Wednesday, June 12, 2013
New Supporters' Shield Commissioned
(by Brian Lewis nypost.com 2-28-13)
In soccer leagues around the world, their regular-season title is the biggest trophy and highest goal teams hope to achieve. And while most top-flight teams stateside will probably always aim for MLS Cup, the Supporters' Shield Foundation and Independent Supporters Council (ISC) are working together to ensure the former trophy isn’t just remembered, but revered.
Supporter groups across the league have banded together through ISC to fund, design and deliver a new Supporters’ Shield. The award started in 1999, and is given to the MLS club with the most points at the end of the regular-season; this new trophy will replace the previous one at the start of this 2013 campaign.
“(It’s) an award created by the fans to recognize the single table winner. It is unique in the landscape of American sports,’’ said Sean Dane, who is President of Supporters' Shield Foundation, a leader in the Kansas City Cauldron, and a major impetus in getting the new Supporters' Shield produced. “I think it highlights what makes the supporters culture in the league great.
“It also highlights the ability of Major League Soccer to work in partnership with its supporters in a way unseen in other sports. The effort of the ISC and its members is commendable and it helps to further the growth of supporters culture in the country. That’s a win for all involved and I am proud to be associated with all them.”
The thought of a fan-created trophy may seem as foreign to many U.S. sports fans, as does the idea of putting significant value on the regular-season record. But that’s a typically-American mindset the supports are laboring to change, bit by bit.
“The Supporters’ Shield takes a greater commitment to high-level play to earn, and represents the best team over 34 games,’’ said Brett Bird, Vice President of the Vancouver Southsiders. “Too many times an MLS Cup winner plays well for two weeks and takes home a trophy.”
Greg Mockos, Co-president of the Emerald City Supporters, echoed that sentiment.
“The Supporters' Shield is important as its crowns the champion over the course of the regular season,’’ said Mockos. “It represents the efforts of the team through a very long and arduous season on a path that is traveled in unison with the supporters - every match day home, and away.
“To win the Supporters' Shield the team and supporters all need to have the same, unwavering commitment to the club and its crest.’’
The new Supporters’ Shield – which is made of sterling silver and stainless steel, weighing just over 35 lbs. – will start in San Jose (the reigning holders) and travel with supporters the entire season, reaching all 19 teams and their supporters.
The ISC has organized the trip so each supporter group that helped fund it can see what their work has wrought, and it’ll end up with this season’s winners.