Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed - 0 comments
Editor's Note: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. Sometimes we American soccer fans get wrapped up in the day-to-day, Monday morning quarterbacking (or centerbacking), knee-jerk reactions and miss out on the big picture. This weekly column will focus on picking out the larger themes and issues of Major League Soccer and the American game.
By Eric Betts / Senior Crystal Ball Correspondent
There’s still a certain, in some places significant, portion of the sports-going population in this country who will look at you funny when you try to explain the U.S. Open Cup to them.
WIth apologies to the diehards who have been there since Bethlehem Steel was winning tournaments, the vast majority of us have stumbled into the tournament in recent years as supporters or rational soccer-watching beings. This alone is enough to engender some skepticism in the part of the population that believes sporting loyalties are passed down like color-blindness or gingerism, through the bloodlines. They don’t believe in the kind of willful generational shift the USOC has seen that has boosted interest in the tournament in recent years.
Because make no mistake, people should be watching. The tournament has a lot going for it. There’s its history for one – the 100th edition this year! – but to say that we should care about the 2013 running because of all that history is an argument only a baseball person could love, and ignores the ways the Cup combines some of the elements we love most in our sports, including:
Single elimination format: Single elimination makes everything from Pinewood Derbies to Mortal Kombat better. We love it so much we spend the entire month of March voting , and by the year 2024, presidential primaries will be held as a series of four online votes rather than on a state-by-state basis as each party winnows its bracket of 16 contenders down to a lone presidential candidate.
Underdogs: Last time I wrote about the difficulties involved in projecting a player’s performance at different levels of competition. Here’s a chance to find out firsthand what happens when some young amateurs or career lower-leaguers go up against teams a couple of levels up on the pyramid, giving those of us who ordinarily couldn’t care less about a midweek May game between two Midwest teams the slightest bit of a rooting interest to serve as a foothold into the match.
Rivalries: With those underdogs comes a whole new ecosystem of local or regional grudge matches. Last Tuesday, PDL darlings FC Tucson dropped in-state rivals and USL-Pro debutantes Phoenix FC in the first USOC game either team has ever played. Last season’s fourth-round featured a much-anticipated grudge match between eventual-finalists Seattle and their bitter regional rivals...Cal FC?
But caring about the USOC is still a learned response. As sports fans in America, we’re trained not to give a crap about assorted cups and prizes. Why should our team waste energy and resources competing for a trophy when trophies are what everyone gets at the end of the T-ball season for participating?
Our sporting landscape is littered with adjunct and inessential competitions: all-star games in every sport, 34 out of 35 college football bowl games, the AFC South. Quick, name the last three winners of the Maui Invitational? Do they still have the Maui Invitational? How about the World Baseball Classic; is that still a thing?
Even those of us who care deeply about the world of soccer hold onto some of these attitudes. If you’re like me, then more than one of the soccer people you follow on Twitter thought they were being super-clever when they congratulated Chelsea for winning the European NIT on Wednesday. That’s a little unfair – no one knows who won the 2013 NIT – but even UEFA is making noise about trying to find more efficient ways of making money than a second-class tournament.
For us, the currency of success is championships. The only trophies that matter are the larger, more famous ones that come with titles, the ones that Yankees teams the world over can shove straight up their you-know-where. I grew up a Braves fan, and the regret I feel looking at this picture outweighs the pride. (Yes, we were spoiled and Atlanta is on the whole a terrible baseball city. But still.)
Which is what makes the USOC interesting from a sporting perspective: By existing in that gap between top-level championship and utter insignificance, it pushes us to ask what makes a competition matter in the first place. Is it the stakes or the audience? Whose caring matters more, the players or the fans?
There are some fans who care deeply about their team’s fate in the USOC, and some for whom it would be a nifty bonus, the cherry on top of a successful season. I don’t question the first group’s passion, though I do believe that passion stems more than a little from passive overseas peer pressure; namely, that our model soccer nations all have high-stakes cup competitions that supporters care deeply about, so clearly since we are becoming a soccer nation ours should be high-stakes and deeply-cared-about as well.
Here’s the thing: The U.S. Open Cup doesn’t have to matter for you to appreciate its benefits. It’s a well-constructed and wonderfully fun sporting event on its own. The next time someone looks at you funny, that’s all you need to say.
South Africa 2010. No matter where you were in the world, when American soccer fans saw Landon Donovan's strike hit the back of the net, beer went errrrrvrywhere. The pubs erupted with World Cup joy. Lucky for us we don't have to wait four years for an equalizing moment. Major League Soccer is jam-packed with amazing strikes, goals, headers, and golazos. Every week there are goals that make you leap out of your seat. Since great goals often come from the most unlikely of places you're often not prepared when that beer of yours goes tumbling over in that moment of goal-scoring ecstasy.
In the spirit of these unforgettable moments, we at the Free Beer Movement offer you a fitting pairing to replace that spilt pint. Each week we bring you a carefully selected beer to go perfectly with the best scoring moments MLS has to offer. Enjoy responsibly.
Goal of the Week Ten: Luis Gil – Real Salt Lake
Major League Soccer fans awarded Real Salt Lake's Luis Gil the 2013 Goal of the Week Award for week #10. The RSL midfielder headed home his second goal of the year; this time against the Vancouver Whitecaps. In this goal sequence the ball only touches three RSL players start to finish. It begins on the home endline with GK Nick Rimando blasting a goal kck forward across the pitch. As the whole RSL offense bombs forward, Joao Plata catches the ball as it slows outside the Whitecaps’ 18 yard box. He sends in the cross to a fleet-footed Luis Gil who is crashing the box like a bull in a china shop. Gil heads the ball into the net with his last bit of energy before rolling to the ground from a collision with Joe Cannon.
This teenager is stacked to the gills with talent. In his honor (and your soggy socks) we at the Free Beer Movement recommend you replace your "Spilt Pint" with a Ballast Point brew. Ballast Point Brewing Co (San Diego, CA) originates from Southern California, much like our young, goal-scoring prodigy. All of their beverages are fantastic, but the "Wahoo" Wheat Beer is the recommendation this week. Summer is quickly approaching, so it is time to start transitioning your taste buds to the refreshing flavors of hefeweizens (as well as other summery beer categories). We like “Wahoo” because it succinctly summarizes the end to end sprinting motion of Gil’s bombing header and subsequent spiral to the turf.
Ballast Point is available across the country at better beer stores and bars. Pick one up today.
Until the next one… cheers to good beer and good goals!
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed - 0 comments
D.C. United, in collaboration with DC Brau Brewing Company announced that DC Brau will brew a limited edition D.C. United specific beer. While the beer is currently without a name, D.C. United fans have the opportunity to name the new brew. Fans can submit their suggestions at "Brand the Brew" on the United website.
The special DC Brau craft beer, a golden ale, is crafted specifically for D.C. United and its fans to enjoy. One thousand gallons of the beer will be produced and will be made available exclusively at participating D.C. United official bar partners and at the DC Brau Brewing Company.
“My motivation for making this particular beer with D.C. United came from a willingness to make an ale that all soccer fans can enjoy,” said DC Brau President and Head Brewer Jeff Hancock. “United fans drink all kinds of different beer, and with this particular ale I wanted it to reach a broad spectrum of palettes from those who drink everything from light lagers to hoppy pale ales. There's a little something for everybody in this Golden Ale!”
The D.C. United “Brand the Brew” contest launched yesterday, and will run until May 29. The final list of fan suggestions will be given to a panel of D.C. United players to choose the winning name to appear on beer. The winner will receive a field-side D.C. United gameday experience for two and bragging rights for naming the new D.C. United and DC Brau beer. The brew is planned to become available for order on June 11.
“The unifying factor between D.C. United and DC Brau is the same element that connects both of us to our fans,” said DC Brau CEO Brandon Skall. “Pride: Pride in what we produce, pride in our city and pride in ourselves!”
“Anyone who walks through the Lot 8 tailgate will undoubtedly see DC Brau’s distinctive silver cans and Capitol Dome logo in the hands of our most ardent fans,” said D.C. United Marketing Manager Andrew Minucci. “The quality of their product is what our fans demand and we are excited to quench their thirst by combining the beer they crave with the team they love.”
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed - 0 comments
At the Free Beer Movement we aren't content with just helping "build American soccer one beer at a time". We're also focused on doing more with our organization.
That means using the power of suds for social change.
On Wednesday, May 29th we're hosting "Good Brews, Social Change" (link to RSVP on Facebook) in FBM HQ's Austin, Texas at Hops and Grain Craft Brewery. Hops and Grain is one of Austin's best breweries and they've got a World Beer Cup Gold Medal to prove it (for their flagship "Alt-eration" a German alt beer).
"Good Brews, Social Change" is being held to benefit the Homeless World Cup, a global organization that serves over 250,000 players in over 70 countries. The founder of the Homeless World Cup, Mel Young, is in Austin to be the keynote speaker at the North American Society for Sport Management and before that speech we're hosting him at Hops and Grain for a meet-and-greet.
From 5pm to 9pm a $20 donation will get you in the door, a Hops and Grain pint glass (for you to keep), and five pours of any of their great beers on tap.
Plus you get to mingle with us.... and Mel, too.
And don't worry we'll have the U.S. men's game versus Belgium on somewhere, too.
It’s not the Champions League final. It’s not even the most exciting match on tap this week. Yet the Europa League final means midweek soccer and the chance to drink beers in the afternoon, so there’s no reason to miss Wednesday’s game. Besides, there’s something strangely compelling about the match between Chelsea and Benfica.
First of all, it’s not every year that last season’s Champions League winners crash out of the group stages and wind up in the Europa League final. Most managers would’ve crawled into a corner to lick their injured pride, but Rafa Benitez outfitted Fernando Torres in a Zorro mask and went charging through Thursday nights. Something about his superhero costume perked Zorres right up, and the Blues cruised through courtesy of his goals – although, it must be said, Chelsea was quite generous about allowing their opponents back into every match.
Then there’s Benfica, who haven’t lifted a European trophy in 51 years. They last won the European Cup in 1962, with Bela Guttmann at the helm. But after beating Real Madrid, the Hungarian demanded a pay raise. When Benfica refused, Guttmann left, but not before cursing the club, claiming they’d never boast of European glory again. Interestingly enough, Benfica have made it to a European final six times since Guttmann’s pronouncement – will this seventh time finally see them break the curse?
Of course, we all know what’s most important about the Europa League final: the beer you choose to sip while watching. With the match taking place in Amsterdam, you might be tempted to grab a Heineken. Resist this urge. There’s really nothing that sets Heineken apart from Budweiser or Coors, except that it comes in a prettier bottle. You can do better.
For the best Dutch beer, you’ll need to find La Trappe, which has almost certainly been written about on this site before – but it’s pretty close to perfection, so I make no apologies. La Trappe used to be called Koningshoeven in the U.S., but the brewery realized absolutely no one outside of Holland could pronounce the beer, and made the smart decision to use La Trappe. Koningshoeven actually brews eight beers (try Isid’or if you get the chance) but usually the only one you can find in the States is the quadrupel.
Prior to sitting down to write this column, I had no idea that the “quad” style was modeled on the La Trappe Quad. It’s the prototype, and while other brewers can gussy theirs up with added fruits or oaked barrels, they’ve yet to make a simple quadrupel as flawless as this one. Be sure you pour it into your Trappist glass – come on, we’re all beer snobs here, and you know you’ve got one – and don’t be worried when there’s little or no head. Instead, take a big whiff. Mmmm…caramel apples. Sure, you can fancy up that description with “Belgian yeast” or “spiced dark fruits,” but really, it’s caramel apples.
Now, time to taste. Despite a 10% ABV, the alcohol in this quad isn’t at all overwhelming. The taste has some of that caramel you’ve been smelling, along with raisins and plums. It’s not too sweet though, ending on a slightly bitter note and leaving a bit of an alcohol burn behind.
I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer--I've tasted over a thousand different brews, am a bit obsessed with my "33 Beers" notebooks, and love my Untappd app. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.