Soccer….Family Style

Columbus, Night Before
September 10, 2013, 3:43 am
Filed under: Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

My car got towed tonight. I’ve never been towed before, in twenty plus years, and I must tell you, it pretty much sucks. Particularly when there were no posted signs that I was parked in a tow zone, and the impound fee was $135.00 cash. Are you kidding me, Columbus? So I took photos of the completely faded out sign that once said “Tow Zone” and began to plot my revenge on all parties involved. Fortunately, I took a break to call my husband.

Here’s the cool thing about my husband: not only is he totally cool with me taking off a day early so I can hang out with all these crazy soccer fans here while he stays home to work an extra day and get the kids one more day of school, he’s also pretty great in a crisis. I texted: “My car was towed. $135. I’m pissed.” He wrote back “WTF?” I emailed a photo of the bogus sign, then called him. Now, he could have made me feel bad about not being more careful, (although seriously, the signage was TERRIBLE) or other things I’m sure husbands do every day of the week when their wives get towed.

But he didn’t. He asked “Well, how was the rest of your day?” I said “I dunno, it was good.” He pressed, “Tell me what happened.” So I told him about driving with our friend Ryan from AO Iowa City, and how we went to the pep rally and had got to see so many old friends. I told him that I finally got to meet Frankie Hejduk, one of my all time favorite players, and how cool Frankie was to talk to, in addition to his crazy antics on the stage with Allen Hopkins and Brian McBride. While in Seattle this Summer, we’d hung out with Allen and realized that one of his good friends from high school was one of our good friends from college. Somehow, knowing he was Sarah’s friend made it all the more silly for me, watching him try to get Hejduk to stop telling stories long enough to move the program along. And McBride, every time I looked at him, it was like a time machine back to the 2002 World Cup, watching him blow our minds with what the US might achieve. So cool to hear him speak, and watching him laughing with Frankie, standing up front with my Riot Girls Amy and Trista.

Then I told him about seeing Monty, Kaela, Andy, John, Tai, and so many others of our friends from the Korea and other trips at the first meetup of Sammers SC. Monty is starting Sammers SC as a new supporter club for grown ups. I don’t know where it will go, but they were tweeting about walkers and canes, but we’ll still out sing you at @SammersSC today, and that kinda cracked me up. Plus, I love seeing those guys.

Next, I told Doug, I went to the AO party, which was insanely packed and loud, but also full of all sorts of people I was excited to see. I got to introduce one of the AO LA guys who gave me a ride to AO Rally, to one of my favorite guys in his new state of residence, Minnesota. Neal, a Minnesota 1st Volunteer and traveling supporter, gave Richard some ideas on where he could watch games, and then they began discussing my honorary memberships in Minnesota 1st and AO LA, while a few friends from AO RVA walked by (another one of my honorary chapters).

I went outside and got a hug from Alexi Lalas, said hello to Grant Wahl, and talked to John Harkes. Rob Stone was there, and was very excited that I was from the Des Moines, Iowa chapter. He talked with me about Iowa vs Iowa State game that he’s covering next week. Charles Boehm came up to me, and said he liked my blog (is there anything better than I writer you like saying they like your writing? I don’t think so).

Then, to top it all off, as Rob Stone was walking out, he saw me, said “Des Moines,” hugged me, and said “You’re beautiful.”

Wait….scratch that. Because THEN, to top all that, Fran and Max showed up at my hotel as I was writing this post in the atrium. They brought ribs, which they got through some contrived story of how they helped a guy with a broken down rib truck. Max and I shared the ribs while we talked about AO, politics, and supporter culture. Such an excellent end to what was really a great day.

So, I’ve still got a $135 set back, but when you consider it as collateral for the amazing experiences I had hanging out with soccer fans, players, writers, bloggers, and broadcasters, it seems like a bargain. Thanks, Mr Tanya, for pointing that out to me. (But yeah, I’m still fighting that fee in the morning). For now, thanks for making my day awesome, soccer friends.

We Love You, We Love You, We Love You, Columbus
August 29, 2013, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

How about that yesterday? My blog went from a fun project I barely keep up while I work on finishing my book about my 20 years following US Soccer, to one of the most talked about thing in the soccer world. It would have been a fun day to have the One Goal and Kick TV guys shooting their documentary style, and I ran back and forth between helping my kids painting all afternoon (it would be early-out school, the day my blog blows up) and keeping up with twitter and comments on my blog. My keyboard, phone and ipad are all covered in paint, but kids made art, and we all survived.

Now how do I follow yesterday?

I mean, it was fun, getting ping backs from Prost Amerika referencing my “quaintly named” blog. I got really funny texts from friends like “Do you know Bill Archer? because he’s calling you a b*tch on Big Soccer” Yeah, I’m not linking to you, Bill. If you were a real journalist, you wouldn’t call women with opinions names, and if you felt that was the only way you could communicate yourself, you’d do it to me here, to my face. I have no time for trolls like you, except to call you out on your cheap misogyny. Go sit with Simon Borg and think about what you’ve done. Now then…I enjoyed Dan Loney’s blog as on point and funny, plus, the twist of calling a Jewish woman’s blog gospel. So many of you have entertained me, but I think the best part for me was the ongoing conversation with Devin Cathcart, aka @ClevelandGooner.

The discussion of whether or not we should have capo leadership is one I really didn’t cover on my blog yesterday, but it was an interesting discussion yesterday, on that made me realize that I swear I wrote a blog about my past experiences in Columbus, but I apparently never published it. I’ll summarize: I was in Columbus last year, as I was in 2009 and 2005 (I missed 2001 due to career stuff…a mistake I vowed never to make again, so I wasn’t there, but I shifted my priorities because of it). Last year was the best of all three of those games, and one of those games that will forever stand out among my 40+ caps. It will go down in history as the first time I ever saw an entire stadium of people stand for the full 90 minutes. They often cheered, sometimes in something close to unison. It brought tears to my eyes, that America had finally arrived. I finally saw a game, where the entire stadium was on some level, supporting the team I love.

Let that sink in, Columbus. I love you guys. In the book I’m writing, you’re a major character. When I was a referee traveling to Warrior Classic in the 90s, I used to love coming to Crew games. Because you have always had a great environment. And Frankie Hejduk. Have I mentioned how much I’ve always loved Frankie, and his mom, who let me cut the ladies room line when I was 5 months pregnant in Korea? Read my book (I’ll finish it soon, promise) and you’ll see, my feelings for Columbus are nothing but love.

I get it. Many of you don’t like capos. Or maybe you do like having “song leaders” just not on a stand, blocking your view. And you really don’t like people coming in from out of state and telling you what to do. I totally get that. Local flavor is the best part about traveling around the world following soccer. Hosting is something I’ll probably never get the chance to experience, although I do live in the fantasy world where the Menace will get their own stadium, and one day, we too will host a game. Y’know…a friendly, I’m not thinking something crazy like a qualifier or anything. I digress…

For everyone of you, who passionately want to bring it on your home field for USMNT, there are people like me, who will never get to host, but still want to be a part of the action. It’s part of why we bought the Midwest Mama flag and schlep it around the country. I may never get to host, but I can bring the flag, and I can capo. I like capos, but when I capo at Menace games, I do it from the back row, because, there’s like 30 of us. Maybe. Those of us who travel want to experience your local flavor, but we also want to bring our experience to the match and share it. I don’t think any of us want to share it in a bossy, take-this-thing-over way (well, maybe Seattle…I roll my eyes…it’s not that they don’t have good ideas, it’s that they feel they must bludgeon you into submission with their ideas. Not really my style).

I’ve never stood on a podium (although there was a running joke about building one for the Menace last year, just to be silly). I’m not coming to take over what you do, and I don’t support anyone else who wants to either. I’m coming to express my mad love for what you do, help support what you do, because what you do is glorious. I regret that anyone ever made you think otherwise. It has always been my hope that the negative blogs that were out there were untrue, because you deserve tons of respect for what you do. I look forward to seeing you all again, and coming together in the biggest supporter’s section ever, and dwarfing what we all did together last year. I hope you’ll accept my offer to help make the section the best it can be, because traveling to places like Columbus and learning from other hosts are what make the Menace supporters the talk of the PDL.

You Want to Capo in Columbus? Step Up.
August 28, 2013, 10:54 am
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer

[For an update on this blog and the amazing day it created, follow the story here. Thanks for reading!]

Remember when American Outlaws did their National Capo search? Hardly anyone responded, so they scrapped it. Remember when AO National posted on their leader board four days ago that they were looking for volunteers to capo in Columbus? They got eight people to respond. Yes, two were from Seattle. You know who the first response was from? THIS GIRL. I will be a capo in Columbus, and I’m not from Seattle. I’m not even from an MLS market, but I love US Soccer, and I capo the heck out of my little Des Moines Menace PDL world.

Since you’re not all on the leader board, I’ll share this with you, as your chapter leader should have already discussed with you from 8/24: “Chapter Leaders – If you or any of your members are interested in being a section capo in Columbus, please let me know via email. We need 14 capos for this game. We are looking for people that will be able to lead the section and follow and communicate with the main capo initiating the stand chants.

***Just a reminder if you are selected to be on the section capo stand, you will be following the main capo stand. We are doing this so all of the supporter sections are on the same page with chants.

Deadline for this is on Tuesday [8/27] by 5 pm PT. We will select and get back to you via email.


It’s not all Seattle show in Columbus, and anyone who tells you so is pretty much full of it. I’m not from Seattle, and frankly, I wish they wouldn’t make themselves so hard to like, but I will work with those 2 Seattle capos just like I will work with anyone else who will put themselves up there.

IF YOU WANT TO CAPO IN COLUMBUS, STEP UP. We need six more capos there, according to Brian Hexsel as of a few minutes ago. So stop kvetching about Seattle and volunteer. Unite and Strengthen.  If you can’t play nicely with your brothers and sisters I will send you all to your rooms. Stop making Mama want to drink before lunch.

You’re Jewish, and You Love US Soccer….And Now You Have a Shirt!
August 16, 2013, 10:00 am
Filed under: Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,

Jew CrewA while back, I met a few fellow Tribe members at a pre-game meet up, and thus began a string of running jokes referenced with the hashtag #JewCrew. We joked about our tiny group one day getting to minyan at a game (10 adult Jewish fans), about tailgate kashrut, the merits of MoT players past and present. Fine times were had by all.

Then one day, Matt Dziomba overheard one such conversation on a Facebook group, and in no time, had come up with the logo you see here. It’s a brilliant little take off on the Israel Football Association logo. The logo was a hit on Twitter, and the first #JewCrew t-shirt was born.

If you want one, you need to fill out this order form and send your money by Monday, 8/19. Choose all cotton or tri-blend (similar to American Apparel) and your size and it’ll be on the way before Columbus!

Big time thanks to Matt for taking this to the next level!

AO Des Moines is Getting a Scarf, and You Gotta Have It

Des-Moines-FinalWe’ve been talking it since we founded almost three years ago, and now, thanks to the design genius duo of AODSM members Trevor Kruger (@TkCyclone) and Greg Welch (@ArtDirectorBYU), we have our final design. All we need is YOU. Order up your very own AO DSM scarf and help us meet the order minimum. We want to have them for the upcoming games in Columbus and KC, so you have ONE WEEK! We’re taking orders until 8/6/13, and then it’s off the making them! Don’t delay! (Update: We extended to 8/9 to allow our email list a few days!)

Here’s how to order: Go to our order form here. Fill out you info. Chose your payment method. Pay us.

It’s that simple. Filling out the form and not paying will not get you a scarf. Payday isn’t until Friday? It’s $20….go ask a friend. If you’re truly in crisis, let us know, and we’ll try to help, but we really need paid pre-orders. Thanks for the help making our long held AO DSM scarf dreams a reality!

Why am I Headed to Iowa City? These Guys…
July 24, 2013, 5:18 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture | Tags: ,


I have lots to post from my last minute trip to the Gold Cup match in Maryland, but first a heads up that I’ll be in Iowa City for the Honduras match tonight. Why would I stop there, instead of rushing home to the kiddos?

Well, for one, there was a fair amount of scotch involved in catching up with my high school classmate in Pittsburgh last night, and waking up two hours earlier than 7 am wasn’t going to happen. But really it’s because when I founded AO Des Moines August 30, 2010, I put in our application that I had a goal of supporting the start of an Eastern Iowa chapter. I’d had a few people express interest in Iowa City, but it never got off the ground.

Fast forward to the USMNT game in KC last October, where we were hanging out at the after bar. I got a tap on my shoulder and turn around to find three twenty-something guys looking at me with anticipation. They said “Are you Tanya from Des Moines? We were told we had to find you.” Like they were on a pilgrimage to find me. Totally awesome.

Justin, Nick, and Jason had met one of my AO RVA friends, and when he found out they were from Iowa, he sent them o a mission to find me, and hours later, here I was. Soccer is still enough of a big small town I guess. We talked US Soccer and AO, and after I pointed out that Herc was sitting a few tables over and they met him, they swore to me…nay…to Herc, that they were starting AO Iowa City.

These guys have been working really hard, and I think they ar really close to being full chapter. So now is the time, eastern Iowans. There are chapters of AO forming in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. If you want to tell your grandkids that you were a founding member of these chapters, it’s time to join up. Go to and click Membership. Do it now.

Then come out and watch with me in Iowa City at 6 PM. It’s gonna be a great night! See you soon!

7/25/13 Update

AO IC exceeds expectation! They have a great bar with funny bartenders, good beer, and yummy food. And I know what you might be thinking….there goes Tanya, hanging out with college kids. But this was not a crowd of rowdy college kids (although that may change come August) but a gathering of graduate students, professionals, PhD candidates…a great group of smart, funny, people. Get over there and check it out. And if you want to be on the Founding Member bandwagon, now’s the time to jump! Thanks to the three new people that signed up last night, full chapter inches ever closer in Eastern IA.

Remember That Guy Who Stole Prairie’s Banner? You’ll LOVE This. Meet Banner Thief #1, Noah Spake!
July 18, 2013, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture

Last year, at the World Cup Qualifier in Kansas City, someone stole two banners that I’d carried from Boston for Prairie Clayton (@Hoover_Dam on Twitter). It was an absolute panic of a night for me, thinking that I’d lost banners that belonged to my friend, it took me away from my celebration with family and friends as I had to search through the banners collected by the stadium, and talk to stadium ops about where they might be. I felt horrible that night, and ever since then, I have been nervous about taking tifo into the stadium, especially when I have to have items in two separate areas. Yes, the banners eventually made their way back to Prairie via CSI SKC, but this incident forever changed my experience of bringing tifo around the US. We agreed not to press charges against the anonymous thieves, who, we were told, were college kids who were very sorry for what they’d done, were terrified that they’d been caught, and were returning the banners.

Then Grant Wahl tweeted a photo of one of the banners yesterday, and Noah Spake ( tweeted back “It honestly looked better in my dorm room.” which was seen by Prairie, who called him out, and my friend @WeberKing, who showed amazing restraint in not tagging me until an hour in to the banter that ensued.

Noah offered what struck me as a pretty empty apology to Prairie and I. I mean, how sorry can you really be when you’re tweeting Grant Wahl, Damarcus Beasley, and the person you stole it from that you think it looked better in your dorm room? Kinda takes some of the sincerity out of it, doncha think? Prairie accepted it, which is fine, but I’m sick of stuff like this: people who give a half-hearted apology, then go right back to acting like they could care less. So I called his bluff. No, I don’t accept your apology, Noah, go do some community service, show me that you actually FEEL remorseful. Think about this long enough to at least be able to give a sincere answer when Prairie asks “Why did you do this?”

As my teacher friend @Dutkae pointed out, Noah is one of “those guys” who throws a fit better than my five year old when asked to sincerely apologize for a wrong-doing. To him, this is ancient history that has no impact on his life today, so obviously I’m over-reacting.

Only I’ve never gotten to say anything to Noah. I never knew who he was until he outed himself, bragging about the banner he “snagged” on Twitter. So while it was several months ago, it still impacts my life, and he’s still not sorry. I would have been happy calling him out for the thief that he is, and showing him as a childish prick that’s not even capable of a sincere apology. I quit tweeting about this 24 hours ago.

But Noah wasn’t done yet. He got his friends involved, tweeting: “You should tweet them, piss them off.”  Tweeting me more than a dozen times, and encouraging his friends to blow up my twitter feed all day today (can’t wait to see my Klout score for this week!) This harassment continued all day, as I worked on my house, as I took my kids to the pool, as I went to ceramics studio…my phone buzzed all day long with accusations that I should drop it…as I sat in radio silence. I assumed he would eventually stop.

Then Noah tweeted this: “@hoover_dam @WeberKing @iamthorandmore @TanyaKeith @TaylorTwellman Haha we are meeting at a future game sometime, all of you!”  Are you effing kidding me? My husband loved that one. He said “Yeah. Let’s meet. Then I’ll take your phone, or your car while you’re not looking. I’ll give it back in about a month and everything will be cool, right?” What you fail to understand in your inexperienced, naive little world, is that you’ve returned the banner, but the night we spent feeling shitty that we’d lost our friends banner, you’ve done nothing to replace. Worse, you and your friends have proven themselves to be immature idiots with nothing better to do than blow up my phone with your harassment all. day. long.

Then you have to bring Zusi into it. Do you seriously believe that Graham Zusi would honestly tell you to STEAL tifo made by a famous USMNT banner artist? Really? A national team player, knowing all the details, would tell you to keep your ill gotten gains?

You and your friends have insulted supporter culture, admitting you’re too cool to go to games, dress up and yell for the boys we all love. You’ve insulted players by implying that they encouraged you to steal. You’ve called names and cried about how persecuted you are, when you got off for stealing REALLY EFFING EASY.

You’re a disgrace…to the Midwest, Big 12 education, and a poor representative of US Soccer fans. Until you show any understanding of the havoc you created (and continue to try to create) in all our lives, I have zero interest in meeting you, or really ever communicating with you again. You are not welcome, Noah Spake and your thief buddy friends who helped you. Grow up and take responsibility or stay away from me, my family, and my friends.

Or, if you can only digest things in 140 character blips, or you need to hear it from someone besides me, I’ll let Grant Wahl defend my honor any day: “@Noahspake @TanyaKeith @WeberKing @iamthorandmore @gzusi Poor behavior, and that’s an understatement. Making KU (and yourself) look terrible”  (Thanks much, Mr. Wahl!)

Praise and Parenting: a Soccer Mama’s Take on Seattle’s 21st Century Debut


What a night, huh? The show that Seattle put on Tuesday night was mind-blowingly awesome on so many levels…the pre-party, the march to the match, the songs in the supporters section, and that beautiful, glorious tifo. Seattle deserves a lot of credit for creating one of the best game experiences of my 20 years of following US Soccer. But as I was reading stories about the match from Business Insider, the blogosphere, but in particular, Jerry Brewer’s column in the Seattle Times, I felt like we need a little parenting perspective on this game, and I’m just the soccer mama to do it.

                Seattle, what you did was amazing, but to say this was all Seattle culture, or just a normal night, makes us here in the rest of the US Soccer world a little uncomfortable. Last night wasn’t about Seattle soccer. It was about Seattle hosting US Soccer. Of the 41,000 tickets sold for this match, 15,000 of us came from out of state, a full 37% of the people, according to US Soccer’s presentation at their Official Supporters pep rally. The people that are willing to travel like that to games, to not only pay $50 without complaint, but spring for a $300+ flight and take vacation time….we don’t sit in the upper bowl. That impressive performance in the supporters section came from a diverse group of supporters. Within my arm’s reach were supporters from England (who was noticeably stunned by how far American soccer has come, saying “I didn’t think I’d see anything like this for another five years), Des Moines (Iowa, not Washington), Denver, Portland, and yes, Emerald City Supporters. I had friends in the crowd from DC, Detroit, Kansas City, and more, 49 states represented in attendance, according to US Soccer. We bring the diversity of supporter clubs from all over the USA, and there’s an opportunity to learn from us. I would be so disappointed if I heard my child present their group project at school, but try to make it sound like the project was a success because they were so awesome at making projects, that everyone else’s projects pale by comparison, even as the other members of the group that had done work were standing there. Seattle was amazing last night, in large part due to the tireless hundreds of hours put in by American Outlaws, Seattle chapter, but also thanks to members from chapters around the US, who shouted ideas to Seattle capos and helped keep fresh chants flowing.

                If Seattle does get another game, and I hope they do, I hope they’re a little more open to asking for help. Yes, you do Sounders supporting, week in and week out, and you do it with skill that puts you among the best atmospheres in the US. But there are those of us that do US Soccer, year in and year out, and we love supporting our team as much as you love supporting yours. Just ask nicely, and we’ll help you hang banners and distribute song cards. I really enjoyed last night, working with capos with microphones, and I loved learning new songs that are unique to the Pacific Northwest. You know what would have been awesome? Allowing us out of town capos to teach you some of our songs from around the United States. Because I got “Everywhere we go” started (mic free!) in my section, but if the capo with the mic doesn’t know that that song ends with “clap clap clapclapclap clapclapclapclap USAaaay!” then we all sound silly as it grinds to a halt, as we are all clapping, but the mic guy is launching into the 2nd round of singing. It’s OK for you to learn from us, as we learn from you, it will only make you stronger.

                I have two kids. Would any of you ever seriously ask me which one is my favorite? Of course not. I’ve watched US Soccer in eight countries and 12 states, and I’m not going to pick a favorite, nor should you ask me. I’ll tell you that I love the Member’s Bar and stand at Sporting KC, and I cried last September in Columbus the first time I heard a US Soccer crowd chant throughout the stadium and stand for an entire match, I loved Denver and Tampa, where the crowds faced some of the worst weather I’ve ever dealt with in a match with a wonderful sense of humor and adventure. And I love, that for my 40th match supporting US Soccer, I got to be with you, Seattle, under the most impressive tifo I’ve ever seen. But I wouldn’t say it was my favorite, because I love all those experiences for different reasons. I don’t have to love you “the best,” and by now, you should be confident enough that you don’t need that to feel good about yourself. You are a great soccer city, but you won’t become a greater soccer city until you open your doors and let us share our passion with you. Because the USA chant that everyone is writing about at the end of the match was cool…but what’s cooler? A loud, slow, haunting rendition of “You’ll neeeever beeeat the US (clap!) “You’ll neeeever beeeat the US (clap!) Just throw me the megaphone in the 88th minute next time…I’ll start it up for you.

                I was really proud, even pleasantly surprised, that for the most part, you let your club thing go for a night. I saw very few green shirts in that sea of red, white and blue, and the one capo who dared show up eternal green and forever blue getup (or is it the other way around?) was a good sport about switching to red. You not only did some Portland cheers, you gave them credit where credit was due, probably one of the coolest supporter club moves I’ve seen. It gives me hope that now that you’ve proved yourselves worthy, next time you’ll expand your scope and look at what US Supporters are doing around the US, and welcome our ideas with open arms. Hopefully next time, I won’t hear quite so much about how it’s not worth $50 to see a World Cup Qualifier, and more about how it sold out weeks ahead of the match. I hope next time, it’s like last night, only bigger and better…..although seriously, I don’t know how you’d ever out-do yourselves on that tifo. (Watch the tifo at this link.)


The crowd in Seattle knows how to pitch in and help fold the Midwest Mama. Thanks to everyone who helped!

Why Simon Borg is Wrong (Again): USMNT Heads to Seattle
June 9, 2013, 2:54 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer

As a woman who follows soccer, I’ll never pass up an opportunity to correct Simon Borg, so when one of my friends posted a link to his blog defending Seattle’s US Soccer ticket sales, I had to comment. We can agree on one thing: it ain’t over til it’s over, and people need to see what Seattle pulls off Tuesday night before passing judgement. But that’s where it ends.

Here in Seattle, the biggest reasons I’ve heard about why people aren’t going to the game are 1. It’s a Tuesday night, and 2. The $50 ticket is too expensive. I’d like to reframe these: What else do you have going on on a Tuesday that’s more important than the first qualifier to come to Seattle since the 1970s? It’s not like you have a big weekend full of things…it’s a Tuesday, and it’s early enough you won’t even need an extra cup of coffee to get through work the next day…and if you did, it’s Seattle, I’m sure you can find one. $50 may seem like a bunch of money, but the $25 nosebleeds for Sounders are so high even I spent $32 to see the Sounders play last night, and I don’t even LIKE Seattle. In fact, I’m a Timbers fan, but I still coughed it up to see the Sounders play because if you love Soccer, you should WANT to see a game like Seattle vs Whitecaps, just because it’s the Cascadia Cup. $50 buys a supporter level ticket to US Soccer’s match, so yes, you’ll pay more, but this is your ONE CHANCE to see US Soccer play in your home city. It SHOULD be worth a little more to you. Many of us spent hundreds flying in for this match, because Panama is one of the contenders in this year’s qualifying, for $50 and an under $3.00 light rail, you can be there too, Seattle! To us out-of-towners, that’s a bargain!

wpid-2013-06-08_21-50-56_345.jpgThen there’s the whole club vs country thing. Why do we do this to ourselves? I know, I do it too…I dropped Chicago Fire like a hot potato when they brought in Blanco, and I hate him when he plays for Mexico. I get it. HOWEVER… I encourage you to do as I did last night: instead of looking for reasons to not go to a soccer game (club>country), find reasons to watch your country FOR your club. Brad Evans scored a thriller of a game winner just days ago in Jamaica. Do you really want to miss your hometown hero if he repeats that performance on Tuesday? A huge part of the reason I went to see the Sounders game last night was to watch Lamar Neagle, 2007-08 player for my hometown Des Moines Menace play in the big leagues. How devastated would I have been, had I opted to be a Timbers snob, and missed Neagle’s assist, PK draw, and game winning goal? Do you really want to take the chance that you’ll miss Brad Evan’s _______ Tuesday night? Watching your hometown hero live is not at all the same as sitting in front of a TV, Mr. Borg, particularly if you’re simultaneously making the argument that Seattle has one of the best soccer supporter cultures in the US.


Something like this, only in red, white, and blue, please. Thanks!

Borg writes that we need to look at what’s happening around the world. Sorry, but if we’re not trying to raise the level of soccer, then what are we doing? In a town like Seattle, (I would assume) they’d want to be able to say they do it better than anywhere else in the world. So Tuesday night, bring it, Seattle soccer fans. Turn out in droves for this match, and prove that you’re more than a Sounders city, you’re a soccer city. Let’s sell this sucker out! C’mon US!!

USMNT vs Germany: Public Practice, and How I Finally Met Jürgen Klinsmann
June 9, 2013, 1:24 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

wpid-2013-06-01_17-11-30_308.jpgI have a rule about not spending money traveling to friendlies during World Cup Qualifying. You have to prioritize somewhere along the line, and I would much rather go to qualifiers, than burn the budget on fun but meaningless games.

But when US Soccer announced that the Centennial Match would be US vs Germany at RFK Stadium in Washington DC, I knew I had to go. I had promised myself that whenever the US next played Germany after Jürgen Klinsmann was hired, I would go, even if the match was played in Germany, and I justified that this expense in the middle of qualifying was probably not as bad as flying to Germany for this game, so I called my DC friends and started searching for a place to stay. That the Centennial coincided with my 20th anniversary as a US Soccer supporter was too good to be true.

My first cap ever was USMNT vs Germany in the US Cup, on June 13, 1993, which I attended as a fan of German soccer, a habit I’d picked up living in Germany for Summer 1989. The ‘93 game was a pivotal moment in my career as an American soccer fan. My hero, Klinsmann scored in the 14th minute, the German machine performing as planned. But then, here was Tom Dooley, putting one in about 10 minutes later for the Americans. The AMERICANS? “They” scored on Germany? Impossible. Soon enough, my Germans had run it up to 4-1, and we were back on plan. But then there were those Americans again…Ernie Stewart scoring in the 72nd minute, and Dooley getting the brace several minutes later. What the hell was going on? I hadn’t even realized that Americans knew how to play legitimate soccer, let alone hold Germany to “just” a 4-3 loss. I was blown away. I walked out, took my Germany hat off, bought a shirt commemorating the game, and that day, became a supporter for US Soccer.

Flash forward 20 years, and I made it to DC. My one goal for coming to DC was to finally meet Klinsmann. My Facebook wall has been littered with friends who met him at the airport, or at practices I didn’t get to town soon enough to attend, or the Centennial Celebration in New York City, and frankly, I was more than a little jealous. After all, I’d been a fan for DECADES, and here were people who had lukewarm trust in Klinsy with photos with him plastered all over Facebook, just mocking me. I was one more Facebook photo away from a full on toddler-force tantrum….something had to be done.

First stop was the Nike Store event in Georgetown, a mob scene of kids who were too big to shove out of the way unnoticed. I tried not to think about the multiplier of the average age to my age, and I got positioned near the front…on the side that ended up the far side of Klinsmann and Tim Howard (my son’s current obsession) and near side to Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley. I know, you’re thinking “there’s really not a losing position there.” And you’re right. Every single person on stage was amazing (thanks Nike/US Soccer), but given my goals as a mama and fan girl, I should have been on the opposite side. Taylor Twellman emceed a Q&A, that I half heard over the blood rushing past my eardrums, and then the autograph frenzy began. Nothing organized, with guys signing civilized behind a table, but a mosh pit of youth soccer players and I jockeying for position. I ended up getting Bradley’s and Howard’s autograph for both my kids (go Mom!) but I’m pretty sure Klinsmann vaporized soon after the autographs started. I asked one of my US Soccer contacts if Klinsmann was still in the building, and after checking, he said no, but if I found him at the Public Practice, he would try to help me get my Klinsmann photo.

The next day, I went down to RFK to watch the German practice at 11 AM. I didn’t get super involved, since I can only recognize a few of their players, but had a nice morning chatting with the German ex-pats who were there. I managed to score Louis Podolski’s autograph, but the highlight came as the practice was breaking up, and I noticed Alexi Lalas, walking around with a hard-to-miss purple umbrella to guard against the noon-time sun. I was wearing my 20 year old t-shirt from US vs Germany, having a moment by myself, thinking about my life following US Soccer for the past 20 years, there’s Lalas, one of the players that played for the US in the 1993 game. I called hello to him, and he said hi back, and then said “That’s a shirt from way back.” Thrilled that he’d recognized it (it does show the ’93 USMNT kit), I said, “Yeah, I had to dig way back in the closet for it, this was my first cap.”

Then, Lalas blew my mind. He said, “Tom Dooley had a heck of a game that day, right?”

Are you kidding me? How many games has he played for the US (it’s 96, I looked it up) and how many has he announced, let alone watched, and he had the details from a particular game from 20 years ago? The man knows his soccer, and he signed the US side of my shirt. Take that, Lalas haters.

The day continued to get more and more awesome. Between practices, we were hanging out at the Supporters Club sign in, which was next to the press area. While we waited for gates to open, we were greeted by former Nats goalkeeper Kasey Keller, and ESPN broadcaster Ian Darke. Keller was quiet, but stopped for photos and autographs, and Mr. Darke stayed and chatted with us for a while, talking about just hanging out like a regular guy chatting up soccer. He’s very thoughtful and insightful, and a pleasure to talk soccer with, so I was almost sad when they said it was time to head into the stadium.

We had a relaxed hour, joking with a few of my soccer buddies about various travel (mis)adventure, and about the players putting on a practice show for us. Once the field work was over,  the players were extraordinary, taking lots of time to sign autographs and pose for photos. I met more players than I can fathom, but no Klinsmann. After the session, security started to clear us out, and I began to panic. I had had such a perfect day, only to fail in my ultimate mission? Intolerable. Desperately, I searched the crowd for my US Soccer contact, and shouted to him across the security area. He mouthed “Did you meet him?” I shook my head no. He held up one finger to wait, and took off. I drug my feet as much as possible, and when we were cleared to the stadium seats and asked to leave, I said “I was told to wait here…” and was just about to justify my staying in a last ditch attempt to avoid getting bodily thrown from the stadium, when my contact popped up from the player tunnel and asked security if he could take me with him. They agreed, and I went through, vindicated and beyond excited. I half ran, chasing my contact into the locker room level of RFK. We turned into a hallway, where I recognized several members of the soccer media on one side of a fence. I was told to stand on the other side, just past them. I stood and waited, watching a guy from wrapping up an interview. Soon, more players began to funnel down the hallway, some stopping to answer questions, a few pausing to give me a nod. I asked Beasley for a photo, since he is my husband’s favorite, but otherwise, I tried to be cool and just wait. When Dempsey walked by, I must have had a particularly obvious “she’s not press” look on my face, in awe that he was right there in front of me, all by myself. He got a look of recognition on his face, and then, silently walked up, shook my hand, and kept walking, as I stood dumbfounded, managing to squeak out “Wow, thanks.”

By the time I regained my senses, Klinsmann was right in from of me, startling me back to reality. I called out in German, asking “Can I have your…” Dammit. What’s the word for autograph? I came up with “writing” but he was already walking over, thank goodness, able to translate through the IQ lowering effects of fangirl overload. I told him how I’d been a German soccer fan, and came to see him play 20 years ago, how I remembered the goal, and that when the US came back to almost equalize, I became a US Soccer fan, culminating with “I’m a US Soccer fan because of you, and I just wanted to say thanks, and can I get a photo with you?” And that’s how I ended up with my coveted Klinsmann photo, complete with him smiling almost as wide as I am.

My sincerest thanks to my friends at US Soccer who made this photo possible. Following this team has been some of my greatest adventures of the last 20 years.


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