Soccer….Family Style


Be Classy, Soccer Fans
November 10, 2016, 4:35 pm
Filed under: FIFA, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , , ,
I wrote this blog post back in June, and I kept finding reasons not to publish it. As you’ll read in this post, I find it exhausting to be the one-woman clearing house for everything that’s wrong with soccer supporter culture, particularly related to American Outlaws. But today I feel like it HAS to be said. It scares me to go into US vs Mexico on the heels of a political campaign that was so contenious regarding women and immigrants. The way women (and minorities and immigrants) are treated matters to me, particularly in the soccer community. I’m asking all of you to do better for our collective soccer family.

*****

Last night I got the worst news, but at least it came from a friend. Here’s what was posted to my Facebook Timeline:

20160616_134412

Vindication is nice, but at the price of even one more woman’s suffering, it’s also horrible. The flood of emotion I felt staring at this post is pretty indescribable. So sad to hear that another woman was hurt. So relieved AO was FINALLY talking about it. Vindicated that even one person remembered that I talked about this so long ago. Let’s rewind…

In 2013, I reported to AO National in writing that at an AO LA Night Before an AO member who I had photos of had touched my breasts inappropriately and other women at the party had negative experiences with men, and that as a chapter leader, I felt it was important that we deal with the rise of sexism within AO in the interest of protecting all our members. I was told that if anything had really happened, I should have called the police. Which is pretty much THE WORST way an organization could respond to such a report. AO confirmed this was their response in the article by Fusion published March 2015.

I shared the letter I wrote to AO with a Facebook group of all women, asking them to please share their stories. What was meant as fact finding was seen as an attack on AO. I never wanted to attack AO. I was a chapter leader who felt deeply connected to my #AOFamily, but I’m also a mother, and I didn’t want anyone hurting another woman at an AO party, and I thought it was an important discussion to have in 2013. AO was growing fast, and I thought thing could mushroom out of control if we didn’t confront it. My attempts to start that discussion were taken by many as treasonous, and ever since then, I have faced an almost constant barrage of harassment from AO members and sympathizers.

  • A man in chapter leadership of AO Knoxville created Twitter accounts to harass me and release personal information about me. I reported it to AO National and never heard that they did anything to even speak to him, let alone public or private discipline.
  • Supporters from KC seem to have a particular taste for harassing me, one of them even approached my son at a game to try to intimidate him. Again, no response from AO, but I was able to get support from stadium ops in KC so I could feel safe bringing my kids there.
  • I attended the AO party in Canada last Summer after ensuring it was legal to bring my kids to the venue. This was the first event with #AOWatch, and @USAGunnerWalsh tweeted an image of my child at the bar and suggested we call DHS about there being a baby in a bar (which was really a restaurant, and she was in no harm, but hey! Like that matters to a Twitter troll). At this point, I’d lost all faith in AO and their watch, but a friend reported the incident for me with my permission. Neither he nor I ever heard from AO National.

That’s far from all the harassment I faced, but it’s the high points. When I wrote my memoir of following US Soccer for two decades and published it in 2014 my anti-Tanya hate peaked with accusations that I was trying to get rich off soccer fans (writing!! The path to the millionaire life!….said no one ever). It was not that I was hoping to get rich. I wrote a book about my love of soccer and soccer supporters, and I genuinely thought it was so closely tied to AO’s mission, that chapters could use my book in their recruitment (some did and had great events). When I asked National to support the book and back me up, they responded that they get hundreds of requests per year and they can’t support everyone. Really? Hundreds of requests from long time chapter leaders who have written in support of you in crisis? Once I reported my negative experience, I was persona non grata with AO, making it painful for me to read the now hypocritical #AOFamily hashtag ever again. But never quite so much as when I clicked the link posted on my FB and read this:

Screenshot_20160616-145017

That title. I was so happy they were FINALLY standing up for someone. You see, I’ve become the clearinghouse for everything that is wrong with AO. YOU MAY HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED ONE NEGATIVE THING WITH AO, because in reality, there are so many amazing, wonderful people in AO. But bad things happen, even at AO events. Given the publicity of my story, I’m now the person that gets sent every wrong thing AO does.

A girl gets roofied at an AO event in Portland and National does nothing. Message Tanya.

AO events fall short of family friendly. Message Tanya.

AO screws up a tifo in Chicago? Message Tanya (OK, that one was funny…but I didn’t share it because I really want us all to get along).

You may never have a negative experience at AO, but I hear about everyone’s bad days. It’s toxic on top of toxic for me. So imagine my rage as I read “Standing Up…”

“The safety of all our family, particularly our female members is paramount. This is the way it has always been. This is the way it will continue to be.

Even one incident is too many. Which is why we chose to address this immediately. Every member deserves to feel safe at our events.”

The way it has always been? Um, no. At best, it was the way you wanted it, but it’s not the way it’s been.

Address this immediately? I’ll let a comment from AO’s own page cover this one.

20160616_134531

When something like this happens to a woman, we should not have to wait for AO to get their messaging right. We should be informed immediately and updated as the situation develops.

This is a good start. I’ll say what I wish AO had said. To this woman, and every woman (or man) who has had a bad experience at an AO event, I am with you. I know the pain and betrayal of bad things happening within your AOFamily. I know how hard it is to keep doing the things you love when it just brings you back to a hurt place. I love you, and I am here for you. I am so deeply sorry this happened to you, and I’ll continue to do everything I can to keep it from happening to anyone ever again.

My defense of AO is to say that I’m not going to take the “told you so” bait. One experience is too much. The fact that their post should have come ANY TIME over the past three and a half years should not detract from the fact that they are doing it now. AO National are the soccer nerds who suddenly found themselves at the cool kids’ table, and they didn’t know how to deal with this stuff, but they’re learning, and we should give them the support to create the best possible environment for all soccer supporters.

Full disclosure, I left American Outlaws after my experience at the Canada World Cup. I just couldn’t stand by any longer. I am now working on building Sammers SC. At some in the past three years, Korey Donahoo said something about how AO couldn’t be everything for everyone. We are a big enough soccer family that there should be multiple groups. I want to be a part of that diversity, with no hard feelings to AO. I was Sam’s Army, I was AO, and now I’m Sammers SC…it’s all supporting US Soccer, and that’s what’s important.

It is my hope that we can meet in the bar of our choice in an environment that’s a positive experience for all, then join forces in the stands to create the best possible environment for our teams.

***

 



Brutal Loss and Soul Searching
July 8, 2014, 11:59 pm
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer

I’m a well established fan of the German national team, and yes, I enjoyed the game today. I’m happy for my second team and can’t wait to watch them in the final. But tonight made me think about all the friends we made in Brazil. As a US Soccer fan, I can certainly empathize with brutal, heartbreaking losses.

I was chatting with my friend and Portuguese teacher Thiago tonight, as he suffered in Sergipe, Brazil. I remembered for him the times the United States came in dead last in the World Cup (1998) or the time we lost brutally to Mexico in the Gold Cup (2009). But then I pointed out that if the US were to win every World Cup from here on out, it wouldn’t be until 2038 that we surpassed the number of championship stars on the Brazilian jersey. My daughter would be 35. I would be almost eligible for retirement. It’s brutal for Brazil to go out like this, but as I told him, it’s tough to feel sorry for too long for a country with that kind of history.

I’ve been struggling with what to say about our travels in Brazil, because I do not want to sound ungrateful or imply we didn’t have fun. It was a wonderful trip and I got to know my children deeper than I ever imagined as I watched them embrace a foreign culture wholeheartedly. I loved cheering on my country and felt lucky to see Brazil from the air and from the road.

But Brazil disappointed me in a way I’ve never experienced at the World Cup. I’ve been looking forward to coming to Brazil for as long as I can remember. On page 26 of my book, Passionate Soccer Love, I wrote about watching Brazilians climb to Sacre Coure in Paris in 1998 celebration of their team. I came to Brazil for that…the fervent passion of a nation of people raised on the beautiful game. But that wasn’t there. Brazilians weren’t obsessed with soccer. They were not glued to every game. In fact, it was often difficult to find a place to watch the games, something that had never been a challenge in previous World Cups. We drew the conclusion that Brazilians were perhaps only in love with Brazilian soccer, and even that, they were not so sure about this year. They wanted to win but couldn’t seem to find that sparkling joy they had in Paris sixteen years ago.

I can understand why. I thought I understood the Brazilian protests from here in the States. We all know FIFA is corrupt, we all know governments don’t always support the neediest. Traveling to Brazil, I was forced to reconcile the abject poverty of pothole-wrecked cobblestone streets juxtaposed with freshly poured concrete reaching out just two or three km from sparkling new airports…fresh pavement that never reached city center. I went to games in a stadium that has no corporate caretaker to manage its $250,000 annual operating cost after the World Cup leaves, and then fell, injured in the streets of Manaus because even basic infrastructure was neglected. I was terrified my kids would get hurt and need medical attention because the hospitals I saw were decrepit and frightening. I have traveled all over the world for soccer, but I’ve never been more grateful for my American life as I was in Brazil.

Brazil must now search its soul as a nation, as we all must come July 14. We live in a world where Costa Rica outlasted all her CONCACAF neighbors. Where England, Italy, Spain, and Portugal were sent packing from the first round, but the United States captured the world’s attention not just for escaping the Group of Death, but also rallying a hardcore and diverse fanbase in Brazil. We had more fans in the opening round matches than I remember at home game friedlies in the 90s. Heck…in the early 2000s. It was glorious…but then awful as I watched Brazil, the country I used to worship for its passion, tell my countrymen and women they needed to sit down for the game against Belgium. The United States discovered its passion for soccer, now we must see if that passion can fuel the revolution that will launch us to the next level of competition. Brazil seems to have lost its futbol soul somewhere in the broken cobblestones. Hopefully they can reclaim it and mend their hearts, and restore their beautiful game as they rebuild their streets and systems. Sleep well, soccer fans. Tomorrow is another day.



The Transitive Property of World Cup Soccer
June 22, 2014, 9:13 am
Filed under: FIFA, US Soccer
Manaus

The soccer field across from our home stay in Manaus.

You remember the transitive property? If a=b and b=c then a=c. Wouldn’t it be great if that worked in World Cup soccer? If Germany destroyed Portugal and we beat Ghana and Ghana tied Germany, the United States wins the group! WOOHOOO!! Ticket to second round please!

But the transitive property of World Cup is more like this: if a=b and b=c then the answer is yellow. I’ve said all along that I think we will go through, but it won’t happen the way we expect. With Germany and Ghana tying yesterday, it will be anything but what we expected. I’m so full of nervous energy and made the coffee WAY too strong this morning, but today we find out if we still got that 2002 swagger to take it to Portugal. I BELIEVE (we will be the second nation to kick Portugal out of Brazil!)



Last Minute Travel Tips for Brazil
I’m still working on my rewards and thank yous for all the love and support I got for my book on Kickstarter, but in short, I was amazed at the generosity people showed, not just funding my project, but making it happen on May 28th was especially wonderful. My book is now for sale in the real world, on Goodreads, Amazon, and a hundred other wonderful places. Please go ask for “Passionate Soccer Love” at your local bookstore, or at Beaverdale Books if you’re in central Iowa, or you can order paperback, hardcover, or e-book direct from the publisher at this link.
I wanted to post my travel group’s tips for Brazil to share as another thank you for all the book love. Thanks to Kaela of Local Kitchen for compiling most of this list.
COMMUNICATION
Download Viber and/or WhatsApp. If you rent a phone or get a new SIM card down there, make sure to announce yourself by text before you call someone: I, for one, don’t pick up unrecognized numbers, especially if doing so is going to cost me a fortune.
LANGUAGE
In my dealings with the locals over the past couple of months, I’ve found that very few people speak any English. If you haven’t already done so, pick up a Portuguese phrase book, or spend an hour or two on Babbel or Duolingo, just to get a few basics. If you have any kind of complicated situation – like say, you need to go from the airport to Pipa with a stop at a random shopping mall for FIFA tickets in between – I recommend that you type clear and simple directions into Google Translate, then print out the instructions in Portuguese and simply hand them over to your driver, hotel clerk, tour operator, etc.
HEALTH
For any prescription meds, it’s a good idea to snap a picture of your prescription details in case of lost/stolen bags (email to yourself to a web-based email). For OTC stuff, I recommend bringing [I, Tanya, second this recommendation…having pantomimed symptoms in several countries]:
-ibuprofen (not only for the standard reasons, but it can also stop a sunburn in its tracks)
-Benadryl and/or Claritin (if you are subject to seasonal allergies)
-band-aids & travel Neosporin (everything grows in the jungle: infection is a serious concern)
-moleskin or similar if you are prone to blisters (we’ll be doing a lot of walking)
-cough drops (singing, people. singing. I always forget them and wish that I hadn’t.)
-Immodium
-Tums
-Breathe Right strips (for snorers) + earplugs (for the rest of us)
-sunblock + bug spray (I’m bringing tiny bottles of each and will replenish down there)
-Yellow Fever vaccination card (you don’t need it, unle.ss things change…so bring it).
Don’t underestimate equatorial sun. Even the natives stay out of the sun mid-day. For Northern moles like ourselves, it’s going to take some adjustment. No heat stroke or 3rd-degree sunburns, please. [Also beware foreign drinking. Don’t assume drinks have the same alcohol content you’re used to, and know you’ll get drunk faster in the heat.]
PACKING
Two words: carry. on.
You don’t need half of the stuff you toss into a bag. You probably don’t need a third of it. Pack light: no one is going to want to wait for your giant suitcase to come through baggage claim, especially after we’ve been living out of a tiny 20-inch suitcase for a week or two. But seriously: do you actually trust the brand-spanking-new Natal airport not to lose your luggage? That the 4-times-normal flight volume in Brazil is not going to result in a high proportion of screw-ups? That you’ll ever see that luggage again once it disappears? Pack light. You’ll thank me later. Whatever you may wish you had brought can be bought there. Souvenirs! [I talked with my contact in Brazil tonight, you can pick up a duffel bag in Brazil for less than $50, so if you buy stuff down there, you can pick up an extra bag to bring it home.]
Essentials: other than game-day attire and the hot weather basics, I consider a long-sleeve shirt (lightweight UPF 30 is ideal) for sun + bug protection, a single pair of long pants (same reasons), and a shade/rain hat to be the only real “essentials.” It’s probably going to rain every day  –  for maybe an hour every afternoon – probably more in Manaus. So a light raincoat is a good idea. Comfortable shoes: you never remember how much walking, standing, jumping, running, and all around foot abuse happens on one of these trips until you’re in the middle of it, wishing you had brought your favorite sneakers. Bring them. And a pair of sandals/flip flops. And that’s it.
SAFETY
For those of you who didn’t see it on Facebook, I have a friend who is married to a Brazilian and they head back at least once a year to visit family. I asked her about the safety situation – this is what she had to say.
“Rio and Sao Paulo can be pretty dangerous. We stay on the beaten path and don’t wander too far off. I’ve been there 7 times and have never had any problems. I have seen people get jumped for their bikes in Belo Horizante. Normal precautions. Do not show your wealth. I have been told keep some “mugger’s” money in your pocket. So if you get mugged they don’t get mad. Do not carry a lot of cash. The ATMs close normally around 10 pm. for safety. There are some 24 hour ATMs but they come with a big charge. If you go to a bank do not take the candy because the candy wrappers tell people that you were just at the bank. Do not walk around by yourself late at night. During the day you should be ok and in the tourist areas you should be ok. It’s really only when you go away from them you have problems. Stay away from favelas (ghettos). Ignore people when they ask for change. Even the young kids – they can be setting you up. There will be a heavy police presence and the national army! I think just being a smart traveler is the most important thing.
The more serious crimes happen in the big cities. There have been hold ups at stop lights but this is not the norm. Again, don’t play the wealthy tourist!
The driving in Brazil is CRAZY! Between cars, overloaded trucks, motorcycles, bikes, horse and carts, and people walking on the same highways it can be an interesting excursion. It really is pretty funny! Brazilians are extremely aggressive drivers. They pass going up and down the sides of mountains crossing into the opposite lanes and will not move over to avoid a crash. You have to be a defensive but yet aggressive driver always looking for your escape path. But that being said it really is fun to drive in Brazil because of the mountains and the curves. That’s why they are always amongst the world leaders for formula 1 racing!
I have found that most Brazilians are extremely welcoming and gracious. They try to speak English. They like americans. I have not been to Natal, Recife, or Manaus. I’ve heard that Natal and Recife are beautiful.
Alex says be more concerned with the mosquitos since they carry dengue, malaria. Mosquito spray is more important (especially closer to the amazon) than a gun!”
So don’t be foolish. Leave the bling at home. Try not to carry too much cash at once, and carry it in separate bundles – in a pocket, in your wallet, tucked into your bag, etc. Don’t park a car with any visible stuff in it that might tempt a thief. Look grubby & poor: that shouldn’t be tough for us. 🙂
One thing I always do is photocopy my passport (+ visa page) and the front & back of credit cards, driver’s license, health insurance card, etc. Make two copies and stash them in two different spots that are not my wallet. My wallet was stolen in France ’98: trust me, the photocopying is a very minor pain in the ass compared to trying to cancel all of your credit cards on the fly without having any of the phone or account numbers. You could also simply snap pictures with your phone and email the files to a web-based email that you can access anywhere.
[Tanya: I also recommend taking photos of your World Cup tickets as soon as they are in your hands. Our tickets were stolen in ’98, and the first thing the police wanted to know was our section, row, and seat number.]
Emergency Numbers in Brazil
National Emergency Services Telephone
Medical Emergency (ambulância) Tel: 192
Fire Service (Corpo de Bombeiros) Tel: 193
Federal Police (Polícia Federal) Tel: 194
Website
Federal Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária Federal) Tel: 191
State Highway Police (Polícia Rodoviária do Estado) Tel: 198
São Paulo Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 197
Website
São Paulo Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de São Paulo) Tel: 190
Website
Rio de Janeiro Civil Police (Polícia Civil do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 197
Website
Rio de Janeiro Military Police (Polícia Militar do Estado de Rio de Janiero) Tel: 190
Website
Sea Rescue (Salvamento Marítimo) Tel: (21) 2104 6119
email
Website

 

You can add your travel tips in the comments. Please go buy my book and enjoy reading it between matches, and thanks for all the support bringing it to fruition! Safe travels to everyone following their teams in Brazil this Summer, especially all you Yanks!



The Storytellers World Cup – Why This is a Great Draw for US Soccer
December 7, 2013, 2:17 am
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

The moment Ghana drew into the same group as Germany, I knew it. I turned to the group of Des Moines Outlaws gathered in the middle parlor of our home and said “This is our group.” There were groans and begging not to jinx us, but moments later, when they held up “USA,” and as almost everyone hung their heads, I was jumping and shouting for joy. I love this group. I’ve dreamed about a group like this. The short answer: Because Jürgen Klinsmann. Here’s the long answer why:

Ghana: We finally get to play Ghana in the first round! I’m a believe in the third time being the charm, based on the highly scientific study of draw simulators I ran all day while my son was home sick. When Ghana was in our group, we got out of the group. This is the year. I believe that Klinsmann can make the US team believe they can do anything. He can lead the US to avenging our losses in previous World Cups. It will be a moment of spontaneous healing for soccer fans across the US. I can’t freaking wait.

FigoRonaldoPortugal: Best game of my life was watching us beat Portugal in the 2002 World Cup. I met most of my soccer family that day, walking up to the stadium, and the game itself was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.  They were #4 in the world, we were college kids with no clue. They had Figo, we had….mostly people before they were famous. That glorious moment when we scored in the third minute, my husband was shaking me and screaming “This is going to be the longest 87 minutes of my life!” You better believe I think we can do it again. No doubt. My only regret is that Ronaldo’s name won’t fit well into the “Agoos has more goals than Figo!” chant. (Side note: yo, USMNT…no own goals this time, my heart stopped after the Agoos goal and didn’t restart til the final whistle.) Relive that game? Yes please!

6a00d83478053469e201116907d3b7970c-800wiGERMANY: The MOTHERLODE!! The team that brought me to US Soccer. That beat us in 1998. That sent us home in 2002. Who we BEAT THIS YEAR. Don’t give me your “Meh, it was a friendly” “It was their C team” Whatever. Klinsmann wants to beat Germany. I’d put money on it. Because he must have about 100x more German friends than I do, and is just as sick of hearing about how the German team is better than the US. Maybe some days they are, but not June 26, 2014. That is the day we will avenge this handball, and I will get to send a nice bottle of consolation wine to my German housefather, as he delivered to me after our 1998 loss.

Klinsmann was on the team that destroyed us in 1998. He understands the game, the psychology, the bench, the players. He needs to play Ghana and two European teams, instead of needing to prepare for an African team, a South American team, and a European team. Already a job made more simple. But more importantly, he’s been inside the German psychological game.

The 1998 US Soccer sports psychologist, when speaking about that game, told how Germany stood next to US Soccer in the tunnel, and in unison, turned to the US looking unimpressed and unthreatened, then in unison snapped eyes back front, leaving our boys without any hope of beating the German machine before they ever left the tunnel. Klinsmann was one of those players…oh sorry, he was the CAPTAIN. Heck yes I want him leading us into this battle! This is the year, I’ve felt it since we hired Klinsmann, this is THE YEAR.

It’s not enough for me, just getting out of the group, and I cannot for the life of me understand why we’re just talking about getting out of the group, now or in 2010. It is un-American to not want to do better, strive for more than we’ve ever done, so let me tantalize you a bit with what awaits us on the other side of the epic battle we have in front of us. My geek husband ran the numbers on group “deathness,” much like MLS did here, only he used FIFA and ELO rankings. When you look at ELO, deathness is ranked (starting with most deadly) B, G, D, A, C, F, E, H. See, we’re not in the worst group (smirk). But what about the next rounds? Let go of your fears and look into the next round!

If (when!) we escape the first round, we get to face the winners of group H. How’s that side looking? Not too shabby. You know who we face in the round after that?? E or F’s winner. Aw yeah boyeee!! I know, I know…one game at a time, but seriously America, get hungry. When we hired Klinsmann, I told my kids I thought he was the coach to take us further in the World Cup than we’d ever gone. I still believe. You should too, because it’s going to be an epic story next summer.



New Zealand Outlaws! Get Your NZO Shirt Benefitting Little Feet Today!
October 23, 2013, 11:58 pm
Filed under: FIFA, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

New Zealand OutlawsYou want to support New Zealand as they do battle with US Soccer’s arch nemesis, Mexico, but you don’t have any New Zealand merch to wear game day? Here’s your chance to rep New Zealand All Whites AND support a great charity! $20 for the shirt, $5 to ship up to four shirts in the USA (shipping to New Zealand, we’ll have to look up), and all the profits will be donated to Little Feet, a soccer charity that helps children in need get soccer fields and gear. Orders will be accepted through 10/27 so we can ship in time for the first game. Click this link to order yours!



Why the Good Clean US Soccer Fans Might NOT Want Mexico in the World Cup
September 14, 2013, 6:34 am
Filed under: FIFA, International Soccer, US Soccer

Steve Davis of NBC Sports ProSoccerTalk wrote a post about how Americans, who are wooping it up at the delicious concept that Mexico might not make the World Cup, might take care what they wish for. His premise is that Mexico losing their perennial powerhouse status might provoke FIFA to knock CONCACAF from 3.5 World Cup qualifying berths to 3. It’s not a bad point, but I’d like to propose that we are better than this.

We need to stop thinking about CONCACAF as US vs Mexico and a bunch of minnows, maybe a few guppies. Look at our table right now.  It’s not the US killing it, and the rest of the rabble slogging it out. (Hang on a sec, I am enjoying the US sitting pretty with 16 points with 2 games left. Let that wash over you, Americans. It is so sweet….OK, now back to it). Costa Rica is hot on our heels at 15 points. The Ticos are typically more likable than our usual rivals, and in case you weren’t paying attention, they didn’t squeak out a 1-0 W against the mighty, mighty US last week, it was 3-1. Yes, we had an off night, and yes, Ticos were doing their best to step up (down?) to Mexico’s level, drowning out our anthem and faking injury that resulted in our Matt Besler sitting out his next game on yellow card accumulation, but Costa Rica looks like the business, and that is good for CONCACAF. Honduras has a respectable 11 points, and Panama is tied with Mexico (yeah, let that sink in too). Hey! Remember last round of CONCACAF qualifying? Who looked promising? Jamaica beat the USMNT at the Office for the first time, and Mexico was coming off an Olympic Gold medal. CONCACAF just got real, kids.

Now is not the time to sit in the corner, gnawing our fingernails to a nub wondering what we will do in the post-Mexico world. FIFA clearly had Mexico’s interests in sight, or why would they be punishing Costa Rica for things that are weak imitations of what Mexico likes to pull at Azteca? The smart money thinks this is less about punishing Costa Rica and more about desperately trying to give Mexico an advantage when they play them in October.

Do we really think Europe started wringing their hands when Italy and France got sent home after the first round of the 2010 World Cup and England could “only” tie those blasted Americans? Were they concerned about the demise of their region, that they would lose berths? I doubt it. I’m not making the argument that CONCACAF is the new Europe, but that we have to keep our heads and get a sliver of confidence that more teams becoming competitive in our region is a good thing. Things change, I personally believe our region is strong than it has ever been, and that’s not the time FIFA starts messing with it.

And there’s this: what’s annoying to US Soccer fans about Mexico? Mexican-Americans who live here, are American citizens, but don’t support the US. So as we watch Mexico crumble, Americans, you should take care what you wish for. Be classy. I didn’t see racism at our match, but I heard about a few incidents that leave me less than proud. Did you enjoy Mexicans rubbing their Olympic win in our face after we bombed out embarrassingly early from that tournament? NO, we did not. So be better. Be an ambassador to American soccer. If Mexico doesn’t make the World Cup, use it as an opportunity to welcome Mexicans looking for a team to support to our American Soccer family. I know it’s a stretch, but try it. I delivered an American Outlaws scarf to one of my buddies who supports Mexico when I returned from Columbus….a tiny bit taunting, but followed up with an invitation to watch with us. I know….eternally optimistic, but if Mexico is out and the US does what I think it can under my hero Klinsmann, this could be a very interesting year to be an American Soccer fan. Don’t waste it worrying about FIFA and a half a berth.




%d bloggers like this: