Soccer….Family Style


May 28th…for decades

One day, back in 1993, I decided to make May 28th a big day in my life. I booked my wedding for May 28, 1995 and forever made this day a bigger deal than most other days of the year. I chose it because my betrothed and I were living in Iowa and marrying in New Jersey, and it allowed our friends from around the U.S. to join us for the wedding without taking any days off.

So on May 28th, 1995, I married Doug, or Mr. Tanya, as he’s known in the Twittersphere. He deserves a ton of respect, because it’s not easy being married to an outspoken woman, he he takes it all in stride (including his tongue-in-cheek internet nickname). I wasn’t a huge fan of marriage, and he’s spent the past two decades proving to me that marriage is (or can be) way cooler than many people make it out to be. We make a good team, Mr. Tanya. Thanks for rocking my world over and over.

19 years ago today I married Mr. Tanya and began our (mostly) happily ever after.

18 years ago today we bought our first house together (the first anniversary is paper, and we figured a mortgage is about the most expensive piece of paper we could buy together.

10 years ago today Doug inadvertently inspired my love for Portland Timbers.

3 years ago today we moved into the Hatton House.

1 year ago today we went to KC to watch Des Moines Menace in the Open Cup vs Sporting.

Tonight, we’re joining our friends at Menace vs Minnesota United in the Open Cup. I’m confident that my Kickstarter for Passionate Soccer Love will fund in the next 48 hours, but I hope you’ll understand why I’m doing an extra push to finish it out today. Because May 28th, it’s kinda a big deal. Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this journey. I am deeply grateful.

Here’s that link, one more time: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1081588443/passionate-soccer-love-publishing-and-book-tour



Why the Des Moines Menace Represent Everything That is Right with Soccer in America.

Last night, when I read Chris Cuellar‘s Des Moines Register article about today’s Menace vs Sporting KC Open Cup match, I was pretty clear in my feelings that it did not reflect the magnitude of the day, nor a proper “so you’re saying we have a chance” feeling. Sure, he’s a journalist, but we could sound a tiny bit more excited at the possibility of a win for the Menace tonight, because however unlikely, it is a wonderful possibility. I wrote my thoughts about the game here on my blog, and left a comment on the Register’s website and left it at that. But then you wonderful people started sending me other things people wrote about our Menace, and one piece I must share here, because it’s wonderful, and what I wish I’d written about our guys. So thank you, Jason Lemire, Freelance Soccer Writer (310.867.0977  ~   lemire.jason at yahoo dot com), you can guest blog for me any time:

Why the Des Moines Menace represent everything that is right with soccer in America.

Everyone expects Sporting KC to wipe the floor with them tonight.  Even Adrian Healy, in his heart of hearts, must know.  Surely he must.  This team of amateurs.  This team of school boys.  This team of hopefuls and maybes and never will bes.

Tonight, in their US Open Cup game against Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer, the Des Moines Menace of the PDL, collectively, haven’t got a chance in hell.

But… what if they did? What if the impossible happened? What if they won?

What would it mean?

The pessimists would decry the result as proof that MLS is not progressing, that soccer in this country will never reach the lofty heights to which it aspires.  They would probably publish an article about it on Grantland.  And they would be wrong.  Dead, stinkin’ wrong.  Ten years ago, maybe.  Ten years ago, when Major League Soccer was hanging on by the thread of Phil Anschutz’s argyles.  But today?  Tonight?  A victory for the Des Moines Menace would not signal the futility of soccer in this country.  Quite the contrary.  A victory by the Des Moines Menace tonight would signify something beautiful.  Something incredible.  Something profound.  But to grasp the profundity, we must first consider this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Des_Moines_Menace

Like most team pages, the first section in the contents bar is club’s history.  Not a big deal.  Only, in the case of the Des Moines Menace’s Wikipedia page, their history entry is 2,779 words long.  That’s just the entry on the team’s history!  Not only does that crush SKC’s page, it crushes the pages of most EPL teams.

Of course, anyone can edit a Wikipedia page.  Are we really to take draw conclusions from website that allows, among other things, this?

In a word.  Yes.  Because the Des Moines Menace’s Wikipedia page is a clear indication that there are people out there who really, really, care about this team, and as any support of soccer in the US will tell you, the dreaded specter that stalks our beloved sport in the night is not losing or disappointment, it’s apathy.

So the Menace have a ridiculous Wikipedia page.  So what.  So this.Kyle_Krause_(2011)His name is Kyle Krause, and his chin will eat you for friggin’ breakfast.

He is, among many other things, the CEO of Kum & Go convenience stores.  He is a wealthy man.  He is also the majority owner of the Des Moines Menace.  Has been since 1998.  Why?  It’s sure as hell not for the money.  No, Kyle Krause is one of longest standing owners in North American soccer because he loves the game, and he loves what the team means to his community.  I don’t have a direct quote from him, but I also suspect that he loves the fact that his team has led the PDL in average attendance for eight of the past ten years.  (Averaging 3,800 fans per game, in the middle of football country, is flat out impressive.)

So the team has a dedicated owner with a good chin.  A really good chin.  And the team has good fan support.  So what?  So this.

mike jeffriesIt’s an oil painting of Mike Jeffries.  At least I think it’s oils.  It could be acrylic.  The point is, where’s your painting of you?  Oh, that’s right, you don’t have one. Because you’re not Mike Jeffries!  (Mr. Krause, if you are reading this, I’m sure you have an oil painting of yourself too.  Please excuse the above sentence aimed at lesser readers.)  This swarthy, painted gentleman was not only a Herman Trophy winner, not only the head coach of the Dallas Burn, not only a scout for Bob Bradley’s 2010 World Cup Team, not only a trophy-winning MLS assistant coach and double major in Electrical Engineering and Public Policy… he is the head coach of the Des Moines Menace.  And he is the coach of the Des Moines Menace because he loves developing young players; and I don’t have a direct quote from him either but suspect he also relishes the opportunity to be a head coach again for an organization that truly appreciates his dedication to his craft.  The fact that Mike Jeffries, with his resume, is coaching in the PDL, is a sign of just how far our sport has progressed since the good folks in Manhattan thought it wise to name a pro soccer team after an uncomfortable physical condition (and I’m not talking about the Wiz).

So the Menace have a head coach steeped in American soccer history with connections all over MLS and a passion for developing young players.  So what?  So this.

DesMoines-Homonoff1105His name is Matt Homonoff and you’ve never heard of him.  You’ve never heard of him because his resume reads more or less like this:

2003 – 2005  DC United Ticket Sales Representative

2006 – 2010  DC United Corporate Partnerships

2011 – 2012  FC Edmonton Dir. of Sales

2012 – Present  Des Moines Menace General Manager

You’ve never heard of Matt Homonoff, but chances are you have never savored your team winning the way Matt savored the Menace’s Open Cup victory over Minnesota’s NASL team last week.  You’ve never savored a victory like he did because chances are you’ve never put in an 80-hour work week, or a 2,500-hour work year, for “your” team.  Chances are soccer is a game you love, but it doesn’t put food on your table.  But for guys like Matt, guys (and plenty of women too) who are in the trenches of selling tickets and booking sponsorships and securing venues and managing the hundreds upon hundreds of small and mighty details that go into making soccer a reality in this country, there is no off season.  Soccer is a game that is lived, day in and day out.  And all of this bears mentioning because contrary to what some might believe, there is an army of people like Matt out there doing everything they can to grow our game, and the fact that a team in the fourth division of soccer in this country has a GM with the chops of Matt Homonoff says an awful lot about how far our sport has come.  That’s right.  Matt has serious chops.  He’s also eaten a few chops in his day.  Lamb chops.  That’s okay.  It’s not his job to be svelte.  He’s a GM.

The Menace are a fourth division team with a passionate GM.  So what?  So this!

frickeMy God, he looks like he’s 12 years old.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is Brandon Fricke.  He grew up in a little place called Grimes, Iowa, which is, according to my sources, the single most Midwestern place in the entire universe.  Young Brandon just wrapped up his sophomore year as a defender for Butler University and now plays his summer ball for little club called the Des Moines Menace.  It was his goal, in the 86th minute, against the NASL’s Minnesota United FC, that propelled the Menace into their game against Sporting Kansas City.  He is also the former captain of the Iowa ODP team.  Isn’t that special.  Local boy does good for his local PDL team, setting the stage for the impossible task of playing against the team who developed him in the first place!  That’s right.  Brandon Fricke is actually a former member of the Sporting KC Academy program.  This is poetry, people!  Poetry!!!  Perhaps, in the near future, once Brandon has earned his degree in, we can only assume, dimples, he will pursue a professional career in soccer.  But until that day comes, he is a member of an amateur PDL squad going against the big, bad Sportings from Major League Soccer, trying to show his old team that he still has the talent and drive that caught their eye so many, misty years ago, and with all that being said you can’t tell me you’re not rooting for the kid, or his team.  And the truth is, every player on the Menace has a backstory that is just as compelling.

So let’s review.  A dedicated owner in it for the love of the game.  The most dedicated fanbase in all of amateur soccer.  A head coach returning to his player development roots.  A GM who represents every unsung hero of US soccer’s ascent over the past 20 years.  A roster full of redemption stories and half realized dreams, all clawing and scratching their way towards the light of a pro contract. 

 

No.  The Des Moines Menace do not stand a chance against Sporting Kansas City.  Not under the lights of Sporting’s $200 million dollar stadium.  Not under the withering glare of the amateur/professional divide.

But if they did?  If they somehow, somehow did.  What if Kamara hits the woodwork three times in the first half but can’t finish; then, Kansas City native and former MLS League Pool GK Scott Angevine has the game of his life and keeps the Menace in it until the 65th minute when SKC’s Besler-less backline botches an offsides trap, putting Des Moines’s Jimmy Tulloch in one-on-one against Jimmy Neilsen who has momentarily lost focus pondering the wisdom of releasing his autobiography midseason; Tulloch scores, tells the SKC fans to quiet down, and the Menace go on to hold their improbable lead for the next 29 minutes in a flurry of defensive heroics that include Fricke’s dimples and Krause’s chin making three goal line clearances in stoppage time.

However it happens, if the Des Moines Menace of the PDL win tonight against Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer, it will not be a sign that the sky is falling on our beloved game.

No.  It will be a sign that the Soccer Gods, the same Gods that have steered the fates of so many other underdog clubs around the world, in tournaments just like this, have finally seen fit to visit our shores.

If the Menace win tonight, the victory will be etched in the minds of soccer fans for years to come.  In the little town of Grimes, and the not so little city of Des Moines, it is a story that will be told for decades.

If the Menace win tonight it will be a sign that our beloved game has finally begun to develop more than just players… we have begun to develop legends.



Good Times at the US Open Cup
May 21, 2013, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , , ,

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It’s just before midnight on our way home from the Des Moines Menace win at the US Open Cup game in Minnesota, basking in the late night glow of our road win. I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to make this trip. I missed the Menace home opener to a migraine, and yesterday, my day started with a 6 AM wakeup to 5 year old screaming in ear infection pain. Having already been though tubes with him, I sure as heck wasn’t going to OK a roadie to stand in the rain and get home at 1 AM not even 24 hours into antibiotics. But then…talking to my mother in law about the game, his illness, my general aggravation that my darling husband had just assumed he could take my car on this trip….she said, “Just bring him over here, we’ll watch him so you can go.” Dumbfounded, I said “No, really, I just wanted to vent, I’m OK with staying home with him.” To which, my amazing mother in law replied, “I know you really like going to these games, it’s OK, bring him.” Oh glorious, happy day of marrying so well, even your extended family is awesome.

So five minutes prior to departure, I got added to the travel roster, while I was still thinking about NYCFC and writing my book, so even know, I barely know how to react to this day. So I’m coping out, and listing what’s awesome about today:

1. My mother in law: Thank you Caryl, for making my supporter life meets mama world a tiny bit easier.
2. Lower League, part 1: One of my MLS friends posted on FB today that he was doing X while his MLS team was playing in Open Cup because “I’ll care about Open Cup when you do, [MLS Team Name].” That’s just lame. Every team should care about Open Cup….except you, Sporting…don’t you worry about our little PDL club.

3. Lower League, part 2: I used to wish that I could magically live in Des Moines AND have it be and MLS city. And I’ve had soccer-loving friends say they could never live in a city that’s lower league. But you know what? Lower league is awesome. We can walk up to our players after every game. Our owner and GM are accessible, and love the game in a way I don’t often see in the MLS. I especially loved watching our new GM Matt Homonoff at the game tonight, panic stricken look on his face, praying along with us for a Menace goal. I liked our previous GM, but I’m kinda crazy about this new guy.

4. The supporters: When my MIL offered to watch my sick kiddo, and I had to choose to go or no go, it wasn’t just the team I was excited to see. I wanted to go hang out with Minnesota United’s Dark Clouds Supporters Group. A few I’d met through crossover with Minnesota 1st Volunteers, the local USMNT supporters group, and others I met when we hosted the Open Cup last year and they road tripped to see us. It’s nice that outside of “those 90 minutes,” we’re all friends.

2012 Open Cup game brought Minnesota's Dark Clouds to Des Moines

2012 Open Cup game brought Minnesota’s Dark Clouds to Des Moines

That’s it. I’m completely excited about going to KC next week. Totally exhausted, but home safe. On to round 3!



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. 




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