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FBM’s Person of the Year 2014

 

By Dan Wiersema / Founder, FBM

2014 was massive year for soccer in America. Millions of newbies "believed" in a men's national team in Brazil, Men "blazed" a new trail to NBC Sports, and a "LegenD" ended his career in a winning fashion. Along the way Major League Soccer continued to grow to new heights (through attendance, ratings, and expansion bumps), the women's national team learned its path to more (hopefully) World Cup glory, and, well, Dom Dwyer and Sydney Leroux happened

So who do you get to represent all that is good in the American soccer world in 2014? What person or group represents a year where soccer surged ahead, again, to continue its meteoric rise worming its way into the American sporting landscape?

The American soccer fan. 

And who better to carry the banner for them?

Teddy in Manaus. Photo Credit: FBM

Teddy Goalsevelt.

Goalsevelt, aka Mike D'Amico of Chicago, rose to fame when his screaming Presidential mug appeared on ESPN's broadcast during the US-Portugal match. By the time the advertising agency man returned to his hotel room in Natal (and wifi) he had become the "face of American soccer". Between Manaus and Recife interviews piled up as did an invite from U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati to rally the crowd (alongside Will Ferrell) the night before the USMNT's final group match against Germany. 

Teddy and me in Recife

But what makes Teddy the Free Beer Movement's "Person of the Year" for 2014 is more than just a face; he represents the evolution of the American soccer fan. I interviewed Mr. Goalsevelt at the height of his 15 minutes of fame and what struck me was how friendly, articulate, and humble D'Amico was. He came to Brazil as just another of the 500-plus American Outlaws traveling en masse to support the national team. He wasn't the first to don a costume or even the first to represent one of our nation's Presidents; he wasn't looking for a patriotic frat party or place to be a jingoistic nationalist. 

D'Amico represents the American soccer fan at the peak of the team's and the sport's popularity this summer and that the love affair with soccer in this country isn't just a every-four-years thing. As Major League Soccer moves into its second decade and our national teams complete regularly on the global stage our fans too have evolved and garnered national and international respect. The outpouring of support for the national team this summer was larger than ever before, but not spontaneous as outsiders would like to imagine.

The foundation was being laid in the four years between our dismissal from South Africa by Ghana and Clint Dempsey's revenge inside Arena Das Dunas.

In stadiums and bars from coast to coast the American soccer fan grew in the last four years. The packed watch parties in parks and pubs were the results of supporters from all walks of life building American soccer for this summer's mainstream moment. 

A belief in this sport that everything has led to here where American soccer no longer has to answer the question "when will soccer make it in the U.S.?" to a confident statement, "soccer has made it".

Photo Credit: USA Today

The American soccer fan is no longer something for others to scoff at. They talk tactics. I'd put up our fans soccer smarts alongside any others' around the world. Their tifo game is on point. Places like Portland, Seattle, New England, Kansas City, and New York are looking more and more like Dortmund, Milan, Barcelona, and beyond. Most importantly is that the American soccer fan is more open, more gracious that their worldly counterparts. Rivals share a beer together rather than a beef. They honor each others fallen members. The only knife fights are the hilariously digital ones on Reddit/MLS' "TRASH TALK THREAD" before the weekend.

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From newbie to fan to fanatic D'Amico's journey isn't unique. Or at least it isn't that unique anymore. More and more often Teddy Goalsevelt's journey is becoming the standard for many. While Teddy stood out this summer he was surrounded by the like-minded passion of hundreds of other American Outlaws and thousands of fellow U.S. fans in Brazil and millions more back home. 

In June Goalsevelt told me, "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."

Even as the memories and the pain of Brazil 2014 fades the excitement for soccer in American has not. This year's MLS Cup saw a 91% jump on ESPN from last year, 83% increase on WatchESPN, and nearly doubles on Spanish-broadcast channels. It was the third highest MLS Cup TV ratings since the beginning of the league

And it doesn't have to stop there. What Goalsevelt and all of the fans that burst onto the scene this summer need to do is keep up the momentum. 

We're lucky that 2015 has plenty of opportunities to continue the soccer explosion on the American sporting scene from 2014. The 20th season of MLS, the Women's World Cup in Canada, and the men's Gold Cup (with a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup up for grabs) are all on the docket. 

In 2014 there was "Teddy Goalsevelt", but in 2015 we can all be our own version of the 26th Presidential super fan: involved, passionate, and spreading good cheer. Maybe even with a beer.

American soccer needs you.

Tags: FBM In Action, USMNT, Who We're Buying A Beer For, World Cup

Who We’re Buying a Beer For…. Steve Nash

The one thing we love more than drinking beer and watching some soccer is being able to share said beer with people. We do it all the time and so do the fine men and women that subscribe to the of the Free Beer Movement Philosophy. We share our beer with our friends, family, and co-workers who desperately need some education on the soccer front to understand the passion that drives our connection to the sport of soccer.

Some people already get it and they're working day in and day out to improve the atmosphere in the U.S. for soccer. Those people or groups deserve some recognition and we only know one way to say thanks.

A beer on us.

Each week we serve up a healthy dose of brewskies for the individuals and organizations that are building a foundation for soccer in America. Hey... kinda like us at the FBM!

Yeah... most of this is literary flourish, but if we were to ever run into one of our honorees, we'd be obligated to let them know that their next drink is on the Free Beer Movement. And we'd hope, dear readers, if you ever ran into one of the ladies or gentlemen you'd let 'em know the FBM owes them a beer (or better yet pick up a drink for them and send us a picture and the tab!)
 

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The playmaker. Photo Credit: Reed Saxon (AP)

Steve Nash was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week and while that will cause a lot of sadness amongst Phoenix Suns fans, the sport of soccer will benefit from the Canadian sharp-shooter's move to one of the most successful teams in NBA history.

Nash has already earned himself countless beers for his support of domestic soccer; we just haven't properly recognized him yet for it. Nash grew up playing soccer and showcases his skills occasionally on and off the court. Every year Nash hosts the "Showdown in Chinatown" pairing up basketball and soccer players in a match where proceeds go to the Steve Nash Foundation. He's also the part-owner of the Major League Soccer club, Vancouver Whitecaps.

His signing by the Lakers and his subsequent choosing of the "number 10" jersey solidifies his place as a true ambassador for soccer in North America. He even credits playing soccer in his youth as a vital part of becoming a great NBA player. 

"I didn't play basketball until I was 13," Nash said. "I wouldn't have been an NBA player if I didn't play soccer," Nash said.

Nash had to switch numbers because his old jersey number belongs to Wilt Chamberlain. The Lakers retired the "13" back in 1983.

Wearing the "number 10" as a tribute to soccer didn't go unnoticed by local and national media who quickly drew the connection between soccer and basketball with Nash's explosive ability to score and set up others.

From the Orange Country Register:

With Steve Nash’s familiar No. 13 retired in Wilt Chamberlain’s honor by the Lakers, Nash has decided he will wear No. 10 in purple and gold for the coming season. Just like all the great soccer playmakers who’ve come before him and showcased that number on the pitch. it’s a fitting choice for Nash, a soccer fanatic and the Lakers’ new point guard, as he comes to center the Lakers’ offense, which struggled late in the season to get the ball to proven scorers Kobe Bryant, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol in easy positions to do damage.

Surely NBA broadcasters and fans will make ample notice of and discuss the number change for one of the league's biggest stars. Every time that means just a little more "bonus" exposure for soccer in the United States and crossover (pun intended) appeal potential for MLS. New teammate Kobe Bryant is also a self-proclaimed footy fan (Barcelona) upping the soccer talk for sure.

So a beer for Steve Nash. The NBA's biggest soccer fan continues to go the extra mile to help grow and publicized the sport in this country. If you've got courtside seats to the Lakers this season (we're looking at you Jack Nicholson) let Steve know we owe him a beer.

Cheers, Steve!

P.S. While you're at it... hit Nash up on Twitter and tell him "Thanks for supporting soccer. The @FreeBeerMovemnt owes you a beer!".

Tags: Who We're Buying A Beer For

Who We’re Buying a Beer For…. Robert Griffin III

You'll probably have to go back to never to find a time when both the number one and number two picks in the National Football League Draft were self-declared fans of the other football. But number one pick Andrew Luck, whose dad used to own and run the Houston Dynamo, and number two pick Robert Griffin III, spotted rocking the new USMNT stripes in D.C., have made football-passion a part of their lives. The football, you know, where they actually use the foot to play the ball.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post

Luck's love of soccer was well documented on the eve of the NFL Draft, but Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback of out of Baylor showed his true colors at his future home FedEx Field (He was drafted by the Washington Redskins) when he took in the American's 4-1 loss to Brazil. Griffin III met the National Team in the locker room before the match and given his own U.S. jersey by capitain Carlos Bocanegra to sport on the sidelines.

There he met U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, tweeted out pics of the gameposed with a few players like the non-rostered Jozy Altidore and U.S. Soccer staff members, and even met USWNT legend Mia Hamm.

He wasn't the only one of his teammates that was there, either.

Not only has RG3, as he's know, repped U.S. Soccer he's also gotten in on the local soccer scene. D.C. United star (and league MVP) Dwayne DeRosario welcomed Griffin to their city in a video after the draft last April and the club sent over a United jersey as well.

So a beer for Robert Griffin III. If you're a fan of the other, American football in addition to soccer now you'll have to root just a little less harder against the guy. If you're a Redskins guy (or girl) go nuts.

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

 

"We play football, too. Wanna give it a  shot?"

Tags: Who We're Buying A Beer For

Who We’re Buying A Beer For… Drew Carey

The one thing we love more than drinking beer and watching some soccer is being able to share said beer with people. We do it all the time and so do the fine men and women that subscribe to the of the Free Beer Movement Philosophy. We share our beer with our friends, family, and co-workers who desperately need some education on the soccer front to understand the passion that drives our connection to the sport of soccer.

Some people already get it and they're working day in and day out to improve the atmosphere in the U.S. for soccer. Those people or groups deserve some recognition and we only know one way to say thanks.

A beer on us.

Each week we serve up a healthy dose of brewskies for the individuals and organizations that are building a foundation for soccer in America. Hey... kinda like us at the FBM!

Yeah... most of this is literary flourish, but if we were to ever run into one of our honorees, we'd be obligated to let them know that their next drink is on the Free Beer Movement. And we'd hope, dear readers, if you ever ran into one of the ladies or gentlemen you'd let 'em know the FBM owes them a beer (or better yet pick up a drink for them and send us a picture and the tab!)
 
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By Ryan Rosenblatt / Senior Los Angeles Correspondent

What does one do when someone buys him a beer? He buys that someone the next round, of course. What does one do when someone buys more than 40 beers for him and his closest friends? He writes about how everyone should buy that someone a beer.

 
American soccer? Check.
Beer? Double check.
On January 22, the American Outlaws gathered in Glendale, AZ to see the United States take on Venezuela and it wasn’t for the high quality of play or the thrill of a vital match. Both teams showed up with few first-teamers and some players who would be best classified as fourth, fifth or even sixth choice. The match had no real importance other than the flags each side represented. It was not the type of match that soccer hitches itself to as an advertisement of all that is well and good about “The Beautiful Game.”
 
That day was exactly what the American Outlaws hitches itself to as an advertisement of its fanaticism, though. Without any recognizable players or stakes and on a random January Saturday in a city within relatively close driving distance of one major market, the American Outlaws showed up in force.
 
First, the group settled in for a tailgate outside the stadium that featured a lot of people, some people kicking a soccer ball around and a beer or two. As time crept on and it was nearing time to enter the stadium, the chants at the tailgate grew louder and by the time the group settled into their spot at the stadium, their section was full and the songs were echoing in a still-empty stadium an hour before kickoff.
 
Nobody in section 139 at University of Phoenix Stadium needed an excuse to sing and chant after hours of tailgating and drinking, but they found one. Having spotted Drew Carey standing on the field behind the goal sporting his United States scarf, the American Outlaws started chanting for the comedian, Price is Right host, vocal soccer fan and Seattle Sounders owner (order of importance left at your discretion).
 
What began as an innocent and beer-fueled chant turned into one of the best moments of the day and the ultimate Free Beer Movement exercise.
 
"I want to give you free beer!: (Photo Credit: Kayla Knapp)
Carey walked over towards section 139, waving his scarf in the air and saying something, but exactly what he was saying wasn’t quite clear over all of the chanting. When he got to the front of the section and pulled his hand out of his pocket, it became clear what he was doing and saying. He was buying a beer for me. He was also buying a beer for more than 40 of my closest friends, whether I knew their names or not. He certainly didn’t know our names, not that it mattered. Drew Carey was buying the entire section a beer.
 
Several hundred dollars later, the American Outlaws were well lubricated, or more accurately, more lubricated than 20 minutes earlier and it was thanks to Drew Carey.
 
As the match wore on and the U.S. struggled to find a goal, but finally in extra time, Ricardo Clark (RICARDO. CLARK!) nodded home the winner. A day that had a great start (the tailgate), now had a great end (a win) and thanks to Drew Carey, it had a great middle too.
 
So next time you see Drew Carey, be it in Seattle, at a soccer match near you or on the set of the Price is Right (you can totally smuggle stuff in), buy the man a beer. After all, he bought dozens in support of U.S. soccer.
 
 
Do us a favor and say thanks to Drew Carey for his support of American soccer through his Twitter account and let him know if you ever run into him you'll buy him a beer.
 
About Ryan
 
When not posting about adoracute animals posing with soccer balls, or flying about the country taking in USMNT matches, Ryan Rosenblatt deigns to cover MLS matches for SB Nation Soccer. The lollipop of Soccer, Rosenblatt's got a flavor that will appease anyone: coverage of the US national team? You got it. Stepping in to write about the Eredivisie? I bet you can't even spell the Dutch League correctly. Mocking Arsenal fans? It might not show up on the front page, but it's almost certain there's a running dialogue in this Spurs' supporter's head.
 
Rosey is also silly enough to be a fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers, but that shouldn't make you take his soccer writing any less seriously.

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Tags: Who We're Buying A Beer For