The Away Kit is Here: Not so Legendary

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

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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)