Thursday, June 16, 2011

Free Beer Movement in Action - The USMNT are CLASS ACTS!

Editor's Note: We LOVE to hear about your Free Beer Movement in action. Whenever and wherever you're buying beers to bring the beautiful game to soccer newbies we want to here it. Send your stories to us at freebeermovement(at) We'll even send you one of our FBM stickers for your troubles!

By Andrew RupparJacksonville, FL

Andrew's game face.
To be fair, I would be a fan of the USMNT no matter who takes the field, but after the last game against Panama, for this fan it was a victory. For my birthday weekend, I drove down from Jacksonville, FL that day to catch the Tampa match with my girlfriend (her first match). We arrived at the game, as early as we could to have fun with all the arriving fans and supporters. I posted comments and pictures of the "pre-game community" and another group of friends ended up piling their family into the car to make it down just before kickoff for their first match as well. However, this story isn't about before the game or the score.

Its not hard to find stories about today's top athletes being less-than role-models for the fans. Some player maybe snubs a kid with a pen or blows up at someone getting too close with a camera. As a player you just cannot sign every ball or stop for every photo request, and hey...everyone, athletes included, sometimes just have bad days. That is what made that night so amazing, and I could not be happier that this is the team and players that I get to support. After Tampa, the broadcasters, blogs, and social media portals instantly start chiming in with their post-game and player feedback, and it was a common assessment that this was one of those "bad days".

Dempsey posing with wedding guests.
After the game, I made it back to the hotel lobby restaurant. It became an impromptu meeting point for other fans all making their way back after the match. Supporters were meeting and greeting and finding out who came the farthest or who were the newest. Everyone was happy to just be sharing a few post-match pints and we were already talking about how things will play out in the next round of the Gold Cup and watching the highlights on Fox Soccer Channel. (As it turns out, it just happened to be the same hotel shared by the team and I am sure there are VIP entrances where they could be bussed in and make it to their room without having to bump elbows post game with the fans.)

Now, I would like to think I played it off well and maybe gave a casual stone-cold "what's up" nod while walking past a player or two, but I have seen the pictures and I was grinning like an 11 year old girl at a Bieber concert. Suddenly, I notice that Howard, Dempsey, Bocanegra, Cherundolo, Agudelo....I had to stop counting...are hanging out with the fans. Lines and lines of kids with balls, families with cameras, American Outlaws with jerseys, and I am not kidding, at one point a large Indian-style wedding gets out at the hotel and some lucky couple has the guys in their wedding album, all walking right up to the players who without missing a beat sign and pose for anyone asking. This goes on for hours (or whatever the official team curfew is...which ever is less Bob). After that game, they could have easily walked up to their rooms or even just come down for a brief post-match meet-and-greet and no one would have thought any less. Instead, most of the players parked themselves down at the tables right in the middle of all of the surprised fans.

Pints for players? Yeah, that's definitely
 the FBM way as well. (Cherundolo and Howard)
Now, I know that normally the FBM is about getting a beer for a new fan and "Build American soccer, one beer it a time" and I have bought a few of those rounds, but I thought it was equally appropriate that night, when you happen to run into players like Howard, Cherundolo, and the Deuce, you put a nice cold one down on their table as well.

I don't think any of the supporters I ran into that night talked about the game, we all just talked about the games coming up (and who for the LOVE OF GOD has a spare pen), and maybe that is the difference between a fan and a supporter. I know that plenty of people have things to say about match and players, but after watching those guys both on and off the field, I could not have been more proud that this was my team. It might have been one of those "bad days", but for me and plenty of surprised fans old and new, that night was one of the best.

Andrew and "The Legend"
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