Last night I made a quick Target stop, and naturally I stopped by the card aisle on the way to the self checkout. None of the usual options inspired me to make any additional purchases right then and there, but just before I left I saw a box of 2017 Topps Stadium Club Major League Soccer.
As much coverage as attention as the Premier League, Bundesliga and other footy leagues get, it always seems a shame that MLS gets short shrift. Part of me keeps waiting for the attention imbalance towards foreign soccer leagues to get politicized somehow (along with the number of British actors in The Walking Dead – “Immigrants coming in and taking our best zombie-hunting jobs!”)
So anyway, in a “What the hell” moment I decided to buy a pack. I’m not a fan of any particular team nor player, but I wanted to see what they’re like.
The first surprise came at checkout… The five-card pack rang up as “TRADING CARDS $0.99”; A third of what I’d expected. “This is Stadium Club, right? Is it THIS YEAR’S Stadium Club? Is this a remainder or something?”
But no, it’s 2017 Stadium Club, released about a month ago. When I realized the price point I almost went back and grabbed another pack or two, but decided against it, at least not until I saw what the cards are like.
The second surprise came when I ripped open a pack and was greeted by Seattle’s Clint Dempsey, one of the wrapper’s “cover boys”:
It’s the same design as baseball Stadium Club, but no foil! It’s like Opening Day meets Stadium Club. It’s not a problem in my book, it just caught me off-guard because I didn’t know anything about the set. The cards are still glossy.
For those who don’t know, the Seattle Sounders are partly owned by Drew Carey. The Sounders are in the playoffs, and I’ve just discovered that this Sunday is the last day of the regular season.
Clint Dempsey is one of the biggest American players in the league and played for Fulham in the English Premier League for a couple of years.
The backs are similar to their baseball counterparts, but with no player writeup and the player’s photo is replaced by a team logo.
Dominique Badji is, according to his MLS webpage, is “a young striker who showed considerable promise in his first two MLS season”
This next card is a parallel. Ooooh, aaahhhh, black and white. How exciting
David Ousted is a Danish goalie and was finalist for the 2015 MLS Goaltender of the Year award.
I got screwed up by the font on this next card… I thought his name is GIOVINEO, but it’s GIOVINCO. Damn, that ‘c’ looks like an ‘e’.
Again, mlssoccer.com on Sebastian Giovinco: “Short in stature but skillful, inventive and explosively quick, he spearheaded Toronto’s qualification for the MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history, and earned the MLS Golden Boot, MLS Newcomer of the Year and MLS MVP awards”. They’re not kidding about the stature part, as he’s listed as 5’4″.
Ike Opara is from Durham, NC and has battled injuries for much of his career. He’s apparently been healthy in 2017 as he’s started most of Sporting Kansas City’s games and nearly doubled his minutes played from last season.
So that’s the pack. The base set has 100 cards plus the expected inserts, parallels and variations. By 2017 standards it’s a fairly no-frills set, but again, I don’t view that as an issue.
Clint Dempsey is the only player I’d heard of and I was unimpressed by the one parallel I pulled, but overall they’re pretty nice and for a buck a pack I will probably buy more of these. Given that I don’t follow MLS at all, that’s a pretty decent endorsement.