The match (and referee) were a disappointment on Saturday evening at the Home Depot Center, but even more disconcerting, though not shocking, was the continued lack of support for the USMNT on their home soil. Regardless of the validity of the overall attendance figures, the crowd was approaching 70 / 30 split between Honduran supporters and US supporters.
While no one expected a packed house awash in red singing God Bless America, the paltry support for the USMNT makes one wonder if the soccer hype and hipness generated by the Confederations Cup last summer expired when the calendar flipped to 2010.
US Soccer may point out that the January friendly saw an attendance increase of nearly 100% from a reported 9,918 for the match versus Sweden in 2009 to a reported 18,626 on Saturday night, but how much of that boost can be attributed to a blue-and-white opponent instead of a blue-and-yellow one?
With US Soccer spending a month on the ground, two MLS teams in residence and a population approaching 10,000,000 in Los Angeles the USMNT should have garnered better support. Of course one can contend the game was meaningless and featured the “B” team, but on-the-other-hand the US is kicking off a World Cup year after finishing first in CONCACAF qualifying and playing for the first time on the “home” turf since October.
No amount of lamenting in words is going to change the landscape overnight, but a group of people banding together in support of the USMNT has got this moving in the right direction. The enthusiasm of the US supporters in attendance on Saturday night should be commended. If you were in or around section 137 you saw what could be, and should be encouraged.
So, good folks of the American Outlaws, Sam’s Army and the US Soccer Supports Club keep fighting the good fight, think of creative ways to get people to the game and continue to forge the American soccer identity. (Any chance these groups can sit next to each other in a “super-section” of peace, harmony and raucous support?)
After a rough performance on Saturday night, US supporters need a little pick-me-up. Thankfully, Max of the Tony Danza Army has come to the rescue with another video for the people.
Home of the brave…indeed.
Added note from Matthew here:
I had the occasion to finally catch up personally with Justin Brunken, a founder of the American Outlaws USMNT support group. I have to apologize for not knowing the full history of the group at the time–I’ll claim that my writing fully envelops me completely and blindingly.
I was absolutely astounded by a few things that I wanted to add to Mark’s column here:
» Justin architected and now manages the American Outlaws (with his fellow founders) for free. I felt certain that a group as organized and as fervent as the American Outlaws certainly commanded at least one person fulltime on them. Not the case I learned; amazing. Even more amazing considering they only began in 2007.
» The chapter phenomenon is one that AO initiated and has served the American Outlaws well…..so much so that legacy fan support group Sam’s Army has decided to adopt the same approach through “brigades.”
» I had one member tell me, “These guys are great. I joined just this year and when I needed a place to stay for the Haiti game in Boston, a number of guys said I could crash at their pad.”
Can you imagine this parallel happening in other sports? I can imagine the conversation would go something like this on a message board.
“Hey I’m Matt. I’m a huge New York Giants fan and I’m going to be at the game this weekend in Kansas City. Anybody have an empty couch that they wouldn’t mind sharing for a big fan?”
“Do you have a criminal record?”
Nice work AO.