Local Beer, Local Soccer – Charlotte, North Carolina
Planting the Seed of Soccer Across America: Danny Beerseed
Street Soccer USA/ Soccer 945 (Photo Credit: James Willamor)
By Jay Landskroener
Being in a major financial hub diverts a lot of the attention away from the other scenes around this wonderful city. Charlotte is the birthplace of the Homeless USA Cup (now called the Street Soccer USA Cup), home base for numerous Youth and Adult soccer leagues and academies, various colleges and universities, as well as a USL PRO team, the Charlotte Eagles. Since the mid 2000’s there have been a number of soccer specific bars opening in certain neighborhoods all around town.
In 2009 Charlotte got what might be considered one of the best soccer bars east of the Mississippi, a pub that opened up specifically for the niche of soccer, aptly named “Courtyard Hooligans” located in Uptown Charlotte. During the ensuing World Cup, Hooligans was the place to be in summer 2010. Since then, every week soccer fans come out of the woodwork for Premier League, La Liga, Champions League, MLS, International matches and everything in between. On top of soccer this pub has a great collection of local and regional beers, and it is within the top 30 of Guinness sales on the east coast.
The American Outlaws chapter in Charlotte, the Queen City Outlaws has been active in helping the community of soccer grow locally. Support of the United States Soccer team’s games throughout the city can be watched while fans sing songs and shout chants for their national teams. During the 2011 Gold Cup, though USA did not play in Charlotte, the group stage games that took place here were the third most attended group stage matches of the tournament.
On a different realm of the sport, Soccer 945 is the organization that helps homeless people in bad times to correct their lives through the world of soccer. The group has done work with other organizations to help the cause and continue the growth of sport in the city, such as having regional and national futsal tournaments with other cities homeless teams. The biggest thing that this organization has done was to form what is known as the Homeless USA Cup to help the homeless of all areas of the globe to better their lives through the world of soccer. A great cause through a great sport.
With the colleges and the universities here the local pickup games and adult leagues are forever growing. Most notably though, UNC-Charlotte made it to the finals of the 2011 NCAA College Cup and put on arguably one of the best finals in all of domestic soccer against a very good University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill team, losing 1-0.
Locally, the adult leagues keep thriving with open competitions year in, year out. One key talking point of adult soccer leagues here is an annual soccer tournament known as the Soccer World Cup, in which 20 national teams comprised of local players compete to be the champions. An amazing community event and great atmosphere to watch every summer also gives a warm sense of enlightenment knowing that this event helps the Charlotte World Soccer Foundation hand out a charity check to an organization helping children in need.
Not just playing or observing the sport, but a lot of the local fans here contribute to the consumption of great local brews. Companies such as Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, NoDa Brewing, Bird Song Brewing, Ass Clown, and Four Friends Brewery have all appeared in the last five years to compensate for the largest city in the state to compete with the other great brews in North Carolina. The Foothills and Blue Ridge areas have set the bar for breweries in North Carolina though with companies like Highland, Big Boss, Duck Rabbit, and Catawba Valley taking a stronghold on the regional beer scene.
One of the best parts of the beer and soccer scene here is a sense of camaraderie with all fans throughout the town. Being a transient city, there are fans of all teams and all nationalities here that band together for the love of the game. And that’s how we live our soccer and beer drinking lives: for the love of the game.
Jay Landskroener writes for Rattle the Frame as well as hosts the podcast on rattletheframe.com. Also a contributor for kyck.com pertaining to MLS. American Outlaws Chapter President of the Queen City Outlaws. You can follow Jay on Twitter.
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