We here at The Yanks Are Coming would like to introduce you to a new feature on the site: Yankette of the Month (Faces in the Crowd Edition). While we’ll continue our monthly article on American female celebrities, we’ve decided to branch out and include an undeniably important segment of the USMNT community – YOU! This month, we welcome Anna, a student at Harvard Law and an ardent fan of the USMNT.
Q: How did you first get into following the USMNT?
Anna: I got into following the USMNT because a good friend of mine was a soccer fanatic and had repeatedly told me how great the sport was. After constantly seeing news updates about the USMNT on his Facebook page, I decided to organize a BFF reunion with my two best friends from college around the USA v. Honduras game and give it a shot. From the moment we stepped onto the streets of Chicago in our USA gear and had a large group of Honduran fans drive by in a rental minivan yelling things out the window, I was hooked.
What’s your best soccer story?
Anna: That’s a tough question, I’ve had so many. I’m not sure if this is the best one, but I’ll never forget marching into Soldier Field with the American Outlaws crew for the first USA v. Honduras game last year. It was sprinkling rain and unseasonably cold for Chicago in the summer, but everyone was so pumped the weather didn’t seem to matter. As we were walking from the Tavern to the Field, I remember looking out in front of me and it was just a sea of red, white and blue, all wrapped in flags or soccer scarves and yelling “Oh when the Yanks, go marching in…” We passed by the US Soccer Federation Headquarters right as the board members of the Federation were leaving for the game. In the defining moment in my soccer fan experience, a few members of the American Outlaws climbed up the side of the balcony to hand Sunil, the President of the Federation, a megaphone. As he leaned with one leg up on the ledge, the 200 hundred or so American Outlaws crowded around, holding a Don’t Tread on Me flag to his right and an American flag to his left and chanting USAAAA! *clap clap clap*. At the end of his impromptu speech, my friend lil’ Kyle immediately hopped up on the ledge and led the crowd in a deafening chant of “USAaaaaa!” At that moment I fell madly in love with the sport.
You’re tailgating or pregaming for a soccer game, what’re you getting into?
Anna: You can usually find me in the middle of the AO crew cheering my heart out.
Anna: At soccer games, Keystone Light (I know, I know, but it’s forever linked with soccer in my head) and verbally harassing the fans of the other team. Outside of soccer, I have some sort of Diet Coke and Jimmy John sandwich addiction I can’t seem to kick.
Guys are into a good-looking girl who’s into sports, but they usually don’t know how to approach her. Any horrible come-ons from dudes trying to talk sports all the way into your pants?
Anna: Haha, more than you can imagine, especially when my two other best friends from college and I are together. My all-time favorites though were when we were walking through some Honduras fan tailgates in search of the bathroom and were getting yelled at with things like “I would move to the USA for those ladies” or the sign they had that said “Honduran parking only (does not apply to ladies).” Or there was one point where someone yelled, “Hey, you know you want to taste my Honduran Sausage!” Which, obviously, I was slightly offended by until I turned around and realized he was actually talking about the real sausage he had on the grill. Oops.
The Yanks have just won a big game and you’re celebrating on a Saturday night, what’re your plans?
Anna: I’m kind of a game-time decision type of girl when it comes to post-game planning. After the USA clinches their victory, then I worry about the after party. Last USA game I think I ended up at Murphy’s Bleachers, The Cubby Bear, Taco Bell (which always seems to happen sometime around 1 am) and another bar I don’t remember the name of. It was a great time!
You’re in law school, you’re a woman, and you love soccer. Are you an anomaly at Harvard or do others exist?
Anna: That’s a good question. To my knowledge I’m an anomaly, but I like to think there has to be more of us out there. If I can’t find them, maybe I’ll just start converting my friends who are football fans…
How would you describe the typical female USMNT fan?
Anna: Passionate. There aren’t that many of us out there and so if you’re a female fan you’re into it for the love of the game. It isn’t like baseball where you can show up and passively watch them play while talking with friends. With soccer, you’re in the middle of it all, yelling until your throat is sore, spending time the days before the game finding flag shaped glitter tattoos and patriotic hair ribbons (and yes, I’m speaking from experience on that), reading up on the players, networking with other fans, and doing what you can to support the USMNT. It’s not just a game, it’s a lifestyle, and I think the female USMNT really get that.
You’re playing a pickup game of soccer against one USMNT player. Who is joining you on the pitch?
Anna: Landon Donovan, for sure. He was my first love as a soccer player and so will always be on the top of my list. I think his style of play sums up why it’s called “the beautiful game.” He controls the ball with a grace and elegance that is captivating to watch. He makes it look effortless.
Let’s say we throw you ten grand for this interview. Who are you betting on in the World Cup?
Anna: Is that even a question?! USA USA USA! Although we may not have the record or raw technical talent of some of the other nations, we have heart. If the boys bring everything to the field, I think we could go further than people expect, especially with our draw this time around.
What’s the best piece of USMNT/Soccer gear that you own and how’d you obtain it?
Anna: I think my favorite piece of USMNT gear that I own is my Don’t Tread on Me flag. It was given to me by my friend that first got me into soccer. If it wasn’t for him, I probably would have never gotten into the sport. I’ve met such great people and have such incredible memories of both USMNT and Chicago Fire games (my other favorite team) and, as the first piece of soccer gear I owned, the flag represents the start of all of that. I actually lost it once; I left it at a taco bell outside of Wrigley field late at night after a USA game, but thankfully recovered it the next morning. Those eight hours when I didn’t know where it was were torture!
Pretend you’re Don Draper from “Mad Men,” give us your best pitch as to why someone should become a soccer fan.
Anna: With soccer you aren’t just a fan, you’re part of the game and part of a tight-knit community. I’ve seen the energy of the fans turn the tide of a match and push a team to victory in a way that couldn’t happen in other sports. In soccer, you don’t just sit in plastic seats watching the action; you show up early wearing all the fan gear you own, tailgate with a huge group of strangers who by the time the game starts are your new best friends, march into the stadium chanting at the top of your lungs, and then stand and yell your heart out for the next two hours, likely while dodging flares, covered under giant banners, wrapped in streamers thrown from the crowd and hugging the stranger next to you every time your team scores. There really is nothing like it. It’s more than just a game; it’s a way of life.
To be considered for Yankette of the Month (Faces in the Crowd Edition), please send an email to Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org) explaining why you love the USMNT.