Chris: The atmosphere is jovial, raucous, and noisy. There is singing and chanting, and although we have the volume cranked up for the commentary, we seldom are quiet enough to hear it. Oftentimes, it feels much like you’re in the stadium, part of the crowd, cheering on the Yanks.
When you watch a match with so many like-minded individuals, knowing that there are people in more than 100 different bars across the country watching and cheering just like we do, you genuinely feel like part of something much bigger than a local group of people with one common interest. You feel united, all part of the American Outlaws Family.
Question: What is the soccer fan scene like in Cleveland? Is there a large fan base and/or other support clubs that you know of?
Chris: Diverse. I’ve met so many people through American Outlaws who support so many different club teams. It underlines soccer’s global appeal and makes watching soccer in Cleveland fun and exciting. Merry Arts also hosts the Cleveland Gunners on all Arsenal match days, and will put on Columbus Crew matches. There is a Chelsea supporters group, they meet in Strongsville at Mulligan’s, and the Cleveland Spurs group meets at the Old Angle in Ohio City.
Question: “In Jurgen We Trust!” Yes or No?
Chris: Personally, yes. I feel Klinsmann has brought fresh ideas to U.S. Soccer and has been given the freedom to implement a program that has the potential to revolutionize the U.S. Soccer talent pool. The fact that (U.S. Soccer Federation President) Sunil Gulati appointed Klinsmann as technical director shows a level of ambition we’ve not seen before. The federation now has an approach that says, “We want to be a dominant soccer nation.”
Question: The U.S. team will miss Landon Donovan in Brazil. True or False?
Chris: It’s hard to separate head from heart on the case for Landon Donovan. The qualifying campaign showed a team able to win, and win convincingly, without Landon Donovan. The question remains, can they win against tougher opposition? I think having Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey fit alleviates some of the sting of missing Landon Donovan and the presence he can have on big games.
Question: Who will be the key player (or players) for the U.S. in the World Cup?
Chris: Jozy Altidore. He showed off his work rate last Sunday against Turkey. If he can replicate that over three matches, no doubt he’ll score some goals. A motivated Altidore can cause serious trouble for any defense. A note on our fullbacks, too. Neither fullback positions have been nailed down with any certainty. There have been glimpses of the really good and the really bad. Makes you feel a little uneasy about the defense with it so unsettled less than two weeks until the World Cup.