Coordinating the support for a match the size of USA v Mexico takes a lot of work. Banners and signage needs to get in to the stadium early, tifo displays need to be timed correctly, and supporters need to be organized. This starts with making sure everyone shows up early to avoid long lines to getting everyone on the same page (literally).
There are plenty of small details that need to be covered to make sure everything goes right. These items usually take a few conference calls to resolve and are usually attended by local supporters leadership. They are well-versed in getting the information out to their members. U.S. Soccer's preeminent supporters group, The American Outlaws, has taken the lead in coordinating this nationally.
Late last evening, I was on one such conference call as a representative of Hudson Street Hooligans. American Outlaws' Columbus chapter, American Outlaws national leadership, U.S. Soccer, and Crew Union were also on the call. As was American Outlaws Seattle...
This caught me a bit off-guard. I would understand if the match in Seattle was scheduled a few days before or after the Columbus match, it would be a perfect example of the old adage "Two birds with one stone." This, however, was not the reason for AO Seattle's attendance.
After witnessing the disorganized crowd support for the U.S. Men's National Team match in Salt Lake City, American Outlaws leadership and the Seattle chapter collaborated and decided to use Seattle-based capos for every USMNT match no matter what city it's being played in. This was the reason American Outlaws Seattle was on the call.
After digesting the surprising news, local supporters representatives questioned U.S. Soccer and the American Outlaws on why AO Columbus was not consulted and why we were not afforded the opportunity to present our own capos. The answer kept coming back that more than 9,000 supporters tickets were sold for this match and more organization was needed.
U.S. v. Mexico veterans from American Outlaws Columbus, HSH, and Crew Union brought up that Columbus has done a great job of creating the most intimidating atmosphere in the United States for the longest running period and that we shouldn't tinker with a good thing by changing that organic atmosphere. This was quickly shot down.
The reasoning quickly became clear. American Outlaws and U.S. Soccer want to create a standardized atmosphere with capos from Seattle leading at every USMNT match. They will work to incorporate local songs and have local capos assist, but want to make sure that there is a consistent level of product at each match and turned to American Outlaws Seattle to provide that.
Here is the problem this homogenization: If we would have had a "consistent level of product" at the last three USA v Mexico matches we might not have built "Dos-A-Cero".
When U.S. Soccer needed home-field in order to try for their first qualifying win against Mexico in 19 years, they chose Crew Stadium in February 2001. The choice was natural in 2005, Columbus again packed in with rabid American fans to back the team when they clinched a spot in the 2010 World Cup. Hoping for another "La Guerra Fria" in February 2009, the crowd stood in a driving rain as the U.S. kicked off qualifying in style.
The reason that Columbus has been picked time and time again to host this match is that it is original, it is unique. The atmosphere for a national team game here is like no other in the country. American Outlaws wants to change that.
It is confusing that after more than a decade of packed stands and wins on the field that Columbus is not being afforded the opportunity to do what we do best when called upon. Columbus always created the most intimidating and impressive atmosphere that exists for the U.S. Mens National team anywhere. That is our job. We've done it longer than anyone else and we have done it better than anyone else.
To American Outlaws national leadership and to U.S. Soccer, give us the opportunity to amaze you again. It's not too late.