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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid