My apologies for taking two plus weeks to get around to posting these pictures – it wouldn’t be too much hyperbole to tell you that it took me that long to recover!
Let’s preface all of this by saying that if you are at all a fan of US Soccer, you should be a member of your local American Outlaws chapter. The Outlaws are a supporters group with chapters in more than 90 cities around the country.
We’re members of the AO group here in Milwaukee and mostly that means we hang out at a local soccer bar together watching games and talking US Soccer. But occasionally it means we get on a bus together and head to Chicago for things like the Gold Cup Final.
Membership is a paltry $20 a year. You get discounts for some soccer websites and travel sites as well as opportunities for advanced purchase of tickets to pretty much all USMNT and USWNT games. We’re so glad to have joined. Our local group has FB and Twitter pages and we love joining the discussion and meeting fellow soccer fans. It’s a great group and I’d advocate everyone joins.
So we bought our Gold Cup Final tickets the day they went on sale. We hedged our bets on the USMNT being there. We know that big international games only come near us (usually Chicago) every could of years. We decided that even if the USMNT didn’t make it, it would be a good time, so we were in no matter what. Using the AO advanced sale, we got our tickets first thing and had 10th row. We were stoked and then just had to sit back and enjoy the ride of the US through the qualifying stages.
We also knew this would be an easy trip for us – we wanted to get WCQ tickets in Columbus or Kansas City, but we also want to go to Europe next year, so we sort of settled on this Gold Cup final instead. In the end, I don’t feel like I settled, though. I’m sure US/Mexico will be bonkers, but I’m glad we did this. It was a good intro into the world of AO and supporters section mania.
So the morning of the game we gathered with other local AO members at our soccer bar and boarded a bus. The price of bus admission included beer, drinks and snacks. Someone did the math – there were 9.5 beers on board for each person. (Let me just say that as much as I love AO, I would have loved AO so much more when I was about 10 years younger!)
The bus trip alone was an experience. The “America playlist” was as varied as you’d imagine and somehow the song that had the most crowd participation was Phil Collins “In the Air Tonight” – there’s nothing like grown men shushing each other in anticipation of “the breakdown” and then playing the drums on the roof of the bus. It was a moment.
Chicago traffic was true to form, despite it being Sunday morning/early afternoon. The Chicago AO chapter as well as any others in town had met at a bar. The plan was to march to Soldier Field past the US Soccer Federation House, where President Sunil Gulati would address us. Thanks to traffic, we missed the bar part and had our bus driver take us straight to the Soccer House. We stood there and listened to the rest of the group march to us, which was awesome. Having got there first means that the Milwaukee chapter is featured prominently in the video of Gulati addressing the crowd (notice the cheesehead and AO Milwaukee scarves).
My pictures seem to have uploaded in all kinds of order and if you’re familiar with WordPress, you know why I’m not going to try to fix that. Sorry. It should be clear which pictures are the march to the stadium and which pictures are of the game and inside the stadium.
The game itself was slow to get moving, but in the end the US came out victorious. This was our first supporter section experience and it was everything I had hoped for. From “Panama, we split your country in two” cheers, to the amazingness of singing the National Anthem in that group, everything from start to finish was great. Our seats were great. We had two Mexico fans near us and bless them for still showing up to the game and taking hours and hours of friendly abuse from the fans.
We were on TV during the trophy presentation, which was pretty cool
Sad Jurgen head was one of my favorite things
Me and the boyfriend decked out in AO/USMNT gear
Celebrating with the trophy
AO Milwaukee folks leading the charge into the stadium