I spent a lot of time in the 919 with the folks from North Carolina FC. There’s a camaraderie in that front office that took me back to my best days with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and I was happy to spend as much time as I did there.

Here’s a little rundown of the events that took place during my week or so in the Triangle.

Monday, March 20
Alright, so I actually arrived in Cary late Sunday night. And the Wednesday before I went to D.C. I spent a night in town as well, where I took part in the front office staff’s weekly trip to Oak City Meatball in downtown Raleigh. But I’ll just lump all of that under the “Monday” section because it’s my blog.

Monday morning I woke up at Pat and Jorge’s place — two good friends of mine, employees of North Carolina FC, patrons of the tour, and my hosts for my entire stay. Amazing guys.

First order of business for the day was to get quotes on a new windshield for the van.

After calling around, GlassAmerica offered me a quality deal and a discount in exchange for a social media mention. $187. Not an anticipated expense, but not bad, all things considered. So if you’re in need of a new windshield, or I suppose any glass for that matter, give them a call because they helped me out big time.

The rest of the day was spent with my North Carolina FC family. I was given control of the @NCCourage Twitter account for the announcement of their new kits and sponsors. In the evening, a few of us headed to WakeMed Soccer Park to hang banners ahead of Wednesday night’s match with Mexican side Atlas FC.

Tuesday, March 21
Weather in North Carolina is a strange beast. When I arrived Sunday night, it was freezing cold. Monday: cool. Tuesday morning: cool. Tuesday around noon:

When not wiping sweat off my brow, I managed to snap some less-than-stellar photos, which you can view here.

That evening, I helped Oak City Supporters make their opening-game tifo. If you’re new to soccer an unsure about the word “tifo,” I have taken the liberty of linking you to the definition here. Why do supporters spend hours making them? Well, you’ll have to ask OCS president Ryan Jernigan.

Wednesday, March 22
AKA Gameday.

AKA Steven got a sponsor day.

If you want to hear how that happened, read below. If not skip ahead.

BONUS: The Soccer Tour Partners With Circle K: The previous Wednesday I was passing through Cary on my way from Charlotte to Washington D.C. when I stopped briefly at the North Carolina FC offices to say hello to my #NCFCFam. Making myself useful (I can do that sometimes), I began to proofread the club’s upcoming sponsorship announcement.

Meanwhile, Steven De Haseth — who does sponsorship for the club — happened to walk by and spot me. I had told Steven about the tour at his barbecue the last time I was in town, back in September when the idea was still in its infancy. Now that it was a reality he was eager to hear how things were going. I was (obviously) eager to share. After a couple minutes of conversation, a lightbulb went off in my head: the sponsors the club had just signed would be ideal for The Soccer Tour. Steven agreed and decided to pitch the idea to Circle K.

Long story short: they loved it. I’ve now got Circle K magnets on the van, a supply of gift cards, and the first and only sponsor of the tour.

Anyway, back to gameday…

WakeMed Soccer Park is one of the most stunning venues in American soccer. Truly a wonderful little stadium. On the pitch, NCFC fell to Atlas FC on a late goal. The atmosphere was terrific though and I got to split time between watching from the press box and shooting B-roll of Oak City Supporters. It was a good appetizer for the main course Saturday night.

Thursday, March 23

Sometimes, I have to do boring stuff. If you’re interested, this is how I spent Thursday morning: getting photos from various stops on the tour printed, writing personalized messages to my Patrons and people I meet along the tour, and mailing them out. It’s not much, but on a shoestring budget, it’s a gesture that I hope conveys just how lucky I am to have so many people supporting me on my journey.

Later in the day I caught up with one of the NASL’s finest reporters, Neil Morris, to join him on a star-studded (and I use that term loosely) episode of the Inverted Triangle Podcast. We spent some time talking about my departure from the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and how that helped motivate me to go through with the tour. You can listen to that podcast here around the 34 minute mark.

That evening I saw Beauty and the Beast with some members of the NCFC front office. If you haven’t watched it yet, go see it.

Friday, March 24
In the morning, I got one of the greatest emails I’ve ever received:

It’s a lot to think about, and I haven’t made a decision yet — nor will I for some time — but the prospect that a) someone wants me to write a book, and b) so many people would be interested in reading it, has be speechless.

Maybe I was on a high but that evening I totally did not overreact to the USA’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras with OSC at London Brigde in Raleigh.

Saturday, March 25
AKA Gameday. AKA free food day.

I also spotted NCFC supporter Jarrett Campbell — who actually came up with the Carolina RailHawks name — sporting this shirt he had made. To quote my friend Jorge who uses this word for everything and anything, but I think applies well in this case, “Genius.”

The match itself was a tense affair, but, as I’m quickly finding out, between hanging with the supporters, recording B-roll or snapping photos, rarely do I actually get to sit and enjoy these games.

After the match though I got to see a whole cast of familiar faces, something I relish. Especially now that the club is in limbo, I love to see former Strikers players doing well.

Sunday, March 26
By this point, I have spent an entire week at Jorge’s house. The least I could do was drive him to the airport at 4:45 a.m. for his flight to Costa Rica.

After getting some more sleep upon returning to the house, I got some video stuff done and hand drew this infographic, which people really seemed to like (and even featured on MLSsoccer.com.)

Hopefully this gives a little bit of a glimpse into what my life is like on the road.

Monday, March 27
No Monday blues for me. After going to the NCFC offices and taking over at Jorge’s desk, I got some huge news: Ethan Zohn became a patron of The Soccer Tour. If you’re like me, you recognize the name immediately if not, perhaps I can jog your memory. Ethan was the winner of Survivor Africa, a cancer survivor and co-founder of Grassroot Soccer (GRS).

Needless to say, I was stoked to have his support.

Later in the day I linked up with my friend Wells Thompson, who I first met at the 2015 NASL Championship Final in New York. Wells is a super-great dude but has had his fair share of struggles transitioning to life after soccer.

We talked openly and honestly about those issues, and what can be done, in this interview here.

Tuesday, March 28
Just 18 months or so into his ownership of the club Steve Malik has done wonders for NCFC. This offseason the club partnered with Capital Area Soccer League and Triangle Futbol Club Alliance to create the largest youth-to-pro soccer club in the Country. Malik also introduced a women’s team to the fold, bringing the Western NY Flash to the NCFC umbrella and rebranding them the North Carolina Courage.

Malik has stated his intentions to make the Courage the best women’s team in the world.

Later in the afternoon I had a rendezvous with Jarrett Campbell, founder of the Triangle Soccer Fanatics and the individual who came up with the Carolina RailHawks name. (After 10 years as the RailHawks, NCFC rebranded this past offseason.)

We talked about THAT shirt I spotted at the game Saturday that drew some attention on social media.



Wednesday, March 29

My last full day in town before I set off on a little personal getaway to the mountains in Asheville ended the same way it started. At Oak City Meatball with the NCFC front office staff.

During the day I edited video and put together this little recap video. Check it.