News / USA

    American Soccer Fans Boost US Team, Raise Sport's Profile

    American Soccer Fans Boost US Team, Raise Sport's Profilei
    X
    June 12, 2013 10:45 PM
    The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team is getting a boost in its campaign to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil, with wins against Jamaica last week and Panama on Tuesday (June 11). The U.S. men next face Honduras at a qualifier (in Sandy, Utah) in suburban Salt Lake City next Tuesday (June 18). A growing legion of American soccer fans has been supporting the team and have become increasingly organized and visible at bars and stadiums around the country thanks in part to efforts of a non-profit group called the American Outlaws. VOA's Michael Lipin joined the Outlaws at a friendly international earlier this month between the U.S. and Germany in Washington to see how they promote a love for soccer in a country dominated by other professional sports.
    The U.S. Men's National Soccer Team is getting a boost in its campaign to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil.  

    A growing legion of American soccer fans has been supporting the team as it scored crucial qualifying wins in Jamaica last week and at home against Panama on Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, before a crowd of nearly 41,000.  The U.S. men face Honduras in the next qualifier in Sandy, Utah in suburban Salt Lake City on June 18.

    The team's fans have become increasingly organized and visible at stadiums and bars around the country thanks to the efforts of a non-profit group called the American Outlaws.  In one of their biggest mobilizations to date, the Outlaws recruited thousands of people to attend a friendly international between the United States and Germany in Washington earlier this month.

    The night before the June 2 contest, hundreds gathered at the Laughing Man Tavern bar in downtown DC for the first of several pre-game parties, reuniting and exchanging stories with friends last seen at other soccer events.

    The American Outlaws claim 7,000 paying members with branches in more than 80 U.S. cities, with the nation's capital being the largest.  Washington, DC chapter president Justin Coughlan said other branches may be small, but have big potential.

    "The U.S. sees itself as this great superpower except when it comes to soccer, which is the world's game," said Coughlan.  "But the more people get into it and realize that there are other people that love it, it is going to get bigger and bigger."

    Christian Allen said he set up an Outlaws branch in Greensboro, North Carolina, after several months of reaching out to local fans.

    "If you get people to come to the bar and to see what we are all about and to see us chant for the USA, they really get hooked and excited," Allen said.

    The excitement grew in the hours before the Germany game as more than 1,000 Outlaws and their friends joined a "tailgate" party in a parking lot next to RFK Stadium, which hosted the friendly.  Tailgating is a popular feature of other sports like American football and baseball, with fans indulging in burgers and beers to get into the mood for the action.

    American Outlaws national president Korey Donahoo said many U.S. soccer fans feel like outsiders in a country where the media pay more attention to bigger professional sports.  

    "Because soccer is not a mainstream sport necessarily, we thought 'American Outlaws' worked well for what we were trying to do," Donahoo said.

    American soccer supporters also bond with each other through supporting a team that often is an underdog in the sport.

    "For me, the biggest thing that sets it apart is that you see a guy in a U.S. jersey anywhere in the world and you can talk to him immediately and there is a sense of camaraderie," Donahoo said.

    Chants of "USA, USA!" and "Oh When The Yanks Go Marching In" rang out as the Outlaws formed a procession from the parking lot to the stadium a half an hour before kickoff.  Inside, many of them filled up a special supporters' section in the rows nearest to the field, waving their scarves, banners and flags to make themselves as visible as possible to the players, and other fans.

    The U.S. men ended the first half with a surprise 2-0 lead over Germany, thanks to a powerful volley from U.S. forward Jozy Altidore and an embarrassing own goal by German goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

    The second half began with Germany pulling a goal back through a Heiko Westermann header.  But Altidore set up U.S. captain Clint Dempsey to restore the home team's two-goal advantage, which grew to 4-1 on another Dempsey goal.

    Germany scored twice in the dying minutes to keep the game close, but the U.S. held on for a 4-3 upset victory, thrilling Americans in the stands, both young and old.

    U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard (VOA - M. Lipin).U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard (VOA - M. Lipin).
    x
    U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard (VOA - M. Lipin).
    U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard (VOA - M. Lipin).
    U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard paid tribute to the overwhelming U.S. fan presence in the sellout crowd of 47,359.

    "You know, to see a big massive stadium - a historic stadium for us, U.S. soccer-wise - to be filled and to play a team like Germany, it is special because we have not always gotten that," Howard said. "I think it is a testament to our supporters."

    Second-half U.S. substitute Eddie Johnson said the national team also has benefited from the expansion of Major League Soccer, the domestic league in which he plays for the Seattle Sounders.

    "Having more soccer-specific stadiums makes domestic players feel like we have a professional environment, where we feel like the sport is being more appreciated in America, and we feel more like professional athletes," Johnson said.

    One of the most colorful U.S. supporters at RFK Stadium was a man dressed as superhero Captain America.

    When asked what it will take for more Americans to catch on to soccer, he said the U.S. simply has to keep winning.

    "You're not going to become a soccer fan overnight.  You've got to apply some dedication and love for it," he said.  "But soccer is great, because you're part of the game.  You don't just sit and watch."

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.