Soccer….Family Style


FC København – Brøndby 2014 – TIFO is just brilliant
May 5, 2014, 3:07 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

I love complicated tifo. Complicated tifo of blowing things up….it’ll make your Monday.

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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!



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

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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.)


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



PROOF! The #MidwestMama Stadium Flag Dried!
March 24, 2013, 12:44 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, International Soccer, Supporter Culture, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,

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It left the stadium soaked and frozen, crusted with ice, but today, the Midwest Mama stadium flag was single-handedly rolled by Doug and is on it’s way home to AO Des Moines. Even I am surprised it fit back in the bag after being so soaked!



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.



Your Stadium Policy Has Holes!
September 1, 2011, 12:19 pm
Filed under: Family Fun, Supporter Culture, Uncategorized, US Soccer | Tags: , , ,

An email went out to the American Outlaws nation yesterday, telling us that US Soccer wants to promote a “classy reputation” by not having profanity in the Supporters Section. The “You Suck A**hole” chant at the US vs Mexico game in Philadelphia was cited as the reason for why we, the supporters, are being punished by losing our privilege of hanging banners for the game tomorrow.

I’m a mother and a supporter. I bring my children to games, including the game in Philadelphia. My views on language in the supporters section are well established and outlined here, but let me add that I was far more concerned that stadium security was not dealing with drunkenness that was escalating to violence within and between supporters sections than I was about explaining to my children that certain words are only appropriate in certain situations.

While cursing in the supporters section doesn’t bother me, I can understand why US Soccer would want to cut it off. There has been an increase in cursing, and while I’m not offended, I do miss the days when our (as supporters in general, American Outlaws, Sam’s Army, whoever you stand with) chants were stunning for their creativity than cursing. It strikes me that this is a parent-child relationship gone bad. US Soccer birthed a new movement of passionate supporters, American Outlaws, and their child is growing up faster than they perhaps expected, and they’re getting difficult to control. American Outlaws doesn’t want to be the kid with a bunch of rules anymore (children rarely respond well to punishment without clear warning), and (at least some of them) don’t take kindly to being told to limit their free speech rights. So here’s my attempt at mediation in this relationship:

To US Soccer,

As a USSF referee, we’re taught to be careful the promises we make in a game, and the punishment must fit the crime. By taking away the supporters right to hang banners, you’re punishing people who aren’t the problem. My children take extreme pride in carrying the American Outlaws Des Moines banner and stadium flag and seeing it in the stadium. That is a huge part of how they support the US. They were devastated when we couldn’t hang banners in Philly, and panicked that we might not be able to carry in the stadium flag. Don’t take away the creativity of your supporters as punishment for those who show no creativity and think supporting is as simple as chanting YSA and flipping off the other team.

By all means, let’s work together to get the cursing out of the section. A directive that anyone chanting YSA will be immediately ejected would be a fitting punishment. That may seem like a giant undertaking, but we all know you don’t have to caution the entire wall to respect 10 yards, just the first brick in it. Let’s get more educated stadium personnel, who feel empowered to remove the people who are causing problems so that the supporters section is still raucous and fun, without becoming dangerous or alienating the rest of your growing fan base.

PS I also reffed Latino league. Let’s not pretend that there’s far more bad language in English than Spanish. I think we’d all feel better if we did better than “those aren’t our fans”. Deal with all of it or none of it, please.

To the Supporters,

I’m with you. When I read that email yesterday, I was furious. But after sleeping on it, US Soccer has a point. Do we really need to curse in every chant? Would “Mental” be any less inspiring to the team if we went “freaking mental”? The American Outlaws mission statement is “To support the United States National Soccer Team through a unified and dedicated group of supporters.” So while US Soccer is not in charge of any of us, are we really supporting them if we’re specifically doing what they ask us to refrain from doing? We can do better. Don’t get angry, get creative. Show them that we are more than cursing. It would make my day if those going to the game tomorrow found some funny, even sarcastic, curse free replacement for YSA. I know there’s someone out there with something very funny and ironic to say. Let’s get that person some paint and bed sheets, ASAP.

Ultimately, we could fight and be pissed off, but what good will that do for us? You can have all the free speech you want, but in a private event, it won’t be you far. Ultimately, US Soccer can make all our lives pretty miserable, but it would be directly against our mission to drive them to it.

To everyone:

We’re all on the same side here. We want to grow US Soccer and having games with great atmosphere will make that happen. This is one of those aggravating “you’ll charm more bees with honey than vinegar. We can both do better in working together to create that atmosphere.




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