How can we make the United States fall in love with soccer? Buy your friends a beer and watch as a lifelong love affair with the beautiful game begins. Learn more.

The FBM Blog

American Outlaws Archives

VIDEO: The History and Power of “I Believe” (ESPN)

ESPN - 2014 FIFA World Cup - "I Believe That We Will Win!" from Nick Aquilino on Vimeo.

It's evolved into American soccer's most iconic chant during this World Cup, but the origins of "I Believe" are incredibly humble. 

Our founder, Dan Wiersema, had the pleasure of speaking with ESPN about the power of positivity of this chant that the U.S. soccer supporters group, the American Outlaws has made a national rallyng cry. 

This originally aired on Monday, June 30th on "World Cup Tonight" and was also featured on SportsCenter.

Tags: American Outlaws, Supporters Groups, USMNT, Video, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Meet Teddy Goalevelt

Teddy conquering the Amazon in Manaus. 

Mild-mannered Chicago advertising man by day. Legendary former American President Teddy Roosevelt by game day.

Meet Mike D’Amico.

Since his first appearance with Jimmy Conrad and KICK TV post-Natal and then in millions of home around the world during the broadcast celebrating during the USMNT-Portugal match D’Amico is currently the “face of American soccer”.

What started out as just a silly idea to enjoy his time as a fan supporting the national team in Brazil has grown into a viral journey few, especially D’Amico, could imagine.

Below is the story, in his own words, of how one man took Brazil by storm and channeled his inner 26th President, Teddy Goalsevelt.

Idea

The first part is the boring and lame part. Since October I had been letting my beard grow. I had a beard that maybe came down to my chest. It was a massive beard. I knew that I was going to want that beard. It’s like a face scarf. It’s too hot for that.

That was so much work. Like nine months. There’s got to be something I can do with this. Can I dye it? Can I shave it into USA? Into a statue? Can I carve it?

I travel a lot for U.S. Soccer and I always love the guys that no matter the temperature or what the conditions are they’re always dressed up. There’s the guy in the colonial outfit; the tri-corner hat and the wig. There’s always the guy with the World War II general helmet with the pipe and the aviator sunglasses. Those guys get people psyched. It gets people excited.

If I’m going to Brazil, if I’m spending all of this money… why not try and do something like that?

So I started brainstorming. I had the facial hair thing in my head. I had Brazil on my mind.  It all of a sudden it came to me: Teddy Roosevelt.

Who better to be that than Teddy Roosevelt in Brazil, in the Amazon? The mustache and the Rough Riders.

With that much beard growth is was pretty easy to turn it into his mustache.  In fact I had to trim it a bit.

I mentioned it casually to a few people, just to test the waters and the were like, “YES!”

I started to put it together in like March or April. Looking around and piecing things together. Ironically almost the entire costume was assembled from Amazon.com.

Tapping a rich cultural history

I was talking to a bunch of fans at the hotel before the Natal match and this was the first dabble into American soccer culture. They were looking around and there was me and General (George S.) Patton, and Duff Man, people with the face paint and the wigs. All the different kinds of people dressed up.

So a U.S. soccer match is kind of like the Super Bowl meets ComicCon.

The cool thing about being an U.S. soccer fan is the breadth of culture that we have access to that can immediately represent America. Some other countries don’t have that.

There are so many cultural things. There’s so much history.

Teddy Roosevelt is like you took American culture, rung it out, and made a cartoon character of it. Like he’s not real. This is a guy who born and raised in New York, he was a cowboy, a Rough Rider, a politician, a President, and all of the expeditions. The story of this man is almost fictional.

I think that’s part of the reason everyone loves the costume so much.  There are lots of President that could claim to be the “most American President”, but I think you’d have a hard time making a better case  than you can for Teddy Roosevelt.

An Unexpected Reception

I thought I was just going to be another guy. “Ohh… look it’s a super hero that’s cool. Ohh… look it’s George Washington. Ohh… look it’s Teddy Roosevelt.”

But it’s been like, “Superhero. George Washington. TEDDY ROOSEVELT!”

Then there’s like a line to take photos and people want to sign songs. It’s just been over-the-top craziness since day one.

I had absolutely no idea that is had gotten so big back home. Buzzfeed. I was on the homepage of ESPN.com. They were talking about intense fans of the World Cup and that’s not something that’s been apart of our vernacular.

Will Teddy ride again after the World Cup?

That is a question that I don’t feel like I get to answer. I feel like everyone else has already made that choice for me. One of the first emails, after returning from Manaus, I got was from a co-worker was, “You’re wearing that on Monday to work, right?”

All of the guys back home at American Outlaws: Chicago were like, “I don’t care what it takes you’re wearing the ‘Teddy Goalsevelt’ costume to the first game back. It doesn’t matter how many free beers it takes… you’re doing it.”

I think Teddy will live on. I think he has to.

Perspective

The fact that this many people are sharing and tweeting and posting my stupid face just means all of those people were watching U.S. soccer.

Which is incredible. How big this has gotten… it couldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a critical mass of eyeballs on the match. So the fact that so many people were watching the ability to turn my dumb face with this hat, glasses, and mustache into a viral hit is fantastic.

Not for me, but for the game.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Rainy day in Recife

I had only been asleep for about 30 minutes when the alarm went off at 12:45am. My head wouldn’t meet a pillow for another 24 hours. I can tell you at the beginning of this story it would be all worth it.

When it comes to getting enough rest it’s never been something I’ve been particularly good at. I actually tend to thrive in low-sleep situations.

Which is good because this day is going to be one of those types of days.

By 2am we’re on the road to Recife from Natal; twelve busloads of American Outlaws including a spare bus just in case one breaks down. The rain is falling steadily. We’re anticipating a wet day, but certainly not the conditions we’ll push through in about five hours.

The thirteen buses are cruising down BR-101 courtesy of a Federal Police escort between the two World Cup host cities. Our bus “tour guide” cracks a joke about the Brazilian highway system saying that if the same people that were charge of paving these roads had built the Great Wall of China they’d still be at it today.

As dawn breaks it’s become increasingly obvious that this isn’t just a steady, tropical rain but full-on flood conditions. As we transition from rural Brazil to urban Recife the roads turn to rivers. Our bus caravan plunges, literally, on. I swear there would come a point where, like in Oregon Trail, we’d have to make a decision of whether or not to caulk our wagon and ford our way to the stadium.

Arena Pernambuco is located outside of the city proper and thankfully somewhat distant from what would later be reported as nearly thigh-high water in Recife. The exterior the pre-game party hosted by the American Outlaws is flanked by two ridiculous large inflatables on the outside, one of the World Cup mascot and the other, for some reason, a goat. On the inside both Good Morning America and the TODAY Show have staked out the entrance and frantic producers are fighting to grab the most unique dressed and loudest American fans for backdrops to their live-on-location reports.

Given our personal struggles to make it to the previous two matches on time this is the first pre-game party that myself and my traveling companions have made it to. We’re not disappointed.

The never-ending rain has added a special extra element to the festivities, forcing everyone into closer quarters since the risk of drowning outside it quite real. The sound of every chant of “USA” or “I Believe” sounds that much louder and feels that much more intense.

Teddy Goalesvelt and I at the AO tailgate. 

I haven’t tailgated this early since college and thinking about the time and space in those ten years is a brief and slightly depressing thought that is pushed out of my head as quickly as the next beer is pushed into my hand.

By the time we begin to march to the stadium everyone’s red, white, and blue is tinted by a translucent poncho or a new, darker shade compliments of the pouring rain. The perpetual showers don’t dampen the enthusiasm of the Outlaws on their trek to the stadium; many stopping occassionally to match the quantity of liquids going inside their bodies to that of the flow of rainwater cascading off them.

To be honest Pernambuco is the least impressive of the three World Cup venues the U.S. plays in. It’s boxy and impersonal. It doesn’t look like sand dunes or a woven basket. Perhaps it’s the drenched, grey sky or it’s missing the mystique of being in the middle of the rainforest or I didn’t just “Amazing Race” to this one.

Inside and situated back far enough to be under the arena’s protective cover the crowd’s energy has a much different feel to it that the other two matches. Ghana was outright intense; America and her fans making their boisterous debut on the World Cup stage. Portugal’s crowd was confident, surging until silenced in the last seconds. The chants and cheers are the same as their preceding games, but the spaces between each are more distant, spaced out by fans rubbernecking to the few people with working data plans keeping sections updated on the action in Brasília.

On the field the U.S. has shown well. Thomas Müller’s goal, the lone tally wasn’t the result of some disastrous defense just a well-taken shot. The USMNT is giving Germany a game. Alejandro Bedoya’s cleared shot, reminiscent of Michael Bradley’s in the previous game, jolts the crowd who collectively remove their fingers from their nail-nibbling mouths to give some last-minute encouragement.

As the final whistle blows there’s about two minutes where we waited on our compatriots with the cell phones to give us a final Ghana-Portugal update. The U.S. players and coaching staff clearly have better service in the stadium than we do. They’re celebrations trigger ours as devices confirm what we’re witness in front of us.

We’ve gone through.

There’s a peculiar thing about the World Cup to celebrate advancing to the knockout rounds when you’ve just lost a game. It’s a tough feeling to reconcile. For me I haven’t seen the national team lose a game in over a dozen games over the past two years (all home games) so I’m standing there thinking about that. But then the result is insignificant because you’re through and it’s the elimination games that we have to prepare for.

Again I think the weather, the depressing drizzle, has affected my thinking because I’m focused more about the loss than moving forward. Ultimate my head will clear over the next five hours on the bus and by the time we return to Natal I’m fully over the day’s loss and eager to began our next World Cup challenge.

While the team and large chunk of American supporters will proceed onto Salvador I, unfortunately, will return to a bar stool in Austin, Texas. Several thorough loads of laundry between today and Tuesday will return my sun/sweat/rain-soaked jerseys to their former glory.

Travelling to Brazil with American Outlaws feels a lot summer camp. At the Houston airport where we’ve all landed, before departing to our own corners of the country, new friends exchange contact information and promises of dinner, drinks, and a couch or bed to sleep on if they should ever pass through each other’s city. Old friends, veterans of this soccer supporter dance of hello-game-goodbye, shake hands and hug until next time.

My journey to the World Cup, as an American in Brazil, was one amazing adventure; filled with more twists and turns that I ever could’ve imagined. It was both one of the most stressful and wonderful experience of my entire time and I wouldn’t trade any of it for anything.

Until next time.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Thousands of MLS supporters come together for USMNT

NOTE: This article originally appeared on MLSSoccer.com.

RECIFE, Brazil -- They’ve come from all over the country clad in red, white, and blue. But they have other colors with them. 

The burgundy of the Colorado Rapids. The rave green of the Seattle Sounders. The red of Toronto FC. And so on. All the colors of Major League Soccer teams are here in full force.

For them, this trip to Brazil is about club and country.

Finding an MLS jersey inside the stadiums of Natal, Manaus, and Recife isn't easy. But on non-game days, they are everywhere. Fans are eager to rep their local side: Sporting KC t-shirts in the hotel lobby, New York Red Bulls jerseys at a Brazil watch party, a LA Galaxy cap for protection from the Brazilian sun, or a pair of Portland Timbers shorts for lounging poolside.

A few years after the Dynamo arrived in Texas and Houston native Rick Worley returned to his hometown from Washington D.C., he picked up season tickets as both a matter of civic pride and the natural evolution for his passion for soccer

“I definitely grew up loving the U.S. national team. I can’t imagine anything better than the U.S. winning a World Cup,” said Worley. “But BBVA Stadium is amazing and such a great atmosphere. The city has really embraced this team.”

Jake Beard, a director of the Iron Lion Firm, an Orlando City Soccer Club supporters group, echoed a similar sentiment.

“I think it’s different for everybody. Some take club over country. For me I was a fan of the national team before I ever had a club to root for,” he said. “So for me I’ll always be here to support the U.S. It’s been a two year journey to be here now and all the obstacles along the way. It’s been a dream come true to go to the matches.”

With the World Cup in full swing the club rivalries take a back seat to supporting the national team.

“No matter what we’re here for the team,” said Peg Manning, a Seattle Sounders season ticket holder since their MLS debut. “The players become our own even if they play for other teams.”

“Our joke all this year has been 'It's not June yet',” Manning’s husband, Tim Blanchard, interjected with a laugh.

“Now it’s June: Go Kyle (Beckerman)!” Manning added.

MATCHCENTER: 7 MLS players in starting lineup against Germany
For the teams that sent MLS players to represent their country, there’s an extra special amount of pride for their fans.

“What’s not to like about that (having club players on the national team)?” Blanchard asked rhetorically.

Worley was excited to see Dynamo players past and present on the USMNT squad.

“I was really lucky for the first game against Ghana I was in the front row right behind the U.S. bench and to see when the guys stood up and started clapping the first one I was congratulating was Brad Davis. To see (former Dynamo) Geoff Cameron out there too was cool. To see those two guys out there representing the orange was pretty great.”

During the Portugal match, Manning and Blanchard were represented by not one, but two Sounders’ players on the field.

“I was screaming for DeAndre (Yedlin) so hard,” said Manning.

“It was tremendously exciting to see Dempsey and DeAndre on the field together,” added Blanchard.

MLS’ connection to Brazil gets stronger when Beard’s OCSC joins the league in 2015. The team’s majority owner Flavio Augusto da Silva is a native of Rio de Janeiro. Beard said his purple jersey has caught a few eyes down here in Brazil because of his club’s owner. And his future fellow MLS fans are quite welcoming as well.

“I’ve met so many cool people here on the trip and everyone has been so receptive of Orlando.”

Even in faraway places like Manaus MLS fans are discovering each other.

“We’re walking from the stadium back to the buses for the airport," Blanchard recounts. "About halfway back we stopped in this crammed spot. There were just two seats in this tiny place. We asked the folks if we could sit down and started talking to them. Turns out they sit in section 109 (of CenturyLink Field) and we sit in section 209. She’s Brazilian and lives in the Seattle now.”

They exchanged information and plan on meeting up back in Seattle before a game.

“It really is such a small world,” Manning added.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Madness in Manaus

The U.S. fan’s World Cup is defined, so far, by 30 seconds. Thirty seconds in versus Ghana Clint Dempsey send us into a frenzy onto three points. Thirty seconds left and Portugal knocks the wind out of us and we settle for a draw in Manaus.

Thus is the roller coaster ride that is the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. If you told most American fans that we’d leave the Amazon rainforest with four points I think most of us would take that in a heartbeat. But standing in the stadium at full time on Sunday night I couldn’t feel anything but cheated.

------------------------------------------

The trip itself to Manaus was another intriguing story. We finally found ourselves with a spot the charter flight, but delay after delay departing from Natal meant that we would miss the American Outlaws/U.S. Soccer pregame party.  Another straight-to-the-stadium sprint. We were getting pretty good at this.

On the plus side we were able to march, briskly, with other American fans on their way to Arena Amazonia. While it probably wasn’t as epic as what we heard about the Natal march, the experience of being surrounded by hundreds of U.S. fans in foreign country on their way to a World Cup game was incredible.

Arena Amazonia is a gorgeous stadium. Designed to look like a woven basket sold in the local markets it is a crowning achievement of architecture on par with Teatro Amazonas, Manaus’ historic opera house, built in 1896.

As the lineups were announced the largest cheer/squeal was reserved for Portugal’s Ronaldo and his first touch was met with a roar of approval I’d never heard in my life. But as the match wore on and he faded from the match (minus the his last cross, of course) the crowd turned against him, fueled by the growing confidence of the American side and the American fans.

I was situated right behind the Portugal goal the U.S. was attacking in the second half. When Jermaine Jones ripped his shot… that curve… I swear I saw a blinker on the ball it was turning so dramatically.  And Dempsey’s… err… ball into the back of net; at that point of the match anything was possible. Top the group? Sure. Win the World Cup? Why not us.

I thought the United States had the corner on late-game-drama magic, but Portugal had different ideas.

This U.S. team was dominant. Despite two defensive breakdowns at both ends of the game we were the better team on the night. I can take solace, in the long view, that standing up to the likes of Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo on this night in Manaus is a huge step in the right direction for American soccer.

Those will have to be the thoughts that carry me forward to Germany when we face our next “greatest World Cup test ever” ™.

Now there’s just one number to focus on: 90. Ninety minutes of greatness needed on Thursday and we’re through.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: We’re Ghana (get it?) make it to this game?

It took just 29 seconds to erase almost 48 hours of terrible traveling.

When Clint Dempsey slashed through the Ghanaian defense and buried that ball in the back of the net the stress, the madness, the lack of sleep… it was all worth it. We made it to the World Cup.

----------------------------------------------

Just two hours earlier our personal 767 landed on the tarmac in Natal. The charter company, after several false starts, finally made amends. We were picked up in Georgetown, Guyana, and after a heartfelt apology from the captain on behalf of the company, we settled into the first-class seats.

Just "the AO 14," as we called ourselves, on a plane designed to carry over 200. Weird.

We landed in Natal and sprinted through immigration and customs, opened specifically for us as we were the only international flight landing that day. Obviously the rest of the American (and Ghanaian) fans had already arrived comfortably early for the day’s game.

We piled into a small bus and took off for Arena das Dunas. Less than three hours to go before the match.

Traffic was awful, so we were biting our nails the whole way. Several times we asked the driver if we should get out and run. How far is it? Our driver insisted he continue with us, but when he got us as far as he thought possible, we all jumped out and began rushing toward the stadium. As we got closer, we noticed that we were not alone. More and more people were joining us on our walk – fans from everywhere -- like a snowball rolling down a hill.

Then the stadium emerged. For the better part of the last 24 hours, it had been unknown as to whether or not we would be at the game. So I admit: I teared up.

First stop after getting our tickets scanned and entering the stadium? A nice, cold beer of course. We barely had a moment to drink in the moment (or drink our beer) when Dempsey scored.

Pandemonium. More tears. Lots of hugs. My wife, Anah, Landon (my best friend since high school), and I in euphoric embrace.

The next 80 minutes were sheer terror as the US team held on to that tentative lead. When André Ayew scored Ghana’s equalizer it was a gut punch. How could this happen? We had come so far? We had endured so much? How could Ayew do this? To us?

And when Graham Zusi lines up for that corner in the 86th minute, I closed my eyes and whispered to myself (I swear I did), “I know we, the team, don’t deserve to win, but I think WE deserve this win.”

John Brooks plowed that ball into the goal and I lost it. I just lost it. This was what it was all for. This made up for all the rebooked flights, the airport waiting lounges, Guyanese customs hall, the taxi ride from the airport, sweating through my Waldo hat. This was everything.

I don’t even remember hearing the final whistle.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Wait! Trinidad & Guyana are NOT on the way to Natal

NATAL, Brazil – Twenty-four hours ago, I was in Georgetown, Guyana.

Trust me, I’m just as surprised as you are to be uttering those words. Don’t worry, I’ll catch you up in a moment.

Originally we – Anah; my best friend from high school, Landon, who currently lives in Los Angeles (no, not that Landon); and I – were scheduled to depart Saturday evening on "AO Force 2": the second of the two American Outlaws charter planes. “AO Force One” had left the night before bound for Natal and without any hiccups we were to follow right after.

Until we were informed that the original “AO Force Two” was experiencing “mechanical troubles” and was going to be grounded in Houston. The point of charter planes, of course, is to avoid headaches, but ever since the package was announced nearly two years ago, headaches is all that AO leaders Korey Donahoo and Justin Brunken (full disclosure: two very good friends of mine) had experienced.

Rather than a wake-up call from the front desk of our Houston hotel, my phone was blowing up with texts from Donahoo and Brunken with this unexpected turn of events.

“No worries,” the charter company assured us. “Another plane is on its way. You’ll all make it to Natal on time. Oh. Except for one thing … the new plane is a little smaller. You’ll have to find about 15 people to step off the plane and we’ll find a way to get you to Natal later.”

In other words, AO needed 15 volunteers who were willing to take a chance on a different itinerary.

Of course, there was still the chance that the original itinerary, the new, smaller “AO Force Two,” wouldn't hold. But it did. Without any further hitches the second plane took off.

I know because I watched it go.

Yes, Anah and I were one of the 14 that stayed behind. Actually, stepping off the plane to help AO was a no-brainer for us. Donahoo, Brunken & Co. have not only worked tirelessly to make American Outlaws the largest US supporters group, but also are friends. If sidetracking one’s own dream to get to the World Cup wasn’t apart of being friends then what was the point of friendship anyways?

I don’t think most people on "AO Force Two" even knew there were 14 people that stayed behind in Houston. (One of the needed 15 was able to get on the plane when a package member missed his connecting flight and made his own arrangements to get to Brazil.) But there we were: my wife, me, Landon from LA, Brunken and his wife, Tyler from Spearville, Meggie from Lincoln, Chris from Kansas City, Jimmy from Pittsburgh, Robert and Cody from New Jersey, Erin and Ashley from Indianapolis, and a representative from the travel company.

To pass the time in Houston and distract ourselves from the mounting list of unknowns, “the AO 14” – every good adventure needs a good nickname – coined a game called “AOmazing Race.” We’re on Twitter at @AOmazingRace, with the objective of awarding made up points for the journey ahead.

Meanwhile, the charter company was scrambling. The first info we got was that the trip to Natal was going to require some zigzagging: Houston to Miami to Trinidad to Guyana, and finally to Natal. At least that was the first plan.

The schedule would put us in Guyana – yes, the land of Jim Jones – less than 24 hours before the Ghana match. This was cutting it close, but it seemed like enough time. Oh, but wait: Turns out there is no flight service from Georgetown to Natal. So, it turns out, the president of the charter company was going to have his personal plane pick us up in Guyana and whisk us to Natal.

Whoa. Full-on damage control.

But then, we learned about plan B. It was a simplified itinerary. Miami and Guyana were out. Now we would fly from Houston to Trinidad, where the private jet – our winged chariot – would meet us for the final leg of the journey. This itinerary had us arriving just 12 hours before the AO pregame tailgate. It all sounded too good to be true.

Which, of course, it was.

We landed in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, with visions of luxury travel in our heads. How stocked will the private jet's mini-bar be? Can we start a dance party?

I made it through immigration before the rest of the group and went ahead to secure our bags. Then I waited. And waited. No one else showed up. I doubled back only to be confronted by an immigration officer.

“You need to give up your passport," she informed me. "You don’t have a flight here yet.”

Turns out there was no private jet. It couldn’t get clearance to land in Trinidad. Or perhaps there never was a plane. Either way, the AO 14 were now in the Trinidad airport without our passports

Immigrations officials held onto our passports while Robi, our travel representative, called her bosses to get us off the island and to Brazil. Guyana was back on the flight plan.

Once again, there were assurances that a plane would be waiting for us. We didn't feel very confident.

After we landed and breezed through Guyanese customs, our fears were confirmed: no plane.

By now it was one in the morning and we we had no idea if we were going to ever reach Brazil, let alone fulfill the destiny of this trip: Seeing the US national team play in the World Cup. The game against Ghana in Natal was set to kick off in about 16 hours, and we were stuck in an airport in a tiny country on the South American coast. Was this trip ever going to end? And how was it going to end?

At 5, we had an answer. Salvation came from an unlikely source that brought everything full circle. "AO Force One," the charter jet that took the first group of Outlaws to Natal, was on its way to Guyana. It would arrive by 9, and an hour later we would be en route to Brazil.

If everything worked out – and why wouldn’t it? – we would be in Natal and in the stands by kickoff...

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT

An American in Brazil: The USMNT’s patriotic packing guide to Brazil

Editor's Note: This column originally appeared on MLSSoccer.com.

"If it's not red, white, or blue... it's not going in the suitcase.”

Meet my wife everybody.

Anah held herself pretty accountable to that rule while I strayed just a little bit after some of my shorts were not of the American flag variety. Note I said “some”; there ARE several pairs of American flag shorts in my luggage.

Packing to watch the World Cup in Brazil for two weeks was a lot easier than I expected. I’ve done long trips abroad before where packing for all the possible weather permutations and every other thing but the kitchen sink was the bare minimum. But this wasn’t preparing for a week in the Canadian wilderness or living in one of the most dangerous countries on earth (Honduras, if you were wondering).

This was for beach life. Natal, for two weeks, with a day’s excursion to Manaus and Recife sprinkled in. To follow our national team, Anah’s patriotic declaration was proving to be pretty on point and leaving loads more room in our luggage that we first thought.

When traveling to a tropical country like Brazil there were two considerations we kept front and center in our mind: sun and rain. So we have plenty of items to deal with them, like USA sunscreen, USA toothpaste, USA toothbrush, USA bug spray, USA malaria pills…

You seeing a trend here?

Well, here are a few more musts for traveling to the World Cup:

1) Waldo hat. The national team may have adopted the world wanderer’s look as a shirt in 2012, but I’ve been repping my doppelganger since college. If you’re wondering, yes, it is hot, very hot, and yes, I will wear it to the games. So if you see it during some fan cutaway on ESPN, you'll know it's me.

2) Multiple US jerseys. Because being an American soccer fan has no off-days.

3) American Outlaws gear. I’ve been a member since 2008, the year after they were founded, and their shirts are some of the best gear, design and comfort-wise to wear when I’m not pulling a jersey over my Waldo hat. In case your wondering, yes, I put the hat on first.

4) Assorted other soccer shirts. Because why would I wear anything other than soccer shirts? Some of my favorite soccer brands include adidas, Live Breathe Futbol and Bumpy Pitch.

5) Patriotic bottoms. Very important. I’ll be rocking the “bomb pop” and American-flag-themed shorts. Because red, white, and blue shouldn’t be reserved for just your top half.

6) Reading material:

- Howler’s latest issue is the single most amazing and comprehensive World Cup preview I’ve seen; plus beautifully designed and well-written.
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s auto-biography. Somehow this player needs to make it to Brazil even if it’s just in book form.
- The 10 Shirt: How the United States National Soccer Team (might have) Won the 1982 World Cup. Hey, a boy can dream.
- Party Brasil Phrasebook. Apparently there are all sorts of helpful phrases in Portuguese about the ref’s mother and/or how he’s a thief. Given the calls already in this World Cup -- except by the American! -- this book might be the most useful. And how to order multiple beers. Indispensible.
- Instant City, a new book about Karachi, Pakistan, by National Public Radio’s Steve Inskeep. No, I’m not kidding. This is the book I’m actually looking forward to the most. What can I say: I'm a history teacher.

There you have it. The American fan’s super patriotic packing guide.

There’s a passport, visa, and tickets squished somewhere in there, too. I’ll find them before take off.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

An American in Brazil: Allow Myself to Introduce Myself

Editor's Note: FBM's founder, Dan Wiersema, is traveling to Brazil as a part of the American Outlaws travel package along with his wife, Anah, and best friend and soccer teammate from high school, Landon. Along the may he'll be documenting the American soccer's fan experience in Brazil on MLSSoccer.com. His travelogue will be posted here as well. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

My name is Dan Wiersema and I am an American soccer fan.

That statement is not some quiet confession or a shameful admission to others sitting around in a circle in a community center basement. I say it proudly. Because I believe it should be shouted from the rooftops and declared unconditionally for the rest of the world to hear.

Or perhaps typed on a keyboard for publishing on a website. Which is why I'm here. Over the next two weeks (and, fingers crossed, maybe more), I will document the American fan's experience in Brazil, from Natal to Manaus to Recife, from the bars to the beaches to the back row of a raucous bus.

Who am I?

I am the founder of the Free Beer Movement, a grassroots organization dedicated to “Building American Soccer One Beer at a Time.” Since 2009 the FBM has used the power of the pint to convince newbies that soccer, as Men In Blazers describe it, is the “sport of the future.” Have a friend, family member, or co-worker that doesn’t know much about the sport? Buy ‘em a beer and educate them. Beer is the medium… soccer is the message.

I’ve been a fan of Major League Soccer since I pasted a USA Today ad with Lalas, Harkes, Balboa, Wynalda, and Co. on my bedroom closet door to support them as they launched the league back in 1996. I suffered through the 1998 World Cup in Europe defending the Yanks despite their disastrous finish. My faith was restored during the USWNT’s World Cup victory in 1999 and celebrated in euphoric silence at 3 a.m. from my best friend’s parent’s basement as we shocked Portugal in 2002. From Germany to South Africa, Kansas City to Salt Lake City, I’ve seen this sport grow to unbelievable heights.

So, yeah, I’m a pretty big fan. Or supporter or enthusiast or whatever semantical rules you play by. Certainly there are bigger fans than I am, and smaller ones, but who cares. Regardless of the level of fandom, we’re all fans of the same country and the same team.

Right now, I’m sitting between two dogs on a couch in Texas. But tomorrow, I’ll be sitting between two palm trees. Or maybe two beach chairs. Or two Caipirinhas. Or all of the above.

I'll be one of thousands wearing red, white, and blue, chanting "I believe that we will win," and representing our nation as a member of the American Outlaws, the vibrant US national team supporter group. We all have our stories, some of which I will tell as our journey goes, some of which are yet to be written.

My name is Dan Wiersema and I am an American soccer fan.

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, USMNT, World Cup

A Brew For You… And You… And You…. (USMNT vs. Honduras)

The American Outlaws' call of #WeWant9 is looking more and more likely as the United States national team faces a depleted Honduran side at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. Securing three points from this revenge match will pretty much book the Nats to Brazil as the rest of the "Hex" qualifying group slips into disarray.

Honduras is not the same side that the U.S. went up early on and then fell to the heat of San Pedro Sula. Through injury, suspension, and out-right abandonment of the team Los Catrachos may be without the services of six of their starters.

What are we recommending for this match? We stepped away from our local recommendation last time to play a little "six degrees of beer" game, but we're back to honor SLC's contribution to the craft beer world.

Before you making any snarky remarks about Utah and their beer.... check yourself. While the labyrinth of laws would make David Bowie's head spin getting a good brew in the "U" isn't impossible... it just means you just have to work a little bit harder for it.

Meet Epic Brewing Co. First off, this is Real Salt Lake and U.S. goalkeeper Nick Rimando's favorite brewery. And you trust him, right? Epic Brewing makes some of the state's finest craft beers (Unita Brewing Co. should also be on your "to-drink" list) and their "Elevation" series is impressive.

And why not? This USMNT on the last stop on their "elevation" part of the tour (Denver, Seattle, SLC) and what makes this series so interesting is that "tweeks" that the brewers work in every time they brew a new batch of one of the styles (which includes an IPA, stout, golden, and a pale ale) from this series.

Photo Credit: "Pops On Hops"

"Tweeks" is the name of the game for coach Jurgen Klinsmann who's constant meddling of the USMNT lineup has re-vitalized some careers (DMB) and re-invented others (Evans, Cameron, etc) and put the team on course for qualification.

Of all the "elevation" series to choose from we're picking the "825 State" Stout which Epic describes the range of it "from dry to sweet, creamy or bitter". The "flavors Epic explores within this stout are roast chocolate, toffee, mocha, coffee, burnt marshmallow and roasted nuts or combinations there-of."

If that's not a tinker's beer for JK we don't what is. And just like this stout (and here's to hoping for another "stout" defense") the tinkering has finally paid off.

What you drinking for tonight's match?

Tags: A Brew For You, American Outlaws, Beer, The Best of Both Worlds, USMNT

“The Hex” - Yanks Pummel Panama in Seattle

If you haven't been following along with Kick TV's "The Hex" series (filmed and produced by One Goal) then you're missing out on an incredible set of videos documenting the United States men's national team.
 
And we're not just saying that because Free Beer Movement's Dan has made several appearances...
 
Their episode from Seattle is about as close as one can come to capturing the "epic" atmosphere of last Tuesday's match.
 

 

Tags: American Outlaws, USMNT, Video

National Beer Outreach Day - The Night in Pictures

Friday's night wina against Jamaica wasn't just a massive step toward the United States men's national team's qualification for the World Cup. It was also a massive step forward for us at the Free Beer Movement.

In partnership with the U.S. soccer supporters group, the American Outlaws, we hosted the "National Beer Outreach Day". In more than 55 AO chapter bars, all across America, the FBM philosophy was in full-effect. Huge paid tabs, two-for-one deals, steep drink discounts, and, of course, straight-up free beer was flowing like....errrr.... wine... for these supporters of the USMNT.

The goal, as always, is to use the power of a free beer to lure newbies to the sport, and in this case, help build support for not only the Nats, but the American Outlaws organization. Already the national team's largest supporters group NBOD was also a membership drive for AO as current members brought unaffliated fans or newbies to get them to join in the excitment of the journey to Brazil in 2014.

The American Outlaws and FBM promoted the event via social media and asked members and guest to Tweet using the hashtag #PourItForward

 

 

Here are some of the best pictures and Tweets of the night: (check out the entire #PourItForward timelines as well)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: American Outlaws, Beer, Event, FBM In Action, Free Beer Match Days, USMNT

FBM In Action - Fox Soccer’s “Goals On Sunday” Feature of the American Outlaws (We’re in there, too)

See how many Free Beer Movement scarves you can spot in this piece about the United States supporters group, the American Outlaws.

This was a segment during Fox Soccer's "Goals on Sunday" after the Liverpool-Manchester City match.

For those who have never seen FBM Founder Dan that's him wearing his other "hat", a Waldo one, for his other "job", helping run the Austin chapter of AO.

 

 

 

Tags: American Outlaws, FBM In Action, Free Beer Match Days, Video

VIDEO - Why American Soccer? Because of this. A million times this.

 

Sure you've seen "The American Outlaws" on TV. It's all those crazy peopple behind the goal at U.S. national team matches.

This short film is a touching and slighty insane tribute to the immense atmosphere that they bring to each and every match (including more and more away games).

And it's not just at the stadium that they're like this. It's the same at each and every of their 70+ chapter bars across America.

You gotta join them.

(H/T "The Offside Rules")

Tags: American Outlaws, USMNT, Video

Local Beer Local Soccer: Middle of America – Red Stick Outlaws Take On Kansas City

By Blake Winchell

In full openness, I am not a local to Kansas City.  I live in Baton Rouge, LA.  However, Kansas City was the closest that the USMNT was playing to my hometown and so my father and I decided to take a trip to the Heartland.  When I travel I really try to not hit up Chili’s for food or drink Bud Light, so I think my trip will work for a "Local Beer Local Soccer" write up. 

We left Baton Rouge early on Tuesday morning arriving in Kansas City around 10:15 and got into our rental car.  For the one lunch we had in KC we were going to one place, Oklahoma Joe’s for BBQ.  Both of us opted for brisket sandwiches (the Z Man Sandwich) which lived up to the hype, but what was exciting for me is that in this gas station BBQ joint there was the first taste of local beer on tap: Boulevard Wheat.  While an amber or IPA may go better with BBQ, it was unusually warm in KC and still before noon so the unfiltered wheat beer was a nice start to our trip.  Boulevard boasts that their Wheat is the bestselling craft beer in the Midwest and it is not hard to taste why.  An easy drinking ale but still packs the flavor that will entice craft beer drinkers. 

From there we took a trip to Lukas Liquors so that I could make a beer haul so that we could bring some local beer back to Baton Rouge.  I picked up bombers from Doodle Brewing, Boulevard Brewing, and Weston Brewing (all Kansas City breweries) along with beers from other regional breweries that I cannot find in Louisiana. (Editor's Note: Also make sure to check out Tallgrass Brewing if you're in the KC-area)  If you live in Kansas City you probably have been to Lukas Liquors before, but if you are a traveler like me looking for a nice one stop shop for beer this is the place for you. 

"Soccer Pong."

Now it was time for soccer.  After checking in to our hotel which was a stone’s throw away from Livestrong Sporting Park, we took a short walk over to the American Outlaw’s tailgate.  Since we were travelers we did not bring an ice chest, so I was excited to see that there were kegs at the tailgate.  I was slightly less excited when I was told that it was 5 dollars all you can drink.  In my experience 5 dollars for all you can drink beer tends to be all you can drink terrible beer.  However, the Kansas City boys brought more Boulevard Brewing, which was great.  Four varieties of Boulevard were available which made tailgating so much better.  Drinking a Boulevard Oktoberfest (FBM's "Beer of the Game" recommendation over at Stars and Stripes FC) is always better than Natty Lite. 


Tailgating for any sport is relatively the same: drinking, cooking, music, etc. I had never tailgated for a soccer game like this before.  Soccer pong (that’s what I am calling it) was a new lawn game that we had to try.  Think beer pong with soccer balls and trash cans, looks easy but it is much more difficult than expected especially when you are taking full advantage of AYCD Boulevard.  There was also a dunk tank that revelers were shooting a soccer ball at; needless to say the pour guy in the dunk tank was not getting wet very often. 

We had tickets in the American Outlaw section, which was general admission, so we waited for the group to march to the stadium.  If you get to do this before a game, it is a great experience.  Marching a fourth of a mile or so chanting and singing was a nice warm up before getting into the stands.  Many of the Sporting KC supporters were in our section which was nice, because everyone was on the same page with the singing and chanting.  I have only been to one USMNT game before this one so I am a little green when it comes to many of the chants.  So I am unsure if the chants and songs the supporters were singing were US specific or Sporting KC specific but they all worked, especially cheering “You’re not going to Brazil” when Guatemala was warming up (and throughout most of the game).  I was too amped up during the game to leave the stands to purchase more beer, however my neighbor was polite enough to buy a beer for me. 

I don’t think he was entirely too pleased with the beer options, as it was a mass produced lite lager, but for me it was free.  Upon leaving the stadium after the win I saw the beer stand and there were no other options other than the typical BudMillerCoors options (Editor's Note: During Sporting KC matches the stadium features local craft beers Boulevard and Weston. We're not sure if these beers were available for this particular match since U.S. Soccer ran the show)  Now the rest of the stadium may have had other options for better beer but I didn’t make it to the rest of the stadium.  As an aside, speaking of the stadium: Livestrong Sporting Park is a fabulous place to experience a football match. 

The author on the right, with pops.

After the game we needed food and a cold one to end the evening.  Not really wanting to drive anywhere and since we were close to a huge shopping complex we had a few nice options.  While the Yard House was my first choice, Granite City Food and Brewing was considerably closer to the stadium and subsequently our hotel so we chose that option.  I was thinking that this was a local brewpub but was slightly disappointed to find out that it is more of a regional company rather than a local one.  However, that shouldn’t change the quality of the food and beer.  It is not the cheapest option but it is not terribly overpriced.  The beer is of a pretty impressive quality and the food was good so overall I wasn’t disappointed with our choice by proximity. 

With all the excitement that the day had given us we called it an earlier night than probably most of the American Outlaws in our section. The next day we left fairly early so after one of the biggest breakfasts that I have ever had we headed to the airport. Looking back the Kansas City supporters provided this KC transplant for the day an incredible experience that I will not soon forget.  I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have hoped but our visit was just for the soccer game and then subsequently a nice beer run.  I am hoping that KC is chosen as one of the Hex sites, since it was an easy trip for us and the local fans show up in full force.  From the restaurants to the tailgating, local beer was everywhere…except potentially the stadium.

About Blake

Blake Winchell is a Southern craft beer, homebrewing, and soccer fanatic.  He is a regional correspondent for AmericanCraftBeer.com and the President of Brasseurs a la Maison a Baton Rouge homebrew club. Since there is no soccer team in LA so he has to find a club across the country and pond to support so he arbitrarily picked Portland Timbers and Tottenham Hotspur.

Tags: American Outlaws, Local Soccer Local Beer, USMNT

Today’s The Day….

Remember me? (Photo Credit: ISIPhotos.com)

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US match. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in a World Cup qualifier on their road to Brazil 2014.

Today's the day they face Antigua and Barbuda in North Sound, Antigua.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on our team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: American Outlaws, News, Public Service Announcement, USMNT

Today’s The Day….

Dempsey gets the tally against Jamaica in 2011. (Photo Credit:  Alex Brandon, AP)

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US match. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in a World Cup qualifier on their road to Brazil 2014.

Today's the day they face Jamaica in Kingston.

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Dempsey will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Tags: American Outlaws, News, USMNT, World Cup

Today’s The Day…

Editor's Note: This is our "get fired up" post for US international matches. We re-post it for every US match. Share it with your friends.

Today's the day the U.S. Men's National Team takes the field in an international friendly to help prepare for the first round of World Cup qualifying.

Today's the day they face Scotland in Jacksonville, Florida

Today's the day we take the win and move on to the next match.

Today's the day that Howard will shine, Landon will lead, goals will be scored, and timely tackles will be made.

Today's the day we sit down with friends and fellow soccer fans and cheer on the home team.

Today's the day we invite someone new to come along and experience the power of a soccer match.

Today's the day they'll get a free cold one to enjoy while watching the sport we so desperately love and the team we'd follow to the ends of the earth (or Brazil!).

Today's the day we ask a non-soccer fan to join our footballing family.

The Free Beer Movement is about spreading the love of American soccer to all corners of the nation and no day is better than today. Today, the pride and joy of our nation's game takes the field in order to continue its push towards the greatest sporting spectacle of all-time, the World Cup.

The past, present, and future of American soccer all take the field today to join in one cause, to win, and to move on to the next level.

It is days like this we, as American soccer fans embrace, as our national team fights for our country's continued respect on the international stage and to stake a claim as the best team in North and Central America.

Games like today are bigger than any game; bigger than any MLS game, and bigger than your son or daughter's kick around in the park.

Our local colors blend. There are no more yellow and black of the Columbus Crew or orange and white of the Houston Dynamo or the black and red of DC United; today there is only RED, WHITE, and BLUE.

These are the days that our nation's best and brightest shine on the field for 90 minutes. For themselves, for soccer, but mostly for you... the American fan and their country... the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

These are the days that you have to get up as a soccer fan in America.

So grab you friends, grab those soccer fans, grab those ones you want to become soccer fans, and most importantly grab some really cold beers because today's the day we support our National Team and our national game we love so much.

Check out all the great FBM gear in our "Swag Store".

Tags: American Outlaws, News, USMNT, USWNT, World Cup

Making The Case - On Rivalries And Race

Making The Case - On Rivalries And Race

 

It was a tough day to be an American soccer fan. Saturday's 4-2 loss to regional rivals Mexico after holding an early, 2-0 is one of those games that will hurt for awhile. Processing what went right, what went wrong, and what to do about it all is a question for the players, the coach, Sunil Gulati, and the Big Soccer message boards.

A loss to Mexico is always hard to take. As teams and fans we measure ourselves to the performances of our neighbor to the south. Of late things looked pretty good. Chants of "dos a cero", a reminder of eerily similar results the U.S. has racked up against El Tri in some crucial contests, a favorite of supporters.

Now it's Mexico's turn. Consecutive winners of the CONCACAF Gold Cup they now will be booking tickets to the Confederation's Cup as our regional representatives; a tournament the Americans made so magical a short time ago in South Africa.

Our concern today, though, is not the results that took place on the field, but the worrying actions that occurred beyond the edges of the field at the Rose Bowl. By now you've probably read the shocking allegations of American fan treatment in Pasadena (if you haven't it's important for context). The actions of these Mexican fans are nothing short of embarrassing.

In a stadium filled to capacity (93,420) fans of the U.S. National Team were easily outnumbered 90-10 by their continental counterparts. For anyone who's ever been apart of one it's easy to see how "mob mentality" took over many Mexican fans and fueled their actions. From verbal and physical harassment of American fans, to the tossing of various objects (bottles and the like) in a crowd that size and overwhelming numerical superiority, those guilty of such inappropriate behavior mostly likely thought they would get away with their actions. And they did.

It's unfortunately that these actions by individuals who retreated back into the crowd after their acts of cowardice are left to rule the day and fuel the frustrations of American fans already upset by the game's results. For any fan, of any nation, to be treated as such is a disgrace and only inflames the difficult relations between these fan groups.

No one is disputing the fact that the rivalry between the United States and Mexico isn't going to be heated. And certainly American fans aren't without fault. There was our share of off-color stupidity on our side of the fence as well. But rivalries should never disintegrate into racism or worse, violence.

For some the knee-jerk reaction is to respond with the same tired remarks about Mexico and Mexicans and to make an indictment of an entire people. But for every cringing story of abuse from the Rose Bowl came a counter-story of incident-free interactions with the fans of El Tri.

Unfortunately this latest edition of US versus Mexico played out on so many levels. Beyond the soccer pitch is the elephant in the room with the issue of immigration. In recent months several states have enacted (with many more states considering them) several tough measures regarding stemming the flow of undocumented immigrants into the United States and political candidates on both sides of the issue have continued to use the issue as a political football (whichever football you prefer). Frustrations from Mexicans, Mexican-Americans, and white Americans color the entire scene. As these tensions rise outside the lens of soccer it's not surprising that issues play out in the parking lots and stadiums of our two nations' matches.

What happened on Saturday shouldn't be forgotten, but it also shouldn't be used to justify retribution or continued racism. For those that suffered at the hands of some outrageous fan behavior they have every right to demand answers and changes before future match ups between these two teams.

Before the next edition of U.S. against Mexico whether it be in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, an international friendly, and/or World Cup qualifiers there needs to be a complete overhaul of how the venues of these matches are secured, policed, and rules enforced.

This time the blame for not adequately protecting the fans fell to CONCACAF and officials in charge of the Rose Bowl. Russel Jordan the author of the letter we linked to above wrote that he's already had conversations with the general manager of the stadium who admitted that they had the most security ever at the Rose Bowl it wasn't enough. National soccer columnist Steve Davis (Sports Illustrated) wrote on his own site that if the aging facility, while a huge money maker for CONCACAF, cannot be adequately policed then it shouldn't be used for matches.

U.S. Soccer, the Mexican Federation (FMF) Soccer United Marketing, which helps promote the Mexican National Team in the U.S. are now aware that if incidents like the ones making the rounds become more and more frequent it could put every future U.S.-Mexico fixture at risk. Even though Gold Cup Finals and World Cup qualifiers will remain on the docket, huge revenue streams like international friendlies between the two or further U.S. tours of by Mexico will be under the microscope. Most importantly the spirit of healthy competition between the region's two biggest teams will be lost.

Another concern for U.S. Soccer has to be how many fans or potential fans were lost on that sunny Saturday attending a match they were unprepared to experience. American soccer can ill-afford to alienate its small fan base with experiences and stories of dangerous game conditions and security problems.

Moving beyond Saturday's events common sense will have to be CONCACAF, U.S. Soccer, and the FMF, and any venue hosting these matches' guiding light. It was very clear that they will have to put profits behind protection of fans on either side. Dedicating a separate and/or secure section for U.S. fans (while bizarre as that may be fore a game INSIDE the U.S.) at the expensive of fulling filling it should be on the table. Just like some Major League Soccer teams are struggling in dealing with how to "handle" (for better or worse) soccer crowds security at these types of matches need to be in sufficient numbers and properly trained. Be in front of the problem not behind it.

And while not a solution one of the reasons the stadium was SO disproportionately one-sided was because one team's fans bought Finals tickets in good faith while the other team's fans' dilly-dallied. Support your National Team and have faith!

Lastly, despite these terrible incident alleged we, as American soccer fans, must remain above the fray. The American Outlaws have posted their "Act Above" Code of Conduct that asks its member to avoid similar behaviors that they might experience and we can all take a page from that. It might feel good initially to lash out with some choice words about our southern neighbors or to take matters in our own hands next time, but in the long term none of that pays out.

If there's any silver lining to this past weekend's difficulties it is that American soccer is growing and growing stronger. While outnumbered and out-cheered USMNT supporters were not alone in their struggles. Rather than fans roaming isolated into the crowds of red, white, and green many were together in the AO section or in decent sized groups. Each new fan we make is another stalwart against being singled out at matches and someone to march with us in solidarity again the terrible actions of an angry few bent on ruining our American soccer experience.

It can't and won't be that easy to deter our fandom. Soccer in America and American soccer rises as surely as the sun does and there are no terrible words or actions that can stop that.

Get the NEW Free Beer Movement "Pint Glass" shirt! Only from Objectivo.com

 

Tags: American Outlaws, Making The Case, USMNT

Making The Case: The Great Jersey Question. Buy American

At Saturday's shambolic U.S. National Team game the goal was the fill the stadium with red.

Nike had earlier debut their red national team strip and helped outfit the American's unofficial supporters group, the American Outlaws, with a cool Shepard Fairey designed "Indivisble" collaboration to add to the already red 2011 AO members shirt.

The result? A "Red All Over" supporters section to rival any other behind the goal.

The rest of the stadium, from crowd shots and close ups revealed a similar red wave, but fueled less U.S. fans, but the brighter red of the Spanish National Team and red and blue Spanish side Barcelona's jersey.

Sigh. Here we go again.

In the United States, a nation of immigrants and one of the most diverse countries in the world, American soccer fans are no longer surprised to be outnumbered within their own stadiums. Its one of the reasons the American Outlaws and the Free Beer Movement were founded; to grow the sport here and grow our presence each game day. It's readily conceded that for matches against teams like Mexico and other nearby Central American nations the visitors will turn out in force.

On Saturday, however, the USMNT was betrayed by its own. Americans in Spain jerseys. Americans with Messi's name splashed across the back. Americans in Manchester United jerseys!
 

Let's play a game. How many DIFFERENT jerseys can you spot?

For high profile matches this is also not uncommon. But it is infuriating. Americans who seem to go out of their way NOT to support their country of birth.

Were many of those people from Spain living in the United States? Yes. Completely acceptable.

Were many of those people of Spanish-decent honoring their heritage? Yes. Also totally fine.

Were many of those people Americans of little connection to Spain or Spanish teams sporting the colors of World Cup, European Cup, and Champion's League winners? Yes. Not OK.

The beauty of the Spanish National Team was on full display on Saturday and the dominance of Barcelona a week earlier at Wembley against Manchester United in the Champion's League Final and we can appreciate the fact that both of these teams are probably the best example of the greatest of soccer in our day and, for many, represent what has brought them to the sport of soccer and created their connect to it.

If this is what soccer IS for you... super. If this is what you want to treat people to for the Free Beer Movement... go for it.

But we just cannot condone wearing those teams to our National Team games.

It isn't something jingoistic or Tea Party-fueled nationalism, but a enduring and deep love for this nation and the desire to see AMERICAN soccer succeed so we don't replicate Saturday's result again and again.

We own loads of soccer jerseys. Many different clubs from around the world. Many different National Teams as well. One from Honduras where we once lived. Another from the Netherlands, our ethnic roots, and even one from Hong Kong where a sister once visited. They are worn with regularity, but NEVER on a U.S. game day.

We get it. America likes winners. Spain and Barca are winners. Here's Sporting News' Brian Straus, post-game in the media zone:
 


As someone said to us on Twitter, "That kid, if alive in 1980 would have worn a USSR hockey jersey at Lake Placid."

That's the mentality for many soccer fans in America, "Maybe if the U.S. wins a few more games."

Sure this Spain game was a set up, but what else does the National Team have to do for some people?

Isn't qualifying for six straight World Cups good enough?

Paul Caligiuri's 1989 "Shot Heard Round the World" (to qualify the U.S. for its first World Cup in 40 years) didn't get ya?

Didn't our magical run to the 2002 quarterfinals and oh-so-close knock out to eventual finalist Germany grab you?

What about Landon Donovan's stoppage time game winner against Algeria last summer? Really? That didn't do it?

What will do it? Maybe the goal posts (for lack of a better term) keep moving for some soccer fans in America.

__________________________________________________
 

What is comes down to is really a choice. A choice where, today, right now, we can make an investment in American soccer and not just soccer in America. We've got an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of building American soccer and soccer in America. To invest, to spread, to share, to love through ourselves and through others and to others.

It's not perfect, but it is ours. It still has a long way to go, but as the Preamble of the Constitution states, "In order to form a more perfect union". We're working on it.

Spain and Barcelona and Liverpool and AC Milan are going to be just fine, but Major League Soccer and the U.S. National Team need your support because if American soccer fails.... soccer in America fails.

No more high-profile international friendlies. No more World Football Challenge. No more World Cups in the United States. It all dies.

We're not being dramatic. If Americans can't prove they're hungry for soccer (and watching loads of English Premier League on Fox Soccer doesn't count) then the clubs take their business elsewhere. They chase the China yuan or friendlies in Qatar.

The Free Beer Movement wants everyone to become fans and everyone's path to becoming a soccer fan is different. In the end, though, we want you to become American soccer fans. Even for us our first experience with soccer was Michael Owen and Liverpool, but more crucial to our development was the 1998 Men's World Cup and the 1999 Women's World Cup. Locked. Us. In.

That the natural evolution we're going for. Get into soccer. Get into American soccer. (And, of yeah, do it with beer!)

When the United States National Teams rolls into your town, fold up your other jerseys, and put on the red, white, and blue.

Get the NEW Free Beer Movement "Pint Glass" shirt! Only from Objectivo.com

Tags: American Outlaws, Making The Case, USMNT

 1 2 >