Soccer continues to grow in popularity in the USA. The most obvious signs of this are in the MLS (Major League Soccer), which has expanded to 28 teams, with two more franchises scheduled to join by 2023. New teams such as LAFC, Austin FC, and Charlotte FC, who broke the MLS attendance record in their first game, have been well received by their local communities. In addition, they have helped to raise the profile of the sport with some clever branding and community engagement.
The MLS has also picked up many new fans from abroad. The creation of fan groups, inspired by European “Ultras”, has resulted in a unique atmosphere. At first, this seemed manufactured, but it has taken on a life of its own. Many MLS teams are adopted by the local Hispanic communities, but they have also gained popularity amongst the LGBT communities, with rainbow pride flags now a regular feature in stadiums across the country.
However, it’s not just the Major League that has developed a cult following. In the lower leagues, there are some incredible soccer communities developing. The USL2 (United Soccer League Two) is a hotbed of cult teams, cool branding, and community spirit.
One such team is the Minneapolis City Soccer Club. The club is known as the Crows, and this is reflected in their logo, which was on a shortlist of five in a vote for the best crest in the league. Their Citizens support group are among the most loyal in the division and their groundbreaking soccer shirts are sought by collectors across the globe. The community-run club previously competed in the NPSL (National Premier Soccer League), winning the North Conference in 2018, 2019, and 2021. They stepped up to the USL2 in 2022.
A new look for West Virginia
Another new name to appear in 2021 was West Virginia United, which reached the conference playoffs. West Virginia has always lacked any major league sports teams but has a thriving college sports scene. It is also becoming a major destination for sports and casino gambling in the east of the country thanks to its five West Virginia online casinos, which offer online sports wagering. This growth in the gambling sector is expected to have a knock-on effect on the sports scene as more revenue is generated in the region. Like Minneapolis, West Virginia has also nailed their branding with a super cool logo that pays pay homage to the blue ridge mountains. The rebranding coincided with a kit deal with major sports brand Puma.
The ink has yet to dry but we are incredibly excited about this one! We have penned our new apparel partnership with @PUMA !! We couldn’t have imagined a better partner to display our badge and colors #WVUTD ??⚪️ pic.twitter.com/MiBWqsvUVx
— West Virginia United (@wvutd) May 7, 2021
The team began life as West Virginia Chaos in 2003 before merging with the youth teams of Charleston FC and Fury Soccer Club to form West Virginia Alliance FC in 2018. They joined USL2 in 2019 and it is hoped that the latest change of name will be permanent as the club looks to provide a stable first-team environment in the fourth tier of the US soccer, as well as a development team in the USL Academy system.
Surprisingly, West Virginia United did not make the final shortlist for the best new crest in the USL2 poll. Nonetheless, they were up against some stiff competition, most notably, winners One Knoxville SC who made a brilliant video to show how their crest was designed.
Magic behind the crest! pic.twitter.com/7nnZNadUOF
— One Knoxville SC (@OneKnoxSC) August 19, 2021
Other teams featured in the vote were Louisiana-based Blue Goose SC, Ballard FC of Washington, and Vermont Green FC, but these teams are about more than just branding.
In the tier above (USL1), there are also some cult clubs including Forward Madison FC, the self-styled “world’s second favorite team.” They made an instant impact after launching in 2019 thanks to their smart social media work and colorful kit designs, but it is USL2 that is leading the way in the fast-growing world of cult community soccer clubs.
Why Todd Graves Is Driven To Innovate Golfing Techniques and Inspire Future Athletes
When you look up the history of sports and how it changed over the years, you will find several influential public figures and athletes’ names at the top of unique inventions. After all, those who play the sport, also know what could improve and popularize it. Todd Graves is one of those individuals with a passion for golf and sports innovation.
He is an innovative thought leader and business expert with nearly 50 years of experience in the golf community. He practiced golf under the training and guidance of Murray “Moe” Norman, the world-renowned PGA golfer of the 20th Century. Norman was one of the most influential figures in the golf community with his unique techniques and innovative methods to approach the game.
His contributions and golf skills earned him the nickname of “Pipeline Moe”, mainly for his unmatched ability to hit one straight shot after another with the slightest deviation in the ball’s trajectory. As his protégé, Todd Graves vowed to be among the leading sports personalities and innovators in the golf space. He worked on the single-plane swing technique modeled by his mentor, Moe Norman over his professional career.
It is a technique that helps a golfer reduce strain on the lower back while increasing the consistency and frequency of making a solid impact with the ball. Before, it was limited in practice to highly experienced golfers with immense knowledge of kinetic movements and swinging techniques. Today, Todd Graves’ contributions have enabled the wide use and adoption of the single-plane swing method in the global golf community.
The pro golfer believes that innovation is a key component of progress and without progress, humanity could come to a standstill. Whether it is progress in the personal, professional, or sports world, every great athlete should strive for it and reach their maximum potential, according to Todd Graves. To bring new knowledge to a wider audience around the world, he recently partnered with Barry Morrow, who is a famous American screenwriter and film producer credited with co-writing the screenplay for the movie Rain Main (1988).
Graves partnered with Oscar-winning Barry Morrow to create a documentary on the life and achievements of the great pro golfer, Moe Norman. Through the documentary, Todd wishes to inspire athletes and motivate golfers to bring innovation to their gameplay. Todd Graves shares his drive for bringing innovation and catalyzing change in the sports world with aspiring athletes, pro golfers, and students.
Graves’s inspiration comes from his dedication to the advancement of sports science. He spent a better part of his career with kinesiology experts and sports scientists to discover intricate details involved in various physical activities, also including golf. He identified potential risk injuries, analyzed their occurrences, and gathered factual data with the help of scientists.
He aims to portray actual findings in his upcoming documentary and inspire young athletes to be more than participants in national and international competitions. Todd Graves stands as one of the most influential and inspirational figures in the golf community and has earned association with several famous personalities including Ben Hago, and Tiger Woods, among others.
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