Thursday, August 20, 2009

News Watch: The American Outlaws.... a real supporter's group

The Journal-Star of Lincoln, Nebraska recently did a profile piece on "The American Outlaws," a US National Team supporters' group:
"You might think that the majority of U.S. soccer fans are only in big markets such as Chicago and Los Angeles. But the soccer fan base is expanding nationwide thanks to the efforts of a few local fans."
The "American Outlaws" were started only two years ago through the efforts of Justin Brunken and Korey Donahoo two Cornhusker students in search of a vibrant and energentic US National Team supporters' group. If you're a follower of the Nats and have been around for awhile you'll recall that for a number of years "Sam's Army" has had a corner on the supporters' group market. While one never wants to split up a limited fan base Sam's Army appears to be taking us (as US soccer fans) in the wrong direction.

Think of the supporters of other soccer clubs and national teams and one can conjure up the rabid supporters. Sam's Army does not conjure up any of those images.

The American Outlaws adds an element of intensity that is lacking in the "Army." They bring a more militant appearance (while not at all looking like an ultras group) than the family-friendly Army. Their signature is a stars-and-stripes bandanna and, unlike Sam's Army, do not require a certain color to be worn.

This has always been my major hang up with Sam's Army. They have push that all members/sitters in their section wear the color red to distinguish themselves as a supporters' group. This is flawed thinking. Number one; the US Nats do not even have a red jersey so the average (or above average) fan is cannot (or is strongly discouraged) from wearing the ACTUAL jersey of the team they are there to support. To comply with this when I have sat in their section I have worn by Liverpool jersey (red) instead of one of my four US Nats jerseys. Duh!

This almost OCD focus on color and the lack of a true identity has led Sam's to become a tame alternative to the more active Outlaws. Even their web presence is more striking. Sam's Army's site looks as though it was developed in a high school computers class in 1996 whereas the Outlaws has clearly been done by a professional. If you get a chance and take a look at the "songs" on Sam's site and try to convince me this isn't the wussiest fan club in the world.

It's not that I just have a problem with their red-requirement, but I have a problem in general when the game on the field pits one team against the other in epic battle where the supporters' group appears as a non-factor singing sissy songs.

So when Justin and Korey said they didn't see a true supporters' group for the Nats they would be absolutely correct. American soccer needs a loud, proud, and maybe a bit more forceful presences at its games and around the U.S. of A. The American Outlaws is here to fill that void and make a name for the supporters of the "Red, White, and Blue"

- Dan

Link: The American Outlaws webpage

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