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Major League Soccer Archives

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 Beer-view: New England Revolution

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Bryan Lincks

Team: New England Revolution

Coach: Jay Heaps

Is he the right man for the job?

Great question, Heaps had a terrible first season as head coach but has proven himself after the team made it to the playoffs last season. I’m not a “In Heaps We Trust” kind of guy, but I won’t argue with those that are.


Player(s) to watch?

Diego Fagundez, Kelyn Rowe, Patrick Mullins, Steve Neumann, and reigning defender of the year Jose Goncalves. Goncalves is interesting after he expressed some desire to leave the team, but on the pitch he is an absolute pro!

Predictions for 2014?

With the Eastern Conference getting better, I fear the Revs miss the playoffs. They are not going to have a bad season, just not good enough to make it back to the promise land.

Local Beer Pairing:

Seeing how this is New England and we are talking beer, it is hard to with a nice cold Sam Adams. Jim Koch and crew Revolutionized the craft brew scene.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Vancouver Whitecaps FC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Jay DeMerit / Defender, Vancouver Whitecaps and U.S. national team  

Team: Vancouver Whitecaps

Coach: Carl Robinson

Is he the right man for the job?

Yeah I think so. Carl was our assistant coach for the past two years so he has the respect of the players. He is a young, hungry manager that is eager to prove himself. He was a great player as well, so hopefully his experience playing at the top level in the world of football will reflect in his coaching.

Player(s) to watch?

Kekuta Manneh - After showing glimpses of brilliance in his rookie season, look for the little winger to have a breakout year.

Predictions for 2014?

The Caps will be a young team combined with a few "wiley veterans" like myself and Kenny Miller. If we can get our mix right on the field, look for us to continue to push for playoff spots.

Local Beer Pairing:

Granville Island "Cypress Honey Lager"

I wake up every game day morning looking at Cypress Mountain across the water here in Vancouver. Plus my wife won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics on the same mountain, so we love it!

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 Beer-view: D.C. United

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Justin Coughlan

Team: D.C. United

Coach:  Ben Olsen

Is he the right man for the job?

Ben Olsen has been a part of DC United from the first kick in 1996. I can't think of anyone else who has the love, the passion and the understanding of the team that Coach Olsen has. I'm proud to be a part of Olsen's Army!

Player(s) to watch?

Steve Birnbaum - He comes to us via the SuperDraft with youth international experience. D.C. United has a history of taking young talent and making it better. This is the guy to watch now and for years to come.

Bill Hamid - Bill has found his voice in net and in 2014, will be leading the defense with authority. His knowledge of the game and head for the play is just what a good keeper needs. Local flavor makes Bill an even better fan favorite.

Photo Credit: Washington City Paper

Predictions for 2014?

More rumors about a stadium, or no stadium, or a new stadium. Successful defense of the U.S. Open Cup title. Slow start to the season due to new players coming on board and getting their footing. The end of the season will be as exciting as it can be.

Local Beer Pairing:

Port City Brewing "Optimal" Wit. Brewed just outside of Washington D.C. in Alexandria Virginia, this Belgian White is crafted with coriander, orange peel and grains of paradise. Cloudy but not too much so you won't see the golden color of awesome. The flavor subtly changes as it moves from bottle to glass so your last sip will be different from your first.

Perfect for the local weather not knowing whether to be warm, cold, polar or stifling. This fits with the play we'll see from D.C. United this year because things, they will be changing from week to week or even minute to minute.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Chivas USA

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By John Sandate

Team: Chivas USA or EscapeGoats FC or Athletico Garber or Los Angeles SC

Coach: Wilmer Cabrera

Is he the right man for the job?

He’s the right man, right now. It’s hard to not be cynical and the fans have a lot of faith in Cabrera to lead them to glory in 2014. He has MLS experience and is very defensive minded compared to past coaches.

Player(s) to watch?

Erick “Cubo” Torres, Thomas “Mullet” McNamara, Mauro Rosales, Carlos Alvarez, Agustin Pelletieri, Mathew Fondy, Caleb Calvert

Predictions for 2014?

Dream Big! MLS Cup champions in 2014!  I do believe this will be a season of transition, but unlike previous seasons, it will be more positive. With Don Garber making the decision to buy the team, we will have a little bit more optimism than usual.  Which is fine, because I’m tired of taking anti-depressants. Realistically, I hope that we are able to compete for a playoff spot.

Local Beer Pairing:

• Per the suggestion of Black Army beer connoisseur, Chido Jerry, is big on Border X Brewery’s “Abuelita Chocolate Stout” from San Diego. It’s basically a chocolate stout brewed with “Abueltia” brand chocolate. Anyone who loves Mexican chocolate knows that it has got cinnamon and hazelnut flavors which can only enhance a chocolate stout. Just like Chivas USA, Border X beers are Mexican influenced and produced in America. Our fans are diverse and open to all tastes. Black Army tailgates epitomize everything that is right about Chivas USA: flavorful, loud, obnoxious, welcoming and above all pro-Los Angeles and California. Chido Jerry commutes from San Diego for every Chivas USA game. That’s dedication.

• My Favorite beer for this season is the "Joaquin Murrieta" Chile Pepper Ale made by Sequoia Brewery in Fresno. It’s a German-style pale ale brewed with many types of peppers, including jalapeno, serrano, and of course Fresno peppers. It’s smooth, light, and flavorful. Then you swallow it and it comes back like a kicking mule! This beer resonates with me since it comes from my hometown and it is great alternative to the awesome IPA’s, stouts, Ales, and porters than come from our great state of California. This season may be one of the most tumultuous of all the tumultuous Chivas USA seasons. So drinking something sweet or spicy may be what the good doctor orders.

It’s always unpredictable and exciting with our goats.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Portland Timbers FC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Michael Orr / Stump Town Footy

Team: Portland Timbers

Coach: Caleb Porter

Is he the right man for the job?

Absolutely. Porter did a remarkable job turning the terrible Timbers of 2012 into the Western Conference’s top team in 2013. Having spent last season implementing his system in Portland, Porter now gets to refine his team with an eye toward an elusive trophy in 2014.

Player(s) to watch?

Gaston Fernandez – The 30-year-old Argentine forward was one of two big South American moves for Portland in the offseason. If his preseason exploits have any bearing on his performance in the season ahead, La Gata should fit right into Porter’s offensive plans and might even enhance the already potent attack.

Maximiliano Urruti – Urruti moved to Portland in a trade from Toronto FC late last season. Though he only played in five games, starting four under Porter, Urruti is expected to jump into a starting role as the team’s striker. Only 23 (his birthday is February 22), the Argentine is a pacey, relentless attacker who will benefit the chance to combine with the likes of Fernandez, Diego Valeri and Darlington Nagbe for a full season.

Photo Credit: Brewtographer

Predictions for 2014?

The Timbers will not lose as few as they did last season (5!) but could end up with a better point total. That will in part be down to whether or not Portland can turn the league’s highest number of draws (15) into several more wins. The line-up enhancements, including Fernandez and Norberto Paparatto, to another year in Porter’s system should produce an even more complete product on the field.

With Champions League, Open Cup and regular season games giving the Timbers around forty games in 2014, Porter will need depth even more than he did in his first MLS season. Adding experienced professionals like Jorge Villafana and Steve Zakuani should give the Timbers plenty of firepower and resilience all season long.

Local Beer Pairing:

Last season we went with Amnesia Brewing’s Copacetic IPA, representing hopes for forgetting 2012 and a new order in 2013. This year we’re going with Base Camp Brewing’s In-Tents India Pale Lager. Base Camp is a fairly new Portland brewery and its In-Tents IPL has a nice play on words and a nice, fresh take on a lager.

As the Timbers can no longer sneak up on anyone and with the added challenge of a first ever trip to the CONCACAF Champions League, Portlanders can expect an intense season across multiple competitions.

Meanwhile, Caleb Porter is by far the most intense coach in the league.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Toronto FC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Duane Rollins / Canadian Soccer News

Team: Toronto FC

Coach: Ryan Nelsen

Is he the right man for the job?

Maybe? He's certainly the man Tim Leiweke seems to want in spite of reservations by many. The main concern is that he is tactically naive and, making things worse, has no one of experience on the assistants bench either.

The alternative view is he played at a high level recently and, as such, commands the respect of the high price DPs brought in

Player(s) to watch?

The 45 DPs (approximately) signed this year.

To be serious, while most outside eyes will be on Jermain Defoe, Michael Bradley, Julio Cesar and even Dwayne De Rosario a lot of local fans are as interested in a couple young Canadians in Jonathan Osorio and Doneil Henry.

Osorio was the 2013 rookie that was most criminally overlooked in the Rookie of the Year voting (no, really -- he had the highest pass completion rate, most key passes and five goals last year. It wasn't his fault the team sucked...) and a big year is expected by him in 2014.

Henry wasn't a rookie of the year candidate in 2013 because he's been in the league since he was 17. Insanely, he is the longest serving member of TFC at just 20 years old. He's also fresh off a training stint with West Ham United that was said to have gone well and he's added about 15-lbs of muscle in the off-season. Henry is Nelsen's pet project and if TFC is to make a serious jump forward it will need to have Henry also take his game to the next level.

Predictions for 2014?

The playoffs are an absolute minimum requirement.

The instinct is to dismiss TFC because, well, it's TFC but this isn't the same management team that created the comical mess of the last seven years.

Toronto will host a playoff game in 2014. MLS Cup playoff are too much of a crapshoot to make predictions beyond that.

Local Beer Pairing:

Mill Street Brewery "Tankhouse" Pale Ale

The hardy American Pale Ale was most popular about 5-years ago, but remains a staple of a small but loyal group of fans.

Is it poised to finally break through to the mainstream? Well, Mill Street brewery has been getting good press of late.....

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: FC Dallas

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Jonathan Virnig 

Team:  FC Dallas

Coach: Oscar Pareja

Is he the right man for the job? 

Hell yes he’s the right man for the job!  Papi has come home!  He’s brought a much needed change of pace & coaching philosophy to the squad (mind you, this is just based on observations made during the first day of training camp, during the afternoon session).  Oscar is actually out there on the pitch, going through drills with the guys, jogging with them during cool downs.  Oscar made a point of coming over and saying hi to all of us supporters that first day, thanking us for coming out and saying that he was looking forward to the start of the season…..most importantly, that he was HAPPY to be back with FC Dallas. 

Player(s) to watch?

-Mauro Diaz.  Mauro did not make his (league) debut until August 3rd at Seattle.  He scored in his first start vs. Portland.  And he was nominated for goal of the year, scoring on a beautiful volley at home vs. Vancouver in front of the Beer Garden.  Three goals on 11 shots, with two assists in ten appearances.  If you were to ask the FCD faithful who they’re expecting the most out of this season, I’d be willing to bet that Diaz would be the answer for most. 

-Blas Perez.  11 goals in 25 appearances for Super Raton in 2013…..here’s hoping Oscar will be able to utilize Blas’s skillset & height better than Hyndman.  Blas was FCD’s leading scorer the past two seasons; I expect this to continue for the 2014 season. 

-Ryan Hollingshead.  FCD selected Ryan in the second round of the 2013 SuperDraft.  Ryan was unsure whether or not he was going to play professionally, as a result he didn’t sign with FCD until 12/9/13.  Beer-fueled scuttlebutt has it that Ryan is held in high regard by a certain Western Conference coach who resembles a Dark Crystal Muppet…..and if he’s interested, you know this kid has some serious potential.  

* Written before the acquisition of Andres “Manga” Escobar on loan and the acquisition of Hendry Thomas from Colorado for allocation money.  Of course those two should be on the list as well.

Photo Credit: Lakewood Brewing Co. 

Predictions for 2014? 

Any postseason berth would be a success given the past two disappointing seasons.  IF the damned injury bug stays the F away, this squad has the talent to go DEEP into the postseason.  How deep? In my opinion, at least to the conference semis.

Local Beer Pairing:

With the ever expanding craft brewing scene in the DFW Meteroplex, this is tougher than I thought it’d be.  I have actually changed my selection many times while writing this.  "The Temptress" from Lakewood Brewing Company.  She’s an imperial milk stout who’s liable to surprise you if you’re not paying attention (much like I expect FCD to do to opponents this season). 

At 9.1% this beauty packs a punch….great for celebrations or commiserations. 

She’s easy to fall in love with, like FCD.  She’s yet to disappoint, unless you count the scarcity of her alter ego, The Bourbon Barrel Temptress.  Light carbonation & great flavor makes this EASY to drink.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Impact de Montreal

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Ludovick Martin

Team: Impact de Montréal

Coach: Frank Klopas

Is he the right man for the job?

Go figure... Klopas is the third coach in three years for the MLS version of the Impact. If you go back to the second division days he's the sixth coach since Nick DeSantis resigned from the post in 2008 to concentrate on his sporting director job. So much for stability...

Player(s) to watch:

For Marco DiVaio 2014 is probably his swan song, He'll want to leave a good impression. Hernan Bernardello, Montreal's second designated player, was really good last August before getting hurt. He's a big key to Montreal's success this year.

Patrice Bernier, the local hero, played injured for most of the later part of 2013. The fact that he was not in the best of shape is one if the reasons why the Impact struggled so much at the end of the year.

Felipe, the small Brazilian, was magical two years ago. Last season he was not as impressive, even if he had more goals and more assists. He could be the key to Montreal's attack in 2014.

Predictions for 2014?

Montreal had a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kind of season in 2013. With a new head coach on board, it's kind of hard to know what to expect. But with other eastern teams looking like they upgraded their squad it's not easy to be confident about Montreal's chances. Especially when you consider that they added only one player outside of the Superdraft in the off-season.

Local Beer Pairing:

Moralité (morality in English), brewed by Dieu du Ciel. Why? First there's the fact that it's an American pale ale. Just like the Impact, its roots are European (that's the pale ale part) but there's an American twist to it. It fits because, with a new American coach, the Impact are definitely looking back to the U.S. to establish its identity.

Also, since it's an American pale ale, you can expect the beer to be pretty hoppy (it's named Moralité in part because of its immoral quantity of hop in the recipe). Which means it will have a strong aftertaste, just like the Impact 2013 season (although in the beer it's actually a good thing).

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 FBM Beer-view: Real Salt Lake

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By Brian Dunseth / The Original Winger

Team: Real Salt Lake

Coach: Jeff Cassar

Is he the right man for the job?

Obviously there are some big shoes to fill in Salt Lake City after the departure of Jason Kreis, but one thing that people forget is the fact that Cassar was Kreis’ first hire when he first took over at RSL.  Cassar knows the players, the system and the philosophy within the club, so concern about the players taking to him right away shouldn’t be an issue.  The biggest issue facing Cassar is managing the group over the course of a season as the head man in charge, the line-up choices and in-game substitutions / tactical adjustments.

Player(s) to watch?

The Usual Suspects – Beckerman, Rimando, Saborio, Morales and Gil

Photo Credit: Utah Beer

Predictions for 2014?

Fighting for the top spot in the Western Conference against Portland & LA

Local Beer Pairing: 

Thinking my personal #DrinkWithDunny beer ‘Snap Down Header’ by Wasatch Beers x Squatters (coming soon) is the logical choice!!! Perfect for tail gaiting as well as in game drinking while interacting with me on Twitter during broadcasts.

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

VIDEO - Thierry Henry’s REAL talk about MLS


Thierry Henry is about to enter his fifth year in Major League Soccer and so then former Arsenal and Barcelona star can consider himself a decent authority on the state of the American soccer league. 

His message? "Don't knock it until you try it".

In an interview with ESPN FC during MLS Media Week the New York Red Bull star sent a strong message that those who don't think MLS is a competitive, high quality league don't know a thing about soccer in the United States. 

Tags: Major League Soccer, Video

The Best of Both Worlds - 2014 Beer-view: Sporting KC

With Major League Soccer and the rest of American soccer kicking off in just over a week we've curated an impressive list of players, personalities, broadcasters, front office folk, and fans to have them tell us (and you) about their upcoming 2014 season.

And, of course, pair their hopes and dreams for this season with a tasty local brew.

That's not just a preview... it's a "beer-view".

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By: Scott Hollister

Team: Sporting Kansas City

Coach: Peter Vermes

Is he the right man for the job?

Oh, absolutely. An MLS Cup title last season, plus Eastern Conference and U.S. Open Cup crowns the year before that proves as much. With apologies to guys like Bruce Arena and Dominic Kinnear, who won’t be seeing unemployment lines anytime soon, Vermes may have more job security than any other manager in the league heading into the 2014 season.

Player(s) to watch?

Goalkeepers Eric Kronberg and Andy Gruenebaum will be the most closely watched players as Sporting KC defends its MLS Cup title as the team looks to fill the shoes of now-retired team captain Jimmy Nielsen (who is managing Oklahoma City Energy FC, Sporting KC’s USL Pro affiliate). Kronberg has been a loyal soldier since being drafted by Kansas City in 2006 and appears to have the upper hand in the race for the starting job, but Gruenebaum, a Kansas City native who the team acquired from Columbus Crew in the off-season, will also get his shot. There should be plenty of playing time for both considering Sporting’s duties in both the CONCACAF Champions League and the U.S. Open Cup, in addition to MLS play.

Whoever is in goal will have the luxury of playing behind the league’s stingiest defense. The re-signing of right back Chance Myers in late January means that entire back line — left back Seth Sinovic and center backs Matt Besler and Aurellen Collin — returns to anchor Sporting’s defense in 2014.

Despite last season’s successes, Sporting KC struggled to develop a consistent scoring threat up top. Will designated player Claudio Bieler fulfill the promise he showed early last season in 2014? How about Dom Dwyer? Will wing players like C.J. Sapong and Soony Saad become consistent threats? With a busy schedule ahead of them all of them are likely to get plenty of chances to impress.

Photo Credit: By The Pint

Predictions for 2014?

You can’t be the champ unless you beat the champ, so until further notice, Sporting KC is your preseason MLS Cup favorite. It won’t be easy — the East figures to be rugged again with improved sides in New York, Chicago, Houston, New England and obviously Toronto, and the West should be loaded with LA, Portland, Seattle and Real Salt Lake — but Sporting returns almost the exact same side that won last year’s title. With another year of experience under their belts it’s their championship to lose.

Local Beer Pairing:

Kansas City is lucky to have Boulevard Brewing Co. in its own backyard. One of the most prolific and creative craft brewers in the country, Boulevard and Sporting KC have followed similar paths to success. You can’t go wrong with any of their offerings, but the most appropriate pairing with the local 11 has to be Boulevard’s Long Strange Tripel, a hearty and potent (9.2% ABV) Belgian tripel that is a part of their Smokestack Series of special brews. Considering the team’s own long, strange trek from league afterthought playing in a minor-league baseball stadium to model franchise playing in the finest soccer-specific stadium in the country and collecting trophies for fun (get it? You know, LONG STRANGE TRIPEL and long, strange … oh, never mind), the fit between beer and team couldn’t be more perfect. #GoSporting

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

2014 FBM Super “Draft”

Hello and welcome to the 2014 Free Beer Movement Super “Draft” in sunny (it’s always sunny here, right?) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

I'm Mr. Boh, your host for this great event.

Today we present the nation’s best young talent alongside beers from their college towns (or as close as possible). Meticulous research went along with each pairing. Some are spot on combining a beer style, its flavors, or ingridients with the qualities of each player drafted by their Major League Soccer side. Others are a bit of a stretch, but we hope that you'll follow our logic.

Most importantly we want to leave you with a deeper knowledge of these new kids entering our American league AND perhaps learn about a few new breweries/ beers to check out

This is the third annual FBM Super “Draft” and we’re pleased to have you along.

1. Philadelphia Union – GK: Andre Blake (Connecticut)

Paired with New England Brewing Company’s “Ghandi-Bot” Double India Pale Ale (New Haven, CT)

The Zac MacMath-era came to a close in Philly when the Union traded up for Blake and took the first goalkeeper ever as the first pick of the first round. First.

Scouts rated this Jamaica-native and UConn graduate as a strong leader and called him “a great shot-stopper, bouncy”. Sounds like the same strong and hoppy qualities that make NEBC’s Double IPA one of the jewels of the East Coast take on a West Coast IPA. “Ghandi-Bot” is no Heady Topper or Hill Farmstead from neighboring Vermont just like Blake is no Donovan Ricketts (2013’s Major League Soccer Goalkeeper of the Year) yet either.

But if you can get your hands on it (unlike MacMath’s gloves last year… we kid… kinda) you won’t be disappointed.

2. D.C. United – Defender: Steve Birnbaum (California)

Paired with 21st Amendment Brewery’s "Sneak Attack" Saison (San Francisco, CA)

Birnbaum is hailed as "close to a complete player as you can get in a Draft" and "the most polished, MLS-ready player available for selection". High praise for the MAC Herman Trophy semi-finalist and NSCAA First Team All-American. D.C. United can use all the help it can get at the back since they gave up an Eastern Conference-worst 59 goals in 2013 (second only to ChivasUSA's 67 in MLS).

While Birnbaum's defensive credentials are unquestioned his 10 goals in 19 matches make him an threat on both sides of the ball. He's even been compared to the U.S national team's Geoff Cameron who is sneakily producing one of the best seasons for any American abroad with Stoke City.

"Sneak Attack" indeed.

3. Vancouver Whitecaps – Defender: Christian Dean (California)

Paired with Anchor Brewing Company's "Anchor Steam" California Common (San Francisco, CA)

Cal had a blockbuster 2013 Super "Draft" sending three players to MLS sides in the first round including Dean as the second in the top five. MLS clubs are definitely looking to shore up their last line of defensive with four of the five first picks of the draft as goalkeepers or defenders.

Dean isn't as highly touted as Brinbaum but that doesn't mean he doesn't have a lot to offer. While 21st Amendment gets heaps of praise Anchor quietly chugs along as one of the original craft breweries in the United States. There's little flashy about Dean or "Anchor Steam" but that doesn't mean their not both well-built and ready for the big leagues. Working alongside veteran Jay DeMerit will be a boon to young Dean's growth just like dozens of other craft brewers have learned from the survival and success of Anchor.

4. New England Revolution – Midfielder/Forward: Steve Neumann (Georgetown)

Paired with 3 Stars Brewing Company’s "The Movement" Pale Ale (Washington, D.C.)

Did you really think we were going to let a beer pass by called "the Movement" and not feature it here on FBM? Perhaps the thought never crossed your mind and we're just having this conversation with ourselves?

That seems the most likely.

We didn't just choose this pale ale brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops to scratch our own backs. Coaches at the MLS Combine said, "he's so smooth and efficient with his movement". 

So that totally justifies our choice. There!

5. Impact Montreal – Defender: Eric Miller (Creighton)

Paired with Lucky Bucket Brewing Company's "Heartland" Wheat Ale (La Vista, NE)

Apparently the American Outlaws and forgotten nuclear missle silos aren't the only good thing to have come out of Nebraska. Come to think of it there's lots of nice things about Nebraska.... we're sure....

Lucky Bucket is one of those other good things we eventually got around to thinking about when we put our good-things-about-Nebraska-thinking-hats on.

Miller is a "a really fit player; he can run forever" and "versatile". Good qualities in a player and a beer. LB's wheat beer, like a lot of solid wheat ales are sessionable (you can drink them forever) and great on a hot summer day, but also nice when the weather is crisp out ("versatile").

6. FC Dallas – Forward: Tesho Akindele (Colorado School of Mines)

Paired with Coors Brewing Company’s “Blue Moon” Belgian White Ale (Golden, CO)

FC Dallas talked Monday about how excited they were to try and get their hands on Akindele that they traded up to get him in the draft. 

CSM shares Golden, Colorado with the largest single brewery facility in the world, Coors home to "Blue Moon".

Coaches and scouts have some reservations about Akindele's workrate, but 22 goals last season and 76 in his career for the Division II Orediggers should say enough about that.

Blue Moon isn't without its critics as well. Say what you will about the merits of Blue Moon (and its "crafty" nature) it's a solid Belgian White that is a trade up for anyone starting a journey from macro-lagers toward full-bodied, full-flavored beers of the craft world. It's often called a good "gateway beer". FC Dallas is hoping that Tesho is a gateway to the playoffs they missed out on last season.

One player. One beer. Two with a whole lot to prove.

7. Vancouver Whitecaps – Midfielder: Andrew Lewis (Jamaica)

Paired with Red Stripe

It pains us to have to resort to stereotypes. We LOVE puns and stereotypes are just hurtful, but…. we’ve got no choice.

Lewis featured for both the U-17 and U-20 Jamaica national teams. He was called up to the full side in 2012 and is considered on of the Reggae Boyz most promising young players. 

Hooray Lewis!

8. Seattle Sounders – Defender: Damion Lowe (Hartford)

Paired with City Steam Brewing Company’s Black Silk Stout (Hartford, CT)

Lowe is the third of three Jamaicans taken in the first round of the Super "Draft". Last year Damion lead Hartford to a 0.84 Goals Against Average (the best in the school's history) and featured in a Reading United side (United Soccer League's Professional Development League) to a division-leading allowed just 12 goals in 14 matches.

Pretty stout if you ask us.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – Midfielder: JJ Koval (Stanford)

Paired with Palo Alto Brewing Company’s “Hoppy Ending” Pale Ale (Palo Alto, CA)

The California native hasn't had to go for from home to college ball to the pros and why should he have to for a beer either? 

Palo Alto's pale ale is traditional West Coast-style so Koval will feel right at home.

Koval's professional soccer journey certainly has a "hoppy ending".

10. Toronto FC – Defender: Nick Hagglund (Xavier)

Paired with Fifty West Brewing Company "Our Mom's Advice" Belgian Tripel (Cincinnati, OH)

We're you just as surprised as us that Toronto made a pick on "draft" day? We pretty much assumed their were just going to trot out Jermain Defoe and Michael Bradley and call it a day. 

They still have money left? Sheesh.

Hagglund is described as a "monster" to deal with. Sounds terrifying, but one coach said, "the most important thing for Hagglund to do is maybe develop an ego, which he's somehow managed to avoid despite his athletic gifts. "He needs to realize he belongs in MLS," one coach says. "I don't think he realizes how good he is."

Our Mom's Advice (never one to sugar coat anything)? Grow some balls... quick.

11. New England Revolution – Forward: Patrick Mullins (Maryland)

Paired with Stillwater Artisanal Ales "Stateside" Saison (Baltimore, MD)

Mullins led the Terrapins to the NCAA College Cup championship final wih 19 goals and eight assists in the regular season, followed by five goals and two assists in the postseason … lead his team in goals, assists, points, shots and shots on goal, and finished his career in College Park with 47 goals and 25 assists over four years. In 2012 he was the MAC Herman Trophy winner for the nation's best male college player.

Stillwater was named Maryland's best craft brewery by Thrillist so it makes sense that they're paired with the state's best soccer player as well. With the departure of Juan Agudelo to Utrecht in the Netherlands the Revs are going to need a striker ready to make an immediate impact on the field. 

Agudelo couldn't wait to bail on New England and MLS, but Mullins is ready to make his impact stateside where Agudelo wasn't willing to.

12. Colorado Rapids – Midfielder: Marlon Hairston (Louisville)

Paired with Against the Grain's "Citra Ass Down" India Pale Ale (Louisville, KY)

You've probably caught on by now that we've been cribbing quite liberally from MLSSoccer.com's coverage of their SuperDraft. Why not? They were there and we weren't.

One of the coaches at the combine said, "With his (Hairston's) skill on the ball, he can create a yard of space for himself to shoot or pass the ball, but can also glide by defenders."

For no reason other than its cool-ass name we went with AtG's "Citra Ass Down". We've heard great things about the L-ville brewery, but have yet to check it out ourselves yet. RateBeer seems to like it just fine giving it a 94.

We'd like to think that when Marlon reads this column.. because OF COURSE HE DOES... he'll "glide" past one of those defenders and exclaim "Citra Ass Down!".

It'd be a pretty cool story.

13. Chicago Fire – Defender: Marco Franco (UC Irvine)

Paired with The Bruery’s "Mischief" Belgian-Style Golden Strong Ale (Placentia, CA)

"Has no major weakness. Good and solid in all areas."

The Bruery in the OC has been cranking out amazing Belgian-inspired beers since 2008. How good?

We're really not sure if the above sentence is describing Franco or The Bruery. 

That a compliment to both as Franco is poised to make a big splash in MLS and if you haven't tried anything from The Bruery; get your hands on some right away.

14. Columbus Crew – Defender: Ben Sweat (South Florida)

Paired with Cigar City Brewing’s “Guava Grove” Farmhouse Ale (Tampa, FL)

You don’t know how bad we wanted Ben to come from the University of Kansas (or at least that the Crew got this pick position for Sporting KC) so we could choose Tallgrass Brewing Company’s “Buffalo Sweat” Stout, but alas…. We’re stuck with Florida and it’s a relative craft beer desert.

Luckily Sweat played for South Florida in Tampa, which happens to be the home of Cigar City Brewing, one of Florida’s, and craft beer’s, brightest stars. No Bull.

New Crew coach Gregg Berhalter described Sweat as a "quality guy for years to come" and the same could be said for Cigar City and their future on the craft beer scene.

15. Philadelphia Union – Midfielder: Pedro Ribeiro (Coastal Carolina)

Paired with Westbrook Brewing Company’s "Mexican Cake" Imperial Stout (Mount Pleasant, SC)

Just a hour and a half’s drive down coastal South Carolina from Conway is the Palmetto State’s finest craft brewery.

Brazil (Ribeiro's home country) > Mexico (cake) < MURICA. 'Nuff said. It's just a damn good beer.

16. Houston Dynamo – Defender: A.J. Cochran (Wisconsin)

Paired with New Glarus Brewing Company’s “Spotted Cow” Naturally Cloudy Farmhouse Ale (New Glarus, WI)

Yes! Wisconsin! For three years we’ve waited for a draft pick out FBM’s home state of Wisco and today’s the day. While we now settled in the Lone Star State we’re always drooling over the amazing craft beers that the Dairy State and the surrounding Midwest crank out.

A.J.’s signing with the Houston Dynamo is pretty symbolic of the WI to TX connection we’ve got here at FBM HQ in Austin.

If you’re a Wisconsin native then our pick for Mr. Cochran won’t come as a surprise.

17. Portland Timbers – Forward: Schillo Tshuma (Maryland)

Paired with Franklin's Brewery (Hyattsville, MD)

We admit it. We went straight to Baltimore instead of hanging around in College Park to look for breweries. It was easiest. But we're back!

And we're at a restaurant, brewery, AND general store. We bet you could even lasso your horse to the front of the place if you like.

The Timbers hope that Tshuma is multi-faceted as his college town brewery is.

18. Real Salt Lake – Defender: Ryan Neil (California)

Paired with 21st Amendment Brewery’s “Bitter American” Session Pale Ale (San Francisco, CA)

When you’re the third defensive back to be drafted in the first round from the same school you’ve got to be doing something right. The same could be said of our third pairing with 21st Amendment.

Certainly there’s going to be some razing between Cal’s three defenders, but hopefully Neil isn’t too bitter about going later in the draft that second and third picks Birnbaum and Dean.

19. Colorado Rapids – Defender: Grant Van De Casteele (Norte Dame)

Paired with Brasseire Rochefort (Rochefort, Belgium)

We’re cheating a little bit here, but South Bend’s only craft brewery Four Horsemen (named in honor of the famed backfield from Notre Dame’s 1924 football team) closed in early 2013 so we’re going to go big or go home.

Located inside of Abbaye Notre-Dame de Saint-Remy is Rochefort Brewery, one of nine (now ten) Trappist breweries in the world, makers of Rochefort 6, 8, and 10.

Van De Casteele probably won't become as world-class as Rochefort, but it's the end of the article and who really cares?

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Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, satire, The Best of Both Worlds

The Big Pitcher: Manifest Destiny Edition

An artist's rendering of Major League Soccer expansion plans (Either that or John Gast's "American Progress")

Editor's Note: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. Sometimes we American soccer fans get wrapped up in the day-to-day, Monday morning quarterbacking (or centerbacking), knee-jerk reactions and miss out on the big picture. This weekly column will focus on picking out the larger themes and issues of Major League Soccer and the American game.

By Eric Betts / Senior Crystal Ball Correspondent

Wednesday’s halftime announcement that Major League Soccer was hoping to add four additional teams to the league by 2020 has set off another round of the only game more fun than the actual games: Expansion Speculation! (coming soon to specialty board game store near you!)

In less than a decade the idea of twenty teams went from a pipe dream to an upper limit to a shelf from which to pause and survey the landscape before eventually and climbing into the upper reaches where no league has gone before (hush you NASL historians). But with so many potential owners and markets chomping at the bit did anyone really think, back when NYYMCFC Blue was announced earlier this year, that Team 20 was anything other than another signpost the league would woosh right by? Of course MLS has to keep expanding; otherwise, who will host the All-Star game after Portland, Montreal, San Jose, New England (just kidding), DC, and finally a “Biggest Thing in The History of the League’s History” blowout event against Galactic Champions Manchester City in New York?

Best of all for the league it’s a painless guarantee to make once they determined they wanted to move to that number anyway. If something happens between now and then that keeps the 24th team from starting in the league until 2022, 10,000 jackasses on Twitter will point back to this moment and wonder what happened, but the near-infinite number of potential excuses for the delay will insulate the league from any serious criticism. Even the decision making process will be easy: if all else fails, try a fight to the death, a nationwide 3-on-3 tournament or have Don Garber package four golden tickets into specially marked boxes of Adidas adizero F50 cleats. 

By announcing an intent to bring so many teams in MLS gave hope to fans in nearly a dozen cities that their wait might soon be over. Mention just "Team 21" and everyone assumes Miami or Orlando, but now fans in San Antonio feel sure they’re going to get one; fans in St. Louis think fans in Detroit are holding out hope. In the 24 hours since the announcement, I’ve seen Sacramenton, San Diego, Charlotte, Atlanta, Ottawa, Edmonton, Indianapolis, and Minneapolis mentioned as possible destinations. While only a handful of all these are realistic candidates at this point the notion that there are franchises up for grabs could be a powerful motivating factor for potential ownership groups.

Even if just five of these cities end up as viable options there will still be decisions to make. For fans questions such as which fanbase deserves a team and what location would most enhance the league, both in terms of its reach on the continent and the creation of new rivalries and dynamics among the teams, are preeminent. On the league’s side the eventual destinations will instead be determined based on all the typical attributes like the owner’s deep pocketbooks, strength of a stadium plan, interest from the community and “where does David want it, again?”.

All other things being equal it seems the most likely legacy of the next round of expansion – just as the last round’s was the growth of the game in the fertile Pacific Northwest hotbed – will be an effort to reseed parts of the Great American Soccer Desert, those large swaths of the country, particularly in the Southeast without any sort of representation in the league. That for me was the most thrilling aspect of this hypothetical map that made the rounds a couple of weeks ago, seeing not just the potential for MLS growth but the knock-on effects that growth would have through the lower leagues. The possibility of teams at any level in Detroit and Cleveland, Nashville and New Orleans is exciting stuff. Hell, my 13-year-old self, trapped in small-town Alabama where the closest MLS team geographically was Columbus, would have been pretty thrilled at the idea of teams of any kind in both Atlanta and Birmingham. The idea that kids living there and in other parts of the country where previously MLS might as well have been another foreign league will have a team to follow is incredibly exciting.

Now all they have to do is find one of the commissioner’s golden tickets.

About Eric

Eric Betts is a freelancer writer who lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and his dog Lando (yup). While attending Emory University he won "College Jeopardy".

Tags: Big Pitcher, Eric Betts, Major League Soccer

Free Beer Match Day - 2013 MLS All-Star Game

All-Star Games are always about the fun. And for Major League Soccer,  their unique format allows a major world soccer team to come to town to play the best and the brightest our league has to offer. 

It is, though, no doubt a trap match. MLS wins... critics say they played a B-team in pre-season; MLS loses... the league is inferior. Partner that with the fact that the All-Stars have never played together before (and a bunch of them just game off Gold Cup duty) and they're tasked with facing an Italian side known for it's organization and solid defense.

So, predictably, the MLS All-Stars fell to AS Roma 3-1 with Los Angeles Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez grabbing the lone American goal in the dying minutes of the match. A nice treat to send the fans home with.

All-Star Week in Kansas City was fantastic though. We saw Macklemore in concert (whether you like him or not... having such a high-profile performer a part of the ASG is huge for the league's image), went rooftop and poolside with Bumpy Pitch, Kick TV, and The Offsides Rules, tailgated with the Cauldron, and, of course, caught a spectacle of a match.

This was the last stop on the summer swing of the "FBM World Tour". We'll be back on the road in the fall for the pair of home World Cup qualifiers in Columbus and, hey, Kansas City.

Here are a few of our choice pics from the last few days.

The party started here.

Macklemore on the plaza of the Power and Light District.

Hanging out with Alexi Lalas and Taylor Twellman during the Macklemore concert and the Media Mixer.

AS Roma training at Sporting Park.

"General" Michael Bradley on the training pitch. He was absolutely dominant in the game.

 

All-Stars getting warmed up.

(From Left to Right) Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando,

Landon Donovan, and coach Peter Vermes taking questions from the media.

Oklahoma Joe's BBQ (the "Z-Man") and a Boulevard Brewing Wheat.

Rooftop at the Jones Pool party.

Met former USMNT Eddie Pope.

Sporting Park on gameday.

KC Cauldron's spent keg's from the tailgate.

Starting lineups.

Craft beer with a prominent place all over Sporting Park including Boulevard Brewing's "Member's Club" for the supporters' section.

#CheersToSocccer with Boulevard Brewing's "Tank 7" Saison Ale

Not a great night for the MLS All-Stars. They played like a team that had never played together before (because that's the case!). Overall though Kansas City showed why it is one of America's great soccer cities. 

 

Tags: Free Beer Match Days, Major League Soccer, photography

VIDEO - Hilarious MLS All-Star Music Video Channels the Zuba Pants Era (Funny Or Die)

American soccer is really creeping into the mainstream now.

Funny Or Die, the comedy website co-founded by soccer fan Will Farrell, put out this hilarious bad music video with Major League Soccer All-Stars Kyle Beckerman, Graham Zusi, Jack McInernery, Omar Gonzalez, Brad Davis, Chris Wondolowski, and Mike McGee.

Part of why we love MLS so much is that they're willing to do absolutely silly (but not desperate) things like this to help increase their visability.

Who's got the best line in the video? Omar.. hands down.

 

Tags: Major League Soccer, Video

The Best of Both Worlds - Meeting Nick Rimando and Rimando’s Wit

So far the "FBM World Tour" has taken us on stops to Denver, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Portland, and back to Salt Lake City. Beyond the great games (all USMNT wins!) we've also experienced the unique and delicious beer cultures of each of these cities.

A few months back we reported on the making of a tribute beer for U.S. national team and Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando by a local brewery, Unsacred Brewing. We reached out to them and spoke with one of their co-owners, David Cole, about the collaboation between their brewery and Rimando, a noted craft beer enthusiast. 

When we first passed through SLC we weren't able to get our hands on the brew, but a second take in the city by the salt lake would do the trick. First off, we'd like to thank Real Salt Lake's Vice President of Broadcasting & Communications Trey Fitz-Gerald. It was going to relatively easy to snag a bottle in a store or grab some on tap at Rio Tinto Stadium, but Trey not only saved us a bottle in his office he arranged a brief meet-and-greet with Rimando. We waited patiently for Nick to do post-game interviews after leading the Nats to a 4-1 win over Cuba in their Gold Cup match.

Rimando chatted with us for a bit. We got to explain the Free Beer Movement idea and he talked about his love of craft beer (he's fond of Epic Brewing Company here in SLC) and graciously autographed our bottle. We were able to "scarf" him as well. There are, obviously, several team and supporter-specific beers, but Rimando has the honor of being the first, and still only, player with his own commercial beer... something we told him he should brag to his teammates about more.

Thanks against to Trey at RSL and, of course, Nick for taking the time for FBM. A real cool moment in our organization's history.

 

Tags: Beer, FBM In Action, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

The Spilt Pint - Week Eleven

By Brian Wachholz / Senior Beer Rag Correspondent

South Africa 2010.  No matter where you were in the world, when American soccer fans saw Landon Donovan's strike hit the back of the net, beer went errrrrvrywhere. The pubs erupted with World Cup joy.  Lucky for us we don't have to wait four years for an equalizing moment.  Major League Soccer is jam-packed with amazing strikes, goals, headers, and golazos. Every week there are goals that make you leap out of your seat. Since great goals often come from the most unlikely of places you're often not prepared when that beer of yours goes tumbling over in that moment of goal-scoring ecstasy.

In the spirit of these unforgettable moments, we at the Free Beer Movement offer you a fitting pairing to replace that spilt pint.  Each week we bring you a carefully selected beer to go perfectly with the best scoring moments MLS has to offer.  Enjoy responsibly.

Goal of the Week Eleven: Thierry Henry – New York Red Bulls

In one of the least shocking results so far this season, Thierry Henry wins the 2013 Goal of the Week Award for week #11 with his planted bicycle kick against the Montreal Impact.

Purists may call this one an overhead kick since he wasn’t completely airborne before contact with the ball, but it looked like a bicycle and it’s been called a bicycle.  Regardless of labels, Henry makes television magic with yet another fantastic finish in MLS.  There isn’t much to say about this goal in text.  New York’s Juninho serves up a corner kick which bounces off the head of Markus Holgersson to arrive at Henry.  Titi does not disappoint with the final move to score for NY1.

In memory of your dearly departed drink, we here at the Free Beer Movement suggest you replenish your Spilt Pint with a can of "Shift" Pale Lager from the New Belgium Brewing Company (Fort Collins, Colorado).  This brewery has a bicycle in its logo and is well known for its flagship Fat Tire beer, also represented by a bicycle on the label.  It doesn’t get much more obvious than this.  Shift is the beer of choice because (aside from the bicycle imagery) we are teetering on the edge of summer, and we will need plenty of portable brews to take out into the wild blue yonder.  Just as NYRB and Thierry prepare for a winning spell through the summer, Shift will lift you into the sunshine with its accessibility and lightness.  This isn’t your daddy’s pale lager, however.  Shift comes in on a solid 29 IBUs; utilizing four types of American hops to balance this beverage for your enjoyment.

New Belgium is distributed widely across the country.  Visit their beer finder tool if you have trouble finding it near you.

Get out in the sunshine, grab a beer, and have a great summer!  Cheers!

 

Tags: Beer, Brian Wachholz, Major League Soccer, Spilt Pint

The Spilt Pint - Week Ten

By Brian Wachholz / Senior Beer Rag Correspondent

South Africa 2010.  No matter where you were in the world, when American soccer fans saw Landon Donovan's strike hit the back of the net, beer went errrrrvrywhere. The pubs erupted with World Cup joy.  Lucky for us we don't have to wait four years for an equalizing moment.  Major League Soccer is jam-packed with amazing strikes, goals, headers, and golazos. Every week there are goals that make you leap out of your seat. Since great goals often come from the most unlikely of places you're often not prepared when that beer of yours goes tumbling over in that moment of goal-scoring ecstasy.

In the spirit of these unforgettable moments, we at the Free Beer Movement offer you a fitting pairing to replace that spilt pint.  Each week we bring you a carefully selected beer to go perfectly with the best scoring moments MLS has to offer.  Enjoy responsibly.

Goal of the Week Ten: Luis Gil – Real Salt Lake

 

Major League Soccer fans awarded Real Salt Lake's Luis Gil the 2013 Goal of the Week Award for week #10.  The RSL midfielder headed home his second goal of the year; this time against the Vancouver Whitecaps.  In this goal sequence the ball only touches three RSL players start to finish.  It begins on the home endline with GK Nick Rimando blasting a goal kck forward across the pitch.  As the whole RSL offense bombs forward, Joao Plata catches the ball as it slows outside the Whitecaps’ 18 yard box.  He sends in the cross to a fleet-footed Luis Gil who is crashing the box like a bull in a china shop.  Gil heads the ball into the net with his last bit of energy before rolling to the ground from a collision with Joe Cannon.

This teenager is stacked to the gills with talent.  In his honor (and your soggy socks) we at the Free Beer Movement recommend you replace your "Spilt Pint" with a Ballast Point brew.  Ballast Point Brewing Co (San Diego, CA) originates from Southern California, much like our young, goal-scoring prodigy.  All of their beverages are fantastic, but the "Wahoo" Wheat Beer is the recommendation this week.  Summer is quickly approaching, so it is time to start transitioning your taste buds to the refreshing flavors of hefeweizens (as well as other summery beer categories).  We like “Wahoo” because it succinctly summarizes the end to end sprinting motion of Gil’s bombing header and subsequent spiral to the turf.

Ballast Point is available across the country at better beer stores and bars.  Pick one up today.  

Until the next one… cheers to good beer and good goals!

Tags: Beer, Brian Wachholz, Major League Soccer, Spilt Pint

The Best of Both Worlds - DC Brau to Brew D.C. United Beer, Fans Get to Choose Name

D.C. United, in collaboration with DC Brau Brewing Company announced that DC Brau will brew a limited edition D.C. United specific beer. While the beer is currently without a name, D.C. United fans have the opportunity to name the new brew. Fans can submit their suggestions at "Brand the Brew" on the United website.

The special DC Brau craft beer, a golden ale, is crafted specifically for D.C. United and its fans to enjoy. One thousand gallons of the beer will be produced and will be made available exclusively at participating D.C. United official bar partners and at the DC Brau Brewing Company.

“My motivation for making this particular beer with D.C. United came from a willingness to make an ale that all soccer fans can enjoy,” said DC Brau President and Head Brewer Jeff Hancock. “United fans drink all kinds of different beer, and with this particular ale I wanted it to reach a broad spectrum of palettes from those who drink everything from light lagers to hoppy pale ales. There's a little something for everybody in this Golden Ale!”

The D.C. United “Brand the Brew” contest launched yesterday, and will run until May 29. The final list of fan suggestions will be given to a panel of D.C. United players to choose the winning name to appear on beer. The winner will receive a field-side D.C. United gameday experience for two and bragging rights for naming the new D.C. United and DC Brau beer. The brew is planned to become available for order on June 11.

“The unifying factor between D.C. United and DC Brau is the same element that connects both of us to our fans,” said DC Brau CEO Brandon Skall. “Pride: Pride in what we produce, pride in our city and pride in ourselves!”

“Anyone who walks through the Lot 8 tailgate will undoubtedly see DC Brau’s distinctive silver cans and Capitol Dome logo in the hands of our most ardent fans,” said D.C. United Marketing Manager Andrew Minucci. “The quality of their product is what our fans demand and we are excited to quench their thirst by combining the beer they crave with the team they love.”

Beer Specs

Classification: Ale

Approx. ABV: 4.5-5.0%

IBU’s: 15

Hops: U.S. Fuggle, U.S. Cascade

Malts: Pale, CaraPils

Tags: Beer, Major League Soccer, The Best of Both Worlds

The Big Pitcher - Project Projection

Editor's Note: Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but It bends toward justice”. Sometimes we American soccer fans get wrapped up in the day-to-day, Monday morning quarterbacking (or centerbacking), knee-jerk reactions and miss out on the big picture. This weekly column will focus on picking out the larger themes and issues of Major League Soccer and the American game.

By Eric Betts / Senior Crystal Ball Correspondent

One of the toughest things to do as a soccer watcher is to project. How will a player performing well on Field A for Team 1 will do if placed on Field B and Team 2?

Even the people who are paid to make these judgments at the highest levels have a far from sterling success rate. For us amateurs, it can feel like the height of foolishness even to guess whether the way-better-than-everyone-on-the-field girl at pickup is former-Division-1 or former-Division-III good, much less whether someone who’s scoring consistently in MLS will be able to repeat the feat for the U.S. team or in the Premier Bundesligue A.  

So then it’s a little satisfying to see a pair of players we had pegged for success three tiers down move on to MLS and do pretty well in their first two months in the league. Those of us who live in Austin got to see two of the young season’s promising rookies, Dillon Powers and Kekuta Manneh.

It didn’t take the Football Manager database to figure that out those two had futures at a higher level, not when they were the two best players on the field every time they stepped on it. (The Aztex had a third player drafted in the first round, Blake Smith at number 8 to the Impact. I get Smith’s strengths, but given the choice I would have taken Powers and ran with him, positional needs be damned.) We’ve covered their influence on the Aztex here before

Last year I saw Manneh do this in Houston live, mere minutes after he stepped onto the field for the first time and just hours after he actually joined the team. It was like those teams who show up for the finals of a rec league season with that one guy who hasn’t been to any of the previous games. And that guy starts juggling as he jogs around the field to warm up. Manneh Manneh indeed.

With Manneh and Powers it may have been easy, but this projection is supposedly one of our weak points as a soccer-culture. As the narrative goes, we see kids who are bigger, stronger or faster than everyone they’re competing against and decide they could probably cut it at the next level, while Lil Messi and Xavi Jr. ...sorry... while Young Schweinsteiger and Mini-Reus are left picking up the discarded Capri Sun husks. (I sense a wonderful Muppet Babies/JL8-esque web show coming on.)

Those physical gifts obviously help when making the jump. Manneh demonstrated with his assist Saturday that being significantly faster than your opponent is an advantage no matter how old you are. Similarly Kei Kamara, who’s off doing his best Iron Fist impression with Norwich City, has discovered that just because the Premier League is the “Best League in the World” (© 2008) doesn’t mean the defenders can jump any higher than they do in MLS. On the other hand, ask Brad Davis, or even Omar Gonzalez for a while there, about what it’s like to be too slow for international play. The technical skills that come with constant (and year-round) practice at a higher level are slowly learned, but speed kills on day one.

You’ve likely heard all the reasons our system has trouble picking out these gems: inexperienced coaching at the youngest ages, overemphasis on winning rather than player development, poor playing surfaces hampering touch, close control and passing. Because of that difficulty we seem to be trying option B: Teach everyone the technical stuff, and then siphon off the ones who picked it up and are still strong and fast. That’s what newly triumphant Germany appears to have done. Young Schweinsteiger (It’s pronounced Schweinst-ee-ger) would be playing forward and goalie and probably point guard and quarterback long after his more diminutive Spanish counterparts had been relegated to the number eight shirt on the Chess Club.

We do need to do more to find and polish those less-obvious gems, but for now it’s a strategy that makes sense for American soccer. If you’ve traditionally produced athletes, then why not take those known commodities and try to make them better rather than reaching for a kind of player we may not even be able to find?

The Austin Aztex begin their second PDL season next weekend in Oklahoma City. I have no idea how many future first round picks we’ll find on the field here this season, but I’m looking forward to trying to figure it out.

About Eric

Eric Betts is a freelancer writer who lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and his dog Lando (yup). He is a contributing writer for "The Other 87 Minutes", their brilliance featured every Tuesday on the Free Beer Movement in the form of "the Tuesday 10" or the "Tuesday XI". While attending Emory University he won "College Jeopardy"

Tags: Big Pitcher, Eric Betts, Major League Soccer

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