Thanks Matthew for picking up the torch in my absence this week. With a few hours before the Great American Beer Festival in Denver today, I wanted to post a long overdue (on my behalf) story from our friend Justin Brunken of The American Outlaws.
As we lament the lack of television coverage for the Honduras game, not to mention the hub-bub around the circumstances of the game in Honduras, there is always another way to guarantee you see the game.
Be in the stands.
That’s just what Justin and buddies try to do for each USMNT game. They’re the guys yelling, singing and supporting the USMNT. They’re the guys trying to make things just a little tougher for whomever the opponent may be. They’re the guys organizing trips across our country as well as to places where the term “military coup” is part of the everyday vernacular.
So sit back, relax and enjoy the story of Justin and friends’ now legendary journey to the recent match versus El Salvador in Salt Lake City. Not only will the tale make you laugh, but you begin to understand how eleven guys on a field wearing red-white-and-blue can bring folks from around the country together in a way that transcends merely cheering for a team.
Thanks for helping us understand, Justin.
When outlaws first started, Ben Cohoon (one of the founders of AO) wrote a blog for the website titled “Why do I do it?,” in which he went through a nightmare trip on his way to watch US v Mexico in Texas. His trip included cancelled flights, unexpected rental cars and sledgehammers. He concluded that while anything can and will happen when you’re travelling on a schedule, the emotional high that comes with attending a US game is always worth it.
A similar experience was had by everyone that saddled up in the Outlaws RV on their way to Salt Lake City for the latest home qualifier. 8 dudes (4 from AO Lincoln and 4 from AO KC) hopped onto the 1977 Dodge Brougham with enough Big Bear to kill a small horse. What ensued was, for better or worse, legendary.
After a solid first 8 hours or so driving through the night, an exploding tire woke up the 6 sleepers and the blurry eyed drivers at 7am. No problem, we’ve got a spare. With 7 dudes keeping “Rose” from tipping while up on the jack ensured that the tire was replaced by 8am.
By 10 am, ol’ Rose was topping out at 30 mph up the hills outside Evanston, WY. It was decided to roll the bitch into Evanston, find someone to look at it over the weekend, and figure out a backup plan to SLC. Thanks to some heroic bromanship from AO Houston (specifically Brian, Sam and Brandon, who rented suburbans and picked us up), we arrived in beautiful Salt Lake only 8 hours behind schedule.
Walking into Lumpys on Friday night reminded all the dudes why we came. Loud, passionate fans everywhere… drinking, singing and hanging out. The US “diehard” community is truly some of the coolest people you’re likely to meet.
Finally, the big day arrived. It started with a trip to Target of all places to pick up the hooch. Then it was onto the tailgate, with more drinking, singing, and hanging out. The train arriving from the morning bar provided a loud, enthusiastic boost to the tailgate demeanor, which proved to be intense throughout.
Inside the stadium, a less than inspiring performance on the field seemed to be fueled, if only a little, by the mood in the crowd. Smoke, singing, taunting, and intense goal celebrations are what I will remember from that game. It wasn’t pretty, but we got the three points.
After the final whistle, reality set in that we have no car and no clear way to get home. In steps more generous US fans looking out for each other, this time in the form of some guys from Colorado on a bachelor party trip with an RV of their own. “No problem” they say, and load up all 8 of us in their classy RV en route to Evanston.
Upon arrival back in Evanston, our buck hunting repairman fixed nothing, but recommended we “Just get it home and figure it out”. Since the RV seemed to be nocturnal up until this point, it seemed a smart thing to hang out in the Walmart parking lot until dark drinking and playing “butts up.” However, the dark didn’t prove to be the magic potion, and once again, she was topping out at 20 mph up hills. Additionally, oil pressure was becoming a problem.
Some added 10w-40 proved to be just what the buck hunter ordered, and we were running beautifully! 70 mph felt like light speed, until BOOM! The spare tire goes out. At 2am. In the middle of nowhere, Wyoming.
A tow, a haggle, a junkyard visit, a missing drive shaft, and 10 hours later, we were back on the road, running (relatively) smoothly. Other than having to open all the windows in fear of exhaust inhalation, it was pretty much smooth sailing from there. Arriving back to Lincoln at 2 am, a mere 12 hours or so behind schedule, we were just happy to be back. The only regrets being the missed white water rafting trip that we had planned for Sunday, and for those from KC, the remaining 3 hour drive home and off to work at 8am!
Why do we do it? Anyone who’s been to a US game knows exactly why.