Soccer….Family Style

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!

33 Years Later – Do You Believe in Miracles?
February 22, 2013, 4:06 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , ,

Several of my soccer friends are also hockey fans, and while I can’t appreciate how many Miracle players ended up playing for the Bruins (alas, too many of them are also from Boston, but I try not to hold it against them) it did get me thinking about this game and what it meant in my own world.

I was an eight year old kid the day the US played Russia in the Olympics in the game affectionately nicknamed “the Miracle on Ice.”  I was the daughter of a stay-at-home mom with a Masters in Education and a PhD research Chemist, so we had lots of talks about politics, science, and other geeky pursuits, and I was a bit of a tomboy. There were lots of boys my age on my block, and my Dad, not having any sons, taught me to play ball, fish, and to rotate tires. But my favorite thing to do with my Dad was watching sports. He would spend hours talking to me about various players, and intricacies of rules, it was probably the most concentrated extended attention I got from my Dad.

Of all the memories of all the games I ever watched with my Dad, the Miracle on Ice is the clearest. He had explained to me the political ramifications of the game, and as we watched it together, me laying on my belly, chin propped up on my fists. He became more and more agitated and excited as the game went on, and I was riveted. My father is a very intense man, but I’d never seen him so passionate about any game before in my life. And the more excited he became, the greater my need to understand what this game meant to him. This wasn’t “his” team, and it wasn’t even the medal match. My eight year old mind could barely fathom how this game could be so important to him, but as the minutes clicked off, I had to suspend reason and just enjoy watching history made, next to my Dad sitting on the edge of his big green recliner.

I’d like to think that February 22, 1980 was the first step on my path to becoming a soccer supporter. My father was so happy that day, and watching it was powerful enough to lock in a lifelong love of sports and national team. It allows me to cheer for the underdog, and gives me faith that one day, despite the US being decades if not centuries behind in love of soccer, one day, there will be the miracle on the pitch and my kids will watch me lose my mind over a World Cup final. It will probably never be the political laced sporting achievement that the Miracle on Ice was, but it will probably be enough outpouring of joy to make them sports fans for life.

Your USMNT Boyfriend
February 17, 2013, 10:43 am
Filed under: Family Fun, US Soccer | Tags: , , , , , ,

USMNTboyfriendI’m a little disappointed no one pointed this out to me before Valentines Day, since it’s perfect for my geeky USMNT loving little world. Mighty Mighty US  made this flow chart for finding your USMNT boyfriend (here’s there original post) which I find kinda awesome, with one exception. While I have to agree that the world is split into German speakers and non-German speakers, I must protest that there’s no option for Klinsmann for us German speakers. I think it’s the only way the flow chart will work for me. Maybe with a Boys/Men split before Bad Boys? I don’t know…but I just think he’s meant to be on here.

Thanks for the (belated) Valentines Day fun, Mighty Mighty US!

No Pity in the Rose City….Yep, We Just Drove 5000 Miles for a Loss

Oh Portland….how I love you! Somehow we made it safely to Portland in under 20 hours from Salt Lake City with two young kids and one driver (Mapquest it….it’s impressive). We stopped along the way to check out the Columbia River and a fish hatchery, but mainly, it was a long day of driving. By the time I got to Portland, I really wasn’t mentally prepared to learn a new city’s parking system, particularly one as, shall we say, bike/walk encouraging, as Portland. But from the moment we arrived, Timbers Army members were nothing but amazing. We got parking help from one fan, who helped us find the line for early entry wristbands. Then other fans pointed us to the Timbers Army merch van, where we glutted ourselves on scarves, stickers, and shirts. As if this lovely lady welcoming us wasn’t enough, things were about to get even better.

My goal for taking my kids to Portland was to show them the height of supporters clubs. I wanted them to see a club that sings the whole way through with tradition and wonderful stuff the whole way through. We’ve taken them to some great games with fantastic supporters, but I’ve never had an experience like the one I had in Portland in 2005 when they were playing on a baseball field and still in the A-League. I had to see for myself how they’d developed, and wanted to share with my kids what I consider to be the best supporters group I’ve ever seen.

Phyllis and the kids, Timbers pre-game

Enter Phyllis, previously a stranger, and our initial seatmate.  Phyllis took to our little group right away. When she heard we’d traveled from Des Moines mainly for this game, she became our Timbers Army concierge. She got us song sheets and started teaching the kids the various Timbers Army traditions, such as changing the last line of the national anthem to “home of the Timbers.” She helped them tear up confetti for the end of the anthem. She taught them about all the things they should do as supporters. It was amazing. My kids have been to dozens of soccer games, but I’ve never seen them so engaged as they were after Timbers 101 with Phyllis.

The game was exciting. Portland had so many chances, 20 shots by the end of the game, and after every one, I had to turn around to and count off the near misses to Phyllis, who had moved a few rows back to be with her injured husband. We got to learn the Timbers two new songs as well as their old favorites, including Tetris. The Timbers Army sings through the entire game, including a call and response with the entire stadium. When Chivas scored the game winner in the 69th minute, the Army put their scarves up and kept right on singing. It was a beautiful show of support for their team, and I loved it almost as much as their show of discontent with their current coach, recently installed rather bluntly by management, after the game.

As I walked out after the game, I turned to my daughter and said “You know what we just did?”

“What?” she replied.

“We just drove 2500 miles to see our team lose.” She smiled at me halfheartedly. Then I said, “You know what that means? …..We’re going to have to come back.” The Timbers Army showed us such great hospitality, we barely noticed the loss. I’d gladly do this drive all over again (or maybe we’ll fly next time…) to come back for more. Thanks Timbers Army. I waited seven years to rejoin your ranks, and it was absolutely worth the wait.

Real Salt Lake….Game 1 of #MLSRoadtrip
July 28, 2012, 3:01 am
Filed under: Family Fun, Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags:


We rolled into Salt Lake City later than we wanted, only to find out the game was an hour later than I thought (yay time zone change!) We got the info on the tailgate from Twitter via @RSLRoyalArmy and got waved into parking by the attendant impressed that we’d driven from Iowa for the game. We ended up parking next to a group of supporters that were having “LDS Singles Night” which entailed green jello shots (complete with carrot shreds!) and funeral potatoes with braiding each other’s hair replacing the usual kick around.

The tailgate ranged from that group, to Royal Army members, some Salt City Outlaws, to Salt City United, a group of tattooed group of supporters that seemed less than excited to talk with a not tattooed mom of two innocent looking blond children (little did they know…but more on that in another post). We found tickets, joined the Royal Army (because the answer to do you want a scarf for $25, or a scarf, patch, and RA membership for $25 is heck yes I’ll join the Army).

We went into the stadium, and the supporters section was divided up with the stage for Neil Diamond’s concert the next day. We started out sitting to the left of the stage with a group of season ticket holders that seemed nice…..too nice for us. As game time approached, we heard drums and trumpets from the other side of the stage, which was the only invitation my son needed to march on over and join La Barra, the Latino supporters.

The kids loved the atmosphere at Real Salt Lake. Between the two levels in the supporters section, there’s a terrace where kids from all over could run around and play. Both my kids found children to chase around or make confetti with, in between dancing to the constant music from Barra and spinning through the smoke bombs.

While the kids were excited to participate in the festivities, I was excited to have two USMNT players on the pitch, Jay DeMerit for Whitecaps and Kyle Beckerman for Real, or as the kids know them, “that guy from the movie (Rise and Shine)” and “the Jewish player.” I do appreciate having players for the kids to look up to, and since they live in a smaller city soccer-wise and they’re Jewish, we couldn’t have picked a better match to kick off the MLS Roadtrip, role model wise. Cap off the night with a 2-1 win for the home squad and I would call this an entirely successful trip.

The only downside is in order to make Portland in time for the next day game, we had to drive on right after the match. If there’s one thing we’ve learned at this point in the road trip, it’s that we could spend way more time than we have meeting up with all the great soccer fans along the road. Next up: Portland (or bust).


We’re Coming to See YOU, Real SL, Timbers, and Sporting!

This guy wants to meet your supporters! This year, the kids and I decided to do an MLS Road Trip instead of roadtripping to Grandma and Grandpa’s (I know, I was surprised they were into it too!) So here we go! We leave this week for Real Salt Lake’s Friday game, then will have one insane night into day of driving to Portland Timber’s Saturday game. We’ll make our way back via California, where we might hit the LA Galaxy World Football Challenge game, if I can see fit to part with $110 a ticket (not looking good right now…but we’ll wave while we’re in town!) Then it’s across the desert to see Sporting KC in the Open Cup final!

Two kids, one mom, 3 (or 4) MLS games, 5000 miles. Stay tuned, soccer fans…and remember…it’s not nice to wager on our survival, but you can your support to @TanyaKeith  Dwolla ID #812-460-2944 yeah, I’m talking to you, LA front office!

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