By Christina Malliris
The Seattle Sounders don’t mess around when it comes to soccer. Regularly getting almost 70,000 fans for games, they have defined soccer fandom in the MLS. In this regard, their fanblog, Sounder at Heart, is a great resource for the most hardcore Sounders fan. It works much the same way as this website—people post, people read, and a dialogue are created. This is what distinguishes it from the other, more “official blogs”: instead of neat stories written by a front office lackey, real fans can weigh in on what they’re seeing and feeling. While this blog falls under the wide umbrella of SB Nation-run blogs, all of which I encourage readers to check out for their favorite MLS teams. They feature a nice range of information about the teams they represent. The only problem with this is that a lot of links lead to the SB nation homepage, so sometimes it’s difficult to separate Sounders-only links and info from the more general blog of SB nation.
As mentioned above, the great bonuses this website provides are the many fanposts, fun articles, and discussions. Some of the favorites sampled include “A hydra is a huge magical beast and it is ours”, which, while comically named, is a rather astute observation about the Sounders’ offense and the coaching/subbing decisions made; another is “Never Tell Me the Odds: 60 and 3”, which goes into great depth about the odds and statistics surrounding the Sounders winning the Supporter’s Shield for 2013. (For those who don’t know, this prize goes to the MLS team with the best regular season record). There’s even a guy who posts “Major Link Soccer” articles that solely have to do with what’s going on in CenturyLink Field. Seriously, this blog has something for everyone.
Another great part of the website is the Sounders’ library section. They have a field diagram, firstly, which for the less soccer literate is helpful to spatially visualize the players and what’s going on on the field, and a page boasting their MLS achievements. A major draw is their library of typical Sounders chants and vocab. Just in case you didn’t know what “Battle of Kezar” or “Oshaning” mean (hint: it’s kinda like planking). There’s quite a bit of lore here, with a lot of helpful links. If you want a slice of Sounders history, this is a good place to start.
This website also has a podcast, a unique feature amongst its SB brethren. You can listen to broadcasts of past games, Sounders fashion, and a myriad of other subjects. Game wise, it’s a great way to get an analysis if you aren’t able to watch it or listen on the radio, and there are often juicy tidbits about transfer options or player interviews. It’s a great resource even if you’re just a regular soccer fan. This podcast falls under the “Sections” header, which also links to Seattle’s newly created women’s team, the Seattle Reign (way to support the ladies!) and has an entire page dedicated to trade rumors for those who scrutinize the Sounders roster. Possibly the funniest page, however, features the animated gifs uploaded by user LikketP, which feature gif snippets of the best or funniest parts of sounders game for your bite-sized viewing pleasure. It’s a particularly fun way to watch awesome goals in quick succession. Or if you want to see player Brad Evans with a photoshopped cape on his back. Either way, the gifs are a great diversion.
Overall, this is what a fan-run soccer blog should be. There are resources galore, and really everything the die-hard fan wants, they can find. Being a Portland fan, I checked out the Stumptown Footy blog as well, originally hoping to write about it—but it is woefully underdeveloped for the fandom that the Timbers command. Hopefully they can learn a lesson from the Sounder’s blog.
On that note, however, I think that all the SB nation soccer blogs have a chance to be great, fan-driven resources for MLS soccer. If people start paying attention to the blogs, that can only help the teams they’re written about. These are the blogs that often come up first when typing in MLS team names + blog, and so have a chance to be important sources of information for casual researchers. They’re well organized, have a lot of room for customization—just compare the Stumptown Footy library to the Sounders’—and are easy to navigate. For anyone who has a favorite MLS team, I recommend going to your team’s blog and checking it out. If it’s not up to snuff, join and post. The world can find healthy and vibrant blogs about international teams; it’s time MLS joined the party.