real passion or regularity since Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, it’s been over for days now, and I’ve gone back to spending free time in the evenings (after the toddler is asleep) puttering around, doing little bits of work, or obsessively playing games on my phone, among other distractions.

But I’m still paying attention… So, here are a few links and notes to commemorate the Yankees season.

Watching Yankees Spending
Published at Subtraction on November 8, 2009.
Khoi Vinh crunches numbers on baseball salaries as a share of a team’s total revenue to defend my beloved Yankees’ free-spending ways.
I’ve always thought, too, that vilifying the Yankees payroll was a perspective that lacked dimension. Yes, it’s a consistently stratospheric number, but isn’t it significant, too, that by making their home in New York the Yankees are at the epicenter of the biggest baseball market on the planet?

Yankees Closer Mariano Rivera’s Postseason Performance
Published at The New York Times on November 5, 2009.
Fantastic New York Times graphic detailing every batter Mariano Rivera has ever faced in the postseason.
He has allowed only 2 home runs, has 39 saves, and has a 0.74 e.r.a. over 88 postseason games. A batter-by-batter look at his playoff career.

The Yankees at the beginning
Published at The Greensboro News & Record on November 5, 2009.
John Robinson pulls a few classic pieces of minor league baseball coverage out of his paper’s archives on the occasion of the Yankees winning their 27th world championship last night.
Jeter’s first mention in our pages came Aug. 26, 1992: Derek Jeter , the Yankees’ No. 1 draft choice and the sixth player selected overall in the June amateur draft, made his Hornets’ debut at shortstop, hitting a home run in his second at-bat. He also committed an error.

Phillies make Mariano Rivera work, rough night for Charlie Manuel
Published at Sports Illustrated on October 30, 2009.
Tom Verducci on Mariano Rivera’s long outing in Game 2 and related topics.
Rivera is so good that it has come to this: he throws two shutout innings and the opponent can find hope in his pitch counts and their swings against him.

Seats of Gold
Published at ESPN Outside the Lines on October 3, 2009.
An reporter takes one for the team, sitting in the most expensive seats in the new Yankee Stadium, sipping champagne and spooning house-made relish on his gourmet sausage… Also, why those seats were mostly empty all season.
And so, ironically, everyone actually lost because everyone won too much. Wall Street folks wanted tickets to close deals. The fans thought they could use Wall Street greed to get something for nothing. The Yankees figured if someone was making all that money off their product, it should be them. These are the things I’m thinking about in the car to the stadium.