Let’s get this out of the way right up front: I am a U.S. Soccer fan and attended the World Cup qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico at Crew Stadium back in 2005, so there might be some bias at play here. Make of it what you will.
Early Wednesday, a post appeared on the Columbus Crew’s SB Nation Page — Massive Report — about the upcoming qualifier between the U.S. and Mexico in Ohio on Sept. 10. In trying to coordinate and plan for the game, apparently the U.S. Soccer Federation reached out to fans from Seattle – specifically the large chapter of the American Outlaws supporters group – to turn the game into a road trip, where they’d run the show (ie, create the banners, write the cheers and carry the giant banners).
Columbus has hosted the last three home U.S./Mexico qualifiers, with the U.S. winning each game 2-0 and starting the famous “Dos a Cero” chant in the process. Naturally Columbus fans aren’t too thrilled about the Seattle fan involvement:
U.S. v. Mexico veterans from American Outlaws Columbus, HSH, and Crew Union brought up that Columbus has done a great job of creating the most intimidating atmosphere in the United States for the longest running period and that we shouldn’t tinker with a good thing by changing that organic atmosphere. This was quickly shot down.
The reasoning quickly became clear. American Outlaws and U.S. Soccer want to create a standardized atmosphere with capos from Seattle leading at every USMNT match.
Later Wednesday Goal.com reports that indeed U.S. Soccer has indeed handed the reins to leaders from the Seattle American Outlaws to run all game day operations for U.S. National Team home games.
Leaders from the Seattle chapter will reportedly be in charge of organizing the songs and chants in the official USA supporters section, and their expenses will be covered by U.S. Soccer.
UPDATE: A few minutes after this post was published, the American Outlaws website issued a response, saying all reports that Seattle fans will run the show in Columbus were incorrect and that the game will coordinated by local fan groups.
Let’s try to remember it wasn’t that long ago when the U.S. barely had any support in the stands for most home matches, so this petty in-fighting among the different supporters group chapter could use a sprinkling of perspective.
That said, it is a tad ironic an “outlaw” group would now be leaned upon to ensure the U.S. has a standardized amount of flair in the stands for home games. Make no mistake there will be a growing backlash toward Seattle since many American fans are growing tired of the constant positive press the city receives, as if it’s the only place in American that supports soccer with the passion it deserves. (Granted, 67,000 for an MLS game this week is noteworthy.)
For what it’s worth, here’s footage from DaMarcus Beasley’s goal during the “Dos a Cero” game vs. Mexico in 2005, that booked the U.S.’s spot in Germany. It was pretty damn impressive, even without any oversight from U.S. Soccer. You might even see my old Beasley PSV Eindhoven jersey if you look carefully enough.
Based on my experience, often attending a U.S. National Team game resembles something closer to a Comic-Con. Far be it from me to judge, but sometimes it looks like there are groups of fans who are more interested in their Stars & Stripes cosplay landing them on tv for 13 seconds than the match itself.
U.S. Soccer should have kept it simple and gone the David Puddy route, as in, “You gotta support the team,” and left it at that.