Soccer

How Capital City Blues brings together Manchester City fans in D.C.

How Capital City Blues brings together Manchester City fans in D.C.

Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The EPL returned on Wednesday, as Aston Villa and Sheffield United drew 0-0 while Manchester City edged Arsenal 3-0.

To get you through the wait, NBC Sports Washington has devoted a week of stories on each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we missed the Premier League, too. And we're glad its back. 

Our fifth week, the one dedicated to Manchester City, concludes by taking a look at the Capital City Blues, Manchester City's D.C. supporters club.

For fans of the Premier League in the United States who have no direct connection to a city in England, picking a club to support can be a difficult task. But for many fans, how they picked their favorite club is an intriguing backstory all itself. 

In the Washington, D.C. area, Manchester City F.C. has a large group of supporters. So, why City? Well, each fan has a different reason.

For Hanna Ryberg, she became obsessed with the club (and admittedly, goalkeeper Joe Hart) when she spent a semester abroad in Ireland in 2011 with a host family that was die-hard City supporters.

Ryberg wasn't alone in her love for Hart. Mark Temnycky became a fan of the club after the 2012 European Football Championship, when he and his brother were fortunate enough to attend England's match versus Italy. In that matchup, the two of them had the pleasure of watching Hart put on a clinic in goal.

Brian Murphy, now 43, spent a semester abroad when he was 17 in Salerno, Italy. During that time, he became very familiar with Italy's national team and the top soccer division in that country, Serie A. Fast forward years later to when famous Italian striker Mario Balotelli joined City in 2010. Murphy, who didn't have a favorite Premier League club at the time, had found one.

Blake Seide, who was born in Takoma Park, Md. and still lives in the DMV area, simply became a City fan during college when he was watching the Manchester Derby in his dorm in 2000. With everyone else in the room pulling for powerhouse Manchester United, Seide chose to support City, instead.  

"City lost that game," Seide said."However, they gained a fan that day."

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These are just a handful of examples of how a club like Manchester City, 3,500-plus miles away, has turned D.C.-area residents into some of the club's most passionate supporters. All of these fans are members of the Capital City Blues, which is D.C.'s official Manchester City supporters club and has brought hundreds of City fans together.

The main goal of the Capital City Blues is to give Manchester City fans in the nation's capital a community that can offer communal support of their favorite club. But for many of the group's members, the Capital City Blues has provided much more than that.

"The Cap City Blues are just amazing," Ryberg said. "My dream was always to work in the Premier League, and when I got home, I was like 'How do I engage with England still in America?' and I was like, I'm just going to google 'Manchester City bar.' I found the Man City supporters club in D.C. I just went by myself one day, I walked in and walked over to a bunch of people wearing blue ... I made some best friends for life and I found a family."

RELATED: A LOOK BACK AT MANCHESTER CITY'S MIRACLE FINISH IN 2012

Whenever the club comes to the United States for a summer friendly, the club will organize a trip to go watch City in person. In fact, that's how Siede, who caught a City game in Nashville a few years back, became a member of the group. 

"After the game I went to a bar and met a few City fans," Siede said. "One of them told me about the group and the next day I became a member."

For Murphy, his favorite memory as a member of the Capital City Blues was one of the trips he spent with his now-nine-year-old son. The two of them went with the Capital City Blues to Metlife Stadium a few years ago to watch the club play, an experience that neither one of them will ever forget. Murphy joked that his son tells him all the time that he "hit the lottery" by becoming a City fan.

For every game, members of the Capital City Blues head to Lucky Bar in Dupont Circle to watch. The caveat? Lucky Bar isn't only a Manchester City fan bar, the club shares it with Manchester United and Arsenal fans, too.

So, when all three games begin at the same time, things can get quite hectic.

"Whenever the games kick off at the same time, the [bar] capacity is filled," Ryberg said. "So you have to get there at like 5:30 in the morning so you get a spot."

Although the coronavirus pandemic prevented Manchester City fans from packing Lucky Bar this past Wednesday afternoon for the season restart game against Arsenal, Capital City Blues put together a Zoom call for fans to watch the game together.

When City won the Premier League a year ago, the club brought the trophies to Lucky Bar. That day was one of the many great experiences Ryberg has had with Capital City Blues.

"Man City came with the trophies last spring as well and just put the Premier League trophies on the pool table," Ryberg said. "I think the people eating dinner there were like 'What the hell is going on?'"

Ryberg, who lived in D.C. for five years before moving to New York City this past year, went on several trips with the supporters club to watch Manchester City. Additionally, she's used the group to help give back in the community, too. 

For Ryberg, her love for the club goes a lot further than just what they do on the soccer pitch.

"Man City, they just look after people," Ryberg said. "They have all of these amazing programs: Man City in the community, it's just incredible. I just feel like it's one big family."

When she departed for the Big Apple last year, the supporters club was the hardest thing to leave behind.

"The hardest thing about moving away was leaving them," Ryberg said. "When I was leaving, they took over the microphone at Lucky Bar on the last day and [shouted me out]. They're family. It's so lovely. It's something I don't think I'll find anywhere else."

That last part is something almost every member of the Capital City Blues will agree with: there is no other supporters club like it.

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Report: F.C. Barcelona sacks manager after blowout loss to Bayern Munich in Champions League quarterfinals

Report: F.C. Barcelona sacks manager after blowout loss to Bayern Munich in Champions League quarterfinals

Sometimes in life, things come at you fast.

On Friday morning, Quique Setién was the manager of one of the best soccer teams in the world. Hours later, he's reportedly out of a job.

F.C. Barcelona have decided to reportedly sack Setién following the club's blowout 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Friday, according to Fabrizio Romano of Sky Sports.

Setién's tenure in Barcelona was a short one; he replaced Ernesto Valverde just this past January. Expectations are high in the Catalonian capital; failure to deliver at a club like Barcelona will result in what has happened to Setién on Friday.

With Friday's loss, Barcelona will go a full season without a trophy for the first time since 2007-08. To put that into perspective for Americans, George W. Bush was the President of the United States the last time Barcelona went a calendar year trophy-less.

The loss was also Barcelona's third consecutive exit from Champions League in an embarrassing fashion.

Last year, the Spanish side had a 3-0 lead over Liverpool in the UCL semifinals before falling 4-0 in the second leg. To make matters worse, Liverpool were without two top forwards in the match, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

In 2018, Barcelona blew a 4-1 lead on aggregate to A.S. Roma in the Champions League quarterfinals. Roma defeated Barcelona 3-0 in the second leg, advancing on away goals. It was a night everyone in The Eternal City (including the person writing this who was in attendance at Stadio Olympico) will never forget.

Barcelona's Champions League exit marks the official end of a year to forget for the club.

When the 2019-20 season was paused in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Barcelona was in a solid position for a title run both in Spain and across Europe. But since the team returned to action, the club has played a brand of soccer they want to forget.

When the La Liga season was paused in March, Barcelona held a two-point lead over rival Real Madrid atop the table. When the Spanish league returned in June, inconsistent play from Barcelona allowed Real Madrid to jump them in the table and eventually win La Liga.

Friday's embarrassing loss to Bayern Munich, ending the club's Champions League hopes, was just the cherry on top of a horrific couple months for the club.

Rumors swirled earlier this month that Lionel Messi, arguably the greatest player of all-time and a Barcelona lifer thus far, wants out. The world's greatest player for more than a decade just turned 33 in June. Barcelona has yet to hit rock bottom yet, but what once seemed unthinkable could be the reality for the club should Messi move on.

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

D.C. United to return to Audi Field as MLS will host local matches beginning August 12

Following the conclusion of the MLS is Back Tournament, MLS will continue its 25th season by having teams compete in their local markets, the league announced on Saturday.

Thus, D.C. United will be returning to Audi Field for regular-season action. The team will open up on the road against FC Cincinnati on Friday, August 21, before having its home opener on Tuesday, August 25, against the New England Revolution. For at least the beginning of the season, no fans will be in attendance. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved with the MLS is Back Tournament -- players, coaches, staff and partners -- for their role in helping us recapture the momentum we had at the beginning of our 25th season and reconnect with our passionate fans,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in a statement. “Since suspending play in March, we have been working on plans to play as much of our season as possible, beginning with the tournament in Florida and resuming in our local markets following the competition. We remain focused on the health and safety of our players, coaches and staff, and look forward to continuing our season in our home markets.”

Though the league is planning to allow teams to travel after holding the tournament in a bubble, it doesn't mean protocols will lessen in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Players will continue to be tested every other day and are strongly advised to limit exposure outside of team facilities and mandated areas.

However, a major complication is how the three Canadian teams (Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) will handle the season. Much like how the Toronto Blue Jays had to relocate to Buffalo to play the MLB season, Canada still has tight restrictions in place when it comes to leaving the country and coming back.

MLS states that it will have a clearer picture of the schedule in September, but initially plans to have U.S. teams only square off against one another. That may lead to the three teams north of the border only playing one another for the beginning of the season. PLans there remain uncertain. 

As it stands now, the league is set to kick off on August 12 and each team will play 18 games. Decision Day will be on November 8, and 18 teams will enter the playoffs. That number is four more than last season. The MLS Cup will take place on December 12. 

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to come to a conclusion on August 11 and the Portland Timbers will take on Orlando City for the title on August 11. D.C. United did not reach the knockout stage after finishing last in their group.

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