Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Major League Soccer Beer-View: Eastern Conference

By "Danny Beerseed" / FBM Founder

The 16th season of Major League Soccer kicks off tonight and like a fine wine it has aged gracefully. Or, more similarly, like a teenager thrashing about, some times its a hit... other times... not so much.

Despite its adolescent acne, we love American soccer and MLS. It's ours no matter how many times it breaks curfew or runs the car into the back of the garage.

It's with all those fresh teenie booper images stuck in your head that we switch gears and talk about the upcoming season in beer. MLS might only be getting behind the wheel, but since we're trying to emulate the great leagues of Europe we're going to start drinking early, too!

Join us as we "beer-view" the 2011 Major League Soccer season. We've tried our best, through both conference previews, to find a beer that comes from the team's home town, with only a few exceptions.

Check out our "Western Conference" Beer-view as well!

Chicago Fire
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 9-12-9 (Fourth Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Half Acre Beer Co.
Beer: "Daisy Cutter" Pale Ale
Season Beer-view: Chicago Fire fans probably thought they were playoff bound when they picked up disgruntled designated player Freddie Ljungberg from Seattle and had one of the league hottest young goalkeepers in Sean Johnson.

Well Ljungberg was a bust and split town for Celtic (how's that working out for ya, buddy?) in the off-season while Johnson was injured just before the Fire's playoff hopes were extinguished.

Johnson has had a mixed pre-season as has the rest of the Chicago team. In their last four matches the men in red have seen four reds; hopefully some kinks that can be worked out before "First Kick". The real concern comes on the offense side where Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyrako are the few flair Fire players charged with replacing the irreplaceable Brian McBride and veteran CJ Brown.

Sticking with our beer theme... the Fire will either bomb out or blow up. That's a "Daisy Cutter" for ya.

Columbus Crew
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 14-8-8 (Second Place, Conference Semi-Finals )
Brewery: Elevator Brewing Co.
Beer: "Dark Horse" Lager
Season Beer-view: We chose Columbus-based Elevator Brewing Co. more for the name than their beer because it seemed as though it might represent the 2011 season for the Crew. 2010 was supposed to be a good year for Columbus. Coming off their Supporters' Shield they were poised for a deep playoff run with a solid mix of veterans and youngsters. Yes, they made the playoffs, but a deep run in CONCACAF Champions League took a toll on the team.

The MLS off-season proved to be a fire sale for the Crew as fan-favorite (and former MLS MVP) Guillermo Barros Schelotto and captain Frankie Hejduk were told their contracts would not be renewed. Duncan Oughton also retired. Columbus now turns it goal scoring hopes to the new acquisition of Jeff Cunningham (just one off tying the MLS all-time scoring record) and the continued contributions of Robbie Rodgers (still on the USMNT radar) and Eddie Gaven. Fans also hope that MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall can overcome concussion problems and second year player Dilly Duka.

The elevator can go both ways. The Crew could be the Eastern Conference's "dark horse".

D.C. United
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 6-20-4 (Eight Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Capital City Brewing Co.
Beer: "Amber Waves" Amber Ale
Season Beer-view: DC United might be the biggest wild card in the Eastern Conference. At this point no one is completely sure what they'll look like when the first whistle blows. On one hand they've added some solid veteran talent to the club, red-head Dax McCarthy and Josh Wolff; not to mention the age-less wonder and out-of-retirement Pat Onstad (at least until Bill Hamid comes back from injury). A squad with the likes of Santino Quaranta and designated player Branko Boskovic shouldn't be triffled with.

On the other  hand you've got 2010 MLS "Rookie of the Year" Andy Najar who will try mightily to avoid a sophomore slump while also dealing with the critical decision of which national team to play for. A distraction no matter how much he claims its not.  Given the defensive woes United had last season can a Gen Adidas player like Perry Kitchen hold down the fort?

Oh yeah... and Charlie Davies. He's got a few goals and a few games under his belt, but hasn't played 90 minutes of regular club ball in months. Fans and CD9 well-wishers hope he's got the same speed and finishing from before his horrific crash.

DC is making waves. How big... we'll all have to wait and see.

Houston Dynamo
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 9-15-6 (Seventh Place in Western Conference, no playoffs)
Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Beer: "Texas" Wheat
Season Beer-view: A team that prided themselves on a good mixture of offensive firepower and stingy defense looked like neither of those last season. Dominick Kinnear returns and hopes that Brad Davis and Geoff Cameron need to be the consistent and injury-free playmakers that Houston fans have been looking for. A healthy Brian Ching wouldn't hurt, but already his fitness is questionable before first kick.

If all of these pieces can fit together, Kinnear has got the coaching talents to take this team deep into the playoffs. A undefeated pre-season shows the Dynamo are hungry as long as they can survive the lengthly MLS regular season.

Houston can't "wheat" for this season to begin, put 2010 in the rear view mirror, and challenge for their third MLS Cup.

New England Revolution
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 9-16-5 (Sixth Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Boston Brewing Co.
Beer: Samuel Adams "Boston" Lager
Season Beer-view: Like Boston Brewing Co. (Samuel Adam's parent co.) the Revs are a part of the old guard of craft brewing and MLS, respectively. Praised as pioneers of each's field they now look downright stogy when compared to their younger, more innovative, more accomplished competition.

Without Sam Adams we don't have craft brewing and without the Krafts behind the Revolution we don't have MLS, but now they seem more of a drag. Sam Adams (a very large craft brewery, but not close to Miller or Bud) lobbies to change production rules to keep themselves in the "craft beer" category while New England hasn't challenged for an MLS Cup in years (after coming so close four times) and is stuck in a cavernous NFL stadium.

With distractions like Sharlie Joseph's incident in pre-season can long-time manager Steve Nichols right the ship or will fans throw him over board?

New York Red Bulls
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 15-9-6 (First Place, Conference Semi-Finals)
Brewery: Brooklyn Brewery
Beer: Pennant Ale '55
Season Beer-view: The Red Bulls were all poised for the MLS crown in 2010. Led by an arsenal of designated players in Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez, Juan Pablo Angel and a seasoned coach in Hans Backe New York took the Eastern Conference by storm. None of that mattered running up against the strength of the wild West.

This season's Red Bulls features the young talent of emerging stars Juan Agudelo and Tim Ream alongside 2010 breakout player Joel Lindpere. 2011 asks, "JPA, who?" Backe has the core of his Eastern Conference champs back with a few powerful role-playing additions.

Can NYRB not just conquer the East, but the entire MLS and take the "pennant"?

Philadelphia Union
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 8-15-7 (Seventh Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Yards Brewing Co. 
Beer: "Brawler" Stout
Season Beer-view: The 2010 expansion team performed better than most expected. Led by fiery former DC Untied player Peter Nowak and supported by a enthusiastic group of fans in the Sons of Bens, the Union pulled ahead of the that same United in the final standings.

Offense shouldn't be a problem for Philly who sports a potent attack in Sebastian LeToux, Rookie of the Year candidate Danny Mwange, and the return of former MLS MVP Carlos Ruiz. The defense is the Union's main concern, giving up an MLS-second worst 49 goals.

Whether or not Union can improve on its position in the Eastern Conference table, opponents know that any Nowak led side will be physical and the home atmosphere intimidating. Expect nothing less than a "brawl" riverside in Chester.

Sporting Kansas City
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 11-13-6 (Third Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Boulevard Brewing Co.
Beer: "Bully" Porter
Season Beer-view: Kansas City's biggest off season moves have come outside the confines of the playing field, the re-branding of the club as "Sporting KC" and the building, naming, and soon opening of one of the league's finest stadiums, LIVESTRONG Park.

That doesn't mean that SKC's contribution on-field should be discounted. Teal Bunbury, one of the league's hottest young stars should be ready for the start of the season, returning from a shoulder injury. Omar Bravo arrives to add another attacking option for Sporting.

Like their other Eastern Conference counterparts, KC's biggest concerns lie in the back line. "White Puma" Jimmy Nielsen is a serviceable keeper (and Dallas GK Kevin Hartman's stunt double), but the loss of veteran Jimmy Conrad will be tough to overcome.

With the Eastern Conference showing all the signs of being weak again, Sporting could find itself "bullying" its way to a playoff spot, its first since 2008

Toronto FC
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 9-13-8 (Fifth Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Molson Breweries of Canada
Beer: Molson "Candian" Lager
Season Beer-view: Last season TFC continued to struggle despite great support from the fans of the Reds. Much like Molson’s and their attempts to be real life big boy, mega-brewery like it’s American counterparts Budweiser and Miller, Toronto FC keeps on trying to be competitive in MLS. Sure the packed stadium goes down smoothly, but in reality they’ve just lacked substance. Molson’s ownership takeovers from Coors and then SAB Miller parallels the merry-go-round at TFC where Aron Winter takes over where five others have failed since the Reds inaugural season in 2007.

The off-season saga of “Where in the World is Dwayne De Rosario?” only compounds TFC’s problems. If your star player runs off to Scotland for “training” without your permission, does he see much potential in the 2011 campaign? Losing to NASL side Orlando City in the Disney Classic wasn’t a pretty sight either.

Sure Molson’s might be Canada’s leading brand and TFC the flagship Canadian team in MLS (and two-time holders of the Canadian Championship), but there’s new kids in town with Vancouver this season and Montreal in 2012. Just as the craft beer revolution rolls on in the United States, Toronto (and Molson’s) is going to have to find solutions or becoming second (or third fiddle) in the Canadian market.

Support the Movement. Get the Free Beer Movement T-Shirt. Only from


  1. Looks like I got some beers to try. Picky I know but the stars on the flag are always in the upper left.

  2. Quite entertaining despite some factual errors (e.g., Houston did not go undefeated).

  3. Anon#2 - As Mylie Cyrus said, "Nobody's perfect" and we were drinking while writing this!

    We'll try and run those sorts of fact through the ol' FBM Statistics Department next time.

    Thanks for the heads up.


"Anyone who tells me soccer is boring, I'm going to punch them in the face."
- Former Dallas Burn (aka FC Dallas) coach Dave Dir

Thanks for leaving a comment!