Everton struck gold at the World Cup this summer. With the United States encapsulated by the performances of their national team in Brazil, the country tuned in for the second round clash with Belgium. It was in this game that Toffees goalkeeper Tim Howard produced one of the iconic World Cup displays, thrusting Everton to front-and-center of the world stage.
American audiences had bought into the hype of the Brazil World Cup and soccer in general, especially with Howard’s display causing plenty of stir. So it was no surprise that in the immediate aftermath of that second round contest, the Official Everton Twitter account posted a link, pointing supporters in the direction of where they could buy themselves a Howard No. 24 jersey.
While this was—and subsequently has been—a wonderful chance for Everton to tap into the American market, the links between the Merseyside outfit and the States have actually been longstanding and well established. Something that was emphasized in earnest when speaking with David Kurtz of EvertonUSA.
“Everton has a long history of being USMNT-friendly,” said David. And it’s easy to see why. Not only have Howard and more recently Landon Donovan donned the famous and white, but men like Marcus Hahnemann, Joe-Max Moore, Preki and Brian McBride too. The chants of “U-S-A” have consequently long rung out from the Gwladys Street end.
Subsequently, Everton have always been a lingering presence stateside, and naturally one of the most well known and most popular Premier League teams. But after Howard’s displays in Brazil, Everton USA has noticed a major upturn in interest in the Toffees.
“Tim Howard has simply been the lightning rod for US fans finding the Club and the minute the USA-Belgium game ended we saw massive signups on our Facebook and Twitter feeds which now rival and/or surpass the ‘Big 4’.”
But Howard wasn’t the only one shining out in Brazil. The club’s manager Roberto Martinez was a pundit for ESPN, and his effervescent, insightful opinions impressed all during World Cup 2010 and 2014. David told me that if Everton are to continue making waves stateside then their manager will continue to play a critical role.
“Roberto has also attracted some big talent to the Club. Watching Samuel Eto’o score goals in an Everton kit during a European game is a dream most Evertonians could never have thought would happen. Between Roberto and Tim Howard, it’s easy to argue that Everton were big winners of the US market this World Cup.”
The significance of making an impression across the pond is something the Toffees seem to be acutely aware of, and therefore, it’s little surprise that Everton USA is now an official partner of the club. That tag allows the organization to sell tickets to games, retail official merchandise and launch bespoke schemes for their members.
“I think they find our success hard to believe but once we proved that there is demand for the Everton brand in the US, they jumped on-board with both feet,” David explains. “We interact with them weekly if not daily actually and they roll out the red carpet when we come to town. EvertonUSA would be far less special without the Club’s active participation and unwavering support.”
And it truly is a special organisation. Everton USA now boast a whopping 35,000—nearly enough to fill Goodison Park on their own—who are divided into more than 60 different regional branches. The dedication and commitment of these supporters—the are no “kind-sorta” Evertonians David tells me—becomes obviously apparent too, as the various match day routines of Everton USA members are revealed.
“For the Merseyside Derby, 25 of us met up at the Ye Olde King’s Head Tavern in Santa Monica, one block from the beach at 4:30 am. At the end of the game, we all took a group picture at sunrise at the Pacific; half of the folks had been up all night, the other half snuck out without waking the kids.
”My father is a NYC Evertonian where they have a dedicated pub, Mr. Dennehy’s in the East Village that fills up for every game at 10 am for brunch with Chang beer and Crabbie’s (both EFC sponsors) flowing freely until they close, the next morning”
But for David and his members, the ultimate is getting people to Goodison Park for a Premier League game, and after a successful trip last season for a couple of league games, Everton USA has even bigger plans for the current campaign.
“This year we’re headed over for the Merseyside Derby at Goodison and an away game at Chelsea”, explained David. “We have access to tickets to every game and decided to abuse the privilege and do the trip of our dreams!”
And when quizzing David about why those new to the game should consider picking Everton as their team to support, he explains that when it comes to the Toffees, things aren’t quite that simple:
“You don’t consider Everton, you either are or are not Everton! So if it’s in your blood, we just help you realize your birthright. Everton is a family and from the pubs of Liverpool’s County Road to the bars of LA to the beaches of Sydney, if you wear the shield, you always have new friends waiting to meet you wherever you go.
And if that doesn’t move you, we have the greatest soccer player ever born on US soil, Tim Howard! Like our EvertonUSA crest says, Everton is “The American People’s Club,” just join and you’ll see.”
Read other interviews with Premier League supporters clubs in the United States including One United USA and Arsenal America. If you’d like your supporters group to be interviewed by World Soccer Talk, please email [email protected] with your contact details.