This will be an experience I’ll never truly forget. We had the opportunity to watch the United States Men’s National Team play against Guyana in the first round of the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup. This was the first meaningful game for the USMNT since being eliminated from World Cup qualifying back in October 2017. To say there’s a lot of pressure for this team to show up and compete well is an understatement. So to be there and experience this new beginning and era for the USMNT was amazing. There was a buzz around the Twin Cities that you could feel all day long. From seeing billboards and advertisements throughout the area to hearing about the match on local sports talk radio, there was this feeling of cautious excitement.
In addition to this being my first time seeing the USMNT live, it was also my first time visiting Allianz Field, the brand new home of MLS side Minnesota United FC, and my first time joining up with fellow supporters of the American Outlaws outside of our local chapter. We had become members last winter, so it was great to participate in the pre-game and in-game festivities.
We started off the evening at the pre-game meetup at The Black Hart for some socializing. The bar reminded me of an Irish pub: close quarters, few windows, and plenty of soccer on TV, it was great. An hour before kickoff, the entire bar emptied out onto the sidewalk for the march to the stadium. It was at this point where everyone’s excitement reached a fevered pitch. Hundreds of fans began chanting, clapping, and cheering for the short 10-minute march to the stadium. That was really cool to be a part of.
Once we entered the stadium our small group just stood still and looked in awe at how awesome everything looked. There was another game going on as we got there, so we had time to wonder around before we found our seats. We ended up sitting in the supporters section near the very top for the first half. The view was fantastic, you could see everything. One thing I hear on TV during soccer matches, no matter what country or league it is, are the chants coming from the supporters section. They’re great to hear and they provide a certain level of atmosphere to the game. But I’ve never been a part of one before and it just elevated the entire experience for me. With the non-stop standing and cheering for the first 45 minutes, I wasn’t sure if I’d have a voice for the second half.
We ended up moving down closer to the pitch for the second half, 6th row directly behind the goal. From there, we got to see who had been orchestrating all of the chants that we heard up top. There were 3 members of the American Outlaws who, with megaphone in hand, led the entire section with the same passion and enthusiasm throughout the entirety of the game. By the end of the game, the score listed 4-0 for the USMNT. This was the result many were hoping for, a game that began a new competitive era for the men’s team.
As everyone filtered their way out of our section and away from the stadium, I had a feeling of excitement and pride. Excitement at how the day turned out with the pre-game festivities, the march to the stadium, seeing old friends and meeting new ones, the stadium itself, and the game. Pride for how this group came together to represent the country after their embarrassment of missing the World Cup last summer. There wasn’t one thing that stood out about the day’s events, but a culmination of everything that lead us to have an experience we won’t forget.
Now it’s your turn, what has been your most memorable game day experience? Was it during the regular season or was it a playoff thriller? Who did you get to share it with? Sound off in the comments below, I’d love to hear more about your experiences!