Soccer….Family Style

Trash Talk in Des Moines (Iowa, Not Idaho) Re: Menace Soccer, NASL, USL-1
March 2, 2013, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , , , , ,

2012-07-14_19-49-02_712Last Wednesday, Andrew McGreen posted a link titled “Donovan Talks, U-20s, and Brek Shea” and 57:07 on the American Outlaws: Des Moines facebook group. I have much time for soccer podcasts, but I do like the Best Soccer Show, and I had three minutes, so….

The clip from 57:07 starts out with someone who’s written in to ask why hasn’t Des Moines been considered for NASL or USL-1 expansion? My heart just about burst. Eleven years ago, I worked for the Stadium Foundation as the Event Coordinator. We were working to build what, at the time, would have been the 4th soccer-specific stadium in the US, which would have allowed Menace Soccer to move from the PDL to what was then the A-League, and is now USL-Pro. It was a great plan, that would have given Des Moines the soccer street cred it deserved. At the time, we were (and still are) out-drawing teams in higher leagues, we had the highest participation per-capita in US youth soccer, and we have a sports fan base that supports semi-pro level sporting events well. It killed me when the Urbandale City Council voted down the proposal to build the stadium in their land-locked suburb. I thought it was incredibly short-sighted, and a decade later, I could write an entire post about why it was the wrong decision for Urbandale and central Iowa soccer. Suffice it to say that I have always believed that Des Moines is a “diamond in the rough, with a beyond competent front office”, and belongs in a higher league than PDL.

While I recovered from my mind-explosion that someone read my mind and then wrote to Best Soccer Show about it, I was hurtled back down to Earth by Jared and Jason’s response. Here’s a clue: when someone says “No offense to Des Moines” it’s probably really offensive to Des Moines. I had to roll my eyes at “the thing about Des Moines is that it’s Des Moines.” Oh guys….really? Maybe 20 years ago, when I moved here from the New York metro, Des Moines would have skulked off, apologizing for how uncool it is. Not anymore. Now we’re consistently ranked not just best place to raise your kids, but best place to start a business, be a young professional, and the list goes on. Plus, we have Raygun, the greatest store in the Universe, that is making a fortune mocking the fact that you don’t know the difference between Idaho and Iowa (here’s a hint, we’re no where near Cascadia).

I don’t buy the argument that we’re “so far off the map from a pro-sports perspective.” We’re not asking for an MLS team (yet) and we actively support our Iowa Cubs and Iowa Barnstormers, as well as turn out in droves for college athletics of all kinds. We have Drake Soccer and Iowa State women nearby, and you’ve already praised our turn out for Des Moines Menace. Your suggestion to form a supporters group just shows how little you know about Iowa. We founded the 38th chapter of  American Outlaws in 2010, and we travel strong to US soccer games. You know that big flag in the supporters section? That’s the Midwest Mama, and AO DSM owns it and brings it everywhere. Back at home, the Red Army has supported the Menace for years, not just with tailgates, but we roast marshmallows after games, just because we’re Iowa Nice.

You’d rather be in LA even if Des Moines would out draw a team there? Short sighted and dumb. Come to a market where you’ll be supported and appreciated. Where fans won’t have to drive 45+ minutes fighting traffic to get to a game (unless they’re coming from Ames or something). With more start ups and mergers (you know about Meredith Publications, don’t you?) Des Moines is the next ultra-cool place to be. Try to sign us up before the bidding war starts. (You heard we just hired our new GM away from an NASL team, right?)

And a message to Kyle Krause, Des Moines Menace owner, I keep telling you it’s time to restart the Stadium Foundation project….I’m waiting for your call.) Des Moines’ time has come, and it’s only a matter of time until the rest of the soccer world figures it out.

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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