Bob is a longtime member of the Florida sports media, having served as a reporter and copy editor for more than 30 years. His true sports passion, however, is the history of the various games, exhibited by his in-depth book reviews and hobby of collecting cards and other sports memorabilia. He blogs for TBO.com on both subjects, transferring his work for the Tampa Tribune to the realm of cyberspace.
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Collect call: 2013 Topps MLS Soccer
Posted Jul 25, 2013 by Bob D'Angelo
Updated Jul 25, 2013 at 08:47 AM
A set builder will tell you that it’s an ideal situation when a base set can be completed with just one hobby box. So when I opened a box of 2013 Topps MLS Soccer, I knew there was a good chance. After all, the base set had 200 cards, and there were 24 packs of 10 cards in the box. Some very good odds.
I certainly was not disappointed. The base set was completed, plus there was an added bonus. Topps promised two autographs and three relics per hobby box, and that quota was met. The surprise was an additional autographed relic card. Six hot cards and a complete set. It’s hard to ask for much more.
The design of the base set is not bad. The player is presented in a sharp-focus action shot, set against a soft-focus background. The layout is mostly vertical, although there are some horizontal shots. What I don’t like is the tiny silver stamp on the left-hand side of the card (right-hand side for horizontal layouts) with the players’ names. I have to confess that I don’t know many MLS players (Landon Donovan being one of the exceptions), so to turn the card sideways and read the small print is very distracting. The players’ position at the bottom of the card is actually in larger, stamped foil type. Odd.
There is one other player whose name rang a bell for me: Colorado Rapids defender Marvell Wynne, the son of the former major-leaguer who played for the Pirates, Padres and Cubs from 1983 to 1990.
There were three parallels in the hobby box I sampled: blue ones s numbered to 50 of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (Seattle Sounders) and Jackson (FC Dallas), and a gold parallel of Philadelphia Union forward Jack McInerney.
The most intriguing inserts were the 1978 English Footballer cards. This is a 60-card subset that pays tribute to the “orange back” soccer cards issued by Topps in the United Kingdom. And the card fronts also bear an extremely close resemblance to Topps’ 1977 football set, particularly with the banner icon that unfurls with the team name. The card backs were dominated by the orange ink that was used with the original Footballer cards.
There were four of these cards in the box I opened.
A 15-card mini set is included in this product, and an average hobby box will yield two minis. Rivalries is a 10-card insert set that honors spirited matches through the years between two teams. The card I pulled detailed the Rocky Mountain rivalry between the Colorado Rapids and the Real Salt Lake squads.
Pure Soccer is a 20-card subset that attempts to show some excellent plays in soccer. “Attempts” is the operative word here, since the “Pure Soccer” logo really dominates the card front and obscures the action on the pitch.
The first signature card I pulled was a Maestros Autograph of Portland Timber midfielder Jack Jewsbury. A very shiny card, and although the card stock appears to be the same as the base cards, there seems to be a flimsy feel when handling it. The sticker is clear.
The second autograph came from the 15-card Super Draft Autographs and featured Seattle Sounders FC draftee Eriq Zavaleta. This sticker is white, which makes it look rather large; but then again, Zavaleta’s signature is tiny, so that might have something to do with it.
The three MLS Kits relic cards I pulled sported a horizontal layout and an attractive design, with a nice-sized swatch of the player’s standard attire, or kit. The three players were San Jose defender Steven Beitashour, Seattle midfielder Mauro Rosales and FC Dallas defender Zach Loyd.
The final big hit was an autograph relic card of Sporting Kansas City defender Matt Besler. The design is opposite from the Kits relics, as the player photo is positioned on the left-hand side of the card, with the swatch on the right.
Soccer collectors will enjoy the design and the feel of these cards. In most cases, Topps did very well, particularly with the relics and Footballer cards. And, the collation was outstanding — a complete base set, and 12 doubles. I’d call it a decent debut.