Welcome to the third edition of Faces in the Crowd where The Yanks Are Coming profiles fans of the USMNT. This month we have Kirsten from Ohio, who is a self-described HR vixen, mother of two and East Coast transplant. Getchya popcorn ready and get comfortable, it’s time to meet our March Face in the Crowd…
Q: How’d you become a soccer fan?
Kirsten: For this I must thank my father. He played soccer at Washington College in Chestertown, MD and then went on to coach my high school team for many years. For as long as I can remember, there were always soccer players around our house, which as a high school girl, wasn’t such a bad thing.
Any funny soccer stories from a match you attended or just watching one at a bar?
A few years ago we were in Jackson Hole, WY during the Euro Cup. My husband is a huge fan and follower of the Dutch team, and I unwittingly scheduled a white water rafting trip that was due to end (or so I thought) about 30 minutes before the Dutch team was scheduled to play their match. What I didn’t realize was that lunch on the way home was part of the rafting trip, which in turn made our return later than expected. I have never seen a man strip out of a wetsuit and peal out of a parking lot faster than he did in our effort to get to the closest sports bar. And I don’t want to know what the staff of that sports bar was thinking when a family of four, all wearing bright wearing orange, tore into their establishment and demanded that the “big” TV be switched to a soccer game.
You’re tailgating or pre-gaming for a soccer game, what are you getting into?
We aren’t face painters or anything and being from Cincinnati doesn’t offer us that many opportunities to see live soccer unless we can get up to Columbus to see the Crew. Most of our soccer socializing is based around our son’s team and tournaments, which keep us on the road and in red/navy/gold (Ohio Elite SA’s colors).
What makes soccer so much better than other sports?
Lots of things, but I personally love the fact that there is the threat of a goal literally at ANY second during the match. The game can turn on a dime. This is also one of the frustrating things about soccer though… a team can dominate and still lose the game. It can be a cruel sport!
You’re a soccer mom, what’s that like?
I wouldn’t have it any other way! It has been such a gift to watch my son grow in this game. He currently plays for Ohio Elite Soccer Academy as a U13. I have worked hard to be one of those parents who isn’t expecting college scholarships or careers in the MLS, but I appreciate having something that gets him out of the house without complaint (and away from the XBOX). We have moved four times since he was born thirteen years ago, and soccer has always given him an immediate peer group and made his moving transitions a little easier. We have also had some of our best bonding moments on the road on our way to tournaments.
The Yanks have just won a big game and you’re celebrating on a Saturday night, what are your plans?
The Claddagh Irish Pub is an “official US Soccer bar” and we have one located about 15 minutes away from our house. We actually have quite a mixed international contingent right on our own street, however, so my husband’s “man cave” can become an interesting venue on certain evenings.
Why do think soccer isn’t as popular in the U.S. as say England?
Lots of reasons, the largest of which I think is the format of the game, which does not allow for commercials and thus makes corporate sponsorship difficult. I think part of it is tied to our history, and a general lack of understanding of the work and dedication that goes in to playing at a premier level. I think there are lots of American Beckhams out there… but their stories need to be told on a broader stage, and Americans need more chances to identify and bond with the players on a personal level.
How would you describe the typical female USMNT fan?
We appreciate the beauty and excitement of the game, and guys with great legs.
You’re playing a pickup game of soccer against one USMNT player. Who is joining you on the pitch?
No contest, though I’d have to substitute penalty shots for pickup game… I’d love for it to be Tim Howard. He is fearless and has been such a role model for my son. Our family has dealt with some of the medical issues Tim has been through.
Are you headed to South Africa? If not, what are your plans?
Up until about a year ago we did plan to go to South Africa, but in an effort to keep our expenses in tow we had to kiss that idea goodbye. If we could find a good fare to the Netherlands, we’d love to make that our backup venue (we can stay with relatives) since watching these games in a pub with the Dutch can be a ton of fun… and my husband’s family likes me enough to wear a little red white and blue as their backup color scheme.