Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Soccer Marketing 101 - You Scratch My Back, I'll Scratch.... Nope

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This marketing strategy is as solid as a house of (lotto) cards.
At first we didn't even think twice about Tuesday's news that Major League Soccer reached an agreement with a lotto ticket company to potential produce scratch-off games with MLS logos on them. Chalk it up to another weird marketing synergy that someone on high thinks is going to make the league a bunch of bucks. Like team-specific Snugglies.

Dumb idea, but in the end, harmless.

Then we got home, had a beer, and thought about it some more.

No. No. And one more, just for good measure... no.

How many Celtics fans
have been made by this card?
The move isn't just dumb on the face of it; it's wildly stupid on many levels. None more obvious than we're going to bet (knowing full well the irony in this statement) that this move will create exactly ZERO new fans. And probably make the league and MDI Entertainment, LLC shockingly little money.

Why then would MLS or MDI enter into this "excellent opportunity" according to Steve Saferin, President, Properties Group and Chief Creative Officer for Scientific Games (parent company of MDI)?

The lotto wants access to two prime demographics, youngins' and Hispanics.

"MLS fans index higher than any other major professional U.S. sport in two important target demographics for lotteries: 18- to 34-year olds (136 index) and Hispanics (222 index), according to 2010 data from Scarborough Research," says the press release we initially glossed over.

So MDI paid to get in the game and MLS played ball like a credit card company selling your address to anyone under the sun. The press release didn't say what the deal was; either up front money or based on a percentage of sales, but we have to believe it was the former. Or at least we hope it was because MLS will definitely end up on the "winners" side of this deal if that's the case. The only other thing they have to give up is a few tickets to games and some merchandise and their obligations are over. For MLS it's pretty much a win-win revenue wise. You take the sponsors and partnerships when you can. It's not like the league's TV numbers are knocking people's socks off (Although the 6.3 percent increase in game attendance so far this season is crazy impressive.)

If you're a MLS fans you're already heavily invested in tickets, jerseys, scarves, stadiums dogs and (we hope) beers for newbies. Unless you're someone with an itchy lotto finger (what's the percentage of you MLS fans?) is there loads of room in your soccer fandom budget for scratch offs JUST because your local team is on the shiny, scratch-able paper?

"Portland Timbers: Scratch, Chop, and Win!". We don't see it.

MLS has put together an impressive list of corporate sponsors of the league from beer to bread, but none of them put out logo'ed merchendise for the American fan. There's no "rave green" Sounders paint at Home Depot (not anymore at least), or ticket deals from American Airlines to MLS cities for away fans, or team crest VISA cards. Even most of their marketing cross-promotions are weak: two tickets to MLS Cup from Castrol, a coupon here or there if you click on the banner ad on MLSSoccer.com, a commercial for MLS gear that's not actually available in most of their stores.

(MDI: Free cross-promo marketing idea... scratch off tickets for everyone that enters an MLS stadium one week. Each home team has their own ticket to give to incoming fans. "Toronto FC Mad Cash Dash"!?!?! Get 'em addicted and then watch them flood the convenience stores on the way home from the match.)

We've stopped and bought exactly one thing because of its association with MLS. That was a bottle of El Jimador tequila.Other that that the oil that goes in the FBMobile is not Castrol, but whatever's on special at Jiffy Lube, the airline we fly is not American Airlines, but whatever Travelocity gives us as the cheapest, most convenient flight, and we don't drink Aquafina we drink tap water. (A Movement with the word "free" in it, we're not breaking the bank in revenue.)

Does that make us bad American soccer fans? We hope not.

If you're going to have an inflatable at or
near a soccer stadium... at least combine the two.
This is a play for casuals then, right? The guy that walks in looking for a cool scratch ticket, finds the MLS one, is the next American soccer fan. That's the thinking? We hate to be the bringer of bad news, but, MDI.... that's not going to sell tickets. And MLS... that ain't making new fans.

This is beginning to sound like an idea from the bouncy-castle-at-games-marketing-department. MLS-branded lotto tickets will have less success in bringing new fans into the stadium than if one accident drove through the front doors of the place.

Oh wait. What's that in the third paragraph?

"As part of the agreement, MDI also has rights to make certain assets of the Mexican National Team available to lotteries for instant games. These assets include logos, trademarks and images of players in Mexican National Team uniforms."

That's what this whole deal was about? Getting El Tri? MLS was probably added on to the deal like a having your kid's significant other reluctantly invited to come along on the family road trip.

Why didn't you just say that and get it over with?

This is going to make you a bajillion dollars.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday 10: Recent National Team Call Up Edition

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In honor of Fabian Johnson’s and Joe Corona’s call-ups to the U.S. and Mexico, we present to you ten other players with ties the Americans could have exploited to get them in the red, white and blue.

Welcome aboard, son.
1. Pedro – Is probably not the same person as Pedro Rodriguez, 57, of Midland, Texas, but how is FIFA supposed to know that?

The Italian Boss?
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger – Father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate was American.

3. Wayne Bridge – If anyone should be given the right to go all Benedict Arnold on his home country, it's this guy.

4. Alessandro Del Piero – Is almost certainly actually Bruce Springsteen.

5. Cristiano Ronaldo – Two words: Anchor baby.

6. Andy Carroll – Once, after a long night on the town, accidentally pledged allegiance to the U.S. flag.

Hulk smash backline!
7. Martin Skrtel – Has secretly always wanted to be an American football player. Hopefully he won’t notice the difference.

8. Hulk – Dr. Bruce Banner was born in America and transformed by an American gamma bomb. Now his alter-ego wants to be Brazilian? I call bullshit.

9. Samir Nasri – Have you ever seen his birth certificate? Then how do you know he wasn’t born in the United States?

10. Giuseppe Rossi – Does anyone else feel that if he’d just been named Sam or Joe or David he’d have stuck with the USA? With a name like Giuseppe, it’s not really much of a choice.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

NEWS - Baby Bradley... Arrivederci Germany?

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Multiple reports in American soccer media and Italian dailies have U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Michael Bradley leaving Germany for Italy's Chievo Verona.

The Borussia Mönchengladbach man is on the outs and a move to the Serie A was exactly what new USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said was necessary for Bradley when he indicated that Bradley was left off the upcoming international friendly rosters for Costa Rica and Belgium to sort out his club situation.

The Bradley deal must be completed by Wednesday's transfer day deadline or he'll be stuck in Germany after failing to sign with last year's loan move in the English Premier League with Aston Villa.

At this point any move for Bradley Jr. is good news. He was going to rot in Deutschland and even a mid-table Italian side means (hopefully) minutes for him. Bradley's got a lot to prove with Klinsmann and players like Stu Holden nearly back to full fitness.


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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

CONCACAF Champions League Expert Commentary

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Awesome Sporting News soccer reporter Brian Straus adds some context for everyone on Major League Soccer's surgence (not re-surgence... we had to be good before... which we weren't) in the CONCACAF Champions League.



MLS teams are heading south and kicking a**, heading to Mexico and finally kicking a**, and making their mark in the region. Seems like Real Salt Lake's final run last season really inspired our MLS sides.

This. This is how you increase exposure to American soccer. Start building winners. The first Champions League winner out of MLS is going to see some big time props and a big time bump. America loves winners.

Legggo!




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Be Good To Us "MLS on NBC", We've Been Hurt Before

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Hey NBC... the FBM Graphic Department is for hire.
Well that certainly was nice of you, National Broadcasting Corporation. And unexpected we may add. We caught wind (more than a wind... perhaps gale-force the way the Inter-Net-Blogo-Sphere responded) that you showed a fancy little Major League Soccer teaser video during a pre-season throwball game on Sunday.


That's cool. Problem is we've been down this road before.

Picture this... a fancy network swoops in with a nice TV deal, some kind words about the growth of the league, and a flashy promo or two for their broadcasts. Sound familiar? Yeah... we've been here before. Twice.

Running the risk of sounding like a bad Lifetime made-for-television movie, American soccer fans have fallen in love, moved in with a network, only to be abused and keep coming back for more.

So forgive us if we're a bit hesitant when you show up at our doorstep promising that you're different from other networks that we've been with before. We're impressed with what you did with the National Hockey League and Versus (soon to be the NBC Sports Network)... a real "She's All That" job, but hockey's got Boston and Canada to help them out; a couple of markets that aren't looking too pretty for MLS right now.

All joking aside we just hope that you don't lose interest. We're really excited about this opportunity and we really do like you a lot. It's been a while since we've been treated so nicely.

You're even nice enough to give our friend U.S. Soccer a little taste as well. That's sweet of you. They've been having a rough go of late with their last network. I don't know if you heard and we don't like talking bad, but they we're kinda into little kids. Pretty embarrassing stuff.

We're fifteen going on sixteen and so we're at the age where it's time to stop fooling around. We're not looking for a fling here, but love. We don't want platitudes like a flashy graphics package or some primetime promos. That's a good start, but we want to see some commitment. Hire some nice men to keep us company during the broadcasts. Give us multiple camera angles... we've got a lot of good sides. And HD... we're not afraid of a close up.

So make good NBC. I know we're a bit inexperienced, but we're loyal. If you treat us good we'll get right back at ya.

If you screw us though..... oh man.... we'll go all "Basic Instinct" on you.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Tuesday XI: "Proving to Daddy We’re Not a Fool" Edition

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Editor's Note: We continue a great new feature on the Free Beer Movement site. In collaboration with the quality soccer site, "The Other 87 Minutes" we present the "Tuesday XI" (and sometimes the "Tuesday Ten") a thoughtful list on a variety of topics in the world of soccer.

Make sure you head over to "The Other 87 M
inutes" and check out all the... well... other great writing on their site. What do you think of the "Tuesday XI"? Let us know in the comments section!


Inspiration from....

Some of you likely have a couple of more weeks before the schoolhouse doors open again, but here in Other 87 country, the big yellow buses are already lengthening our morning commute. Here’s a squad of famous students (and one teacher) in honor of the beginning of the school year, lined up in a Marcelo Bielsa 3-3-1-3:


Greatest American Goalkeeper?
GK – Ralph Hinkley — Alright, Mr. Hinkley, the one-time Greatest American Hero, is technically a teacher, but someone’s got to mind the net while all the kids are out running around. Has no trouble claiming crosses since — believe it or not — he can walk on air. 

LCB – Bill S. Preston, Esquire 
CB – Marty McFly 
RCB – Ted “Theodore” Logan — For all their general incompetence, our backline never seems to make a glaring error that leads directly to a goal. Plus, they’re good for morale, as Marty McFly and his Wyld Stallyns play concerts to entertain teammates. Works just as well on the field as in the dojo 

Works just as well on the field
as in the dojo
LWB – Daniel La Russo — Something of a fish out of water on the left, La Russo still has the ability to parry opposing attacks down that flank. Plus, you can probably guess how he takes the team’s free kicks. 

CDM – Squall Leonhart — Balaamb Garden’s finest, he can be a bit distant and a bit of an ass at times, but is a hard hitter in the center of the park. 

RWB – Max Fischer — Overeager and slightly annoying perhaps, but his enthusiasm and involvement in all areas of the pitch makes him a valuable part of the squad. 

CAM – Ender Wiggin — The youngest player on the pitch but still the captain and Fearless Leader. There’s no one better at manipulating space and opponents to draw them out and make them vulnerable to a killing stroke. 1. Step Over 2. Hip Swivel 3. Nutmeg 

1. Step Over 2. Hip Swivel 3. Nutmeg
LW– Ferris Bueller — Strengths: Adaptation, improvisation, incredible instincts for getting out of trouble. Weaknesses: Bit of a ball-hog. Stops constantly to explain to the crowd exactly what he’s doing. 

CF – Jimmy Chitwood — It may take him a while to round into form, but once he does his game is simple. He shoots; he scores. 

RW – Stephen Dedalus — Unlike his counterpart on the opposite wing, Dedalus tends to be ponderous, pausing on the ball before making his move. Yet his errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery, and he has the ability to fly by whatever nets the defense sets before him. 


What is this new site we're exposing you too? We'll let them explain:
The Other 87 seeks to provide something that’s not instant analysis or eve of matchday previews. Think of us as the good bits of your favorite soccer coverage: the profiles that examine what makes a certain player tick, the historical background that sheds some light on how the sport has evolved to the present day, the silly features that are more than just tacking names on a list, but considering and explaining why each one deserves to be there.
O87 wants to be a home for soccer writing that makes you think, but that also treats the game as just that, a game. The greatest game, the one we obsess over and fixate on, to the point where we can’t read that gas costs 3.43 a gallon without thinking of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning team. But a game nonetheless.
“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball three minutes on average. The best players – the Zidanes, Ronaldinhos, Gerrards – will have the ball maybe four minutes. Lesser players – defenders – probably two minutes. So, the most important thing is: what do you do those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball…. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.” –Johann Cruyff

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Photo Essay - This Is Our Soccer Life

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A few weeks ago we traveled back to the land of beer and cheese, Wisconsin, for a family reunion. Wisconsin is the place where the idea for the Free Beer Movement was birthed (induced... with beer, of course) and the where we cut our teeth playing soccer from the youth level on up to college (intramurals... let's not get ahead of ourselves).

We're always looking for opportunities to define what it means to be a soccer fan in America and for many that fandom comes from playing the game growing up. A life-long passion for the sport is something that other soccer nations already have established and we're finally pulling up to them.

We decided to re-trace our own soccer playing days when we went home. What follows are the places that were most special to us growing up and playing soccer in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin and through college at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

The tree and the power box. One used to be a lot smaller, but this was my first goal. Measured it off and the distance "post" to "post" is pretty close to regulation.  My sisiter and I used to practice in the backyard almost every day.
Sis and I after one of her varsity soccer games. Practice paid off!
Sheehan Park. All of my home youth games were played here. In a sea of softball fields... our one soccer field. The town now boasts dozens of fields.

Ashley Field. Grew up in a football and baseball town and so we played where we got space. The high school football coach refused to mow the field saying it gave his players better grip in games. The far sideline crossed through the dirt of the baseball infield. The new high school built has its own soccer practice field and a varsity field unmolested by baseball.

*** I searched the house desperately to find a photo of me "in action: from high school, but alas... buried to deep in some box, some where. Instead you can have this....

Senior year of high school we sneaked a keg (of root beer) into the school and played various drinking games in the cafeteria to the dismay of the principals. Consider it the beginning of the FBM legend...
Absolutely my most favorite place to play. Playoff and state took place here at Breese Stevens Field every year. It's hosted a variety of sporting events since its construction in 1926 including baseball, circuses, track and field, ice skating, midget car racing, and many Sun Prairie post-season disappointments. 




Attended my first Major League Soccer game. Chicago Fire in Naperville in 2002.
Training field for the University of Wisconsin -Madison men's and women's soccer teams. Right around the corner from my house junior and senior years, my roommates used to sneak underneath the fence and play on here all the time.

First "international friendly". Manchester United vs. Celtic in Seattle, 2003.

Intramural fields at UW-Madison where teams I played on won five different league championships. I've got the free t-shirts to prove it!

One of my part-time jobs during college was coaching "select" middle school soccer. Here's my merry bunch of Eighth graders.


Indoor soccer champions, "Derek and the Dominoes".

Wisconsin to Ohio road trip with teammates and my dad. Best weekend ever. Even met Marcelo Balboa!
USA vs. Mexico. Columbus: Sept. 3, 2005. Dos a cero!
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

VIDEO - Best of MLS 2011.... So Far

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The Major League Soccer season has cruised through its halfway point and heading towards the post-season.

Already there have been some incredible highlights with more to come.

Here's the best of the best:




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FBM DrinkWear - Live Breathe Futbol's "No Work, Just Play" Shirt

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Our friends at Live Breathe Futbol keep on cranking out the cool gear. With the summer winding down it's easy to think that the fun is all over. Good thing LBF has made a shirt (and video) to remind us that we should always be at play.

Check out our interview from a few months back with LBF's bossman and creative genius, Ebun.



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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Freddy and Davey: American Soccer "Saviors" Making Good

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Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell
If there were two people that made the Major League Soccer needle move for non-soccer fans and the casual ones, it was David Beckham and the child-prodigy, Freddy Adu. Problem is... over the years both have been incredibly disappointing, and dare we say, busts.


Until now.


In 2011 up is down and left is right, as Beckham and Adu, two formerly-appointed American soccer "saviors" are making good now that the limelight has shifted away from them considerably. With the league growing in attendance, stature, and quality (with the addition of some other productive designated players and young stars) the pressure is off and the MLS veteran Beckham and the prodigal-son-returned-Adu are thriving or set to thrive.


Most importantly, both are poised to, or already are, making an impact in a domestic league that's grown to a point where we don't need to rely solely on gimmicks (although the All-Star game is one knock) like 14-year olds or marketable metrosexuals.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------


Before Golden Balls was the "next big thing," Adu was the "thing" splashing onto the scene in 2004 at the tender age of 14, appearing in Sierra Mist (does anyone drink that?) commercials with Pele, and filling American soccer fans' heads with the sugar plums of massive marketing and crossover potential.


Much like his romance with one-hitter-wonder, pop "star" JoJo it wasn't to be. The spotlight was thrust upon him too soon and by 2007 he was traded to Real Salt Lake  and then jumped ship to chase Europeans dreams with Benefica.


Beckham would arrive the same year and take the mantle for mainstream sports writers and commentators as the savior of soccer in America. It's interesting to compare both players' career trajectories because by 2007 they were about to participate in "Trading Spaces," a show that was definitely a sign of the times.


Hey... I got this now.
Beckham's arrival in the United States came with as much bang as Adu's departure to Portugal went with a whimper. The former Real Madrid and Manchester United midfielder came to the Los Angeles Galaxy with team and individual honors up the wa-zoo and was preparing to finish out his career stateside; something he talked about for some time.


Adu, meanwhile, was sneaking out the backdoor as his domestic career fizzled at D.C. United and Real. Adu sparred with D.C.'s coach Peter Nowak and didn't seem to be a part of the upcoming Jason Kries revolution. Despite a positive showing at the U-20 World Cup he made only 17 appearances for the senior team (contributing a paltry two goals). Adu's name was still being spoken with the words "potential," time and time again. Perhaps Benefica would bring out the player American soccer fans so desperately wanted him to be?


By 2010 Beckham and Adu were tired names on the tongues of American soccer fans.


"The Beckham Experiment" by Sport Illustrated writer Grant Wahl depicted the folly of the Galaxy-man's first several seasons. The league's first "designated player" was supposed to be a game-changer; bring untold exposure and popularity to American soccer. Add in that his production was negligible, he danced back-and-forth with AC Milan in consecutive seasons, LA's post-season futility, and a number of high-profile skirmishes with fans left Beckham's image tarnished and his impact on MLS was reduced to a quaint sideshow. "Beckham 23" on the back with the Galaxy crest on the front may have been one of the hottest-selling jerseys of 2007, but four years later they were a bargain at Marshall's. His final contract year was shaping up to be as uneventful as the first four.


The European odyssey that Freddy launched was supposed to provide him with the quality of instruction he couldn't get in the United States. Under the guidance of European coaches, Adu would elevate his game and return stateside to contribute to the National Team in time for South Africa. There were questions of the diminutive striker's maturity and drive, but what kid didn't have those problems?


His time under contract with Benefica was a distaster. He saw just a scant 11 matches for the Portugese giants and spent the next four seasons on various loans: AS Monaco (France), Belenenses (Portugal), Aris (Greece), and Rizepor (Turkey). Adu saw more of Europe than a back-packing college student with daddy's credit card. Calls for poor Freddy to return to MLS got louder and louder; the kid, still only 22, was a bust in Europe.


---------------------------------------------------------------------


As the 2011 MLS season dawned it appeared to be like any other. Quiet, workman-like strides for the little domestic league that could. The difference? Two MLS has-beens are making the mark they should have years ago.


Beckham, in his last contract year, is having the best season since his arrival stateside. The Englishman is on target to play more games and more minutes that any of his previous four seasons. At ten assists so far this campaign, he's already tied a MLS-career best and the Galaxy sit atop the Western Conference. Finally, Beckham is even saying all the right things; talking up a potential contract renewal and the kind words about American soccer we'd hoped to hear all of these years.


"Yeah, there's a chance," said the 36-year old, former England captain. "I haven't made any decision about what I'm going to do after this year. I think it's important that I just concentrate on my play this year. I feel fit, I feel good in games, I feel as if I'm performing well. I need to continue that, and then in a few months I'll think about what I want to do at the end of the day."


Adu, too, have seen his fortunes turn dramatically in 2011. In his last tournament in charge of the United States National Team, Bob Bradley made Freddy a surprise addition to his Gold Cup roster. A cameo appearance on the squad turning into a starring role as he came on as a substitute in the semi-finals, made a spectacular pass the lead to a goal, and started and held his own in the final against Mexico.


Now the 22-year old, in the prime of his career, is returning to America and ironically, to his former D.C. United coach, Peter Nowak, now in charge of the Philadelphia Union. At his unveiling Adu spoke of the maturing he's done and the desire to prove himself in MLS where he failed before.


“I think I am a better player today than when I left MLS four years ago. Maturing helps a lot. As the years go on, you get older and start to put things together. As players your goal is always to play for the national team and represent your country,” said Adu. “But it’s one step at a time — you have to sort out your club situation and you have to be playing and making sure you are helping your team.”


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

While neither will totally shed the title of American soccer "savior" they both have the opportunity to become (or in Beckham's case, already) solid contributors to their squads. Both the Galaxy and the Union are in prime position to make post-season runs with Beckham and Adu as cogs in the machine rather than the engines.

For Major League Soccer, the evolution of these two players into role-players rather than marketing men means the domestic game is emerging from being defined solely by it's biggest names. A diverse set of other designated players like Thierry Henry and Omar Bravo, stars yet not solo performers, and breakout youngsters (and homegrown) like Brek Shea, Juan Agudelo, and Bill Hamid gives the league a positive and strong identity it did not have in 2007 when Adu departed and Beckham arrived.

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Tuesday 10: Fabregas in Fiction

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Editor's Note: We continue a great new feature on the Free Beer Movement site. In collaboration with the quality soccer site, "The Other 87 Minutes" we present the "Tuesday XI" (and sometimes the "Tuesday Ten") a thoughtful list on a variety of topics in the world of soccer.

Make sure you head over to "The Other 87 M
inutes" and check out all the... well... other great writing on their site. What do you think of the "Tuesday XI"? Let us know in the comments section!




The career of Cesc Fabregas, from his transfer to Arsenal until his arrival at Barcelona, summarized in ten book titles.

Stranger in a Strange Land – Hindered by language and culture, he is unsettled in his new home. A Portrait of the

Artist as a Young Man – Soon providence provides a path, and over many years the Spanish son becomes a hero for his club.

Things Fall Apart – The Catalans beckon their youth product home; the captain’s reign of peace is cast in doubt by the decision he now faces.

A Wild Sheep Chase – Months pass as the Spanish giants make offer after unsuccessful offer.

War and Peace – Tempers boils over and an exchange of hostilities ensues; however, Cesc pledges his loyalty to his club.

Catch-22 – A year passes and his manager is left with an unsavory decision – decline the transfer and keep an unhappy player, or accept it and lose a captain.

A Light in August – Finally, in August, the Spaniard’s odyssey concludes. He returns home.

In Search of Lost Time – Eight years have passed; Cesc plays catch-up.

Great Expectations (epilogue) – Following this biography’s denouement, will its protagonist live happily ever after?

About "The Other 87 Minutes"
What is this new site we're exposing you too? We'll let them explain:
The Other 87 seeks to provide something that’s not instant analysis or eve of matchday previews. Think of us as the good bits of your favorite soccer coverage: the profiles that examine what makes a certain player tick, the historical background that sheds some light on how the sport has evolved to the present day, the silly features that are more than just tacking names on a list, but considering and explaining why each one deserves to be there.
O87 wants to be a home for soccer writing that makes you think, but that also treats the game as just that, a game. The greatest game, the one we obsess over and fixate on, to the point where we can’t read that gas costs 3.43 a gallon without thinking of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning team. But a game nonetheless.
“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball three minutes on average. The best players – the Zidanes, Ronaldinhos, Gerrards – will have the ball maybe four minutes. Lesser players – defenders – probably two minutes. So, the most important thing is: what do you do those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball…. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.” –Johann Cruyff

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Major League Soccer Cocktails

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By @ZombieJaqua / Senior Un-dead Soccer Correspondent


#MLScocktails was filled with mostly good laughs, some bitters and a touch of drunken rage rounded out this hashtag. So many funny ones to choose from, but after parsing through them all this is a list based on popularity (via RTs) combined with some of my favorites. 


Got some more good ones? Leave 'em in the comments section.

The Best:

@dendennny: The "Osvaldo Alonso" just a damn good Cuba Libre.

@FakeAdrianH: The New York Red Bulls - They practically give it away but people still ask for a Cosmo instead

The Rest of the Best:

@fjtbc: The John Rooney...A pint that you only ordered because you heard good things about the brewery

@jrodius: Surely a "Brek Shea" is equal parts Southern Comfort and Mountain Dew

@ZombieJaqua: The "Mauro Rosales": Fine 15-year old Scotch that you got at happy hour prices.
@MFUSA: The "Ben Olsen": bourbon and a splash of water. Puts hair on your chest, does the job with no fuss.

@ZombieJaqua: The "Wondolowski": Equal parts tequila, rum, vodka, milk and salted butter. And you still don't know why it works.

@KennethMJung: The "Brian Ching": Hawaiian Punch and Everclear. Known to leave a bad taste in Bob Bradley's mouth.
@MikeMageeFacts: The "Mike Magee" cocktail is made w/ 1 shot of jet fuel & 1 shot on goal. Garnish with one hammerhead shark, still swimming.

@FreeBeerMovemnt: The "Robbie Rodgers" decent local brew that's not good enough for National distribution.

@yamsmos: the "Charlie Davies" looks good on the menu but is really pretty average and only served at a dive bar

@msalgado: The "Juan Pablo Angel" - costs you way too much and never gets you drunk

@LevesquesStache: The "Montero" - A shot of tequila you shoot by throwing high & wide over your shoulder instead of in your mouth.

@raminajd: The "Peter Nowak": A standard shot of vodka, except the fans get blamed for the hangover.

@LevesquesStache: The "Landon Donovan" - Not available in Europe

@settingthetable: The "Gaven": A scotch on the rocks that seems older than it actually is.

@mattdemlein: The "Hans Backe"...you only get to order one drink the whole night.  No substitutions.  No food either because no silverware.

@cgrayson: ...the "Kyle Beckerman": a dirty martini, extra dirty, hold the martini

@JsinGood: The "Chivas USA": a poorly made American tequila served in a glass belonging to the LA Galaxy.

@FreeBeerMovemnt: The "Robbie Findley" order a double because it's always missing a shot.

@FCDrunk: "The FC Dallas": a shot of top shelf liquor served at 109 degrees.

@SKCdoesnotstop: The "Bouna Coundoul". Always get 2 because one shot will get dropped

@JJamrog: The "Portland Timbers" take any alcohol and pour it on the ground because they have no cups to put it in.



@tanyakeith: The "Sporting KC": they keep changing the name and it's not the best drink, but the glass freaking ROCKS!

@edgartronic: The "Saborio": one drop and you fall right over.

@LevequesStache: The "YSA" - A drink so offensive it'll get you thrown in jail.

@stevebritgimp: The "Revolution" - a shot of milk in a pint glass, if you complain you get ejected from the bar.

@jayhipps: The "San Jose Earthquake": a martini—shaken, not stirred.

@mweatherhogg: the "Brian Mullan": A bloody mary made with fresh bone marrow.

@Jon_Beard: The "Toronto FC": an underwhelming drink, no matter who the bartender is or the quality of alcohol used.

@JJamrog: The "Kenny Cooper". That liquor you don't notice when it's missing.

@andyyax: The "John Spence"r: It's wee but it packs a hell of a bite

@matchavez: 1/3 tequila, 2/3 wild turkey. Over ice. Bartender delivers when he feels like it. The "Fredy Montero"

@mhikaric: The "Seba": used to get you hammered every time. Now it's just a really good mixer.

@ZombieJaqua: The "Seattle Sounders": Any drink in the history of drinks. Because we invented them all.



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Perhaps the Greatest Photo You Eyes Will Ever Process

1 comments


America. And beer. Does this pic not inspire you? Let's build the soccer within these borders with a full glass of this stuff.

Together... "Yes we (beer) can".


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Friday, August 12, 2011

Friendly-Fire and An Apology Accepted

2 comments
Ooops. Our bad.
Last night, the FBM posted some criticisms of ESPN's soccer coverage from Wednesday's U.S. match versus Mexico. In that article we drew a connection to a local bar, Cuatro's (that was unnamed in the article), and tried to highlight the difficulty in satisfying the demands of "mainstream" sports fans and soccer fans.

We didn't mean to imply that there was an equivalent between the two in our criticisms. In reading the article again (and again and again) it's easy to see how easily one could think that we were saying that Cuatro's wasn't supportive of soccer and that wasn't our intention. Cuatro's is a great soccer bar in Austin and really has done a lot to build up the support in our city. We're both working towards the same goal and this was friendly-fire indeed.

We immediately e-mailed the bar owner to apologize. In the interests of full disclosure we're publishing our letter to him and his response below:

FBM to Cuatro:
First and foremost I'd like to apologize. I am going to assume I'm probably not your most favorite person in the world right now.
When I wrote the article on ESPN it was not meant as a hit job on your restaurant. There was no intention to imply that Cuatro's is not a great place for soccer. In fact I state in the column on several occasions how much I've enjoyed watching matches there. The quotes around "love soccer" wasn't meant to imply that your commitment to the sport was anything less than what've you've done for the sport in Austin. In fact it was just to highlight the idea of loving soccer (not to use them for sarcasm).
I used your bar (and purposely left the name out for the exactly purpose of it not coming across like I was calling Cuatro's out) as an example of how difficult it is to balance the needs of so-called "mainstream" sports versus a soccer audience much like ESPN has dealt with. You admitted as much of how it would be hard and the tough choices made at your establishment in balancing UT fans and soccer fans no matter how little their times of games cross paths. I wanted to use the US Soccer Bar example to show that soccer fans (or the federation) demand a lot of fidelity and that since your bar is so diverse in it's sporting interests it has a tough line to balance upon unlike Fado where most people do not go for other than soccer (and that place has plenty of drawbacks as well).
What I realize now is that in writing an article criticizing ESPN for not getting "serious" about soccer it definitely comes across as painting Cuatro's with the same brush. That was not my intention at all, but from your comments and others it has come off that way and I can see where I've erred majorly.
That being said... there is no doubt that Cuatro's has done an incredible service to the Austin soccer community (and will continue to do so) and I've done an incredible disservice to you, the soccer fans that watch games there, and to the good will you've shown myself and the FBM so very recently.
I have removed the offending portion of the article from the site and issued an apology at the top of the post. I'd like to be able to post this correspondence in full as well (with your permission).
I'd still like to be able to stop on by and personally apologize to you at Cuatro's. Additionally it is probably a burned bridge right now, but in an effort to re-build that bridge with you and your patrons I'd like to see how we can move past this and forward if a bar program is still possible.
Again I am deeply sorry. Consider this an extremely amateur mistake from someone who clearly did not know any better.
Cuatro's Response:
No harm no foul man. I have to admit that I was kind of taken back when I read your blog this morning. After our conversation a couple of weeks ago, I started subscribing to you blog and following you on twitter, taking solace in a like minded pursuit. So when I read that this morning, it took me by surprise and I felt the need to post a comment to correct what was written from my point of view. I didn't anticipate nor expect the outpouring of support that I received but it made me smile. I appreciate your apology and want to assure you that there is no bridge burned here. I know that we are after the same thing and it doesn't do either of us any good to be divided. So stop by, we'll bury the hatchet and maybe buy some football fans a beer and explain to them the beautiful game. You have my permission to post this correspondence as well. Thanks again for your apology.
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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Making The Case: Time for ESPN To Get Serious

30 comments
UPDATE: Austin soccer community. The offending section of this article has been removed. We never meant to imply that the bar mentioned originally in this article, their commitment to soccer was anything less than absolute. But to define the difficulty in the bar (and ESPN by proxy) have in balancing the needs of "mainstream" sports, soccer fans in America (of other leagues), and American soccer fans. Our deepest apologies. We've already contacted the bar owner to personally apologies and we hope that you all will take that into account in your future interactions with the FBM.


Editor's Note: We've published several op-eds on the Free Beer Movement site, but with no real distinction between what is news and what is opinion. Our editorials are now going to come with the feature tag "Making the Case", well, because its an awesome beer pun, and we love those. 

It's really hard to look ESPN right in the eye and tell them to get "serious" about soccer. After all we just got done with a summer where the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" gave the Women's World Cup production value the tournament has never seen before. Not to mention the previous summer's men's Cup, and the strides the network has made bringing on the likes of Ian Darke to call U.S. Men's National Team games.

But we will. We must.

Last night ESPN2 televised a "qualifier" match for the Little League World Series before the scheduled USMNT friendly against Mexico. Not surprisingly, baseball, as it often does, did not finish on time (is there such a thing as "on time" baseball?) and the beginning of the soccer game was forced to ESPNews and remained there for a good 20 minutes.

ESPN's soccer coverage got you pissed off?
ESPN has a contract with the organizers of the LLWS and they are obligated to show the game to its conclusion we sure (although ESPN also has a contract with U.S. Soccer), but of the dozens, if not hundreds of "qualifiers" that take place for the children's tournament why this one at this time? ESPN had to know there was the potential for a baseball game to continue, practically, indefinitely. Coverage could have started earlier for the game (I'm sure the LLWS would've obliged) or not at all and placed on another night when it wasn't the lead-in for any other fixed-time sporting event. Even if it wasn't the soccer game, baseball's tendency to go long is a huge obstacle to ESPN's regular programming. Back-to-back live programming is hardly ever a good idea.

Wading into the waters of discussing whether televising children playing baseball makes any sense is for another time and day. This column is mostly about moving forward rather than looking backwards.

ESPN released a statement this afternoon that spelled out their policy on continuing in-progress events:
"Starting US-MEX on ESPNEWS was unfortunate circumstance but this is one of the challenges of back-to-back live events. ESPN almost always sticks with the live event until it ends. Soccer fans would want the same if a match ran long. Fans were alerted of sched change and match was still available in HD and on ESPN3. Otherwise, hope you liked ESPN’s unprecedented commitment to this friendly."
The disconnect is that this was a much-hyped match for the cable sports network. ESPN's SportsNation was live on the scene, the broadcasting team almost had enough for a starting 11, and there was also a pre-game show. ESPN wanted to drag hardcore fans and casuals to Jurgen Klinsmann's first match with otherwise was just another game against U.S.'s regional rival.

As it often goes for ESPN what they determine as important sports (poker, bowling) they can make important sports. Last night's match, before kickoff, had all the appearances of a marquee event for ESPN.

Then problem then isn't really that ESPN did what they most always do and not-preempt coverage of a live event, but the "Jekyll and Hyde" approach the network has with soccer. If they want to be the "world wide leader in sports" then they've got to market to global sports and that means soccer. This means ramping up their coverage of the English Premier League, including more and more European league matches on its ESPN3 platform, and unprecedented coverage of the World and European Cups. Their website covering the Premier League, Soccerner, is top-rate.

What remains to be seen is what ESPN will do about AMERICAN soccer. Major League Soccer has a semi-regular spot in prime time and the National Team features on their family of networks for friendlies and qualifiers, but the American soccer portion of Soccernet is atrocious. What does ESPN really want from its domestic soccer coverage?

ESPN and it's sew-saw relationship with American soccer needs to get serious. They've certainly got the on-air talent and the production quality, but soccer fans are sensitive and fickle. Droves bolted to Univision and were never bothered by the ESPN2 to ESPNews to ESPN2 switch-a-roo, patrons in the bar I was at were incensed, and DVRs nationwide caught the exciting conclusion of children's baseball and probably missed the end. Nothing like a soccer fan scorned.

Part of the reason we hardly see other sporting events interrupted like last night is because there's so much pomp and circumstance before and after other American sports. NFL broadcasts start and finish an hour on each end so if there happen to be a long running whatever the studio show can be cut down. Baseball and baseball on ESPN are front-loaded with "__________ Tonight" as a buffer as well. The network broadcast the game at 9pm CT, but that wasn't late enough for children's baseball and had a pre-game show, but it was relegated to ESPNews as well.

It's time that ESPN, despite the investment in personnel and production also add a mentality that puts soccer on equal footing when entered into the broadcast schedule. If the game was such a marquee event as the network billed it (and once it was on, it was great) then it should be afforded the same scheduling treatment that other big events on ESPN get.

Graphic Credit: Free Beer Movement
With MLS and U.S. Soccer landing a new home on NBC and the re-branded Versus (it will soon become "NBC Sports Network") ESPN might have a bit more competition for serious domestic coverage of the game. The three-year, $10 million deal specifically stated two-and-a-half-hour broadcast windows with pre- and post-game shows something ESPN has only begun recently. Fox Soccer was always an acceptable home for MLS, but NBC's deal is for bigger bucks and bigger exposure (there are plans for lots of promotion for the league during NBC's broadcast of the 2012 Olympics).

ESPN could do little about their contractual obligations to the LLWS last night and certainly soccer has benefited from the same treatment from the network before, but what we saw last night had less to do with commitments than with a mentality that puts American soccer in the backseat in Bristol. If ESPN is serious about the global game they've got to get serious about the American game as well. You can't build one without the other in the U.S. because Nats fans are often EPL and other continental league fans as well. Put up a poor showing in one and we'll find other options.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jurgen Gonna Love This...

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The Jurgen Klinsmann-era begins today against Mexico.

What better way to ring in the occassion than with a classical-synth-techno-pop highlight reel of our new coach.

Here we go!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday 10: Lines from Klinsmann's Pre-Game Pep Talk

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Editor's Note: We continue a great new feature on the Free Beer Movement site. In collaboration with the quality soccer site, "The Other 87 Minutes" we present the "Tuesday XI" (and sometimes the "Tuesday Ten") a thoughtful list on a variety of topics in the world of soccer.

Make sure you head over to "The Other 87 Minutes" and check out all the... well... other great writing on their site. What do you think of the "Tuesday XI"? Let us know in the comments section!



Top 10 lines from Jurgen Klinsmann's pre-game pep talk. 

We hope we're not making this face Wednesday.
1. Remember, the most important thing is not whether you win or lose, it's whether you make me look good in my first game.

2. OK, so here's the gameplan. Give the ball to Clint and let him…wait, has anyone seen Clint?

3. I know it’s risky, going with an all-out-of-favor-with-their-clubs starting XI, but I’ve already put everyone’s CV’s on Craigslist already, so go get ‘em.

4. Now, the public is expecting a tactical masterstroke. Howard, you’re up top. Jurgen Klinsmann's Secret Identity

Klinsmann's Secret Identity
5. Yes, it really was all Jogi in Germany. No, that does not mean I will answer to Boo Boo.

6. Remember, our keys to the game: Never-say-dietude and stick-to-itiveness.

7. God I haven't done this in a while...[stretches]. Now, who are we playing?

8. Alright, we’re 2-0 down, but we have a long 45 minutes ahead of us…what? Yes I know it hasn’t started, but I was told it was the only way to motivate you, is it not?

9. Where did I leave that bottle of “Jurgen’s Secret Stuff”? They may take this game, but they'll never take...

They may take this game,
but they'll never take...
10. I don’t know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives. We few, we happy few, we band of brothers, must remember that great moments are born of great opportunity; what we do in life echoes in eternity, and I think you’ll find it’s the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die and ducks always, always fly together. Eye of the tiger, boys.


About "The Other 87 Minutes"


What is this new site we're exposing you too? We'll let them explain:
The Other 87 seeks to provide something that’s not instant analysis or eve of matchday previews. Think of us as the good bits of your favorite soccer coverage: the profiles that examine what makes a certain player tick, the historical background that sheds some light on how the sport has evolved to the present day, the silly features that are more than just tacking names on a list, but considering and explaining why each one deserves to be there.
O87 wants to be a home for soccer writing that makes you think, but that also treats the game as just that, a game. The greatest game, the one we obsess over and fixate on, to the point where we can’t read that gas costs 3.43 a gallon without thinking of Ajax’s 1995 Champions League winning team. But a game nonetheless.
“When you play a match, it is statistically proven that players actually have the ball three minutes on average. The best players – the Zidanes, Ronaldinhos, Gerrards – will have the ball maybe four minutes. Lesser players – defenders – probably two minutes. So, the most important thing is: what do you do those 87 minutes when you do not have the ball…. That is what determines whether you’re a good player or not.” –Johann Cruyff

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