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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs