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.
12-Pack Interview Series: American Outlaws President Korey Donahoo
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
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, LincolnNebraska, 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.