Every day, every week, I find myself inspired, influenced and intrigued by countless things going on in the world. These things help guide designs that we work on, stories to be told, people to reach out to or simply topics to learn more about. I wanted to start sharing some of the things that I find every week and share my thoughts on them in the hopes that you will share the same with us. I hope this will be a fluid conversation that begins to take place at some point. To kick this off, here are a few topics taking place in the soccer world right now that I'm paying particular attention to. I certainly don't count myself an expert on any of them, I just find myself influenced, inspired and intrigued by them...
New FIFA President Gianni Infantino
There is a major regime change at FIFA as Gianni Infantino takes over as the new president. With all the talk of Sepp Blatter and all the shady business that FIFA has been up to over countless years, it will be very interesting to see what Mr. Gianni Infantino brings to the role and what he brings to the game. I actually haven't seen a tremendous amount of news on Infantino which really surprises me. With all the controversy surrounding Sepp and FIFA in recent times, you would think that the election of a new president would be a much bigger topic than it has seemed to be so far. There was coverage of the elections on Fox Sports, but I'v been underwhelmed with the follow up stories.
I found the video below on FIFA.com and it seems to be an introductory piece into Infantino. I know very little about Gianni Infantino, and who knows what to take from this video. But a couple of things stood out to me. He talked about increasing the World Cup to 40 teams, the importance of youth World Cups, growing the women's game and FIFA executives being a little less stuffy and acting a little bit more like fans. I especially like that last part.
One thing I have been thinking about is the voting process that occurs with FIFA. Be that for the presidency or how the voting goes for countries host World Cups. US Soccer, and all FIFA nations, get one vote. US Soccer voted for who they thought should be the next President of FIFA. But as fans and members of the US Soccer community, should we have a voice in who our federation votes for? Does US Soccer represent all of us, or do they just represent the federation? Should US Soccer, and all federations around the world, give their fans an opportunity to voice who the federation should vote for? A simple online voting method could be implemented so that fans have a say in who their federation votes for, or how their federation votes for things. I would like this option for what country we vote for when it comes to the deciding of World Cups and who should be the next person in charge of FIFA. I don't know the process that federations go through when they are deciding who they will vote for on things like this. But I think fans should be able to participate and cast a vote.
The north London derby
This is an absolutely riveting game this week and is dripping with intrigue from all corners of the world.
The Premier League this season deserves it's own dedicated piece about how much it has interested and intrigued me and probably every other fan around the world. But what is most intriguing this week in the EPL for me, is the north London derby.
Derby matches are always fun for neutral fans and gripping encounters for fans of the clubs involved, and this one should be at absolutely elevated heights in terms of interest and tension. Spurs are somewhat surprisingly challenging for the title and Arsenal are still in the race even though they can't seem to get out of their own way at times.
This week we saw Leicester drop two points against West Brom, Arsenal then goes ahead and loses to Swansea while Spurs look shaky and drop three vital points to West Ham. So things pretty much have stayed the same with the top three which will just up the ante for this game. This north London derby might just prove to be the game that allows Spurs or Arsenal to go on and win the league. So the narrative gets deeper and heavier and I can imagine fans of both teams will be on pins and needles. I might need to find an Arsenal pub or a Spurs pub and watch this there just so I can get a sense and a feel for what these fanbases will be going through.
I imagine Leicester City fans will have pretty big interest on this result as well.
I can't imagine there would be a bigger, more important match to this season for both of these clubs. Whoever wins has a real chance to go on and win the Premier League, and do so at the expense of their greatest rival. I can already feel the tension. Watch this video on the north London derby. Chills...
The struggle of MLS teams against their LigaMX counterparts in the CCL
I feel like this topic has been discussed quite heavily over the years, and with the results the past two weeks, I think this question will continue.
For conversations sake, is there a reason, or reasons, why MLS sides struggle so much against LigaMX clubs? I know that many people blame this quarter final matchup on MLS teams yet to have played a game while LigaMX teams have played close to ten. And I do believe that hinders the chances of MLS clubs. Teams and players just aren't as sharp without competitive matches played.
According to this MLS article:
"Over the last five years, MLS sides have faced Mexican teams on 40 occasions in the CCL, winning only eight, drawing 11 and losing 21." That's a serious problem and the pre-season issue only seems to be a part of something bigger.
I don't know the answer to why this struggle is so real, but it's definitely something that needs to be addressed by MLS clubs and possibly the league. It's not a good look to consistently crash out of this tournament like this.
As I finish writing this, RSL and Seattle both just crashed out of the CCL making it 4 MLS teams losing to 4 LigaMX teams in the CCL quarterfinals. Frustrating.
The new US crest If you are reading this, you no doubt have seen the rebranding that US Soccer did of our national teams crest. And the reactions and response have been pretty quick and fairly divided. There has been a lot of push back on the new crest for a variety of reason. Common feedback has been that the crest doesn't truly represent the US, that there is a lack of anything soccer related with the design and that generally it is too generic for many people.
On the other hand, there have been a lot of people happy with it as it proves to be an improvement on the previous crest that we had. Where some people loathe the simplicity of the design, others have been quick to support this aspect of the crest. I've even seen some fans comment that the mere simplicity of the design will help keep the crest from feeling dated in just a few years.
All good points.
I'm inspired and intrigued by this conversation taking place based on the design. Every time we work on a design we try to approach it from multiple angles. We want to make sure that it is credible, that it conveys a story and hopefully an emotion and we really want it to look great. Not easy things to accomplish on any design, even more difficult to achieve on something that illicits such strong emotions as our national team crest. So many fans have a vested interest in this. So many people have different ideas on what a national team crest should look like. What types of imagery and symbols are included. Font types get discussed. Pantone colors get questioned. And the overall design gets disected ad nauseum. Certainly not easy to appease so many fans with so much emotional attatchment to the crest.
We've actually been working on our own "rebrand" of the crest. It's obviously unofficial and strictly through the lens from which we look through things. Much of our inspiration takes cues from many of the things that fans have been remarking on. We're fans too and a big part of our design approach is from the view of a fan. What would represent us and our team? What speaks to our identity? And what just looks cool to wear. We'll be releasing our own version soon. I'll be curious to hear what you all think about it.
Not all that long ago we started a series called "Soccer Over Everything." "Soccer Over Everything." The idea is that at some point we have all chosen soccer over everything. Even if just for a moment. And we have had some amazing people share some incredible stories about how they have chosen soccer over everything. Each time I read one of these stories I'm more and more inspired by friends of ours that are doing incredible things in the soccer space. It's a pleasure to get to share these stories with all of you and we are looking for more stories to share. If you have ever chosen soccer over other things, even if just to sneak away from work to watch a game, we would love to hear from you and share your story. This is a community based project and the only way to make it fully alive and engaging is to share as many stories as possible.
That's it for this week. But we would love it if you get involved in this. These are things that I've been inspired, influenced and intrigued by in the last week or so. But this becomes a much better series if you get involved. Let us know your thoughts. Do you care about these things? Do you have some insight on any of these issues? I'm sure there are countless Arsenal and Spurs fans that can provide better context to the game this week than I can. If you have something you want to add to this conversation, or something you find interesting or inspiring, drop us a note in the comments below.