Soccer….Family Style

Road Trip: the Des Moines Menace Head to Sporting KC in Open Cup 3rd Round
May 28, 2013, 1:38 am
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags: , ,

What a week! We had a great trip to watch the Menace win in Minneapolis, and now here it is, game day in Kansas City for the 3rd round. I’m pretty amped up for this thing, and the Des Moines Register’s article left me wanting more, so here it is, the story I want told about the Des Moines Menace.

This week has been a roller coaster, with Adrian Healey tweeting and talking about our Menace, getting our 15 seconds of fame on Big Head and the Red Head (at minute 33) at the high points, and Taylor Twellman’s snarky, disbelieving tone every time he says “Des Moines Menace” at the low, but even then…he was snarky about us on an MLS broadcast! It’s been a great week to be a Menace fan.

Now we have 2 full buses of people committed to go down to Kansas City in a few hours, to see if we can put the brakes on Sporting’s plans to keep the Open Cup trophy. Our PDL David to their MLS Goliath. My first chance to see Sporting Park NOT from the Members Stand.

I know we’re a long shot, but there’s a reason we play the games. It’s like my husband was saying tonight, the difference between success and failure in professional sports is tiny thin line, let’s call it 2% more mental focus. All high level players have the physical prowess to win matches. It all comes down to the focus, mental clarity, and speed of thought to make it happen on that particular day. Do you have the clarity that allows you to see that strike, and have your laces hit it just perfectly at the moment when everything is on the line? Who will have their Lafester Rhodes day tomorrow, and light it up like we’ve never seen?

On any given day, any one player can make or break it for the whole match. When we played in Minneapolis last week, the Menace dominated the first half, and looked like a sure thing. In the second half, I was positive that Minnesota United would win, they were beating us to the ball, out shooting, out possessing….but like in so many soccer games, it came down to one Menace player timing his jump better than his defender, and Menace keeper Scott Avengine not allowing anyone to make it back. That’s all it takes to win in Open Cup or any other game.

The Menace is in their 20th year, and I have watched them all 20 years. This season feels like something special. We have a new GM, Matt Homonoff, fresh off the NASL circuit, and every time I talk to him, I get more excited about soccer in Des Moines. We have Mike Jeffries, (not the evil one…google Mike Jeffries soccer) a former USMNT player and former MLS coach. I like our player roster…I mean, I barely know them, but these guys played really well together in Minnesota, and they’d hardly met each other yet. I’m excited to see how they look against an MLS side after another week playing together.

They say the third time’s the charm, and this is the 3rd appearance for the Menace against a Kansas City MLS team (let’s all be thankful that the Wiz years are over). So, Sporting KC, I’ll see your #CupStaysHere hashtag, and raise you a #ThirdXCharm for my beloved Menace Soccer. Go get em, boys!

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.

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!

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