Soccer….Family Style

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!

Chicago Fire Supporters: Out of Many, One
June 24, 2012, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture

Truth is, I thought Chicago Fire had one supporter’s group: Section 8. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Section 8 is an association of supporter groups, that are all awesome and unique in their own right. I had a great chat with one of the founders of Whiskey Brothers about the history of their group and the Fire supporters in general. Some groups formed out of ethnic groups, Hispanic or Polish, and some were born out of a group of guys drinking and starting a supporters group as a bit of a joke and had it take off unexpectedly, a story the certainly rings familiar as the somewhat accidental founder of American Outlaws Des Moines.

If you go to a Fire game, take some time to tailgate and meet the various groups. They have their own personality and are full of great people. We hit it off with Husaria, the Polish supporters group. My husband is mostly Polish, and I’m part Polish too, but more importantly, when you buy their merch, you get to drink shots of some crazy Polish drink that is serious business, even thinned. Plus, their shirt with the supporter holding a lit flare over his head and the Chicago stars looks really good on my husband. Great booze, great merch…yeah…I’m home with Husaria. 










As if that wasn’t enough, they had a great anti-racism tifo complete with flares. I think I’m in love. 

Road Trip Report: DSM Menace in Open Cup vs Bavaria Soccer Club
May 18, 2012, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , ,

There were moments when I thought I may have made a serious error in judgement driving to Milwaukee for Menace Soccer’s Open Cup game. Most of those moments involved storm clouds and unfavorable scoreboards, but ultimately, you can’t go wrong seeking adventure around a soccer pitch. 

The kids and I rolled into Milwaukee about an hour before game time, and seeing some pretty serious storm clouds and not yet having a hotel plan, we pulled into the nearest hotel to check availability….and walked in as the Menace players were walking out. My kids were awestruck, (as were most of the players, seeing visiting supporters) and my stock rose about 20 points, never a bad thing with hungry kids on the road. We checked out the Bavarian Soccer Park and ran into the referees, two of whom were former friends of mine from my serious refereeing days. We got the report that there would be a lightening delay, which was fine with my starving kiddos who did not find anything dinner-worthy at concessions. 

In addition at meeting my long time Twitter friend, Scott Viar (@BackSeatGaffer), we got to meet Karen, ticket taker extraordinaire, and her two kids who were close enough to my kids age to make the game an instant success with Junior Menace fans. I like any game where I get to sit with Menace owner Kyle Krause and GM Todd Meiners and talk about building a soccer stadium in Des Moines, running the Menace, getting to know the players…whatever. Let’s face it, as a soccer geek, it’s always fun to shoot the breeze with other soccer geeks. 

Enter my World Cup travel buddy, @Hoover_Dam, who noticed @PeterWilt1 posting about the Menace coach, and directed him to look for me. Allow me to clarify two things: my soccer geeking is pretty supporter focused, and I have a terrible memory for names. So all I knew about Peter Wilt was his Twitter profile, which states “i launch pro soccer teams and write.” Two of my favorite things! And really, I’m trying to watch a soccer game and keep track of two kids…I’m not going to Google him to find out which soccer teams, if you’re building soccer in America on any level, that’s good enough for me. 

So I ask Kyle if he knows where Peter Wilt is, and he points him out and says “Wonder what he’s doing here.” Now, I could have thought, “Hmm…Kyle Krause knows this guy…and he’s surprised he’s here” but I didn’t, because me goto is to be funny: “He heard I was going to be here on Twitter and wanted to meet me.” Kyle rolled his eyes and said “Yeah, right.”

Which made it so much more epic-ly awesome when Peter walked directly over at half time, hugged me and greeted “Hi Tanya!” Kinda glad I didn’t know that he was the founder of the Chicago Fire, Chicago Red Stars, and a hundred other amazing things, or I might have passed out either then, or certainly when he quoted my blog to me and wanted to meet my famous “yellow team” singing son. Because I get pretty excited when I hear that ANYONE reads this blog.

I got to spend the game shooting the breeze with so many really smart soccer people, I didn’t even mind the two rain delays, a sprinkler delay later, or what had to be a 20 degree temperature drop. Menace walked away with the overtime win. We’re going to need to play better on Tuesday against Minnesota, but for now, I’m pretty stoked about my new friends made and met in Milwaukee. I did finally Google Peter Wilt (when I returned home and my husband saw my Twitter feed and said “Is that THE Peter Wilt?”) And yes, my toes did finally warm up again. 

My Son Finally Learns “Yellow Submarine” – Follow Up to Our Chicago Fire Trip

You may remember a while back, I posted about my son going to a Chicago Fire game and learning their song “Why Are You Such A Yellow F—ing Team?” I knew one day, he would hear the “Yellow Submarine” song it’s based off, and there would be some hilarious follow up story. I just hoped it wouldn’t involve a Principal’s Office.

Well, that day arrived Friday. My daughter’s school has All School Sings, where the school has an assembly and sings songs and shares what each classroom’s projects. This one was celebrating an art project that I had worked on, so I brought my son to the thank you ceremony. And as luck would have it, one of the songs for the day was “Yellow Submarine.”

My only regret is that I don’t have video to share of his sweet little face, as it morphed from excitement about the Sing, to recognition of the tune of “Yellow Submarine,” to the horrified look of further recognition that hundreds of kids were about to drop an F bomb, to finally sweet, blessed relief that there was a second set of lyrics to this tune. It was truly a priceless moment with him, and a great story for the dinner table that night.

I stand by our decision to bring the kids into Supporter’s Sections every chance we get. They get it. And then when one of our friends accidentally curses in front of them, they understand that there are some places where that language is acceptable, and many more where it’s not. That’s a lesson I’m to

USMNT Makes History vs Italy, My Kids Made Sure I Don’t Miss It
March 1, 2012, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, Uncategorized, US Soccer

Clint Dempsey, US Soccer Superhero in flight. (from his Facebook page)

I admit it. I’ve been busy. Between parenting 2 kids, beginning the restoration of our “new” 125 year old house (you can read about that at the Hatton House blog here), and trying to steal time to write and paint, I’ve been running around. So as the rest of AO Des Moines bailed one by one from our US vs Italy watch party at Victor’s Sports Bar, I prepared to bail also and maybe watch from home. I really wasn’t in the mood to watch a game in a bar that was empty, save me and the kids. What’s the point?

Imagine my surprise when I picked them up from school and my nine year old asked if we were going directly to the bar for the game. Wait…you WANT to go to the bar? Yeah, of course Mom. Look at that…my children are supporters, die hard, official supporters. We all talk about the proverbs that our kids will keep us young and be our legacy, but the truth is, this is the first moment when I realized the real truth behind all those trite little sayings. Here are my children, excited about going to watch a game at a bar, in the middle of the afternoon with just me. Fantastic.

Now, I could pretend that this fairy tale ends with my kids being riveted to the game and asking insightful questions about the gelling of the Klinsmann era team, and how Dempsey and Altidore are exceeding our expectations as they make the transition from good players to history-making great players. I might feign that they were frustrated by our back line and apprehensive about what happens to our defense if , G-d forbid, Tim Howard ever ceases to be available at the top of his game. Wouldn’t it be great if they sat there discussing the cautionary tale of Giuseppe Rossi, and how you should never underestimate the potential for growth in this US Soccer?

But they didn’t. They were kids. They snacked on their food, pretended to play video games (no, you can’t have any quarters, the game’s on!), asked me how long until it was over, and generally behaved like the 4-1/2 and 9 year olds that they are.

But then, at the end of the game, when I was too excited that we might finally beat Italy, and friendly or not, beat them at home. I couldn’t even sit down, and didn’t really care that my roller coaster of play-by-play squeaks and squeals must have sounded insane to the handful of people at Victor’s not for the soccer game. But my children noticed, and came close and watched. I told them that we’d never beaten Italy before, and told them about the times I’ve watched us play Italy, and that this was a really amazing moment for us in the soccer world. We stood there, through all four minutes of extra time, me standing with them clutching me from their perch standing on chairs, until finally the game ended with the US victorious and we could shout and create havoc in our little corner of the bar. I think, when I look back over my encyclopedia of US Soccer experiences, I will remember that moment. My kids and I, practically alone in a bar, watching the US beat Italy for the first time ever.

When we got home last night, and my husband asked the kids about their day over dinner, my daughter proudly told the story about watching that soccer game, and I could tell that she got it, even if George Vecsey couldn’t. It was an epic win for the US. And my kids made sure I didn’t miss it, and for that, I’m so thankful.

Your Stadium Policy Has Holes!
September 1, 2011, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,

An email went out to the American Outlaws nation yesterday, telling us that US Soccer wants to promote a “classy reputation” by not having profanity in the Supporters Section. The “You Suck A**hole” chant at the US vs Mexico game in Philadelphia was cited as the reason for why we, the supporters, are being punished by losing our privilege of hanging banners for the game tomorrow.

I’m a mother and a supporter. I bring my children to games, including the game in Philadelphia. My views on language in the supporters section are well established and outlined here, but let me add that I was far more concerned that stadium security was not dealing with drunkenness that was escalating to violence within and between supporters sections than I was about explaining to my children that certain words are only appropriate in certain situations.

While cursing in the supporters section doesn’t bother me, I can understand why US Soccer would want to cut it off. There has been an increase in cursing, and while I’m not offended, I do miss the days when our (as supporters in general, American Outlaws, Sam’s Army, whoever you stand with) chants were stunning for their creativity than cursing. It strikes me that this is a parent-child relationship gone bad. US Soccer birthed a new movement of passionate supporters, American Outlaws, and their child is growing up faster than they perhaps expected, and they’re getting difficult to control. American Outlaws doesn’t want to be the kid with a bunch of rules anymore (children rarely respond well to punishment without clear warning), and (at least some of them) don’t take kindly to being told to limit their free speech rights. So here’s my attempt at mediation in this relationship:

To US Soccer,

As a USSF referee, we’re taught to be careful the promises we make in a game, and the punishment must fit the crime. By taking away the supporters right to hang banners, you’re punishing people who aren’t the problem. My children take extreme pride in carrying the American Outlaws Des Moines banner and stadium flag and seeing it in the stadium. That is a huge part of how they support the US. They were devastated when we couldn’t hang banners in Philly, and panicked that we might not be able to carry in the stadium flag. Don’t take away the creativity of your supporters as punishment for those who show no creativity and think supporting is as simple as chanting YSA and flipping off the other team.

By all means, let’s work together to get the cursing out of the section. A directive that anyone chanting YSA will be immediately ejected would be a fitting punishment. That may seem like a giant undertaking, but we all know you don’t have to caution the entire wall to respect 10 yards, just the first brick in it. Let’s get more educated stadium personnel, who feel empowered to remove the people who are causing problems so that the supporters section is still raucous and fun, without becoming dangerous or alienating the rest of your growing fan base.

PS I also reffed Latino league. Let’s not pretend that there’s far more bad language in English than Spanish. I think we’d all feel better if we did better than “those aren’t our fans”. Deal with all of it or none of it, please.

To the Supporters,

I’m with you. When I read that email yesterday, I was furious. But after sleeping on it, US Soccer has a point. Do we really need to curse in every chant? Would “Mental” be any less inspiring to the team if we went “freaking mental”? The American Outlaws mission statement is “To support the United States National Soccer Team through a unified and dedicated group of supporters.” So while US Soccer is not in charge of any of us, are we really supporting them if we’re specifically doing what they ask us to refrain from doing? We can do better. Don’t get angry, get creative. Show them that we are more than cursing. It would make my day if those going to the game tomorrow found some funny, even sarcastic, curse free replacement for YSA. I know there’s someone out there with something very funny and ironic to say. Let’s get that person some paint and bed sheets, ASAP.

Ultimately, we could fight and be pissed off, but what good will that do for us? You can have all the free speech you want, but in a private event, it won’t be you far. Ultimately, US Soccer can make all our lives pretty miserable, but it would be directly against our mission to drive them to it.

To everyone:

We’re all on the same side here. We want to grow US Soccer and having games with great atmosphere will make that happen. This is one of those aggravating “you’ll charm more bees with honey than vinegar. We can both do better in working together to create that atmosphere.

Mexico and Kids and Klinsman, oh my!
August 10, 2011, 12:54 am
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

I’m way behind on this blog. Sorry. I have lots to say about the Women’s World Cup and so much more, but I’ve been busy closing my store and traveling with my kids, this summer kinda got away from me.

So let me say this: KLLLLIIINNNSMMMAAAANNN! Oh how I’ve waited for this day. I love German soccer, and started my love of US Soccer through a series of US vs Germany games. I wanted to have Jürgen Klinsman as our coach for years. I was hoping he’d be picked in the last hiring round, and I’ve definitely wanted us to hire him since 2010. And there is a bit of me pinching myself, not believing my dream has finally come true.

As luck would have it, I get to go to his coaching debut with my kids, thanks to winning the Golazo Scavenger Hunt at the American Outlaws Rally! My daughter is now 8-3/4, old enough to be pissed when I don’t take her to games. My son is 4, funny and charming enough that I want to bring him just to see what he’ll do.

So here we go! I feel like it’s the night before my 1st date with the dreamy senior I’ve been wanting to date since freshman year, and I’m super nervous that he’ll show up and not be the catch I thought he was. I really think Klinsy’s dateable material….and somehow, I will find a way to get some sleep tonight. But for now, it’s just Mexico and kids and Klinsman….oh my!

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