By: Marisa Cali
Almost four months ago, the U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team stamped their ticket to exile island after failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. In late November, U.S. Soccer announced it would open 2018 with a January 28th friendly versus Bosnia and Herzegovina in Carson, CA. Back then, the pain of missing the World Cup was still too fresh for many fans who support U.S. Soccer – many still remain upset and have not been enthusiastic for the start of January camp. But as I saw last weekend, there’s a sense of excitement about what’s next.
I traveled along with the San Diego chapter of American Outlaws last Sunday and spoke to a few supporters to get their take on this new era of American soccer.
With several new players on the senior roster, it remains to be seen who besides Christian Pulisic will lead the squad as they build towards 2022 success. Defenders Ike Opara, Matt Polster and substitute goalkeeper Zack Steffen made their MNT debuts. For the fans who were at the match, there’s a method to their madness.
While this might not be true for all U.S. soccer fans, this crop of Outlaws is in it for the long haul. “I’m here to support the growth of soccer in our country,” said San Diego native Drew Steck, who made the decision to join others on the 90-minute bus trip less than 24 hours prior. Sure, it’s about the young men on the pitch – six starters were 25 and younger: Trapp (25); Polster, Zimmerman (24); Morris (23); Roldan (22); Adams (18) – but for many it’s more than that. This match was also about getting together with other individuals who love the game.
I met supporters from Phoenix, San Jose, San Francisco and as far as Minnesota. Yes, Minnesota. That’s dedication.
Despite the nil-nil scoreline and the fresh new faces to familiarize themselves with, for the fans, there’s a common theme, they don’t give up. Watch a short recap below of the adventure and give me a follow on Twitter @hashtagmarisa for more stories and U.S. Soccer coverage.