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Twelve-Pack Interview Series Archives

A 12-Pack With…. Alexi Lalas

Alexi Lalas is a former U.S. National Team defender (96 caps), appearing in two World Cups and was U.S. Soccer's Male Player of the Year in 1995. Lalas was the first American to play in Italy in the modern-era and then returned to the United States to be a part of the group of high profile American soccer players to launch Major League Soccer. He's now an on-air commentator for ESPN.

Needless to say he's got an impressive soccer résumé and today he's answering our questions as a part of our "12-Pack" Interview Series.

Free Beer Movement: You were the first American in the modern-era to play in Italy. It was a time when very few Americans played abroad. What was it like to live and play there?

Alexi Lalas: I became a better player and a better person through the experience. At the time, Serie A was the biggest league in the world which meant that every Sunday I was facing world-class strikers. Adapting to the language, culture and the fishbowl that is soccer over there was not always easy but it gave me a life experience that still pays dividends to this day.

From a soccer perspective, it was incredible to see the tactical detail that is part of the Italian soccer DNA. The way we trained and prepared, and especially the way we organized defensively, was something I had never seen before. It made me look at the game and my position in a different way. It’s too bad that more Americans haven’t had the opportunity to pay in Italy, but Serie A has changed a lot and it’s no longer the league it once was.

FBM: What is it like to suit up for the National Team; to wear your country's colors? Explain that to some who will never get to have that experience.

AL: It’s hard to explain without using clichés. I believe that the inherent patriotism of Americans is fundamental to who we are. It’s often ridiculed or misunderstood, especially from the outside. But I think it’s the one of the characteristics that helps define us and helps unite us.

So when you’re given the opportunity, even through sport, to represent your country, you’re also representing everything that it stands for. I always took pride in that honor and responsibility. From the jersey, to the anthem to the performance, for me, it was ultimately about being an American and soccer was simply the vehicle.

FBM: What's your best memory playing for the U.S. National Team?

AL: World Cup 1994 changed my life. I lived the power of what a World Cup can do to an individual. It gave me credibility, opened doors and enabled me to have a career in soccer.

The win over Colombia at the Rose Bowl in front of 100K people will always be special. It was one of those “moments” that I’ll never forget.

FBM: In 1996 you returned to the U.S. to play for the New England Revolution and help break ground for Major League Soccer. What was it like to be a part of the early days of the league and resurrected professional soccer in America?

AL: MLS in the early days was like the Wild West, on and off the field. We were often making it up as we went along. But I think we made many more good than bad decisions.

One of the proudest moments of my life is being a part of the start of MLS and I think it will remain a source of pride when I’m old and grey. I’ve said it before, MLS is like la Cosa Nostra, it’s our thing. It’s not perfect, but it means everything to me.

FBM: This summer's World Cup was a watershed moment for American soccer in terms of how it broke through into the mainstream, if just for a few days, following the Algeria match. Where does American soccer go from here? How do we build on that moment? Not only the National Team, but the domestic league as well?

AL: We just keep chuggin’ along. I know we’re all looking for that magic bullet, and a successful World Cup certainly helps. But the success of soccer in the U.S. is going to come from a series of moments, some bigger than others, from which we continually step up to another level.

Sometimes we kick ourselves for what we have yet to achieve, but we also have to pat ourselves on the back for how far we’ve come in a relatively short period of time. We’ve got a long way to go and there are many things we need to improve, but I don’t think that any other country could have grown the sport as fast as we have.

FBM: You're a quality, but colorful commentator for ESPN. How are you enjoying your time at the World Wide Leader in Sports?

AL: Love it. I recognize that I’m in the entertainment business and I make no bones about it. My job is to be informative and entertaining. Finding the proper balance is what makes you good and finding it consistently is what makes you great. I’m not there yet, but I think I’m getting better. I’m paid to have an opinion, people don’t always agree with me, but that’s part of what makes it interesting and why I watch sports. I try to be objective and fair without losing the passion and energy that I think is needed to do this job. Hopefully I can keep doing it for many years.

FBM: Continuing on the topic of ESPN. Your network has gotten a bad rap for its perceived hostility towards soccer in the past, but with stepped up coverage of the English Premier League and, obviously, their phenomenal coverage of the World Cup this summer. Is that criticism misplaced? What about their coverage of Major League Soccer, though?

AL: You should always expect more from ESPN, we’re the “world-wide leader in sports”. But it it’s also a business and I think we all understand that soccer doesn’t yet generate the revenue that the other sports do.

This summer, for the first time, we gave the American public a World Cup that wasn’t dumbed down or diluted. We were inclusive and respected the fact that many people were watching simply for the event, but we didn’t hold people’s hands. This actually gave the World Cup more relevancy and credibility even for the casual viewer because it mirrored the way that other major sports are broadcast.

MLS is a problem. I’ll be honest; the MLS rating need to improve. We have to find a way to translate the excitement that we see in many markets to viewership. I know the proverbial chicken and egg argument about marketing/promotion and it’s legitimate, but we can’t simply look to ESPN to solve the problem; MLS has to figure out a way to make the league, the games and the players more relevant to the general public.

FBM: You spoke at the first-ever American Outlaws Rally in Las Vegas in March. What role do fans like the Outlaws play in the support of the team and the growth of the game here?

AL: It’s not lip service when I say that supporter’s groups like The American Outlaws are as important, and in many cases more so, than any of us who ever kicked a ball. They have sustained and nourished our sport through the lean years and, thanks in large part to the new media explosion, are starting to be real influencers.

I often talk about the soccer army that has been amassing over the years and now has started to come above ground. The battle has only just begun, but I like our odds. The soccer culture is unique and it is enticing to a generation that sees soccer as a legitimate American sport and not just a niche activity. The supporter’s groups are a big reason why the sport has survived, and an even bigger reason why it will thrive.

Less-Than-Serious-But-Just-As-Important-Questions


 

FBM: Do you ever give you brother, (MLSSoccer.com and Goal.com writer) Greg, a hard time for having a more successful soccer career than him?

AL: All the time. I routinely break him down until he’s a sniveling, broken shell of human being. Then I pump him back up and do it all over again…it’s really quite amusing. But I really do love him and he's 10 times the writer that I’ll ever be (but don’t tell him I said that).


FBM: You were famous for rocking some pretty epic facial hair during your playing career. What led to the decision to lose it? Too much for MLS boardrooms? Will it ever make a return, like a some sort-of band reunion tour?

AL: In 2000 I was in Sydney, Australia working the Olympics. On one of the last nights my girlfriend and I hit the town hard. We returned to the hotel and one thing led to another, I never back down from a dare from a beautiful woman. Now it should be noted that my then-girlfriend has since become my wife and mother to my children. Ah, the things we do for love.

As far a return of the goatee; maybe when we host another World Cup. It’ll be like when Cher recently sported her 1980’s era “Turn Back Time” outfit on the MTV Awards. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

FBM: When you're not on camera what's your beer of choice?

AL: Guinness. Like a Porsche, there is no substitute.

FBM: 1994 U.S. World Cup jerseys.... ugliest shirts ever? What did you think back then?

AL: Yes, but also, I suppose, the most memorable. I think there was this notion that faux denim would be the next big fashion craze and that we would have been ahead of the curve…not so much.  The fact that we were able to succeed in spite of our horrendous attire is a testament to our team.

I’ll never forget the first time Bora (USMNT coach "Bora" Milutinović) saw the jersey, the man speaks 5 languages and he still couldn’t find the words to express his complete and utter disbelief. Of course it could have been worse; it could have actually been real denim!

Many thanks to Alexi for taking the time to answer our 12-pack of questions. We leave you all, dear readers, with Alexi's 1997 appearance on an ESPN SportsCenter commercial:

 

Tags: American Outlaws, Major League Soccer, Twelve-Pack Interview Series, USMNT, World Cup

“Pelada” and Beer: Inseparable


(Editor's Note: You didn't think that we could go one article without mentioning beer, did you? We decided to split our interview into two parts and so here's the article from our conversions about what the "Pelada" filmmakers learned about soccer and beer... something we're very interested in. Read our synopsis of "Pelada" and the regular part of our interview with the filmmakers here.)

There's a scene in the stunning soccer movie "Pelada" where a group of seriously past-their-prime Brazilian men are resting after a brutally poor match they've just played in. The whole game the old men scream and yell at each other about poor touches and scuffed shots oblivious to the fact that they were probably making the exact same mistakes moments earlier.

But it's after the game and that no longer matters. The first and second halves are in the past and they're onto what is referred to as "the third half". Surround by dozens of empty, half-empty, and soon-to-be empty beers they revel in stories of their past greatness and of the beauty of soccer in general. This is the sport stripped to its core; what's left is the game's fans and, not surprisingly, beer.

For long-time fans, and probably new fans to soccer, it's hardly a shock as to how ingrained beer is in the sport's culture. It's one of the reasons for the foundation and growth of the Free Beer Movement. Soccer and beer; the two are inseparable.

"There are things that you can count on. We were always sharing beers after a game," says Gwendolyn Oxenham, one of the "Pelada" filmmakers.

The stars of "Pelada" readily acknowledged the fact that they easily could have made a whole movie about the tie-in between beer and soccer.

"Every game that's what you do at the end is that people just start drinking and eating a lot," Oxenham continues.

Whether post-match in Brazil or pubs in England or in the streets of Austria during Euro 2008 or the living room of Luke Boughen's old soccer teammate from Germany, beer creeps into "Pelada" almost as much as the game itself.

Ryan White, another member of the "Pelada" crew laments the fact that they missed out on many opportunities to further investigate the connections between beer and soccer.

"I think if we'd hadn't been making a movie we would've been drunker a lot more," he says. "We probably didn't drink as much as we should have."

The sense of community that both soccer and drinking create that makes them so intertwined argues Rebekah Fergusson, the fourth member of "Pelada".

"It's those communal activities where you end up, like that one field in Brazil, in a zillion chairs around these teeny-tiny tables with beers being poured. It's just pouring."

Then it's not surprising that when you combine the world's oldest drink and the world's most popular sport you create at an atmosphere that almost no one can refuse to pass up. Certainly the filmmakers, despite their work responsibilities, found plenty of time to devote to drink.

And in a movie that examines the global appeal of not just soccer, but soccer in its most pure , simple, and prettiest form as pick-up, it's reassuring to know that beer has its rightful place alongside.

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Tags: Beer, Six-Pack Interview Series, Twelve-Pack Interview Series

FBM Interview Series: The Makers of “Pelada”

(Editor's Note: After its world-premiere at the South By Southwest Music and Film Festival "Pelada" is blowing up across the nation at variety of film festivals and movie theaters. Tonight the movie makes its Los Angeles premiere! Hollywood, baby! Follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter, or their website for locations and showing in your area.)

It's the morning after the world-premiere of their movie at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas. The stars and filmmakers of "Pelada" still have that glow about them that proud parents of a newborn and newlyweds carry on even after the big day has passed them by.

For three years they've traveled to twenty-five countries in search of pick-up soccer, played in dozens, if not hundreds of games, met and heard the stories of countless more people connected to the sport, and all along the way recorded this incredible journey to share it with others. And now after all of their hard work their film and their story will be seen by people all across the world.
 
And if that wasn't reward enough I'm really about to make their morning after.
 
"You guys saved my marriage," I say, greeting the four behind "Pelada"
Luke Boughen, Gwedolyn Oxenham, Rebekah Fergusson, and Ryan White.

The four of them chuckle. The ice is broken.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 

I stumbled across "Pelada" almost two years ago when it was still called "The Soccer Project". The story of two former college soccer players chasing the game across the globe sounded fascinating, like something you always wished you could do, but never had the chance, or the courage to do.
 
Sitting in the make-shift theater SXSW constructs in the convention center there's not an open seat to be found. Except for the four in front of me; that's where Luke, Gwedolyn, Rebekah, and Ryan will sit. It feels weird to be sitting behind the people who actually made the movie. I mean, if you were at an art museum staring at a painting and then Picasso was standing next to you what do you do? Can I even get up to go to the bathroom during this thing or is that rude?

I don't go to the bathroom.

Gwedolyn and Luke are the focus of the movie. Rebekah and Ryan stay behind the camera. Both played soccer in college; Gwendolyn for Duke and Luke for Notre Dame. They're faced with the daunting truth that their soccer careers are coming to a screeching halt. They're at a sporting fork-in-the-road and neither of the paths say professional soccer.
 
Of course neither of the paths point to what they do next, but I guess that's what makes this movie so wonderful.
 
Not satisfied with transitioning into the "real-world" they pack their bags and travel the globe in search of pick-up soccer.
 
"Pelada" is the Brazilian word for pick-up. It literally means "naked" and one supposes that a ball, a couple of people, and a bag of tricks is probably the most naked form of soccer. In a sense both Luke and Gwendolyn are completely naked in this film as well. Not literally, of course, but figuratively, as they shamelessly try to enter as many pick-up games as they can on their journey. From beaches in Brazil to a prison in Bolivia. From slums in Argentina to forbidden co-ed games in Iran. From skyscraper rooftops in Japan to a former landfill in Kenya their travels take on the exotic and sometimes dangerous, but always return the comfortable setting that it is still all soccer.
 
So imagine my surprise when I got the chance to sit down with the four minds behind "Pelada". It's an oft used line when you meet famous people that you're stunned at how normal and approachable they are, but since I just watched an hour and a half of the four of them traveling the globe in a way that most can only dream of and speak so eloquently of the sport I so love and now we're sitting over coffee in the lobby of a hotel it's not that outrageous of a suggestion.

Despite their normal-ness their journey is anything but. For the viewer and the soccer fan it's one stunning shot and amazing story after another. The movie is like a fantastic soccer match in itself; end-to-end action leaving one extremely satisfied.

"Interesting situations bring out interesting stories and interesting characters," Fergusson says when I ask whether or not they purposely sought out the fascinating and, sometimes, dangerous storylines that are included in the film.

"We just wanted intense stories," Oxenham follows up.

So then it was almost unavoidable for the four of them to be involved in such places as violent barrios in Argentina, a Bolivian prison, and a co-ed game in Iran.

"That's where the good games were. In the Bolivian prison that's where the best players were in La Paz. They've got all the time in the world," Luke Boughen explains.

Ryan White suggests that "Gwendolyn always kind of wanted to up the ante a bit more" when it came to looking for compelling story lines and quality pick-up matches. At one point in the film Oxenham is not content watching Luke play pick up in Iran with a group of men. Head scarf and all she joins in, but it spotted by some policemen which leads to a nervous part of the film where the crew may have its equipment confiscated by Iranian government authorities.

"It was like the chicken and the egg. Did the adrenaline or the game come first?" White asks out loud.

The truly difficult parts were not if the four could find enough stories to fill their moving, but which ones would make the final product.

"At the end of the day it's still like a piece of art to translate the experience to something that people can digest," says Fergusson. "It was really hard. The four of us collaborating and arguing and debating."

In the end the filmmakers' goal was to make a movie that both soccer fans and non-soccer fans could both appreciate.

Oxenham says, "It was always important doe us to not have it be a soccer movie just use soccer as a vehicle to tell these other stories."

"I think we know, for the most part, that we'll have the soccer crowd. I think the most rewarding comments are going to come from people who don't like soccer." White adds.

"Pelada" is movie that satisfies multiple angles.

At its very core White says their movie was simply about "a trip around the world."

And Fergusson delves deeper into their mission, "To be able to show the world that Americans play and to bring it (the movie) back and show the U.S. this deep passion that exists outside in all these countries."

But in the end the movie is going to most satisfy those people who love the game as deeply as the filmmakers do.

When it was suggested that their movie may have saved my marriage I wasn't just looking for an ice breaker, but hinting that one of "Pelada's" most enduring messages might be that it helps explain the sport's attraction for millions upon millions of people across the globe to those who might never "get it".

For someone who's love of soccer is often viewed as an oddity or mystery to my friends and family the power of persuasion that "Pelada" has could be summed up when my wife said to me, "I may never get everything about soccer, the offsides rule, but tonight I get you a little bit more."

"I had a conversation with a guy whose wife came with him to the screening and she's like 'I don't get it, I don't like soccer, I never go to his games, but now I get it. I understand now more of what it's all about and why he loves it.'" Oxenham tells me.

"We've had a few people come up to us and say that I didn't want to go to this movie; I was dragged here by brother, father, someone and I'm so glad that I did."

Much like surfers have "Endless Summer" to show others just what makes them tick inside, now, perhaps, American soccer fans have "Pelada" to communicate and, hopefully, pass on their passion and dedication to others near and dear in their lives.

A suggestion that White finds, simply, "cool".

Read PART 2 of our interview with the "Pelada" crew where they talk about the global appeal of, what else, beer.


(From l to r): Luke Boughen, Ryan White, Gwendolyn Oxenham, and Rebekah Fergusson

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Tags: Six-Pack Interview Series, Twelve-Pack Interview Series

12-Pack Interview Series: Bumpy Pitch Co-Founder Ben Hooper

The brainchild of two former professional soccer players, Bumpy Pitch is setting the standard for off-the-field soccer style. Founded in 2004 by ten-year MLS veteran Brian "Dunny" Dunseth and Ben "Beans" Hooper, who spent time playing in Holland, Bumpy Pitch has established itself at the forefront of soccer fashion beyond the jersey and training gear. But Bumpy Pitch is more that just a high-quality t-shirt company, they're the promoters of the soccer culture and lifestyle that exists in orbit around the game. And that's where their other website, The Original Winger, comes into play. While BP focuses on the apparel-side, TOW is the documenter and promoter of the culture and lifestyle that is weaving their way into mainstream America's head.
The Los Angeles-based company (with Ace Harrison also as a partner) is getting love from soccer fans, professional soccer players, and celebrities the world over. Part of these shirts' appeal is their high-quality, but mostly its about what's on the front of each; and that's American soccer history.
 
Bumpy Pitch has saved a little slice of the sport's history on each one of their shirts, rescued the North American Soccer League from the dustbin of time, and, in some cases, brought century-old clubs into the soccer consciousness.
 
"Beans" was more than happy to sit down and pound out a few answers for the Free Beer Movement about Bumpy Pitch, where they came from, their mission, where they're going, and about The Original Winger and its role in this whole sha-bang.
 
1) Where did the idea come from for Bumpy Pitch? How did the company get started?

The idea for Bumpy Pitch and the start for the company were all very simple. We didn’t feel like there was any fashionable / lifestyle clothes that represented for soccer. So we decided we would make some. The early stuff we made was mostly for ourselves and friends, and was incredibly basic. But the idea was there and we believed in the idea of the “lifestyle of soccer.”

2) If you ask a lot of soccer fans they say that “soccer is young in America,” but the shirts you make tell a different story. Why is looking into the past of American soccer important for its future?
I think the growth of the sport may be in its early stages here in the States, but the sport itself

has a pretty rich history in America. As the sport continues to grow here, we thought it was important to understand where the sport has come from before we could fully embrace where it’s headed. Besides, the stories, histories and imagery from these old teams are pretty amazing.

3) How do BP and The Original Winger work together to promote the game and its ties to fashion?
I think that what we do with both Bumpy Pitch and The Original Winger is about more than just fashion. Obviously fashion drives a lot of what we do, but it’s more the lifestyle of the sport that we really push. Fashion plays a big part in the lifestyle, and since we design and produce clothes that are an obvious focus for us. But we are a lifestyle driven company, more than just a clothing company.

4) BP has garnered some pretty high profile wearers of your shirts. People like Steve Nash, several members of the USMNT, Tom Morello, even Ryan Seacrest. What is it about BP that appeals to not just soccer fans, but a larger cross section of America?
I think the quality of the shirts is the first thing. We spent quite a bit of time developing the shirts and getting them exactly how we wanted them. Everything from picking the type of cotton that is used, the cut of the shirts, and the treatments to get them to feel as soft as they do. I think people pick up on that quality. I also think a lot of people appreciate the stories that are associated with the shirts.

5) You write on your site that the focus of soccer has always been about what’s on the pitch and almost nothing beyond that and that BP and TOW is about changing that. What does the scene look like several years after having started BP?
It’s still a challenge to get people to look at things in a different light, but things have definitely changed from when we first started talking about the lifestyle side of things. We get a lot of incredible feedback from people who appreciate our approach to things so we know we are doing something right.

6) Tell us about your current collection.

The original shirts we did were inspired by the history of soccer in the US. We featured teams such as the Fall River Marksmen and Bethlehem Steel which date as far back as the late 1890’s. We also had some teams from the NASL days. So history was a big part of what we have done so far. We’ll continue to feature some of the older team inspired shirts while we continue to introduce new designs and products.

7) When is the next collection rolling out for BP? Can you give us any clues to what it will be about? Or what teams might be featured?

We’re currently releasing a couple shirts a month right now and plan to continue doing things that way as opposed to one collection every few months. We also have some products we have been working on for awhile that we will be releasing like hoodies, polos, etc. As for the theme or direction, it’s kind of fluid. We come up with ideas we like and then go from there, as opposed to trying to make something fit within a pre-defined theme. We’ve got some pretty incredible new shirts in the works as well as brand new products.

8) So far what’s the coolest shirt, in your opinion, that BP has put out?

I really like the ones featuring the old teams like Fall River Marksmen and the Brooklyn Wanderers. These teams date way back, and also didn’t have any logos that we could find so we got to design the logos based on what we thought a logo should look like for these teams.

We also did a shirt with Nick Egan that blends soccer, punk music and 1970’s London. Collaborating with Nick was a lot of fun, and I’m really happy about how we were able to mesh the different elements without watering down the message.

9) TOW just started a really interesting feature called, Soccer in America, can you talk a little about that project; where the idea came from, what’s the goal, and how it’s going so far?

The easy answer is we are fans of photography and soccer and we wanted to combine those elements. The deeper answer is that we wanted to explore the culture of soccer in America via photography. We are all a part of the greater soccer culture here, but the way that looks in Southern California might look very different in some ways to how that looks in the northeast and so on. The series has been incredible so far. Getting to see soccer images taken from people around the country will never get old for me, and hopefully it helps continue to build the community.

10) A few selfish, and pretty slanted, questions for the FBM. What is it about seeing a live soccer game and having a cold beer in your hand that makes everything seem right with the world?


It’s kind of like peanut butter and jelly. They compliment one another and just fit together perfectly.

11) How cool would a Free Beer Movement shirt look in your next collection? (feel free to respond with “no comment”)

I actually have the basis of a design for a BP x FBM t-shirt, and I think it would look pretty rad.

 

 

Tags: DrinkWear, Twelve-Pack Interview Series

12-Pack Interview Series: American Outlaws President Korey Donahoo

Site Note: This is the second in a series of interviews the FBM is doing with interesting and important people and ideas in American soccer. Read our first interview with Jesse Nechodom, soccer-hater-turned-soccer-lover with part 1 and part 2.

It's easy to forget that The American Outlaws are only two years old. The US National Team supporters group has taken the American soccer scene by storm with hundreds of members, dozens of chapters around the country, and take a no prisoners attitude. The AO and their chapters host dozens of viewing parties, tailgates, and match events around the country each year in support of the US National Team.
 
Several AO members and chapters are planning to head down to Honduras for that crucial CONCACAF clash on October 10th (if its still held there) and on October 14th they'll be loud and proud at RFK Stadium in Washington DC for the final "Hex" World Cup Qualifier against Costa Rica (a match in which the FBM is skipping on their day job to fly out for!).
 
The Free Beer Movement had a chance to shoot a few questions over the AO President Korey Donahoo, who was nice enough to actually respond to them.
 
1) How did the Outlaws start? Where did the idea come from?
 
Just going to games, we saw a lack of consistency of events planned surrounding the game. Some games had killer tailgates, others had nothing planned, but there was always passionate fans looking to connect.
 
2) How have you been able to create a nation-wide following?
 
Consistency has been everything. Being at every game and having stuff set up for people to enjoy themselves for EVERY game has been the key, I think. Also, allowing people who want to get involved to pitch in, whether it be with designing shirts or starting their own chapter.
 
3) How many chapters do you have now? Where are they? What’s their function?
 
Off the top of my head, probably 15 or so. Their function is to unite fans from a certain area, let's say, Lincoln Nebraska, give those fans a place to meet for EVERY game, and a banner to display at the bar. Then, if that area were lucky enough to host a US game, (which Lincoln obviously won’t), the chapter gets to plan the national party.

 
4) What does US Soccer think about the Outlaws? What’s your connection with them?
 
US Soccer has been pretty helpful with certain aspects, mainly ticketing. They usually offer supporters section tickets at the best price and before general ticket sales, which has helped us a lot. There’s always room for our relationship to grow, but its been a good one thus far, overall.
 
5) What’s the current state of the union for American soccer (the game, the culture, the fan following, etc), in general?
 
There’s definitely a ground swell of new fans, a lot of which has to do with our success at the Confederations Cup. ESPN buying the English Premiership rights tells you everything you need to know…that it's only going to get bigger for the foreseeable future. I hope that Outlaws can help usher in some of these new fans, get them to a US game or two, and keep them coming back to support our boys.
 
6) What about the future for soccer in the United States?
 
It's bright, see #5…
 
7) One of my inspirations has been the passion I’ve seen when I’ve attending international matches abroad and the want to see that same passion in our stadiums in the US. How have your experiences been when travelling with the team in other countries? How does that influence you and the Outlaws?
 
Ironically, sometimes the best pro-US atmospheres I’ve experienced have been abroad. I’m thinking specifically of the 2nd world cup game against Italy in 2006. The camaraderie between US fans is something that never ceases to amaze me, and taking it abroad adds a new dimension. I’ll never forget the friendly against the English fans the night before US v England at Wembley, when we kicked their ass!
 
8) I was following your road trip to SLC on Twitter. Sounds like a lot of drinking and a few problems with your RV. Tell us some of the highlights and lowlights of the trip?
 
The highlights were everything related to the game itself. The camaraderie (we were broken down in Wyoming, and AO Houston drove almost 2 hours each way to pick us up, as well as getting a 2 hour ride back with complete strangers) was awesome. The tailgate was fun and intense, and the game ended with 3 points.
As for lowlights, everything related to the RV. 2 blown tires, breaking down in Wyoming and having to keep the windows open in order to not die of exhaust inhalation can be detrimental to any trip, even a US victory.
 
9) What sort of role do groups like the American Outlaws and the Free Beer Movement play in growing the sport?
 
Everybody likes feeling like part of a community, and then helping the community to grow in positive directions. We feel we follow the best team in the world, and we want our friends to share all the good times that it has brought us, and I think buying a skeptic a beer is a perfect way to usher in newbies.
 
10) What’s the beer of choice for the Outlaws?
 
Speaking for myself and Justin Brunken, the vice-President, Budweiser and PBR.
 
11) What’s next for the American Outlaws?
 
The World Cup (assuming we qualify) is going to be amazing. TenDot travel company in Lincoln has helped us with the logistics, and its going to be a wild ride. Until then, all the pretournament friendlies will be a great way to bring in new fans and prepare for South Africa.
 
 
Photo Credit: Taken from The Shin Guardian's post on AO's trip to Salt Lake City
 
Video Credit: AO

Tags: American Outlaws, Twelve-Pack Interview Series