Earlier today I read about the MLS and Topps releasing a 2014 set of MLS trading cards. You can read that article here: http://tinyurl.com/lb5jkfy
I think this type of brand promotion is great for the MLS, and I hope it’s a partnership that continues to grow for years to come. It reminded me of a little something from about a decade ago: Football Champions CCG (Collectible Card Game). Football Champions was a soccer card game that was also a tabletop game, think Pokemon cards or Magic: The Gathering. Each player card had player specific attributes, and when a team was assembled, you used dice to determine outcomes of moving the ball around the pitch. They were awesome because not only could you collect your favorite squad’s cards through buying various random packs, but you could then assemble a team and play against your friends. It was fantasy sports before fantasy sports had really taken off. The cards were printed by Wizards of the Coast, who is a Washington state based company, but since the cards were made for the Premier League and Serie A, they were mainly sold in England and Italy. This presented an issue here in the states, paying high prices via eBay.
Topps, the same company referenced in the article above, has been pumping out Topps Match Attax cards in England for years now. Match Attax is essentially a re-branded version of the original Football Champions product, but seems to be limited to the Premier League. They’ve had a few editions for the recent Euro and World Cup, but that seems to be the extent of their international reach.
I’d love to see a refreshed version of these cards printed for the MLS and the other major European leagues as well. The game played quite smoothly if I recall, and would encourage kids in the United States not only to start collecting cards, but learning more about the players. It would help grow allegiance to local teams and build up a better understanding on the beautiful game’s structure and rules. I’d love to build a fantasy team with Clint Dempsey playing alongside Fernando Torres, with Ronaldo and Messi paired up in the midfield.
Wizards of the Coast seemed to stop printing Football Champions cards in 2004-2005, and have not touched the brand since. They had mild success with MLB and NFL versions of the game as well, but also stopped production in 2005-2006 on those products.
And really I want a New York Red Bulls version of this card: