This past week Don Garber was offered an extension and has signed on for another five years as Major League Soccer’s Commissioner. Although the new terms were not disclosed, his previous contract was a $5 million per year salary. We can only guess that number has increased.
In Garber’s 19 years in the position he has been praised and credited with expanding the league from 12 to 27 clubs and developing 19 soccer specific stadiums across the United States and Canada leading to his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame. Previously he held many positions with the NFL for 16 years including senior vice president of NFL International.
Though the success of the MLS under Garber’s control is undeniable, it’s not without controversy. He is also the CEO of Soccer United Marketing as well as a member of U.S. Soccer’s board of directors. This has raised several red flags about conflicts of interest. He has also been criticized for MLS’s singe-entity structure and willingness to ignore it’s own rules regarding allocating players, however none of that seems to have affected Major League Soccer’s position on him.
As you probably already know by now, Austin has become an MLS city. The announcement was made last month in a ceremony accompanied by champagne, confetti and a sea of bright green banners and Ruffneck scarves. As the 27th club to join Major League soccer they will join Dallas and Houston in what should evolve into some great Texas rivalries.
This is the first professional franchise for the city in any of the major American sports leagues which would probably account for all the excitement, not only in the soccer community but in Austin as a whole. During the event Garber stated “It’s always good to be first in anything you do,” he added. “I think our optimism about the success of this club is going to drive other leagues to start thinking about Austin. Because the city is growing so fast and has got such political and strategic importance to what’s going on in our economy and throughout our country.”
Austin FC will begin play in 2021 in a privately financed 20,000 seat stadium in North Austin. They hope to break ground on the stadium by September and they are currently finalizing the plans of a training facility. There’s still been no word on where that facility is to be located. While 2021 still seems like a long way away, there is still much to do when building a club from scratch. Word is the interviewing for general manager, coaching candidates and player recruitment will not begin until 2020.
Congratulations Austin. It may seem like a long way away, but your chants of “alright, alright, alright, Austin FC” will soon fill your sparkling new stadium and it will be well worth the wait.
With our upcoming friendly with Costa Rica tomorrow I figured this was and excellent opportunity to reminisce about the 2013 World Cup Qualifier game known as ‘Snow Classico’.
The game was held at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Denver on the third day of spring, and conditions seemed sunny and clear hours before the match. However, things deteriorated quickly though as wind and snow unexpectedly moved through Denver creating one of the oddest and intriguing World Cup Qualifying matches I can remember. Legions of workers with snow shovels frantically worked to remove the snow that accumulated over the lines of the field, but almost as soon as they appeared they were gone again under a new layer of the white stuff.
While the conditions created a spectacle to watch, the quality of the soccer understandably suffered and in the 55th minute the match commissioner stopped the game briefly. The Costa Ricans were complaining that they were unable to see the sidelines and Jurgen Klinsmann ran around in the snow insisting that the pitch was fine and that they should keep playing.
The U.S. managed to battle through the challenging conditions for a 1-0 victory from a Clint Dempsey goal in the 16th minute. Feeling like they were dealt a raw deal the Costa Rican team launched a complaint with FIFA and insisted on a rematch, however it was to no avail. The conditions were the same for both teams and I think it was said best by Herculez Gomez after the match, “Good teams find ways to win games”.
If you weren’t watching you should definitely do a search for ’Snow Classico’ on YouTube. It was (and still is) a sight to behold and a game I can assure you you’ll never forget. By the way, has anyone checked the weather report in San Jose for Saturday?
Our “Secretary of Defense” has decided to retire. No we’re not talking about the never-ending job carousel in the Trump administration. We’re talking about about something much more serious than that…Tim Howard is retiring from soccer at the end of the 2019 MLS season.
So now the debate is on. Is Tim Howard the best goalkeeper in USMNT history. It’s hard to deny his 15 save performance against Belgium in the 2014 World Cup, not to mention his spells with Manchester United and Everton in England. In addition he’s spent 10 years in MLS, winning the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2001 at the age of 22.
We love the beard, we love the baldness and we love the tattoos, but with the likes Tony Meola, Brad Freidel and Kasey Keller also vying for the title, the debate of who the greatest goalkeeper in USMNT history is will rage on. The U.S. has been known for producing quality goalkeepers throughout the years, and we’ve got some great young talent coming up in Alex Bono and Zack Steffen.
Personally I hope the best is yet to come, and am excited to see what the future holds for the USMNT. However we will always have a special place in our heart for our veterans between the sticks, even though we’ll never agree which was best (but my vote’s for Timmy).
Today we’re going have an abbreviated lesson on the origins of soccer. This subject has been passionately debated over the years but for our lesson we’re going to stick to what FIFA says on the subject.
It’s believed that the world’s most popular sport as we know it was defined in England in 1863 when rugby football and association football (soccer) split and the Football Association was formed. Prior to that the origins of both games can be traced back centuries through a variety of competitions that involved playing the ball with hands, feet and other various body parts.
The earliest known instance of these games was known as Tsu’ Chu, and was discovered in a military manual dating back to second century China. The ball was constructed of leather and filled with feathers and hair. The goal was to kick it into a small net which sat on long bamboo canes and as with todays game, you could only use your feet, chest, back and shoulders. Of course, use of hands was strictly prohibited. Another game called Kemari originated in Japan and is still played today. However it more resembled what we think of as juggling opposed to a match between two sides.
More competitive games developed in other regions, such as ‘Epikyros’ in Greece and “Harpastum” which was played in Rome. Both wer considered much were much livelier, however few details of it’s rules survive. What is known was two teams played on a rectangular field marked by a center line and the goal was to move the ball over your opposition’s boundary line by passing and trickery. It is widely believed the Romans brought ‘Harpastum’ to Britain with them bringing our lesson full circle.
It was 2008 when we first bumped into Who Are Ya Designs at a soccer trade show in Tacoma, WA. Chris and Moki were a husband and wife team who thought something was missing in the soccer/football industry and decided to try to fill that niche. Both of our companies were still in their infancy, and maybe that’s what bonded us. A few beers happened after the show, and eleven years later Ruffneck is still proud to call Who Are Ya a friend.
Who Are Ya evolved over the years, from the early days of Thowball and Bollocks tees to the more recent designs like Trooper Keepie Uppie and Footy Groot. Some owners have come and gone, off to pursue other paths and interests, but regardless of those changes Who Are Ya and Ruffneck have always managed to stay friends.
It’s with a heavy heart that just last week Who Are Ya has decided to close the doors once and for all. Thanks for all the good times we spent together and for helping grow the game we love in the United States. You’ll be missed by many…but we can still go grab beers together. Good luck in your future endeavors.