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The Dumbest Tradition in MLS History

And why a tortured Columbus deserves our pity

Has there been a fanbase more fucked with over the past few years than the Crew’s? No way. The most evil part of the universe identified Columbus as its favorite plaything and would violently rattle it until something appeared fractured, bleeding, or perplexed — all in the name of amusement. This world can be a cruel bitch with a sick sense of humor and no one knows this better than the soccer diehards of Columbus.

Yeah . . . I know — all of Austin is supposed to hate Crew fans because CBus2ATX or whatever, and how their fans were def planning to trash our stadium restrooms. It’s all a conflated narrative between a few harmless idiots on either side of the conflict — the real rub is that most of us Austinites don’t give a damn. In fact, I think the universe needs to take a chill-pill and lighten up on the Columbus Crew’s fandom.

SPOILERS AHEAD: In case you haven’t heard, the Columbus Crew were betrayed and almost moved to Austin by their then owner, Anthony Precourt. A battle between Uncle Tony and the fans ensued, everyone got pissed, and then Uncle T. gave up his team provided Major League Soccer award him an Austin franchise.

Fate’s long and twisted fingers flicked at the battered Crew fans again when their team’s new ownership debuted a standard issue flat/minimalist logo that no one asked for.

Once Crew fans seemed to come to terms with their new emblem, the team’s ownership group felt the need to inject some more misery into the world and debuted their newest — and shittiest — logo to date, while rebranding this O.G. team from the Crew to Columbus S.C.

I don’t think Crew fans are Biblically plagued; They’re defending MLS Cup Champions playing in a brand new stadium — but there really is something bizarre happening to them. It feels like the years of abuse finally broke them and now they’re acting as misguided as the organization holding four logos over an eight year timespan.

Somehow, this ill-conceived dumpster fire of a tradition made its way through the decision tree. The front office either forced fans to do this as a sick prank, or the fans became so punch drunk they came up with this bullfuck on their own. I’m not saying it couldn’t be modified into one of the league’s best, but one thing is clear: in its current state, this thing deserves to be mocked.

Go ahead — play the video on repeat. You will want the sound off after the 2nd rotation but the visuals will keep you watching. Let the cringe really wash over you:

I see three fans dressed as construction workers, done either as a troll or nod to their original logo. Two of these fans have no discernible responsibilities, and I wonder why they weren’t given some kind of symbolic task besides aimlessly standing there. The gal in the middle is pretending to jackhammer through an already busted brick, while a steel plate with a spray painted Rev’s logo sits underneath.

What is the meaning of this?

They pretend-break a brick only to hammer onto an indestructible steel logo of their opponent — Mmmmk. It would be a lot cooler if the chunk of concrete was molded to look like the opposition’s logo and then you broke it to pieces. Whatever this lady is trying to prove isn’t working, and the jackhammer is inching awfully close to her right foot. An unscripted accident full of bloodshed sure would have made any crowd pop! Damn . . . maybe I’m onto something.

[Obligatory McConaughey meme incoming]

My guy with the long hair is clearly high on something. Whether he did this for recreation or to numb himself to the day’s festivities is something we may never know. This ex-SoCal bro knew he wasn’t handling any heavy machinery today, so he got blazed out of his mind and showed up to aimlessly stick his arms out and yell a single Keanu-esque “Whooooa” to the crowd.

You’re doing God’s work brah.

The guy on the right can hardly contain himself from rattling and shaking as if he’s having his first sexual experience in front of 20,000+ onlookers. The glaring issue here is that no one could be so genuinely into cosplaying a construction worker while watching a tiny brick being pulverized next to a football pitch. This man is surely a front office plant, paid to stand next to this garbage and behave like a buffoon for the amusement his employers. If not a plant, he is simply not sound of mind to make healthy decisions for himself. Either way, I can’t come up with more logical explanations.

The saddest part of this ritual’s debut is the utter lack of excitement from onlooking surrounding crowd. The background fans appear to be reacting with total disbelief or disapproving astonishment. I wouldn’t be surprised if Columbus fans are boycotting this new custom and demanding a fifth logo be created — this time by the supporters. I can’t look away from the train-wreck.

This is a fanbase that can’t catch a break from itself. To add to the insult, the Crew couldn’t get one up on Austin by scoring the first goal in Austin’s Q2 Stadium and let the New England Revs score the first goal on Columbus’s new turf. This is not a fanbase that deserves our hate — they only deserve our pity while they navigate these strange times.

Chin up CBus.

Kumbaya ‘ma Lord…Kum Ba Ya

Blessed are we — thy lucky few — who lived to see that day.

The debut of Austin’s soccer team was absolute dynamite and nothing could have changed that. Even the antagonist banner flown across Q2 Stadium’s airspace — purchased by a few of the most bitchy Ohio inhabitants —  just made me laugh.

Seeing that banner didn’t bother me in the slightest — maybe it would have if the message wasn’t so dramatic or delivered by the most silly of communication methods in existence. The last time I saw a plane pull a small string of text was some years ago at the Austin City Limits Music Festival.  It read something like “TIMMY H. IS A VIRGIN” and gave me a similar chuckle to the one I saw flying above the Q.  The ACL banner’s messaging was a tried and true comical dig, and I imagine the subtle inclusion of Tim’s last initial allowed his friends to validate the adolescent prank and share in on the laugh.  Money well spent.   

The adults who burned a few thousand dollars to fly “Precourt is a snake” at our home debut are undeniably sad individuals who don’t know how to effectively burn an adversary. I’m not a psychic, but I’m willing to bet those who purchased the banner are over 35 years old, male, and still share the same purported level of sexual experience as Timothy H.  Yes — the Columbus Crew’s former owner decided he wanted to own a team in a more profitable market, and the whole league made themselves complicit by signing off on the option in 2013. While the words on the banner are explicitly directed, the scope of blame feels conveniently narrow.

Even if he saw the plane, I doubt Uncle Tony gave a single F. Crew fans have a new ownership group and new stadium. Everyone wins here — no need to act like grudge-holding crybabies.

Nothing on that evening could have derailed anyone’s good time.  Austin FC’s inaugural home game was hotter than hell and full of the typical game day fair.  Eager fans swarmed the giant concrete structure, adorned in their finest Thai-produced ATXFC merchandise, high on excitement and wallets at the ready.  Five-dollar artillery shell-sized beer cans selling at the adjacent Exxon gas station went for 4x the price inside the Q2 walls.  Some armchair analysts were screaming questions at professionals, demanding to know why our players did “this” instead of the glaring “that”.  The mood swelled at the prospect of victory and deflated once the opportunity passed.  I even saw a short, portly fellow throw up in the parking lot — presumably from the onset of heat-stroke or one too many cervezas. Professional sport has arrived in Austin.

While ATXFC’s home debut did offer all the conventional trappings of a live sporting event, it somehow still felt quintessentially Austin.  A few guys wore giant green wigs in spite of the blistering heat.  I saw a suspiciously tiny support dog who’s owner fitted him in a suspiciously tiny Austin FC dog cap. The old guy in the band’s drum line is now my personal hero.

Matthew McConaughey ran onto the field in a green suit with bongos strapped to his groin. The last time our Minister of culture made news for playing bongos in town, he was running around nude, high on psychedelics. He was clothed and sober this time, but maybe he gets arrested again after we win a Supporter’s Shield or MLS Cup. It was a downright good time, and something felt overwhelming good about it.

The game itself was certainly entertaining, but I think the more obsessive fans in the crowd did the heavy lifting and turned this day into something worth talking about. Le Murga de Austin drove the stadium’s unrelenting pulse with 90+ minutes of pounding and sharp brass.  The supporter’s groups, Los Verdes and the other one, chanted songs and kept the vibes high.  The Austin-themed tifo was the perfect way to kickoff this team. Everyone’s spirit was lifted. 

No doubt. I’ve often been critical of these folks — the ones who generated an entire culture around a team that didn’t really exist yet. I thought the whole thing felt rushed and oddly disingenuous. The last thing I wanted was to have a plethora of pre-baked chants about a team we’ve never seen play being shouted in a stadium they’ve never played in.

A few people visiting from out of town for the home opener made sarcastic remarks echoing this same sentiment:

“What in the world is there to sing about yet?”

”Did the front office hire people to write these songs?”

“Are they debuting the Hall of Fame today too?”

I’m not sure exactly when my thoughts changed. I can now imagine a home debut without the war cries and music ensemble but, in my daydream, everyone is the worse for it.

In all of my time spent following/writing about sports, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more connected to a team and I doubt I ever will. In that moment, I was completely engulfed in what was happening, in some strange way that intertwined sport, spectacle, and the energy of the masses.

I’m so happy Murga de Austin exist to tie the whole experience together, and I’m happy to admit I was totally wrong in my initial assessment, valuing prolonged cultural development over Game 1 readiness.

I’ve been to countless futbol matches across the globe, sat in many supporter’s sections, but never felt compelled to join in on the chaos. My experience with a newly founded hometown team feels completely different. Even days after the inaugural home match, I found myself quietly humming “DALE DALE ATX….DALE….AAA…TTT…XXX” with no one around to hear it. The entire vibe was infectious, and I stayed on that same wavelength until I returned to my seat for the Columbus matchup where I was prepared to chant along with 75% of the now memorized chants.

I even felt prideful in knowing the difference between “Alright, alright alright” and as some people sang it “Ole, ole, ole”. Those who were incorrectly singing the non-Austinized version of the classic song seemed equally as hyped, so I didn’t correct them on the day. If they were feeling it — as they certainly appeared to be — who I am I to spoil their good time?

The stadium’s energy shows no signs of slowing, and I hope Le Murga & Co. keep bringing the heat for the rest of ATXFC’s days — highs and lows, win or lose. Keep on fighting the good fight.

Listos my bros.

Love Lost, New Favorites, and Launching My ONLYfANS

I’m not entirely sure where the time goes.  Somewhere between my grueling work schedule and unrelenting screwing via my insurance company, Austin FC made their Major League Soccer debut and tasted first-time victory a week later.  During this same whirlwind month, I witnessed the birth and death of a league so super the world could only bear it for two consecutive days.

Crazy fucking times.  Austin FC’s win against Colorado was quickly overshadowed by the introduction, cancellation, and subsequent fallout of twelve greed-machines forming an exclusive/non-competitive soccer league in Europe.  Two things became abundantly clear in the wake: 1.) The self-centered clowns who run these teams care very little for the spirit of the game.  2.) The fan bases of these clubs are ripe with selfishly accommodating apologists.

If you’ve grown up in a European Super League town, I could tolerate reluctance to ditching a club so engrained in your community — but what of the Americans watching games from their couches, tuned into Peacock, ESPN+, or whichever paid app is necessary on the day. What’s their excuse?

I don’t have one anymore. My love for one particular European side is gone.  The twelve richest teams in the world — not the most competitive — decided they wanted to forever position themselves atop the world soccer pecking order without the fans’ consideration.  They all conspired to do something sinister, even executed the plan, but because they backed off at the first sign of financial backlash, some are treating them like heroes.

Seeing a debt ridden organization like Barcelona bitch about financial stability while adding Sergio Aguero’s wages atop Leo Messi’s $1,000 per breath salary makes my eyes roll and blood boil simultaneously.  We just finished watching a Russian oligarch’s club beat an Abu Dhabi royal’s team in the Champs League Final;  Neither team would be there without loose morals and ruthless spending, but we still tune in. These owners are greedy sons of bitches.

My life will cease one day and just prior to the lights shutting off, I don’t want visions of me handing dollars to a bunch of selfish suits who invested in the game for a reason different than my own . . . and that reason is love, pá. I want to bow out with my conscious clear. For this reason, I refuse to support these twelve teams. I recommend you do whatever let’s you sleep at night but won’t come back to haunt you near the end.

At least I can breathe easy on the domestic side of the futbol’ing globe.  Austin FC’s launch has been nothing short of enthralling.  Short the minor distraction provided by the ESL debacle, I’ve been laser-focused on Austin FC’s introduction, a happy parishioner of ATX’s newest faith.

I unconciously presumed the output of every individual on Austin FC’s roster at season’s beginning, ranging anywhere from high bar to non-existent.  But as it goes in the sporting world, the players’ actual performances seem to be the inverse of expectation.

My last post, a preview of Austin FC’s inaugural season, included a predicted starting eleven.  My starting spots were 90.90% correct for our very first outing, with Brad Stuver being the only erroneous omission — and what a monumental error it was.

His career makes for a boring read up to this point but maybe Wolff/Precourt had some insider information from Stuver’s time in Columbus.  Brad’s history gives us little insight as to why he has been so successful in his first starring role.  In fact, his role at previous clubs scream “journeyman”, but who really gives a damn?  Stuver is a rock.

I think the game Stuver solidified his place in our hearts was in the 0-2 loss to the LA Galaxy.  Maybe twenty minutes in, the LA Galaxy were awarded a penalty kick, set to be taken by the freshly resurrected, top of the goal-scoring chart, and undboutledy most popular name in Major League Soccer, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.

Stuver took his standard issue hipster back-comb and twin set of stainless balls between the pipes, preparing to shut down the absolute hottest foot in the league.  Spoiler: he made the save in glorious fashion.

The career juxtaposition between penalty taker and shot stopper served as a perfect highlight in Stuver’s rise to Major League Soccer prominence.  Chicharito entered the world-soccer consciousness as Manchester United’s super sub of the early 00’s, while Austin’s star lists the Dayton Dutch Lions and Wilmington Hammerheads on his list of temporary teams in his path to Austin. For two men separated by only three years of age, they couldn’t have more opposing career arcs, which makes the 30-year-old Stuver’s emergence all that more interesting.

This moment locked him in as a personal favorite in the ATXFC squad, but Stuver’s skill has shown well beyond this single penalty save against the Galaxy.  No one has been more consistent in our first seven matches.  No one has even been close.

Naturally, the city wanted to celebrate his greatness, and the business savvy front office gladly obliged to these pleas.  Never ones to pass up a quick buck, the team released the goalkeeper kit in the newly opened Austin FC Store, at the Q2 Stadium.   Merch-crazed Austinites flooded in and the kits flew off the shelves as quickly as they were hung. One especially crazy son of a bitch spearheaded the thing, and you can watch all of his videos/shenanigans here.

If you know anyone with access to a pink Stuver kit in a size equivalent to a women’s medium, my household will pay you $400 for it.  Hit the contact link with leads.

Lucky for less frugal fans, we have more kits to collet than just the goalkeeper’s.  Seven games into Austin FC’s inaugural season and we already have a plethora of kits we can purchase.  Fuck yeah — capitalism.  We even have a Pride colored training top where 0% of the proceeds go to any organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community.  If you want to celebrate and appear supportive of gay equality without actually making a concrete contribution, this is the ticket:

If these don’t feed the need, you can rest easy knowing the Q2 pro shop has enough random merchandise to consume your paycheck.  I made my first pilgrimage a week ago and felt almost overwhelmed by the selection for a team so young.  I left with two hats, keychain, blanket, jacket, and a branded skull decal I have no clue what to do with.

My wallet is hundreds of dollars lighter.  After seeing leaked photos of the stadium’s beer prices and to keep up my planned weekly trend of dropping hundreds at the Q2 pro shop, I have no other choice but to explore more nefarious ways of producing income.

With this in mind, I’m in the planning stages of creating my very own Onlyfans account.  My username will be something close to “Bronaldinho42069” unless already spoken for, and I’ll be getting into all sorts of unsavory online activities to keep the funds rolling in. I’ll be doing wacky shit like watching MLS games in the nude and just generally whoring myself out.

I have no other choice.

See you at the Kansas City watch party.  Don’t buy out the remaining green Yeti cup stock — I’ve been eyeing one those up for too long, and I have $50 cash to burn.

The Stars and Bars

Simpletons can’t resist a good rhyming phrase

I haven’t really checked the internet in some time.  I’ve been too busy dueling with my insurance company, being further haunted by bursting pipes at my rental home, and just too gassed to be scrolling around Austin news sites or scanning over Reddit posts.

The last time I checked in, United States paralympic athlete/war-machine, Seth Jahn, dominated headlines by running his mouth to the US Soccer Athletes Council, making wild claims like how Americans need to get over our slavery riddled history because black people are killing each other, something about him being Native American, and how standing for the flag is just too damn important.  Seth bemoaned today’s “progressive culture where everything offends everybody” then proceeded to bitch about how athletes who take a protesting knee during our National Anthem offend him.

It’s safe to say, Jahn’s plan to enlighten and expand the minds of his fellow US Soccer Athletes Council — a council he was swiftly removed from — backfired in the most serious of ways.

I wonder if Seth is unhinged enough to expect thunderous applause after spouting rhetoric so obviously off-key for the year marked by rapid-paced political correctness, 2021.  This seems plausible coming from a man who later compared his encounters with harassing social-media mobs to the Gestapo.  I don’t have a doctorate in history, but I take the comparison of a keyboard warriors’ onslaught to the Nazi police responsible for hunting down Jews during the Holocaust as a moron’s argument or potent signal of madness.

Seth Jahn’s tirade is laced with psychotic levels of self-pity and feels problematic for more reasons than I care to get into.   While seemingly heroic in some aspects of his life, he is clearly an inarticulate man who relies on diminishing the trials of the oppressed to boost his own fragile agenda.  But now we know, if someone kneels during our nation’s anthem, Seth Jahn’s soul dies a little — the meek part of him, so void of empathy and perverse, he can only validate an American death if sacrificed on foreign soil.

Austin FC’s own, Nick Lima, stepped into the conversation by giving his pal Seth a vote of confidence.  This opens up an entirely new discussion surrounding Austin’s first professional sports team:  What do we do with players who support a batshit-crazy idealist?

The jury is still out in Austin, and it feels like Lima’s particular foul blew over.  We’re talking about a player many Austinites have never seen in the the flesh, but it will be interesting to watch fans react to similar situations when our players become recognizable faces in the community.  If Nick Lima makes a midseason endorsement for a man reminding us that “only 8% of Americans owned slaves” during a rant downplaying our country’s historical reliance on slave labor, I expect Austin’s backlash to be harsh and swift.  We are, after all, the small tie dye dome in a state brushed red.  Tread lightly Nick.

And becoming a recognized squad will happen even sooner than expected.  Once I finally plugged back into the matrix, I was shocked to see the treasure trove of Austin soccer updates awaiting.

I felt just as overwhelmed reading Seth Jahn’s statement as I was trying to digest everything happening in the ATXFC news bubble.  I knew the team had made their way to the collegiate practice fields at St. Davids, but I wasn’t prepared for the influx of game information.

Not only were the home-opening games for all MLS teams announced —shortly followed by the full Major League Soccer schedule — but the team also announced their involvement in the “La Copita” preseason tournament.  Fuck yes.

What better way to spark the flame of intrastate rivalries than to kick off our inaugural season with a tournament comprised of strictly Texan teams.  With FC Dallas, Houston Dynamo, and San Antonio FC on the tournament schedule — I must admit — the Austin Bold FC snub was comically glarring.

Poor bastards.  Creating a combustible rivalry between two teams in our city would play nicely towards my more sadistic side, but I fully understand the exclusion.  The Bold handled a potential MLS franchise move to Austin with the vengeful rage of a jealous lover, and their attempts to snuff out this possibility appeared bitchy in the eyes of Austin soccer fans.  Plus, no one is going to boycott Major League Soccer to preserve the profitability of a United Soccer League team that plays 1,000 miles south of the city.

No doubt.  The rest of the matchups give me enough fuel to get fired up over, and I might be more excited for the La Copita to get underway than our regular season debut against Los Angeles FC.  If I can muster a grudge against a team who plays in the same town, I could certainly spit venom towards the other cities in this Godforsaken state.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have given the shirt off my back to any fellow Texan suffering through the winter storm but once our teams take the pitch, all bets are off and their fans instantly become mother fuckers.

I suppose each of the cities involved in La Copita have their own appeal, but Austin is clearly the most desirable in the eyes of the country, as shown by the shocking volume of people moving to our town daily.  Dallas is our more flashy but no more sophisticated older sibling, San Antonio wants to be us but might need another 20 years to get there, and even the people of Houston dislike Houston.

Austin is clearly the superior city but it is to be seen if we can best our three state rivals on the pitch.  Really, this year doesn’t even matter as we’ve already won.  The downers and depressed will try to take our joy this year — but don’t listen to those scum.  The only fanbases doing the serious bitching are the jaded ones.  We will witness the birth of a team this year — hurt feelings or a shitty rebrand won’t get in the way of that!

We can’t lose this season.  We could go winless (almost like 2020 Houston: 4-9-10) and still be celebrating this team.  We’re in the midst of an unwavering golden era;  There’s always something special about beginnings.

eMLS: Gambling Ad Masquerading as Wholesome Fun

FLIP Them The Bird and Don’t Dare to Look

Someone once said to me “It’s ok to just like things sometimes.” The comment rattled my brain in a way one could only expect after hearing something so profoundly stupid. This idiot philosopher disapproved of me critiquing Austin FC’s overly hyped logo reveal — the reveal paired with that pretentious info graphic — as if not enjoying every aspect of Austin FC is either sacrilegious or totally intolerable.

To live that blindly devoted to anything is cowardly — never bothering to question why you like something and feeling satisfied in that ignorance.  If you can justify your stance along the spectrum of adoration and disgust, you at least understand the “why”.  If you can’t, you’re a fool equally capable of idiotic proclamations like “It’s ok to just hate things sometimes.” Not knowing the “why” behind your own opinions indicates a dangerous susceptibility to outside influence or a lazy reliance on preconception to make decisions for you.

No thanks, rube.  Questioning every facet of the ATXFC Machine is my duty as a responsible consumer — it’s the American way!  What would incentivize the front office to produce a quality product — on or off the pitch — if we mindlessly consumed any unthoughtful crap they threw at us?  If this person had it there way, we would all be strapped down, mainlining intravenous ATXFC content while our credit cards were being charged by the minute . . . No. Questions. Asked.

Purchasing season tickets from Austin FC gives them the privilege to take thousands of dollars from my bank account and returning to me the privilege of attending games. While that describes the direct exchange, I also, as a non-passive consumer with half a brain, reserve the right to question where my funds end up. Today, I would like to exercise that right. If I had a direct line to the front office, I’d be harassing them with daily questions as to why they promote a video game as greedy and immoral as EA Sports’ FIFA Ultimate Team.  You might take this as an overblown, hyperbolic joke, but I assure you I’m deadly serious.  This is a creation spawned of pure, unabashed greed.

Imagine a Las Vegas casino floor infested with ignorant adolescent gamblers hauling around piggy banks and spending their modest life-savings on the promise of rare digital trading cards.  The true degenerates lounging in the high rollers section are using their parents’ stolen Amex’s to feed their ugly addiction, while the adult game developers knowingly watch on from protected security rooms, counting the cash as it pours in.  Lines of coke used to keep chips moving into the early morning are replaced by energy drinks, strippers and whores by the streamers and Youtubers these kids ogle over and adore.  This is the spirit of FIFA Ultimate Team.

Exposition

Ultimate team is a mode within the otherwise benign video game known as FIFA, the premier soccer video game of planet Earth.  eMLS is a promotional extension of FIFA Ultimate Team seeing Major League Soccer teams sign professional gamers to represent their club in occasional electronic showdowns.

Representatives build their customized “Ultimate Team” by attaining player cards through opening digital packs, similar to the physical trading cards old people are accustomed to.  Where the physical trading card could hold value over time, the most devious side of FUT (FIFA Ultimate Team) is that their digital cards lose any tangible value once the newest version of the game is released.  Unlike the physical world, this entire digital market resets annually.  You might unpack a FIFA ‘21 card with a perceived street value of $100, but that card’s value plummets to nothing once the entire world inevitably migrates to FIFA ‘22, upon its release.

Just like their physical counterparts, these digital packs cost real money, and to acquire the players necessary to compete at the level of eMLS, you have to spend real money — shocking amounts of real money.  Once the year is up, and the next cycle of the video game releases, you rinse and repeat.  To put in plainly, you have to pay college tuition, buy a car, or make a 20% home downpayment anywhere outside of Travis County — in full, every year —  to compete at the same level as an eMLS player.

Fin

If eMLS operates as an opt-in model, it seems only the Mormons had big enough balls to not pull the trigger;  Of the twenty-six MLS teams — and newcomers St. Louis — only Real Salt Lake is absent from the eMLS lineup.  Twenty-seven Major League Soccer teams are knowingly/unknowingly promoting Ultimate Team every time they talk, Tweet, or post about their eMLS representative — Austin being one of them.

Our club’s eMLS pro, John “xBleu” Garcia, serves as a typical example.  The former LA Galaxy representative fields a team looking something like what you see here.  The simple math tells us local kids looking to emulate John would have to spend more than what could be considered responsible to create the same team. According to a few online databases, John’s starting striker (Brazilian Ronaldo with his historically worst haircut) trades for 7 million FIFA coins; coins you can purchase from black market websites for around $700. You only need 10 more players and bench, then you’re ready to rock. Hot damn – that’s some serious green.

Wheres the MLS players at my guy?

EASports generates insane annual profits from Ultimate Team.  Their hell-spawned business model began pulling in over one-billion dollars annually in 2018 and nearly reached similar numbers for some time.  Take a look at this now infamous tweet from Daniel Ahmad. I’m not entirely sure how Dan attained this information, but the World Wide Web generally regards it as truth. The numbers are alarming and difficult to fathom:

We lack data showing monetary contributions by age range, but we can safely assume these staggering yearly totals weren’t exclusively funded by adults. Ultimate Team certainly does not discriminate by age.

The controls EA Sports have in place to prevent child gambling (let’s call it what it is) can only be described as laughable, and our team is culpable should they continue to promote this morally depraved activity. I don’t believe Austin FC or even “xBleu” are fully cognizant of how their participation in eMLS promotes such a sinful mechanism, but this needs to change.

Even atheists could imagine a half acre lot in hell reserved for the EA Sports employee who conceptualized peddling valueless digital assets to children.  We’re talking about the same unholy street populated by the marketing gurus behind “cotton candy” nicotine vapor and HappyMeal toys — Biblically evil scum. The last thing I want is for anyone operating our team to be associated with this activity.

The first step would be to educate the front office on these matters. If you do have a direct line to the powers that be, send them in my direction. If you have suggestions for a more flamboyant way of getting their attention, I’m down for that too. For now, I suppose I’ll craft them a letter with this link included and hope for the best. Even if it accomplishes nothing — for now — I’ll sleep a bit better at night knowing I tried.

Oh, hey there Tony.

It’s me . . . your bro.

Bronaldinho.

So whats up Tone?

Oh, Really? No way.

That’s cool.

What’s on my mind? Oh, not much at the moment. But if I’m being honest, I’ve been thinking a whole lot about this “EMLS” as of late and how it’s sort of stupid and evil.

First off, the kid we have playing for us isn’t even from Austin. I don’t think he even lives here. ALso, when I have seen him play, he’s not even using Major League Soccer players. They’re not even required to. I guess he uses the ATxFc jersey — so that’s cool — but other than that, it just feels like we’re promoting this guy for only his benefit. He was the Galaxy’s representative last year and could be repping the Whitecaps next year for all we know. It all seems odd.

Really, the whole EMLS deal is just a big plug for Ultimate Team, which is just a greedy money pit which circumvents child gambling laws. The internet provides more autonomy to our youth and that creates a pretty weak barrier for companies to exploit. hiding behind the veil of the net, it doesn’t seem as shady as setting up a poker table on a playground, but I’m promise you, its basically the same thing — and pretty screwed up. I made a post about it. Give it a read.

I know you give zero f’s about what people think of you and you will ultimately do whatever you think is smart business. I really respect that (lol columbus, amiright’?) Say F**K this trend and let’s pull ATxFC out of EMLS. Do it for our future.

Do it for the kids.

I promise you, not enough people will miss it to even make a fuss.

Thanks Tony. Stay woke.

talk soon.

– Senhor Bronaldinho

Winter Storms and a Petition for The Captain’s Armband

With a Complimentary Trip to Cancun

I was setting up candles for the third dinner in a row, not for the ambiance — not for the sex appeal — a routine I was becoming all too familiar with. This time the house temperature was dropping into the low teens. To keep spirits at an even keel, I began rationalizing this more primitive lifestyle in ways that could offer some kind of temporary relief.

Winter storms were wreaking havoc all over Texas. Every house on my block lost electricity days ago — we surely weren’t the only ones. A lot of Austin families were preparing to dine on “random pantry mix” again, dressed in four layers of chunky clothing. Our elected state Senators were probably on the front lines, freezing their asses off and working themselves into a frenzy distributing supplies to those in need, while I was chilling my refrigerator contents using snow drifts. Showering in the dark was surprisingly relaxing. This too shall pass.

The gas line feeding our stove and heating our water tank was still operational but would no doubt suffer the same fate as our electricity did some days ago. Things weren’t looking great for us, but we were all still breathing — for this, I was thankful.  Right around the time I voiced to my clan “Hey, at least things can’t get any worse,” with the comedic predictability of a poorly written sitcom, the pipe burst, and my journey towards months-long hotel living began.

You might think I had an aneurism watching gallons of water rain down from invisible pores in my ceiling — but you would be wrong.  It felt almost blissful being surrounded by the peaceful dripping sound of indoor rain, like listening to a plug-in water fountain — the kind you would expect to find in an acupuncturist’s lobby or entrance to a day spa.  Watching my worldly possessions soaking in water didn’t phase me much at the time, as the euphony of multiple liquid cascades drew me in further.  In fact, I was so distracted, my mind drifted from the moment completely, and I began to take mental account of all the things most important in my life.

To be clear, I’m no saint.  Once I heard the thunderous collapse of my waterlogged ceiling, I could have choked a man past his final breath — but I can still appreciate the clarity I recieved just prior to the fall.  Everyone in my home was safe and my 13” iPad Pro with backlit keyboard/touchpad was dry.  I couldn’t have mustered a single fuck if the rest of it floated out the front door — none of that junk holds weight in the Grand Scheme. I returned to Zen.

Once we had the situation under control (control looked like shutting our water off at the street and thirty odd buckets / pans / bins spread out wherever they could catch a drip), I was able to jump on the internet to see how the rest of the area was fairing.

The situation seemed a lot more bleak for others. Seeing stories about people nearly starving or freezing to death really put it all into perspective, and reading about our futbol team lending a hand to these less fortunate folks brought me some joy in these potentially frustrating times. Possessions, walls, carpets, and espresso machines are covered by insurance policy flood protection and the like, but not everyone is in a position to afford this kind of coverage. These people needed relief and our players, who have yet to kick a ball on the ATXFC pitch, stepped in to help their fellow Austinites.

Matt Besler deserves all praise being hurled in his direction.  The veteran center back set up and promoted a GoFundMe page to help raise money for winter storm disaster relief for his newly adopted hometown — a classy move from an apparently classy guy.

As of writing this, the GoFundMe page has accumulated over $45,000 in donations, far surpassing the original target goal of $30k.  The page is still up, so please donate if you’re able.

If there was ever a way to display leadership and genuinely endear yourself to a new town, this would be it. Matt Besler only dropped his “I’m moving to Austin” parody of McConaughey’s Lincoln commercials about a month ago, and he’s already pitching in like the neighbor you’ve known your entire life. Let’s not forget this one, Austin. There might come a time where Besler could use our help, and we should be there without hesitation.

We need more people like Matt in leadership positions. When Besler and Co. were putting the wheels in motion to set up this fund, one of our elected state officials was probably boarding a plane destined for warmer climates (you don’t pack a large luggage bag to drop your kids off). I’m not saying Besler should run for senate, but come April, I’ll be surprised to see anyone else wearing the captain’s strap.

I’ve felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness brought upon by this winter storm, and it’s one of the few positives to come from it; Austinites helping Austinites. Even folks from other cities — some considered rivals — have reached out with kind gestures or kind words. Our city will recover from this, and we will be stronger for it — both in resilience and bond.

Thanks to those folks from around the States.

Thanks Austin.

And thanks Matt Besler. You’re a rock-solid human being, and I’m proud you play for us.

A New Name, A New Face, Both For McKalla Place

One from here, right in our town, the other from a latitude a further ways down

For anyone bemoaning the new but ”boring” Austin FC stadium name, I — of all people — would even tell you to lighten up.  Watching games at the HEB Arena or Franklin’s Barbecue Field sounds adorable, but the rubber only meets the road once the check clears — and Q2 Holdings, Inc. was the business who ponied up.

I like the name: The Q2 Stadium. It’s simple and BOLD. Going to watch games ”at the Q” carries a nice, casual ring. And honestly, it could be so much worse.

Soccer fans in the Bronx are forced to attend games at a professional baseball field.  Let that actually sink in for a minute.  North of Manhattan, no soccer fan is concerned with stadium naming rights because there are none to speak of.  They watch games through binoculars and thank the Yankees for their borrowed turf. I’ve watched games there — poor bastards.  The whole ordeal feels terribly Bush League.  Even if our sponsor lacks the brand sex-appeal some locals apparently crave, let’s count our blessings and thank Q2 for jumping at the opportunity.  

Does our town only get behind local businesses if they’re a trendy food spot or a vegan, non-gmo, dairy-free record store?  No, sir.  While Austinites certainly enjoy expertly procured artisanal goods, many of us earn our livings in tech company cubicles just like those you would expect to find at the Q2 offices.  These companies operate in the stratosphere of brands cash-rich enough to enter the pricey conversation of stadium naming rights.  We’re lucky it was a local company who offered to sponsor our home and not some foreign car brand or energy beverage conglomerate.

Being able to reference McKalla Place by a proper name feels like another important domino in Austin FC’s materialization, but a few more things need to settle before we engage in full-fledged futbol viewing glory.   I drive past the massive structure a few times a week, and the empty neon green seats serve as an undeniable reminder of the challenges ahead for our front office.  Sure — tickets are sold out, but safe money tells us COVID won’t be wiped out overnight, even with a vaccine.  So where does that put our attendance for Austin FC’s inaugural home game?

I’ve yet to see official word on this decision, which means the front office is still mulling over this terrible predicament.  I’m sure they want to cash in on full stadium attendance, while not simultaneously hosting a virus super-spreading event. Currently, the state of Texas will allow sports venues to operate at 50% capacity.  So as it stands today, half of us season ticket holders will be watching Austin FC’s first home game from our couches — not the bleachers.  

While I agree with the logic of not piling every last ticket holder into our new home, I will be livid if I’m not selected in the lottery or whatever method they use to determine who is allowed through the turnstiles.  2020 and 2021 have left me desperate for reprieve, and I would be willing to do anything — unscrupulous and depraved things — to be the first person through the gates.  If you know anyone at the Austin FC front office in the market for viable but “non-essential” organs from a healthy male in their thirties, have them shoot me a line.  Serious inquires only.

Even if I’m reluctantly watching our innagural home game from my sofa with none of my internal organs harvested, my spirits should remain somewhat in tact as I’m convinced more every day that Austin FC could be a reasonably competitive in their first year.  The blow of missing out on Austin’s home Major League Soccer debut would be crushing, but perhaps less devastating if the on-field product is quality.  The addition of Tomas Pochettino helps to maintain this positive trend of thinking.

What I don’t know personally about the player is made up for by internet hype and overwhelmingly positive buzz around our second designated player.  Tomas could be the midfield maestro that elevates players like Cecelio Dominguez, who contrastly received a hearty dose of sceptisim when he was first announced.  Not the case with Tomas.  No one is saying he is quite the second coming of the Messiah, but it feels like we’re getting someone of high quality to help kickstart the team.

Without checking, I have no doubt that every last Austin FC podcast in existence already has an episode posted where they dive deep into Tomas Pochettino and pretend to have the knowledge necessary to accurately determine a player’s true skill and subsequent impact.  I could either join in on this mastabatory behavior or rely on the content of others to visually titalate you.  Seeing as I try to remain most honest, I prefer the latter:

Dirty little beat too.
A nice video done by the TwinOaks TV Youtube channel

One more DP to go, and if Austin’s behavior around player acquisitions gives us any clues as to who it could be, all signs point to some guy we’ve never heard of before — and he’s definitely from South America.

Be well.

A Most Honest Austin FC Roster Review

Because honesty is the best policy

Before analyzing futbol talents and sharing opinions of those talents in any formal sense, one should know where they rank in the hierarchy of soccer wisdom. Identifying your grade ahead of time is paramount. This allows you to properly inform your audience of exactly who is informing them.

By not being candid with your grade, you give the reader carte blanche to assume you’re a battle-hardened soccer guru, an utter dipshit, or anything in between. This is where the Futbol Knowledge Pyramid comes into play.

Forget the term “analyst” in the the traditional sense. The Futbol Knowledge Pyramid views anyone with even a passing opinion of the game as an analyst, because we’re all analyzing the beautiful game to some degree. From the silverware hoarding manager dominating Europe, to the village idiot drunkenly shouting slurs in the pub, we all share a common thread.

We’re all analysts — but we’re certainly not the same. We fall into different tiers, and the breakdown looks like this:

I’m sure you’ve seen tiny blurbs displayed underneath the talking heads of sport, saying things like “Two-time MLS Cup Winning Coach” or “Three-Time Premier League Champion”. These lines act as reminders of a person’s highest achievements in the world of futbol and help to reinforce why the hell we should be listening to them blabber in the first place.

Here is a fun question: What would your tagline be?

“Soccer career peaked in high school.”

“Watches the Premier League, like, every weekend.”

“Managed multiple clubs in various editions of FIFA.”

“Local Soccer Podcaster who questions the decisions of professionals”

“3 Seasons Played in the Austin Sports and Social League” for teams named something like Let’s Get Messi, Beercelona or Josh’s Wolff Pack.

“Haven’t watched the game that long. Started a supporter’s group anyway. Unsure of what the people want.”

What all of your blurbs should actually read: “Tier 6 Futbol Analyst”

The gap between European glory and local “I told you so” bragging rights is True Experience — the kind of experience only acquired through vocations where your judgement of the game is directly tied to your own professional success or failure. (Ex: professional scout, professional player, professional manager, etc.). All of these people fall somewhere between Tiers 1 and 5, depending on their relative success within their practiced profession. For everyone else, there is still a place to call home: Tier 6.

Tier 6 is by far the most cozy tier to occupy, as you can rant and rave utter nonsense on a given day and at no time will your livelihood be affected. Be as audacious as you please, because when you question the decisions made by one of the world’s professionals (in time, you will see these questions sent in Josh Wolff/Claudio Reyna’s direction by T6’s) no one is there to reprimand you in any meaningful way. The stakes couldn’t be lower — kick back and relax

Armchair analysts. Know-it-alls. Unsophisticated assholes.

These are just some of the types of people who occupy Tier 6. These are the people who would question a decision made by someone like Jurgen Klopp and subsequently offer up how “they would have done it better.” These types of critiques could be related to personnel changes, tactics, transfers — anything having to do with the inner workings of a team that the Tier 6 analyst has only practiced in theory but never in reality.

Don’t twist my shit; there are plenty of fine folks who own real estate in the Tier 6 neighborhood. Not all of them are self-righteous whimps. The ones who can’t be placed in a negatively painted bucket are just the self-aware ones.

I am a Tier 6 analyst. The following is a casual rundown of Austin FC’s roster build.

The Collegiate Crew

Daniel Pereira (M) – Freddy Kleeman (D) – Aedan Stanley (D) – Daniel Steedman (M) – Noah Lawrence (GK)

Rock-solid info around these gentlemen is hard to come by. I don’t mean general stat mongering and conjecture, I mean a lot of them played very little — if any — college footy last year, so these players’ value in the longterm is anyone’s guess.

We shall see . . . but one thing is for certain; Daniel Pereira will be compared to Phillip Mayaka for all of his Major League Soccer days. It seems like every media person on God’s green Earth was certain Mayaka would land in ATX, only to have Austin FC snag Pereira with the first overall pick in the MLS Super Draft.

If you watched the first half hour of the Super Draft, you already witnessed the talking heads willingly admit to not knowing what the hell was going on. It seemed like every time they were certain of the next team’s selection, the professionals making the decisions went in a different direction. It was all very Tier 6-ish.

Being unopposed when picking first, it’s clear that Reyna/Wolff got their guy. Dan get’s sunshine and Austin City Limits, while Phil gets a moderate climate and legalized marijuana. Who ended up in the better club is TBD, but nothing beats catching Dave Chapelle at Stubbs or sipping cold Lonestars with barbecue, under string-lights and the violet crown. Welcome to ATX Dan.

Familiar MLS Faces

Kekuta Manneh (FW) – Matt Besler (D) – Diego Fagundez (M) – Brad Stuver (GK) – Andrew Tarbell (GK) – Hector Jimenez (D) – Alex Ring (M) – Brady Scott (GK) – Jared Stroud (M) – Danny Hoesen (FW) – Jon Gallagher (FW) – Julio Cascante (D) – Nick Lima (D) – Ulises Segura (M) – Ben Sweat (D) – Aaron Shoenfeld (FW)

A few names stick out here and they’re the only ones I feel equipped to offer anything resembling an opinion on — or even a passing thought. See below:

Danny Hoesen (FW) – I watched quite a few San Jose Quakes games some time ago and recall thinking Hoesen might have the grit to emerge as a star. He was always going to be overshadowed playing alongside the goal-scoring prowess of Chris Wondolowski, but maybe Austin is just what he needs to spread his wings and break some necks. Being thirty years old isn’t great, but I think Major League Soccer is more forgiving on age when compared to major European competitions.

Matt Besler (D) – I think most folks even remotely familiar with Major League Soccer know of Besler’s quaility. In some parallel universe, Austin FC played their first game five years ago, Besler was on the roster, and I’m convinced we have one of the best defenders in the league. Five years on, I don’t have the slightest clue what he has left in the tank. Here is where you would typically find bullshit filler regarding a veteran lockeroom presence, but I’m only concerned with not conceding goals. Let’s hope Sporting Kansas City regrets letting him go.

Kekuta Manneh (FW) – Regardless of what he achieves at the Q2, Manneh’s homecoming story makes this signing well worth any risk. His overlap with Josh Wolff in Columbus and previous time playing for the Austin Aztecs make Kekuta Manneh the feel-good story of ATXFC’s inaugural season. Instant fan-favorite, even if he’s coming off the bench.

Alex Ring (M) – The internet was buzzing when word of the Alex Ring signing got out. It seemed the World Wide Soccer Web could hardly keep their pants on when they heard Ring was moving from NYC to ATX. There’s a lot of buzz around Ring and I don’t know why; not because I doubt Ring’s abilities, but more because I can‘t recall watching NYCFC play. I caught most of the MLS Is Back tournament, and most of the MLS playoffs. Did NYCFC even play last season? The world may never know . . .

Nick Lima (D) – Nike Lima also received a healthy dose of hype and enthusiasm when picked up by ATXFC. Expansion team-building is difficult in any sport, but it feels like we have some genuine starters who would find their way onto most starting elevens in Major League Soccer. Big positive.

The Guarani Boys

Cecilia Dominguez (FW) – Rodney Redes (FW) – Johanna Romana (D)

I’m not sure how our front office identified Club Guarani, but once they did, it quickly became a South American playground for ATX talents. If you’re a regular viewer of the Paraguayan Primera Division, then you’re already well versed in what these gentlemen do/do not bring to the table — you’re also at the forefront of obscure soccer TV viewing.

This crew is easily the most intriguing because they bring the most promise with the least visual evidence. Romana is probably a longterm project, and our Young Designated Player, Rodney Redes, will hopefully develop fast. For bliss or misery, Dominguez is our team’s clear ”superstar” until we sign two additional DP’s.

I’ve done some “deep” (not at all, really) write ups for our DPs before (Rodney here and CD here), but it’s hard to say exactly what these guys will bring to the Q. Youtube clips of them shredding up guys in Paraguay look cool, but I’m not sure this success will directly translate to goals stateside.

Cecelio Dominguez has the longest track record, which fails to impress when viewing it on paper. Seeing him play a bit in South America leaves me feeling hopeful, but again, living in the 6th Tier, I’m unsure how meaningful these moments are at twenty-six years of age in a different hemisphere.

On the bright side, none of this really matters. Josh Wolff and Claudio Reyna believe he has what it takes and were willing allocate the funds to bring him here, so all is well. They’re the one’s who will have to deliver answers to ownership if these players aren’t up to snuff — not me. They’re also the ones who have spent their young and adult lives dedicated to this game — not me.

I like what J/C have done with the team, and I’m pleasantly surprised it turned out this well. But if history is recorded to teach us lessons in the future, putting up a winning record will prove difficult in our inaugural season. Just food for thought:

New Franchise (entry year)Inaugural Season Record W – L – T
Orlando City FC (2015)12 – 14 – 8
NYCFC (2015)10 – 17 – 7
Minnesota United (2017)10 – 18 – 6
Atlanta United (2017)15 – 9 – 10
LAFC (2018)16 – 9 – 9
FC Cincinnati (2019)6 – 22 – 6
Inter Miami (2020)7 – 13 – 3
Nashville SC (2020)8 – 7 – 8

At the end of the day — and I think I speak for most of Austin when saying — I’m not sure I care how well Austin FC plays in their inaugural season as long as I have an overpriced stadium beer in hand, my very expensive seat is cushioning my backside, and the team is remotely competitive, or as competitive as one should realistically expect from an expansion franchise. Not having the sun burning a hole in my retinas would be an added bonus.

Onward and upward from here, Austin’s F.C. There’s only one way to go.

The Away Kit is Here: Not so Legendary

“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” – Bill Shakespeare

:::::::::::

Austin‘s away kit is here.

In typical fashion, I’m tempted to moan and bitch about the “Legend” naming convention and fluff marketing campaign, but there’s no use . . . we’re all going to buy the damn thing sooner or later.

About a week ago, Austin was struck by a city-wide phenomenon. People from every corner of Travis County reported deafening sequential beeps resonating throughout town. Some people believed it to be an air siren of sorts warning of incoming cedar fog, others believed it to signal The End of Days.

Lucky for Austin, the source of this intrusive noise was something far less menacing. Those with a duty to know traced it back to a colossal Brinks truck backing into Austin FC’s headquarters, in anticipation of the innumerable cash pallets soon to arrive.

This story checks out; moments after the pulses were heard, the public’s inboxes were flooded with “The Legend’s Jersey” preorder emails.

I am not a mindless consumer.

This is shrewd business in times where people are still shut in and horribly desperate for reprieve. The carrot of team uniforms has been dangling in our faces for years and with the inaugural season this close to starting (pending a lockout), everyone is feeling soccer-starved.

The hunger pains are growing. Our desperation runs so deep, I’m convinced Austin fans would buy a generic Adidas 3rd jersey, fashioned in “doo doo brown” and nameplates reading “just take my $” — as long as the Austin FC crest was sewn to it. Austin’s thirst for soccer paraphernalia is both remarkable and insatiable.

ATXFC/Adidas/MLS didn’t bother to show us these uniforms or even confirm this was the away kit before asking for preorders — no ma’am, just enter your credit card information and allow 3-5 business days for shipping. You’ll see it when you see it!

I will not engage in retail therapy.

And see it we did. Considering the equal measure of hype leading up to Austin FC’s inaugural home kit, the “Legends Jersey” seemed poised to deliver certain disappointment. Did we get another generic Adidas template? Yes. Was the away kit white? Of course. Are there three stripes on the right shoulder? You bet your ass there is.

There’s not much to this thing. I feel like we’ve seen this jersey before in Major League Soccer, except this time they hit “Bright Verde” on the color-wheel. Much of the internet appeared to share a similar sentiment of general letdown, but Major League Soccer / Austin FC / Adidas don’t tally the downvotes — they count dollars.

Regardless of the dissatisfaction, Austinites will be running in droves to the Verde Van for the inaugural away kit. The green color pops and the cliche Austin symbolism included on the neck tape is by no means radical, but it’s fun. The jersey’s details aren’t so bad that I don’t want to own it, except for one small inclusion: the Grackle logo as the jocktag.

I am strong willed.

First, I’ll gladly admit not knowing these little jersey patches at the waist were called “jocktags” until the ATXFC jersey-explanation-graphics started coming out. Second, it’s fair to say I’m not the largest fan of the Austin Anthem and their impotent grackle mascot.

Know that. The minute the jocktag was revealed, I went from a state of mild letdown to genuine rage. Being forced to include the bird with my purchase pains me in a special way that only a swift kick to the jewels or burying your childhood pet can replicate. Keeping my cool while dealing with these heated feelings, and trying not to be the biggest asshole I known I can be, I took to Reddit and shared my disapproval.

As I posted to that site, I’m not in love with being forced to include the grackle tag on my own away kit, and this certainly sways me further away from purchasing this already bland offering. If the jocktag was optional, this decision would have been easier, but regardless of my preference, it is very much included at the full retail cost of $145 (+$25 for customization). With this in mind, I made the Austin FC subreddit aware of my decision.

I make wise financial choices.

If you were one of the folks kind enough to read my previous post (linked above), then you know the Austin Anthem’s resident propaganda cleric was already scanning posts for ill speak of their beloved bird, never casually interacting with the fan base or sharing genuine insights — only policing.

I went back and forth with this innocuous Anthem troll until they finally had enough or ran out of excrement to fling. I hope the truth didn’t hurt his frail character.

If you’re interested in our exchange, I posted it below (for the Lulz). If you’re apathetic, scroll past the next image. For those who do read it, please don’t reduce the entirety of Austin FC’s fandom to being as bizarre as these folks. They know not what they do:

“The Austin Anthem has left the chat . . .”

I saw a commercial for ReputationDefender.com the other day and my mind immediately raced to the Anthem and their tarnished reputation. In this low rent commercial, a man is asked to explain away negative internet narratives about his company. The F-list actor mutters something like “Oh. Boy. hOw DiD tHiS hApPeN?”, as if clueless to why reviewers rate him as such an intolerable moron.

This must be what the Austin Anthem leadership feel like, confident that whimpering X-mas Eve messages to the community and policing Reddit will turn things around for them, all while remaining blissfully ignorant to how the knowing general public actually perceives them.

I would like to offer my ReputationDefender.com-style services to the Austin Anthem; I’m not a professional, but I’m deadly serious. Let’s chat and have an honest conversation about the things you could change to become “likable” again. Your ignored posts and instantly downvoted comments are a bad look. I’m even willing to do this pro bono, as this would be considered charitable work and give a modest boost to my resume.

I approach opposition with zen-like patience. Contact me: iAmBronaldinho@gmail.com

Still, it’s hard to get behind this debut, but it’s equally as difficult not to participate. Like the rest of our town’s futbol fans, I’ve been gobbling up Austin FC merchandise at a feverish rate. The opportunity for “firsts” surrounding this club are dwindling fast, and I intended to indulge in as many of those firsts as possible.

But just like the Legend’s Jersey will be a temporary fixture at away games, so too is the patch that I so incredibly loathe. With that in mind, I can confidently say I’ve come up with my next post idea. So confident in fact, I’m putting the title here so that I’m forced to add a link to it: How to Replace an Adidas Jocktag in Just a Few Easy Steps!

My jersey will arrive in 3-5 business days.

The Austin Anthem Sucks

And their logo is dumb too

Strange.

Very strange indeed.

I’m sure of it now — Austin FC’s first supporter’s group is made up of equal parts delusion and madness.

In a city that encourages citizens to “Keep Things Weird”, I can assure you, we celebrate certain eccentricities but have no tolerance for those who enter territory of the Truly Strange.  It’s hard to decipher what the Austin Anthem’s goals and motivations really are, but as a supporter’s group, one thing has become abundantly clear; they don’t have the slightest idea of what the Austin FC supporter majority actually want — they’ve only made it their business to act like they do.

No doubt.  The Austin Anthem’s curious behavior surfaced again with an ill-timed message, sent on December 23rd, to their subscribers and, more intrusively, to my little slice of internet nirvana, the r/AustinFC sub-Reddit.  Done in their signature defensive stylings and lacking meaningful specificity, The Austin Anthem appear to be crying foul at other Austin FC supporter’s groups for not policing those voices who continually speak ill of their group.

Any human with a brain cell of commonsense would question the optics of sending this bizarre message on Christmas Eve’s Eve, but the AA’s modus operandi is grounded in foolish decision making and a desire to perplex.  Ultimately, if drafting up a poorly written press release about hurt feelings is what they consider holiday time well spent, it’s their perogative to make that choice — albeit a sad one. After wasting six minutes of your life reading it, you’ll realize the person who penned it must have lost their soul during the internet mauling they claimed to have endured — too punch drunk to recall their attacker, too defeated to fight back effectively.

They clearly aren’t suited for the inevitable heat one will face while engaging with people on any of today’s social media platforms.  Case in point: no Anthem Reddit post is complete without defensive follow-up responses for every non-conforming comment.  When feeling their most insecure, the group deploys their Reddit flunky, “TexanStig”, who acts as the organization’s resident propaganda cleric, only poking his head out from under the bridge to shamelessly plug his group’s activity or tirelessly defend their latest blunder.  Most of the Anthem’s Reddit posts are met with next to zero engagement or a comedic level of internet pushback — and when the internet pushes back, the AA scrambles to put out the flames.

The Austin Anthem believes their is an “us vs. them” mentality developing amongst Austin FC supporters, but this is where they’re wrong.  As the unfiltered forum feedback shows us, people aren’t as much against them as they are uninterested.  No one seems to care about the Austin Anthem’s perspectives or constant posturing anymore.  A lot of this stems from the generally confusing nature of their communications and, maybe more importantly, confusion within the organization itself.

At first, they didn’t go by the name Austin Anthem; they were known as MLS2ATX/MLSinAustin — a group formed with hopes of attracting a Major League Soccer team to our town.  Once the Columbus Crew-to-Austin move was announced (later becoming an expansion team), the group made a logical transition from franchise lightening rod to supporter’s group.

Despite making the name change a few years ago, the Austin Anthem remains stuck in the same perpetual metamorphosis cycle it’s found itself in from birth.  Since the group’s inception in 2013, they’ve even debuted a new logo every year until they landed on their current emblem in 2018.

While still operating as MLS2ATX, and before the Austin team was offical, they used green, black, and white colors in their branding and merchandise.  After the grackle logo debuted, they adopted a new purple/black/white color scheme, paired with the aforementioned logo of a native bird (which has black/blue coloring in nature), and all for a team with colors matching their original pallete.  I’m sure they have an entirely new logo design and irrelevant color scheme ready to debut in 2021, and for that, I wait in great anticipation.  For now, it seems they’ve transitioned back to match the team colors but still have dashes of purple mixed into their website.

Certainly, not confusing.  You can find a black and white retelling of the Anthem’s history on their website alongside a healthy dose of self-egrandizing quotes and factoids worded as poorly as their press release, all aimed to make the Anthem appear more relevant than they actually are.  To an outsider, this might make them seem legitimate, but as an Austinite surrounded by those entrenched in our city’s soccer culture, I can assure you, this is nothing more than smoke being blown up the collective ass of those ignorant enough to take it:

They claim to be the “largest soccer supporter’s group for Austin FC”.  How could they realistically quantify this?

The “first and only MLS supporter’s group in Austin”?  Au contraire, mon frere.  This website proves otherwise.

“Our iconic grackle is so awesome, some people have thought it’s part of the club itself!”.  That’s a stretch.

They display “The Hymnal” of “songs, chants, and cheers” the AA debuted at the team’s unveiling; I’m sure this will be included in the annals of Austin FC’s history as a part of the “rushed cultural evolution” exhibit, but I heard the AA’s instruction of these songs described as “totalitarian” and “cult-like”.  Calling it a hymnal is cult-ish enough, but their own code of conduct even states that “Members of Austin Anthem will. . . Enthusiastically participate in songs and chants throughout the match, following the direction of the capos”.  Cheering on game day isn’t a choice folks — it’s a directive — and you will enjoy it.

I refused to sing.

“We don’t gate keep, disenfranchise, nor do we believe there is a right or wrong way to be a supporter. “ Their membership section is headed by a photo including many former Anthem members who defected to create a different supporter’s group, Los Verdes.

The irony . . .

Contrary to their claim, the Austin Anthem do believe in a “right” way to support the club, and spell this out within the press release.  Towards the end of their grumblings, the Anthem propose the creation of a supporter’s group council to agree on appropriate supporter group behavior — while never clearly stating who or what was done incorrectly — and already wrote up “tenants” for this “operational umbrella”.  I’m not sure who this kind of presumptuous drivel appeals to, but it doesn’t seem to be gaining steam with the masses.

Founder, President, sometimes Austin Anthem podcast host and “Creator / Executive Producer / Editor” of said podcast (oh boy!), Josh Babetski, sees his name first after the valediction.  One might assume such an out of touch ramble would only slip through the cracks by some trigger-happy minion, but the president of this stagnating organization even endorsed it.  In reading up on the man, he hasn’t been a fan of the game for that long and clearly lacks an understanding of what the true futbol fan respects.  If exaggeration and self-flaguation are the cornerstones which the Austin Anthem is built on, then his personal website is surely indicative of where this approach originated.

Ignoring that Austin FC’s owner, Anthony Precourt, had clear intentions of moving a team to Austin from the first day he purchased the Columbus Crew, the founder of the AA and his group technically succeeded with their mission of bringing an MLS team to Austin.  Pressing the issue with local government, communicating with ATXFC brass, and proving Austin as a viable landing spot for an MLS team were all business done well by this organization — but their homeschooled ignorance leaves them clueless when stepping outside of the stale corporate air.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two bird shirts at our home-opener and maybe they could pop up for another year or two if the Austin Anthem keep offering up free memberships. A little *birdie* told me the Austin Anthem’s Slack group feels like Friday night in a nursing home, but I would need a paid membership to confirm that.

In time, these sorts of things have a way of taking care of themselves, and I’m certain the Austin Anthem will disappear if they continue pull shinannigans like they did before Christmas, in our Lord’s year of 2020.  The Anthem’s 2021 tenants for improvement should read something like this: move on, stop bitching, grow some cojones, and make changes on the inside so that more people like us on the outside — not the other way around.

If it was entirely in my hands, the Austin Anthem would be gifted a swift demise; the kind of deed you handle behind the woodshed with a single deathblow and the utmost discretion.  This beast lost its utility long ago — the little it began with — and to let it trudge along further would only be cruel.  Their tombstone would read “Here lies a strange group that ceasesed to matter. . . not entirely sure what else to say.”  The engraved rock would become a popular place for weeds to grow and dogs to piss on.

If organized fandom peaks your interest, I recommend becoming a member of Los Verdes, not because I’m in line with even most of their gameplan, but because their approach has soul — something the Austin Anthem is so desperately lacking.

HAPPY NEW YEAR.

“You have to understand. Most people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured and so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it.” – Morpheus (The Matrix, 2001)

The Unforeseen Austin FC Kit Reveal Post

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee

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November 18th, 2020 – a day we all anticipated. This day, our city took another step forward in welcoming its first professional sports franchise — we saw the official Austin FC kit.

Let’s cut to meat of it: the Austin FC kit design is a certain misfire, as the general consensus surrounding its reveal seems to be one of disappointment or newfound indifference. I’m sure the inaugural kit design will grow on us with time and even become a point of nostalgia, but it’s assesment of being unimaginative, overly cautious, and dull is a deserved one.

No doubt. The most hopelessly devoted fans talk about setting a low bar for this first kit offering, so “the creators” — whoever that really is — have room to improve upon it in the future. I couldn’t disagree more with this attitude of gleefully accepting mediocrity. I view kit design as its own art form, and by such logic should be judged like any other. Keeping in mind this sentiment, I wonder why some of us are so swift in excusing this lazy of an entry into the Austin FC lure. Would anyone praise da Vinici’s first work if it was a coloring book clipping filled in with his local Italian club’s colors? I think not. This kit design is a failure, in the truest sense of the word, void of any sort of creativity or originality.

Creatively, I wish the design team would have mustered enough bravery to swing for the fences and make us the league’s envy. I’m not asking for avant-garde kits of Jackson Pollack’s degree, but anything looking less like a template would have been a major improvement. The upside in Adidas/MLS/AFC’s design team choosing a less conservative option could have meant Austin soccer fans proudly wearing a creation as unique as our city. The worst that could come of taking a creative risk and subsequently missing, would be putting the fans in the exact mood we’re in now: let down. The only thing accomplished by using a prefab Adidas template was guaranteeing that disappointment ab initio.

But none of this should surprise us. This kit reveal had all the quintessential signs of a Major League Soccer botch job: an overabundance of teaser ads, the desperately pandering design graphic attempting to feign deeper meaning, and a generic jersey template finished in our a city’s colors.

An association like the English Premier League operates more like a collective of individual entities. It’s within the freedom of that individuality where you see more creative kit designs, by multiple brands, for varying levels of competitive teams. In contrast, Major League Soccer operates more like a single entity with one jersey company, unified branding across kits and logos, and is designed to keep most every team competitive through a salary cap and playoff structure. Trying to force cohesion across twenty six teams (and four on the way) is a certain recipe for stifled creativity.

If you’re looking to blame someone for being so abruptly let down, find a mirror — we did this to ourselves. It really hit me while watching the recent “Play-in” game between Nashville and Inter Miami; two franchises less than a year old with equally uninspired uni designs. They’re straightforward kit designs (I’m being kind) are a tell-tale sign of Major League Soccer being competition averse, not to mention Miami’s potential playoff inclusion with a 7-3-13 record (FYI – they ended up losing). This is a big reason why American businessmen are incentivized to purchase an MLS franchise; by the league’s design, these teams are financial safe bets. You can tank your inaugural season, still get a chance at the playoffs, and never have to worry about another town having a kit far superior to your own. This offered safety is the same reason why we won’t see relegation reach the States for the next one hundred years (probably never) and could go a decade without an AFC kit as unique as we deserve.

I personally put a lot of let-down-blame on those fans who used their inner-most imaginations in coming up with their personal visions of Austin’s inaugural kit. Leading up to the official reveal, I’ve seen an abundance of concept kit ideas being tossed around the internet and all of them were surprisingly well done — some even blew me away. Whether they were fashioned by off-duty professionals or just creative pedestrians, Austin’s concept kit game was strong. I don’t intend to waste your time with what a simple “Austin FC concept kit” Google search would accomplish but below are some of the finest:

Love the logo placement under the arm. Big fan of the bark detail on the other two.

These concepts set a lofty bar for any team to surpass, but the time for whimsical daydreaming over kit design will have to wait for future iterations, as we’re married to what we have for a little while. Come to think of it, I loved these concepts so much that I’m unsure the team ever stood a chance of impressing any of us. But we have the official threads in our hands now. This is it gang — no turning back:

lovin’ that gold chain bb

Aside from the kit, the most heavily critiqued aspect of the reveal were these comedically astonishing Adidas photos. In line with the kit’s final design, it seems like the good people at Adidas are clueless when it comes to the city of Austin or fashion.

God bless the Adidas employee who finalized the wardrobe for this shoot. The only explanation I can muster is that the director of photography recognized the subpar effort put forth with the Austin kit, then accessorized the models with 1990s German-wave attire in an attempt to distract us. Nothing screams Austin more than an exposed gold chain and a long sleeve activewear turtleneck. Bucket-hat for good measure? Fuck yeah.

Even with all of the disapproval, none of it really matters. Austin’s new kits snagged the 24-hour sales record for an inaugural jersey launch and less surprisingly took the 2020 MLS jersey one-day sales record. With so many of us voting with our dollars instead of our hearts, we’re approving this lackluster design in the eyes of MLS power-players and voiding our town’s verbal disapproval. Hype is like a drug — one I too am guilty of indulging.

I hope to see you all soon at McKalla Place, wearing the kit so few of us are fond of. I will be appropriately rocking my turtleneck & ATXFC kit combo in Austin’s hot-hot temperatures, teetering on the verge of heatstroke. Maybe one day, a subtle design by one of our own – a fan – will fit the bill on both sides of the equation.

Even a subtle bend at the bottom of the stripes goes a long way: