Soccer….Family Style


LET’S DO THIS!
March 28, 2016, 2:27 pm
Filed under: International Soccer, US Soccer | Tags: , ,

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10 hours. It takes 10 hours to drive from our house to Columbus, Ohio and MAPFRE Stadium, not allowing for stops for the Hat Trick Baby. We did it in December for MLS Cup Final (someday I’ll get that blog posted) and we’re doing it today for USMNT. I’m starting to wish rest stops came equipped with paper bags for hyperventilating.

As a US Soccer lifer, it’s a lot of time to think about this moment in our history. My love of Klinsmann is well documented, but even I am having a crisis of faith. Where are we as a nation of soccer supporters if we can’t score on Guatemala, even away? What is happening if we can’t sell out our home of all homes, Columbus?

I got into a Facebook conversation with my friend Bill about the parallels that can be drawn between Bernie Sanders’ campaign and US Soccer at this moment (I know, don’t talk politics, but bear with me….I’m from Iowa, I promise to keep it civil). Both movements have young followers who want to believe anything and everything is possible. I sense a similarity in these campaigns in the rising sentiment of “if we don’t win, I’m done” and a willingness to profess love on social media, but not make it out to the voting booth/game day.

But support isn’t about the fair weather days. It’s about picking up your team when they are down. I wish politicians were talking about the unfairness in rising tickets prices. I get it. It’s a pretty big leap from $40 being the typical, pre-Hex price for a qualifier in 2013 to $60 for tomorrow’s match. I hope we’re getting another round of collectible scarves at this price, but given how fast Columbus has sold out previously, I’m surprised to see “cheap” seats available the day before the match.

A win tomorrow puts us back into “likely qualifying” percentages. A loss puts us into that 10% range that might even get me reaching for the pitchforks. But that is for another day.

Tomorrow is about getting this effing job done. I drove 10 hours with an 11 month old baby and I want my THREE POINTS. I came to sing. I came to yell. I came to love. I hope you’ll come too. Come out and support our boys on the Road to Russia.

Let’s do this.

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I Remember in Gratitude

I woke up around 9:30 this morning with the sound of supporters chants echoing in my head and thought about where I was twelve years ago that moment compared to where I am today. I was filled with gratitude for the lessons I learned that day. There’s no way I would be waking up in Columbus with my two beautiful kids, basking in the afterglow of an epic night of soccer, had I not woken up on 9/11/01.

Pulling into work on 9/11, where I was supposed to spend the day selling and designing office furniture systems (that’s cubicles, to you civilians). Instead, I spent a few hours in shock in our conference room in Des Moines, watching the news, praying my family and friends back home in New York, New Jersey, and DC were OK. Slowly, details rolled in…my father wasn’t on an ill fated early flight from Logan. Friends emailed. My cousin got out of the Pentagon safely.

I gave up working around 10 AM, with the thought that not one single person cared about the miles of panel systems destroyed that day. My work was meaningless. There was no point to it ever, certainly not that day. I drove through downtown Des Moines, cowering under our tall buildings that I can’t call skyscrapers, but that fact didn’t stop them from piercing the bright blue sky so it bled out sunshine on Iowans who seemed oblivious to our world crashing down around us. I wanted to scream at them, shake them from their zombie state of Midwestern security. Instead, I went home and sobbed until my husband came home to sit with me at the Blood Bank. We waited there for hours, mainly because it was a refugee camp for Easterners in Des Moines diaspora. I couldn’t be alone, but had to be somewhere I could still take the phone call from my mom, phoning me at 7 PM Eastern to tell me she was still at the school in Montclair, NJ, where she was a teacher. She’d been with the elementary school kids waiting for their parents who couldn’t call, and may never get there, who were walking home from the City because that was the only way to get out that day. The last child had been picked up at 7 PM, and my mother could finally release all the emotion she couldn’t show to her students. Her grief poured out in a raging flood that tore through any composure I had, but my fellow refugees just nodded in understanding, put a hand on my shoulder, shared their stories from home with me.

My new world started to crystallize there, seeing that there was a community for me in Des Moines, and that that community would get you through the worst moments of your life. We finally went home and sat in front of horrifying news of the day, I felt a clarity settle over me. My life needed to change, radically and swiftly. This would be my personal judgement day, and what I brought to the world was found wanting by my own accounting. That just wouldn’t be acceptable for one more day.

I turned to my husband and said “I think we should have kids.” He swiveled his head away from the carnage on the screen, and with amazing restraint at the shock of my seven year established position of kid-free happiness making an abrupt about face, he said “Okay….” not at all revealing that he, in all likelyhood, had a mental institution ready on speed dial.

I explained that while we didn’t know details, it was pretty obvious that there were some pretty awful people in the world. We wouldn’t be able to impact getting rid of those people, but certainly, we were capable of raising a few kids who may not cure cancer, but would tip the good guy/bad guy ratio in our favor. He agreed, suggested we see if I still felt that way in a couple weeks, and low and behold, 13 months later, our beloved Wonder Woman (the supporter formerly known as Betsy Ross) was born.

During those 13 months, I resigned my position and started doing community work, first with the Des Moines Marathon, then with the Stadium Foundation, then with my own company. And I decided my life would be focused on things I cared about: family, work that was meaningful, and soccer. I met someone this weekend who, when I introduced myself, said in shock, “You’re Tanya Keith? I’ve heard of you.” This is a phase I hear more often, although it is still strange to me, particularly when delivered with a tone that adds layers of ambiguity in exactly what reputation precedes me. He clarified, “I heard you’re a force of nature.” How’s that for my next business card? “Tanya Keith, Force of Nature.”

This soccer trip with my family, with all of you, who told me so many great stories, seeing that beautiful game, that ended in another dos a cero moment for us to share, it all happened for me because of the person I became twelve years ago. Maybe it takes an unspeakable tragedy to get clarity about your life, but I hope not. I try every 9/11 to evaluate (convenient that it comes in the season of atonement for my JewCrew buddies and I) if my life is authentic and meaningful. I try every year to not get lost in the sadness of what we lost, but in gratitude for the lessons I learned and the place I was delivered to by those lessons.

Last night, the energy and love for US Soccer that poured out of Columbus was even more healing for me than the game they hosted last year. I love being in any supporter section, but last night in Columbus was something special. In the mist of goal celebrations’ beer, smoke, and sheer unadulterated joy, the Nordecke elevated me to something I can only describe in Charles Boehm’s new word: it was #DosaCeroazo.

I am filled with gratitude, US Soccer loving nation. I hope you are all out there, being a force of nature in something you love, with people you love.



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!



Isn’t That Cute? @USSoccer Tweets a tease! #USAvCRC #USMNT
January 15, 2013, 10:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Oh US Soccer, trying to be all coy and charming with their tweet “We’ll be announcing the location for the first #USMNT home World Cup Qualifier today. #USAvCRC on March 22. Where do you want it played?” Are you effing kidding me?

I know US Soccer likes to drag these announcements out until airfare is insane and fans are tied up in knots, but now they’re really pissing me off. My gateway drug to soccer was as a USSF referee, and I at one point was a State level referee, considering making an attempt at becoming a National referee, so while it’s been a while since I was a “career” referee, I do remember my endless hours of training from the very organization jerking us around today. You know what we’re trained as referees?

1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. If you say, “We’ll be announcing this week.” to Grant Wahl, then make the announcement when you said you would.

2. Be predictable. Referees had so many sayings like “a good referee is never surprised” and in turn, doesn’t surprise their players and coaches. Nobody likes being led on, on the field or trying to make plans to get to it.

3. Be humble and show your genuine personality. We fans have been waiting to here this announcement for WEEKS, if not months. Posting a cheeky “I know something you don’t know” tweet at this point is just douchie. Apologize for the on again, off again announcement, and just tell us where we are going already.

C’mon US Soccer. I’m only asking you to stand by what you taught me. Is it KC, SLC, or Denver? Or some totally other idea. Just get on with it already.




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