Soccer….Family Style

NYCFC… Really MLS?
May 27, 2013, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer | Tags: , ,

Yes, we all knew it was coming. Of course New York would get a second team….we can’t go around making sense or anything. And I enjoyed it when it was announced. First thing in the morning, my Facebook wall blew up with posts ranging from apathy to instant hatred from my soccer friends around the US. It seemed like there was something for everyone to hate: New York, the Yankees, Man City, take your pick. I began to consider the real possibility that the marketing strategy was to have a team that so many people would despise, to the point where the team is supported by away fans coming to every game.

Then the afternoon rolled around, and my “non-soccer” friends started posting about it. (Disclaimer: I’m originally from New Jersey) People were posting things about “once NYCFC kicks off, does that mean Red Bulls will officially become Jersey?” Which make SOOO much more sense than expecting Jersey fans to root for a NYC team (if you don’t believe me, listen to Jeff “Jersey” Bradley). At least RBNY play in Jersey… But really, I still don’t get it…I don’t see anything in Red Bulls attendance numbers that scream “That area needs another team, STAT!!” But whatever…I wasn’t going to write anything about it….busy with the Open Cup and all that.

Then I heard Alexi Lalas talking during the MLS LA vs Seattle game, talking about how Don Graber had called him (yeah, Twellman, he didn’t call you because he pissed that you can’t say “Des Moines Menace” with a serious tone…work on it). Graber was saying that he didn’t feel Lalas’ concern that people weren’t going to be into NYCFC because of their Manchester City, Yankees, or other partnerships, was warranted…people would follow a team regardless.


Does Graber really know any supporter? I have made very few rational decisions about teams I support, and even fewer about teams I hate, and I’m not alone. During the Champions League final, I was talking with a Menace front office, about how much he hates when the Menace has to wear a kit that reminds him of his most hated rival. Just the matching colors…not the actual kit of his enemy. Rational? No. Understandable, yes…to every supporter there.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with NYCFC, but very little of it makes sense to me, in my 20th year kicking around US Soccer. It’s above my pay grade to make these decisions, but I still say building soccer here in flyover country is smarter money than yet another in New York metro. I wish them luck, because I think they’re going to need it.

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

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

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

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

CSI: SKC, How Sporting KC Got My USMNT Banners Back
November 3, 2012, 8:18 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , ,

I was watching my son’s final soccer game Wednesday, when my phone rang with a number I didn’t recognize from Kansas City. Usually, I let numbers I don’t recognize go to voicemail, but on a whim, I answered, and a man asked if I was Tanya Keith. I said yes, and he started speaking in a very serious, deep voice: “Tanya, this is Chris Wyche, Vice President at Sporting KC. I want you to know that we take things very seriously here at Livestrong Park, and when someone does something that isn’t right at our stadium, we track them down.” That’s a paraphrase, because honestly, his voice was so firm and dark, I was frantically wracking my brain for what I possibly could have done wrong, or maybe one of our American Outlaws Des Moines members had gotten in trouble….I couldn’t imagine, since we’re far from the rowdiest group of trouble makers.

He continued, “ We’ve been able to locate your banners.” OH PHEW! We’d traveled to Boston to visit family right before the World Cup qualifier in Kansas City, and on our travels, had met my friend, Prairie Clayton, the artist behind the AO Des Moines banner and many other great hand-painted banners supporting US Soccer. She’d asked us to carry two of her banners to hang at the game while we were hanging the AO Des Moines banner. When she asked, I almost said no. Having been to Livestrong Park before, I knew that the banners would be hung far above the supporters section, and it always makes me nervous, having her works of art hanging so far from my watchful eye and protection. I mentioned the placement of banners to her, but she wanted to send them, so we took them along with us, and hung them along with our own American Outlaws Des Moines banner.

The game was fantastic, and excellent win to finish out the round of World Cup qualifying, and the banners were still hanging, every time I glanced up, even after the final whistle. I helped Doug fold our 20×30′ stadium flag, the Midwest Mama, and took the kids into the Member’s Bar while Doug went to fetch the banners. All was right with the world….

Then I got the text: “I have our banner, but Prairie’s are gone.” My worst nightmare had come true, worse than my own banners getting stolen, someone had taken banners that had been entrusted to me. Horrified, I found stadium management and told them about the theft. Their response was amazing, taking the problem very seriously with no fit throwing on my part whatsoever. They took me to the place where SKC tifo is stored, but the banners weren’t there. They took down my name and number, assured me that they would be able to track them down, and would be in touch.

The next day, I posted photos of the missing banners with pleas for help getting them back. My post got lots of retweets and reposts, and one of the AO Kansas City guys told me the stadium was taking it very seriously, and he would keep me posted on the investigation. Then a local station in KC picked up the story, and broadcast about the theft. Prairie and I were both touched. Even if the banners were never returned, it was nice to have a front office and community give so much respect to supporter’s work. Then I read a post on the American Outlaws leadership board: through stadium security, they had identified the people who took the banners, and they were working on contacting the thieves to get them returned. CSI Sporting KC is serious business apparently, because it was only a few days later that I got the above mentioned phone call that both banners were being returned.

In this day, with so much animosity between MLS front offices and supporters, it’s refreshing to see a stadium run with such a strong commitment and support of the people who create the atmosphere and energy that MLS likes to use to market their product. From the initial meeting with stadiums ops, to the diligent work to return banners to their rightful owners, Sporting KC showed that they are a cut above in creating the kind of culture that I want to see in American soccer. They have my profound appreciation, and increasingly, my support as a fan. Looking forward to learning more about the organization to the south, but for now, a huge thank you for supporting supporters to everyone that helped get banners back to the artist who made them. FYI…Prairie’s banners are for sale, and she does commissions. You can contact her via Twitter @hoover_dam, or message me and I’ll be happy to get you in touch. If you don’t have a team to watch in the MLS Playoffs, I suggest you check out Sporting KC against Houston next Sunday and Wednesday.

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.

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!

Like Mother, Like Daughter
October 9, 2010, 10:56 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,


If I’m at a soccer game and not under the giant banner/flag, it’s bad mojo. It feels unlucky, and I can’t really get into the game. Apparently, my daughter now feels the same way. She lit up like a light blub when she got to touch the giant Fire banner.

Waking up from Post World Cup Coma
October 8, 2010, 7:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

I know. There’s been plenty to talk about. We have a new coach contract, my 3 year old has learn to lead chants at the American Outlaws watch parties, and then there’s the new qualifying for Concacaf to discuss.

But real life of work, parenting, roller derby and the rest can get pretty distracting. Soccer is always on my mind, but not always at my keyboard.

Yet here I am sitting in traffic outside Toyota Park on my way into Fire vs Crew as the warm up for US vs Poland. I don’t watch a lot of club soccer, but this WC cycle (2014) my goal is to get more involved in the club game and where everyday soccer in America is these days.

These two games are the first we’ve been able to take the kids to in a while, which is always exciting. Hopefully we’ll get to see a few of our travel buddies from American Outlaws and Sam’s Army. We’ll see how it goes: Cap 27 for me, #26 for my husband,#14 for the 8 year old, and #4 for the 3 year old up tomorrow night. As for tonight, we’ll see how life in Section 8 is.

“You take your kids to soccer games? Aren’t you worried about the hooligans?” “No, we are the hooligans.”

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