Came across this promo for the World Cup today and it reminded me of the atmosphere at the Gold Cup of Summer 2013.
Let’s set the scene. It was an overcast Baltimore day, hot and humid in late July. On the docket was a Gold Cup quarterfinal doubleheader with the US of A to play second. There was a sea of red, white and blue adorning the streets leading to the stadium, but mostly because the other teams playing that day were Honduras (blue and white), Costa Rica (red, white, and you guessed it…blue), and El Salvador (blue and white). The CONCACAF region clearly does not recognize other colors.
The gates of the stadium were opened and a sea of people rushed to find their seats for the 4-5 hours of soccer to come. The American Outlaws had reserved three sections right behind the West goal. Aside from a few other US fans scattered throughout the stadium, that was the entire cheering section for the Yanks. It took until about halfway through the first game for all three sections to be filled with US fans, it took quite a few police officers to explain (in Spanish I assume) that if your ticket says nosebleed section you need to leave. Most of them didn’t leave, as if they could hide amongst a bevy of Uncle Sam hats.
The first game was boring and muted. Honduras won 1-0 over Costa Rica, and the Honduran fans celebrated like they both won the World Cup that day, and had somehow defeated the United States. Neither was true, but kudos to their enthusiasm, albeit a little misguided.
The second game was magnificent. The US took a 2-1 lead into halftime and it felt as though the game was being held in El Salvador. Roughly 10-15% of the fans were cheering for the US, and 5% of those fans were Honduran good guys. If you want to experience being a USMNT fan, I suggest you experience the Gold Cup in 2015. The Gold Cup is the best competitive international soccer tournament that the USMNT plays on U.S. soil with the exception of World Cup qualifiers.
The second half: a unique experience.The lead held in the second half thanks to some fantastic work from a rejuvenated Landon Donovan and Eddie Johnson. It started to rain, and the USA rumbling got louder and louder. The Central American fans, unhappy that capitalism (#MURICA) was raining on their parade, tossed every drink and bit of food/garbage down from the cheap seats. The chants got louder. The rain fell harder. The goals kept coming. 5-1 America.
Eventually the disgruntled El Salvador fans ran out of 8 dollar beers to throw, and the final whistle blew. Everyone was soaked and began to exit the stadium, but the American Outlaws kept chanting. They sang songs, shouted chants, and eventually they did a roll call as the USMNT players thanked them for their support. They stayed until the stadium was uncomfortably empty, and then proceeded to sing as they exited the stadium.
If you are an American soccer fan that wants soccer to succeed in America, then you should find your local AO chapter and join. Every member helps, and it’s the first step to enjoying a truly American soccer experience at the next USMNT game. Well worth it the next time you see the USMNT play and get to lose your voice with fellow soccer lovers.