By Scott Crawford

Hello ladies and gents, boys and girls. Welcome back to the BBL’s Weekly Wrap: The Zlatan Appreciation Edition. We’ve got plenty to discuss and little time to do it. So buckle up and get ready to impress your friends with all your current (at least from the last week!) soccer stories.

BIRMINGHAM

The Magic City Brigade is open for business. They are the original Supporters Group for professional soccer in Birmingham and welcome any and all like-minded fanatics.

They’re looking for people that love soccer and love Birmingham. If you can play a musical instrument, sing a song, design a tifo, or just stand and cheer for the Hammers and Legion FC, that’s an added bonus.

Check out their website here and get your membership here.

There – I’ve made it easy for you. (Just do it! It’s only $30, and you get a sweet scarf out of it too.)

Speaking of the MCB, the group is giving away a free 1-year membership to the person that comes up with the best new chant for 2018. Click here for details on the contest.

And while you’re at it – check out the list of common Brigade chants over at their website here.

Also – if you haven’t had a chance to read the BBL’s 2018 Hammers PDL season preview, you can find it here. <Shout out to BBL’s Joey Page>

Finally – the Birmingham City Council approved financing for a new open-air 55,000 seat stadium. Could this help clear the way for the USMNT and USWNT to return to the ‘Ham in competitive matches? You bet it does.

DOMESTIC

The MLS gave us a truncated schedule in week 4 due to the FIFA international break. Click here for your MLS Power Rankings through the first month.

Meanwhile, the American soccer-loving world awaits Zlatan’s debut in the next week or two. Will he be ready to play against LAFC this coming weekend? He’s ready to conquer the United States and MLS, so let’s all hope so. Oh – and don’t forget to say thank you as he does it.

There was a full slate of games in the USL last weekend.

Birmingham native Chandler Hoffman poked the game-drawing 88th minute goal for Real Monarchs at Tulsa Roughnecks. But the USL goal of the week has to be Solomon Asante’s (Phoenix Rising) 20-yard screamer off the crossbar and in the back of the net against OKC, right? No doubt!

Check out the USL’s Power Rankings after 2 weeks here. Just think, in 12 months, Legion FC will be sitting atop this list. (Wink-wink)

In a notable USL player signing, ESPN reported last Friday that Freddy Adu had joined Las Vegas Lights. The signing does not make the impact of the Zlatan-to-the-Galaxy story – but it certainly is intriguing to see how it will play out this season for the one-time budding American star. Hard to believe that he’s only 28 years old.

INTERNATIONAL

A BBL Hot Take: The USMNT that played last Tuesday night, with all of the young faces, would have earned a result against Trinidad last fall. It was refreshing to see new players with energetic legs on the pitch playing like they had a purpose, even though it was just a friendly.

And spare me the “oh it was just a friendly against a young Paraguayan team” talk. Our kids (avg. age of the team was under 24) looked determined and fought hard for their country.

The USMNT won 1-0 over Paraguay in Cary, NC. Tyler Adams was the BBL MOTM. He was clever in the midfield, connecting passes and consistently pressuring the Paraguayan defense. And he earned the penalty that Bobby Wood scored in the 43rd minute with a beautiful run up the center seam of the pitch. Well done young man.

WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND

Luckily for all of you soon-to-be USL fans out there, the league does a great job of making itself accessible to just about anyone that knows how to work YouTube. All of their matches are streamed live on the USL Channel and you can get all of the week 3 matchups right here.

Personally, I would recommend watching Chandler Hoffman with Real Monarchs or Ian Svantesson with the Charleston Battery every weekend (for reasons the BBL will explain soon) – but if you only watch one game this weekend, make it Louisville FC hosting the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday afternoon (March 31st).

Oh – and don’t forget about LA Galaxy hosting LAFC. It should be a tense soccer environment, especially if the glorious Zlatan makes his MLS Debut. That game is slated for 2:00 PM, Saturday, on FOX or FOX Deportes.

THAT’S A WRAP

There you go! I told you we had a lot to cover. But you made it to the end of the article.

Now – let’s see if you’re paying attention:

The first one to email us your favorite BBL post that we’ve written over the past few years, we will personally sponsor your 2018 membership to the Magic City Brigade. All you have to do is send an email to bhambackline@gmail.com telling us your favorite BBL story and why you chose it. YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW THOSE RULES! So let us know.

First email that follows the rules wins the membership and the scarf.

If you’re already a 2018 MCB member, you cannot enter the contest (sorry guys and gals – but they already have your $$!)

(If you’re taking notes – you now have 2 separate opportunities to win a free membership to the MCB – what the hell are you waiting on?)

Boom – talk soon!