The World's Game In The Heart of the Sun Belt

Category — general soccer

Atlanta International Soccerfest’s day to shine

They’ve got plenty of photos from Saturday’s Atlanta International Soccerfest over on their Facebook page. It truly was a celebration of the world’s game right here in the Atlanta area, and centered around the thrilling U.S.-England World Cup match.

June 13, 2010   No Comments

Atlanta soccer weekend wrap, June 5-6

• Five new starters — all formerly with the St. Louis Athletica — graced the Atlanta Beat’s starting lineup Sunday, but a 0-0 draw with Chicago keeps the Beat winless in Women’s Professional Soccer.

New goalkeeper Hope Solo did preserve Atlanta’s second point of the season with a tremendous diving save in the 87th minute.

The Beat is off next week, then plays host to the Red Stars on June 19.

Atlanta FC fell to Rocket City United 2-1 on Saturday in an NPSL Southeast Division regular season contest. The next home game is July 3 against the Birmingham Pumas.

• The Atlanta Blackhawks of the Professional Development League were off last week, but play host to New Orleans Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Alpharetta High School.

• The Atlanta Silverbacks of the W-League also were idle, and are at home at Silverbacks Park Saturday to face the Tampa Bay Hellenic in a 7:30 p.m. start.

• Gwinnett Soccer Association teams won six titles at the Georgia State Cup tournament, earning four on the girls’ side and two boys’ titles. The Concorde Fire Elite boys teams won the 13, 14 and 15 age groups, while AFC Lightning Club claimed one title each for girls and boys.

June 7, 2010   No Comments

Georgia State Games soccer signup continues

The Atlanta soccer community is running over with major soccer events next weekend,  coinciding with the start of the World Cup. For one day only, on Saturday, June 12, the Georgia State Games will stage a 7 vs. 7 tournament at Lovejoy Park in Hampton.

Registration is continuing now for youth and adult teams, male and female, encompassing a range of competitive age groups and levels.

Visit the official Georgia State Games site for more information and to register.

June 3, 2010   No Comments

Peach State Soccer back in action

They’re posting more frequently at Peach State Soccer, with roundups of the Cobb Adult Champions League and ASA Extreme Tournament.

Go have a visit and take a look around . . .

May 25, 2010   2 Comments

A long view of American soccer

Longtime American soccer executive Peter Wilt (formerly Chicago Fire and Chicago Red Stars and now with the indoor Milwaukee Wave) projects the near-term landscape of the sport in the United States, and what it may look like in 2020.

My favorite (albeit tongue-in-cheek) scenario Wilt saves for last:

“American newspapers will all have soccer beat reporters writing regular features, columns and analysis….ok, just wanted to see if you were still paying attention.  This prediction of course is a joke, because we all know that there will be no daily newspapers in ten years.”

Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

The bottom line is this: The sport’s in far better shape than the moaners claim. Wilt’s key insight — and one that should become obvious to anyone watching ESPN’s ubiquitous World Cup coverage this summer — is that:

“Media and society are mainstreaming soccer at unparalleled rates. Soccer bashing media members have been replaced with soccer knowledgeable journalists. American television and the internet have provided unprecedented forums for soccer coverage and discussion.”

This is probably the most dramatic development in American soccer in the 15 years since I first began covering the sport, and this will continue to proliferate even more rapidly in the coming years.

We’ve gone from soccer still being regarded in the mainstream as an exotic, “foreign” endeavor to one that’s getting nearly daily highlight play on “SportsCenter,” just to name one example.

(Although I don’t get why no American accents are allowed on ESPN’s World Cup announcing crews. To be sure, the Worldwide Leader is trying to impress others around the globe with its presence in South Africa, but this is a significant snub.)

As Wilt says, “the world is getting smaller.” For the growing, once-isolated world of American soccer, this is a very good thing.

May 5, 2010   1 Comment

It’s Atlanta Derby Day!

You don’t have to get all gussied up, or wear a fancy hat, or gulp down mint juleps — unless you want to — but there’s a little game down at Badgett Park in College Park Saturday featuring two Atlanta sides that might get your Derby juices flowing.

Okay, it’s only a exhibition, but Atlanta FC vs. the Atlanta Blackhawks is part of a full day of action on Soccer in the Streets Day. It’s the closest thing to a soccer Derby that we’ve got around here.

The SITS Under-12 team plays at 1 p.m., followed by its Under-14 team at 3 p.m. with the Derby-of-sorts (Battle of Atlanta?) kicking off at 5 p.m. The Under-19 squad plays at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free for the whole enchilada. Badgett Park is located at 3636 College Street in the heart of College Park.

Our good friend Jason Longshore of SITS talks to the NPSL Insider about his involvement with the FC.

The Blackhawks are back for their second season in the Professional Development League, which is under the auspices of the United Soccer Leagues.

Update: Final score is Atlanta FC 2, Atlanta Blackhawks 0.

Things appear to have settled down in lower-division North American soccer since last summer’s fiasco between the USL and some breakaway owners, including the Atlanta Silverbacks, who may or not be playing in the newly-formed NASL next season.

The AJC talks to the Atlanta-based Nu Rock Soccer Holdings duo who bought the USL stable, a transaction that set off the firestorm, but it doesn’t really express how hostile matters got.

The Atlanta Beat remains on the road tonight, playing Philadelphia in a battle of expansion teams. But the Beat’s new home is just about done, and they’re inviting everyone up to Kennesaw Sunday afternoon to have a look around.

Update: The Beat remains winless after falling 1-0 to the Independence.

May 1, 2010   1 Comment

A passion for soccer that helps others

Live the Pitch profiles Jason Longshore of Atlanta-based Soccer in the Streets, who truly embodies that organization’s objectives to help young people live better lives. His unselfish passion for the game, and those youngsters who benefit from his time and effects, also have a reciprocal effect:

“I can see the benefit it has for the kids that I work with but I don’t think they necessarily see how much it benefits me. I love it. My job motivates me to get up every day. I have worked jobs that I did not enjoy, dread going in, dread getting up, you just don’t enjoy your life. Doing something like this, no matter how much work it is or how hard it is, I am motivated by the fact that I am making a difference. A lot of these kids just need somebody to talk to that cares, that’s the most important thing, I mean I think of them like they are my little brothers.”

It’s such a rare and precious thing to know this in your heart and soul, and to be able to live it.

October 9, 2009   No Comments

Soccer in the Streets bash just around the corner

On Sunday Soccer in the Streets will hold its 20th anniversary celebration at the Park Tavern at Monroe and 10th in Midtown Atlanta.

You can purchase tickets online here for $50 per adult, and $15 per child age 12 and under. It features a black-tie celebrity game at nearby Piedmont Park, followed by a barbecue dinner, auctions, raffles and a concert.

Like most everything else SITS does, the proceeds will go toward its programs to help underprivileged children.

On Friday, Comcast Sports Southeast (Channel 45 on Comcast) will interview SITS executive director Jill Robbins about the event during its “SportsNite” program. That show airs at 6 p.m.

October 1, 2009   No Comments

Do we call it soccer in Atlanta? Football? Fútbol?

Atlanta Fútbol’s Scott Moran, whose group was heavily involved in getting this summer’s matches at the Georgia Dome and is part of the city’s World Cup venue bid, has penned a guest column over at the Global Atlanta site, which is devoted to the international business community in the city.

“The Business of Fútbol” delves into the nomenclature of what to call the game, a good topic for introductory purposes. It’s a funny old polyglot name game, is it not?

“Americans, being the endearing xenophobes that we are, chose our own path.  We took rugby, changed the rules a bit, donned leather helmets, and called the whole thing football.  But what of that oddly-foreign concoction that the European immigrants on our shores called football?  Those Yanks must’ve scratched their heads until some Englishman passing by kicking his round ball may’ve helpfully called out ‘we also call it soccer.’ Let’s buy that Brit a pint for triggering the drawn-out soap opera that is soccer vs. football.”

In any part of the U.S., them’s fightin’ words, probably no more so in the South, where another kind of football rules. And we’re going to have the College Football Hall of Fame coming here to prove it. And so?

“Finally, for my fellow Americans who will still demand I call it soccer because to not do so is an insult to US-football, I’ll tell them that I played full-pads, full-contact American football for 20 years (with the scars to prove it) and love BOTH sports, so I’ll call them whatever the heck I want.”

He promises to get down to the business of the business of fútbol in future installments, and specifically why that business has been such a difficult one in America.

If the U.S. should get either the 2018 or 2022 World Cup events, the soccer business in America might get a whole lot better.

In the Southeast, the business of bidding for a World Cup venue is heating up, especially for Atlanta’s rivals on the gridiron. Notice how they dovetail with cities in the NFC South Division, save New Orleans, which is out of the running:

Soccer officials tour Tampa for possible U.S. World Cup bid (Tampa Tribune)

Does Charlotte have shot at World Cup? (Charlotte Observer)

September 25, 2009   No Comments

Pledge a player at Soccer in the Streets

I don’t have to explain to many of you in Atlanta about the impact Soccer in the Streets has had on the lives of kids who’ve needed the special attention that organization has provided.

As the Atlanta-based group gets ready to celebrate its 20th anniversary, it’s asking its supporters and others to make a pledge to help disadvantaged youths in a novel way. And after so many years of finding creative approaches to address a persisting, pressing need, that’s saying something.

Here’s a link to a video and the outline of the sponsorship program designed to help kids attend the life skills program at SITS, purchase equipment and gear for them to play soccer and to help fund community outreach programs.

Here’s more on the upcoming anniversary fundraising gala on Oct. 4 at the Park Tavern.

September 25, 2009   1 Comment