Gooooaaaallll!!! Local soccer club hosts World Cup partiesWritten by Staff Reports | | firstname.lastname@example.org
By David Kubacki
For quite some time, home games for the United States national soccer team felt like away games, as the opposing country’s fans often outnumbered U.S. fans.
But with the sport’s growing popularity in America and organized fan groups such as the American Outlaws, the atmosphere at national soccer games has drastically changed, club members say.
In 2007, a group of soccer fans in Lincoln, Nebraska, started watching U.S. national games together. They felt like they were the outlaws of the sports world, following a sport most Americans didn’t.
It was there, sporting bandannas worn by American wild west outlaws, that the American Outlaws were born.
For Mark Blankenship, one of the founders of the American Outlaws’ Toledo chapter, there was an opportunity to bring that excitement to Toledo.
“I learned about the American Outlaws when I was in Columbus and wanted to bring the same support to Toledo,” Blankenship said. “There was nothing here when I started, but I put a Facebook page together to start trying to get some interest. Once we had enough members, we applied with the national organization to become an official chapter.”
To start a chapter, applicants need to have a minimum of 25 paid members and a “home base” bar where fans can expect to meet to watch each game. Toledo’s chapter now has more than 300 members and continues to grow. According to Richard Parish, a member of the Toledo chapter, the goal is to strengthen the support system for the national soccer teams.
“Whether it’s the men’s team or the women’s team, we want to support U.S. soccer wherever they are or whatever they are doing,” Parish said. “That’s what being an Outlaw means.”
With the World Cup slated to start June 12, soccer fans worldwide will be turning their attention to the soccer pitches of Brazil to see who will hoist the FIFA World Cup trophy in July.
The U.S. men’s team faces a steep challenge, as players will have to compete in the group appropriately dubbed the “group of death” to advance. For the U.S., play begins with Ghana on June 16, followed by Portugal on June 22 and Germany on June 26.
The U.S. was ousted by Ghana in 2006 in the group play level and in the round of 16 in 2010. With Portugal and Germany ranked No. 4 and No. 2 respectively in the FIFA world rankings, the group stage will certainly not get any easier.
In preparation for the World Cup and for future U.S. national games, the American Outlaws sought a home for their watch parties.
“We have our own room at the Claddagh Irish Pub at [Franklin Park Mall],” Blankenship said. “We’ll be holding watch parties for all the American games there. Everyone will be decked out in their colors to show their support. It should be a really good time.”
Blankenship said club members are eligible for drink specials and other perks, but anyone is welcome to attend the watch parties.
American Outlaws’ membership dues are $25 per year, which includes an official American Outlaws’ supporter shirt and an American flag bandanna.
Members are also eligible for a variety of other benefits such as discounted game tickets, admission to viewing parties and tailgates and various other discounts at soccer-related venues. Five dollars of every membership fee goes to support the local chapter directly.
For more information, visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/AmericanOutlawsToledo.
Tags: American Outlaws, banannas, Claddagh Irish Pub, Columbus, FIFA, Franklin Park Mall, Germany, Ghana, lincoln, Mark Blankenship, Nebraska, Portugal, soccer, Toledo Chapter, U.S. national team, World Cup