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I really enjoy watching soccer with its fast pace and technical skill that the best players in the world make look so easy. My interest in the sport has been able to flourish working at Upper Deck thanks to our partnership with Major League Soccer . I am an even bigger fan of Landon Donovan both because of his talent on the field and his humble and friendly demeanor despite being the face of soccer in the United States. As a result, one of my favorite events to work at is our yearly Upper Deck night at a Los Angeles Galaxy home game. The Home Depot Center in Carson, California is a great venue to watch a game and you get to enjoy some of the best action that Major League Soccer has to offer with names like Landon Donovan and David Beckham on the pitch. Plus it means some face time with Donovan himself thanks to our exciting promotion.
This past Saturday was the big night and we had a marquee matchup to enjoy on Upper Deck night. The Galaxy were playing local rival Chivas USA in one of the biggest rivalries in the league known at the “SuperClasico”. The fact that the two teams share the same home field makes for a raucous crowd of divided fans and gives the atmosphere a Lakers-Clippers type of feel with the defending MLS champion Galaxy playing the big dog to the upstart Chivas squad.
Fans arrived to free packs of Upper Deck cards featuring some of the top Galaxy players including Donovan, Beckham, and Robbie Keane. The big prize however was waiting inside the packs. Just like collectors enjoy the thrill of opening a pack to potentially reveal a big autographed card, just fifty lucky fans opened their packs to reveal a special “Instant Winner” card. These were extremely tough to find as the fifty packs were spread out among over 10,000 packs handed out at the game, but the payoff was huge! Fans could flip over the card to find out that they had won a free meet and greet with a Galaxy player right after the game. Imagine going to a game featuring your favorite team and finding out you will be meeting one of your favorite players as well! The winners couldn’t contain their excitement, especially since the card did not state which player they would be meeting. The excitement was left to build as the game got underway.
My job was to man the Upper Deck booth where we showing off some autographed Landon Donovan memorabilia from Upper Deck Authenticated. The Galaxy fans were very impressed by the amazing pieces like signed jerseys, balls, and prints featuring Landon’s greatest moments from both his MLS and USA Soccer careers. We were running a special discount the night of the game on these items, and fans could pick some up right there at the team store. As a bonus fans who bought an autographed item got into the postgame meet and greet, an amazing deal multiple fans decided to take advantage of. We also had the personalized trading card station up and running, an always popular attraction where people can get their own personal Upper Deck trading card created. The line stayed long before the game and during halftime as people waited to get their face on an Upper Deck trading card.
The game was exciting and the atmosphere was very intense with a good mix of Galaxy and Chivas fans. Landon had a fantastic night scoring a pair of goals to help lead the Galaxy to a resounding 3-1 victory. After the game it was time to get ready for the meet and greet. Lucky fans who pulled the winning cards from their packs began lining up, and word spread through the line that the mystery player would be Landon himself. We were led down into the depths of the Home Depot Center to wait anxiously for Landon to arrive after cleaning up and completing his postgame duties. Eventually he arrived to cheers from the front of the line, and those further back knew it meant that Landon had arrived. We filed in a few people at a time to a small alternate locker room where Landon was set up at a table. Each fan was able to get an item signed by Landon as well as a picture with the soccer superstar. Landon was as friendly as always, like the year before it was amazing to see how friendly and upbeat he remains even after the exhaustion of playing a full game less than an hour before. I got to the front of the line and Landon noticed my Upper Deck polo I was wearing. He asked if I worked for Upper Deck and when I said yes he responded without missing a beat, “Me too!” We had a chuckle about it and snapped a quick photo, a quick meeting but a great one as always. I had never thought about Landon that way but it’s true. With Upper Deck being the exlusive provider of Landon Donovan autographed memorabilia, we are basically co-workers!
If you couldn’t make it to the game you can check out the Upper Deck Store online to find great autographed Landon Donovan items from Upper Deck Authenticated as well as Upper Deck MLS Soccer cards. Also if you would like to see free Upper Deck soccer card packs at your local MLS stadium, be sure to let your local MLS know that YOU want to see Upper Deck cards in your town! Who knows, maybe someday you’ll be at a game and get a chance to meet your favorite MLS player just like the Galaxy fans!