As the MLS season creeps closer and closer to kick-off, it’s time to get that kit laundered, settle season ticket accounts with clubs, and bask in the fresh optimism that a new season brings. Every team starts with zero points, and the year-to-year volatility of MLS (or parity, as some would call it) gives every squad their shot at making this year, their year. To help get those American football juices flowing, check out these twelve MLS short films. From shorts documenting the rabid supporter’s culture in Seattle and Portland to an inside look at NYCFC’s preparations, these streaming films collectively tell the story of an American football culture that’s far from fledgling.
Most Incredible Fan Culture in the US – Inside Seattle Sounders
Speak with any MLS executive or marketer about American football culture and fandom, and they”ll heap praise upon the Seattle Sounders and its fans. There”s no second guessing it: the Sounders have the rowdiest, most impassioned home environment. The “12th Man” title isn”t resigned to the crowds at Seahawks games—those same Seattle sports fans bring the same energy to Sounders matches. It”s scary to play in Seattle. Through interviews with Sounders staff, fans, and writers, Copa 90″s short documentary on their supporters culture covers all the bases. For a more interpersonal angle into the club”s players, check out Levy Films” trailer for “American Football.”
Tifo: Inside the Timbers Army
Any MLS team within driving distance of Portland isn’t safe. The Timbers Army doesn’t only defend Providence Park—they go on the attack. While Timber Joey helps protect the home park, legions of devoted Timbers fans hit the road.
Invading opposing stadiums and conquering the match atmosphere is what the Timbers Army specializes in, and the closer a rival club is, the heavier the offensive will be. As this MLS documentary shows, over 1,500 members of the Army ride the bus and/or march to Seattle. The supporters alone makes every Timbers-Sounders match a must-watch.
Riding with the Revs: Fan Culture in New England
Football fans in New England face an uphill battle for a seat at the table. As KICKTV’s documentary explains, Boston’s a strong sports town. Fueled by 12 titles in 10 years from the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins, the Revolution lack the championship pedigree to capture the attention of the average Boston sports fan. That hasn’t stunted the development of Boston’s “untapped” football market though—support online casino for the Revolution remains rampant, and as the game’s culture seeps throughout the city, Revs diehards won’t have to fight for a channel at the bar much longer.
Manchester City Preps NYCFC Boss Jason Kreis: City Man
NYCFC is one of two expansion clubs joining MLS this season. Through KICKTV, we’re given a behind-the-scenes look at newly hired NYCFC boss Jason Kreis. To prep for the upcoming season, Kreis was embedded within Manchester City’s training set-up. For a few months, Kreis soaked in City’s adopted La Masia philosophy from tactics to player development. New York football fans will hope to see Kreis’ holistic Man City-branded football education in full effect this spring.
Bem Vindo Kaká
Remember how great Kaka was? The 2007 FIFA World Player of the Year found himself lost for fitness and form following his galactico transfer to Real Madrid, but he’s since turned ashore in sunny Orlando, where there’s an MLS expansion club looking for guidance and no state income tax. As Orlando City SC’s marquee signing, Kaka’s part-ambassador, part-player. He’ll be fine with the baby kissing and smiling, but we’re all intrigued to see just how much quality the Brazilian playmaker has left.
The Philadelphia Union”s Sons of Ben prove brotherhood transcends the field
For Philadelphia Union fans, the Field of Dreams cliche “if you build it, he will come” directly applies to their club’s history. In 2007, the Sons of Ben supporters group was founded with the hope that forthcoming MLS expansion would smile upon their city. In the form of MLS commissioner Don Garber, “he” came in 2009 to bless Philadelphia with their own team. This MLS video production digs into the bonds forged within Sons of Ben—if they’re strong enough to stay together without a real team to root for, just wait for their impact when/if the Union ascend to championship levels. For a more in-the-trenches angle, Rothbury Road Productions has another view into the Sons of Ben through their upcoming movie on the group.
MLS 36: Kyle Beckerman
Thanks to the World Cup, American footy fans from coast-to-coast are down with Kyle Beckerman’s domineering tackles and rasta-flavored hair. This 22-minute MLS film is nearly two years old, but for a complete overview of Beckerman’s life on and off the pitch, look no further. (If Beckerman’s Real Salt Lake teammate Nick Rimando is more your style, know that KICKTV’s profile of Rimando is also excellent.)
A Coach with 30 Sons
FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja is the coach you always dreamed of, but never had the chance to have because your town was waaaaaaay too competitive with its youth sports. Alternatively, you wish you had Pareja as your pops. KICKTV went to an FC Dalls training session to examine how the compassionate Colombian coaches like a true patriarch.
Gyasi Zardes Isn”t Gonna Mess Up: The Cusp
VICE put a camera crew together and started following this one man, so he must be special. After scoring 16 MLS goals at 23 years-old (setting the single season record for goals by a homegrown player), the emerging American striking star has his sights on the USMNT. Watch Gyasi Zardes’ give a guided tour through his neighborhood and life story. After that, give “Family & Football: The Luca DeLaGarza Story” a spin. What happens to A.J. DeLaGarza’s son is both tragic and warming.
MLS 36 | Dax McCarty
One of New York sport’s more down-to-earth, “regular” professional athletes, Dax McCarty was followed by MLS’ cameras for the last 36 hours before a match against the Philadelphia Union. For Red Bulls fans who bitch about taking the PATH train to the arena, know that McCarty takes public transportation to work too.
Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer is one of MLS’ most eclectic and outgoing personalities. His teammates say, “he’s just having fun,” which is really the best and most concise way to describe his style. KICKTV has the story on the 24-year-old former Norwich City youth product, who comes to MLS by way of Texas’ Tyler Junior College(?!). For more looks at Sporting KC, check out KICKTV’s profile of Graham Zusi aka Zusgawd.
Harry Shipp: Being Homegrown
Holy Shipp, Harry Shipp has his own web series? And Chipotle, the No. 1 Manhattan lunch option has been producing the episodes? What the hell, man? American football really is growing. If fast food burrito makers want to invest in MLS, then the league has genuinely made it. Get wrapped up in the Chicago Fire’s homegrown star via Chipotle (this still feels weird to write).