Thursday, March 31, 2011

On Moments of Silence, Moments of Fighting and Soccer Hating By Proxy

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Saturday night was a great moment for the United States National Team. A scrappy, all-hands-on-deck-performance from the red, white, and blue secured a 1-1 draw with South America powerhouse, Argentina. The U.S. did not dominate, control possession, nor trouble the Argentines for long stretches of the game, but, as the game of soccer goes, found that one magic moment where youngster Juan Agudelo pounced on a spilled save and brought the Americans equalizing euphoria.

The game was marred, however, by two incidents on either side of the contest. Before the match kicked off the stadium held a moment of silence for the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan where, in footage that later appeared on YouTube (and many other websites), a fan yelled "konichiwa bitches" and it was picked up by the TV broadcast microphones. Post-match a group of American and Argentinian fans got into a scuffle that too was caught and posted on YouTube.

Both incidents marred what was a banner night for U.S. soccer. Taken in isolation there were the actions of a few stupid (possibly intoxicated) and rude individuals. Brought into the Inter-Net-Blogo-Sphere through the power of the media, video sharing sites, Twitter, etc and now these people are the representatives of American soccer to the larger world.

While American soccer fans were busy celebrating the emergence of the 18-year old Agudelo, the discovery of the Germany-American Timothy Chandler, the future of Jozy Altidore, and the gritty performance of the National Team, the outside world was putting these unrelated incidents under the microscope and serving them up as an indictment of our fans and our sport.

Just when it seemed soccer bashing was falling out of favor with the "lamestream" media types it rose again, but this time in a sort of proxy war on the sport. Certain like the rising of the sun, they came out during last summer's World Cup to copy and paste their tired attacks on soccer, but this week it was not about the game, but its fans.

Before the sport was the main focus of their ire. The silly, foreign game played with feet was for women and children the only other past-time with the same demographic was abandoning sinking ships. And that's what soccer was in America. With the increasing success of the National Team (of both genders, finally) and our domestic Major League Soccer; these old guard attacks seemed like the last breaths of a dying, bitter beast.

Then came "konichiwa bitches"! The line, originally from a Dave Chappel sketch, but that's neither here nor there.

A soccer fan, and an American one at that, acted incredibly insensitively to Japan's plight and the moment of silence in memory of the lives lost, and the whole sport was painted with one color.

Sports talk radio that wouldn't have given one minute to the game's results were now discussing the rudeness of the American soccer fan. Howard Stern had a go at it too. Comment sections of video boards and what-not took the moment of stupidity and connecting to foreign policy. Great. Frankly we thought it kind of ironic that the blow hards that can't stop talking for a second would be all over criticizing people who interrupted a minute of it.

If/when you watch the clip certainly there is a lot of chatter going on in the stadium. The shout of one fan in particular is the easy target, but to lay this one on the American soccer fan for their behavior is a tough accusation as well. In a stadium where the American soccer fan was in the minority (as we so often are) how can this be an attack on us?

Critics of the sport, no matter how many of how few numb skulls there are use these sorts of situations as live ammo. The American soccer fan is rude, insensitive, and therefore their sport is not worth the time of day. A proxy attack on the game through the acts of a select few. On political websites it is referred to as "nutpicking"; find the extreme example and use it as the poster child for the entire group.

The brawl following the match is worth less in column inches, talk radio air, and my time, but still gives enemies of soccer a clear target. The American soccer fan is uncivilized and much like the worst elements of the European soccer community.

Thank goodness that the rest of the American sports world have such upstanding citizens. The point isn't to drag other sports down this dark path as well, but to step back and to realize that we all have out unsightly elements in the stands. Whereas some parts of European soccer have allowed their racism, homophobia, and general malice toward fellow fans become the rule rather that the exception. American sports, and American soccer, is not so.

Using the actions of a few to represent the whole is a cowards way of attacking a sport that is increasingly becoming a part of the sporting mainstream. Three well-written and major web articles from this same match even point to the good natured, fun-loving, and confrontational-free nature of the United States' largest supporters group. (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, and Exhibit C), the American Outaws.

So stop it. We're sorry that people like soccer. We're sorry that you don't. We're sorry that you continue to hang on to outdated notions of what is and what isn't in the American sporting landscape. But don't go there.

Don't lump all fans into one group and do not let a few fans represent a sport as a whole in this country. That's just lazy "journalism".

To expect anything else, though, would be a stretch.


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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scouting Report for US. v Paraguay (Our Guest Piece for American Outlaws)

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Editor's Note: In a pinch we were asked by the American Outlaws to pen their "scouting report" for today's match against Paraguay. Don't forget to check out our beer recommendations about halfway through as well.

You may know me from such films as American Outlaws: Austin Edition, but my most famous work comes from my appearances on the hit website, Free Beer Movement. Yeah it’s me… “the free beer guy,” here to prep you about the latest bit of South America we’re about to tread all over!

The Basics:

Tomorrow night the United States Men’s National Team takes to the field against South American side Paraguay from LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. Kick off it at 7pm CT.


Not there to get shit-faced with the AOs on the ground? Get your ass off the fucking couch and get to your local chapter bar! The game will be televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

Break It Down!

Paraguay’s no Argentina, but that’s not to say that La Albirroja are South American slouches. This side, like their continental counterparts, was 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists and this squad returns 13 players from that campaign, including eight starters.

There’s no truth to the rumors that Paraguay will be calling up this super hottie fan to distract high-flying USMNT soccer stud and current 18-year old horn dog, Juan Agudelo. Paraguay isn’t sexy like its famous fan, but plays pretty defensively (although that didn’t help it in its 3-1 pounding it took against Mexico). Let’s hope the US can send the Paraguayans home with two ol’ fashioned ass kickings.

Edson Buddle has been sent packing to Germany so look for Altidore to feature up top with Agudelo (although don’t be surprised or outraged if Juan doesn’t start in favor of Mix Diskerud) and the US to press a lot more than the “park the bus” that they played against Argentina. Paraguay is much more of a solid match up for the US to realistically prepare for this summer’s Gold Cup. Here’s hoping that Jozy gets nostalgic for Nashville and bags another hat trick like last time he was in town.

We’re hoping that we’ll see the “TnTnT” combo on the back line with Tim Howard, Tim Ream, and Tim Chandler all getting serious minutes (“Tim Timiny Tim Timiny Tim Tim Cha Roo…. We have Tim, Tim, and Tim and they ALL say FUCK YOU!”), but don’t be surprised if Bob Bradley ruins my cool 2014 nickname for the defense and puts Marcus Hahnemann (and Jonathan Bornstein) between the sticks just so he doesn’t skip his flight the next time coach calls him up.

Beer Me!

What kind of Free Beer Movement would we be if we didn’t provide at least a few cold brew recommendations for the game?

Not a very good one would be the answer you were looking for.

Rogue Ales “American” Amber Ale (Portland, OR): Take a great big delicious swig of this patriotic brew. Rogue is one of the West Coast’s best beers and this red, white, and blue bottled beauty is the perfect starter for what should be a great night.

Yazoo Brewing Co. “Sue” Porter (Nashville, TN): Ever heard the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue”? Basically guy is named Sue (duh) but spends his whole life angry that no one respects him ‘cause he has a girl’s name. Ends up one night fighting a guy in a bar after dude makes fun of him. Turns out dude is his dad. Tells his son he named him “Sue” so he’d turn out tough.  I’d kinda like to think that the U.S is like Sue always kicking people’s asses because we came late to the soccer game; trying to prove a point.

The History:

The U.S. holds a 2-1-2 lifetime record against Paraguay, posting three shutouts. In addition to a 3-0 victory in the 1930 World Cup, the USA collected a 2-0 win on July 6, 2003 in Columbus (we own that town!). The teams last met at the (disastrous) 2007 Copa America, where the U.S. team fell 3-1 to the Paraguayans.

The Good Guys’ Roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3) : Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), David Yelldell (MSV Duisburg)

DEFENDERS (8): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres), Timothy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Eric Lichaj (Leeds), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Mikkel Diskeruud (Stabaek), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)

FORWARDS (2): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor)

The Bad Guys’ Roster:

Keepers: Justo Villar (Valladolid, España) y Diego Barreto (Cerro Porteño, Paraguay).
Defense: Víctor Hugo Marecos (Brescia, Italia), Marcos Cáceres (Racing, Argentina), Paulo da Silva (Zaragoza, España), Antolín Alcaraz (Wingan, Inglaterra), Miguel Samudio (Libertad, Paraguay), Aureliano Torres (San Lorenzo, Argentina) y Darío Verón (Pumas, México).
Midfield: Edgar Barreto (Atalanta, Italia), Osmar Molinas (Olimpia, Paraguay), Marcos Riveros (Nacional, Paraguay), Cristian Riveros (Sunderland, Inglaterra), Enrique Vera (Liga de Quito, Ecuador), Hernán Pérez, (Villareal, España), Néstor Ortigoza (San Lorenzo, Argentina) y Marcelo Estigarribia (Newell[s, Argentina).
Forwards: Osvaldo Martínez (Monterrey, México), Oscar Cardozo (Benfica, Portugal), Edgar Benítez (Pachuca, México), Lucas Barrios (Borussia Dortmund, Alemania).

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Better Know A Supporter's Group - Crew Union

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We continue to expand our coverage of American soccer culture with our series "Better Know a Supporters Group," just like Steven Colbert's "Better Know a District" from "The Colbert Report". 


Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams' supporters groups. We've sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you'll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia's Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.

Today it's the Columbus Crew's Crew Supporters Union

As told to the Free Beer Movement by Crew Union President John Clem.


The Basics


SG Name: Crew Supporters Union (or ‘Crew Union’ for short)

MLS Club: Columbus Crew


Stadium: Columbus Crew Stadium


Year SG Founded: 2006

Section Name (if other than SG name): The Nordecke, which is German for ‘North Corner’, honoring the cities German heritage.

Any other SGs apart of your section?


Hudson Street Hooligans. La Turbina Amarilla also used to be in the Nordecke, but are moving for 2011 season for more space.

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction):

The five sections composing the northeast corner of the stadium.

The Meaty Questions


What are the origins of your groups’ name?


Crew Supporters Union is a play on the construction worker theme of the Columbus Crew. Initially we had called our group Crew Supporters Union: Local 614 (614 is the area code in Columbus), but that was later dropped.

Favorite chants/songs?

The difficult thing with MLS supporters is that due to how intertwined they are with US National team supporters groups like Sam’s Army and American Outlaws a lot of the best chants/songs get passed around the league pretty quickly. I love songs like “We Love Ya", but it's now being done by many supporters in the league. Love Vindaloo, but falls into this category as well.

I’m a big fan of player specific chants. For example for Liverpool born Andy Iro we sing “He’s big, he’s British, he’s probably good at quidditch, Andy Iro! Andy Iro!”. For two-time MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall we often sing “Tried to get the ball past Marshall, he said ‘No, No, No!” to the tune of Amy Winehouse’s Rehab song.

Here's a link to lyrics and recordings for a good chunk of our songs.


Why is sitting in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?


Standing with Crew Union or anywhere else in the Nordecke offers a unique experience in Columbus. Yeah we have the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, the Clippers (AAA affiliate of the Indianns) and Ohio State football and basketball, those experiences don’t offer the same level of creativity, passion, and intensity.

People don’t even have to be soccer fans to enjoy a game in the Nordecke, but once they do they’ll come back for more.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?


We travel. Both for home games and away games, I don’t know if this comes from being Midwesterners and not minding a few hour drive or what.

For home games we have so many members that drive in from other large cities in the region that we’ve established satellite groups. CSU: Local 317 for example is a chapter in Indianapolis that organizing viewing parties and carpools to Columbus for home games. Similar groups with varying levels of organization exist in Cincinnati, Detroit, Cleveland, and Louisville. We also have presences in Washingon DC, Boston and New York that ensures we always have a presence at those away games.

For away games if it’s drivable we’ll be there and usually take a bus. Last year in conjunction with Hudson Street we took large contingents to matches at NY, DC, Philly and Chicago, and three of those were weekday games. NY in particular was an up and back on a Thursday night match that lasted just over 30 hours.

Greatest game(s) in team history?


While it may be easy to say the 2008 MLS Cup final at the Home Depot Center where the Crew handled NY pretty easily on the way to a 3-1 win, but I think most people will agree with me when I say the 2008 Eastern Conference Final against Chicago. It was a defining moment for the Crew and it's fanbase after never winning the ECF in several previous attempts. To do it against a huge rival against Chicago and former Crew icon turned villain in Brian McBride just added to the drama.

You can feel the outpouring of emotion in this video when the team came over to the Nordecke after the match.

Predictions for this season?

Top 3 in the Eastern Conference and another U.S. Open Cup run. I’m a bit of an optimist, but I still think most people are underestimating the Crew. The core of the team is still there and they know how to win.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?

It’s the best we have and for a new generation of soccer fans it’s been all they’ve known domestically which is great. The league is going to keep growing and getting stronger and the quality will keep getting better. Will it ever be the top sports league in the United States? Probably not anytime soon, but that’s what’s great about MLS, it offers an option for people that don’t want the normal sit on your hands experience you get with most American professional sports.

For more information and information about joining up with the Crew Supporters Union check out their website.


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Sunday, March 27, 2011

VIDEO - USMNT vs. Argentina Highlights, Agudelo Goal, and Post-Match Reaction

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All the action and reaction from last night's 1-1 draw with Argentina. For more analysis, check out the wonderful, The Shin Guardian.

Highlights:


Juan Agudelo Goal (Behind the Scenes angle)


Bob Bradley Post-Game Press Conference:


Post-Game Mixed Zone


All Videos Courtesy of US Soccer

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Going Suds Up: The Best Beers, The Best Soccer

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By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent

If you’re reading this, there’s a very good chance that the highlight of your sporting weekend will be the match between the USA and Argentina, which kicks off at 7PM New Jersey time. Now, if you’re actually lucky enough to be in Jersey for the game, there’s likely little I can do to help you. It’s all stadium beers and whatever comes out of the cooler in the trunk. However, if you manage to kidnap Ezequiel Lavezzi and bring him to me, I promise you free beer advice for life. Thanks in advance.

However, if you’re like me and didn’t realize the match coincided with spring break, and thought it would be rather ridiculous to fly across the country only to wind up in court clutching a temporary restraining order, you’re likely looking for some decent beer to drink while watching select international representatives run around working up a thirst. I’ll be kicking it at Uber Tavern in Seattle, if they let us turn on the match, so I thought I’d select a couple choice beers from their current tap list.

Firestone Walker "Double Jack" India Pale Ale (Paso Robles, CA) : What else to drink when watching the USMNT take on Argentina but this all-American hop bomb? Aggressive, assertive, just the way that the US will have to be when taking on a not-always-watertight Argentina defense (yes, that may be a bit of an understatement). There are thousands of individuals out there writing on tactics, formations, history, proper hairstyles, whatever you might want to know about the USMNT, so I’m not even going to pretend to have as much of a clue about the squad. Instead, I’m going to give you what you came here for: a beer review. Double Jack is one of the best double IPAs in existence, but if you don’t like an overabundance of hops, particularly citrus hops, you might want to bypass this tasty treat. The initial taste is fairly mild, with citrus hops balanced by sweet caramel malts. But like most IIPAs, it’s the ending that’s gonna get you. Grapefruit, pine, and spicy hops all linger long after the sweetness has disappeared. The hops mask a high alcohol content, so take care you’re not lured into drinking too many of these, at 9.5%.

Black Raven "Second Sight" Strong Scotch Ale (Redmoond, WA) : I’ll be sipping this one in advance of Scotland’s friendly against Brazil. The more I watch Brazilians play, the more I realize that the majority of them are a bunch of elbow-slinging, hand-using, two-footed tackling thugs. The Scots, meanwhile, are mostly a bunch of tiny people with cute accents (by which I mean Barry Bannan). This beer is a tribute to Bazza and the article headline the BBC chose to write: “Bannan eager to tackle Brazilians.” In case you haven’t watched much of Bannan, he’s not the world’s best tackler, although I’m not sure anyone is at 5’6”. The image of the diminutive midfielder taking on the likes of Lucio, Maicon, Thiago Silva…well, I need a strong beer just thinking about it. So I’ll raise a glass of this claret-colored brew to Mr. Bannan and the rest of Scotland. It’s a 7.2% ABV, so it should help take the edge off any match in which you might be worried about career-ending injuries. The aroma is faint, mostly of brown sugar. The taste is rather typical of a Scotch Ale, heavy on the malts, with a slight bitterness just barely cutting through the caramel at the end.

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer--I've tasted over a thousand different brews, and listed many of them on Ratebeer. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge--I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Free Beer Movement T-Shirt at Reduced Price!!!

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What better way to celebrate a holiday almost exclusively devoted to drinking as much beer as possible AND the beginning of the 2011 Major League Soccer season then purchasing one of our beautiful Free Beer Movement t-shirts.

What's that you say? Need a little bit of motivation?

How about the fact that the shirt that defines (and supports) one of the fastest growing American soccer movements/websites is now 25% off!

You too can own a piece of American soccer history (OK.. maybe that's a bit of exaggeration) for just $18.

Head on over to our shirt partners, Objectivo, and get one or more than one (there's three colors... why not?), and maybe check out some of the other awesome designs available as well.


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NEWS WATCH GRAPHIC - Major League Soccer's International Flavor

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Courtesy of MLSSoccer.com the league released this neato map of the where and who of all the international players in Major League Soccer.

The results? While 280 players are from the ol' U.S. of A. another 184 players call 57 other countries home. These stats make MLS the most diverse league in all of American professional sports. MLS' foreign players make up 38% percent compare to Major League Baseball's 26% and the National Hockey League's 25%.

A handful pretty cool trivia answers to have in your back pocket for the next time you show up on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" or whatever game shows you crazy kids are watching these days.

Graphic Courtesy of Major League Soccer


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Monday, March 21, 2011

Better Know A Supporter's Group - 1906 Ultras

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We continue to expand our coverage of American soccer culture with our series "Better Know a Supporters Group," just like Steven Colbert's "Better Know a District" from "The Colbert Report". 

Our goal: to feature each of the MLS teams' supporters groups. We've sent e-mails to each and every SG in Major League Soccer and soon you'll be able to check all what each is all about and what awesomeness they have to contribute to our growing American soccer world.

When we devised this idea a while back it was cool to be able to see what each supporter group is about, but in light of the terrible, one-sided, anti-American, condescending profile of Philadelphia's Sons of Ben SG by the British GQ (not even going to link to it to give them the site hits) we think its all the more important to give supporters groups in Major League Soccer the proper exposure and voice they deserve.

Today it's the 1906 Ultras, supporters of the San Jose Earthquakes.

As told to the Free Beer Movement by Ultras founder and leader, Dan Margarit.


Basics


SG Name: 1906 Ultras

MLS Club: San Jose Earthquakes

Stadium: Buckshaw stadium

Year SG Founded: 4-19-2003

Section Name (if other than SG name): The Disturbed Section

Any other SGs apart of your section? The Casbah

Location of SG in Stadium (section #, side, direction): 109, behind the goal

The Meaty Questions


What are the origins of your groups’ name?


Growing up in Europe, and being an ultra out there made me want to bring that style of support to San Jose. There were other supporter groups in the league, but none of them was an ultras group. So, I decided to give it a simple name describing our way of support: "Ultras". In 2007, after I found out that the Quakes were coming back, I met with the "1906" which was the supporters group of the now defunct California Victory. After we met, they decided to join us and support the Quakes with us. Since then, the groups is called the 1906 Ultras.

Favorite chants/songs?

We like all our songs and chants. "Heart of an Ultra" is for us what "You'll never walk alone" is for the Liverpool friends. "We're your faithful", "Game Day", "The Jameson song" and many others are original songs and we are the only group in MLS that sings them. The songs and chants directed towards our rivals from Seattle and LA are also very popular.

Why is being in the supporters section the “best seat in the house”?


It's the most fun place to me. It's a brotherhood. Once you become a member of our group you become a brother. Everybody's got your back and you will always be welcomed with a bottle of beer, a shot of Jameson or a can of FourLoko. We are having a great time in our section regardless if the team is winning or not. Of course, we are all upset if the Quakes lose, but if we did our best in the stands to support our team and dominated the other supporters group, we are satisfied. Being part of our section allows people to bond in friendships, build memories that will last forever, and also allows them to get rowdy and express themselves. Also, the beer tastes better in 109 when you drink it while singing and jumping.

Brag. What makes your SG one of the best supporters groups in MLS?

We are the best supporters group in the league. We are not just your regular MLS supporters who meet, drink and sing. We are not a social club, but a social movement. We are ULTRAS. We live and breathe this. We wake up in the morning singing some ultra song, and we fall asleep chanting some profanity against Seattle or LA. We wear our hoodies and the ultras scarves on our faces on a hot summer day in LA, and we take our shirts off on a freezing, snowy night in Denver. We are hardcore.

We are independent. Our FO offered to pay for our tifo, buses or away game tickets numerous times, but we have always refused them and eventually they understood. We respect our FO and we are constantly trying to find common ground, but we'll never be their puppets. We are not civilized and our chants and attitude might offend other fans out there, but to be honest, we don't really care. We'll do anything to give our boys the home field advantage and make the visiting teams and supporters feel like they are in hell. That's our mission.
We are all brothers and we spend a lot of time together, not only on game days. Our group watches over its members. We help them with their personal problems, find jobs or simply help those who need financial assistance. For example, I am proud to say that all our members who were able to take work/school off to go to NY for the playoff game, made it, even though a good number of them were not able to afford it on their own. That's how we got 70+ people across the nation on a Thursday night.

There are other good groups out there. Props to them, but we bring it to a whole different level. The level of extreme passion, the rowdiness and the insanity that you find in our group can't be found anywhere else around our league. That's why we don't have any friends amongst the other supporter groups. All the love and positive feelings from our hearts are channeled towards the Quakes. What's left is hate and anger and we save that for the other teams and their supporter groups. We don't like any of them and they don't like us. We are on our own. It's more fun this way.

We are not a large group like Timbers Army, Barra Brava or Red Patch Boys but we have the best songs and tifo, and we are the only American group featured in the European media. We have a different mentality, different standards and different goals than any other MLS supporters groups. We are also involved into our community with some charity projects we created.

While most of the groups in the league focus only on increasing their numbers, we focus mainly on quality. We welcome everybody who believes that they have what it takes, but if we consider that certain new members don't fit well in the group and they're not ready to give 100% for the group and the team, we get rid of them.

Greatest game(s) in team history?

November 23, 2003: 5-2 against the Scum from LA. By far, the best game ever. Not only that it was an amazing come back, but it was against our enemies.

In the modern era, it was the recent 3-1 in NY. Another great come back for our boys, and a memorable trip for our group. We had the local cops asking us to stop jumping because some metal supports under our section were falling down.

The win in Seattle this past season, as well as every win against them, or the Galaxy are always great games for us.

Predictions for this season?


We don't have any big names in the team, but we got the biggest hearts out there. Coach Yallop is rebuilding that dominating team that the Quakes had before being relocated. We fully trust him and we believe in this young, ambitious group of players. This year we are winning the MLS cup.

Why Major League Soccer? Why American soccer?


We live here, this is our league. For now, this league may not have the high level that you see in the European leagues, but we can care less. It's OUR league and the Quakes are OUR local team. We'll take Wondo over Messy, Convey over Ronaldo, and Busch over Cech any time, any place. We have no respect for those so called "soccer fans" living in this country who support all these big foreign teams that they only see playing live once or twice a year, if that, but bash MLS and don't go to support their local American teams. They would only go if MLS was a big league, but they refuse to get involved in the building process and put a brick at the foundation of this league.

It's such a rewarding experience to be a dedicated fan in a growing, developing and improving league like MLS. We are an active part of this process, and in 20 or 30 years, when MLS will be one of the most competitive and respected leagues in the world, we are going to look back, and be proud of ourselves because we not only witnessed history but actually helped it happen.

Interested in learning more about or joining up with the 1906 Ultras in San Jose? Check out their website.

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

A "Special Moment" For Charlie Davies and American Soccer

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Photo Credit: MLSSoccer.com/Getty Images.
An American soccer nation watched with great anticipation Saturday night at DC United opened their 2011 Major League Soccer campaign against the Columbus Crew; questions abound and focused on one player: Mr. Charlie Davies.

Would he see the field? Would he play a meaningful role? Would we see flashes of 2009? Would he score? Would he stanky legg?

Charlie Davies played. Charlie Davies scored. Charlie Davies stanky legg'ed.

An American soccer nation exhaled. For 522 days we waited in earnest. We first held number nine signs in DC and all other corners of the United States. We wrote letters e-mails, and tweeted our support throughout his recovery. We followed news of his miraculous rehabilitation and recovery; wondering if he would have a shot at this past summer's World Cup.

He would not. The American soccer nation's reaction was mixed. Pundits pontificated, Monday morning centerbacks (?) with their blogs, and office water cooler discussions ensued.

A lull in the "Charlie Davies Watch" rolled over the American soccer nation. The USMNT made a decent run in South Africa, but afterwards, after not a single U.S. forward found the back of the net, it resumed. We waited to see if he would feature for his club, FC Sochaux, post-World Cup, but he would not.

Despair washed over an American soccer nation. Was hope lost? Would this bright, young star ever see first-team soccer again?

Major League Soccer and DC United would answer these questions. He would trial. He would train. He would sign.

When Davies' United teammates parted for him to walk to the penalty kick spot Saturday night an American soccer nation held its collective breath. A year and a half we watched, waiting, worried. The buzz that carried through the crowd when Davies entered in the 56th minute now spilled over into mass euphoria when he buried his spot kick in the 63rd. When he bagged his second on the night and celebrated with the stanky legg you could've solved the nation's energy crisis if someone could've figured out a way to capture the crowd's electricity.

Five hundred and twenty-two days ago his comeback journey began. The journey is not over. There's an entire MLS season to still be played, but as one watched Davies' tear-filled post-game interview an American soccer nation knew that this moment, that appearance, those goals were the end of another chapter in this Hollywood comeback tale. The next chapter, of course, is his return to National Team duty.

Major League Soccer gets a lot of stick for how they run and market their league, but the return of Charlie Davies to first-team, professional soccer in their league is one thing they can really hang their hat on. Forget David Beckham and forget weird playoff structures and remember that MLS (and DC United) played a role in bringing Davies back from the brink.

For an American soccer nation we were able witness to a special night. Davies called it a "special moment" and for his supporters and well-wishers we were able to join him in that moment.

An American soccer nation will be here waiting for his next special moment. Just like we have all along.



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Friday, March 18, 2011

What's Brewing: Jester King Brewery SXSW Party

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Graphic Credit: Jester King
The South By Southwest (SXSW) circus is in town and everyone and their brother is throwing a party. Lots of free beer and free music being thrown about, but for the refined tastes of the FBM we go where the good beer flows.

That means leaving the friendly (and, this week, insanely crazy) confines of Austin, heading out into Hill Country, and to Jester King Craft Brewery. JK is one of Texas' newest craft breweries and at their SXSW party they debuted a new collaboration beer with Danish brewers, Mikkeller, called "Drinkin in the Sun Belt".

From the Jester King website:
"'Drinkin' in the Sun Belt' is the first of two planned collaborations between the Austin-based brewery and the world renowned Danish “gypsy brewer”, Mikkeller. “Drink’in” is very hoppy, flavorful session ale brewed with equal portions of malted barley and malted wheat, and heavily dry-hopped with citrusy, American Amarillo hops. The name and inspiration come from “Drink’in the Sun”, a beer that Mikkeller has previously brewed in Europe, using a recipe remarkably similar to one that Jester King had already used for numerous test batches, that were intended to serve as the basis for a future seasonal release."
We were also able to sample their farmhouse ale that we missed at the grand opening party, Boxer's Revenge and their dark mild ale, Commercial Suicide.

Our photos from the event:

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2011 Major League Soccer Beer-View: Western Conference

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This is the America we dream of.

By Kirsten Schlewitz / Senior West Coast Beer and Aston Villa Correspondent

The 16th season of Major League Soccer kicks off tonight and like a fine wine it has aged gracefully. Or, more similarly, like a teenager thrashing about, some times its a hit... other times... not so much.

Despite its adolescent acne, we love American soccer and MLS. It's ours no matter how many times it breaks curfew or runs the car into the back of the garage.

It's with all those fresh teenie booper images stuck in your head that we switch gears and talk about the upcoming season in beer. MLS might only be getting behind the wheel, but since we're trying to emulate the great leagues of Europe we're going to start drinking early, too!

Join us as we "beer-view" the 2011 Major League Soccer season. We've tried our best, through both conference previews, to find a beer that comes from the team's home town, with only a few exceptions.

Check out our "Eastern Conference" Beer-view as well!



Chivas USA
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 8-18-4 (Eighth Place, no playoffs)
Brewery: Corona
Beer: "Extra" Lager
Season Beer-view: C’mon, how can it be anything other than Chivas’ new sponsor, Corona? A staple on the beaches of Mexico as well as in parking lots on match day, it’s often little more than a thirst quencher – although this is needed in the heat of Los Angeles. Bubbly and weak, it’s absolutely necessary to shove the accompanying lime to the bottom of the bottle.

And just like a squirt of lime can help elevate Corona’s status, the strengthening of Chivas’ back line will give the Goats the opportunity to back up their bite.


Colorado Rapids
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 12-8-10 (Fifth Place, Major League Soccer Cup winners)
Brewery: Great Divide Brewing Co.
Beer: "16th Anniversary Wood Aged" Double IPA
Season Beer-view: Like a fine beer, the Rapids have done little in the offseason but age. Sure, they’ve picked up Sanna Nyassi and Tyrone Marshall in an attempt to become the “Sounders of the Rockies,” but overall their starting XI will remain much the same. This is a team that takes comfort in consistency, in their warm blankets, in the smell of woodsmoke at the campsite.

This wood-aged double IPA will evoke many of those same sentiments. Aromas of smoke bring memories of a campfire, the bourbon smell reminds you of Grandad. The taste barely varies from the smell, easing the transition from nose to mouth. Finally, at 10% ABV, subtle it’s not, and it’ll hit you like…well, like Coner Casey.



FC Dallas
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 12-4-14 (Third Place, MLS Cup runners-up)
Brewery: Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
Beer: Amber Ale


(Editor's Note: We know that Saint Arnold is Houston-based and that's probably a huge slap in the face to FCD fans. No offense. There's Rahr Brewing in Ft. Worth, of course, by our writer wasn't aware of them at the time of this article. FCD fans.... take that Houston stuff and drink it down and smash the bottle!)


Season Beer-view: I have to confess, I haven’t had a lot of beers from Dallas. But I have had a lovely care package from Houston, and that’s almost the same, right? Well, even if it’s not, at least Dallas can overshadow their Texas counterparts on the soccer field, which is certainly more important. This year’s Dallas team will have trophies in their eyes, determined to land the cup that everyone was certain would be theirs.

And in honor of the other one that got away, I present the amber ale, a lovely red-brown pour. Mostly a sweet, innocuous brew, it has a bit of a citrus bitterness that sneaks in when you’re least expecting it.



L.A. Galaxy
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 18-7-5 (First Place, Conference Semi-Finals)
Brewery: Eagle Rock Brewery
Beer: "Populist" IPA
Season Beer-view: Having not gone to Los Angeles since I’ve become a beer snob, I was tempted to use a San Diego brewery, or at least one from Orange County, to fulfill this requirement. Instead my friend Ryan was kind enough to give me a recommendation. When I asked “So this beer is…” he replied, “Delicious.” Realizing that might not be enough for beer-snobs-in-training, he let us know it’s, “A wee bit bitter, probably a bit of tangerine or something of that sort in it.”

When asked why this beer should represent L.A., Ryan responded with, “Because everyone loves them.” Tough to argue with such populist logic, really. It’s mostly true, and unlikely to change as long as Landon Donovan remains with the Galaxy.


Portland Timbers
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): N/A
Brewery: Cascade Brewing Co.
Beer: "Drie Zwarte Pieten" Sang Noir
Season Beer-view: You’d think a brewery naming their beer in such a manner has something to prove. In fact, Cascade is one of the top producers of wild ales in the United States, so naming their holiday beer after Black Pete, a character in Belgian folklore, actually makes perfect sense. In much the same manner, many are going to expect Portland have a point to prove this season, seeing as their Seattle rivals have already made quite an impression on MLS. In fact Portland has been quietly going about their business, setting up a solid team that should impress on its own merits, not as an afterthought to the Sounders.

Cascade’s Sang Noir also leaves an impression distinct from its Belgian cousins. This beer is almost like drinking hot spiced cider, tasting of sour cherries, whisky and cinnamon. Oh, and you’re probably not going to be able to find this one in stores, because what’s the point of liking something cool if you’re willing to share it with everyone?


Real Salt Lake
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 15-4-11 (Second Place, lost Conference Semi-Finals)
Brewery: Wasatch Pub and Brewery
Beer: "Polygamy" Porter
Season Beer-view: Salt Lake like to score. Scoring? Polygamy? Get it? Maybe we’re too subtle for you. Maybe it would help if I told you Jason Kreis looks like the type to have three wives and still looking for action on the side. It’s not legal, so he’s taking out his aggression with his team.

In much the same manner, the Polygamy Porter doesn’t encourage you to stop at just one. Its 4% ABV is low for its style, so make sure you have at least three. This porter’s rather dry, but pleasant enough, with chocolate and caramel tastes.




San Jose Earthquakes
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 13-10-7 (Sixth Place, Eastern Conference Finals)
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Beer: "Bitter American" Pale Ale
Season Beer-view: The San Jose Earthquakes are bitter. Since returning to the MLS, they've won nothing. They made it to the MLS Cup playoffs last year, but couldn't get past the first round. They look up north and see the San Francisco Giants winning World Series while denying the Oakland As, under the same ownership as the Quakes, a move to San Jose. They look south and see the Galaxy building a bigger trophy cabinet. In this scenario, they ignore Chivas, as do most people. This season is their time to overcome that bitterness and reclaim some silverware.

Bitter belongs in IPAs and Pale Ales, and this Pale is one of the best I've ever had. You'll smell it before you taste it, all sweet and flowery. But don't be fooled -- there's a definite bitter element here, with the taste combining both spicy and sweet. (Please note: this is in no way an analogy of the way that I believe SJ will play this season).


Seattle Sounders
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): 14-10-6 (Third Place, lost Conference Semi-Finals)
Brewery: Epic Ales
Beer: "Otto-Optimizer"
Season Beer-view: Epic Ales is a fairly new brewery in Seattle that manages to be different and inventive, causing older, established breweries to be just a tad resentful of its success. The Otto-Optimizer is an example of a beer that inspires intense emotions, with most samplers either loving or hating it. Brewed with coffee and cardamom, both flavors are apparent in both the smell and the taste. The balance is just slightly off, however, with the cardamom lingering just a bit too long.

Not that the Seattle Sounders have any lessons to learn from a beer that attempts to be slightly too complex and finds itself in over its head.



Vancouver Whitecaps
Last Season’s Record (W-L-D): N/A
Brewery: Steamworks Brewing Co.
Beer: Espresso Stout
Season Beer-view: This is a beer that doesn’t put much stock in subtle nuances of flavor. Nope, this one grabs you over the head and throws coffee down your throat. Utterly delicious if you like coffee and chocolate, but after awhile one starts to crave something different. There’s only so long you can hold out without craving grapefruit peels and floral aromas.

Vancouver, too, are a bit of a one-trick pony, or at least they’ve been thus far in preseason. With goals proving difficult to find for the ‘Caps, they’re resorting to an over-physical style of play, intent on making their mark or at least leaving a bruise. The team has a few of the individual elements, but it may take a bit for them to figure out how to put them together.

Many thanks to @aaroncampeau, @ryanrosenblatt, @jeremiahoshan, @gingefc, and of course, @LesAnn87

About Kirsten

I may be a law student at Lewis and Clark, but soccer is my true love, with beer coming in a distant second. That's not to say I don't love beer--I've tasted over a thousand different brews, and listed many of them on Ratebeer. Living in Portland, Oregon, I attend quite a few festivals and tastings, and am able to argue passionately about the merits of Cascade hops vs. Chinook.

As for the soccer, I'm the Managing Editor of SB Nation's Aston Villa site, 7500 to Holte, the Italy Editor for SB Nation Soccer, and cover the Seattle Sounders on SBN Seattle (don't judge--I'm from Seattle!) Finally, I write for Two Footed Tackle when I find words worthy enough for the site. Want more? Follow me on Twitter!

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