Soccer….Family Style

Liar Liar Pants on Fire – That Guy From Azteca
March 29, 2013, 5:47 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags: , ,

Photo credit: Tony Hernandez Photography (

Here’s the thing: going to Azteca is scary. Mostly because of all the horror stories that people tell you about going to Azteca. “You’re going to get bags of piss thrown on you!” “They throw things at you!” “You’re going to get spit thrown at you!” And on and on and on. I know…I went, Easter Sunday of 2005, and people told me I was insane, that I was going to orphan my baby girl, blah blah blah.

I’m not saying it wasn’t terrifying, walking through rows of riot police, that we didn’t get stuff thrown at us, because my sunglasses were broken when someone threw a coin from the upper deck (that’s right…I went to Azteca back when they sat us in the lower deck! Terminal velocity, baby.)

So I’m really annoyed with this guy, who told Yahoo Sports that he was hit by a flying bottle thrown by a Mexican fan. Because one of my soccer travel buddies, Jimmie Cates, of AO Detroit, saw this guy slip and fall on a seat and bash his head in the fall. So he could have said, “Mexicans threw a bunch of beer, and it made the seat wet, and I slipped and fell.” But that’s not nearly as sexy as being the face of “the abuse American fans suffer (dramatic sigh!) at Azteca,” now is it? By misrepresenting the terrors of Mexico City, you keep others from traveling to support our Yanks, and that pisses me off. A whole big bunch.

So I’m calling you out, bashed in head dude. Your 15 minutes of fame are over. It’s bad enough Mexico can’t win at home, they shouldn’t be lied about, especially when the truth of Azteca is plenty intimidating to most soccer fans. Come clean, and maybe next time, don’t drink so much at altitude.

USMNT vs Mexico, I Like @AlexiLalas and All But….
March 26, 2013, 9:20 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

Got the kids to bed, and trying to stay sane waiting for this game. Thoughts:

All the pressure’s on Mexico. No wins yet, they need a break.

Yes, we’ve got some injury issues, but I look at that as second string’s got something to prove.

Thinking about the mental games coming into this match, I’ll take our position. We won in our last meeting there. Our qualifying is going better. The weather is in our favor (again).

And while I generally love everything Alexi Lalas says, you wouldn’t be talking about him if he said the US would win 2-0. Man’s got a job to do, but it won’t stop us from bringing home three points!

Let’s go, boys! Take their COLORS!!

PROOF! The #MidwestMama Stadium Flag Dried!
March 24, 2013, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,


It left the stadium soaked and frozen, crusted with ice, but today, the Midwest Mama stadium flag was single-handedly rolled by Doug and is on it’s way home to AO Des Moines. Even I am surprised it fit back in the bag after being so soaked!

USMNT vs Costa Rica: the Snow Globe Game
March 23, 2013, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

When we looked at the qualifying schedule, I was excited that at least one game was while the kids were on break from school, since we always have more fun at games as a family. We have friends in Denver, and I figured by late March, maybe the weather would be warming up (ha!). We decided to spend the week in Denver, making art and spending time with friends. It was gorgeous all week, sunny and warm, and we had so much fun playing outside, going for walks, and hanging out.

891889_10200723471027509_751117774_oWe started out the day at The British Bulldog, AO Denver’s bar, where the kids fueled up on Sheppard’s Pie and burgers. Once they were fed, they were willing to join in a round of leading “Everywhere We Go” chant standing on their bar stools. My daughter gave me a “can I curse?” look, and I smiled and nodded, knowing it would be a huge hit. We got to the line “We are the US, the might f*$%ing US” and when the kids dropped the F bomb, the bar went absolutely nuts, and the rest of the chant was lost to applause and high fives for our kids. It was a proud moment for me as a supporter mama. If you have video of that chant, PLEASE message me!

My son, Captain America

My son, Captain America

We headed to the tailgate and to set up the tifo and Midwest Mama flag. The kids changed in Captain America and Betsy Ross costumes, and started to take turns charming people at the tailgate and warming up in the car. The day started in the upper 40s and sunny, but by the tifo set up at 3:30, it was cloudy, windy, and quickly getting colder. But we had a great parking place, plenty of food and beer, and many friends we don’t often get to see. We were having a blast. Captain America was getting amped up for the game, and was directing people to “take the stadium!”

AODesMoinesDenver I must give props to my local group, American Outlaws Des Moines. When I agreed to be the AO contact for Iowa back in 2007, I imagined that the AO chapter would be the 4 people in my house, and maybe one or two more. I never dreamed that we would become an official chapter, with road trips to games where there would be more people from AO DSM than some of the largest supporter chapters in the US. I’m so proud of what this “little” group has become.

903358_10200730146514392_1601216418_oThe game itself was bananas. I can’t even tell you what happened on the field. We scored at the far end,but I only know that because I watched the net for when it rippled as the ball struck it. The snow flakes were huge, and the stands were filled with slush. It was some of the craziest weather I’ve seen, but seriously Costa Rica, I have a kindergartner and a 4th grader, and they whined less about this game than you are. It’s called a home field advantage, welcome to CONCACAF!

903877_10200726196895654_1954697349_oIn case you ever wonder how that huge flag gets in and out of the stadium, it’s by us at AO Des Moines. My family (my husband in this case) carries that flag all over the US to games. We get to the stadium four hours early to set it up, and we stay late to fold it up (often with the help of locals, thanks SO MUCH to the guys that helped in the snow and slush last night!) It was even heavier last night than it was in Tampa, because there was only so much snow we could shake off. It’s currently drying in the basement, not really sure how we’ll get it re-folded for the drive home, assuming we eventually get to leave the Denver snow globe!

388523_10200729586420390_442382869_nI’ll post more photos later, I’m going to go spend some more time making art with our host, local artist, Tanya Keith (find her work here), Wish us luck driving home. This one last photo is thanks to Daniel Petty of The Denver Post. My husband and I kiss like this at the final whistle of every game, but no one has ever caught us before. It’s like we renew our vows of our 18 year marriage at every US Soccer game, but I’ve never had a “wedding photographer” catch us! Much appreciated, Mr. Petty!

There’s a New Pope, AND He Loves Soccer
March 14, 2013, 6:50 am
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer, Supporter Culture

Disclaimer: I’m Jewish. I may live in Iowa, and know many Catholics, but at the end of the day, there’s a whole bunch I don’t understand about the significance of today’s events at the Vatican. None of this is intended to disrespect the seriousness of this day for my Catholic friends.

Because really, yesterday started out as a running joke. There’s a seagull on the Vatican roof! It has a Twitter account! Sigh…the whole thing of waiting for smoke signals. It’s tough for me to understand the whole religious significance of an event that’s pretty out there in practice. Not that Jews don’t have our own strange traditions, but usually there’s delicious food involved, which I think makes it more accessible. I digress….

So the new Pope is announced, and we, my two kids and I, were running errands and catching snippets of the story via NPR. I caught that the Pope was from Argentina, which I thought was cool because there’s some really great Rabbis and Cantors from there, so I’m absentmindedly thinking that the new Pope has something going for him culturally speaking. My daughter was saying “I thought a Pope was where you go to drink.” No honey, that’s a “pub.” It was about as satisfying as Pope announcements can be for a nice Jewish girl.

Then the soccer jokes started, mostly from my friend @WeberKing, another Jewish USMNT fan: “Move over Maradona, there’s a new guy claiming to be the “Hand of G-d.”

“Sepp Blatter just announced that the new Pope is from Qatar. Sorry US and England”

Then another friend posted a comment wondering if the Pope was a fan of Boca Juniors, River Plate, or perhaps Newell’s Old Boys? All first division teams in Argentina, and kinda cracked me up, envisioning a serious Bishop going nuts over a soccer game. That made me pretty happy, and it wasn’t too hard to imagine, a guy growing up in Argentina being a soccer fan. I mean, giving up sex is one thing, but G-d wouldn’t ask anyone to give up football, right?

So I posted this joke to break up a serious Pope discussion on another friend’s page, and in response, he linked me to this gem: “New Pope Suffers for Argentine soccer club San Lorenzo.” No. Effing. Way. This is amazing. The Pope is a football fan. With a supporters card no less! I can’t really say that this is going to make me convert to Catholicism or anything, (Now if San Lorenzo starts crushing it, you’ll have my attention) but not knowing anything else about him, I’d rather have another supporter in any job. I know he’s got a pretty crappy record on gay rights, but personally, I don’t look to the Catholic Church for leadership on much, least of all gay rights equality. Just don’t take away my birth control options, and we’re cool for now, Pope Francis.

Trash Talk in Des Moines (Iowa, Not Idaho) Re: Menace Soccer, NASL, USL-1
March 2, 2013, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , , , , ,

2012-07-14_19-49-02_712Last Wednesday, Andrew McGreen posted a link titled “Donovan Talks, U-20s, and Brek Shea” and 57:07 on the American Outlaws: Des Moines facebook group. I have much time for soccer podcasts, but I do like the Best Soccer Show, and I had three minutes, so….

The clip from 57:07 starts out with someone who’s written in to ask why hasn’t Des Moines been considered for NASL or USL-1 expansion? My heart just about burst. Eleven years ago, I worked for the Stadium Foundation as the Event Coordinator. We were working to build what, at the time, would have been the 4th soccer-specific stadium in the US, which would have allowed Menace Soccer to move from the PDL to what was then the A-League, and is now USL-Pro. It was a great plan, that would have given Des Moines the soccer street cred it deserved. At the time, we were (and still are) out-drawing teams in higher leagues, we had the highest participation per-capita in US youth soccer, and we have a sports fan base that supports semi-pro level sporting events well. It killed me when the Urbandale City Council voted down the proposal to build the stadium in their land-locked suburb. I thought it was incredibly short-sighted, and a decade later, I could write an entire post about why it was the wrong decision for Urbandale and central Iowa soccer. Suffice it to say that I have always believed that Des Moines is a “diamond in the rough, with a beyond competent front office”, and belongs in a higher league than PDL.

While I recovered from my mind-explosion that someone read my mind and then wrote to Best Soccer Show about it, I was hurtled back down to Earth by Jared and Jason’s response. Here’s a clue: when someone says “No offense to Des Moines” it’s probably really offensive to Des Moines. I had to roll my eyes at “the thing about Des Moines is that it’s Des Moines.” Oh guys….really? Maybe 20 years ago, when I moved here from the New York metro, Des Moines would have skulked off, apologizing for how uncool it is. Not anymore. Now we’re consistently ranked not just best place to raise your kids, but best place to start a business, be a young professional, and the list goes on. Plus, we have Raygun, the greatest store in the Universe, that is making a fortune mocking the fact that you don’t know the difference between Idaho and Iowa (here’s a hint, we’re no where near Cascadia).

I don’t buy the argument that we’re “so far off the map from a pro-sports perspective.” We’re not asking for an MLS team (yet) and we actively support our Iowa Cubs and Iowa Barnstormers, as well as turn out in droves for college athletics of all kinds. We have Drake Soccer and Iowa State women nearby, and you’ve already praised our turn out for Des Moines Menace. Your suggestion to form a supporters group just shows how little you know about Iowa. We founded the 38th chapter of  American Outlaws in 2010, and we travel strong to US soccer games. You know that big flag in the supporters section? That’s the Midwest Mama, and AO DSM owns it and brings it everywhere. Back at home, the Red Army has supported the Menace for years, not just with tailgates, but we roast marshmallows after games, just because we’re Iowa Nice.

You’d rather be in LA even if Des Moines would out draw a team there? Short sighted and dumb. Come to a market where you’ll be supported and appreciated. Where fans won’t have to drive 45+ minutes fighting traffic to get to a game (unless they’re coming from Ames or something). With more start ups and mergers (you know about Meredith Publications, don’t you?) Des Moines is the next ultra-cool place to be. Try to sign us up before the bidding war starts. (You heard we just hired our new GM away from an NASL team, right?)

And a message to Kyle Krause, Des Moines Menace owner, I keep telling you it’s time to restart the Stadium Foundation project….I’m waiting for your call.) Des Moines’ time has come, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the soccer world figures it out.

MLS Opening Day 2013!
March 2, 2013, 12:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I don’t live in an MLS market, but judging by my social media streams, there’s excitement coming to a boil across the USA. Major League Soccer kicks off the 2013 season today, and as my friend John Santos posted, the boys are back in town again.

Between Facebook and Twitter, I think I’ve got friends who are season ticket holders for ever MLS team in the US. I’ve watched my friends post pre-season meet-the-players photo ops, watched the gossip of pre-season trades and games, sweet season ticket holder swag (well played, Red Bulls!) listened to the raves of new kit releases ( my favorite? of course it’s Colorado’s shout out to their supporters, printing the names of every season ticket holder on their kit). There was this video of our friends at RVA DCU, who’ve inspired a few of us here in Des Moines that maybe a DSM:SKC supporter club wouldn’t be the most insane thing in the world.

Whichever team you support, thank you for sharing your MLS moments with me. I’m looking forward to another crazy year of stories from my supporter friends around the US, and hopefully more than a few #MLSRoadTrip games. Wishing you all a great season of games, beer, and supporter love and passion!

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