One of the themes we have continued to discuss in recent years is how after 50-plus years of being America’s future sport, soccer’s time may be coming and faster than we think. Decades ago, some of our most popular sports included horse racing, boxing and track and field. We paid attention to these sports all year round and many of them (as well as some of the off-beat events such as cliff diving) truly became many of the keystones of the long-running Wide World of Sports on ABC.
One of the key issues with soccer is although there is not always a lot of scoring in the games (I personally think the off-sides trap needs to go), they usually conclude within a tidy two-hour period which in today’s world is about as long as most people can actually sit to watch an event. Having said all that, and with the USA team’s success in the 2014 World Cup, there is little doubt soccer is on an upswing and has been for a long time.
For Topps, doing soccer sets is a major win as with the younger crowd following the sport, there are also younger people looking to collect soccer items. With that future Topps has been moving slowly but surely to add more sets to their product line. The basic 2013 MLS release did well and has led to the 2014 Toppps Chrome MLS product. My local card store did not carry this issue but leading on-line retailers are currently between $65-70 per box. Each box contains 24 packs with 4 cards per pack with a promise of three autographs per box.
Hobby boxes seem to be pretty well stocked with Refractors as I pulled eight regular, three X-Fractors, one Blue, one Gold, a nice Clint Irwin Atomic Refractor, numbered to 10 , a Refractor version of the In Form insert set, also numbered to 10 and an autographed Blue Refractor.
The ‘Footballers’ inserts are patterned after English and Scottish soccer sets Topps produced back in 1977. There’s also a Mexican National Team insert.
Here’s the totality of what we pulled from our hobby box:
Base Cards: 67 of 95. No duplicates.
X-Fractors: Teal Bunbury, Ned Grabavoy, Matt Hedges
Blue Refractors: (#d to 99): Julio Cesar, Jose Gonclaves
Gold Refractor (#d to 50): Drew Moor
Atomic Refractor (#d to 10): Clint Irwin
Mexican National Team: Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno, Oribie Peralta, Giovani dos Santos
Mexican National Team X-Fractors: Andres Guardado
In Form Atomic Refractors (#d to 10) Federico Higuain
1976-77 Footballer Mini: Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Keane
One-Two: Robbie Keane/Landon Donovan
Autograph Blue Refractor (#d to 99): Steven Lenhart
One disappointment for some collectors is that there are no autographed cards for players in the country’s two biggest markets: New York and L.A. (Landon Donovan is an Upper Deck exclusive) and only one for Chicago. However, blaster boxes seem to average one autograph, which is a treat for those who don’t have a hobby shop nearby and/or don’t want to order hobby boxes.
I can understand why my local card store is a bit apprehensive about carrying soccer cards as his clientele tens to skew a bit older but considering all the success he had with the World Cup events in his store, I think he would have had a great time adding to his bottom line selling this issue. Three autographs and low numbered inserts at a reasonable price point is hard to beat.
You can see the 2014 Topps MLS Chrome checklist below and click here to see boxes, sets, singles and more on eBay.