The wait is almost over! Just under two weeks until the MLS is back in full swing, which means you have just 10 days left to sign up for MLS Fantasy League!
This year Ruffneck Scarves has teamed up with The Cooligans to bring you all the best that Fantasy League has to offer coupled with some super awesome prizes! Win cold hard cash, scarves from yours truly, and swag from On The Volley Apparel.
If you aren't convinced yet? Here's five reasons why you should join in on the Fantasy League fun.
Ready to sign up?
Or sign up manually at fantasy.mlssoccer.com League Code: 7163-1507
It's no secret that a custom scarf fundraiser with Ruffneck Scarves is a great way to raise money for your team. But, did you know on average teams earn $11 in profit per scarf sold? That's a whole lot of dough! Selling 100 scarves could earn your team enough cash for anything from new uniforms to renting a bus for away tournaments.
What would you buy with your Custom Scarf Fundraiser?
Ruffneck Scarves is proud announce our latest partnership with Special Olympics USA. To help support the 210 Team USA athletes as they head to the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Austria, Ruffneck has created a limited edition Special Olympics scarf with proceeds from each purchase donated to Special Olympics USA.
#Cheer4USA in style and help support an incredible cause and incredible athletes. Order yours HERE
The Special Olympics are a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering individuals with intellectual disabilities through the power of sport. When the focus is switched to ability instead of disability the possibilities are endless. Sports have the transformative power to harness strength, instill confidence, create a sense of involvement and community, push individuals to break through mental and physical barriers, and improve health. Team USA is just 1 of 169 countries that participate in the Special Olympics, but they share a common mission:
"Through the power of sports, people with intellectual disabilities discover new strengths and abilities, skills and success. Our athletes find joy, confidence and fulfillment -- on the playing field and in life. They also inspire people in their communities and elsewhere to open their hearts to a wider world of human talents and potential... Special Olympics works to spread compassion and acceptance in a way that can unite the world. Our goal is to awaken everyone -- and every community -- to each person’s common humanity."
To learn more about the Special Olympics Organization and Special Olympics USA we encourage you to visit the links below:
Special Olympics World Winter Games 2017 - Austria
Special Olympics USA Games 2018 -Seattle
After what seemed like forever, January has finally arrived and Bruce gets his first chance to build a USMNT roster after over a decade away. January Camp, sarcastically dubbed “Camp Cupcake,” is notoriously less than prestigious as far as national team duty is concerned. A hodge-podge group of players who have danced on the fringe of being considered for the national team player pool (or who are on their way out), called in to train together and play a couple B-list friendlies. However, this year the stakes are significantly higher.
After miserable showings in 2016, the USMNT has found themselves with little room for error if they intend to catch their flight for Russia. Sitting at the bottom of the Hexagonal isn’t an ideal scenario particularly for a newly appointed coach. This January Camp will be critical in establishing some depth and confidence going into March qualifiers.
Sifting through available talent (players competing with European clubs are unavailable), Bruce Arena has compiled a diverse group of 32 MLS players who hope to earn themselves a roster spot come March.
As soon as USSF released Jurgen Klinsmann USMNT fans wishfully wondered which Klinny black listed players might get released from their dungeons. Bruce did not come to disappoint. Dax McCarty, Chad Marshall, Chris Pontius, Darlington Nagbe, Matt Hedges and Benny Feilhaber; all known to be out of favor with Klinsmann, all getting another shot from Arena. Considering age for a couple of these players, a serious role on the first team is likely a fleeting reality, but their club performances at very least merit them an honest shot.
Kellyn Acosta has been called up as a midfielder. Can I get a frick-yeah for playing players in their natural positions! Acosta has been utilized on the USMNT as a left-back. Some games he has done alright, while other games he has sincerely struggled. Yet for his club team (FC Dallas) he is a defensive midfielder, and he shines. I know there are a select few players that have the versatility to succeed in more than one position, but performance speaks for itself.
One major concern about Bruce Arena reclaiming his position of USMNT head coach came from comments he made in 2013 concerning foreign-born players.
“Players on the national team should be–and this is my own feeling–they should be Americans. If they’re all born in other countries, I don’t think we can say we are making progress.”
He has since retracted this statement saying, “I will embrace all players who are eligible to play.” Luckily it seems Arena is sticking true to that word naming, among several other dual citizen players, Kekuta Menneh who just recently received his US citizenship in September 2016. Menneh a Gambian-American has been a standout with the Vancouver Whitecaps after being picked up as the 4th overall pick in the 2013 MLS Superdraft. At just 22 years old he has a lot to offer in terms of speed and creativity, and we are looking forward to see him meet this opportunity head on.
Let’s face it. Looking over the league, the MLS is seriously lacking American born strikers. With Clint Dempsey out indefinitely due to health concerns our hopes fall on a very limited player pool, or more a puddle. When we have to resort to continually calling in Chris Wondolowski, it is clear we are lacking options. In his defense Wondo has continued to perform well for his club, which at least gives some sort of explanation why USMNT coaches call upon him time after time. But when club success does not translate to the national team, after numerous failed attempts it is time to move on. Unfortunately there isn’t much else to choose from. Jozy Altidore had a sensational season with Toronto and will likely bare the weight of lead striker alongside Bobby Wood when he is available for qualifiers, and MLS Rookie of the Year Jordan Morris will more than likely fall next in line. Fingers crossed that all stay fit and maybe our severe lack of strike force won’t matter?
So I’m basically going to contradict something I said above, but stay with me here. Graham Zusi, not unfamiliar with the USMNT, has received another call up. No big shocker there. However, instead of playing in midfield where he has played for the USA in the past, he will be giving a go at right-back. Playing players out of position was one of the biggest complaints about Klinsmann’s coaching style in the past, since he tried to do so time and time again with little success. Arena changing Zusi’s role from midfielder to defender, however actually makes a fair amount of sense.
Firstly, Zusi has some experience as a right-back as he has filled the position on various occasions for Sporting KC. Arena got to see him play the position first hand while he was coaching LA Galaxy, and obviously Zusi impressed. We are also limited in options for our defense, and currently have a wealth of midfield options. Depending on who Arena favors to lead his midfield, Zusi will be fighting for a role. Though if Zusi puts on a solid performance in the back line, he could become an essential ingredient in the USMNT recipe for success moving forward.
All things considered, Arena's January Camp has a lot of potential. In an ideal world, calling in some younger talent to have thier go at the big stage is always nice, but the current reality is that we need results. The number one priority is qualifying for the 2018 World Cup through whatever means necessary. Luckily for Arena he has a 32-man roster loaded with players who are more than ready to prove themselves worthy of suiting up for their country.
For some it was a year to remember, for others it's a year they'd like to forget, but regardless of how you view it 2016 was an incredibly exciting year of soccer. But no year would be complete without some really cool, totally credible, not at all fabricated, super awesome 2016 Ruffneck Awards.
Kei Kamara (New England Revolution)- Haters are gonna hate, and maybe give you a yellow card… but keep on dancing Kei! During a Decision Day goal celebration Kei Kamara gave his fans a little taste of his dancing skill in the form of a booty popping twerk. The official, obviously insanely jealous of his dancing prowess, booked Kamara for excessive celebration. He must have known he was going toing to win the Ruffneck Best Dancer award and was celebrating early…
Most Likely To Succeed:
FC Cincinnati (USL)- 2016 was FC Cincinnati’s inaugural season but from the packed stands and quality of play, you would have never know it. Over the course of the season FC Cincy demolished attendance records, then unsatisfied with that they obliterated the record they had already broke. Their final match of the season set the final single game attendance record drawing 24,376 fans, rocketing their final season average 17,296 (larger than a handful of 1st tier MLS clubs). A friendly between FC Cincinnati and EPL’s Crystal Palace over the summer drew a sold out crowd, and became the largest soccer audience in Ohio state history. Combine the incredible fan base and obvious team support with the fact the team made a run to the playoffs in its first year, there is no doubt that we will be seeing a lot more FC Cincy in the future.
Best Dressed (Player):
Andrea Pirlo (NYCFC)- Take notes guys, this 37 year old Italian stallion knows a thing or two about cleaning himself up, after all no one said football has to be frumpy. Pirlo has been spotted all over New York styled in modern suits to cool and casual duds that have inspired blogs, Pinterest boards, and swooning middle aged women. From the beard, to the hair, to his accent, to his clothes… Let’s face it no one else even has a chance.
Best Dressed (Club):
Kingston Stockade FC (NPSL)- First impressions matter, and Stockade FC they dressed to impress in their inaugural season. Black and white is the most classic color combination around, and is by far the easiest to mess up. Stockades’s 2016 kit was a perfect marriage of traditional design with modern influence, and the bright pop of orange was just enough to add edge without being distracting. The vertical grey bars seamlessly incorporated aspects of their team crest, and overall I don’t think this kit could get any better.
Most Inspirational Player:
Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride/USWNT)- Anyone who is familiar with Ashlyn Harris’s story knows she had a trying childhood filled with addiction, poverty, and mental illness. Soccer has been an invaluable tool to help her cope and escape from the harshness of reality. Fast forward to 2016, Harris has turned her past struggles with addiction and depression into a tool for helping others overcome their own personal demons. She is heavily involved with the non-profit “To Write Love on Your Arms,” which supports people seeking treatment for depression, addiction, self-harm, and suicide, as well as various other humanitarian projects around the world. Most recently she returned from a trip to Liberia to work with Monrovia Football Academy, were she worked with children to help develop confidence, skills, and a sense of purpose through soccer. Many people connect with Ashlyn’s story on a personal level, and her courage to continue to share her story has helped countless others to accept themselves, realize that it’s okay to need help sometimes, and to have the courage to love their flaws. Ashlyn Harris was honored this year as the NWSL’s 2016 Goalkeeper of the Year, proving that it doesn’t matter where you came from, it only matters where you’re going.
Biggest Social Media Troll:
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union/USMNT)- Bedoya has certainly made a name for himself online, and no it’s not for his delicious food pictures on Instagram. Over the course of the year Bedoya has become notorious for stirring up controversy and sharing his unfiltered opinions online. From comments on the Abby Wambach DUI scandal in April, to a straight up public show down with former USMNT legend and FOX Sports analyst Eric Wynalda. He even went as far as to take a jab at Wynalda’s wife’s 98’ affair with his USMNT teammate… low blow man, low blow. If you’re looking to follow Bedoya’s social media adventures you can probably find him under a bridge somewhere, but you may have to pay a troll toll. Or you can just find him on Twitter for free @AleBedoya17
Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns/USWNT)- We have a pretty good source that can confirm that the only spice found in Tobin Heath's cupboard is nutmeg, and it seems she gets her best practice by toying with her teammates.
Most Likely to Have Matching Outfits with Their Dog:
Stefan Frei- When Frei wasn't making the save of his career during the MLS Cup final, he was spending his year snapping pics of his wrinkly pooches. We can hardly blame him for his puppy obsession, his Shar-Peis' Nala and Cloi are almost too much rolly-polly cuteness to handle. Frei has even picked a day of the week to dedicate to their adorableness; #WrinkleWednesday. Next instagram post will no doubt be a full family photo, complete with matching sweaters.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Since the beginning, Ruffneck Scarves was founded on our personal love for the game and the world-wide soccer community. Creating supporters scarves for eager soccer fans is how we generate our means, but it has also given us the incredible opportunity to give back and connect with the community we care so much for in a scale we never could have imagined. Though partnerships both large and small, Ruffneck has worked with multiple organizations that are trying to make a positive impact on their community, bonded through the love of the beautiful game.
During this season of giving, we wanted to share some of our favorite partners, who are doing some incredible work to make the world a better place.
Soccer Without Borders: SWB uses soccer as a means to connect with under-served youth, providing them with confidence, courage, and skills to overcome obstacles, gain a sense of community, and realize personal worth. In 2015 Ruffneck Scarves was given the honor of becoming the official scarf provider for SWB, helping them raise funds to connect with more children and communities in need. The work that Soccer Without Borders is doing all over the world is truly remarkable, but there is always more to be done. Learn more about what they do, and how you can contribute time or resources to "Playing for Change." LEARN MORE HERE.
Luka the Lion Foundation: Sometimes is is tragedy that sparks the fire to be something bigger than ourselves. This is definitely the case of Luke the Lion Foundation. After losing their brave son to a rare pediatric disease on Dec. 1st 2015, Luka's parents chose to be inspired by Luka's strength, resilience, and spirit. On January 28th, 2016, Luke the Lion Foundation became an official non-profit, and Ruffneck has had the awesome pleasure of supporting the cause through the Luke the Lion #ScarfChallenge. Luke the Lion Foundation's goal is, "[to] raise awareness for pediatric rare disease and support patients and their families so nobody ever feels alone." LEARN MORE HERE
Sounders Scarf Drive: The Seattle Sounders FC do multiple events each year to give back to their community. From supporting the local humane society to hosting 5k's to fund-raise for the Washington Global Health Alliance. Being based out of Seattle, Ruffneck has had the opportunity to be involve in several of these events. In a recent scarf drive aimed at raising money and collecting warm winter wear for homeless youth at YouthCare, Ruffneck Scarves was able to donate a couple thousand scarves to the cause. For each item donated, Starbucks matched the item with $1 towards to YouthCare. The Sounders host events regularly, see whats coming up, how to get involved, and LEARN MORE HERE.
Major League Soccer (MLS Works): Similar to the Sounders, the MLS takes on several charitable campaigns a year to raise funds and awareness for multiple causes and organizations. This past September during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the MLS launched a huge campaign to "Kick Childhood Cancer." Ruffneck got to play a special role in the campaign as the producer of the "Kick Childhood Cancer" club scarves designed by Sophia Chang, with proceeds benefiting the Children's Oncology Group. LEARN MORE HERE
Ruffneck Scarves truly believes that very person can make a difference. Whether its donating a couple scarves to support a small, youth club auction, raising money to fight homelessness in our community, or volunteering our time and resources to raise awareness for a cause, Ruffneck Scarves will always strive to give back. There are opportunities all around us to make the world a better place. Sometimes time is more valuable than money. Get involved, give what you can, and we will continue to succeed together.
The MLS Cup is just days away, and two teams find themselves battling for the ultimate prize for the first time. Toronto FC look to end their 23 year championship drought, while Seattle Sounders FC look to finish their season long fight from the bottom of the MLS table to the MLS Cup Final. Both teams are riding on a fiercely successful post season push, but only one will hoist the cup this Saturday.
Scarf up at RuffneckScarves.com